Sunday, 30 September 2007

[WeeklySummary.008] Week 8 (20/09/2007) - (26/09/2007)

Gas pipes installed
Some water pipes connected

Unplanned expenses:

1. Found a hole on the floor board of bedroom above garage
2. 2 "Noggings" in frames of bedroom above garage damaged - Noggings removed, front of frames covered by board
3. Meal room window needs to be raised - issue resolved
4. Sewage pipe (in front of property) broken

[Progress.052] Brick work started, problem with bathroom window

On Thursday (27/9) night we saw some scaffoldings been delivered.

Friday morning, we have 2 trades person working on the bricks.

These are some of their tools...

On Saturday morning, we can see they have finished surrounding the house with at least 1 course of bricks...

This is where the entrance/porch is located.

This one from the water tank area.

This one viewed from the back through neighbour's backyard

Unfortunately, we also found a new issues. The windows for 1st floor main bathroom should be obscured/glazed, but the one been installed is in clear glass. Will raise it with the builder next week.

The best thing is to see our brick work finally started. I had a chat with them and they said it should only take about 3 weeks if weather permits. That's definitely shorter then builder's 4-5 weeks estimate! Will wait and see how it goes...

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

[Progress.051] Not much progress in the past few days because...

There wasn't much progress after roof trusses been completed last Wednesday (19/09). I checked again yesterday and found that the last piece of sliding door windows for alfresco left at the front has been installed. And as shown below, I was quite happy to see 2 smaller steel beams been installed to support the much bigger one above the garage.

We also noticed some pipes been connected. This photo taken near the water tank will be located. My understanding is, green pipes are for rain water and black ones are for normal tap water. But don't know why it's joined together, may be it will be split/cut into 2 when water tank been installed??

This one near the edge of garage, which I think these pipes are for the gas connection. One of them actually goes all the way around the edge of the house to the other end where the kitchen is located.

I found something unusual from the alfresco frames/roof trusses. As shown in photos below, looks like the orange steel beam wasn't long enough and they have to join another smaller piece at the end. Is this the right way to do it? If steel beams are used for supporting the structure, it surely won't be as strong as if it's in one piece isn't it?

This one from different angle. The more I look at it the more I suspect someone made a mistake in delivering/ordering the wrong length and then have to do it like this... The smaller piece is in different color and looks like rusted as well, not very impressed...

We finally have the answer for why there wasn't much progress for the past few beautiful sunny days today... yes, some of you might have it, it's payment time! We received the next payment notice today and as usual, it has to be paid within 5 days. But wouldn't it be better customer service if someone can contact us in advance, instead of us checking the site and emailing them for status update every few days?? Brick stage is one of the slowest ones, so we definitely don't want to see any delay due to late payment...

[WeeklySummary.007] Week 7 (13/09/2007) - (19/09/2007)

Frames and windows for 1st floor done
Roof trusses done
Scaffolding removed

Unplanned expenses:

1. Found a hole on the floor board of bedroom above garage
2. 2 "Noggings" in frames of bedroom above garage damaged
3. Meal room window needs to be raised
4. Sewage pipe (in front of property) broken

Monday, 24 September 2007

[PropertyInfo.015] House price rises outstrip wages

I saw this article titled "House price rises outstrip wages" from this afternoon which talks about some interesting stuffs from a Deutsche Bank report:

  • While wages have increased 56 per cent on average since June 1997, house prices in Australia's major capital cities had jumped 168 per cent.

  • Despite overall house prices in Sydney remaining flat in the last 12 months, data across the city varies significantly.

  • House prices in Sydney suburbs Woollahra and Hunters Hill had increased by as much as 15 per cent over the year to March 31, while prices in the west and south west suburbs, including Strathfield, dropped by as much as 13 per cent.

  • NSW remains the weakest state, with preliminary June 2007 figures showing a 13 per cent decline in housing starts.
  • Friday, 21 September 2007

    [Progress.050] Roof trusses all done, bricks & sand delivered!

    It was raining for the whole day yesterday, so I wasn't expecting anything where I was on site tonight. And I was quite surprised to see a huge pile of sand in front of the house.

    A closer look at the front, the sliding door that was there on Wednesday disappeared, only a single piece of door window left, probably it's been installed at the back.

    Then on the other side I was even more surprised to see the bricks delivered! I thought we haven't finish the frames/trusses stage yet?

    This one from the garage side, looks like there's at least 6 or 7 big blocks (what's the unit for this, is it carton, lots, blocks or something else?) of bricks... But that doesn't seem to be enough for the whole house. I read a few stories from forum about some bad stories/experiences with different batches of bricks come in different colour. Some of them was picked up earlier during the construction and quickly stopped. A few of them wasn't that lucky and the owners didn't recognise the problem until hand over, which is quite sad. There wasn't much option left, you can either render all the bricks or use some chemical to make the colour consistent, either way, you end up with delays and bad feelings. Yes, it's a problem with the brick company, not the builder, but no one want to see that happening. We will definitely check ours everyday to avoid any possible issues been slipped without notice.

    This one from neighbour's backyard. Now that's much better, the roof trusses for alresco all completed. And the sliding door was indeed installed.

    This one from different angle, with part of kitchen window included.

    This one focusing on the roof trusses for the kitchen. So looks like all frames and roof trusses are done! We should be receiving our next payment notice very soon!

    I noticed some problem while looking around. There were some rubbish that's not related to our construction been dumped at the front. If you zoom in closer, you will see it's the package of a tower hanger and part of door frame. None of our bathroom stuffs are here yet and we haven't got any door frames installed either. So looks like we have some naughty neighbour(s) taking this excellent opportunity to get rid of some rubbish during their renovation...

    I also found this paper under the fence. Looks like it's a detail diagram about how the roof trusses should be installed...

    According to our builder, the brick work should take about 4-5 weeks. Hopefully we can have the brick work + roof tiles done before Christmas!

    Thursday, 20 September 2007

    [Progress.049] Roof trusses almost all done

    Yesterday morning there wasn't much progress, but when I was there last night all the roof trusses for 1st floor were all done! The crane must have been here sometime yesterday.

    This one from garage side.

    I also checked the back from neighbour's back yard, looks like only thing left is the alfresco and kitchen roof trusses at the back waiting to be finished.

    The followings are from this morning. Things are much clearer in the day light. You can see that the big bin is gone. I also noticed a problem, as our house is much higher than the road, when I stand at the front of the gate only the frames for the eaves are visible and I can hardly see the roof.

    I have to walk across the other side of the road to see the roof trusses... I start wondering whether the extra money we spent for the roof upgrade is worth it if you can't see it unless from a further distance...

    Hope they can finish the alfresco and kitchen roof trusses very soon, then we can move on to the next stage for the bricks! Only problem is, that means we need to prepare our next payment very soon, as the next one is when the frames all done...

    Tuesday, 18 September 2007

    [Progress.048] 1st floor windows installed, still no sign of crane

    As shown below, today we have all the 1st floor windows installed. And as they covered the left hand side of 1st floor with timber board, we can't see the "Nogging" thing I mentioned yesterday any more. As there will be brick walls surrounding the frames, I guess it won't be such a major issue.
    Only thing missing are the roof trusses, and where is our crane?

    This one from the back, through neighbour's backyard. Our understanding is, that extra steel beam delivered last Friday was supposed to be installed in the middle, joining the other 2 and form a straight line of beams, supporting the brick wall above.

    Also, according to email from our builder, the meal room window will be fixed, so let's wait and see...

    Monday, 17 September 2007

    [Progress.047] 3 new issues, some truss/fames and ground floor windows installed

    When we spoke with the supervisor end of last week, he mentioned about they missed one steel beam, as shown below, it was delivered last Friday. But when I was there this evening, the beam is still lying on the floor. Wonder when are they going to install it...

    We also noticed 3 new issues in the past few days (previous one from last week was the damaged sewage), and will send email to builder for them to be resolved.

    (1) As shown below, the 2 "Noggings" at the left hand side wasn't installed properly. If you like to know what is "Nogging", Have a look at this post about Jargons.

    (2) We found this area above the garage where the flooring board was damaged.

    (3) When we spoke with supervisor last week, we discussed about the meal room window might be a bit too low for the air con (we made a mistake in placing the air con right under the window). He want us to send an email to request for it to be raised one brick higher, which we did on Thu/Fri, but when I was on site this evening I was surprised to see the meal room windows frames still remain unchanged (at the same height) and the windows already installed. Hope it wasn't fixed and can still be easily moved without causing any damage...

    This evening, I saw some of the ground floor windows been installed, some truss/frames for the porch, garage and eaves also installed. Looking good!

    This one from the garage side. If you compare it with previous photos,you will notice the orange steel beam is now behind the newly installed truss for the garage eaves.

    Unfortunately the truss for the roof are still lying on top of the 1st floor frames, and there's still no sign of the crane...

    [WeeklySummary.006] Week 6 (06/09/2007) - (12/09/2007)

    The weather was quite good this week, but there still wasn't much progress this week...
    All timber beams for 1st floor done.
    Scaffolding installed.

    Unplanned expenses:


    Sunday, 16 September 2007

    [PropertyInfo.014] Luxury cars could add extra 10-20% to property value?

    There was this article called "Its all about what you park" by Yvonne Campbell from property section of local news: Northern District Times this week, which says that according to new buyer perception survey by

    "Luxury cars such as BMWs or Mercedes suggest affluence and exclusivity, which could add an extra to 10 per cent in value to local properties."

    "The best neighbourhood is a tree-lined haven of Porsches and Ferraris."

    "Having such a flashy vehicle parked outside could set prices racing ahead by 20 per cent, according to the survey."

    So this means that if you are planning to sell your house, you now got one more extra expenses! Just think about it: for a $500K house, 10% is enough to buy you a new car! Start contacting car rental services, or to save a few bucks, may be you should call all your friends, relatives, colleagues, ...etc who owns luxury car(s)...

    From the other point of view, if you are a potential buyer and noticed all these luxury cars parked near the house you are interested... Better come back on another days to check if they all suddenly turned into old Toyota or rusted Hyundais....

    Would you believe that? We are selling houses here, not cars!

    Friday, 14 September 2007

    [Progress.046] Part of 1st floor frames done

    When I was on site yesterday morning, the same truck, same trades persons were there, and I thought: well, looks like not much chance except waiting until next Monday...

    But when I returned last night... WOW! That was quick! Part of the 1st floor frames already done! Looks more like a 2 storey house now!

    This one from garage side...

    This was taken early this morning, there were signs of some huge trucks been here yesterday. Just look at how the 2 sausages been squashed, flatten to the floor... It seems to have also damaged the sewage pipe as well... Was the crane here, or was it just the truck which delivered the roof truss/frames?

    Had a closer look of the sewage pipe... Doesn't look good... Now we have one more thing to worry...

    This morning they started removing the scaffoldings. Why? I thought the truss/frames for the roof weren't installed yet?

    You can now clearly see from photo below how the huge roof truss/frame been temporarily placed on top of the 1st floor frames. Probably this is the part waiting for the crane??

    We had a huge hail storm around 3pm which only lasted around 5-10 minutes. Both the wind and rain were extremely strong and almost damaged my umbrella. I start worrying if it would cause any damage to the truss/frames... Quickly went on site again around 4pm, as shown below, seems like they are a lot stronger than they look, no damage at all! Good job!

    Urh, hang on, where did the big bin came from? It wasn't there this morning... Is that for cleaning up the site? Have to wait and see... Lucky it's inside the fence, otherwise my neighbours might take the opportunity and start dumping rubbish in it...

    Wednesday, 12 September 2007

    [BlogSite.021] Added "ClustrMaps"

    Added a small widget called "ClustrMaps" at the menu bar on the left hand side. This shows a small map of the world, showing where my visitors came from. Unfortunately have to start counting from zero and it only update once a day... Just for fun actually, Enjoy!

    [Progress.045] Never trust what your builder promised

    When we spoke with builder last week, we were told: (1) crane will be here on Wednesday (2) all frame work will be finished this week.

    As owner, we all love to see someone working on site everyday unless it rains, unfortunately it's almost impossible. We have beautiful weather yesterday but there wasn't any one on site. Being a practical person, I thought: fine, may be it's all done on Monday and since crane will be here tomorrow, no harm having a day off...

    I woke up earlier than usual this morning, went on site around 7 am (workers normally start at this time), expecting to see a huge crane stuck in the wires, pulling down my neighbour's power line while trying to set itself free.... Urh...what? There was no one there! What happened?

    I went back again around 7:45 am and saw the same truck with the same guys who were here on Monday. I asked if the crane will be coming today. They said: don't think the crane will be here today, probably next Monday..... What the @^#%$!#~!@#... If the crane won't be here until next Monday, how are they going to finish the frames this week?!

    No wonder there's always lots of unhappy stories with house construction. As shown in this case, builders always give owners very high expectation (especially on schedules) but seldom deliver on time.

    I guess after all these, I will start treating my builder like the real estate/car sales person: ignore what they promised, only believe it when you actually see the thing, and always double check it yourself...

    I will still be checking every morning on my way to work and every night during my jog, and see when the crane actually appears, and when the frame actually finished...

    Tuesday, 11 September 2007

    [Tips.016] How to record issues about your construction, in case you need to bring your builder to court

    Thanks to stonecutter1309 from forum, we have this information about how to record any issues/problems regarding your construction work, in case you need to bring your builder to court...

    Hope all our construction works goes on smoothly and never need to take legal action against our builders. But sometimes we just need to be prepared, just in case things get out of control. Details below:

    I received this piece of advice in terms of documentation from a friend who has taken a number of builders to court and always come out ahead of the builder. The best way to record any issues are as follows.

    1. Take a regular exercise book - stapled in the middle (spiral notebooks are no good - pages could be removed - the book needs to appear complete and tamper-free)
    2. Record the date and time of each issue in detail.
    3. On the very next line - sign your name and date.
    4. On the very next line, use a pen & ruler to draw a line across the page

    The idea is not to leave any lines blank - as a judge or mediator may see blank lines in previous entries as a method you may use for manipulation at a later date. (that is, adding extra entries, more details etc)

    However, if you fill every single line with writing, date/signature or the line ruled at the end of the issue - then the person reading the book is more likely to think that your records are a complete take on the situation.

    I'd also require a "read receipt" on every email you send - and keep copies of the receipts as proof the builder did receive the information you sent them (sort of like registered post)

    Monday, 10 September 2007

    [Progress.044] Scaffolding up, ready for 1st floor frames!

    This morning we have 2 trades person working on the frames. There's this truck with generator running, supplying power to the workers. As we have warned our builder about our super fussy neighbours many many times, they won't be stealing electricity or water, as reported by epiphany in this post: "Problems with people building next door".

    They are busy hiding, sorry I mean working behind the frames...

    When I revisited our site again around 9 pm, I was quite surprised to see lots of scaffolding been installed. They even moved all the frames stacked at the front this morning up above the other frames. Well done! Looks like we are ready for the crane!

    This is from the garage side...

    Quickly checked the weather forecast again:

    Forecast for Tuesday
    Early shower, then fine. Light to moderate westerly winds, becoming fresh and gusty in the afternoon and evening.
    Precis: Early shower, then fine.

    Not 100% perfect day for crane, but after that it's "Fine" until next Monday... Getting really exciting now... Wonder what it looks like to have a huge crane struggling through the "jungle" of wires... I wish they could "accidentally" knock down my neighbour's wire, so that I can get rid of the ugly tiger tails...

    [Tips.015] The more you research the more you could save

    During the "APEC" long weekend, we visited a few shops to get some quotes on mirrors and shower screens. Those hard working shops who are willing to stay open during the long weekend definitely will get more business!

    When we spoke to our builder earlier this year, they want to charge us $100 for "upgrading" each mirror from "framed" to "Bevelled edge". We visited a few shops and found that you can get a bevelled edge mirror for less than $80! For your reference, different edge type of mirror edges from Stegbar web site.

    When we asked our builder how much it would cost to upgrade the framed shower glass to frame-less style, they charge $1600 each and we decided to remove it and do it ourselves after handover. We got a few quotes and so far the best price we can get is around $1200 including installation.

    We found a supplier during the weekend who only supply materials, as long as our shower is using "standard" size, the cost will be around $450-$600. They don't do installation but can recommend someone who can do it for around $250. Shower screens that are not standard would cost double as it has to be specially made. And their "standard" sizes are: 800, 900, 1000 and 1100 mm. We quickly checked our drawings and it says "1050 mm", what the *%^%#$%$!$@#!

    After some discussion, we decided to ignore the drawing and visit the showroom at Kellyville again to measure the the exact dimension of the shower area ourselves. It's a long drive but would definitely worth the effort... We found that the internal shower area inside the hob is 1000 mm, but the hob itself is 100 mm wide! This means we can actually take either 1000 or 1100 mm shower screens thanks to the wide hob. Problem solved, yeah!

    Technically, I think you can say that our builder is right by marking the shower size as 1050 mm with half of the hob width is included. But when looking from "all builders are greedy and evil" point of view, I would say they did it that way purposely so that whoever tried to install shower screens after handover might change their mind as that's not a standard size and would cost a lot more...

    Anyway, the more you research the more you could save. Back in June, I mentioned in this post
    "Tips.004 Always do your homework" about a few options. Building a house involves lot of money, we all need to do more research to save!

    Friday, 7 September 2007

    [Progress.043] More beams setup, more frames delivered

    When I checked our site this afternoon, I saw most of the timber beams been setup.

    This one is from the other side, viewing from the garage's direction.

    There were also some more frames delivered, probably for the 1st floor.

    Remember last time I mentioned they setup this big steel beam on top of 2 tiny timber frames? They now placed even more timber beams on top of the steel beam, making it even more heavier for the 2 tiny frames below. Great, looking even more dangerous to me!

    And I also noticed there were a lot more rubbish all over the places. Have a closer look, I found that some of them are actually sketches/drawings for other construction sites! This one is about how the beams should be placed for a house in Roseville.

    This one is about a house building with Wincrest homes.

    This one is about a house in Oatley for Mr/Mrs Little building with Trident Homes. I am not happy about this. If these guys can dump other houses' drawings on my site, that means they could also be dumping mine somewhere else...

    I checked the wires at the front. As shown below, may be they are right. The wires are indeed a bit messy...

    According to our builder, if weather permits, the crane will be here around next Wednesday. Quickly checked the weather forecast: rain should stop after Sunday and stay sunny for a few days, sweet!