Thursday, 28 February 2008

[Progress.098] Integral Energy vs Energy Australia

We always thought that the Electrical meter boxes are all the same, but according to our electrician Frank (not the one from builder!) there's a huge difference.

The other day he had a quick look at our meter box and said it's installed incorrectly. He then explained that for 3 phase powers (we have air conditioning installed), depends on which area you belong to, there's a big difference between Integral Energy and Energy Australia.

According to Frank, Integral Energy only accepts single phase analog meter, so houses with 3 phase power have to install 3 single phase analog meters. Energy Australia accepts 3 phase digital meter (more advance?), therefore houses with 3 phase power have to install only one 3 phase digital meter.

He said our area belongs to Integral Energy but the way our meter box was installed is for single 3 phase digital meter (for Energy Australia), that's why it's wrong. Have at look at the box below (photo taken a few days ago), can you work out what he means?

According to Frank, we have 3 pairs of red wires, 1 pair per phase and the last black one is ground, that's why this is for one 3 phase meter... Do you understand? It took me a while to pick that up...

We then ask him how does he know that our area belongs to Integral Energy? He said it's very easy, just have a look at the poles. As shown below, if you see just pure numbers that were nailed separately for each individual number and in yellow colour, it's Integral Energy. Energy Austrlaia always use a white plate, and the number starts with 2 letters.

We reported this to our builder and they fixed it very quickly. When we were there this morning it's already fixed. As shown below, we now have 3 sets of wires, each set have 2 red wires and 1 black ground wire.

Unfortunately our area can't have the more advanced digital single meter, and we have to squeeze 3 analog ones together. Hope that doesn't look too ugly...

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

[Progress.097] We learn through information sharing

It seems our builder is moving extremely fast recently, we visited one of our neighbours tonight and they were also quite surprise at our progress. They built with Clarendon last year and it took them more than 12 months before hand over. Ours is around 6 months so far and looks like hand over is happening very soon...

We are also working very hard, trying to get as many quotes and "post hand over" works organised as possible. So far we done landscaping, timber flooring, shower screen and a few other stuffs. Wife and I both took day off today and we visited 4 sky light/sky window companies, hopefully should finalise the decision very soon as well. Might need to take a few more days off in the coming week as well, hope my boss won't be too unhappy about this...

Information sharing
We were also talking about inspector for hand over inspection and our neighbour highly recommended a guy they used during their hand over. They got his details also through another friend's recommendation. The inspector is very detail and picked up lots of issues. We might give this guy a call and see how it goes, will definitely post the details here to share with everyone.

Never pay your final payment until all issues resolved
Our neighbour also warned us not to pay the final payment until all issues resolved. They made a huge mistake in paying the final payment to Clarendon when requested and after that Clarendon never respond to any of their request for problem fixing.

We are going to meet our supervisor on site tomorrow morning to go through a few more items. Since my blog gets their full attention, our builder fixed most of the things we picked up quite quickly. So if they can continue to act professionally like this, I believe everything should go on pretty well.

Are you also building with our builder?
Since the start of my blog, I already received a few emails from others who also built or currently building with our builder. We shared some information and learned a lot from each other. So, if you are also building with our builder, welcome to drop me a line and share your story with us!

[Progress.096] Cleaning started, fly screens installed

Cleaning started yesterday, door knob replaced
Yesterday we saw a trades person working on site, doing some cleaning job. End of the day, we noticed the windows were sparkling clean and also the external door knobs replaced. This is the front door, the painter did an excellent job and we quite like the quality finish. Notice the door step below was still in concrete when this photo was taken yesterday.

This is the external laundry door. Both the door and frame looks shining and nice under the new paint. The windows was cleaned and the door knob also replaced.

Fly screens installed
Today the cleaner was on site again and he worked very hard, didn't leave the site until around 5:15 pm, very hard working guy and he did an excellent job. We also noticed the fly screens were installed.

Even the little laundry window has it's own fly screen nicely fitted.

Tiling of front door step finished
We also noticed the tiling of front door step were finished today. I hope they also finished the powder room and main bath room as well, as we were still waiting for a few missing tiles the other day.

Monday, 25 February 2008

[Progress.095] First report of things missing

Our builder has been quite quick in fixing things and flexible in certain areas. For example, we arranged for the granite company to put in extra granite for the splash back and our builder kindly allows them to install it at the same time as the kitchen benchtop installation, saving us money and effort to arrange for extra return work after hand over.

Unfortunately something bad happened, after the benchtop installation, we have this big left over of granite benchtop cut out from the kitchen sink which we left in the garage. We already spoke with the granite company and will use it for a few extra areas where the benchtop joins the meals room wall. The granite was still there on early Friday afternoon and there was only one trades person left working on site. When we later returned it disappeared.

As the site is securely locked by fence, it's quite obvious and "highly likely" should be that last trades person left on site last Friday who took it. We know who he is and we will report this to our builder today and hopefully can get it returned very soon if possible.

It's not a lot of money but mainly just the bad feeling, unnecessary delay and effort to order another piece, reschedule the event, ...etc. It's really dumb to take such a huge piece of granite thinking no one would notice it or need it. If something has been left in the garage, not the rubbish bin, then it means it will be required later!

Next time if there's any material been left on site, we will have to put a big sign on it saying something like "Don't touch! Material contaminated with dangerous radiation that could cause skin cancer...."

This kind of short sighted silly behavior is also hurting the customer relationship and reputation of the builder. We also found some problems with this guy's work which needs to be fixed and will let the builder know as well.

[Progress.094] From $77 to $66 to $45

Have been visiting lots of shops every weekend as our house is getter closer to handover. The weekend before last, we visited around 10 timber flooring shops, and last weekend we visited some light fitting shops and shower screen shops.

One thing worth noting is about a nice timber flooring shop in Auburn, air conditioned, well decorated. When we were there, the sales person show us a long 2M timber board which was bent and twisted and said: this is the kind of bad quality timber from China. He then show us another "good quality" one which we quite like the colour and quality, and he said it's made in Malaysia and the price is $77 per square meter.

The next day we drove past the same shop and went in to ask some further questions about the installation process for timber floors. This time we were served by a different sales person, and again, he showed us that twisted timber from China. But for that same timber which we chose the day before, he said it's made in Indonesia and the price is $66 per square meter. Wow, $10 drop in one day? We felt a bit tricky about this company and left, we noted down the brand name at the back of the timber we chosen.

We later found a huge warehouse with lots of boxes everywhere, no air-conditioning, and a big container with a few guys busy unloading boxes of timber floors. The interesting part is, this company is actually the importer of the timber we chosen as we can see the brand name in every boxes in the warehouse. The price we got is $45 per square meter, even cheaper!

The good thing, at least we clarified about where all these timber came from. The raw material are all from Indonesia, and manufactured in China, not Malaysia of Indonesia as claimed by that Auburn shop.

And about that twisted bad quality timber, the importer is aware of that as it's just a sales trick. He said all timber floors will be nailed and glued to the floor, that kind of twisted thing will never happen. They suspect the shop did this on purpose just to attract customer, even though most of their timber floors are actually manufactured in China...

There you go, same timber, from $77 to $66 to $45, and all from China. There's nothing wrong with things from China and I am not against it. But I do hate those sales that are not honest, charge unnecessary high margins and play all kinds of tricks just to get some extra business.

That's why I keep saying make sure you shop around, ask lots of questions and you would be surprise in how much you could save!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

[Others.016] Proposed legislation to regulate mortgage brokers

There's this article from MoneyManager called What's up with no-docs? which talks about some proposed legislation to regulate mortgage brokers.

It might be unfair to blame broker for a loan default, but it's definitely a welcomed move to see government doing something to protect consumers!

Some of the proposed consumer protection from that article:

In the future mortgage brokers will have to:

* Be licensed;

* Go through probity checks;

* Meet mandatory educational requirements;

* Belong to a dispute resolution scheme;

* Have professional indemnity insurance;

* Disclose costs upfront;

* Declare any commissions;

* Ascertain a client's financial capacity to pay;

* Brokers may have to pay up to $25,000 in compensation if an inappropriate product causes a customer to lose money.They may also be fined up to$25,000 by the regulator.Ultimately, their licence can be suspended or cancelled.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

[Progress.093] Getting closer to completion

We have an appointment with supervisor the other day and found even more things completed. The tiling around the ensuite spa bath all done.

Same for main bathroom tiling around the bath tub.

Kitchen almost finished, you can see the bulkhead been installed as well, just waiting for the granite bench top, splash back and windows sill, hopefully sometime this week.

There used to be a huge hole behind the kitchen cabinet (notice the timber windows sill at the background).

Then the pipes were extended and a few more holes...

And now, finally covered by another piece of timber (notice the double thickness at the back). We lost a little bit of cabinet space, but at least it looks much better. The timber windows sill also removed, waiting for the granite one to be installed.

The main bathroom windows originally in "clear glass" has finally been replaced.

The extra arch in the hall way also progressing quite well. This was a few weeks back.

Then the gyprock and cornice installed.

This is what it looks like now. With the beautiful painting job on top, it looks totally different.

Our huge 70L laundry tub also installed. With the wall tiles up to 1600 mm high.

The landing outside laundry door also finished.

According to supervisor we should be expecting hand over in about a month's time. Getting closer to completion!!

[PropertInfo.022] Beautiful stone fire places

We visited a stone design company near Parramatta during the weekend. They have a few quite special stone fire places on display.

We have no idea what's the market price for this product but they do look quite attractive at the price of $2000 each.

The other issue is, to install one of this we will need to find a place for it, and probably also some sort of fire under it...

The other special thing we found in that shop is, they also supply tiles. And we recognise this special one with fish patterns because we have seen it from our builder's tiler supplier - C & L before. Have a look at the price, C & L's price is $25 per square meter....

[Progress.092] Water tank installed

Our water tank was installed last week.

This is the controller box with the motor and filter in there.

There was a small shower the other day and I can see water coming through the pipe.

The next day I turned on the tap below the tank and water start flowing out, so I guess the water tank system must be working!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

[Progress.091] Lots of things fixed

We have lots of items fixed in the past week, just list a few here.
The highlit above front entrance has been replaced.

This is how the pipe in alfresco area looks like before. It was disconnected and removed to fix problem with concrete piering below during brick stage.

Noticed this has been fixed as well.

There used to use a small hole on top of one of the alfreco post.

This is now covered by some timber cornice/board as shown below.

The bottom area of the external laundry door used to be quite messy.

This has also been fixed.

Outside the front porch, there used to be a small area which for some reason wasn't covered by the ceiling board.

Instead of covering it with timber, they glued some concrete on top. Looks a bit strange and I don't quite like it...

Yesterday morning there were a few guys digging holes in front of the site using this excavator. Have a chat with them and they mentioned they were connecting the storm water and sewage pipe.

This is what it looks like after they left. The outlet looks much better than before. As everything is hidden underground, we have no way of finding out what was done and have to trust that it's completed...

Monday, 4 February 2008

[PropertyInfo.021] Have you seen this kind of window lock before?

We all love to open our windows to let in some fresh air. But how many times have you forgotten to close/lock the windows properly?

Today I am going to talk about this little lock I noticed when we visited a new house last weekend. From the logo on the windows, looks like it's a "Stegbar" product. But strangely, I can't find any information about this product from their web site.

If any of you know anything about this, especially about the product name and price, please kindly let me know and it would be really appreciated. As I would definitely like to give it a try and see if we can fit in the "Bradnums" windows we have.

From this photo you can see that it's installed in the middle, at the edge of the sliding window. You can lock/release it by pushing the lever up or down, and there's an extra lock above it to lock it.

When viewed from the top, you can see the track below has 2 cuts/holes. You can then lock the windows at both location, allowing the windows to be opened for about 5 or 10 cm, but still safely locked.

This is the side view, which shows how the lock is installed on the windows.

[Progress.090] Full speed ahead (2/2)

Continued from previous post:

10. Bathroom vanities installed (waiting for granite bench top)
Powder room

Main bath room


11. 27 water damaged doors replaced

12. Flashing added to roof above garage to fix leading water into sarking.
This is before:

This is after, and there's no more leaking even after last weekend's heavy hail storm.
13. Garage door installed

14. Kitchen door handles fixed, this is before

This is after

15. Tiling for wet area started, main bath room:


Tiles delivered

16. Broken study room window replaced

17. Correct highlit above front entrance door delivered - wonder how are they going to install this, won't be easy task to remove it from the main entrance...

18. Holes in laundry ceiling fixed

19. Extra work for arch in hall way started