Sunday, 30 March 2008

[Progress.107] Antenna, Sewage Vent installed

This week we have a few more progress:
First the Antenna installed. It was installed at the back and slightly lower than the roof line so that it is not visible from the front.

Next, the sewage vent which was crushed a few times by trucks has finally been re-installed. Also noticed the lock has been removed, this is because we were told our builder will remove all the temporary fences on Monday!!!

I having trying to get a Stud finder/sensor/detector with not much luck. The Bunnings at Carlingford has this Stanley IntelliSensor Pro in stock, but I am actually after the Ryobi one. Heard that the Bunnings at Thornleigh will have it sometime later this week, have to wait and see...

[Others.019] Lost of an old friend

Yesterday, we were really sad to find our old friend stopped working while I was taking photos on our construction site.

She has been with us since early 2003. She travelled to various places with us all over the world: UK, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Gold Coast, ...etc.

Her strong metal case survived various bumps and drops in the past few years. She helped us captured thousands of photos, especially during our construction process. Unfortunately she couldn't hang on long enough to witness the completion of our house...

Her model is S40 (4 Mega Pixels) and she cost me around $1200 in 2003. Thanks to modern technology, now a similar but much newer design A470 only cost $149 and comes with much higher resolution (7.1 Mega Pixels)...

I can't imagine how am I going to continue monitoring our construction without a proper camera. My mobile Nokia E65 has a small camera, but the resolution is no way close to a proper camera and without any flash lights, I can't take any photo under dark condition.

Have to start shopping around for a new one, with limited budget (thanks to the many interest rate rises recently) don't think I can afford a high end one. Noticed Olympus just released a full range of 8 Mega Pixels cameras all with 5x optical zooms, which is much higher than the others. But one thing I don't quite like is, they only use "xD" cards which wasn't a popular choice. Have to do some more research...

Friday, 28 March 2008

[PropertyInfo.026] House prices to rise 40% in 5 years time?

"HOUSE prices are expected to rise by as much as 40 per cent across the country during the next five years, according to economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel."

That's according to "Housing affordability set to get even worse" from

The article also mentioned:

"In the 10 years before that house prices rose an average 6 per cent a year."

"In the past 20 years they have risen an average 7.9 per cent a year."

There's also another article titled "Land the issue, not prices" from Sydney Morning Herald today, that talks about:

"...the Reserve Bank shunting the blame on to governments that have given money to homebuyers while retarding the supply of land"

Indeed, if the government is giving out money but does not release enough land, the land price can only go up in the long run. Based on that, no wonder the house price would go up more than 40% in 5 years...

Thursday, 27 March 2008

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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

[PropertyInfo.025] Epping Station on the news, twice

Last Tuesday (18/3), Epping station was on the news twice. First was the "runaway" 289 bus which crashed onto the railway tracks in the early morning. Then NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced the new $12.5 billion "North West Metro" rail link to operate between the city centre and north-western suburbs by 2017, and Epping station will be one of the stations on the line.

Runaway bus
I arrived at the station around 7:20am that day and it's a very unusual scene, a bus on the rail track! I took a photo from my mobile as below:

Luckily no one was hurt, but it was a big chaos to the thousands of people rushing to work. I managed to squeeze onto a bus to Eastwood, board a train to Strathfield, then finally switch train and arrived at work only about 15 min late.

You can get detail report about this incident from this report on Sydney Morning Herald web site.

North West Metro
I reported here last July about this "Latest Preferred Project Report for North West Rail Link Released" from the NSW TIDC web site. Unfortunately this has been cancelled.

I think the "10-year-old" North West Rail Link was just about extending the existing CityRail network from Epping to Rouse Hill, as shown below (from page 4 of Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation - North West Rail Link Preferred project report, Volume 2).

While this "new" 32km North West Metro is about a totally different system from the existing CityRail, and according to Mr Iemma: "The North West Metro will run underground from the city, beneath Victoria Road towards Top Ryde, and then via Epping to Castle Hill, Norwest and Rouse Hill."

If you compare the diagram with the one above, you can see that this new line is quite ambitious, as it's a lot longer, according to, will "run independently of the current network and have the capacity to double the number of rail commuters.", and according to the time line as shown below, expected to start construction in 2 years time.

I believe everyone would love to see this project going ahead, as it covers a much wider area when compared to the previous plan.

But, if the previous shorter one takes more than 10 years and everything is still on paper (before been scrapped...), my confidence for this much longer version to begin construction in 2010 and finished on time won't be that high.

It's just like a building company advertising about how beautiful their houses are. They displayed beautiful sketches of a huge mansion, claiming it can be finished in 2 years. But can not explain why their previous project home still unfinished after 10 years of construction...

[Progress.106] TermGuard

I hope everyone all enjoyed a safe and happy Easter Holiday!

We were told that our builder should be finishing their final inspection very soon, and unfortunately still no news about the hand over date yet.

The other day I noticed this notice inside our meter box. Obviously this has something to do with TermGuard thing for termite protection, but I can't read this guy's hand writing and have no idea what was written there.

Our understanding is, when we finished our paving and landscaping (after handover), the TermGuard guys will return and pump the chemical into the pipes. And we have to repeat this every year. What we are not 100% sure is, will there be extra charge involved or is it covered in the money we paid our builder?? Will definitely ask our CSR about that.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

[Progress.105] Moving bath tub (Video)

This is a short video I took a few weeks ago about the "moving" bath tub in the main bath room upstairs.

This has been fixed and it no longer moves. But I think it's actually quite interesting and like to share it with you.

[Progress.104] More things fixed/completed

There have been continuous progress in completing/fixing things last week. For example, the ceiling power point for my Home Theater projector was relocated to the other side of the room.

After the original hole been patched and painted, you can't see any sign of the hole any more, sweet!

The wall plates for my Home Theatre wall/ceiling speakers have been installed. Unfortunately I haven't buy the projector, receiver, or any of the wall/ceiling speakers, can't enjoy it yet!

Don't know who's the plumber, but we have quite a lot of plumbing related issues. This one is about the mini tab behind the ensuite toilet. As you can see below, it was installed so close to the toilet that you can't even turn it.

Before it was fixed, the water tank for the ensuite toilet was also dripping water.

Before it was fixed, there was water everywhere around the ensuite toilet.

The ensuite toilet issues have all been resolved. Don't know how they did it, you can see from below that the mini tub was somehow moved to the right. Can still see the black mark on the side of the toilet.

Mirror in Ensuite also installed.

Shower rose in all bathroom replaced, this is for ensuite.

Ground floor powder room shower screen and shower rose all completed.

Ground floor powder room mirror and vanity all completed.

Main bath shower rose also replaced.

InterComm also installed - this is the door bell with camera in the front porch.

This is the handset inside the house where the little screen shows the status of the front porch.

Monday, 10 March 2008

[Progress.103] Gas and phone connected, new rubbish

On Saturday (8/3) morning, we were quite surprise to find 2 guys digging holes in front of our site for the gas pipe connection. They somehow digged a big hole on the other side of the road (upper right hand side of the image, between the 2 cars) and connect it to our side.

This is the hole on the other side of the road. Don't know what's that metal thing for, they use that yellow pipe to connect to our side.

After they dig a hole next to our garage, and another hole at the front, I thought they will need to dig all the way across the front yard between the 2 hols. But they didn't, they just use this special tool to somehow drill through the soil and connect the gas pipe between the 2 holes. This picture was taken when all the work were done, this guy is cleaning the tool, ready to pack and leave.

This is the gas meter. Only thing left is for our builder to connect the meter to our internal gas pipe (upper right hand side on the wall). Hopefully they will also fill up the big hole surrounding the gas pipe properly.

Today, we were also told by the telecommunication contractor "Beeman" that our Telstra underground telephone connection has been completed. This is what it looks like when I was there late this afternoon.

Don't know who did this, there's this huge metal mesh rubbish been dumped inside our construction site since end of last week... %$#$@#$%#%%^@?%&^*&...

Saturday, 8 March 2008

[Progress.102] Lots of progress in a few days

In the past few days there were lots of things fixed and new things completed, just list a few below:
The powder room vanity used to be like this. It was delayed because the granite guy made a mistake while cutting the granite

The basin finally installed. Still waiting for plumber to install the taps and pipe connection below.

The soap holder used to be installed right under the shower rose, we are concerned this might block the shower rail as we upgraded to the one with rails (they installed the wrong one and will change later).

This has been fixed by the tiler.

When the basin was installed in main bath and ensuite, we did a test and found if you put water surrounding the basin, it leaks...

This has been fixed and you can see the white seal surrounding the basin.

There used to be a small crack at the edge of the main bath tub. We were worrying if they replace the whole tub, the tiler would have to redo everything again.

They used some sort of tools which heated and melted that area. After it dried, you can no longer see the crack. Quite amazing technology!

Our beautiful but extremely expensive frameless shower screen also installed.

My network ports installed. Yes, I know there's wireless technology available, but due to concern of security plus speed, I would still prefer the wired method.

Alarm system also installed. Excellent, now that we have power, we can turn on the alarm system on the same day when it's handed over!

[PropertyInfo.024] Auction result impacted by interest rate rise?

Last weekend we went to an auction in Winifred Ave, Epping. As shown below, everyone is expecting an interest rate rise on coming Wednesday and there's only about 7, 8 couple/families at the auction. The price guide at 1.45M was quite high for the location and house condition and we think it worth only around 1.2M.

I heard a couple next to us with an registration card, discussing whether to start bidding at 1M or 1.1M. But the auctioneer seems very confident and he starts the auction at 1.5M. Of course no one responded and he then dropped to 1.45M, then to 1.4M, and still no response. He then have a quick chat with the agent and announced a vendor bid of 1.45M. And of course that's the end of the auction. What a failure!

Today we went to a different auction also in Epping but in a much better location (Boronia Ave) and condition. You can see from photo below, there's more than 100 people at the auction. The price guide is also around 1.45M and it's the same real estate agent as the one I mentioned above.

I can remember the owner bought the house a few years back at around 950K, and we estimate it should sell for around 1.6M. Not sure if they learned the lesson or the owner has better understanding of the market condition (as interest rate just rised this week), the auctioneer used a totally different approach.

The bid starts around 1.1M, then moves up slowly: 1.2M, 1.25M, 1.3M, 1.35M, 1.4M, 1.45M, 1.46M, 1.47M, 1.48M, 1.49M, 1.50M, 1.53M, 1.55M, and finally sold at 1.555M. The winner sounds like a Korean family and they out bid the other party by just $5K, a very interesting result.

I guess even though the interest rate has risen twice in the past few months, if your location is good, house in well maintained condition, with well looked after garden, asking price is within market acceptable range, and the auctioneer can start from lower instead of a high price, you can still hit the "sweet spot" and find the right buyer...

[Progress.101] We got power!

Friday morning, on my way to work I saw the electrician connecting power on our site.

When I return late in the afternoon, the 3 single phase meters were installed in the meter box.

As we don't have any lights installed, the only thing I can test is the fan in the down stair powder room. I switch it on and it works! Yes, after so many weeks, we finally got power connected!

Friday, 7 March 2008

[Others.017] Another blog from our builder's customer

Found another blog also building with our builder:
Building My First Home.

Looks like they are still in early excavation stage. Wish them good luck!

If you are aware of any other blog also about building houses with our builder, let me know! We can form a "House Building Blog Chain"!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

[Progress.100] TermGuard installed, kitchen almost finished, tiger tails removed

We have the TermGuard termite protection thing installed the other day. There's now a long pink pipe surrounding our property. There's also a few green boxes around the house where the pest control guys will return after our paving done and pump the chemicals.

Our bathroom accessories also installed, tiling to ceiling in all 3 bathrooms completed.

Granite for kitchen also installed, only thing missing is the appliances. We will install our rangehood after handover.

The stairs finally finished, just need to wait for the painters to finish the paint job.

Our electrician Frank was back to remove the Tiger Tails during the weekend. He was really quick, when we were there he almost finished everything.

The ugly Tiger Tails finally removed, ready for reuse in other sites. We whinge about the price for these reusable plastics. Franks said it cost him $170K for the special truck, plus 12 years of experience, it's the quality of service we paid for, not the plastic...