Monday, 30 June 2008

[PropertyInfo.031] House price falling?

In case you are not aware, I saw these 2 articles in weekend Sydney Morning Herald about falling house prices which I would suggest any one interested in property to have a look: "Heads in sandcastles" and "House prices head south, north and east".

Some information from the articles as below:

"Amid a pile of bad economic news, in 85 suburbs this year, from Seaforth to Strathfield, the median home sale price has exceeded $1 million. "

"The AMP Capital Investors chief economist, Shane Oliver, warned that Sydney property was about 20 per cent over-valued."

"In the US the ratio of annual income to house prices is about 3:1. In Australia it is about 6:1."

"Home owners in Clovelly and Bronte put houses on the market around Christmas and immediately rejected generous initial offers. In the past month, both houses sold for 10 to 15 per cent less than those December offers."

"Last week, property and building forecaster BIS Shrapnel provided some comfort for home owners, proclaiming that Sydney house prices will rise 18 per cent in the next three years. Others say the market is ripe for a tumble. Either way, the next three years will test the very Sydney belief that people can get rich by buying and selling houses among themselves."

"This year, US house prices have crashed 15 per cent, and recently, the fall has accelerated towards 25 per cent. But if the US is the land of the housing bubble that popped, what is Australia?"

Have a read yourself and tell you what you think??

[BlogSite.022] New blogs

I have added 2 blogs "Building My First Home" and "House Building Diary" to my "Other Blogs" list. Both of them are also building with AllCastle, please visit their blogs and kindly provide some encouraging comments/feedback like you did for mine.

That's what we are here for, sharing our building experiences. Hopefully provide some help to others and "most importantly" put some pressure on the builders for better quality work!

Are you also building a house, interested about it, or planing to build? Start blogging and tell us your story!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

[Progress.132] More lights installed

1/6 was the last day of Beacon Lighting's "2nd light 25% off" promotion. After a few hours of discussion and "struggling" in their Castle Hill shop, we bought a few pendant lights and table lamps. After payment, we noticed one of the boxes was damaged and asked to either replace it or check if the content was ok. Photo of box as below (after we arrived home).

It was a busy day, and there were a few people waiting, the store manager tried to get rid of us asap and said that's the last box, it's all been checked and if there's anything wrong we can simply return it for exchange. Not very happy about that... And as expected, when we open the box, as shown below, the glasses were damaged... My advice for anyone who found damages on boxes, make sure you check it before payment or leaving the shop!

I then installed the table lamp for my bedside table. As it's an "Edison screw" one, I took out 2 energy saving light bulbs with Edison screw. As shown below the first one looks alright. But for some reason, I can't fit the light bulb into the second one...

Then I noticed why, this is the first one, with Edison screw.

The second one is "bayonet cap", they gave us 2 different lights! What the ^@#$^%$!%$#&@^%...

So with 2 table lamps in different connector, looks like we definitely have to go back for an exchange... My 2nd advice, make sure you check all the connectors for each and every light before leaving the shop!

After the not so happy experience and an unnecessary 2nd trip, we finally got both problems resolved. Later, after some hard work, the first pendant light was installed by the electrician.

The bigger one is slightly more complicate and it looks like a huge spider without the glasses.

Much better now...

We finally have all 3 pendant lights installed for the family/meals room.

[Progress.131] Some electrical work completed

We had an electrician on site to install some electrical stuffs the other day. First it was the downlights. The ceiling used to be like this, lots of battenholders.

After the downlights installed, only the main lights were left untouched, as we haven't decided on the lights yet at that time... Too many opinions at home...

Then, as I mentioned about 2 weeks ago, we made a mistake with the cupboards in the WIR and have to remove the battenholder so that the doors can be opened.

After the downlight installed, problem resolved!

Our electrician also installed the fan+heater+light for the 2 bathrooms upstairs. The light in ensuite ceiling was like this before it started.

We bought this small 2 heater one IXL Mirage from Bunnings.

The wiring for the switch looks a bit messy to me... Too complicate for me to understand, better leave it to the experts...

It only took him about 30 min to finish the installation. Looks quite easy, only if I have the license and knowledge...

With both heater on, it was indeed quite warm for the small ensuite. Just in time for the cold winter!

This is the switch after installation, one for each function.

The other one in the main bathroom has 4 heater lamps as the room is much bigger. It has the option of only turning on 2 lamps.

The switch.

Finally our electrician also installed the 3 LED lights for the stairs...

Now, the hard part left for electrical work, is to find all the remaining lights that will be acceptable by all family members...

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

[Progress.130] Landscaping update - 4

We have 5 neighbours, 4 of them requires new fence or fence replacement. One of them is only a few meters long and we will probably pay for that. Out of the 3 left, only 1 is willing to share the cost. So we are going to have some "fun" on that in the future. This update is about the one that's been shared. When our landscaper Joe started his work in end of April, it was like this.

Joe got it cleaned up.

We have the timbers delivered in early May.

In half day's time Joe got all the steel posts completed while his team was working on the excavation for the retaining walls.

When I returned from work late in the afternoon, it's all completed.

Will post some info about the blocks in the next post...
To be continued...

Friday, 20 June 2008

[Progress.129] Landscaping update - 3

After the concrete slab been done, Jeff started the brick work at the front. He said he has 30 years experience in brick laying and the quality of work is indeed quite good.

We noticed Jeff added extra brick at the bottom to make it stronger. Certain areas that will be fully covered by soil were using different bricks to save cost.

Thanks to the nice weather, within a few days, Jeff finished the much longer wall at the right hand side. And also installed our new letter box.

2 days later, the shorter one at the left hand side also finished. You can see that the mortar at the left side still not fully dried yet. I parked my car in the driveway to have a feel about the distance between the 2 walls, looks quite wide to me! Hope this is wide enough for wife, as I was quite worry that she might bump into the walls while getting in and out of the garage...

After the brick wall at the front completed, things left are: the retaining wall at the back, paving for driveway and around the house, turf, and some plants. Unfortunately, it started raining and it didn't stop for almost 3 weeks. What's even worse, Boral run out of stock for the blocks we want for the retaining wall, so there was a looooooooooooooooong wait after that. Finally in early June, our blocks finally arrived in the heavy rain...

To be continued...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

[PropertyInfo.030] Charlie's sad story

There's this sad story from Sydney Morning Herald yesterday about a Cabramatta bus driver who has dispute with his builder and has been living in caraven since 2002.

According to the article "the ground was never compacted and no slab laid", and "the right side of the house starting to sink into the earth".

Although this is only one side of the story, would be interested to see how can the builder explain how did the house pass the council engineering inspection on the slab stage before laying the bricks.

It's always sad to see stories like this happening, just wonder if Charlie had inspected the house with a private inspector much earlier, it would be much easier to pick up any problem and much cheaper to fix.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

[Progress.128] Landscaping update - 2

Our landscaper Joe got all the steel mesh reinforcement installed and ready for concrete. This is for the alfresco at the back.

This is the footpath at the front. You can also see the mesh reinforcement in the footing for the brick fence at the right hand side.

This is the drive way.

The concrete pump truck quickly connected a long pipe to the back of the house for the alfresco. Later the concrete mixer truck arrived, and the show begins...

Similar to what happened last year (see this post "69 concrete piers" for details) when they did the concrete piers, they pump the concrete on the steel mesh, stir it, and then level the surface with a huge long leveling stick.

I got a short video here as well:

That is a very long leveling stick!

The next day, our alfresco looks complete different! The muddy areas outside will be covered by paving soon...

This is the area where we enter the alfresco through the sliding door.

The new foot path looks nice and clean! The footings are ready for the brick fences as well.

And of course, our drive way. Just have to lay the pavings on top...

To be continued...

Friday, 13 June 2008

[Progress.127] Landscaping update - 1

This is the first update of our landscaping. Our alfresco looks like this in early March...

Our landscaper Joe started cleaning up the area and preparing for retaining wall in end of April.
The next day, the excavation for driveway was completed.
The old concrete foot path also removed.
The next day, Joe got the timbers installed, ready for new foot path. The footing for brick wall also done in a day, all done by hand, lots of work! I also took Joe's advice and wrote down detail measurement about the location of all those pipes (Telstra, sewage, storm water, gas) shown in upper part of the photo below.
In 4 days, Joe got the whole area ready for council inspection and it passed without any problem.
A bit late now, will post more photos about the concrete slab pouring in next post.