Tuesday, 30 December 2008

[Progress.148] Pump Replaced

We have a guy from The Pool Clinic knocking at our door at around 8 am this morning to replace the pump for the rain water tank. Very impressed, I thought everyone was on holiday??

The company looks after all the services for the Davey products, and this guy carried this little machine with him.

I took a closer picture of it and he explained that the water will be sucked into the pump through the bottom part (marked with red arrows), and then pumped through the hole marked with blue arrow, which would somehow connected to a pipe somewhere. The yellow coloured thing floats on the water surface for it to detect the water level. There's also a small sign behind the yellow thing which says "Made in Italy", wonder if that's for the whole machine or just that part.

If you are interested in getting more information about the pump, I did a search on their web site and further information about this "Submersible sump pumps with twin impeller" is available here.

We just released most of the water a few days ago while it was raining. It took more than an hour to release all 3000+ L of water and it's quite boring watching it. I thought we have to go through the long, boring water release process again. But he just put his hand into the tank, unscrew a pipe and pull out the whole thing in about 30 seconds time. Wow! So the pump actually stays inside the tank!

As shown below, the one on the left is the replacement, the one at the right with a long white pipe connected is the malfunctioned one.

The black machine in the control box at the background of photo above (shown below), which we always thought was the pump, is actually just the "RainBank water controller". It's interesting to learn all these new things everyday!

When viewed from above the tank, the pipe highlighted in red below, is where the long pipe connects to.

He then swap the pipe over and slowly drop the pump into the tank. It actually takes more time to run the extremely long power cable around the pipes than to replace the pump! When it's all done, I could see the pump with the yellow thing floating on the water surface inside the huge tank.

Have a quick look inside the tank and as below, can see some supporting structure inside the tank.

We did a few tests to prove it's working ok, and I asked him why the mains water meter was running when I turned on the garden hose (which connects to the rain water tank)? He said the system is designed to use the water pressure from the mains to start up the system, once it's started, it will still work even if you turn off the mains. Did a few more tests and it worked exactly as he described, very interesting!

One more problem solved, yeah!

Monday, 29 December 2008

[PropertyInfo.035] Is gutter leaking problem covered by insurance?

We have a guy from ABC Seamless, one of the gutter/leaf guard company to give us a quote for a leaf guard for our gutters the other day.

During his presentation, I noticed in his folder there were some information about 2 articles (see below) from Sydney Morning Herald about some major problems with the "high-front gutters" design.

The 2 articles with quite shocking information are as below:

Gremlin behind the walls


Government failed to tell builders of gutter rule: Opposition

As mentioned in the articles:

"People think it's just a matter of a simple roof leak, which they can then claim through their insurance,"

"But these homes will not be repaired by insurance companies if the original work was non-compliant. This guttering is not only a breach of legislation but an act of unwitting deceit, potentially causing health and financial stress to consumers. Then they pursue us, and we face litigation for non-compliance."

"Opposition's spokeswoman on fair trading, Catherine Cusack, called the widespread installation of non-compliant guttering systems 'one of the greatest failures in Australian consumer protection history'"

From the articles, looks like there were a few things not been followed during gutter installation, such as: (1) leaving a gap between the gutter and the wall, (2) there should be overflowing slots (holes) on the gutter, but some manufacturers leave it as optional.

Also, the design of "high-front gutters" is flawed as when there's more water than it could handle, the water will naturally flows toward the back - into the house as the back of the gutter is much lower than the front.

One other option of course, would be to have a gutter that has a higher back. And that's where ABC Seamless is pushing their special "high-back gutter" product and they claim to be the only one in the industry that's supplying this product - see the "Ogee" one as highlighted below, the page of all available gutter profiles is here.

There must be other technical complications or cost/installation issues involved, otherwise I don't understand why they also sell the "flawed" high front gutters?

Regardless of all these, yes, we all know that we have to clean our gutters regularly and yes, the leaf guard would help to prevent blockage. But my main concern is, is it true that insurance company won't be covering the cost if there's any problem? What options do we have?

Hope someone with experience/knowledge in this area can help to clarify, and any comments/suggestions welcomed!

[Others.031] Family Funday Sunday - Needs futher improvement!

Yesterday was the 2nd "Family Funday Sunday" - a New South Wales Government Initiative for families to "enjoy a fun day out with unlimited travel on Sydney's buses, trains and ferries every Sunday."

We have a few overseas visitors with us yesterday and we went to a few popular places - Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, ...etc. From the huge crowd of people wherever we go, seems to prove that this excellent idea was widely welcomed by lots of people -- hope it helps to generate more revenue for all the retailers as well!

But from what we experienced at the Circular Quay with the ferries, looks like there's still a few areas which can be further improved.

We got on the ferries at the Aquarium and off at the Circular Quay. Hundreds of people gathered around the 5 ticketing machines to get a ticket as otherwise can't exit through the gate.

First there was no sign about which ticket should we purchase for "Family Funday Sunday". After squeezed ourselves through the huge crowd, we then learned from one of the extremely busy staff that we should pick the yellow "pensioner" option. Ok, one problem solved.

Next, we found that we can only purchase one single ticket at a time. There were 7 of us, after inserted a $20 comes a single ticket and big pile of $2 coins as change. Then we have to repeat the process again and again and finally got all the tickets. There was another group with 10+ people around another machine, and everyone is complaining and cursing,.....etc. Certainly doesn't look like a "Funday" for sure.

When we later decided to leave Circular Quay to return to Darling Harbour by ferry on Wharf 5 around 6pm, there were hundreds of people already on the platform for a ferry to Parramatte in front of us. It wasn't a nice scene for sure, specially when the ferry arrived. People start pushing, yelling and shouting, trying to board the ferry, which was already late.

To be honest, I have never seen anything like that before in Sydney. After a while, the poor Sydney Ferry staffs were trying to control the crowd, finally managed to stop the rest of the crow from pushing through the gate as the ferry was obviously full.

There's this Indian lady screaming and yelling when the staff stopped her. Looks like some of her group was already on the ferry and she wants to get them off the ferry so they can stay together. After some more calm talking, she was allowed to enter the ferry to get her friends off the ferry. A few other lucky ones then moved in, and the ferry finally left...

We then heard the announcement: "...There's no more ferry to Paramatta for the day..." Well, that sort of explains why everyone was so desperate in trying to get on to the ferry...

But it's not the end of the world, they can still catch the train using the same ticket without paying any extra. Why risk everyone's life & safety like that? The Ferry staffs were just trying to do their job!

It was quite embarrassing and our overseas visitors certainly weren't very impressed about this kind of third world country style chaos for our public transport system...

Haven't got a chance to travel with the buses and trains yesterday, certainly hope none of the others were in such chaos like the ferries...

I can think of a few things the Sydney Ferry could have done to improve the situation:
1) improve the ticket selling system
2) control the number of people allowed to enter the platform
3) use the PA to broadcast helpful information
4) plan for the extra load and probably arrange for extra ferries on standby in case of emergencies like this

Saturday, 27 December 2008

[Others.030] What's this pattern on the Harbour Bridge?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

New Year Eve is coming and today at the rocks, we can see a strange pattern been installed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Can't really tell what it is by looking at the pattern.

This is a closer look, can you work out what it is??

For the past few years, the fireworks and pattern on the Harbour Bridge has always been the highlights of the New Year celebration. Can't remember which year it was, the best one I have seen is the bouncing heart. Hope this NYE we can have an even more exciting one!

Happy 2009 everyone!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

[PropertyInfo.034] Mirror mirror on the wall, how much should I sell my house for?

I am always interested in how some owners/agents decide about how much should they ask for when putting a property on the market.

With the recent economic downturn, there were lots of mixed information every where. For example, there's this one about "Real estate agents flee industry", and this one talking about "Rising home loans could tip recovery".

I also mentioned in this post about owners trying to take advantage of the first home buyer grant and increase their selling price to a incredible level. And I just found a very good example in our suburb recently.

There was this developer who purchased a triangular shape land with an old house at the end of Willoughby Street Epping, applied for sub-division, knocked it down and build 2 modern houses. Can't remember if it's late last year or early this year, they were asking for over $920K each. Which we think it's ridiculously over priced.

If you search on the net, you might still able to find this page, which as shown below, asking for $849K each around April/May this year.

Then price dropped a lot and around Sep/Oct this year, it dropped to around $650K as shown in this page and a copy below.

Surprisingly, a few weeks ago we noticed the price rocketed to $779K! The latest ads is available here.

Based on our understanding of the market, from the size of the land and the quality, we think an acceptable price would be around $600K - $650K. Don't understand why would the owner do it like this, wasting time and effort, damaging it's reputation/image by keep on changing the price & agent every few months. All the buyers nowadays are really cautious and always do a lot of homework before making any commitment. If the owner had started within the reasonable range earlier this year, both houses could have been gone ages ago!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

[Progress.147] Insulation fix completed

This post is for the photos from the insulation work. I have listed a few before-after sets to make it easier to understand.
Basically what we found was, there were 4 bags of insulation materials left above the ceiling. The insulation guy couldn't do the job on their first visit as there wasn't enough materials. On their 2nd visit, they brought a few more bags with different colour (yellow instead of pink).
This is the first set:

This is the 2nd set:

This is the 3rd set:

This is the last set:

From below, can see that the pink ones are in R3.5.

While the new yellow ones are in R3.3, I guess shouldn't be much difference.

We haven't install the roof top ventilation thing yet (as shown below) so it's quite hot up there. But they did quite excellent job, with all areas nicely covered.

[Progress.145] Some progress for the insulation

The maintenance guy did a good job the other day in picking up a problem with our insulation the other day. The insulation job wasn't completed properly and their sub-contractors will be fixing that this weekend.

For all of you who have recently moved into your new house. Try to get a ladder, climb into the man hole and check the insulation installation above your ceiling. See if you are also one of the "lucky"(or unlucky?) ones like us who's insulation job wasn't completed properly. Honestly, I really suspect how many new house owner would spend the time & effort to check the above-ceiling area...

[Update] Sorry, I accidentally deleted this post by mistake. Got it restored now...

[Progress.146] Some Updates

We have someone from BlueScope Steel on site the other day to check our rain water tank and confirmed there's a problem with the pump. Unfortunately due to the holiday we have to wait until early January to have the plumber back to fix the pump.

The insulation fix work was completed as well, will try to post a few photos later.

The most important update however, is our court case against Demir Leather. After a few months' of fight, we lodged an application to the NSW Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) and they finally decided to refund our deposit. A huge victory for us!

Friday, 12 December 2008

[Others.029] Tracking Aircraft Noises

One of the annoying thing you should try to avoid when buying a house is aircraft noises. And the best way to find out more information would be to find out all the flight paths for the airports in your city.

There's this web site which shows the flight paths and noise levels from different monitors. Click on "location" on the left hand navigation bar, pick a city and you can see the current flight operations on the browser(with 40 min delay for security reason).

I found it quite interesting watching so many planes coming in and out of the airport. As shown below you can also have a clear view of the flight path for different aircrafts.

As shown below in the yellow bubble, whenever an aircraft approaches the sensor, it will change colour and show the noise level.

Wonder if there's services like this for other major international airports. Would be interesting to see the flight paths for all the very busy ones like New York or London looks like...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

[Others.028] Noisy Choppers

Don't know what happened, last night started from around 8:30 pm, we could hear very loud chopper noises from somewhere in the sky. As we were closed to the old Channel 7 site, we thought it's just someone visiting the site by helicopter. But then it came back again and again, about 5 to 6 times in total, circling the sky in huge circles, about 15 - 20 min per trip. I checked from the backyard and I could visually see 4 choppers flying across the sky. I tried to take some photo & video but unfortunately my equipments were not professional enough for the dark night and only record the noise. The strange part was, I noticed only the last one has a red flashing light at the tail part but the first 3 had no light turned on at all. We thought it might be some sort of anti-terrorist training by the police or army. Flying late at night in residential areas in such low altitude, making so much noises was very annoying when we all trying to have some quiet rest after long day at work. Wonder if anyone in Sydney area also noticed that last night.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

[PropertyInfo.033] More construction work on our street!

The other day I was awaken early in the morning by some machinery noise from the street. Have a look from the windows and found some guys working on the trees for the house across the street. It was a very special day for them, because their DA finally got approved by the council!

I mentioned in this post last November that there were 2 construction applications been lodged to council at roughly the same time, both to be built by Eden Brae.

The one on the other side of the street was approved within a few months, and right now they are already closed to lock-up stage.

The unlucky one right across the road from ours was knocked back a few times due to neighbours complaining about water drainage related issues and finally got approved in mid/end of November - almost 12 months of long battle.

According to an old neighbour who has lived on this street for more than 25 years, that side of the street was much lower than the street, and many years ago there used to be a huge pond at the backyard of those houses. It should be council's responsibility to fix the drainage but as we all know, there's always things that are more important and therefore nothing was done on that even though everyone complaints about it many times. And now when this new owners with no knowledge of the situation purchased the old house and applied for building a new house, both the council and the surrounding neighbours took this excellent opportunity to get the poor fellow to double, triple the size of water tank, do lots of extra things to help with the situation...

Now that it's finally approved, good luck to them and hopefully everything after that would be easier and less trouble...

Hope this helps anyone thinking of purchasing a property to think twice before buying a house/land that's lower than street level. Make sure you do lots of homework before you sign the dotted line!