Brooks Reach Building adventure

Come with us now on a tale of the mighty house building.

We’ve been framed!!!!

It feels like a lot has happened over the past week, we’re thanking God for such beautiful weather!!!

Shrimpy (our Site Supervisor) called late Tuesday to say that the plumber had been onsite with him and they reviewed the hydraulic plans. They decided they will relocate the stormwater pit so it is not in the way of the driveway. WOOT WOOT!!!! Winning!!He didn’t say when they would do it, just that they would. We are so happy. So very happy. The roof trusses were estimated to go up on the 24th then we were told they will move onto roofing before the bricking commences so the progress on the house isn’t at a standstill. We’re not sure if that means that there had been a delay in the bricks or that the builders are just busy with the other Clarendon builds going on at Brooks Reach at the moment.

Frame update – That’s right; we’ve been framed!!

The carpenter didn’t arrive on site to start the frames until Tuesday, and by then our windows and sliding doors had also been delivered  Head against a brick wall! Seems that the builders have made quick work of it though and when we visited our lot on ANZAC day we were amazed at how much it really has started looking like a home. The SS called today and seemed a little confused; we have a meeting with him on site next Thursday and he thought it was today for some reason. No update on the site was really provided other than to say bricking should start on Tuesday 30th April – I don’t know if this means the bricks have been delivered yet or if they’ll turn up on Monday. Lots of things we’re just not sure about, but we know they’ll happen eventually. So is the roofing still going to go on first or did the SS just mean the roof trusses were going to go up? We’ll have to wait and see what next week holds… Hopefully more good weather and other progress to celebrate.

Frames were estimated to be finished today, but we didn’t receive the invoice so we assume they still have a few final things to do. Building

Garage meals&kitchen Home Theatre room Back of house

Ensuite Window B & R framed

We had an amazing morning out at Brooks Reach and it was lovely to spend time with Nat, Vass and Jes. Brooks Reach really feels like a community that cares for each other, even in these early stages! If you want to read more about what’s going on at Brooks Reach and what the other neighbours are up to, check out this thread i created on building website Homeone 

 

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Apparently no one wants us to have a driveway!

It’s true. Or at least it feels like it. No one wants us to have a driveway.

Building your own home (especially your first one!) is meant to be a grand adventure, but at the moment we’re experiencing a lot of frustration – all over a little driveway!

March 10th we visited our lot to prep it for site excavation. We found this little surprise:

tree Wollongong Council had planted a tree at the front of our lot. Normally it wouldn’t be a big issue, BUT it has been planted right where our future driveway will be. We have had our house AND landscape plans sorted since January 2012. Our plans had been approved by Stockland (our developer) and Local Group (the company responsible for our Complying Development Certificate) prior to this tree being planted.

So why was it planted? We have no idea. I mean we assume that it’s to beautify the area, though it would have been nice to have been approached by council OR Stockland before they decided to plant a tree here. It’s also frustrating too as we don’t know what type of tree it is AND as part of our developer guidelines we need to comply with we have to plant TWO native trees in our yard post build anyway. FRUSTRATING!

We have been following this issue up with council and Local Group over the past month. Council’s feedback was ”Normally the removal or relocation of a street tree is considered as part of the DA process. If approval is granted appropriate conditions will be attached to the DA consent such as the following condition. “Compensatory Street Tree Provision  – Prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate the developer must make compensatory provision for the existing street tree required to be removed as a result of the development.  In this regard, a mature plant stock of the same maturity and species shall be placed in an appropriate location on the road reserve.” As your dwelling was approved as Complying Development you should contact the Private Certifier appointed for the construction of your dwelling house to ensure all necessary approvals have been obtained including the street tree removal.”

So the next step was contacting Local. We sent various emails as it was something we needed to have in writing. After no response and several days passed, B called and spoke to Karen at the Wollongong office. She said that they had received our emails and that the person responsible for our CDC had been on site and done an inspection but had then passed our file back to her without letting us know anything. Karen said she would put it back on his desk to prompt a response (he could have at least called us though, right?!)
Again we waited. Another week passed and B called again. After 8 minutes on hold he was told someone would call him back shortly. Eventually the CDC man called and his response was that:

  • whether we remove the tree now or later it won’t hold up construction process.
  • removing the tree won’t be problem with him or Council as he is the one to sign off on the compliance of the lot and it doesn’t bother him if we remove it.
  • he suggested we could try and move it if we wanted but he didn’t think it would survive transplanting.
  • we can plant a new tree if we like, but we do not have to.

So i guess that’s some good news, though now we have to try and get it in writing from him. We don’t want to pull it out and then be hit with a fine or told we had to replant it or something.

External Drainage Installed
On the 12th April the external drainage for our home was installed. This included a 450mm storm water pit to the front of our house.. Right where our driveway will run! No one wants us to have a driveway!

stormwater pit FRUSTRATING!! So we actually knew that Clarendon would be installing a stormwater pit as it was part of the hydraulics report but we didn’t know where it was going to go as it was never indicated on any of our plans. The picture doesn’t show the location but it’s to the left edge of where the driveway will be poured. What we want to know, and what we’ve brought up with Clarendon, is why is it installed where the driveway will obviously be? Why were we never asked about where we’d like it to be, or at least told or shown on a plan that it would be installed there!!

Not only will it look ugly but it’ll make the price of pouring our driveway go up as extra care will need to be taken when pouring/stencilling etc. We will also need to ensure the drain is safe to drive over and if not, potentially pay to upgrade it. There is also the thought we may even have to have an ugly curved driveway to compensate. The fact the drain is so visible and near the front of the lot will hurt re-sale value too. I understand of course that it’s good for our driveway and lot to have the drainage but our frustration is just that it’s not in an ideal location and there was no communication with us about this!

B has tried talking to the SS but he said it can’t be moved and ‘it shouldn’t affect our driveway’, though we have visited the lot a few times now after the pit was installed and we are pretty sure it will. Whilst visiting the site we also noticed the sewer inspection outlet had been raised considerably.Sewer Inspection Outlet

The SS advised that it can be raised or lowered and we are even allowed to put a bird bath or something easily moveable on top of it. No real issues there. I think it’s just raised at the moment so they don’t damage the area surrounding it during the build.

We were going to measure the distance of the stormwater pit in relation to the garage today BUT (in good news) our frames were delivered yesterday so that prevented access. Aren’t they beautiful?!!

frames; blog

Frames

 Frames

If the rain holds off next week they should take 2-3 days to install 🙂 Bring on lock up stage!!!

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Organising a private site inspector for your build

When building a home there is SO much to think and agonise about. It’s not just the colours and bench top but also the layout of each room, where power points should go, lighting, heating/cooling and of course how the home will look on the outside!

As our build slowly progresses it’ll soon be time to engage an Independent Inspector (or Private Inspector as we like to call him.. a PI!!) Is it important to have a PI? Yes. Though you want to trust your builder and assume everything is up to code, a lot of the time it’s not. From my research I’ve found that generally there are issues with EVERY build, though the severity of these issues varies greatly. Hiring a private inspector is a small price to pay upfront and could save you from major issues years later. I’ve heard it described this way “You pay for inspections when buying a car or an existing property, why would you not have an inspection during your build?!” If you browse the Homeone forum for terms like ‘Independent Inspector’ or ‘Private Certifier’ you’ll see further discussions about the benefits of hiring a PI.

I started my research by reading through many many many posts on Homeone and even posted about it in the Brooks Reach thread but wasn’t having a whole lot of luck. So, I hit the phonebook *gasp* well ok so I browsed the phonebook online and a bunch of other building directories. This is the list I came up with for businesses in/serving the Illawarra:

  1. Jim’s building Inspections  www.jimsbuildinginspections.com.au/new_constructions-renovations-and-extensions-inspections
  2. Hnk Ryan www.hnkryan.com/report.html
  3. Houspect www.houspect.com.au/construction … ?state=nsw
  4. Safe House www.safehouseconsultants.net/index.html
  5. Restwell Property Inspections www.restwellpropertyinspections. … bout.shtml
  6. IBC www.illawarracertifiers.com.au/services.html

Hubby and I began contacting them and sending through a copy of our plans. The general quotes and information we received are below.

Jim’s Building Inspections:

  • frame – 330
  • preplaster – 330
  • final – 440

Ben who looks after the South Coast area for Jim’s recommended we only need the final two

Total: $770 (of 2)
Total: $1100 (of 3)

“An independent building inspection can be very beneficial in picking up poor or inadequate workmanship and items missed or defects. Although I would suggest that only 2 & 3 need doing as the frames can be seen at the pre plaster inspection.”

HnK Ryan:

Preplaster/Lockup – 595
Completion – 595
Total: $1190

They said they’d need the address, the site supervisors phone number and our contact number if we were happy to proceed. Once they have access they will call for our Credit Card details.

Houspect:
frame – 350
lockup – 350
prehandover- 795
10% discount if all 3
Total: $1345.5 (with discount)

Pre-handover stage – $795 (this is a very detailed inspection of all final finishes and takes more time than earlier inspections, and can be used for defects and Builders Warranty claims).

These rates are GST inclusive and include inspector travel time, inspection time on site, photos and report compilation.

“We would be pleased to offer you a 10% discount if you choose to purchase all 3 stages with payment upfront of $1,345.50. If you choose to have us inspect all 3 stages of your build, we can have the same inspector look after all the stages of your project. This will assist with communication and the inspector’s understanding of how your build is progressing.
Houspect uses fully licensed builders with a minimum of 15 years experience to do all of our inspection work.
Houspect Inspection services cover construction standards and conformance related to Australian Building Code standards and actual on-site construction and workmanship.

Please note Individual inspections are booked at the completion of each construction stage, and paid before we can issue the report to you as per our standard terms and conditions. In terms of the timeframes for the inspections, we ask for at least 2 weeks notice as this will provide us enough time to speak to your builder and coordinate the inspection, and to schedule our inspector. We also need your builder or site manager to provide us with access to the site for each inspection.”

Safe House:
Frame – 300
final – 600
Total: $900

“Depending on the supervisor and the quality of the construction the first inspection at frame stage I would budget for $300 (Frame can be done before plastering after the brick work is my understanding), and the final report before the handover period I would Budget for $600. It may be less if few defects . High cost of final is due to the detail required stating what is the defect, how it should have been done and the recommended fixing method.”

We did not hear back from the other companies at the time of writing this post.

We have decided to go with HnK Ryan; They were first to respond, quotes were true to their website, they had an actual website and many people on Homeone recommend them. The special bonus? You get a discount if you’re a Homeone member… So it’s actually cheaper for us than the above quoted price.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. It’s important that you go with someone you feel comfortable with. Ask to see sample reports and how many building inspections they’ve done in the local area. Though it is a small amount to pay in comparison to the total house, you still want to ensure it’s worthwhile.

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Slab kebab!

That’s right, we have a slab! wahooooooooooooooo!!!! *party*
But wait!” I hear you all cry; how did all this happen?!

Rewind to November 2011: We paid deposits on land and building tender.
Fast forward to 24th March 2013 and on a random visit to our lot we see it has been cut/filled

Cut/fill

Cut/fill Fun :D

 

 

 

Then we received a call on the 25th March to say ‘Hey, we’re starting your piering today. Feel free to come check it out around lunch time.” And sure enough lunch time rolled around, we zoomed away on our lunch break to find:
Waffle pod
Look at that lovely peiring. (We assume it’s lovely!)

Then as we were celebrating Easter and thanking God for all His blessing and provision we decided to visit the lot again, just because we could.. And what a lovely thing we found:
Waffle pod
Our waffle pod!! What is a waffle pod you ask? The Waffle Pod Slab Systems allows a more accurate specification of concrete quantities, reduces waste and provides a substantial boost to building site efficiency.
It has minimal impact on the environment – there is less soil disturbance, and no excavated rubble from trenches to dispose of. (if only the polystyrene was bio-degradable!) The pods allow air pockets in the slab to form an insulating layer between the structure and the ground.

What great progess they had been making, and so quickly too!!! We went back to work (grumpily) on Tuesday only to receive an invoice in the late afternoon for our slab. Now this is the first big progress payment for us (other than all the $$$$$ we had paid up to this point) and there was no way were going to pay 20% of our total house cost without checking out that slab. Our Site Supervisor (SS) had called hubby on the previous Thursday to tell him the slab would be done on Friday the 5th of April so we weren’t expecting this invoice so soon. To our great delight we found this upon our late night arrival after work:

Slab

Cuties

 

So we’re just enjoying the quick progress while we can. Now we’ve paid Clarendon a bunch of monies I wouldn’t be surprised if things slow down a little bit. Well, that and the fact is has rained both days after the slab was poured and is forecast to rain for the next week and a half! Oh well, it just gives the slab time to cure.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share pictures of the framing and bricks as they go up over the next month or so. At this point we’re estimating we’ll be in around November (worst case) with a possibility of being in late August/early September if everything goes perfectly and promptly!

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