Brooks Reach Building adventure

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

Pre plaster/ Lock up Inspection

As mentioned in our last post here, Howard Ryan was onsite on Monday 3rd June to do the first of the two Private Inspections Hubby and I are having during the build.

We received the report as promised on Thursday night and spent a good few hours pouring over it, looking at the photos that were a reference for each issue that was identified.

We forwarded the report onto our SS via email and he responded right away saying he would have his carpenter on site the following day to fix the few issues that were mentioned. He said that it was all stuff that would have been fixed up along the way anyway.

We’re happy our list was pretty small in comparison to some I have read over on Homeone and other building blogs. I’m not surprised though as our SS really seems to know what he is doing, but maybe the tradies were just taking a few shortcuts or something.

Our one disappointment was that the inspection was not scheduled at the most effective time for best value of our money. Hubby and I think it should have been pushed back a week or so, but oh well, it’s done now.

Below are some bits and pieces we have taken from the thorough report Howard provided to us.
An excerpt from the inspection report:

This is a visual inspection only: Limited to those areas and sections of the property fully accessible and visible to the Inspector on the date of the Inspection.

  • The inspection DID NOT include any breaking apart, removal of any insulation products, removing or moving objects including, but not limited to mouldings, eave linings, sidings, ceilings or any of the sites current stored goods and or building materials. The  Inspector CANNOT see between covered floors, inside skillion roofing, other areas that are concealed or obstructed and CANNOT climb onto pitched iron roofed dwellings.
  • The inspector DID NOT dig, force or perform any mortar testing or other invasive procedures at the time of this
  • inspection.

The items below were marked as ‘Incomplete Works: (works that are yet to be completed as was originally intended and lacking in part)’.


1. Windows and sliding and or bi-fold doors will need the manufacturer’s service, general adjustment,
track clean and lubrication, prior to completion
2. Sliding and or bi-fold door units need their base sill tracks covered and protected during this
construction process to prevent construction damage which may hinder the sill and doors intended
3. Some sections to the exterior were incomplete at the time of this frame inspection therefore these
incomplete external items will be re-inspected upon the completion handover inspection by H & K
Ryan at a later date as and when required
4. Roof tiling and eave linings were incomplete

The Site:

1. The site safety fencing must remain completely intact (and locked if intended) at all times and must be
maintained in a safe standard at all times. Gates should remain locked and under the builders control.
2. The site is to be left clean of building debris, site areas to be graded and levelled out appropriately on
completion, subject to the Builders contract Specifications.

The Interior:

The significant items that need remedial works are:
a. Truss sheer blocking is incomplete in areas above some of the internal braced walls near the
ensuite and the kitchen areas,
b. Speed brace tails must be wrapped and fixed to the underside of the top wall plate in areas
1. A recommendation was made that where all the galvanised wall frame braces pass over each other that they be
separated with an insulation material to prevent interior wall cavity knocking in the future.
2. Sheer blocking is incomplete to to a braced wall at the entry area (photograph was included in report)
3. Blocking incomplete for the wall linings support around the bath unit (photograph was included in report)
4. The truss speed bracing must be wrapped and fitted to the underside of the top wall plate as intended


1. Tops and bottoms of all external and all of the internal wet area doors should be sealed, once they
have been installed. This will be inspected by us at the final PCI completion inspection.
2. i/ WC Cistern’s wall blocking is yet to be fitted to some areas only, (these blocks are only required if
the WC suite specified is to be a wall mounted unit and not a pan mounted unit,)
ii/ dryer units wall mounting blocks are yet to be fitted at 2.1 to 2.3 centres, subject to the Builders
contract Specifications.
iii/ wall blocking for any future wall mounted Plasma/LCD TV unit, are not a requirement under a
building contract and if required would normally be a variation, but are essential to be installed at this
frame stage. (CASE NOTE: We have been advised of a past matter in the USA where a wall mounted
Plasma TV unit had fallen off a wall and killed a two year old child due to not being fitted
appropriately to adequate wall blocking.)
3. The garage slab floors need protecting during this construction process as they are intended to be a
future finished surface.
4. It is recommended only that all the Rehau water pipes be silicone sealed where they pass over each
other and where they pass through wall studs to prevent possible water hammer knocking within the
wall cavity areas in the future.


Wall noggins incomplete in areas,


Wall noggin loose in the rear linen press unit


Bath wall lining blocking incomplete,


Wall mounted dryer blocks should be fitted at 2.1 to 2.3 centres, if required by the
homeowner, (a variation may apply if this blocking is required
Hubby and I definitely think it was worth the money to have the inspection done. It’s peace of mind for us and I think it’s also a little extra pressure on Clarendon to make sure they do the right thing knowing we’re having our own private inspector come through and check things out.

We plan on heading out over the long weekend to check on this weeks progress as Daz and Nat over on Homeone have said they have seen people onsite every day this week. Woot!!!
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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 



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



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


Stop, Tender time!

December 7th 2011
What an ordeal that Tender meeting was! Unfortunately for us most builders have their main business in the Sydney area so we had nearly a 4hr round trip to Clarendon Homes at Baulkham Hills. (Thankfully I have been to many Hillsong conferences/events over the years so I had a general idea as to where we were heading as Clarendon’s office is right near Hillsong Church!)

We had arranged my uncle to meet us there for the tender meeting as this is our first home buying/building experience and he has an engineering background so we thought it might help. Hubby & I are considered quite young to be building a new home too so we wanted an older presence in the room .. and boy are we glad he was there! We waited about 20 minutes past our scheduled appointment time before heading into Mr T’s office (for privacy’s sake that’s what we’ll call him). It was quite a lavish office with lots of tribal pieces that kinda freaked me out, so that didn’t help me feel at ease. The other thing that got us offside was he continued to state that he’d rather be playing golf or be anywhere than with us in that meeting.

The meeting got off to a bad start with Mr T saying they had lost our file so he didn’t have it with him. He left the room to go and search and another 20 minutes later he returned and exclaimed how great it was that he had found the file. The next 15 minutes or so was spent with him reading over our file and reading through the Tender document someone had put together for him to deliver to us.

One of the first questions my uncle asked was ‘how much overhead do you get?’ and all our jaws dropped when Mr T mumbled ‘at least 25% on each product/service’ etc. Firstly, that is a huge amount! It was good to know that as we got down to the gritty details. Before our Tender appointment we studied our developer’s guidelines and read up on council requirements in our area and tried to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. One of the first things we discussed was our floor plan. We had to point out to him that the design as it currently stands does not meet our developers guidelines as there needs to be a break in a wall if it has a run of more than 12m (ours runs about 15m). Mr T tried to question us as if we didn’t know what we were on about. We advised that Deb was aware of these guidelines too as she was the first one to hand them to us! Mr T then made one of several phone calls he’d make during our time there and left the phone awkwardly on speaker phone. Mr T left the room with the plans and returned 15 minutes later saying he had been in with draftsman and that they had solved the problem by extending our ensuite by 200mm, giving us the break in the long wall. He said that due to the changes and what they have to do with the roof it would be an additional $3300 – we were instantly devastated to say the least. Before we could speak my uncle piped up and reminded Mr T that this is Clarendon’s fault, not ours. We signed initial paperwork and paid a deposit based on different information. Hubs & I also pointed out to Mr T that we had signed documentation stating that our house package would be compliant to the Developer’s guidelines. Ahah! We had him, or so we thought. He obviously had to agree that we were not at fault and not responsible to pay, but in the next breath he said they wouldn’t be doing any of our turf for us. It was apparently only a verbal agreement when we signed on with Clarendon that they would turf our front lawn for us. Mr T confirmed via phone call (again on speaker phone, speaking badly of us while we were in the room) that out in Brooks Reach there was an agreement in place for turf. But as we didn’t have it in writing Mr T said they are not going to turf our lawn. It is interesting that future home designs & packages from Clarendon out in Brooks reach all mention that Clarendon will turf their lawn. We’re better off not paying for the plan change though and dealing with the turf when we arrange the rest of our landscaping.

We added a few things on to our tender – like locks for the bathroom door; why they don’t come standard I have no idea! We also moved the toilet from the main bathroom and made it separate. We also had to pay for an exhaust fan in the room as it does not have a window. In total around $600 for that small change, but we definitely wanted the toilet separate. Another change we made was to put a door on our ensuite. YES A DOOR! Apparently a trend in the house designs at the time we chose ours was to have an open ensuite (and not just from our builder, most builders were doing it). I think it is just another way of getting money out of people. So we argued with him as to why we wanted a toilet door, though you think it’d be obvious as to why .. even though we’re married we need privacy sometimes, ya know?! He then tried to suggest we need a door on our walk in closet! I nearly laughed in his face. He said we need a place to hide Christmas presents when we have kids, and it looks better with a door. We continued to decline his reasons for us needing one until he moved on. We also added two sliding doors to our theatre room and made the wall in that room a complete wall rather with arty holes in it.

Most of the things included in our tender were pretty standard overall. He advised us that we could easily remove items from the tender/contract as we need to but there would be a $2200 admin fee for each major structural change after contracts were signed. We didn’t really have the opportunity during the tender meeting to ask for a free dishwasher or things like that. Our tender presenter was not really a people person and we didn’t get on well with him at all; we were worried if we asked for any inclusions he’d take more things away from us!

Provisions included in our Tender(things that might not be needed, but an average price to give us an idea as to what we could be paying):

  • $8000 for BAL 12.5 bushfire requirements
  • $1500 for stone bench top upgrades (This was one of the worst miss-quoted items. Our benchtops ended up costing around $4000)
  • $7500 for rock excavation, additional piering, import of fill/export of soil as required
  • $2000 allowance for stormwater to hydraulics engineers details as required by council

Items in our Tender we would later drop:

  • $1210 for a brick letterbox
  • $10500 Brivis 6.5HP ducted air con
  • $7335 driveway pavers
  • $8210 Builders range of quarry tiles
  • $2940 Builders bronze range of carpet
  • $550 landscape concept plan

We had 7 days to sign the tender but signed it on the spot at the conclusion of the day as we were content with what had been presented and we were happy to proceed with Clarendon. We also paid an additional $4000 to secure the tender. We left the meeting with a copy of our signed tender (expiation date of September 2012) a sample copy of the formal contract and our ‘Clarendon Create’ folder.

Next Step: Contract signing and part 1 of our Clarendon Create appointment on 6th January 2012


Land Registration Update

After heading out to the site at Brooks Reach on Sunday 11th March we heard that since November 2011 the developer has recorded 60 rain days … that’s huge! As such we were recently reissued with an updated estimate as to when our land may register and settle. Our lot is in stage 4 and we’ve known it would be at least June before our stage was ready, but the setback is still disheartening. Just one of those things we can’t control. Keep praying for warm, sunny days!

For lot details click here Brooks Reach lot plan feb 2012
Below is an updated post of all the land registration details we have had up to date:

Registration Update 8th March 2012

Stage 1: Registration anticipated June 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated June 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated June/July 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June/July 2012  —> Our stage!

Stage 5: Registration anticipated July 2012

Stage 6: Registration anticipated June 2012

Registration Update 17 February 2012

Stage 1: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated April 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June 2012 —> Our stage

Stage 6: Registration anticipated June 2012

Registration Update 16 November 2011

Stage 1: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated April 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June 2012 —> Our stage

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