Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Sub-floor, frame and garage slab

Well, it's been almost a month since Easter - time certainly does fly when you are building!
Lots of progress has been made on the house in the last 4 weeks, the garage slab has been poured, the sub-floor has been installed and today, the frame for the ground floor went in.  I walked around site today and, for the first time, I felt the lines on pages I have been agonising over for almost five years, jump off the page in to what is fast becoming our dream family home.   These last four weeks haven't been without its lessons and the inevitable ups and downs.  After a ridiculous amount of negotiation, all of our neighbours finally realised that they weren't going to get their boundary fences for free and agreed to contribute equally to the fence - unbelievable right?!  The fencer starts this Thursday after Anzac Day - I cannot tell you how much I am longing for the privacy and sense of personal space a fence brings.   They say "good fences make good neighbours" - build me a compound then I say!!

Just before our first progress payment, we were doing our due diligence and checking our builders' warranty insurance - thank goodness we did as the company who issued our policy has had its underwriter go in to liquidation and its parent company go in to voluntary administration.  Being an accountant myself, this translates to not good news for those who hold a policy with the company.  Fortunately, our builder, Grant from Jigsaw Projects understood our concerns and helped us to secure a more suitable policy.  It is so important to have a good relationship with your builder.  Without doubt, there will be differences of opinion, discussions regarding costs and variations, challenges with selections, however if you have a relationship that is honest, open and transparent and you approach problems in a manner which recognises each others' interests, this is sure to build respect regardless of the issue at hand.

So here are some picture of the progress to date:

Sub floor joists and bearers going in
Garage slab - colour: Eclipse the chip board is covering the pool
Front elevation:  Verandah, formal lounge and master bedroom

Formal lounge room

The Edwardian Bay in our master bedroom

The view from our master bay window, looking forward to sitting on the box seat which will be going in here. 

Standing in our master ensuite, looking back toward the walk in robes and master bedroom

Standing just in the front door, looking down the entry hall to the family room, love the split level in the entry hall.

Formal lounge and study

Lounge window looking out to the verandah on the driveway side

Standing in the kitchen looking in to the laundry


From the laundry looking over the Alfresco and in to the family room and mud room
Looking out over the alfresco to the pool and "south lawn"
Thanks for stopping by

Monday, 2 April 2018

Retaining walls and stumps

This week, the retaining walls and stumps will go in.  A lot has been happening on site thanks to our builder Grant Jennings and site manager Stephen Henshaw from Jigsaw Projects.

Last week all the holes were dug in preparation for the stumps.  While our builder was digging the holes he came across an old septic tank and house footings that had been left behind by the demolition company that Jon and I hired to clear the block.  I would not recommend Hughes Demolition, not only did they submit an additional variation which amounted to about a third of the original quote, they were not prepared to back up the claim with receipts for the extra work.  We took photos of what was happening on site each day and they claimed that work was being done, trades and equipment were on site when in fact they weren't.  In our experience, we found Hughes Demolition to be dishonest in their dealings with us, and now, to add insult to very expensive injury, they didn't do the job properly in the first place.  Back in the day, an unhappy customer would tell 16 people - now we set up a blog and broadcast it around the world, I guess that's Karma at work!!

Fortunately, the uncovered septic tank and a little bit of rock found while digging the stump holes have not held us up more than a day.  I definitely would have preferred to be back in Melbourne at this crucial stage, but that's council planning permission for you. We were supposed to be out of the ground by February if it wasn't for the delay caused by the council due to the change in overlay requirements (see past blog posts for that painful exercise).  Our builder is working very hard to make up the time and it looks like we will have handover by December 1st, exactly one year after the demolition started and on our 11th wedding anniversary, that would be incredible!!

Here are some action photos, hot off Grant's camera.  What a difference a day makes, out of the ground by 5pm, great job by Grant, Steve and their crew.

These stumps needed to be put in form work as this is where the septic tank was found 

The cut out for the step outside the laundry, those bins are the neighbours' - bring on those fences!!!

Form work for the footings for the retaining wall which is around the pool

More retaining wall footings going in

There are all our stumps laid out ready to set in the ground - say 'Hi' to the neighbours everyone....grrrr!!

The stumps ready to go in this morning

All the stumps in by the end of the day - great job Grant and Steve!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Oven decisions

Who would have thought that selecting an oven would take so much thinking!  From my research, it appears most of us who build Hamptons inspired homes opt for Ilve ovens that provide that gorgeous industrial edge.

My first thoughts included an Ilve 90cm upright oven for the mantle in the main kitchen followed by a Miele or Bosch 60cm built in oven and integrated microwave for the butler's pantry.  Ideally, I really wanted a 90cm oven cavity to allow enough room for trays of food when entertaining.

So here are some pictures of what I thought I would go for...

I had the Bosch integrated microwave in my last house, and while it was good, it wasn't great.  Then as luck would have it, necessity changed my thought process entirely.

When we sold the house, of course, we left the integrated microwave with the house.  That meant while we were renting, I needed a new microwave.  My best friend of 31 years (who is also a qualified chef!!) pointed me to the Sharp Carousel for all of $300!  Really?  Could a cheap bench microwave be better?  Hell yes!  The Sharp microwave is the best I have ever owned, powerful, intuitive and easy to use, not to mention it defrosts to perfection.  I love it!!

So what does that mean for my kitchen plans?  As luck would have it again, Falcon, for the first time ever had a 20% off sale just before Christmas 2017.  That meant the oven I have swooned over for years was now within reach - yes, still a couple of thousand more than the Ilve, but not $8,500!!  Considering it has a double oven, I no longer need the second oven in the butler's pantry or the expensive integrated microwave.

The Falcon oven I have chosen has two ovens in it, not a 90cm oven, but considering I have two ovens, hopefully I will be happy with the two smaller ovens.  I am going to keep my cheap and cheerful microwave and place it in a cupboard in the butler's pantry along with the kettle and toaster.  Now that I am not having an additional integrated oven and microwave in the pantry, I have room for a cupboard to house the microwave, kettle and toaster which provides the added bonus of more bench space in the butler's pantry now that the toaster and kettle has it's own place in the cupboard.

Here is my gorgeous falcon 110cm oven and sirius integrated rangehood.

Now to decide on the dishwashers.  We are having two dishwashers, both semi-integrated, one in the main kitchen and one in the butler's pantry.  I thought it would be a no brainer, just go Miele, however after doing some research, a few things have caused me to rethink this decision.  Miele do not do half loads and also do not have cutlery baskets...I know that might sound like a strange consideration, however we like being able to pick up a cutlery basket and take it to the cutlery drawer.  A few friends have the cutlery trays in their dishwashers and I am not a fan - it takes longer to load and longer to unload.  You might say, "just get a cutlery basket for the Miele." Yes, I considered that too, however an additional cutlery basket as an accessory is about $300 - crazy isn't it.

So now I am leaning towards the Bosch series 6 dishwashers which have the option of both cutlery trays, baskets and half load cycles.

Believe it or not, I come in under budget with these selections as well!

Our current Fisher and Paykel fridge will go in the butler's pantry and we will be getting a Fisher and Paykel side by side fridge and freezer for the main kitchen.

Thanks for stopping by.

The final approved plans!

Some of you may be wondering what this house is going to look like, so finally, now that we have approved plans, I can share with you "Roehampton" in all her glory. 

Site Plan
Ground Floor Plan - we have redesigned the Master WIR to be a suite of cupboards.

First Floor Plan
East Elevation

North Elevation

Fences - Sigh!

Hi Everyone,

You can tell we are on holidays as I finally have the time to update the blog on all that has been happening with the build.

One of the difficulties we have encountered is the replacement of the boundary fences.  Unfortunately, our block of land had post and wire fences to two and half sides.  As you can imagine, they don't provide you with much privacy or security.  Considering we need to contain three children and hopefully soon, our new golden retriever puppy, fences are a priority.

Our neighbours to all three sides have lived in the area for decades and were happy to build new fences, but not happy to pay for half of them...sigh!  One neighbour was happy to have a fence, so long as it was lower than 1.4 meters high to allow him to continue to look in to our front yard from his kitchen window....yes, seriously!!

Fortunately, the Victorian Fencing Act was updated in 2014 to require that boundary fences must be sufficient to meet reasonable privacy and security concerns of all neighbours.  That means if you are living next to retirees like we are, they cannot say that because their grey, nomadic lifestyle means that they don't have pets or children, they don't need a fence better than a post and wire fence!    Furthermore, it is now mandatory that neighbours contribute equally to the construction of a sufficient boundary fence.  A sufficient boundary fence is generally a timber paling fence, 1.8 meters in height.  If you want a standard of fence that exceeds a basic timber paling fence, of course you have to pay the total of the difference if your neighbour doesn't agree.

When you start discussing fences, you certainly get a good picture of who the people are that you are living next to...which has been quite confronting and disappointing.  Let's just say that it is unlikely that we will have the neighbours over for drinks when we move in!!  Unfortunately, we have had to issue fencing notices to our neighbours in order to comply with the law and force them to take responsibility for their fencing obligations.

There is also this scary little law which allows your neighbours to take your land if the boundary fence has been incorrectly placed and the neighbours have used this land as if it was their own for at least 15 years and 1 day.  This law is called Adverse Possession and it is a doozy!  Of course, as luck would have it, our neighbours to both sides have been living there for decades so this has been an interesting one to negotiate.  When we bought the block, we did measure the block and the measurements were correct - that was because we have lost some of our land to the West side and taken some land to the East side boundary which isn't ours.  This 'clandestine' land taking has been happening unbeknown to any of us.  You would think it would be a simple process of having the land surveyed and re-establishing the boundary - think again!!  When one neighbour has the opportunity to get land for free in Lower Plenty, then it is on for young and old, literally speaking.

Fortunately, the fact that we had lost land and gained land through the poor fencing,  helped us when negotiating with the neighbours.  Our neighbour to our east side (who from now on shall be known as scary, grumpy old man) wanted his land back.  We were of course happy to oblige so long as we got our land back to the west boundary from "sometimes nice, sometimes horrible grumpy old man".  Basically that meant that the situation became "the battle of the boundaries" between two grumpy old men. 

In our case, the lost land was the least of our worries.  The impact the lost land had on our house design was far worse.  You see our house has been designed in accordance with minimum set back requirements from boundaries, in our case, 1 meter on the west side. Because the fence wasn't on the boundary, if the neighbour to our west side was to claim adverse possession of that 30cm of our land it would mean that our set back would not meet regulations and we would have to redesign or shrink up our entire house in order for it to be compliant.  You read right!! That would mean a third trip around the council merry go round!!  Not only can your neighbour claim (steal) your land, they don't have to pay you a cent for it either.  A very outdated law that needs to be changed - that's my next pet project!!

If you want to know more about the rules that apply to boundary fencing in Victoria, check out this link below and remember, I am no expert, so always get your own advice.


Thanks for stopping by.

The pool

After much research, reading many blogs and discussing our options with friends who have been through the process, we decided to install a fibre glass pool.  The pool is 9.6 meters long and 4.5 meters wide, it is called the Brooklyn and it includes a spa and shallow play platform (which can also be used by us parents juggling a cheeky bubbly while the kids are in the pool!). 

Our pool contractor has been exceptional.  We went with Reef Pools, located in Warrandyte and run by Matt Borrak.  Matt has been great to deal with, he was able to refer us to a number of his past customers who were happy for us to come and look at their finished pools.  It was great to be able to see shell colours and sizes of pools in the landscape.  This helped us a great deal when deciding on the size of the pool and the colour of the shell.  The most important part of this process was talking to Matt's past clients and hearing their experiences.

Matt has been very honest and great to work with.  We encountered a couple of variations due to exisiting site works, however Matt kept us informed with cost estimates and was happy to produce invoices from his subcontractors to support variations, this has built trust between us and our pool contractor which is so important.

Barrier Reef Pools was one of the only fibre glass pool suppliers that produces a shell which includes a spa.  Most fibre glass pool companies only offer separate spas from the shell.

The colour we have gone with is Royal Blue Shimmer which has a glittery effect in the sunlight, the colour is darker than I first imagined I would go with, but not as dark as it looks in the photos of the pool being installed.

You really need to see the pools installed to get a good idea of the colour of the shell - the first client of Matt's that we went to had the colour I thought I wanted - Matt said that once we saw it, we would change our mind and he was right.  When we went to Matt's second client's home and we saw this colour, Royal Blue Shimmer, glittering in the sunlight, I was hooked.  Also, this client has the same north/south orientation of the pool that we have so it gave us a really good idea of what our pool would look like in situ.

One of the other things that this research helped with was deciding on the plumbing fixture colours.  We thought that white stood out too much so we opted for grey fittings which was a special order.  We had grey fittings in our spa at our previous house and we liked they way that they faded in to the background, sort of like painting your fence a dark colour.

Here are a couple of photos of the finished product, and some action shots of the pool going in.
photos courtesy of www.barrierreefpools.com.au

The finished Brooklyn

Looking forward to next summer!

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Easter Update

Happy Easter Everyone!

My family and I are taking a much needed break over the Easter holidays in one of our favourite holiday locations, Noosa. 

The last few months have been challenging to say the least.  When I left you last, we were embarking on yet another planning permission process.  While the council did everything they could to expedite the process, there is only so much that they can do.  Our advertising period ended on December 22nd, however, just after Christmas, the council notified us that they had received an objection from a neighbour.  The neighbour basically objected to everything except us breathing, fortunately, none of the matters he objected to required us to change our plans.  When an objection has been received however,  a planning permit cannot be issued until three weeks after the council have considered the objection and issued their decision.  While the council did issue their decision in our favour we then had to wait for the VCAT period to expire.  The VCAT period is the time allowed for the objector to appeal council's decison to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  With all the public holidays in December and January, we finally received our planning permit on February 2nd.

The site cut started that week and we held our breath to see if we would encounter the costly unknown...rock.  The building Gods must have decided that we had encountered enough bad luck and I am delighted to say that the site cut and the excavation for the pool revealed not only no rock but the best soil conditions to build in....Clay!

When we left for Queensland, the plumbing was in, the site cut was finished, the pool was in and the meter box was done.  The electrical pit works were completed during the planning permit phase....much to our grumpy neighbour's discontent.  Hopefully when we return, the piers and stumps will be in, the retaining walls will be done and we will be out of the ground....fingers crossed!

The lower section is the garage foot print, the upper section is where the pool will be

Plumbing is in

All that dirt at the back of the block will be used to level out the "south lawn"

 Footings for the retaining walls are in, these will surround the pool.

After reading Belinda's advice from one her posts on Gallerie B, we made sure that the meter box and switch board were positioned correctly.  The meter box will be on the back of the stone clad pillars either side of the driveway and front gate.  This is its temporary home, on a pole, until the driveway pillars are built.  The switch board will be located in the garage, out of view and easy to access without going outside - the last thing you want to do in a blackout!!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Easter!