Final occupancy certificate, pools and puppies!

We’ve been working hard to get our landscaping finished off so that we can get our final occupancy certificate. We booked it in for today, which gave our Colin, our landscaper, a deadline to work towards. Actually, the inspection was … Continue reading

An update on the pool

There isn’t one.

The only difference between now and last time I posted about the pool is that the pool is once again full of dirty water from the rain. We are at a bit of a crossroads, we need to decide how we want the final design to look, and we keep changing our minds about paving, decking etc. Then when we do finally decide and agree on something, we find out from council that it won’t be allowed! Hint: apparently timber decking must be 900mm off the boundary fences. There goes that idea of a nice timber feature at the end of the pool… If only the council websites had more detailed information, life would be so much easier!

On a brighter note however, we do now have boundary fences, which also means we have some privacy! Finally! The block next door to us is now under construction, and it was getting a bit tiring coming downstairs at 7am in the dark, wearing a dressing gown and a towel wrapped around my just-washed hair, heading to the kitchen to turn on the kettle for a morning coffee, only to be greeted by a bunch of builders right outside my window, looking at me. That fence had to be erected, it became urgent! And thankfully we have good neighbours and future neighbours, and both fences are now done (actually they are finishing the last fence as I write this).

So here’s to privacy, and to hopefully finishing off this pool before summer!

Maintenance still not finished…

Talk about a slow process! Front porch re-tiling was done last week, and they were back today to do the grout. In the rain. So now the porch is sheeted in plastic and we can’t walk on it for 2 days. Hmmm. Still waiting though for the “silicone guy” to come back and fix up our ensuite shower niche – I’ve been told a few times now by the tiling company that this would be happening – so far he hasn’t turned up.

We had to get the plumbers back out too. I’ve been phoning Sydney Water pretty much ever since we moved in, asking for them to please come out and connect our recycled water meter. And nothing ever happens. I finally got sick of waiting for them last week and lodged a formal complaint. Suddenly they were interested, called me, did some investigating, and it turns out that the pipes were installed too close together, and too low into the ground, so despite a number of attempts by Sydney Water, they couldn’t connect the meter. Would have been nice for them to tell me that in the first place! Anyway, plumbers came back yesterday, pipes are now sitting up significantly higher than they were, and hopefully Sydney Water will come back and finally fit the water meter!

The painters were back on the weekend and did all the final touch ups. So once the silicone guy comes back, I think we’ll finally be finished inside!

Now if only the rain would stop, we might even be able to get the pool finished off!

I guess Rome wasn’t built in a day…….

Maintenance is almost done!

I mentioned in a post a little while back that we were going through the maintenance period, as a result of our 13 week inspection. We’re still waiting on a few things to be done, but we’re almost there!

So far, we have had all the fiddly little things done – repairs to nicks and chips in the walls, loose door handles, sticky pop-up plugs, rough carpet edges, etc etc.

We have had some major works done too, with some tiles in our kitchen needing to be lifted, the slab underneath needing to be jackhammered up to remove a lump, and new tiles laid. That made a hell of a mess, and I’m still cleaning up dust! We were very fortunate that we were able to get tiles in the same shade – each batch of tiles, even though they’re the same colour, always differ slightly from previous batches, but thankfully the tiles we have are a 99% match to what was originally laid. If you didn’t know, you’d never notice!

We are having our front porch re-tiled next week, from when the brick cleaning process damaged them. Thankfully this is outside so the dust shouldn’t permeate every nook and cranny of the house like the kitchen tiles did!

We’re still waiting for the driveway to be re-sealed. Not sure why but we have some large white patches that came through a few weeks after we moved in. Apparently re-sealing will fix this.

And the painter is booked to come back and do the final touchups on the repaired areas.

I just wanted to say, again, that Wisdom have been extremely helpful and accommodating throughout this process. Nothing has been a problem for them. We did have one issue regarding some damaged windows, where we had acid damage on the outside of the glass. Wisdom initially said that they wouldn’t do anything about this because it wasn’t picked up at handover. However, when we explained that it was raining on the day of handover, as well as the days before and after, and it would have been impossible to see the damage due to the rain on the windows, they agreed to have the windows replaced. I wasn’t quite so thrilled with that solution though – very generous of them, but then I started thinking about the mess, and the sheer scale of the job (we’re talking about some very large windows). So we came to a compromise – I sourced a professional glass polishing company who specialise in graffiti and acid damage removal, and they paid. The deal was that if it didn’t work, we’d pay, and they’d replace the windows. Thankfully it worked, and was a win/win. We didn’t have any inconvenience from having building work done in our loungeroom, and Wisdom surely saved money by not having to replace the windows!

So we’re almost at the end of the line as far as our involvement with Wisdom goes. Once these final things are done, I guess we’re on our own as they will have fulfilled all of their obligations.

So to Wisdom, thank you. Thank you for our amazing house, thank you for your staff who always go above and beyond and kept us in the loop the whole time, and thank you for making the building process so incredibly easy and stress-free! If I ever build again, it would be another Wisdom home for sure!

The end result

The house was easy … the pool is a bit more stressful!

Well, we have decided to build a pool. It’s not a recent decision – we signed contracts back in December. As yet, all we have is a concrete hole in the ground and a bit of plumbing. Building a house was easier (and quicker) by comparison!

We did choose to excavate 24 hours before Sydney experienced it’s heaviest rain in over a hundred years. That wasn’t such a good decision. But the weather forecast didn’t mention that the rain was going to be the heaviest in a century. It just said “possible scattered showers”. Who knew…

It was interesting to see the pool fill up rather quickly, and to then watch one corner totally collapse and cave in. That was a little bit soul destroying.

It was scary when, in the middle of the night a few days later, we heard a massive splash, and on inspection, peering into the murky water, something (still don’t know what it was) leapt out of the water, splashed back in, and then (we assume) eventually managed to scramble out, pulling more of the wall down in the process.

When the excavators came back a few days later to remove the collapsed portion of the pool, we were half expecting them to find some kind of animal. They didn’t, so it must have escaped.

And now we’re at a standstill. Waiting for concrete to cure is like waiting for paint to dry. Endless, boring… And of course we’re now in the middle of winter, so I’m not exactly motivated to get things moving again!

I can visualise the finished product, and I know we’re going to love it when it’s done. But I kind of secretly wish that we hadn’t actually started building a pool. If we didn’t, then our landscaping would be finished by now, and I wouldn’t feel like I was still living in a building site. I just keep telling myself that it will be worth it. It will be worth it. It WILL BE WORTH IT!

My advice to anyone else who is building and is considering also putting in a pool? Do it at the same time (or before) the house. Save yourself some headaches.

And don’t forget to budget for all the “other stuff” that they don’t include in contracts.

  • Removal and dumping of excavated material (they included the cost of excavating, but not taking away and disposing of the dirt. One tip quoted over $20,000 to dump the dirt!! It’s worth trying to find somewhere or someone local to take dirt before you start excavating)
  • Additional plumbing (this will be a per meter cost if you want the filter located further away from the pool).
  • Electrical (you’ll need your own electrician to connect everything to power)
  • Coping tiles/pavers and waterline tiles
  • Fencing
  • Retaining walls (maybe)

Here are a few pics of the pool progress to date…

Before the rain

After the deluge

The collapsed corner

Concrete poured – now it looks like a pool!

13 week maintenance inspection

Holy cow Batman, we’ve had our 13 week inspection! Can’t believe we’ve been in our new home for almost 4 months. It really didn’t take long for us to feel like we were ‘at home’, and we have settled in so well.

Someone from Wisdom came out almost 2 weeks ago and conducted our 13 week maintenance inspection. This is a standard event that happens with all new homes – after roughly 3 months, the builder comes back out and goes through any issues that you may have. Things that, in the scheme of things, are generally relatively minor or cosmetic, but which aren’t immediately apparent when you first move in. For instance, after a few weeks, the house begins to ‘settle’ and so you may see some small cracks in the cornices or grout.

Our maintenance list was quite extensive, but there was nothing really significant on it. But as this is a new house, we expect that it will be finished ‘as new’, and so we sighted everything that we weren’t 100% happy with, from paint drips on a linen press door, through to acid damage on a large window (ok, so maybe some of the things were significant).

One thing that we are 100% certain of is that the house doesn’t leak! With all the rain that Sydney has had lately, it was the perfect test for us. I did expect the house to slide down the hill at one stage during a particularly heavy deluge, but it stood strong!

It turns out that the man who did the inspection has also bought a block of land in the estate, so I guess it’s in his best interest to keep all of us Wisdom clients happy – we know where he lives! (joking, honestly…)

Wisdom, as always, were extremely efficient in their dealings with us regarding the maintenance inspection. They even emailed us a week before to remind us to get our list in! And within an hour of receiving it, they had called to make the appointment for the inspection. And today, not quite 2 weeks after the inspection, the report has been written up and the tradies have been booked. They’ll all be here on Thursday 5th April to fix everything.

I am still astounded by just how quickly and efficiently they built our home! We are surrounded by homes under construction. In our stretch of the street, there are 3 homes under construction, and two of them are Wisdom. The other is Clarendon. It started months ago. Not long after ours in fact. It still hasn’t finished. The two Wisdom homes started at least 2 months after the Clarendon. They are almost completed. And they’re not just knocking up houses with no regard for quality. They just seem to be able to manage the process better than some of the other builders. There are always tradesmen onsite. Always. Even on weekends. I saw one home being built, and the painters were there at night, painting by torch light! Just quietly, I’m glad it wasn’t my house, but still, you have to admire their commitment!

So we are now almost officially at the end of our building experience. Was it stressful? No. Was it exciting? Yes. Would I do it again? If I had to. Would I build with Wisdom again? Yes. And was it worth it? A resounding YES!

Now, for the landscaping…….

We’re Home!!!

We have moved in!! Last weekend in fact. A little later than we’d originally thought – our PCI uncovered a few things that needed to be rectified, and which couldn’t be done within the normal 7 days. So we were given a handover date of Thursday 24th November. Between the 11th and 24th the Wisdom tradies worked their proverbials off getting everything finished for us, and they did a fantastic job! We met Joe onsite on the morning of the 24th, after visiting Westpac to pick up our final cheque, and went through everything again. Most of the work had been completed, with only a handful of things still to be done.

The appliances were delivered that morning, our beautiful big oven and dishwasher, ready for installation the following day (after handover, for security reasons!).

So after going through the house again, we made our way to Narellan and FINALLY met The Lovely Sandi (who is still lovely…) We went through the handover within about 45 minutes, were presented with our keys and a lovely gift basket of chocolates, an ice bucket, some glasses and a bottle of Moet, and then VIOLA, we were the proud owners of our new home!

That afternoon was a bit of a blur, with deliveries starting. My in-laws helped us out with their van, and brought over all the flat packed furniture from Ikea that I’d purchased earlier in the week.

On Friday the house was full of tradies again, installing the appliances (oven, dishwasher and hot water). The air conditioner external unit was still on the production line so we had to wait until Monday for that to be installed (which we thought would be OK, but didn’t anticipate the weather being so warm over the weekend!)

Saturday was moving day. And down came the rain! I feared at one stage that we’d have to float our furniture to the house! Talk about stressful. It didn’t help that the removalist company I’d hired sent us 3 of the most careless, untrained people we’d ever met, who didn’t do anything to take care of, or protect, our furniture. As a result, after lots of dropped boxes and deeply scratched and gouged furniture, we sacked them after the first load, and sent them on their way.

Luckily we found another mover who could help us out, and by the time they were available the rain had stopped and the sun came out. And these guys were FANTASTIC! By 5pm, we had everything in. Boxes were too wet to take upstairs on the carpet so everything was piled in to the garage and the downstairs living areas. Now the fun begins – unpacking!

After being here now for a week, we’ve made some really good progress. I built all the furniture through the week, and unpacked a HEAP of boxes. We still have to organise the pantry – didn’t realise we had so many appliances! The kids think that Christmas has come early because of the toys that they’re rediscovering after being in storage for the last 18 months. I’m hoping to get rid of a lot of them before they realise though, as there are way too many toys!

And the most important thing? We’re home. Our rental was never home for us, it was just a means to an end. I haven’t felt “at home” since we moved from our house last year.

But now, we’re home…

It’s a date!

Yep, we have a date. It’s still a slightly fluid date, but it’s something. We have our PCI (Practical Completion Inspection) scheduled for Friday 11th November. That’s only 2 weeks away. And then handover is generally 7 days after PCI, which gives us a handover date of 18th November. YIKES! Unless we find anything majorly wrong during PCI, this timetable shouldn’t change.

And we’ve been keeping a very close eye on things, so unless something major happens between now PCI, we will be moving in 3 weeks time.

The house is looking fantastic! The bathroom and laundry tiling is now complete, and the painters have finished. The scaffolding is coming down so it’s starting to look less like a construction site. The toilets, spa and bath should go in this week. The tilers will be back to do the floors. The plumber and the electrician have both finished. And I think the last thing will be the carpet. Externally, the driveway should start this week or early next week, and the site should be cleaned. The house cleaners have been booked for a few days before PCI. We have now selected the supplier for our window coverings – Craig from All Blind Solutions also happens to be a new neighbour, and from what we’ve been told by others who have had their shutters and blinds installed by him, he does a great job. And if we’re lucky, we may even have the shutters by Christmas!

We’ve also contacted Telstra and have an appointment for their technician to come in and set up the home phone. I’ll be calling the energy company this week to get that all sorted too, so I don’t have to leave anything to the last minute.

Now we just need to find a good quality, affordable (if there’s such a combination) removal company, and we’ll be ready. Oh, and give notice to our landlord (can’t WAIT to do that!!).

I have to say, I’m a little bit overwhelmed by my every-growing “to do” list. It’s very busy at work at the moment, hubby is going through a transition to a new company / new job (which he starts 3 days after PCI – guess who’s going to be unpacking by herself!), and now we have to pack and move. But we thrive on challenges, and I know it will all be worth it.

Our house is almost ready for us to turn it into a home. How good is that?!

Craig Gardiner
All Blind Solutions
M: 0414 648 944

It had to happen eventually…

Things have been going too smoothly with our build, so eventually SOMETHING had to go wrong. And this week, we had our first problem. But before I go into detail, I need to say that, like our whole experience to date with Wisdom, it was handled quickly, efficiently and with absolutely no drama, which is a credit to this amazing company.

So, before the build commenced, we opted to include pre-wiring for speakers in our media room & alfresco area, as well as HDMI cabling for a ceiling mounted projector. This was at a significant cost, and involved the services of an external contractor who Wisdom use on all their jobs for this kind of work.

Last week we were looking at the house, and commenting that the painting was almost finished, the holes for the downlights, power points, etc, were all cut, and that we were getting close to handover, and it dawned on us that we’d seen no provision for the speaker wiring, other than a hole in the media room ceiling for a powerpoint (for the projector).

So I called The Amazing Joe late that afternoon and asked him if it had been done. He told me he actually wasn’t sure, and he’d get back to me. Alarm bells!! Obviously now we’re starting to panic, and imaging ceilings being ripped apart, seeing handover delays, and of course thinking the worst.

Next morning, I called the contractor who was responsible for installing the cables, and I asked him if he remembered doing our house. And guess what? He was on site while I was speaking to him. He was doing the work because it actually HAD been forgotten. But in true Wisdom fashion, they were just getting on and fixing it, and yes, it was a bigger job to have to do it at this stage of the build, he had to run much longer cables to the alfresco, but it wasn’t a problem. Then I got a call from The Amazing Joe to tell me that it was all under control.

I haven’t met Joe yet, but I am so grateful that he is our building supervisor. He is old school – he just makes things happen. And he’s exactly the kind of person you want overseeing your job!

So to The Amazing Joe, thank you! Yes, there are some things that aren’t right, but I know that they’ll be addressed and resolved because Joe’s on the job!

Locked up & fitting out

On Thursday 22nd September, we officially got to lock up. It was quite evident by the beautiful big door that was installed! The day before lock up, our staircase was installed, which just looks amazing! And now all of the cabinetry is being installed. I went through the house the other day with the builders, and they were working on installing the vanity units in all the bathrooms, the kitchen cabinets, and the laundry cabinets. All the plasterboard is completed, and the carpenters are finishing off the architraves. Such great progress! According to The Amazing Joe, we are looking at a mid-November handover. That’s only 6 weeks away! OMG!