Thursday, 19 December 2013

Trailer Returned

Our trailer was returned today along with it's contents. A big relief as one less issue to worry about. The temporary fencing ordered by Wisdom was installed yesterday. The guys who installed it were expecting an empty block as they assumed the demolition of our old house had been done.  They described our block as worse than a tropical rainforest in QLD, because of all the vegetation. I guess that means the demo company won't need to install their own fencing, but they will need to move Wisdom's so they can remove all the trees along the boundaries.
No more tears for the dramas caused by the incompetencies of the builder, just total indifference now. However, we are dreading dealing with the problems that are awaiting us over the next 12 months, and considering our experience with Wisdom so far, we  are reasonably sure there will be many more to come.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Demo Delay

I had a meeting with the demolition company on the 30th November at our house. The owner's words were that somehow Wisdom let our demolition fall through the cracks. The demo company is very small and can only handle one demo at a time, so we are in a queue, with others ahead of us. He said he would discuss moving us up in the queue with Wisdom, as he pretty much worked exclusively for them, so maybe they could swap us around with one less urgent. If Wisdom used one of the bigger demo companies we would have had our house demolished by now. We have seen many houses around us being demolished who's DA's were approved after ours.
Unfortunately it appears we did not get moved in the queue and the only thing that has happened at our house is the kitchen has been ripped out and left in a heap in the middle of the floor. They still cannot give us a date of when they will be in to demolish, and still say sometime in January.
On top of it all, one of the employees of the demo company took our trailer without permission,  which was full of galvanised steel mesh that my husband had plans to use, and so far after a few phone calls and many text messages promising its return, it has failed to reappear at our property. So we are left wondering what to do next. Do we call the police? Then our demo may be put to the bottom of the queue.

Friday, 29 November 2013

More delays

I am now ranking this building process as being in the top 5 most distressing experiences I have been through in my life. Everytime we allow ourselves to feel a little bit relaxed or excited about our new house, some problem rears it's ugly head and those feelings get replaced with stress and anxiety. The thought of the house now just makes me cry and my husband doesn't want to discuss the house as he says he no longer cares about it.
Yesterday we found out we will have to wait approximately 2 months to get our old house demolished bringing us to January and a start date for the builders of at least February. It seems the rain has caused major backlogs for the demo company. Our builders were supposed to be organizing the demo and had told us the demolition would take place before Xmas. I rang the demo company and it was them who told me they couldn't do it for a while. The builder hadn't even spoken to them. Now the builder is telling us it might be quicker if we arrange our own demolition and if we can and they will credit us the cost. They should be trying to find another demo company, not me. Talk about leaving you high and dry.

The lease runs out on our rental in February and our new house probably won't have started. We found out after we signed the lease that our rental house is being demolished also so the owner probably won't renew the lease, despite the agent telling us before we signed that there would be no problem renewing. So looks like we will have to pack up and move again. We could have still been comfortably living in our old house all this time and saving thousands on rent.

Maybe I should have been happy with what I had instead of chasing the dream if bigger and better material possessions.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Final Documents and Construction Plans Received

On Friday we received our final documents after 8 working days, 2 days less than the expected 10 working days quoted to us by the builder. We were very surprised as we expected far more detailed drawings considering it takes Wisdom up to 10 days to prepare them, but they are the same drawings as those submitted with the DA, except they include any changes requested by council. Our only change was a privacy screen on a balcony. I guess it is because the process of initiating the final documents starts in the dreaded Estimating department, Wisdom's big black hole. I was really quite relieved they were the same drawings as it means less time is required to check them so we can get them back quickly. Now we are wondering if we get to see drawings that show the location of aircon ducts and vacuum system ducts, as we want to make sure we are happy with these. We have also requested extra noggins in some walls so we can mount tv's and want to check this also. I guess we will just have to check this all out during construction.

Our next big question is will we make our end of year tender expiry date. They should be on site approx 3 weeks from the day we sign and return the final documents. That would bring us into mid December and builders cease work for 1 month from the 20th December. It is possible, but leaves no room for any delays.  OMG the apprehension is killing me. I need to get busy with Christmas shopping to keep myself occupied.

And one more thing I need to vent about. Wisdom are still trying to charge us for an item that is unnecessary in the hydraulics design. Despite never laying eyes on my property, they keep telling me there is a gutter layback in the neighbour's gutter adjacent to our property that requires galvanised plumbing run behind it as part of the storm water system at a cost of $1200. We have told them over and over the layback doesn't exist but they continue to argue with me, so I have now taken a photo and will send it to them. The arrogance of the senior management in that company never ceases to amaze me. Thank god for our CSO who has been amazing otherwise we probably would have walked away ages ago.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Just when we thought our time in admin was nearly over.....

Got to stop having expectations about when things should be finalised. Then maybe the constant disappointments won't seem so bad.
This week we were expecting our final drawings for signing off, because we were advised by the builder  that we would have them 10 days after our DA approval. All we got was another list of charges that needed to be paid and advice that the construction certificate wasn't yet ready, after being told it would take a week. It wasn't ready because Wisdom's private certifier had a list of requirements that needed to be met before they would issue it. We did also get a list of final variations to sign off, and oddly enough the list included all the variations that we had already signed off, so not sure why we have to sign them twice. Of course there were mistakes, like a missing $4400 credit for tiled flooring that we weren't having.

These Certifier requirements included:

  2. AMENDED PLANS (final plans will take min. 10 days for Wisdom to draft and then they have to be mistake free so that we can sign off on them before they go to the certifier)

  • Vehicle crossing/driveway (Wisdom Homes responsibility, as Wisdom Landscapes will be producing the Driveway)
  • Security Deposit  ($1440.00) (Client responsibility). 
  • Infrastructure Fee ($166.50)  (Clients responsibility).
  • Enforcement Levy ($707.11) (Clients responsibility).
  •  Alignment Levels  (Wisdom Responsibility)
  •  Boundary Levels (Wisdom Responsibility) 
We were told we would have a slab down before Christmas. In fact we were told that we could have a slab 6 weeks after the DA was approved. It is now 3 weeks since DA approval and it will be another 2 weeks before final plans. Then they have to be checked and assuming there will be mistakes, will need to be amended (another 10 days???), than sent off to the certifier so he can complete construction certificate. Then our old house needs to be demolished. I think we will be lucky to have them on site before Christmas.

The time frames Wisdom give you are so unrealistic and that is where the frustration lies. If we were told the worst case scenario then it would come as a pleasant surprise when things were done sooner. We moved out of our old house which is being demolished and took a rental property based on their 6 week post DA time frame and it looks like we will end up wasting thousands of dollars in rent because we did not need to move out so soon.

We look back to the start of the building process and realise how naive we were, and constantly wonder if we have made the right decision in choosing Wisdom Homes, and also wonder how different our experience would have been if we had gone with our other chosen builder.  Wisdom dangled a carrot to get us to sign, which they later tried to take away, unsuccessfully I might add.

Friday, 18 October 2013

DA from Council and Letter from the Bank

Yay! We got our DA from council on 11th October with only a couple of minor conditions to be met. We have to install a privacy screen on our rear balcony and the large tree shown on the landscaping plan in the front yard must be planted 3 metres from our neighbours' boundary. Too easy.

As soon as we got a copy of the stamped DA we sent it to our bank with all the other necessary documents, i.e. copy of the builder's license and home owner's warranty insurance certificate. Three days later we had our letter from the bank for the builder confirming funds were available.

I can't believe we are almost out of admin after almost 1 year. Next step demolition of our old house. Things can finally get moving on the build.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Horrible Hydarulics Again

Our Hydraulics plan was sent to Wisdom by the engineer approx a week or 2 before they lodged our plans with council. We never got to see it until a week after they lodged the plans, so too bad if we wanted anything changed. We asked many times for a copy. We also consistently asked for the variation on the cost of the hydraulics.  We finally got that 4 weeks after they lodged with council so too bad if we weren't happy with it. Our CSO at Wisdom was considerate enough to call before she emailed the variation to me, so she could give me the bad news over the phone on a Friday evening just before their office closed. It was double what we were expecting. Their sales person only advised us to put a $5000 provision in our tender for additional hydraulics. The variation was $24000. How wrong could they be. I asked her to email it to my husband as well as I didn't want to be the one that told him and then be in his firing line.  So for some unknown reason it took them 6 weeks to get me a quote for the hydraulics, and now they have pretty much taken any chance we had of reducing the cost by coming up with an alternative, away from us. They blamed the plumber for taking too long to provide his quote. Since we are in council, if we change the plans it will cost us in engineer and council fees, not to mention the delay. We have already been charged once to extend our tender.
My husband had the weekend to regain his composure and then called Wisdom on the Monday. We asked for a breakdown of the costs for the Atlantis system underground stormwater pit. Everything else was itemised except that and we know all the components required to construct it, so we just wanted to know why it was such a costly item.  They refused. My husband asked what would happen if we refused to sign. They said they would end the contract with us. It has taken us 2 years to get to this point so that idea didn't thrill us.
So here we are over a barrel. Not loving Wisdom too much at the moment.

Our OSD calculations and plans are shown below.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Colours, Kitchens, Carpets

Think we have signed off on all interior stuff now. My brain is dead from all this decision making.
We upgraded the carpet and opted out of the tiled floors in non-wet areas as we found we could get bamboo floors done for over $2000 cheaper than through Di Lorenzo.
We changed the layout in the kitchen to include an island bench and upgraded to polyurethane doors.
For the electrical we added lots of powerpoints and bayonet light fittings. We will change the bayonets over to LED downlights after handover. Our investigations into pricing showed  we could do this for approx $70 less per light fitting than if we used Clipsal.
We upgraded the aircon to Actron ESP plus with 7 zones.
Wisdom's landscaping quote came in at $33000. Apart from the driveway we will either do the work ourselves or go directly to contractors for each component. Landscape companies charge more because they subcontract the work so have to take their cut as well as paying the subcontractors.
So far we have exceeded our provisional allowances in our tender by nearly $15000 and we aren't finished yet. Ouch. Need to get hubby working harder.

Horrible Hydraulics

So far this has been the most stressful part. We used the Hydraulics engineer recommended by Wisdom and were advised that we needed 8000L retention and 1000L detention so we were going to need at least 2 tanks and a small underground bladder for overflow to stormwater. Small block big house, big problem trying to fit above ground tanks in.

This is the only thing holding us up from lodging our DA with council. We tried to sort this out with Wisdom at the beginning of the year so it would not delay us, but in Wisdom's usual style if it gets too difficult they aren't very supportive. So we got to the point where we were forced to deal with it as we need to lodge our DA. So we have done all the research and phone calls to get the necessary info about compliance and council rules, not the builder who will be taking a huge amount if money from us.

We have one side of our house that has a narrow setback and this is where we want the tanks. At the widest point on this side we could fit 1 x 3500L tank but we were told that the rest of this side was too narrow to fit tanks as they need a 45cm setback from the boundary. So we found many other options such as tanks that are so narrow they run along your fenceline or underground trafficable poly tanks. Wisdom would not accommodate any of these and said we had to go with their supplier, who only do aboveground colorbond tanks, narrowest being 55cm, and it had to be 45cm from the boundary so the only way to fit another tank in would be to put it in the backyard. We don't want anything on the other side of the house so we have clear access if we want to bring anything large into the backyard. They did offer an underground concrete tank but it needs such deep excavation that we would would have to pay for extra piering on the house.

Finally we spoke to our council, which Wisdom could have done, and found out the rule about locating the tank 45cm from the boundary only applies if you want to comply without the need for a DA. Since we are submitting the DA for a new house with tanks included we don't need to comply with the 45cm rule and we can include a statement supporting our chosen location for the tanks in our Statement if Environmental Effects. Too easy, but not for Wisdom!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Colours and Landscaping Appointments

On Wednesday 05th June we had our colours and landscaping appointments. We used up the full 2 hours for the colours despite being what we thought was well prepared. We had driven around many new housing estates looking at colour schemes in the months prior, and had lots of photos to show them what look we were after. Still wondering if we have done any psychological damage to our kids by forcing them to spend so many hours trapped in the car on weekends.

For the landscaping we were limited as our council is strict on the amount of site coverage you can have. After the house, pool and driveway, the rest could only be permeable, so was mostly lawn and garden beds. So we are now waiting on the quote to come back from Wisdom.

Here are our colours. I am referring to the house as either the Whitehouse or the Lighthouse as the externals are all light colours and the internals are all whites. Our colour consultant said we were playing it safe. Hope that doesn't mean we are boring:

Bricks: PGH Cement
Mortar: Off White
Joints: Flushed
Windows: Pearl White Gloss
Roof: Colourbond Dune
Gutter: Dune
Fascia: Surfmist
Garage Door: Surfmist
Driveway: Bluestone
Scyon Linea cladding: Surfmist
Front Door: Maple door with Natural Stain

Kitchen, bathrooms, laundry
Caesar Stone Benchtops: Snow
Cupboards: White (will decide type of door at kitchen appt to see if our budget allows for the polyurethane for the kitchen cupboards)
Splashback: White Float

The photo in the middle is of a house with a Dune roof and Surfmist cladding. It looks so different than the small samples in the top photo. The bricks are almost identical in colour to ours. Apart from our windows being white this is the colour scheme we are going for. The bottom photo is of our choices for the kitchen, laundry and bathroom benchtops and cupboards (unless we change our mind).

Friday, 24 May 2013

Got Bank approval

We got our conditional bank approval today. Off to sign contracts with Wisdom tomorrow. This all starting to feel like a reality now.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Waiting for Bank Approval

We purchased our house in Sydney's northern suburbs over 8 years ago with a plan to knockdown rebuild within 5-10 years. So here we are about to embark on the building journey.

We started searching for our dream house early last year. It took us over 6 months of visiting numerous display villages, and bribing very bored children with much junk food, before we finally picked one.  

The Wisdom Trinity 33 was a good choice for us as it is not a very deep home, and we wanted to retain as much of our back yard as possible four our 2 human kids, and also our canine kid, who being a kelpie cross labrador needs a bit of space to run around.

We are currently in the admin stage with Wisdom, which seems tediously slow. The initial $1500 deposit was paid back in November. We made a lot of alterations to the floor plans, and every time you make any changes, it takes Wisdom 2 weeks to for the change to go through their estimating and drafting  departments. But you need to get everything correct upfront so your final tender price is as close to accurate as possible, especially if you are applying to the bank for a loan. Banks don't like you going back to them for more money if you run out later during the build. 

So today we had the valuer appointed by our bank to put a value on our land combined with the new house. Fingers crossed that we can avoid mortgage insurance. Once we have that bank approval we can sign our contract with Wisdom. Very scary but very exciting.

I have attached some images of our plans.