About Me

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I am a SAHM who does work from home occasionally, dedicated to raising 3 Godly, independent, healthy children. Loving the home building process though it is not without challenges. I have fairly free reign over the creative aspect of the project...just not the financial side!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting to final stage of brickwork

I think only that top section to brick now

Actually some at the back too as I can see loads of sunlight

The pillars of concern! Already more used to them ;-)

Facade Update

Well the decision has been made to leave it as is and hopefully once it is all completed and with time, I will get used to it. Without final costings, the rough estimation to change it was going to be about 4 weeks delay (ouch!), $4000 and all to get a gap of 200mm. The cost in both time and money was not going to get an outcome I was happy with either so it has been decided to move forward. Relief from everyone at Eden Brae, I am sure, though they were happy to do whatever they could to ensure I am pleased with the final outcome.

Whilst checking this all out, I have also discovered that a section of the facade is not listed to be rendered as per the advertised facade either. The area above the stackstone under the cladding on the roof gable is supposed to be rendered. We haven't paid for it to be built like that though we did ask for the Boston facade as per the website. Again, an oversight on the part of the Tender presenter that we also signed off on. This one is much easier to fix - it just involves money. Don't think we will do anything about it.

Both of these oversights highlight the importance of good communication every step of the way and the need to take time to discuss the build with your client. We asked for the Boston facade as per the photo on the website and trusted our builder to either put that into the tender document or explain why it could not be done like that. Saves great disappointment later on. Having said that, if these are the worst headaches we have during the build, we will be doing well. Such first world problems...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Surprised to see more bricks

A bit of phone tennis was played today with Bev, our Manager. Bev has spoken to the designer who explained that the facade on the website is 'an idea' of how it will look. Each design may differ according to it's unique properties. If we created columns, we may only get a 200mm walkway from each side of the house. Bev didn't think we would be happy with that prospect either. Possibly correct! Bev is going to email Troy & the designer to find out what exactly can and can't be done and the cost of changing it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A further update

Well....I emailed my Manager (Bev), CCing in my CSA (Rania) and my Site Supervisor (Troy) to let them know how disappointed I was with the facade as it stands.
"I just wanted to let you know of my gripe with our facade. Firstly, it seems to be an Eden Brae error and secondly, one that we didn't pick up on or think to check when going over the plans.
Excuse my non-technical speak but on the advertised Boston facade, each stackstone pillar has a passageway between the house & said pillar. This obviously isn't the case with our house. Going back to the signed plans, indeed our construction has been done according to these plans. I am wondering why there was a change and if there is a valid reason, why this was not pointed out to us, the clients? I honestly do not like the way these pillars look and worry that it will be too much stackstone when it gets added.
I understand that there is probably little that can be done about it now but I am really just looking for an explanantion."

Ever-efficient Bev came straight back...
"Its good to hear from you, but I am sorry for this reason!!
 I have just asked our designer to look at your plans and advise why the piers were been drawn this way. I am guessing that it could be that this wall carries the walls and brickwork for Bedroom 1 above.  Without the full piers, the bedroom above could not be supported. When I have further clarification, I will get back to you immediately. "

I am not sure this is the reason as we have not changed anything upstairs. No extra support needed. Possibly the photo was not the correct design in the first place??

Facade issue

I discovered our first hiccup yesterday when I saw the brick-to-be-stackstone pillars at the front door. On the advertised facade, each pillar has a passageway between the house & said pillar. I was shocked to see that ours didn't and to be honest, I don't like the look of it. I checked the EBH website to ensure I hadn't pictured it incorrectly in my head. No, as imagined. When I looked at our plans, it was drawn as per the photo below and of course, we have signed off on them so we have nowhere to go with this :-( I am really disappointed in Eden Brae for deviating from the advertised facade and in myself for not thinking to check that.

PS Just worked out how to get the advertised facade off the web into my blog. Nothing like a bit of PDFing and cropping! Can you now see what I am talking about? That peep of light behind the righthand pillar....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Photo update

Interestingly I thought the stackstone pillars were MADE OF stackstone not covered by it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stacker door issue

Last week, the day before our stacker doors were instaled I received a message from a friend who has recently built with Eden Brae.
"Check how the bottom of the alfresco doors are sited...ours are not flush with the tiled family areas so you have to step over them onto the outside alfresco. We were never told about this and there's absolutely nothing they can do once fitted. Might be worth a chat with someone... We are now putting aside money to redo the doors (panoramic instead of existing stacker) with flushed finish"

I quickly sent off an email to Troy that night knowing that the doors would be installed the next day. Unfortunately the reply came back that night unfavourably.
"That would be correct. There is a track running across the base of the door. This track is the guide for the door panels and it will sit above the finished floor levels. At this stage it is too late to change this. The way they are designed means that there needs to be a substancial track to support the doors. The product is not specific to Eden Brae and you would find that a number of builders using the bifold doors in their homes will have the same thing. Thanks."

A little disappointed as I am already unhappy about having a 'step down' to the tiles. Now we have a step-over and then a step-down! Maybe we will need to put money aside too just like my friend.

Kitchen post - Quiet rainy day

No work is being done today even though it hasn't rained at all since about 7:30am and in fact we have had glorious sunshine since late this morning. Boy, the rain was heavy last night though - it kept me awake between asthma attack and toothache for different children.

I have had a few people ask me about the prices for different upgrades int he kitchen. I am happy to share them on here though note, it will be different for every kitchen depending on measurements. Kitchen Culture (supplier for Eden Brae Homes) was by far, our worst experience so far in the building journey. As I have mentioned before, their customer service is lacking. I feel this is mainly due to not having any competition - we have to use KC. Some clients like to complete their own upgrades after settlement to save the builders markup. We are aiming to do as much as we can up front for convenience, tidiness and the guarantee.

These are the upgrades we got through them :-

In the kitchen :-
* Reconfigure the kitchen to be L-shaped (needed as we relocated the kitchen) - $2000
* Provide fridge run including appliance roller cupboard & 2 others above & below - $1850
* Provide additional tall cupboard to the side of fridge for brooms - $850
* Pull out, soft close bin drawer with 2x20L bins - $700
* Relocate cutlery drawers - $330
* Additional pot drawers with 30kg runners - $720
* Overhead cabinets - $1300
* Bulkheads to overhead cabinets - $650
* Provision for overhead cupboard lights - $176
* Soft close drawers - $1150
* Soft close door buffers - $220
* Provide 2 row wine rack above fridge space - $620
* 2 Hettich cutlery trays - $147
* Caesarstone upgrade - $2000
* Two tone kitchen - $500
* Silk finish to white laminex - $1230
* Undermount sink including polishing fee - $1000

In the bathrooms :-
* Stone benchtops - $2200 (powder, main & ensuite)
* Drawers to main vanity - $350
* Silk finish - $320

In the laundry :-
* Laminex benchtop to run the length of the laundry - $2150
* Laminex shelf underneath this - $277

Upgrades to taps, toilets, baths etc were on top of this at Cooks Plumbing appointment ($2000)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brickwork progress

I went to take photos of the brickwork only to discover that the suitcase I had lugged from the front of the block (with the brickies permission) to the kerbside for collection...has been thrown back over the fence :-( I am glad I didn't take the time to drag the colorbond fencing too. Little do they know that I can play this game!! I am up for the challenge.
I was stopped tonight by 2 ladies walking past. One built 10 years ago with Eden Brae and was delighted with the outcome. They were one of the very first EBH homes in Hornsby Council. She is going to walk past every day now she has seen our build happening.
3 days of bricking

Side view with alfresco pillars

Offending suitcase

A view from the rear

As I stopped by at lunchtime today my lovely neighbour offered us a sneak peak from his backyard. I clambered onto some rocks and managed to unsteadily take these photos.
I was also told that the brickies were working on Saturday whilst we were away in Melbourne - happy days!
I will post more photos this afternoon from the front.
I found a fair bit of rubbsih that has obviously been dumped over the fence eg. a large old suitcase full of rubbish, some colorbond fencing etc. You would think that with council cleanup about to happen in the next week or so, they could wait to dump it then!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brickwork started

I am leaving in 10minutes to catch a flight to Melbourne. Brad is down there already working today and will join him for drinks after work via Chapel Street. For those who know me, this is the highlight of my social calendar each year. Brad, as the client of another company, is well looked after. It will be nice to have a fun weekend together with some other fabulous people after the stresses of the last few months, in particular Brad's Dad passing away.

So there won't be any photos this afternoon but I can report that the brickwork has started and the site is being cleaned up somewhat. Looking forward to seeing what has been done today when I get home on Sunday. If anyone wants to send me a photo this afternoon, you are MORE THAN welcome!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Break open the champagne!

Eden Brae has been paid for the slab finally!It took the intervention of the State Manager of Mortgage Choice and a Relationship Manager (I think) from CBA to get this sorted. A huge weight off our shoulders. And on more good news we don't need to deal with the mortgage angel now as after the first payment, we can elect to email the bank direct with our invoices. A more streamlined process, I think.

No photos of the house today as there was more plumbing work done today. I kinda wish they would plumb the portaloo (!) - the stench from the street is revolting.

I received a call from a local real estate agent to tell me that a knockdown house 2 doors away sold (over 1400m2) and a large house to accommodate 5 boys is being built rather than a subdivision as everyone imagined. Very happy about that - the house not so much the 5 boys LOL

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bank update

As of this afternoon, the 'case of the missing slab money' has gone back to the credit area of CBA for reassessment due to the contract value decreasing by $12K. It has been escalated to the Management of the department and the State Manager of Mortgage Choice is now involved. No-one can tell me how long it needs to sit in Credit for before the file makes it way back to the Progress Claims area.

As the framework is finished, we now owe Eden Brae over $200K. At this stage, the only one from Eden Brae aware of the shortfall is the Accounts Manager who indicated it is her little secret at the moment, unless of course, someone from EBH is reading this public blog!

Brick delivery

Some of the bricks have arrived - loving the colour

Bricks for the rendering I assume

The streetscape as I drove along - 6 vehicles for our build

Today also saw the plumbing rough in started. Not sure if it was completed or not. I assume the bricking will commence tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Framework completed (I think)

View from the rear side (looking at alfresco roofline)

Front view

Side of house

Windows added

Upper windows
Looking good, don't you think?! Not sure what is scheduled for tomorrow. Site clean? Brick delivery?

The saga continues!

Oh my! I think our days of using our broker are nearly over. More hassle than they are worth. I received a call last night from the 'angel' informing me of the most current issue ie. because our new contract value with EBH is less than the original contract, there are ramifications for the valuation of the house which impacts of the loan. Our case now needs to go to the certification team and the valuer for re-assessment. I was promised that others would deal with it within the 'angel' office before our angel returned to work today at 2pm.
I left a message for our broker this morning asking for a return call with an update. Nothing! In the meantime, I rang the accounts manager at EBH to update & to have a cry on her shoulder ;-) Shirley gave me more information than Mortgage Choice have. She told me that I would need to submit the final variations list plus amount to CBA and/or they would need to draw up a new contract altogether. Obviously, this payment isn't forthcoming to EBH any time soon.
I scanned all the documents in waiting to 'hit the button' when requested. I, of course did not hear from Mortgage Choice until I called the 'angel' at 2:15pm. The information was sent (could have been sent 4 hours earlier if I had been contacted as promised) and I received this email back later this afternoon
"All the documentation that we sent to CBA is due to be looked at tomorrow, I have escalated this matter again for you. Julie from our office is going to touch base with CBA tomorrow morning and she will update you."
Now that was the promise I had yesterday with no follow through. We have let the broker know how we are feeling about the situation. Let's see if we get any serious action from them. This is unprofessional to say the least.

Monday, April 8, 2013

And a quick update on bank payment

Not yet finalized though there are promises of this afternoon being bandied around! Grrr...
Fortunately Eden Brae are being very understanding from my communications with them and aren't about to put tools down just yet ;-)

Top storey on

Can just see the alfresco roof peaking out the back

Stacker doors for around the alfresco
Window delivery

 Awful amount of rubbish on site :-(

Friday, April 5, 2013

Progress on the build & with the bank

Preparations were made today to move on up to the next storey and according to one of my neighbours there was electrical work done today as part of his precious lawn was dug up :-( A great way to meet your new neighbour.

I received an email from my Mortgage angel
"This afternoon CBA has confirmed receiving all the information that I sent yesterday, it is going to get actioned on Monday so i will check again and will update you."
I very politely thanked her instead of ranting & raving about not sending it earlier, saving us all a big headache. Stayed tuned to see if Eden Brae get paid for the work they finished a few weeks ago!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Electrical plan

Quite a few people have been asking me of late about our electrical plan  -  what we added for the huge upgrade and how much individual items were. I will add in the cover page for our electrical selections but I warn you, it is quite confusing. Even our consultant admitted that it isn't the easiest document to follow for the average punter. Some items are listed with a cost price even though they are included in our package eg. exhaust fans, smoke detectors. Craig gave me an explanation at the time which seemed reasonable.

Moving forward but still waiting....

Upon hearing from our Mortgage Broker late this afternoon, it appears we have some progress. It seems that CBA were unaware that we had made ANY payments for the pool as the receipts we forwarded diligently to our 'Mortgage Angel' as requested, had not been then sent to the bank. These receipts have now gone to CBA so we are waiting to hear that all is OK for our slab payment tone finalised. One stressful day!

Impeccable timing - NOT!

The landscape quote from Outback Landscapes came through yesterday right in the midst of sorting out the bank issues. Whilst I was reasonably happy with the quote considering the scope of work & the size of our land, my Mr Finance was not. I did include my big wish of semi frameless glass for the pool fencing. There is only a difference of about $3.5K between that & aluminium fencing. Well worth it, I say, as long as it is the kids job to clean it! I have also asked about masonry retaining walls out the front of the house and along the side - this will add another $2-3K to the quote.
 I will sit on this for a while and possibly get another quote from a local company for comparison.

I tried to post the quote without actual figures and personal identifying information. It was all edited out but when I uploaded to this blog, the information magically reappeared?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bank issues

I have received an email from our Mortgage Angel this afternoon who promptly got a fiery phone call from me.  It seems paying for the pool separately yet included in the valuation is not a great idea.

"I have just spoken to CBA and CBA has requested receipts from the pool builder for your contribution of $X for the pool.
As per CBA your total contribution was going to be $Y, out of this CBA has evidence of $Z being paid already by yourself.
CBA is looking for evidence of payment of $X before they will pay the builder for the slab.

Could you please forward that to me as soon as possible?"

Um, NO! We have half a pool which is why we had paid only half the amount! HURRY UP AND PAY OUR BUILDER NOW.

Update - And it seems that we are not going to get any joy from the bank even though we are getting a loan fro $40K more than what we need. Before they pay EBH for the slab we need to pay THEM for the rest of the pool and recoup that money at the end. CRAZY! We have demonstrated to them our ability to pay for it already.
Note to others - it will be much easier not to add other items to your valuation eg. pool, landscaping, driveway etc if you are paying for it out of your own pocket.

Screenshot of upcoming work

Geez, 11 days behind already. Bad luck Troy! Not sure what those 11 days were.....

Framework has begun

And here was I thinking no work would happen today because of the torrential rain. At 12:30pm, I drove past and saw the bottom level finished.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013