Hello! Welcome, make yourself at home, put your feet up, whatever. : )

This journal chronicles the building of our dream home out in Mernda, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. We started back in the middle of 2007, looking at estates and houses, and we expect to be finished just before Christmas 2008 around Easter 2009 whenever. ; )

Enjoy your stay, feel free to make any comments you like, and thanks for dropping by. : )

--Mike & Ngoc

Handover: Complete!

It's been a long journey--almost two years since we signed on the dotted line to buy our block of land--but at last we have reached the end.

Yes, today we received the keys to our house. It's ours! :D

Both Ngoc and I spent some time wandering around in a daze; it's hard to believe it's finally all over. Like the wedding, like the honeymoon, like a lot of things in our life that have been big changes, we're now sort of wondering what happens next--and what we'll do with our weekends now! Having said that, I reckon the baby might have something to say about it... : )

One thing's for sure, and that is that we wouldn't be where we are now without our site supervisor. Con came onto our job partway through, shortly after a disastrous attempt to organise a frame stage instruction over a period of three weeks with no response from Metricon only to find the plaster was going on the house the next day.

Ever since then things have been a breeze. Con has managed everything excellently and we couldn't be happier with the way things have gone.

We weren't so naive as to expect our house would be built without a single hiccup along the way, but with Con, when those hiccups occurred he was upfront about them and was clear about how and when they would be rectified--which is all we could ever ask for.

We're happy campers, moving house very soon and looking forward to exploring our new place. : )

Electricity: we has it

So this week we rolled up to find that the electricians had been through the house:


We figure this one's in progress!

We also have a garage door:


And no more tiling has been done yet, but there was a nice note on the mirror backing board in the ensuite:


And we have spaces for downlights all through the house too:


And here's my personal favourite power point: in the back of the island bench. Vacuum the entire house from one power point, just about! : )


That's about it this week. MyMetricon suggests that fit offs will be complete on 8 May and that the house/site will be cleaned on 12 May. That would suggest it shouldn't be too much longer from then until when we get given the keys. Here's hoping!


Is it not nifty?

Well, this weekend Melbourne appears to be enduring an enormous amount of rain. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, around 20mm has fallen today. That's probably more than any given six months last year. All in one day. Which, naturally enough, turned Dirt Patch into more of a Sludge Patch. In fact, this is how much rain there's been today:


The drainage ditch actually has water in it! Oh, and plus, we have a front door:


Worship the door. Is it not nifty?

This is probably the one thing that took us the longest to figure out. In fact, it's not even a normal Metricon door. It's made by the sister company of their usual supplier, which also happens to be under the Jeld-Wen banner, so when we brought it up, Metricon was nice enough to source it for us. It just looks so much better than your average front door. : )

So, what about the rest of the place? Well, we peered through the back door (everything's locked up now) and found this:


Skirting boards and architraves! Cool. : )

The cabinets were originally meant to go in on Monday (the 9th) but since then they must have changed their mind--the MyMetricon website now says that cabinetry is "pending" with no specific end date. And yesterday it said that wall tiling would be completed some time around the 19th (if I remember correctly), but now wall tiling has been taken back to "pending" as well. So we're not sure what's happening.

Something else we're wondering about is this down pipe:


What's the deal with that? Looks like it's going to end up going over the window...

Also, when we looked through the window out the front it looked like the power point that is meant to be inside the cabinet in the ensuite is actually going to be behind a mirror. That's all right, I'm sure it'll work out in the end--after all, if the power point really *has* been put behind a mirror, someone's bound to notice eventually. : )


Another Week Goes By...

So, let's start at the back this week:


The brick piers on the outdoor room have been bricked in, which is pretty cool to see:


What wasn't so cool was this massive chunk coming off the outside of our timber doors at the back of the house:


Not sure what the deal is with that, although it looks a lot like it was done with something sharp, the same sort of shape and size as a crowbar. Not that I'm jumping to conclusions, but it does look a bit odd--and in light of the timber bifold doors being stolen from the house around the corner, and the timber windows being stolen off our lot a few weeks ago, you have to wonder. I hope they fix this up before we move in. But, as our new site manager said on Wednesday, you have to let them do their job; there's absolutely no point in us bringing stuff up until and unless we're asked for our opinion--otherwise we're only going to slow things down.

Our last timber window finally arrived:


And guess what? we have bricks around the front!


Friends of ours building nearby had their practical completion inspection on Thursday, so they drove past our place and let me know yesterday that we had bricks on the front of the house, so we knew what to expect. But our place looks awesome. Really happy with our choices of bricks. : )

Also, the piers at the front of the portico are being bricked:


And if you look closely, you'll see our front door is now boarded up whilst they await the real door. So our place is now finally actually at lock up--some three weeks (IIRC) after we paid the invoice. Oh well. I suppose at least things are continuing to move--I would only really be annoyed if I'd paid the money and then the job had sat idle for weeks.

But this week we've had yet another change of Customer Service Coordinator and site manager. That makes our sixth CSC since we started the process (our third construction CSC) and our third site manager. I hope it all works out okay!

Plaster Ahoy!

Yeah, so it's not with the best of graces, but we went by today with Ngoc's family and hey presto, there's plaster going in. The guys were working with a tool I've never seen before--a screw gun. Hold the plaster sheet up, aim the screw gun, and with a few quick "zzzz!" noises, the whole thing's affixed to the wall. It was pretty cool.

And what's more surprising is that the entire house was plastered in a single day. Check it out:



The bricks have also made it down the other side of the house:


And the roof has been finished:


Stuff happening. But yeah, still not so happy.

We are now in fixing stage--plaster, cornices, skirting boards, architraves, cabinets, fittings, all that kind of stuff. Although we still don't have a front door, and we still don't have a window down the side of the house. However, we're being told that the invoices are raised on a percentage of work completed basis, so...

Cranky now

So today was going pretty well. Then as I was leaving work to go to the dentist (yeah, it can only go so well on a day you're going to visit the dentist), I finally received a call from our Customer Service Consultant.

Around two weeks ago our CSC was changed from the person we had been dealing with, to a new person we'd never met. We hadn't spoken to her at all in the last two weeks, despite trying to get in touch with her every 2-3 days, largely by phone but sometimes also via email (all the email addresses at Metricon have the same format, so if you know the name you know the email address).

So she rang me today to give me what I'm sure she thought was going to be some good news.

"Your plastering is starting tomorrow!" she said excitedly.

Great. So when do we get our inspector in?

Turns out in the end that essentially, we can't. We rang our chosen inspection company, and asked them what they could do--they did a great job and in the end they even managed to find someone who was available to do it this afternoon. But it was going to be too much hassle for us to sort it all out with Metricon, and in the end we decided we don't need the trouble. So we canceled the inspection.

I'm aware there's an "independent" inspection of every home built in the state (and possibly the country), but how independent can someone be if they're being paid by the builder? We've been told we can get a copy of the report that the inspector submitted to Metricon, but by tonight there's no sign of that either. Now we just have to hope everything's on the level (quite literally).

I'm reasonably sure that our house is probably going to be fine. What I don't appreciate is the really poor efforts that have gone into keeping us apprised of what's going on. Our CSC is supposed to call us every week with an update. Our first CSC did--until three weeks ago when she seemed to drop off the face of the planet. Now we finally hear from the next one and she tells us something we really didn't want to hear--despite the fact that yes, it's great that things are going so fast because it means we may be in before the baby's born in August.

Still, the communication has been nothing short of pathetic--someone really needs to go in there and wave a big stick around, methinks.

You can see it from space!

Well, not quite, but it's our Great Wall anyway:


Yes, the bricks are in down one entire side of the house. It seems they do the sills last (which I hadn't thought about, really). I wonder why they do it that way?

Also, in some exciting news:


We have front windows! Hopefully they can't be stolen now. Although having said that, there is a house around the corner from us that appears to have had their timber bifold doors stolen. At $4-5000 each, that's not a small sum to claim on insurance...

Plus there's now a big steel bar across our garage opening, ready for the bricks to be added.


Still no sign of the wooden window on the side of the house, though I believe it's a custom job as it's an unusual size and shape, so I'm not surprised.

Still no word on when we can get someone out to inspect the house. This is becoming rather infuriating.

The Bricking Begins

Well, after saying last week I expected it would be weeks before the bricking started, Metricon have made a liar out of me:


It's only one corner of the house, and there's only one brick in the top course, but it's still pretty cool!

We like our bricks.


Bricks: Boral "Jarrah"
Mortar: natural, raked

And hey, look, we have a bath:


Nothing like getting things moving along! : ) Still no sign of the windows, and apparently our door can't actually go on yet as the wrong door jamb has been installed, but what the heck--things are still moving, and that's what matters.

Our only concern is that we've still heard nothing about being able to get someone in for a pre-plaster inspection. We want to get an independent inspector into the place so he/she can go through the wiring, the plumbing, the frame, the bricks, the roof--so we have some peace of mind about the rest of the building process. And despite now waiting more than a month for a response from Metricon on when we can get someone in, we've had nothing. Rather disappointing, really. Our calls and emails go unanswered, and when we do get onto someone to bring it up we're told someone will get back to us--and nobody ever does.