Friday, 27 January 2012

Day 120: Painting, Waterproofing and Kitchen Bench!

Paul took today off work for a nice long weekend and because we couldn't get into the house last weekend we thought we'd take a chance that the painters would be working and allow us to have a look.  The gamble paid off, the painters were indeed at the house, sanding the front windows in preparation for staining. All the internal painting is complete and looks great.  We're really happy with the finish.  All the previous dents and holes in the plaster have been repaired and painted too.

Outside, the eaves have all been painted Colorbond Dune and the timber lined portico has been stained Dark Oak.

So the only item left to be painted is the front door (Colorbond Monument) and the front door sidelights, front windows, ensuite window and laundry door and window are to be stained.  Perhaps a few more days work for additional coats and we should see all the painting complete.  That is, except for the fact that there's still no sign of the feature Rumpus door or the linen cupboard doors so the painters will have to return to do those when they are finally delivered.

Other items of work that have been done:

  • a man was onsite waterproofing the bathroom and ensuite and cutting the holes in the plywood for the baths
  • the electricians have cut out the light switch and PowerPoint holes, but no ceiling light holes yet
  • lastly and most excitedly, the kitchen bench top is in!!  Caesarstone Osprey and it looks great.  The join lines are positioned well and are as minimal as I've ever seen them, so I am very relieved!

Caesarstone Osprey

Tidy join which the stovetop will hide

Join on the island bench, well away from the kitchen sink which is further right

The only issue is that the cut out for the stove is 10mm too close to the back wall according to our stove top specifications.  I supplied all specs to M in advance of site start so hopefully there's no excuse but to fix it!  The stove specs show a +/-20mm tolerance in the cut out size, so I think cutting an extra 10mm from the front of the hole should be ok to resolve the issue.

It was good luck that when we returned to the house a little later after some lounge suite browsing, both the Site Manager and the Construction Manager were onsite.  I told them the cut out was too close to the wall and they said they'd speak to the bench top guys about whether they'd cut it out onsite or not.

Stove cut out is 10mm too close to the splashback wall.
There's 15mm to play with at the front so hopefully taking 10mm extra won't hurt

Our Site Mgr also brought up the topic of our kitchen handle alignment.  Both of them agreed that the bin drawer is not ideal and the Construction Manager said he'd see what he could do about it.  I'm hoping this turns into a resolution for us - being just one door and with the rest of the build going so well.

We also discussed the height of the lights on the portico pillars, which the Electrical plan shows to be 2100mm high, but this puts them onto the corbelled bricks at the top of the pillar and will look ridiculous.  They agreed to lower them another 2 brick courses below the current hole in the mortar, so that they are at the same height as seen on many of their display homes (1900mm high).

Metricon Fairhaven at Keysborough
showing the pillar lights we have purchased, and at the height we want
A very satisfying day.  I'll be meeting with the Site Manager and tiler onsite next week to discuss the tile layout.  Can't wait to see the tiling done!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Day 113: Snow White!

The painters have been busy this week and, as we'd hoped, the entire house now has its first coat of paint internally.  Everywhere you look is white white white!  Unfortunately the only means for 'looking' we had was through windows from the outside, as the painters where diligent enough to lock all windows and doors.  The laundry external door still has no hardware, so they must have nailed this door shut.  It was fixed tight.

Just as well anyway - I'd hate to get dust onto fresh glossy painted doors and trims.

As the windows were filthy there wasn't any point trying to get photos, so here's a reminder of our chosen paint colours...or should I say 'whites'!
Walls, Doors, Skirtings, Architraves
The downpipes have also been installed, which I found a little strange at this stage.  Poor painters now have to work around them to paint the eaves!  None of the underground drain pipes sticking up from the ground are in the correct location to meet their downpipe, so none are actually connected yet.  In some spots the PVC pipe is a metre or more away!  I'm assuming there's a bit of trenching to be done to get everything to meet up.   I hope they get the fall right so there isn't too much pooling and backup of water...

And lastly for this week, the tiles have been delivered!!  So excited!  The Site Manager wants to meet up next week onsite with the tiler and discuss our preferences for how they're to be laid.

With all the finishings starting to appear, it's time to look to the furnishing budget.  We're off to price some sofas today for the Rumpus Room.   A nice big modular we're thinking, such as the Sitta from Freedom Furniture or the ever popular Baby Jasper from King Furniture.

Sitta Modular from Freedom Furniture

Baby Jasper from King Furniture

For the Family Room in the open plan area, I'm still keen on the slimline sofa and armchairs from Angelucci, so I dread the price.  The other option is the Tatler from Oz Design.

Slimline Sofa from Angelucci

Tatler from Oz Design

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Day 112: No Joy on Kitchen Handles :(

Today started with an SMS from M advising that our Invoice for Stage 5 - 'Fixing' had been emailed and posted.  So another 20% is going their way tomorrow.  I can't believe there's only the final payment left!  We are now officially on the Home Completion stage of the build.

The Site Manager called Tuesday to say he's back on deck after his break and that he'd met with the painters onsite and seen they were still doing some prepwork and that the first coat would be applied to internals this week.  They asked him to follow up on the missing doors as they want to make sure they're available when they start the paintwork also.  The door supplier told our SS before Christmas that they'd deliver them early January but it hasn't turned up yet.

I told him that the carpenter had put the Hallway door on the Rumpus room and he advised me this was to check the cavity slider was working and that the door frame was square so he could attach the architraves.  So it was only in lieu of the missing door.  Similarly for the incorrectly sized linen doors - just checking they were plumb.  The painters will remove the doors to paint them anyway.  Pleased to hear.

I asked him what could be done about our kitchen handle alignment and he asked me to email our CSC and copy him.  He said she'd need to advise what could be done contractually.  She was kind enough to respond to my email within 24 hours, but unfortunately the news wasn't good:

"...As the handles have been drilled into position, unfortunately it’s too late to have this amended. Changing the handle position would require new fronts to the cupboards to be made and re-installed. This type of specific request would need to have been documented in either your colour schedule or contract..."


My actual response:

"...Thank you, appreciate you looking into it for me. We did specify our preference at Studio M so I'm kicking myself I didn't notice it missing in my review of the Colour Schedule.  As it was, our choice of fingerless handles didn't get documented either and I only picked this up on the day of contract signing.  I can live with the pot drawers as they're not that deep and still line up with each other, but the bin drawer is 50cm deep and doesn't pull properly. We'll move the handle on this ourselves and put up with holes until I get round to replacing the bin drawer sometime after handover. 
Could you please perhaps pass on feedback with regards to the Studio M documentation templates that there be a placeholder included for handle position for both vertical/horizontal and top/middle alignment preferences?  It's easier to spot if you're forced to make a choice on the form either way. Same for no handles/fingerless handles. It would also have been picked up if drafting would agree to include handles in the kitchen elevation drawings, but I was told they don't go to that level of detail..."

I'm not expecting a reply.  We don't have any recourse unfortunately, given our preference was not documented anywhere in the contract.  Oh well, it's not my dream kitchen anyway.  M's margin saw to it that I kept upgrades to a minimum - just handles, additional pot drawers, soft close dampers and white glass splashback.  We have to get a panel made up for the semi integrated dishwasher after handover anyway, so a couple of extra panels for the bin drawer shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

We wanted M to add more depth to the island bench so you could sit comfortably under the overhang on the opposite side, but drafting refused to add the extra 5cm that the wall allowed, so it's a measly 20cm.  Not exactly a breakfast bar!  We also would have gone for 40mm waterfall edges to the island bench, and something like white vinyl wrap or gloss laminate for the overhead cupboards, but as they wouldn't allow me to have a fully integrated rangehood (as we were installing our own after handover), I didn't want to pay extra for a look I didn't want anyway.  So the kitchen only has a max. 5 year lifespan in my mind.

But M, those soft close dampers better be tuned to perfection!  A woman needs to love SOMETHING about her kitchen (well, our appliances are a given, but M need to contribute to the joy too!)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Day 107: Fixing Complete and Prepped for Paint

It was with some trepidation that we visited the house today.  Would the fixing be completed?  Would the painting be started as scheduled? This has certainly felt the longest, slowest week since the build began.

We were pleased to see on arrival that the portico beams had been lined and the eaves are complete with quad lining the brick edging around the entire house. The external Laundry door is still missing a handle so we're still not quite technically locked up, but at least this meant we could still gain access!

The sense of relief continued when we entered the house. The skirtings and architraves are now all fixed in place and whilst the painters haven't yet started the undercoat, they have prepped all the woodwork for painting, with all the nail holes and architrave joins filled and sanded.


So our Site Manager's return from leave on Monday should coincide with the first day of undercoating. Then the plasterers will return to fix the various dents and holes before top coats commence.

The Rumpus entrance is still unfortunately sporting the hallway sliding door, but the uneven linen cupboard doors thankfully have been removed. The carpenter must have discovered the error by a process of elimination as there are two 520mm doors left standing against a wall nearby. These are the standard sized linen doors, but we widened the cupboard to take advantage of the space left by the ducted heating void in the original plans, so they should be 2x620mm doors. The Site Manager will have to chase these along with our missing feature door for the Rumpus room.

I can't wait to see the house all painted white next weekend. It will give a better indication as to the light levels in each room. I'm particularly interested in the kitchen given we are still keen to put skylights in after handover, and also the bedrooms as they are on the south side of the house and quite close to the fence.

Bring on next week!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Day 100: Fixing Status = Stalled

Back in Melbourne fresh from our Christmas break, we were keen to see all the fixings complete on the house.  The painters are due to start undercoating on Monday and the carpenter was working through Christmas to finish, seeing as he recently took a month off for his honeymoon.

So it was much to our disappointment to arrive and see things are not quite ready for the painters:

The front portico beams have not been lined with hardwood for staining,

The rear eaves have not been installed:

...and the skirting boards have not been fixed to the walls...

...but perhaps the painters prefer them not to be fixed, so they can spray behind them...?  Hmm...

Then there's a few odd things that have been done:

The carpenter has moved the solid sliding door from its correct and rightful location on the bedroom hallway to the Rumpus room?!  I've no idea why he did this as I had the discussion about the missing door with he and the SS the day before leaving for the Christmas break and showed them the below picture of the feature door we have purchased, so they could identify that it hadn't been delivered.  The SS said he'd follow up on the order when he got back from why did the carpenter relocate the other door in the meantime?!!!  The painters will be confused when the spec says to stain the Rumpus door and they discover a pre painted door!

Hallway door incorrectly installed on Rumpus Room
Example of the Rumpus Door and handle we have purchased

In our master bedroom the plaster has been torn away from one of the windows in our master bedroom and upon closer inspection I think I know why.   The bottom right corner of the window doesn't appear to be flush with the plaster, which would have made it impossible for the carpenter to fit the architrave.  It appears the window was installed out of square.  I'm assuming they'll either re-set the window, which may not be possible now that the brick sills have been installed on the outside, or perhaps they'll just plane the window back to make it flush...

The linen cupboard doors are not even in width and look ridiculous.  Of course, there are no elevation drawings of the linen cupboard in the plans and nothing in the specification to reference door sizes, so there was no way for us to identify this before now.

Also, the carpenter has drilled holes for a conventional lever door handle:

Whereas, we have chosen the following bow arc handles - which are listed in our Colour Selections in the contract: 

But perhaps the most disappointing item is the position of the kitchen drawer handles.  The carpenter has vertically centred them on the drawers, which looks ok on the pot drawers along the back wall, but is terrible in a functional sense, due to the depth of the bottom drawer.  Once full of heavy pots, it's much easier to open the drawer with the handle close to the top of the drawer, which is how I wanted them installed.

The worst use of the centred handles is on the custom bin drawer - it is both aesthetically ugly because the handle on the top drawer does not line up with the handles on the cupboards either side, and functionally awkward to pull a heavy drawer from the middle, rather than the top.

Metricon really need to include detailed kitchen drawings in their contract plans.  We should have been given the choice of where to place the handles.  The elevation drawings in the Plans don't even show any handles!

I've found examples of both centered and top aligned handles in M's display homes, so it's not like there's a set standard they follow.   Here's an example from one of their Byron display homes that show top aligned handles that I prefer.

The SS is back from leave in a week's time on the 16th.  I hope he's agreeable to replace at least the top bin drawer, if not all the pot drawers as well.  Of course it will mean new doors are needed as there are holes drilled in the wrong places and it's not like you can fill and paint laminate!  :(