Sunday, 27 May 2012

Build? What Build?

It's been just over a year now since we purchased the property and started the journey to building a new house.  After 2 years of searching we had given up trying to find a house that would fit our 5 year needs in the Melbourne Eastern suburbs that was in our price range.  So we instead selected a 'kit' home that we liked the design of, and then changed our property search criteria to fit our chosen house and backyard requirements.

I was reminded that it's been a year because Australia Post sent me a letter the other day to renew our mail redirection.  And given the house has been practically complete since the beginning of March, I just couldn't bring myself to renew the redirection.

So we went to the house today and installed a letterbox on one of the paling fences.  Checking the mailbox won't be a trial.  We feel it's necessary to visit the house on a weekly basis anyway, because of the amount of times we've arrived to find lights on and doors open, it's good to at least make sure the house is secure and hasn't been broken into....or that squatters have decided it's fair game...

And there sits our house.  Cold and lonely atop its muddy clay embankment; just begging for a little family to move in and warm the place up.  The batteries in the smoke detectors beeping away every minute around the clock, echoing throughout the house - in fact you can hear them from outside the house.  The shrill cry of a lonely, empty house.

There's red and green stickers dotted all over the place; little markings to indicate the 'defects' that require attention.  But that's just it.  They're not getting any attention.  It's been 2 whole weeks since the Construction Manager did his inspection and not a single trade has been onsite since.  Well, actually maybe there has been a trade onsite: our gas meter is missing.  But you could hardly classify items being removed as progress, rather a step backward really.  Given I didn't get a call from the Site Manager this week I've no idea if there's a problem with the meter that necessitated it's removal, or whether there's a scam to steal someone's meter and put it on another house so you pay for their gas.  A call to TruEnergy is therefore in order.  In any case, I think I'm within my rights to suspend the account, seeing as we've been paying 'Supply Charges' since the 22nd March and the gas was never even connected to the house.

Gas Meter on 12th May
...and today...out for a walk perhaps?

It's all good and well for the Site and Construction Managers to say they want to make sure the house is up to the utmost quality standards before they'll hand it over, but the truth of the matter is that with 8 jobs on his books, the workload is obviously too much to cope with if a single trade can't be scheduled in a 10 day working period.  And it's a hard pill to swallow when the defects are mostly cosmetic, subjective and could have been rectified months ago (example: the tiles on the bath the CM wants removed - why wasn't this done BEFORE the bath and tapware were installed and the bathroom caulked?  To fix it now will require not only the tiler, but the waterproofer, plumber and caulker to all come back, one after the other).

At the expense of a mortgage and rent month after month, it's really hard to be happy to sit and wait indefinitely until someone has time to pay your build some attention.

Pretty soon it's going to work out cheaper if we were able to pay our own trades to finish than pay the additional rent and keep waiting!


  1. Oh no that is awful!!!! Feel very sorry for you! It is so frustrating having no-one doing any work! Can you convince them to at very least let you put the driveway in considering there are no tradies going in and out anyway! How much longer until your contract date where they start contributing towards rent? Heart-breaking stuff Nat, I hope things pick up for you very quickly!

    1. Thanks Mel. I have been debating whether to ask about getting the driveway done before handover, but I there's a paranoid side of me that would rather wait than risk the chance of heavy trucks coming in and damaging the driveway, or if their trades don't wait for it to set and drive on it.

      Given we won't beat the baby to move in, the urgency is over now really.

      They gave themselves a year in the contract so penalties don't kick in until mid September. :(

  2. It must be hard to accept that there hasn't been one trade on site in 10 days, it must feel to you right now that you'll never have handover but it can't be too much longer.

    I left a message on another post thanking you for the info on the flooring but I noticed it never showed up.

    Fingers crossed you see some fast working tradies this week and set of shiny new keys.

    1. You're right, it's the unknown completion date that is the worst. We could be 2 weeks away or 2 months away, depending on when people turn up. I hate not having a schedule!

      You're welcome re: the flooring. I don't know why blogger has comment issues now and then. I find it worse when I try to use the iPad to comment.

  3. Oh, Nat. This just makes me want to cry, having been in a similar situation before. I think it might be time for a phone call a day to the CM or at least SS, reminding them that your house exists. It is looking so beautiful from the outside, it must be truly heartbreaking not to be there, and to not be able to take your precious baby home there. Not to mention the expenses. Ugh, I am crying now.

    I will cross everything and pray that this house gets a move on and you can move your little family in there. Is there a new addition to speak of yet?

    Good luck for the week ahead.


    1. Thanks M for the lovely sentiments. Your words mean a lot to me. I've shed many tears over it in recent weeks, as I'm sure you can imagine!

      We'll get there in the end and there'll be plenty of days enjoying it with the baby. I just wish I knew when!

      I've got 10 days till my due date. Had a false alarm Friday night - was getting contractions 10 mins apart for about 1 1/2 hrs, but when I went to bed it stopped. Gave us a bit of a kick up the backside and we set up the cot in our room on Saturday! So now I'm prepared, no matter when!


  4. I mirror the above 3 thoughts and annoyed on your behalf. Our build has slowed and not much is expected this coming week.
    We have scheduled a site meeting at the end if this week to see progress - harder for the SS to explain it away when we are standing in front of him. Not sure if it will make any difference but worth a go.

    1. Thanks Cam. I really wish they'd assign extra assistance to their SS' for the home completion stage. They have an office day each week to write up and have meetings on their progress and then there's additional OH&S courses, up to 8 jobs per SS for established suburbs, they just don't have the time to meet the trades onsite for the fiddly small defect fixes at the end. They rely much of the build at having reliable honest tradespeople that can work independently, which is fine when working from plans on the standard construction work, but identifying and fixing subjective defects requires direction and supervision. There just isn't enough hours in the day for each of their jobs to get to every site and keep up the momentum. :(

  5. I totally feel your pain. We had very very similar problems at the end of our build - only not because our SS wanted things to be perfect - he was just downright hopeless and big M had allocated WAY too may jobs to each SS.

    We ended up going to our CM, then over his head also to get things done, and ended up demanding it be finished by a certain date - which if course it wasnt but we moved in regardless then chased the last few (minor) things once we moved in - which was a major pain but at least when you live there you know when trades turn up or not!

    It all left a very bad taste in my mouth in regard to Metricon and to be honest I'm still bitter about it all!

    I hope they get you in quickly - enough is enough!

  6. I feel your pain. This is dreadful service - I thought our build was slow at exactly one year from site start to handover, but it seems you're having a tougher time.

    Just keep your chin up, keep at them (I'd be speaking to SS or CM daily at this stage) and if all else fails, resort to Twitter - we found them very quick to respond to Twitter posts, whereas blog posts went unnoticed.

    Hope the news is better for you soon!