elissande: (house)
2011-02-15 11:12 pm
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Has it been that long since my last update? Ooops!

So, of course, it has to be a house update as much has happened since the old house was demolished. First, there was just flattish ground, then there was cut and fill so the ground the house was going to be on was not only flat but also level.

After that the piering and the slab went down pretty quickly.

However, that happened not long before Christmas and so there was a break of about a monnth before anything else happened. Then one day we drove past and behold! There was timber. Frame these days is modular, so it went up pretty quickly, so it wan not long before we had this.

And by early February we had


Then there was another break, but the bricks began to arrive last week and they are now about head high on most external walls and the scaffolding arrived today, so hopefully we will have external walls by the end of the week!

There are, of course, a lot more photos and if you want to see more, check out elissande's Flickr photostream.

Of course, we've done many other things regarding the house since then - most of which have meant cost increases, but what the hell! Firstly, they (the builders) mentioned in passing that as the plans had passed Basix and NatHers without having sarking in the roof, that, in fact, there wouldn't be sarking in the roof. Considering that the sarking helps with the insulation and also slowing down any leaks in the roof, we decided to have it put in anyway.

We've also looked at and discussed the electrical plans with the company that will be doing the electricals. Of course, we wanted more power points, data cabling to both studies, extra external circuits and extra circuits for the airconditioning. We also specified the type of sensor we want in the smoke alarm and that we wanted an extra smoke alarm. Did I mention more money?

The day after we did the electrical discussion, we sallied forth to choose our tiles. Now, in the building contract, there is an allowance for tiles in all the wet areas which, apparently, doesn't include the kitchen. However, the allowance does restrict the tiles that you can choose. We were very good and only went over budget for the ensuite and the front balcony. But still, did I mention more money? While we were there, we did choose the kitchen tiles and some times for the entry.

I think that just about brings things up to date in the house construction department!
elissande: (house)
2010-10-30 01:10 am
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Going, going...gone

Yes, the old house has been demolished. Currently, there is still rubbles and branches on the site, but that will soon all be gone.

Photos don't seem to want to publish here. So check out my Flikr account.
elissande: (house)
2010-10-27 02:10 pm
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Yes, it's a house update

It's been a busy few weekends - and some week nights - getting everything out of the old house. DA approval came through a few weeks ago, so we arranged the demolition date. That gave us a deadline of Monday 25th October.

It's not that there was very much more to go, as we'd moved out of the house about a month before, but those last little bits can take so much time.

One of the things we were intending to do was take most of the old kitchen (only 3 years old, after all) and reuse the cupboards and such in various areas about the new house. This, of course meant removing them and storing them.

Turns out that they made these things of about the heaviest grade wood product they could get. The large cupboards, while they were whole, were a hard carry for 2 pretty strong men. And they are over 2 metres tall, so they were also hard to transport. We realised that we really had no storage left for these tall ones at the rental and that, realistically, they wouldn't easily find a place in the new house either. But we were a bit reluctant to leave them to be demolished.

Fortunately [profile] little_foxy and X came to our aid. A large part of Sunday afternoon and a bit of the evening was spent reducing the kitchen to its component parts and fitting it into their trailer. All without power available in the house! All we have kept of the kitchen is the very thin spice cupboard and the peninsula bench!

After this we celebrated with pizza and various beverages and they took their very heavy trailer home very carefully. :)

On Monday morning the demolition did, indeed begin. Yes we are taking photos. Yes, it is a bit sad.
elissande: (house)
2010-09-20 01:43 pm
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Further adventures in housing

Having found a rental house as previously described, we have been organising the move. S took last week off and moved a lot of stuff in the van. Unfortunately, the van spat the dummy a couple of times, with the mechanic finally deciding it was an undiagnosed, intermittent fault in the EFI system. I interpret that as 'we have no idea but we don't think it's anything to do with us, go and talk to someone electrically minded.'

Still, a lot of stuff did get moved. And we'd organised movers to come an move the big/awkward/heavy stuff on Saturday morning. They were supposed to turn up at 8 am but didn't. They rang at about 7:45 and said they'd be late - finally got to us about 10 - about the time we were hoping they'd be finished.

We had friends ([profile] little_foxy, X, [profile] tatianiska and D) turn up to help us pack up and to keep our sanity. Thanks guys, really, really appreciated!

While the movers were moving stuff, mostly we just kept out of their way. Not watching them try and fit furniture through narrow openings is the way to go. Still, it looks like everything arrived in the new place undamaged. Now we just have to sort and pack and find the vital stuff currently missing - like my music for tonight's rehearsal.

The cats were moved after they re-emerged from wherever they'd been while all the commotion was happening. Stupid first as he came out first and then Rerrol. We kept them inside for over 24 hours. They both ended up deciding that the best place to hide from the world was under the folded up futon base in my study (which is, of course, also full of boxen... and stuff). In fact they spent most of Saturday night curled up only a few inches from each other. :) Last night they actually went outside for a bit and came back in again after a while, so I think they'll be fine.

On the new house front, Council has given approval for the development, so now things are starting to happen. First we remove the trees that have to be removed, then the demolishers can come in and do their thing. Finally, the house building can start.

It's not all quite that straightforward, of course, there are some requirements included in the approval, but most of them are included in the demolition or building quote. At least it feels like things are happening and that we didn't move into the rental house while we still had months to wait.

Am now completely exhausted and all my muscles are sore. I'll get better. :)
elissande: (house)
2010-08-23 01:46 pm
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Adventures in rental land.

Well, we're hoping that the DA will be approved sometime this week. And when that's done, we can get the necessary trees removed and the demolition organised while waiting for the construction certificate.

In order to make this as quick as possible, we set out the last 2 weekends to look at rental properties. We need a couple of weeks overlap in order to get things like air conditioners and ovens removed.

The whole rental market has changed considerably since I last looked to a rental over 20 years ago. Back then, you went into the agents in the area and asked what was available and they took you round to see them and you said I'll have that one please. Now, there are all sorts of hoops to jump through and they give you 10 minutes to look through the place. And the first couple we looked at there were about 20 other separate parties looking at the same time. With no real rental history, we weren't sure how we would go.

We did discuss putting in for a couple that we saw last week, but weren't enthusiastic enough to get the applications in on time. We did have a few criteria:
1) Total cost of rent and any extra storage we may require should be no more than $X/week.
2) They had to allow our cats.
3) Preferably not too far from our current address.
4) Not on a busy road and
5) Not too much mould - this last added after seeing one house that fit the other criteria but which we both decided we wouldn't live in it if they paid us!

So, this week we went out looking again, with a strict timetable so that we could fit them all in. One of them fit all our criteria (the only one so far). Not only that, but it had a few things that were in our 'nice to have' list - big back garden, air conditioning (we'll be there over a Sydney summer), an acceptable kitchen and off-street parking for both van and car.

the down side is that it was at the top end of our price scale, but we wouldn't need to rent any extra storage, so it did fit the requirement. So, we put in our application (emailed over the weekend) and got the response today! So we are soon to be the proud tenants! Actually, we'll be the first tenants. Not that it's new, but it was lived in by the owner beforehand. Don't know whether that was the current owner or if it was sold to an investor. Anyway, we are both surprised and happy that it turned out to be so easy.

Now to hope that the council plays ball and gets that DA completed RSN.
elissande: (house)
2010-08-06 11:53 pm
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Colour me something

Last Tuesday morning we had an appointment with the colour consultant for the house. This is where you get t choose most of the colours that you're going to have to live with for a while. And make any last minute adjustments. The timing wasn't great, but at least the catheter was out and I was able to get out a bit. I was a bit concerned that we might have to change the appointment due to my medical interlude, but we managed.

So, we'd already chosen the brick, the roof tile, the gutter and downpipe colours. These had to be chosen for the Basix assessment. We also thought that we'd chosen the garage door colour, but it turned out that the colour we'd chosen was discontinued, so we had to do that again. I suspect I like the new colour better anyway.

Then we started on the inside. Mainly kitchen, bathroom and such like. And the overall colour for the inside of the house. In many ways it was fun, but it's difficult to try and keep imagining the small samples over large areas, and whether it will go with other colours you've chosen for the same room. And it's not as if any of them can't be changed if we realise, once we move in, that we've made a big mistake. And then, it's amazing what you can live with. I've lived with a pink bathroom for over 20 years - even though it was very high on my list of things to change when I bought the house.

We upgraded a few things from the very basic inclusion package we'd opted for. We live in Sydney, deadbolts are a necessity, not a luxury. Also, a slightly more upmarket front door that would let in a bit more light.

I'm pretty comfortable with most of the decisions that we made. There are one or two that will either look great - in which case we are awesome - or will look spectacularly awful - in which case we are not so awesome. :)

In other news, the development application has so far been going through council without problems. Deadline for public comment was last Wednesday, and there doesn't seem to be any, so now it's under assessment and we may know in under 2 weeks.
elissande: (house)
2010-07-26 04:53 pm
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And the turtle puts on a turn of speed

But not a very big one.

The development application is in to council and we can now track its progress online. Turns out that when the council website said about 40 days, they were not just talking about working days. So we are currently into day 15. A similar house got through in 37 days, so things are racing by comparison to the last few months.

This means that we may be seriously starting to look for rental accommodation in a few weeks. And, of course, I'm relatively incapacitated regarding packing. No heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks!
elissande: (house)
2010-07-10 01:17 am
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At last, something happens

Yes, at long last the development application has gone in to Council! Now it's 8 weeks to anything up to 6 months of waiting for the approval. We, of course, are hoping for the 8 weeks but not betting on it.

Still, it's one major step nearer and more real.
elissande: (house)
2010-05-25 05:06 pm
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House update May 2010

As you can see from the title, I'm expecting a long haul.

However, we got the BASIX and NatHERS certificate yesterday and the builder was pretty close in their estimate of what it would cost (said estimate being included in the original quote), so we only have to pay an extra $600 or so dollars to meet the requirements.

So that means that the development application can go in to council. Then it might take anything from 6 weeks to 6 months. When we went to have another look at the display house and drop some documents off the other weekend, the consultant said they had just got approval through for a house in Parramatta council area. Curious, we asked where it was and when the application went in. It turns out the house is in the next street - still a fair way away, but closer than we expected. Unfortunately, it also turns out that the original application went in to council in October and they only got approval at the end of April.

This, as you can imagine, was a cause of some dismay. But I've been thinking about it since, and I reckon that application has had to be resubmitted at least once and that it might be the reason we were told about the extra height ceilings. Hopefully all the problems with the house will have been already addressed and council will let this one sail through. I can dream, can't I?

Also got a call from the landscape people about the landscape plan that has to go into council along with the DA. Basically, we're asking for a minimum at this point. We won't have huge amount of money left at the end and don't want to be tied into landscaping because it's on the DA.

So, progress of sorts, but a bit of worry about the time council will take.
elissande: (house)
2010-05-13 02:30 pm
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Moving along

We got the final plans on Tuesday, and they went in for BASIX and NatHERS assessment on Monday. When that is done (about 10 days) they go in to council. No real estimate of how long that will take, but hoping not more than 8 weeks. The council website says 40 days, but not whether they mean working days (i.e. 8 weeks) or just 40 days. I can hope the latter but suspect the former. So, somewhere between 6 and 10 weeks from now we may be ready to start.

Of course I'm feeling impatient. :} Seems quite a few friends are buying houses at the moment. They'll be all moved in before we even start building so I'm very envious as well as being really happy for them.
elissande: (house)
2010-05-05 01:18 pm
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House update

Yes, things are still happening but no, we haven't moved yet.

We got a copy of the final plans to check. There were quite a few things that had been missed that were in the draft plan, but we got that sorted out and a few other minor changes. You remember that I mentioned that the council required that the ground floor be taller than the base house plan. Turns out that this was very useful, even though it cost us (will cost us) a considerable amount of extra dosh. Because the ground floor ceiling is higher, so is the garage roof. This means that we can have higher doors on the garage. When we checked the original size, we would only have had about 1cm clearance for the van. Now we have plenty.

All of the extra changes (including the change in the garage door height, wider door for the front entry, change to the ensuite shower screen, window size changes) added very little to the overall cost as there were some deletions and some had been included in the original costing.

So final final plans now being prepared to send in for various approvals - BASIX, NaTHERS and Council.
elissande: (house)
2010-04-10 11:43 pm
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At a snail's pace

Over Easter, we were emailed the detailed plans and should get the hard copies on Monday. Once these are to our satisfaction ans signed off, they can go to council and the next waiting stage begins.

We could sign off on them next week if they were all correct... but they're not. I think this draughtsperson was off with the pixies for some of the time. Some of the changes that we'd requested and were in the quotation were not in this 'final' version. So it will be at least another week before they even go in to council and that assumes no other hiccoughs.

Just checking my last house entry and realise that I haven't mentioned that we'll have to demolish the old garage after all. It will be too close to the house to allow them to put scaffolding up. While I'm sure there are ways around this, they indubitably cost, so the garage goes. However, we can keep the slab that it's on, so we can put something up on it later. As the old garage would have required a new roof, guttering, doors and windows, it probably won't cost us much more to put up a new one.

But one thing that is going to cost considerably more is the extra height in the ground floor that the council requires. While it will be nice to have the high ceiling downstairs, we thought we could have done other things with the $7k that it will cost us. But we've just discovered a reason why it's a good thing - it means that there is room to make the garage doors higher. This will allow us to fit the van into the garage as well as the car. Hooray for silver linings!
elissande: (house)
2010-02-24 01:22 pm
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House stuff again

It seems I'm using this also to record the boring details as well as the more exciting things. Maybe I need 2 icons. Maybe I should just put the boring bits behind a cut. )
elissande: (house)
2010-02-22 12:34 pm
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Brick by brick

Went out on Saturday to choose bricks and tiles for the house. The bricks we really liked best were, of course, outside our price range. However, we did find some that we liked that were in the range we were allowed to pick from. If anyone really wants to check it out, it's Austral Bricks Old Colonial Range - one of the blends called Vineyard. The blend isn't on their website, but it's basically a mix of Buff and Amber Glow - more Amber Glow than Buff.

We alsochose the roof tiles as they were on display at the same place. We're getting dark grey tiles - Lunar Eclipse, Classic Range, Bristile Roofing. Once again, there was another we would have preferred, but can't really justify the price differential.

Of course, all these things were on display outside and it was a hot and sunny summer day, so I managed to get slightly sunburned. It's faded now, except for my parting which I keep noticing when I brush my hair.
elissande: (house)
2010-02-18 12:42 pm
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Things are happening - slowly

Actually, not really that slowly, it's just that I'm impatient.

We had the surveyors and engineers call to make sure they could have access to the site without worrying about vicious dogs or locked gates. I reassured them that our cats were more likely to watch interestedly from a distance than attack with extreme prejudice and that the gates would present no difficulty for anyone with the use of thumbs.

In addition, we had the letter from the builder with questions to help fill out the Basix form and asking what bricks and tiles we wanted (which also goes into the Basix assessment). So, this weekend we go look at bricks and tiles. We were going to go last weekend, but various other commitments interfered - we decided we needed more than 10 minutes to examine, discuss, examine and discuss and finally make a decision on these.

Shortly after all the information is in, we should get the final plans for approval or alteration and then it's all going to be up to the council. Somewhere along the way, we should probably talk to our neighbours as well.
elissande: (house)
2010-02-09 11:06 pm
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Quick update

Ok, we've officially accepted the tender for the house. Now to wait for the site survey and final plans. This weekend, we're going to look at bricks. Exciting, eh? Oh, and roof tiles.

In other news - hmm, there isn't much as a lot of our energy is taken up in thinking about the house, packing - ie when to - demolition. tree removal and so on. Festival is starting to figure into things as well. It looks like we'll have time to do Festival and then worry about looking for a rental and moving.
elissande: (house)
2010-02-01 09:15 pm
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Time to add another icon

Thought it was probably time to get an icon for house entries. Then people who are not interested will have an immediate visual cue. :)
elissande: (Default)
2010-02-01 01:38 pm
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House update

We've now got a firm quote on both the demolition and the house itself - including site costs, BASIX and possible extras. Looks like we can afford a new house - though we may be short of floor coverings for a while.

The quote includes the changes to the floor plan that we requested which is all good. There are a few tweaks that we have to sort out before the final plans, but they are all minor things like window placements and type.

For those interested, the main changes we requested were a door from the main bedroom into the 2nd bedroom, the addition of a real walk in pantry, the removal of the half wall between the dining room and the rear living area, the addition of a shower to the downstairs bathroom and the outside door to the laundry to be a door, window combo rather than a sliding door. To meet council regulations, the entry and study were extended forward another 30cm.

Why those changes? Obviously, to get the 2nd walk-in robe, we had to fiddle a few things and decided to sacrifice part of bedroom 2 for that. We'll put in the partition ourselves so that it can be easily removed if required. The walk-in pantry is at the base of the kitchen and goes the full width. The actual kitchen will go from there to the back of the house. Removing the half wall makes that living/dining area into a nice open space again now that the kitchen has grown. The downstairs shower is to allow the option of turning the front study into a small bedroom in case at any stage someone can't cope with the stairs. The laundry door change is to allow us to adapt a window for cat entry (have to keep all family members in mind).

Finally, the extra 30 cm is to meet the council regs that the garage must have at least a 30 cm setback from the main part of the house. There was much discussion about this as it looked as though the upstairs sitting room (read library/music room) would end up being a very odd shape as the first option was just to extend the study. We said that we would really like to keep the symmetry of the sitting room, and the designers came up with the option of extending both, this allowing the whole width of the upstairs to be extended by the 30 cm - so we will end up with a bigger room upstairs as well.

So we are now finally at the stage where we have to start shelling out a bit of cash. In the scheme of things, this first payment is only a small deposit of a few thousand dollars to convince them that you're serious enough for them to start on the site survey and all the other information that will be required to submit the plans to council. Still, when you start paying out money it's another major landmark. Of course, we haven't paid it yet as we need to carefully read the quotation before signing it, but I don't think there are likely to be any serious problems.
elissande: (Default)
2010-01-18 01:47 am
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Quick house update

Well, today we did more than just talk about it... not much more, but a bit. We spoke to the people who build the house we have decided on. We discussed the changes we want made - most of which are ok except for some queries about the kitchen rearrangement. We'll see what happens.

Also, Parramatta council has a requirement that the garage be set back a minimum of 30cm from the rest of the house. This is going to cost us extra money and I'm not sure what the purpose of it is. I presume that it's to reduce the aesthetic (or not) impact of the garage on the total building, but I'm not convinced that adding 30cm onto part of the house will make a significant difference to that.

Now there's quotes to happen, site inspections and lots of council paperwork. Argh! I think it should all be easier. But then, I want my new house yesterday. :)
elissande: (Default)
2009-12-30 02:13 am
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House update

Sometime back, we organised and paid for an architect to do a renovation/new building report on the property. We spent quite sometime chatting to him and discussing what we wanted, what was important and what was less so. We also spent about an extra hour or so making out a list of what the various functions the rooms had to fulfil - note that not all functions needed separate rooms. He requested that we do this.

We emailed him this list and his spam filter promptly ate it - evidently it has blacklisted all iinet. So, that put the report behind schedule (though note that we were the ones who chases it up to see what had happened). We were then promised the report on the 23rd December and it did come through on the 24th.

The two absolutely important and non-negotiable things (especially if we were having it designed) were a large walk-in pantry and two walk-in robes in the main bedroom. He did hear us say this - we said it often- and he even mentioned it in the report. The report contained 3 rough drafts of floor plans. Did any of them have a walk-in pantry? Well, no - not unless you combined it with the laundry. In fact, I couldn't see a way of giving any of the designs such a pantry - and I'm getting good at working out ways to do that.

But surely, you might think, there will be the double walk-in robes. But no.

Add to that that we discussed cost and he asked if our upper limit was really an upper limit and we said yes, definitely. So the cheapest version began at our upper limit and they just got more expensive from there.

Now, I know that we didn't have as much money to play with as we would have liked, nor as much as an architect would have liked, but that's just silly. So it looks as if we'll be going for a project home. Good thing we didn't stop looking at those. We now have 3 contenders - all of which are in our price range (even allowing for site costs, Basix, council etc.) More update later.