Friday, September 12, 2014

VBA Responds

So after several months of waiting (just over 6), I got a response from the VBA on both retaining walls.

Sadly it is no longer standard to issue 'built as' plans to neighbours anymore if a specific route is followed.

However, I have been completely vindicated in that the South retaining wall is now according to the plans - it would not have passed had I not been so persistent in getting it fixed - saved my neighbour the grief of having them come in to fix it after he had moved in and after the fence had been put in.

The North retaining wall has been found to not be according to design - as per my complaint.  Though there is no imminent threat of collapse, it is not according to design and that could have serious ramifications down the line.

Problem is, neither that neighbour nor his builder would listen to me and now there is a fence and a concrete walkway on top of that retaining wall.

I'll be hanging on to that letter and should we ever sell, I'll pass it on to the next owner.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Protection Works and honesty

It struck me on Friday when speaking to a neighbour that they might never have known that their retaining wall was actually classified as "Protection Works".  Could it be that (some?) builders simply never inform their clients that the work they are doing is covered by the Victorian Building Commission?

So all this time, where I've been fighting with my neighbours' builder about the Protection Works and their (the builder's) failure to follow due process and actually do the work correctly, my neighbours have been misled by their builder into thinking I'm complaining about arbitrary things?

Here's a link to the Commissions documentation for any that are interested.  Protection Works Process 

My neighbours' builder served me with the OLD version for both Protection Works, and have failed to send me the final report within the due time; and still haven't.  So last year, while this was all going on, I was gathering evidence against said builder and slowly putting the paperwork together against the construction manager who was blatantly being deceptive towards his client, and lying to us.

In the end, their site surveyor had to bypass that construction manager and go to the regional management of the building company to force them to send engineers out...who actually found I was right all along and had the work redone.  You feel somewhat vindicated, but thanks to that construction manager, it's cost me the initially good relationship with my neighbours.

What annoys me most, is that in this entire process, I have played with an open hand.  Trying to involve the one neighbour from the start ended up with an argument and no further comms.  So with the other neighbour, I tried to not involve him and just let him know that there may be a problem, and now that the VBA is involved (investigating the Construction Manager), now he's upset...even though the case was started before he even moved into his house and he is not listed as the subject of the complaint.

Sigh... does honesty actually win anymore? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life settles

So it's been quite a few months since an update.  Our neighbours (north and south) have both moved in and are busy getting their front gardens sorted out.  They're looking good.  Our little segment of St Arnaud Road is slowly taking shape.  Now just for some lawn on the nature strip.

So far we've not had any major issues with the house.  When it was really windy, it appears a few roof trusses snapped, but UEH was quick to send someone out to replace them all.

We finally got a sparky to mount our TV in the theater room and feed all the wires in the wall.  Looks great.  Nice and clean.

Our eldest child has started school this year at Exford and we're finding the school amazing.  Done a session at a sausage sizzle and enjoyed it, though it was a 40 degree day and the BBQ probably made it around 50 degrees where I was standing doing the meat.

The wind was quite hectic in December, as it was in most of Victoria.  But our little lemon tree has survived and is flowering now.  Doubt there'll be any lemons soon, but at least it's surviving.

We may be the first lot in Stage 11 to now have all their adjoining blocks occupied.  Which is great to hear the kids playing in the various back gardens on the weekends.

About 2 weeks ago, I heard a noise coming from the laundry when I turned on my study light at 05H50 in the morning.  Walked into the laundry and turned the light on...only to find a 'teenage' joey standing on the other side of the sliding door with his paws on the sliding door- the light from the study must have attracted his attention.  To this day, we're not sure how he got into our rear garden.  It's too high to jump over from any of our neighbours, so our best guess is that he somehow got in via the side gate (simple latch) and got stuck.  I woke my wife and we watched him on our alfresco.  He then disappeared from sight and proceeded to jump over the lower fence on our southern side - quite a brave jump.

UEH is still fixing a few things around the house.  Going around in circles really...but hey, it's their money they're wasting.

Our lawn is amazing.  It's beautiful when cut...but boy does it grow in summer.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Finish Line approaches

Well, we thought 2 months ago, it'd only be a month to go.  Well, we were wrong.

It took a while to get around to getting the south concrete apron done - includes 2 drains like the 4 on the north side - and then get things organised to drill the extra depth holes and start the fencing.  We had to wait for the builder of the south side house to finish up with their rendering so that they could move the temp fencing off our land and the apron works could commence.  Of course, as we're learning, co-ordinating tradies is aiken to herding cats. The weather affects different tradies differently.

The fencing should hopefully finish this week, and then I've got a little bit of landscaping to do myself - get some scoria in, then stones down the side and bark at the front.

Inside, all the furniture has been delivered and I've managed to sort out the garage 95% and it'll soon be ready for the intended purpose!  A car!  Yes, just one... standard garages here in Australia aren't as wide as in South Africa, so if you have shelves or anything other than a car stored in the garage, there's just not enough space.  Not quite like the good old SA garages that had space for 2 large cars, workbenches, fridge/freezers and then all the rafter space.

The lawn is amazing.  I have to say that the landscaper chose well.  It's an amazing green, and boy does it grow.  I have to mow it every two weeks or it becomes a little jungle for the girls. Will post some photos of that too.  Strathyr's RTF is the name. 

They've started building on the site behind us, so within 6 months or so we'll hopefully have all our neighbours in - possibly the first block in our stage to be completely surrounded by completed houses. We look forward to getting to know all our neighbours better once everyone's houses are complete and we can all get on with enjoying our estate/stage without worrying about or dealing with any building issues.

UEH is busy fixing various things around the house and we're waiting to hear what Beaumont Tiles finds out about our polished porcelain tiles - several appear to have absorbed water and become 'stained'.  Which from what I've been told and read, should never happen with polished porcelain tiles.  Let's wait and see.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

End in sight?

Or is that end in Site. :)

Well, we've completed the landscaping for 90% of the area of our lot; basically 3 of the 4 sides of the house are done.  All 3 are just pending the completion of the fence after the grass has had a chance to settle and take root.

The last remaining side is a different beast.  We'll be putting in a retaining wall to protect/support the concrete apron and then after the apron is in, it'll be time to drill extra depth holes - due to the lot next door cutting their site right to the boundary.  Their retaining wall is 200mm off the boundary and 600mm high, so a standard fence post depth wouldn't have a hope in hell of standing up against the wind and would just be pushed over in a few days or weeks.  That fence will also only be 1.8m from the natural lay of the land, unlike it's northern counterpart which is extra height - I think the difference between the tops of the two fences will be around a meter.  Doesn't really bother us, as we're on the high side of the fence and the owner next door is happy with us having +-1.4m of fence height against our house height.

Anyway, if all goes according to plan, in a month all the landscaping/fencing will be done.  Finally.  Hopefully never to be worried about again.

Once that is complete I promise I'll post photos of the before and after. :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

And we thought building the house was the stressful part...

Well... it wasn't.  Sure, it go a bit frustrating with the builder, but they built our house in the end, and I still smile at the little things we did differently with them.

Right now though, it's the outside of the house that I never prepared myself mentally for.  Oh sure, I planned financially, mostly...but there are always things you don't think of, and the budget got blown a while ago...

We're trying to get 2/3 of the fence done, and the whole of the front of the house... and boy is it stressful.  Also going to be around 2 months before the shutters are in...

Living each day without TV, or 'real' (i.e. FTTH) internet has proven interesting.  We basically try stream recorded programs from the likes of 7...and on the dodgy 3G tethering, it stops working all the time...

But... look to the future and in 2 months it'll all be behind us.  The pics will time. :)

Soon, we might actually get some furniture for the theater room! 

Almost every pair of shoes I have has mud on them...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trying to settle in

Well, it's been crazy.  We finally handed over our rental property today, with a tremendous amount of work by my wife to get it sorted.

We're now in the 'setting up the home' stage... which means, concrete, driveway, landscaping, fencing, windows, furniture... oh boy...

I'll post pictures once everything is sorted out... I must say, the guys from New Look Concrete are doing an amazing job of landscaping and concreting... with some additional drainage to boot.  I can't wait to see how well they'll do our front retaining wall.  A lot of hard work, but they're doing great.

We can't fence or concrete the south side of the house as it's not safe to do so yet until that house has its garage wall up.  Hoping there's enough space for their drainage and the fence on the boundary.

The north side is where NLC are doing lots of work putting in a retaining wall to help level out the ground for the fence and drainage.

Watch this space for the finished products and in about 8 weeks, the inside of the house once the plantation shutters are in.