Thursday, December 14, 2006

Awards Night.

I must apologise for the lengthy delay since my last post, the combined pressures of moving house, unpacking, housewarming (cleaning up after housewarming), more unpacking, re-arranging the unpacked stuff, trying to organise the air conditioning, yelling at the air conditioning salesman, more rearranging of unpacking and buying a kitten, has taken up more time the I anticipated.

So, the house...
Well, the list of items that needed fixing from the PCI meeting has, according to my supervisor, been completed. Funnily enough, the list of items from my building inspector which was handed over to my supervisor has not been finished. Most of them are minor things but I have got 3 phone calls in the last 9 days from 2 different people asking me to sign and return the PCI forms, so I think they are in a rush to close my job off before Christmas, which I will gladly help them with... if they finish the jobs first!

And I have an announcement to make, the winner of Most Amazingly Simian Tradesperson (or TradePersons) Award goes to...


For a while the race between which trade was the most stupid/deranged/ape like/idiotic was neck and neck between the plumber and the bricklayer but the final saga that pushes the plumber over the line ahead of the bricklayer is the fact that they installed the laundry trough. Not an event by itself until you hear what they managed to achieve whilst installing the laundry trough. The trough has 4 screws that attach it to the wall to stop it moving (presumably), these screws attach it to the same wall as what the hot water copper pipe runs through. Yeap, you guessed it, the plumber installing the trough manged the rare and exceedingly difficult feat of drilling into the wall at exactly the right spot to hit the hot water pipe, and at precisely the right depth so as to not directly pierce the pipe but to damage it enough so that after using the washing machine twice the copper finally splits and water leaked into my wall. And because the wall is single brick, and the pipe was laid in a chase cut out of that single brick, the water leaked into the wall, all over (and under) the laundry tiles, AND all through the wall into the built in robe in the spare bedroom... The NEWLY CARPETED spare bedroom with a lot of boxes of stuff in it I might add.

So it was that amazing feat of drilling that pushes the plumber clear ahead of all of the other trades. Well done guys. Go have a banana.

And on a completely separate note, I would like to point out that there are few things as surreal as being woken up at 3:00am by a small 9 week old kitten licking your ear, it plays havoc with your sleep cycle and doesn't do much for your heart rate either (the kitten seemed to thing it was a great joke though).

Take care.

(To the poster that left a comment saying they were starting to build with Dale Alcock Home, best of luck to you. The inspector I used was through Houspect - - and thoroughly worth every cent).

Monday, November 06, 2006

The road goes ever on and on......

Well, the PCI has been and gone, the 10 day deadline has been and gone and we are still waiting for things to start (let along finish!). On the Saturday after our PCI meeting (which was on the Friday) I spent some time at the house and I noticed a few things that I (and my building inspector) missed, 4 things in total:

1) The brick paving to the driveway was poorly laid, no sand between the pavers, minimal use of cement edging.
2) The Laundry courtyard (which wasn't complete at the PCI) has no cement edging.
3) The stormwater drain which runs along the front of the garage to stop water flowing into the garage is installed... but has not been connected up to the stormwater system, there is no where for hte water to go.
4) One of the window locks has been nearly ripped off from someone trying to close it while it was locked open.

Fairly large things, and things that are fairly obviously the builders fault, its not like they can claim it was done after we took possession of the house.

As it stands now I have had 10 external window shutters installed, half the house painted and all of my network and TV cabling finished throughout the entire house in the same time it has taken Ventura to do, well, NOTHING.

Seriously, I work 40-50 hours a week at a job and my wife works the same and we can still organise several different trades to do their jobs in the small space of 10 days, our builder (who does this for a living) cannot even organise 1 guy to fix some basic things. I know we are not there only client, and they have dozens (if not hundreds) of other clients to look after, but really 10 days and not one person to fix any of the problems they have left behind? Its really quite pathetic, I would be embaressed if I worked at Ventura.

Its kind of depressing, but on the plus side the longer this debacle goes on for the more I am going to enjoy our housewarming party. And this is one party I do not need to drive too :-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And so we come, to the end of all things.

Well, I haven't been sent to jail. The PCI Meeting on Friday was fairly trouble free and successful. It didn't get off to the best of starts though, our inspector for some reason thought the meeting was at 2:30 as opposed to 2:00, so he was late arriving.

Our supervisor was already there when we turned up, fitting the bathroom door of all things. We went through each room together and I pointed out everything that was obvious to me that needed a touch up (things like scratched window frames, chips in the plaster work etc, leaking toilet!?) and he was quite happy noting everything down on his record sheet. We ended up filling 2 pages, which may sound like a lot but really they were all minor things. Then the inspector turned up and he went around by himself and filled up 4 pages of things to fixed, far far more detailed then I was.

Afterwards he took the supervisor around and pointed out he major things he didn't like, like the fact that the paint work on the ceiling was patchy (considering it's white paint on white gyprock I was impressed that he picked that up, but he was right, if you look very carefully it is patchy).

It all seemed very amicable and the supervisor left promising to get the things fixed over the next 10 days or so.

I then spoke to my Client Liason Officer on Monday and arranged to pick the keys up this Friday (subject to the bank approving the Progress Payment of course - current status on that is that its been approved as of today), the only condition on picking up the keys so quickly is that I do not rekey the garage door lock until Ventura has finished, so not as to restrict access for the tradesmen, and since all I am doing for the next 3 weeks is having tradesmen of my own in and out of the house that's ok with me.

So the big question, how do I feel now about Ventura, now that the stress is over and its practically complete?

I think an 5 out of 10 is a fair score, based solely on my observations and experiances.

They spent a lot of time with us designing our house at no cost.
They provided an Interior Designer to help us sort out our colours.
The roof timbers are excellent in their construction.

The brickwork is barely adequate in some places (in one case we are asking them to remove an entire external row of bricks along the window sill due to poor laying on the inspectors advice).
The green staining on the bricks is quite extensive and makes the house look like crap. Ventura's line is that its not their fault and it is just part of the brick and they suggest we try spraying bleach on the stains. Bollocks.
The plumber wins the prize for causing the most errors during the construction (taps installed on wrong walls, taps in the wrong positions, gas points in the wrong positions, cutting power cables with re-laying gas points and so on...).
I had 3 different supervisors in the time it took to build my house, problems bought up with 1 supervisor had to be bought up again with each new supervisor.
There appeared to be to be a complete lack of communication (or even a desire to communicate) with the client, nearly all communication had to be initiated by me.
Absolutely no desire to be pro-active about possible risks (there is no concept of Risk Management as far as I can tell). Even when I raised concerns about potential issues they wouldn't worry about it until the issue eventuated. Its such a waste of time its weird they don't take it more seriously.

I'm overall happy with my house, but disappointed at specific parts of it, mainly the stains.

Am I still going to write a tirade on my Customer Survey form (as I mentioned I would do a couple of times in this Blog)?
Yes I am. It may not be as haranguing as I pictured earlier on (heat of the moment and all that...) but I am still going to let them know what I think of their concept of client relationships and risk management to name just a few.

I guess there are still a few things to write and a few more blog entries to go before I truly move into my new home so I haven't finished just yet, but things are certainly coming to a close

Monday, October 16, 2006

Don't Dream its Over

Well 5 days to go before its all over!! (See - even after all this time I still haven't lost my optimistic outlook!).

The electrician has been and installed everything he should have (and something he shouldn't have - but more on that later), the sand has been delivered and the block landscaped for the paving that needs to go down, and only the gas related plumbing is left to be completed (all of the water related stuff - toilets, taps etc) have been done.

Its going to be completed on time, Its going to be completed on time, Its going to be completed on time (I just need my red ruby slippers on to make this wish come true! However my wife has hidden them threatening bodily harm if I wear them out in public again).

No onto the thing the electrician should not have installed.
Remember the Hot Water Unit Saga? The one where the plans and contract say that the hot water unit is a recessed continuous hot water unit, and yet every tradesman involved with it (brickie, electrician and plumber) seemed to think that it was an external (non recessed) unit? Well despite promises to the contrary this particular has not been solved.

The electrician has installed an external powerpoint on the wall next to great big hole in the outer big wall instead of inside the cavity. So now I need to either get Ventura to call the electrician back on site and change it (which also means replacing the brick he drilled through) or I can have the power cable from the hot water unit which is recessed into the wall, dangle out along the wall externally to the external plug. Some choice.. An email is already on its way to Ventura :-)

And now for something completely different...
For any music fans of the band Queen out there I would recommend a visit to which is the homepage for a bunch of artists (or maybe just one, I'm not sure) called "The Silence Xperiment". They have released a mash-up album of Queen tracks with 50-Cent lyrics and its... different. Its kind of like eating french fries dipped in soft serve ice cream together, two things that on the face of it should never go together, but some how they work. There is a weird synergy going on and I am a rabid Queen fan and a very rabid not a 50-Cent fan but I kinda like this album. Its freely available for download. Enjoy :-)

Hopefully my next blog will be with the good news that the house is finished and everything is going well... Or I'll be posting from jail, sitting next to a new friend of mine call Bubba Pete awaiting sentencing for flushing my Building Supervisor down the toilet.

Take care and have fun where ever you can :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And so it begins, the end.

Well the tilers have been and completed their work, and on a Sunday no less! We were over at the house on Saturday afternoon looking at paint samples and the tiles were not done, and then we went back on Sunday afternoon because we still couldn't make up our mind and the tiling was done.. on a Sunday morning.. I'm stunned.

Plus the fence was FINALLY removed last Friday and it is very obvious that the retaining wall will not only need moving to its correct position but will need extending so that it actually has a chance of retaining stuff.

When I politely asked my Client Liasion Officer to ask my Supervisor (don't you love Chinese whispers!) to have a look and see what he thinks about the retaining wall I was informed that he (my third supervisor I point out) was on holidays for a week. Which, as stupid as it sounds, worked out really good because instead of passing it onto the supervisor my CLO got the retaining wall contractor to call me direct, we discussed the fence, he went on site and had a look, we discussed some more and he said he would be out there today to move and extend the wall. How simple was that. I also had the added bonus of getting him to tell me how much he is charging Ventura for this, and just how much of a mark up is being placed on his fee by Ventura, go on have a guess (if any one gets close I'll tell you).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some progress has been made.

As you know we have a new supervisor now (our third) and the word from him, relayed to us via our Client Liasion Officer (almost our third) is that our PCI Meeting should be on the 20th of October. Now if any one knows just what 'PCI' stands for I would love to know, as I doubt in this case that it stands for Periphial Connection Interface. I sat here trying to think up some amusing building related acronyms that PCI might stand for, but came up blank (I came up with a couple, but nothing I would print on a public web page!).

Still with that in mind I am going to take a bit of a gamble and book my tiler in for 8th of Novmeber and my painter for the 2nd of November. Whilst the tiler is a little flexible the painter is not and the only times he has free are either the 2nd of November or the 16th of Janurary (and considering he will only charge $2500 for the job - dulux top range paint included - I am willing to work with him on a time). The guy is a painter by trade and would normally charge around $3500 to $4000 for a similar job but since he is also the captain of my hockey team things have worked out really well (I'll provide the bourbon and cokes for afterward).

We went and bought a dishwasher and fridge on the weekend also... Damn there are a lot of choices. Whilst we pretty much already knew what we wanted (Fisher and Paykel, Stainless Steel finish, and the dishwasher is a dishdrawer) we still had to look at the other choices and see if what we did want was an OK choice for us. We figured that a full size dishwasher is a little bit of an over kill for two people, it would take a week to fill the damn thing with dishes (and I don't have that may dishes), so this way with a 2 drawer dishdrawer we only need to fill one drawer for a 'full' load. And if we are going to by a F&P dishwasher we may as well buy a F&P fridge. So we ended up with a 520 litre stainless steel monster (with a monster price too - ouch!) that is going to be a bugger to get into the kitchen. The price was $1400 for the dishwasher and $1700 for the fridge and whilst they are great prices (a F&P Dishdrawer is around 1600-1700) we, frankly, could have got something for nearly half the price, but I have a F&P top loading washing machine which for 9 years has not missed a single beat, and Mum's F&P washing machine was be going strong for 14 years and is basically indestructible and I'm prepared to pay for that sort of quality and trust, plus the curved stainless steel finishes to both machines looks great (god help anyone who touches it without gloves though! :) )

For those loyal readers who have been following this blog for a while (hi mum!) you should remember the trouble we had a little while ago with the retaining wall, and the fact that it was quite a way in from the boundary (and not where it should have been). So after a couple of letters and phone calls where I insisted that the builder build according to the signed plans, they agreed to move the retaining wall to the correct position provided I organised the removal of the asbestos fence first. Not a problem says I and I set about organising it. I rang the fence guy, and he remembered my quote, said that he would get someone out to look at it and remove the fence on the 20th (last Wednesday). Great I thought, and I let Ventura know the fence would be gone. Well guess what, its in now the 27th and as of last night the fence was still up!! Brilliant! After months of having a go at Ventura always running things over time and not being able to organise things, it all comes back and bites me on the backside! I have been promised that the fence WILL be down and removed today, but then again I was promised it would be down on the 20th and then the 22nd, and then the 25th, so I'm not holding out much hope....

The tiling which was started 2 weeks ago has still not been done either, for some reason after laying all of the tiles, and grouting the Ensuite they have gone off on a holiday some where and left the bathroom tiles ungrouted. Go Figure. I have to say that aside from that slowness the tilers seem quite excellent. Their laying and tile cutting is brilliant. They have cut holes out of the tiles for the taps, power points, and drains with millimetre precision, I'm impressed, I wish the plumber was as good, he has trouble getting the taps on the right wall!

So, bring on the 20th of October!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh Joy, Oh Rapture!

Well, I survived International Talk Like A Pirate Day but it was a close run thing!

Anyways, back to the house...

The blog title for this post come from the first thing that ran through my head when I recieved an email from my Client Liasion Officer (ahh, I still chuckle when I say that) at Ventura the relevant part in the email was this line "Just a note to let u know that you have a new supervisor, his name is Darren *******".

Oh whoopie! ANOTHER supervisor, that now brings my total to 3 supervisors, and 3 Client Liasion Officers (although my CLO's have changed FOUR times, but the last change was back to a previous CLO, go figure).

Just how (and who!) do they think this helps? In a 12 month period expecting your supervisor to change is not unreasonable, but THREE times?! And we are only 6 weeks away from finishing (and we have been for 8 weeks, damn PES).

That aside the orange haired simian I have for a plumber has been back and fixed the dishwasher water outlet, placing it in its correct position, and the kitchen guys have been back and replaced the kitchen (after having to take most of it out for the plumber). So this is good.

The tilers have tiled the ensuite (although not yet grouted it) and I just f*****g give up. "1 row of tiles above the vanity" its a fairly simple instruction, nothing too difficult to understand, no complex sub rules to interpret or anything in that statement, SO WHY THE HELL did the tiler install 1 row of half tiles?!

Its possible that laying the tiles like that means there is less tile cutting else where around the bath when lining the tiles up or something... well guess what, I dont care, I want the place built like I asked, not built however is easiest for the builder.

Mood Assessment for Today: Grumpy, Tired, Annoyed.

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