House update: All systems go!

How many updates was I going to do this month?  Did I promise three or four?  It is now 11pm on March 31 so I guess I should get this one out there pretty quick!

Last week we signed the contract to build our new house!

Construction is due to start between April and June; the contracted end date is 1 May 2012.

As expected we will have bits and pieces left to do afterwards; the guest room, home theatre, storage room, and so on - but that's fine by us.  The upper level will be where we will be spending most of our time so that is the important bit for us.

The latest plans:

... and it has occurred to me that some people haven't seen the view from our block!  Apologies for the blurry panorama stitching issues!

Other random items of note...

- The geothermal heat pump came in at close to $100k... so it was swapped for a ducted electric heat pump... which came in at about $35k - it is now a $10k ceiling mounted unit for the main living area and panel heaters for other areas!

- Some windows have disappeared - the glazing came in at $30k more than expected.  Quite a few have gone (eagle eyes can check the plans!), this also helped to get our star rating up (it came in at 5.7 in the end ..)

What is annoying is that the modelling used to calculate star ratings can't "cope" with "different" houses. eg. our cladding will be alucobond/vitrobond. They don't have an equivalent in their system (does everything have to be brick or render???). Our windows on the first floor have a niche which runs all the way around 3 sides of the house - making the roof height at the edge and therefore window height 2990mm. The niche is only about 290mm x 290mm, big enough to fit a roller blind, so the height for the rest of the house is 2700mm (think of it like a giant sunken ceiling). The problem is the star calculations can't deal with that shape of room and must base the calculations on the entire house having 2990mm ceilings, that is a LOT more space to heat! So in practice our house will perform much better than the ratings say in theory.

A little bit about the bathroom plans - the joinery details include: Square above bench sinks, mixer tapes coming from the wall; square ceiling mounted "rain head" shower heads; built in niches in showers for shampoo etc. Tiles are 600x600mm for floors, 600x300mm for walls. Colours can be changed but we have specified slate for now. The best bit - my cousin owns a bathroom superstore - so I'm getting all that stuff through him and supplying the builder/plumber :) Also, underfloor heating for the bathrooms has been estimated at about $1000 a bathroom - so we think we'll go for that.

- Kitchen benchtop - polished concrete bench of that size was, again, going to cost too much, so the architect has changed to an Essastone bench with a finish that resembles polished concrete - at a significantly smaller cost, which we are very happy with!

- The Vitrabond cladding we will be using will be costing about $20k, but installation of it about $40k! That's someone's wages for the better part of a year! The builder is try to negotiate this down ...

- We have also received a copy of the building specification document - which is a 133 page document that specifies the quality expected of the builder on every single detail.. as an example, the dimensions of the doors, number of hinges, minimum sizes of hinges, etc. Includes which Australian Standards they comply to. This kind of thing for every component of the house! Not exactly interesting reading but will be useful!

So that's it for now - deposit being paid next week and hopefully the next update will have a photo :) 


March has started... you know what that means.. we have gone our first full calendar month without making a blog post since we started!  Ooops..

I told Emma that we had gone over a month without blogging and she keenly pointed out that technically that's not true, she has been blogging frequently on her business' blog at -

In an attempt to rectify this we will try to do one a week for the rest of the month!  A house update, a technology update (Sonos and FetchTV), I'll try and get Emma to do a sling or babywearing one, and of course some other news that most of you may know about already ;)

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