Thursday, 30 June 2011

And just like that...........

After much piling of the poo upon a certain Council, it appears that I am up for a steady diet of humble pie! 12 days in at Council and our DA is approved without a fuss. We have received Conditional approval from our lender subject to valuation of the house and we would hope to receive that by the end of the week. Another tour of the block this week revealed that all of the sewer tanks have been installed with a number of the water supply lines run to most of the blocks.

As a complimentary gift from the installers of the sewer tanks was about ten ton of fill that has been dumped on my block, too bad if my block was being scraped tomorrow! I'm a bit pissed with it as there is ample land still available that the developer owns that could have been used to store the fill.

Another close up of the tank that has been commandeered by my neighbour

Here's hoping we hear from our lender by the end of the week.......

Monday, 20 June 2011

A Row of Shit Houses!

Not a great deal happening at the moment due to our plans being in at Council. However I did notice that a large row of shithouses has appeared, well sort of!

Our stage of the release (2B) and the following stage (3) that has finally been registered is serviced by a new "Positive pressure" sewer system. From what I understand, all the poop goes into this tank where it is minced up then pushed to the treatment plant where the magic happens and our recycled water is then treated and returned for use. Pretty much the whole tank is in the ground with only the lid showing.

The water tank/ recycled water debate is still simmering in the background so we will see how that progresses but its good to know we are finally making some progress now that the plans are at Council.

On another note, we were tossing around the idea of a pool which we mentioned to our Mortgage Consultant. We were advised that it would be financially better to factor the cost of the pool into the principal mortgage so we were asked to get some quotes. With an estimated budget of around 30K I thought it would be a simple task to arrange some quotes however it appears I may have been very wrong. Of the three companies I contacted to make enquiries, only ONE has bothered to call back! I couldn't believe it, THIRTY GRAND and businesses can't be bothered to make a phone call. All of the companies had already build pools in our estate and one of the companies that didn't bother to call back made a point of telling me that their Rep lives around the corner from me! I honestly can't believe how piss poor customer service has become now a days, it's not like I'm putting in a fish pond.

On a much more challenging note, the new addition is settling in well with only a small number of attempts on her life by her bigger and much more jealous sister! The Boss is also doing a fantastic job juggling both of the girls and also managing to keep me in line, I'd be lost without her!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Progress & Priority's

After some discussions with our Client Liaison and the Operations Manager of MDJ we were able to overcome the water tank issues however we may not be out of the woods yet, time will tell. We received confirmation today that our DA has been passed by the Developer and is now on its way to Hawkesbury Council. Hopefully they don't look at DA's in a two hour window each day!

On a competely different note, Priority's are brought into perspective with the arrival of our 2 day overcooked Second Daughter.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


So early I rose, showered, shaved, child fed and watered waiting for the clock to hit 0830 to call the "Duty Planner" at Hawkesbury Council in my 2hr window of opportunity. Surprisingly I got onto someone straight away, however that's about where my luck ended.

Q- "My 149 says SOME of my land is bushfire prone and I would like to find out which part and why?"

A- "If your house isn't in the Windsor town proper your bushfire prone"

Q- "Ok so the nearest tree to my house is 160m away and between that tree and my block is bare earth"

A- "Well if your house isn't in the Windsor town proper your bushfire prone".

OK thanks for your clarification.....NOT! To their credit though they did refer me to the Rural Fire Service Website so I could complete a different Bushfire Risk Assessment which after completion gave me a "LOW" or "Not Applicable" rating.

And so I thought the water tank issue had been resolved but it's raised it head once again. It appears that my builder is sticking to their guns about me having to have a water tank added to my contract to satisfy BASIX requirements. A bit of history for those not familiar with my estate.

Vermont, located at Pitt Town is about 10 minutes out of Windsor NSW. The estate is made up of three releases (at the moment) and my release is 2B. From what I understand, releases 1 and 2 were connected to the Sydney Water sewer system and were required to have rainwater tanks to meet basix. In my release (2b) were were being connected to a positive pressure sewer system and a recycled water system. Even though all the infrastructure is in the ground and the processing plant is part way through construction, it is not complete and is expected to be completed by October 2011. For anyone in Stage 2B to finish construction and obtain a Occupation Certificate, the sewer and recycled water MUST be up and running.

Back to today, So my builder requires a water tank at a cost to me of $8500 prior to commencing construction however recycled water will be connected prior to me obtaining an Occupation Certificate thus it appears I waste $8500 for nothing! From what I understand from my adjoining neighbours, they have listed a water tank on BASIX and their plans to satisfy basix. When the recycled water is connected during the build a basix variation is done to reflect the change.

Whilst my wife and I are not poor, we certainly don't have money to throw at this build. My wife was due yesterday with our second bub and frankly we don't need the stress. I hope I'm wrong but I get the impression that our builder may have the "My way or the Highway" attitude about this water tank. I have sent emails to the Developer Johnson Property Group and the recycled water company The Water Factory and we will see what light they can shed. I must say though so far although their have been some minor issues, MDJ have been fantastic.

Monday, 6 June 2011


After many a telephone call between builder, developer and recycled water company, it appears we may and its a big MAY have resolved our water tank debate issues.


A telephone call from the builder,
"Just calling to let you know your in a bushfire prone area"
"Yes your Council 149 says SOME of your land is affected"
"Which part of my 829sqm block is affected"
"Ahhh we don't know but can you fill in this form?"

I ring Hawkesbury Council in an effort to seek some advice where I am told that their town planners are only available between 8.30am to 10.30am each day! WTF!!!! So now I have to wait for my two hour window tomorrow to seek to find an answer. I'm fairly sure Nasa gave the space shuttle a bigger window then two hours! What a joke.........

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Water Tank and Recycled Water Saga

After getting home from our electrical's and Water tank bombshell meeting I hit the internet in a search for answers. Luckily I managed to find some other related issues from our estate and the yet to be finished recycled water plant. From what I could gather the water tank is required to be drawn onto the house plans with a clause put into the contract for its removal once the recycled plant is up and running. By listing a water tank on the plan, it gets us past the BASIX issue and when we change to the recycled water we simply need to do a BASIX variance. It all sounds so easy! I guess time will tell........

Electricals and WTF!

Things have been progressing at a slow and steady pace and we had our electrical's appointment coming up soon. I spoke with a few friends some of whom were sparkys and the best advice I got was to place all the standard power points that the builder supplies in the most difficult places that way the easy one's could be dropped in later. I managed to get my hands on an electrical price list well before our appointment and it gave me a good chance to price around. Some things I found the builder was fairly cost competitive but some other things were wayyyyyyy over priced. The boss and I were looking at upgrading some of our light switches to some nice fancy back lit ones however they were more then double the retail price so we opted to do it all later and stick to the basics.

So we arrive for our electricals and find out that our Customer Service Officer needs to see us prior to the appointment. We meet our CSO who seats us down and informs us that we need to put up another $9000 to install a water tank to pass our BASIX requirements. After I got up off the floor I explained that we were on a recycled water estate and didn't need a water tank however I was informed that as the recycled system is not yet complete we will need to put the tank in. I then thought maybe I can do it cheaper myself, no not an option as it must be done by the builder. Whilst "Not happy Jan" we left and went to our electricals.

Electrical was kept to a minimum and the majority of our additional cost was spend in double and triple switching. We had to add a few extra lights to complete some switching circuits but that was about it. I could not swallow forking out $130 per downlight for the builder to do it when I could do it for about one third the cost post build. We just got the standard baton light fitting put into a place where a downlight would be and it will all be changed later. Things like bathroom 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 I would recommend getting the builder to do as they need to be on their own circuit. All up we spent just over $2500 in electricals. Be aware though that we spend the very minimum and it would be very easy to spend in the tens of thousands!

Where to from here?

So we had payed our $3000 initial deposit and now what? We soon realised that the majority of the wow factor that really sold us on this home was not included in the base price, and in fairness this was also the same with all of the other builders. When we made our way up to Maitland and went through a Monte up there we were handed a price list of all the extras that were upgraded in the house. We got back in touch with MDJ and requested a floor plan so we could start getting quotes on flooring to compare when we went for colour selections and got one emailed to us. It wasn't until this time we realised that the front of the house had no eaves on it. Every display home we saw had eaves and we naturally thought this was standard. Luckily for us we checked as it would have been a major let down without.

Before we knew it a large parcel arrived which was our colour selections material which is basically all the options you can choose from and upgrade to with your house. We made use of a "Pre colour selections walk through" which allows you a walk through of the design studios. I would highly recommend this as it gives you an idea of what to expect. Just as quickly our colour selections appointment arrived and we found ourselves at the MDJ Colour Selections Studios at Bella Vista. Our consultant Craig was fantastic and could not have been better with his guidance and assistance. In saying this, it is a very very long day with almost too many decisions to be made! The boss and I couldn't come to an agreement on flooring and after many many hours decided to come back later to finalise it. After we made all the final decisions we ended up with a selection bill of over 30K! Mind you we by no means lashed out, with the biggest luxury being a spa bath and a double shower head in the ensuite. We went over our list and managed to bring it down to just over 15K by cutting a lot of things we could do later like handles and other not so important things. We put the most of our money into the bathroom and kitchen being things that were hard to renovate later.

Kitchen benchtop, silver glass splashback, cabinet samples and floor tiles

Bathroom benchtop, cabinet sample, feature tiles and floor tiles

Our PGH Mild Steel brick, Woodland Grey Roof, Surfmist Fascia and Evening Haze downpipes

Honestly colour selections whilst being a lot of fun is a HUGH day, go well rested and be prepared.