<![CDATA[Building The Bee Hive - Our Home]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:51:19 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[On The Home Stretch]]>Mon, 23 Nov 2015 20:51:31 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/on-the-home-stretchSince our last post, things have been moving along very quickly. 
We finally were able to visit the site and speak to our site manager who took the time to explain to us the reasoning behind issuing the invoice so early. The BigM's process is that once the paint dries then the invoice for that stage is issued. 

Our site manager has been great with ensuring that everything keeps moving and that someone is always onsite to get the job done. Most of the internal fit outs have finally been completed (tiles, plaster, cabinets, bench-tops, architraves, electricals, door handles, internal doors, shower screens, mirrors, basins, tapware, garage door) and the final walkthrough was scheduled with our site manager.

Tips for the final walkthrough:
- Familiarise yourself with your building plans, electrical plan and colour schedule.
- Mark up your plans and schedules so that you have a checklist (guide) to follow during the walkthrough.
- Test all windows and doors to ensure they all open/close properly
- Test all light switches to ensure they are installed in the right spots, work as they should and are connected to the right lights.

Walkthroughs can be a daunting process if you haven't gone through one before and you don't want to get overwhelmed and rush through the walkthrough. We found it alot easier having the checklist of items to review so that we moved at our pace and were comfortable with where things were at. We also had our independent inspector Theo (New Home Inspections) come onsite for the Pre-Handover inspection just for the peace of mind that structurally the house was built to code. Theo was great, he arrived onsite early and had started the inspection of the external and also gave us a quick run through of how walk throughs usually went.

We walked through the house room by room with our site manager and were given a roll of blue tape to use to mark up any defects, some of the things that we picked up were scratches to cupboard doors/sliding doors/benchtops, paintwork needing to be repaired, cabinet doors not closing properly, marks on tiles, lights not installed properly. The defects (summary) were recorded by our site manager and the list signed off by both parties. Defects marked with blue stickers would then be fixed before handover. 

The remaining items being the splashback, solar hot water panels, hot water system, split system, driveway, replacing the sliding door. Most of the sliding doors have been replaced with the correct doors that we had signed off on with exception of 1 door which is still under discussion with the manufacturer.  Hopefully in the next two weeks this will all be completed!

We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!!

<![CDATA[Caution: Progress Payments]]>Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:06:59 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/caution-progress-paymentsTwo weeks after the payment of our lockup stage invoice, we received another invoice for the Fixing Stage. You can understand our surprise when we received this as we had only just paid the Lock-up invoice. We tried contacting our site manager to get an update, however he was unavailable.

So our next step was to send an email to the BigM finance team requesting that the invoice due date be extended or placed on hold temporarily until we were able to inspect the works done. To summarise how the response from the BigM finance officer read, "No (tough luck), we aren't obligated to let you inspect the site before a progress payment is due, please ensure the invoice is paid by the due date. What frustrated us was not the NO, it was the fact that the finance officer had not even bothered to see if there was a problem or try and do the good customer service thing and ASSIST THE CUSTOMER WITH THEIR CONCERNS, all she did was just throw a bunch of contract terms and legal sentences at us! Zero consideration shown by them. It's all about the dollars in their wallets!

We pursued the request further as our site manager had been away on personal leave for over a week and we did not receive our weekly updates to advise on where the stage was at. we highlighted the fact of outstanding works from previous stages, to which we were told well you signed the contract with progress payment method 2 so we can invoice whenever we want. For those that are just starting the journey of their house build, method 2 favours the builders completely, it basically allows for the builder to invoice you for % of works completed during a stage (all stages except base and final stage). NEVER GO WITH METHOD 2!! Method 2 does nothing to protect the consumer and does not follow the Domestic Building Contracts Act.
Method 1 is the better option as it means builders can only request for progress payment once a stage is COMPLETE. According to the Domestic Building Contracts Act section 40, it is illegal for the builder to charge for incomplete works!

The BigM head office team clearly don't show any  consideration to their customers. Although they still owe us the installation of the correct doors, emails from engineering confirming certain works are structurally okay, variation for a big mistake THEIR CONTRACTORS did (which we let slide) and regular updates regarding the status, THEY still won't show any flexibility or understanding of the situation.

Just a heads up BigM, this will not happen for the final invoice. You will deliver a completed (to the agreed specs in our contract) house to us otherwise you will have a fight on your hands. The contract states we should resolve any issues with you before we go to the tribunal to have them resolve the issues. So this is us following the contract guidelines.

On a less frustrated note, the house is progressing well (thanks to our site manager, no thanks to the BigM head office team). Hopefully things continue to progress well and we have no outstanding items or issues at or post handover.]]>
<![CDATA[Almost At Lock Up]]>Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:37:47 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/almost-at-lock-upLots has happened since our last post.

We finally met our site manager who walked us through the house and went through some of the issues identified from the previous inspection. The crack in the alfresco was finally fixed thanks to the new site manager (Steve).

The pre-plaster inspection was scheduled in for mid december and completed by Theo from NHI who said that he is quite happy with how the build is progressing, which is music to our ears. Of the issues that were identified, some were rectified on site, the remaining issues were left for the site manager to address. It was great to see that there weren't too many issues reported.

The key issue (new) identified was an issue with the pipes in the bathroom. The plumbers seemed not to have read the plans properly and had drilled through 5 load bearing studs to install the pipes. Unfortunately this  could not be undone and as there were steel beams underneath the floor, the only option we were given was to have the piping come out through the bottom of the wall under the vanity (at a no cost variation).

We had another follow up inspection scheduled in the new year with our site manager. Most of the external items have been completed (bricks, tiles, guttering, windows) and the insulation has been put in as well.
Most issues from the previous inspections have been fixed, with exception of the piping issue and confirmation from the engineering team regarding the gap above our sliding doors. Neither of these issues would hold up the plaster boards going up.

Steve ran us through the next steps and rough time frames for the remaining work. Plaster boards should be finished by the end of the month and then the internal fit outs would be commencing shortly after that. The correct doors should also come in and be installed within the next few weeks.

Communication has improved, which is great to see. Our site manager contacts us to update on progress and schedule in on site visits as required. We have also just had a change in building coordinator, hopefully there won't be any more changes until completion.

Not long to go!!! Fingers crossed there are no major issues, though I have a bad feeling this is where the problems all start =/ Need to really keep an eye out on all the colours and items that are installed and make sure that it is all as per the signed off colour schedule. ]]>
<![CDATA[Sun, Nov 30, 2014]]>Sun, 30 Nov 2014 10:41:00 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/sun-nov-30-2014After a phone call to our building coordinator, it seems as though the BigM switched site managers on us without telling us. The new site manager also did not see the need to introduce himself and continued on with the job. Those weekly updates we are supposed to get also do not happen at all. Communication people communication!

On a more positive note, since the last update we now have all frames, windows and roof up! The electricians have also been in on the weekend to start the cabling work. For those who have upgraded their doors and/or windows, make sure you check the series of the doors installed. We had ours upgraded but the wrong doors were installed.

Our site manager was absent on the site inspection date which was inconvenient as we couldn't raise any issues with him. 10 issues were identified in this stage, all of which hopefully are not too difficult to resolve.

The BigM are super quick with the invoicing following the completion of a stage. As we still had outstanding issues from the base stage, we were certainly not going to pay the invoice.
What we have learnt is that once you pay the invoice for the stage, they forget about promising to fix the outstanding issues. Our invoice has been put on hold pending the resolution of the large crack in the corner of our alfresco from the base stage and the newly identified issues from the frames stage. The new doors are being made and will be replaced in 2-3 weeks.

It is great to see the house moving along, will be exciting to see the finished product.
<![CDATA[Frame Stage Already Started]]>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:37:14 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/frame-stage-already-startedThe frames on the first floor are already up... Yes normally this sentence would be followed by a "Yipee" and the popping of some champagne bottles.... but few issues with this pretty picture:

1.  Our site manager is a Ghost
  • The promise from our building coordinator that our new site manager would contact us to introduce himself and then once a week to discuss/update us on progress is a lie. Frames for the first floor are already up, yet we have not heard a peep from the site manager.

2. No Site Access
  • We have already requested access to site so we can check the quality of the work from the base stage but have basically been ignored. Our base stage site manager stated he had asked the concreter to fix a few things including levelling the site. That's nice, but what "things" did the site manager asked to have fixed and what was done to level the site... Proof of this work?? So as far as we know, our frames now sit on an unstable and slanted slab.

3. Incorrect dates
  • The BigM portal, on which we are supposed to be able to check progress, is stating the frames are scheduled to start on 20/11/2014. Good that you are starting early, but it would be helpful for us to be able to trust that information is correct so we have some idea of what is happening and when.

4. Poor Project Management/Planning
  • It is questionable whether the BigM project managers have factored in any contingency in their planning/scheduling of this project. In the base stage, the BigM factored in ZERO buffer between steel wiring going in and the pouring of the concrete. This led to us having to take their word that they addressed all the issues before the concrete went in, by the way one issue was unresolved because the info wasn't given to the concreter in time so concrete was poured anyway. If there are any issues with the slab, how will the BigM fix them now that the frames have gone up.

We are excited to see our house slowly taking shape, but are just really concerned about the quality, concerned that the BigM are rushing this project and disappointed that we are not getting any updates at all.]]>
<![CDATA[Base Stage Complete]]>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:14:58 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/base-stage-completeA lot has happened since the last update. It's great to see progress, but really frustrating the way the BigM are handling this. As usual we are kept in the dark about the progress and are always the ones to chase up for updates. 

The site inspection had to be pushed back a day as the BigM concreter requested for additional time to ensure that the pre-pour tasks were done properly. It is a good thing that they want to ensure it's done properly, however we aren't entirely sure they deliver on their promises. Our inspector from NHI (Rob) attended site but the BigM site manager was nowhere to be seen, the only person onsite happened to be a concreter who was able to address some of the minor issues that the inspector raised. It is quite interesting that the builders say the site manager must be onsite with us, yet they don't show up at the scheduled date/time. Rob @ NHI was very helpful and was able to explain two of the major issues prior to leaving site to head off and write the report. We received the report later in the evening and sent it straight to the site manager for review and requested for the issues to be resolved prior to concrete pour.

Major Issue 1 - Storm Water Pipe - Concealed pipes at the front portico which needs resolving
  • We tried to get in touch with the site manager straight away to bring this to his attention so it could be addressed prior to slab pour the next morning but weren't able to get through. When he did respond, he said that he didn't have an issue with the pipes (of course he didn't) however would pass it onto their engineers. The engineers believed that it was adequate however recommended extra lagging around the pipe.
  • This issue was apparently addressed prior to concrete pour.

Major Issue 2 - Punctures in the Vapour Barrier
  • The recommendation from the inspector was that the pipe penetrations through the vapour barrier must be properly repaired prior to any concrete being poured.
  • When we followed up with the site manager to see whether this was addressed prior to concrete pour, we were advised that it wasn't as the information did not get to the concreter in time, slab pour started at 6:30AM, but this would not cause any issues for our home in the future. Hopefully that's the truth. I'm sorry, but as a site manager managing what is one of the most important stages of a house build and knowing an inspection had just been completed, you would think that the site manager would make sure he reviewed the report and relayed the information to their contractors before work started the next morning.

What is incredibly frustrating is the lack of communication and lack of care for the quality of our home from the BigM. They do care about getting paid though, regardless of the quality of the work. One day after the concrete had been poured, we received the notification for the completion of the base stage and received the first invoice. We contacted the building coordinator (BC) as we wanted to inspect the site prior to releasing the payment. The advice from the BC was that we should process the payment as accounts would penalise us if we didn't show that we made the effort to process payment. Wish there was a way we could penalise them for not showing us that they made effort to ensure the quality of the work completed was high. Payment of this invoice was processed, however it wasn't until days after this, that our site manager contacted us and said it was an unusual request to do a site visit at this point, but he had visited the site and asked the concreter to fix a few of the issues (including the issue of the site not being level). We are yet to get any proof that any issues have been fixed as WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GO ONSITE! So frustrating having to trust a bunch of people who really don't care for us or the quality of our home.
<![CDATA[Foam Blocks Have Arrived]]>Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:07:53 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/slabs-have-arrivedOver the weekend we took a drive out to see the progress on our land, quite exciting seeing something other than just flat dirt ground. The piping looks like it has been started, although we did find a massive crack in one of the pipes. The cutouts in the ground have been covered up by a black sheet and the broken pipe appears to have been removed (hopefully it wasn't anything major).
The polystyrene blocks have arrived on site and should be setup today ready for the inspectors visit. Concrete pour has been targeted for tomorrow so hopefully the inspector (when he gets on site today) gives the A-ok to the steel and slab work so far! *Fingers crossed* If all goes well, we might be looking at stage completion in a few weeks!
<![CDATA[And We're Off!!]]>Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:01:51 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/and-were-off
Let me just say, for some time we'd been thinking that we would never get to this point but here we are, finally starting the build!! I think it really shows how long of a process it has been when we get so much joy from seeing the porta-loo sitting on our vacant block!

The digging has also started and temporary fencing has been installed - thank goodness for that as we'd hate for our neighbours to continue using our land as a rubbish tip!

We have been assigned our building and site coordinators for the build. will need to speak to the site manager to discuss invoice process and inspections.

Stage 1 is estimated to take 2-3 weeks and for independent inspections of the stage, it happens in two phases, pre-slab pour and post. The company we have engaged to do our inspections are "new home inspections (NHI)".

Fingers crossed no issues with stage 1!
<![CDATA[Start Your Engines]]>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:43:58 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/start-your-enginesFinally the rock is off our land!! Cost us ~$400 to have the job done but St least now it's gone! oh how I wish we didn't have to pay that much since we certainly didn't cause the issue!! The nice man that helped remove it even said that he had troubles picking the rock up using the little bobcat because it was so darn heavy!

Bit of good news is that site start will be in approx 1 week!! Next will be meeting with the building team to nut  put a few things. And now the stress of the build begins......]]>
<![CDATA[Dumpsite Clean Up]]>Tue, 07 Oct 2014 20:59:18 GMThttp://jkbeehive.weebly.com/our-home/clean-up-jobThe BigM completed their site inspection almost immediately after building permits were issued and the report states that requirement for us to remove the rock and debris from site before they commence building.

Thanks to "lovely" neighbouring builders simonds homes, we now have to head onsite and remove all the ROCKS and debris from our block.
For those that don't know, the rock is one that needs a bobcat to roll out on site and remove it. Also when we reported this, they denied it was them even though they are building 2 houses right next to us. We really don't understand, if your build area is fenced off and there is a massive skip outside your build site, why you continue to dump rubbish all over our block. Please keep it on your site or put it where it belongs, in the skip!

Also thanks to Simonds Homes, 2 of our 4 pegs marking the boundaries of our block are missing so a new site survey needs to be done, luckily this is covered under our fixed site costs. Don't think you can deny this one guys, your fences are sitting on my land so you'd need to have knocked off the pegs to have your fences sitting straight.

We have asked for quotes (to help with the site clean up) on the services seeking website, got a few responses straight away. Waiting on a few more responses before we pick one person for the job. We've also asked the BigM when fences will be going up because we'd hate to clean up the site only for Simonds contractors to use it as a dump site again.

We should have lift off soon. Fingers crossed!]]>