Monday, December 19, 2016

Blind quote

Another item ticked off our To Do list was the blind situation.

We wanted a quality selection of blinds throughout the whole home to match our build upgrades and furniture options. We knew this was going to be an expensive project however we had been setting aside some funds just for this.

We looked a couple of different blind companies however settled with Into Blinds in Thomastown. Our rep was Matthew who was great initially however was hard to get in contact with once they had taken our deposit. It took a couple of meetings and a few phone calls to lock in the items we wanted.

We are still yet to do a formal measure and sizing appointment which will take place on site. We are also yet to formally choose colours however we know what we want in the way of looks. We will probably be going with charcoal/grey colour combinations throughout.

Our quoted price for the below blinds is $9,687.

The below is what we have chosen.


"Fit In" means the blind will sit inside the window frame (you will see gaps of light down the sides of the blind).
"Fit out" means the blind will sit on top of the architrave/window frame (no gaps for light).

Main Bedroom

"Fit Out" block out blind with Floor to Ceiling/Wall to Wall screen curtain. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.
Wall to Wall / Ceiling to Floor. 
Screen curtain with block out blind underneath

Bathrooms/Laundry/Powder Room

"Fit Out" block out blind. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.
No need for screen blinds in these rooms.

Plain block out blind in "Fit Out"
with pelmet


"Fit In" screen blind with "Fit Out" block out blind. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.

Double blind (1 screen and 1 blockout)
with pelmet

Alfresco Doors

"Fit In" block out blind. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet. 4 blinds in total (2 each door).

As the doors for the alfresco is so big we can't cover this area in only 1 blind each side. This means we will have a gap between each blind. As there is a gap that can't be helped we have chosen the block out blind just for basic privacy. This blind will never be light tight however we chose the "Fit In" placement in case we choose to add a wall to wall / floor to ceiling curtain at a later date.
Alfresco door blinds
(Note gaps between blinds)


"Fit In" screen blind with "Fit Out" block out blind. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.
Double blind (1 screen and 1
blockout) with pelmet


"Fit In" screen blind with "Fit Out" block out blind. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.
Double blind (1 screen and 1 
blockout) with pelmet


"Fit Out" block out blind with Floor to Ceiling/Wall to Wall screen curtain. Includes fabric wrapped pelmet.
Wall to Wall / Ceiling to Floor. 
Screen curtain with block out blind underneath

After handover lighting selections

Over the last couple of weeks we have been keeping an eye out for the after handover lighting we will need to have installed. We need the following;

2 wall mounted lights for either side of the ensuite mirrors
2 ceiling fans for alfresco area
Pendant light for the dining area

Last weekend we found just what we were looking for. We had been trawling through catalogs and lighting shops however never really finding what we wanted. This included around 10 separate trips into Beacon. Beacon supply the light fittings for the Boutique builds so we always ended up coming back here.

The below were the selections we have chosen.
2 Airfusion A60 DC Fans.  $695 each
2 wall mounted ensuite mirror lights.
We will change the globe to a crisp white to avoid
the yellow tinge in the photo. $199 each

Our dining pendant light is a little more complicated.

We will be installing a ceiling plate to hold 4 individual pendant lights suspended at different heights in a row. This will match our rectangular dining table. The total cost of this setup is $503.

ceiling plate to run pendant lights
LED globes.
Looks much better than the standard filament
 and last longer. Also puts out more light.
The light fitting. Remove the ceiling plate and
light globe and add our options instead.

Picture this type of light setuip with our plate
and the lights at staggered random heights

Insulation, Plaster and Bricks!

It has been a week and a bit so time for another update.

The build is really powering along now and it is awesome to see. It really looks like they are pushing to reach initial lock up before Christmas.

In what seemed like only 2 days they managed to get all the insulation installed including the roof space. It was also great to see that they have insulated all internal walls as well as the roof right up to the eaves. This will really help keep noise from travelling through walls and also help keep an even temperature in very warm and very cold periods.

Insulation in internal walls
Insulation right up to the eaves
In a week they have also managed to get 95% of all plastering done including the square set cornices in the living areas and the normal cornice in all other areas. Quality looks great too!
Cornice in laundry (pictured is the
bulkhead for the laundry)
Square set in living/kitchen

Looking towards kitchen/laundry
and entrance hallway
looking towards alfresco with both sides
of the doors in now

During this time they have also worked a lot on the bricks. We were really worried up until this point not knowing if we would like our brick choice. We chose Austral Settler Pepperwood Bricks (Category 3) however were never really sure if it would match our window frames and roof colour. Since seeing a couple of walls now completed we are really happy. It is only a Cat 3 which means on the lower end of the scale (Boutique offer nearly 20 different categories of bricks).

Looking towards garage from pool area
looking at theater room and living room walls

close up of living room wall

living room wall

front porch with cheaper bricks to go under render

front porch (bricks being
rendered on left)
Master bedroom

We are still waiting on Boutique to send us our Pre-Plaster inspection report. Hopefully they can advise that they fixed everything prior to the plaster and insulation going in as we have no way to check it. I guess we will just have to trust that Boutqiue's repuation for producing quality homes is correct!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Frame Progress - Roof on, bricks delivered, Pre-plaster Inspection

Just a quick update to what has happened over the last week and a half.

As a result of the slab/frame inspection the site has been cleaned up a lot and most of the defects have been rectified.

Before site clean

The roof has also been installed and the bricks have been delivered to the site.



Austral Settler Pepperwood (Cat 3)
Different coloured bricks for under the render

They have also started (and almost finsihed) electrical, plumbing and insulation. The heating/cooling has been installed into the roof cavity. Solar heater water panel is on the roof also. It is really moving.

We have been advised that next week the bricks and plaster will be installed. I believe they are aiming for lock up just before Christmas.

Today we also had our Pre-plaster inspection. This report was very detailed and over 30 pages long. I'm very happy that we choose to get these inspections done as I can't imagine what would have happened if these points were not rectified. Part of this inspection also included a re-inspection of the previous slab/frame issues raised. Most of these points have now been fixed with the exception of 2 which is a work in progress.

Some of the issues picked up on the Pre-plaster inspection are;

- The gutters are not installed properly meaning that they are not level and water could pool in the wrong ends. There is also a lot of rubbish and material left over from the tile installation which needs to be removed.

- Flashing and cladding have not been installed meaning the roof is not 100% watertight.

- Sewer vents on the roof have not be insulated to prevent water leaking.

- The masonite packers to straighten out the walls have not been attached with the correct fittings.

- Some of the windows haven't been installed with the correct headspace and gap.

- The laundry bulkhead has been made using the roof truss which is not to code. It will have to be redone.

- There is no clear walkway between the manhole and heater platform in the roof which will need to be installed.

Those are the main points which we have officially requested Boutique to rectify before moving on with the next stages. This may slow down progress on the build however it is important that these are fixed now so to not cause issues in the future.

Hopefully next week I can update the blog with photos of the bricks and plaster!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Frame Progress - Frame/Slab Inspection

So the majority of the frame has been completed now and most windows are in. Gutters were completed Sunday night and the roof tiles have been delivered. Fingers crossed for roof installation next week!

We also received our slab/frame independent inspection report this week and whilst there wasn't a lot of defects, the defects listed seem rather large jobs to rectify. The report was very detailed (17 pages long) with pictures of defects and suggested repair options.

The defects are as follows.

- Large amounts of slab over pour which will require engineering to come up with a plan to rectify without damaging the slab.

- The site cut has been advised as very poor in general with the fall of the land falling towards the slab. This means that water can pool against the slab and run under the house. This could cause major issues in the future.

- A few frame issues with the frame over hanging the slab as the slab in some sections has been poured incorrectly.

- Intersecting sections of frame walls are not actually connected which means that future movement and plaster cracking is very likely

- Lots of areas where the slab is not level. There are a few sections where the fall and rise of the slab is way above allowed tolerances meaning to fix they will have to grind back sections.

- Areas of the roof trusses were not connected with brackets to the load bearing walls meaning those trusses could move.

- There are non loading bearing walls which have been converted to load bearing using blocking. 

Overall some pretty concerning points that I am glad the inspection picked up however I have been advised by others that the listed defects are pretty common when building. We have formally requested Boutique to fix these defects and they have advised that the normal process for reports is to send it to their regional manager who will send a detailed report within 7 days outlining how they will repair.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Frame Progress - Independent Inspections

It has been less than two weeks and we have seen a fair bit of action. The slab sat for a week and got to dry out a bit which was great. I know nowadays it isn't required for slabs to cure for as long as they use different materials and difference processes than they used to however it is nice knowing it had time to set before they start drilling into it.

As of today most of the walls and window framing is up and they have started on the roof. Hopefully they can finish the roof trusses this week and maybe see some gutters/windows and tiles next week!

For those interested we are also engaging an independent inspector to review each stage of our build. This isn't something that is required however if you don't have one you will have to rely on the builder to pick up their own mistakes.

We have chosen to go with Darbecca. There are plenty of positive reviews on the Homeone Forums that we frequent which was the main reason we decided on them. We have selected to go with every stage inspection they offer. It is costly however we believe the piece of mind in knowing everything is correct is worth it in the long run.

The way it works is that you need to notify your builder that you want certain stages inspected by an independent party. The builder then has an obligation to advise you when each stage is going to be ready (usually a couple of days in advance). Once you are notified you need to advise your inspector when and where to attend to take a tour of the construction with your build site inspector (and yourself if you choose to attend). Once completed the inspector will write up a report to pass on to you and your builder. It is then up to you to ensure any issues are rectified before moving on with the next stage.

I will post their single story pricing structures below. Please note that this is what we were quoted. Prices may have changed since then. You can check them out in more detail at

Stage Inspections
Single Storey – Standard Pricing
Single Storey – Discount Pricing
Pre Pour/Steel Inspections
$490.00 + GST
$470.00 + GST
Slab Inspection
$330.00 + GST
$0  (combined with frame inspection)
Frame Inspection
$495.00 + GST
$450.00 + GST  (inc. complimentary slab inspection)
Pre Plaster/Lock up
$495.00 + GST
$450.00 + GST  (inc. complimentary frame reinspection)
Pre Paint/Fixing Inspections
$495.00 + GST
$450.00 + GST
Waterproofing Inspections
$430.00 + GST
$390.00 + GST ($120.00+ GST if combined with Fixing)
PCI/Final Inspections
$630.00 + GST
$550.00 + GST
Re Inspections
$385.00 + GST
$350.00 + GST

Friday, November 4, 2016

Slab! Finally...

It has been a very long and slow 35 days since my last post. In that time very little happened on the block. It actually got to the point where I was chasing up Boutique to complain about the delays. Normally it only takes 2 weeks to get the plumbing, electrical and slab down. In our case it has taken much longer.

Our weekly updates from our client liaison were emotionless and completely ignored the fact that we were experiencing delays. We basically received the same email week after week saying that "this week your slab is scheduled to be poured etc". When nothing happened on the block the same email would be sent again the following week.

Pipes ready to be installed but not much else happening

Most of the pipes and electrical in

I called our site supervisor directly and he advised that along with the weather, he was also just snowed under with the sheer volume of builds he was working on. This was concerning to hear as this wasn't the level of service we expected from Boutique. We choose Boutqiue because they weren't a "volume builder" however it appears we might have been mistaken!

During the very wet weather. It took a couple of days to dry out
We watched the 2 Homebuyers Center and other Boutique home in our street go from slab to roof stages and we just saw our block sitting there. It was like our block was sent to the end of the build line.

After making contact with our site supervisor and emailing my concerns to our liaison we finally received word that they were confident that they would be able to box the frame up ready for the slab. We became very concerned as on the Friday of that week nothing had happened. We then took a walk to the block on Sunday to give my parents a tour of the area and we happened to see the slab frame up. They must have worked on the Saturday! At least something had finally happened.

With the Melbourne Cup holiday on the Tuesday, Boutique closed their offices for the Monday and Tuesday. This meant we didn't get our weekly update from Boutique until late Thursday afternoon. The email stated the slab was booked to get poured this week and with the good weather forecast and the frame boxed up last week we assumed this would be the case. Good news!

As we had advised Boutique earlier that we wanted a Pre-Slab inspection I called our supervisor as soon as I received the email from the office and confirmed if the inspection had been arranged (normally the client would arrange the inspections however I had been advised by Boutique that for the slab the site supervisor would arrange it so they can make sure they aren't delayed).

Unfortunately, when speaking to the supervisor he advised me that he was unaware that we wanted the slab inspected and the pour was due first thing Friday morning. At 4:00pm on a Thursday there was no way I could get the inspection in without delaying the pour. Not wanting to push the progress back anymore than what had already occurred I advised him to go ahead with the pour as planned.

Frustrated and annoyed at the lack of communication between the office and the supervisor yet excited about the slab finally happening I called the Boutqiue offices for an explanation to the lack of an inspection. I spoke to the client liaison manager who was very sympathetic to our situation and asked me to send her an email outlining all my concerns. I sat down that night and wrote everything down, which in itself was a soothing process.

The following morning I received a call from the supervisor at around 9:00am advising me that the slab pour was going ahead as scheduled. I could actually hear the trucks in the background as well! We waited all day and went and had a look at 7.30pm when we knew the trades would be gone to take a few photos.

It has been 57 days since our temp fence went up on our block to the slab being poured. I believe the standard for most builds is 14 days. Either we have been really unlucky or Boutique Homes isn't the builder we expected. We are hoping for the former but I guess we will wait and see.