Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hello Baby!

Baby #3 arrived today with some drama but fantastic excitement, joy and love. Just happened to be Baby #1's 5th birthday too - what a fantastic thing to share with your brother. A day to forget any of life's dramas and remember what is really important. I could not be happier if my boys can experience a life at least as good as mine.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Action Stations

After my Sslllooowwww... post I fell for another round of 'email the customer a schedule but then don't actually do anything' for another week.  I had been managing our side of the build all the way through to now but this was the straw that broke the camel's back - my hormonal 8.5 mth pregnant wife went coco-bananas with 20+ sobbing, ranting phone calls to the SS, CSO and Fowler Homes Reception.  Finally the next day (Friday) she got through to someone who was covering the sick Construction Manager who was shocked by her story, admitted that there were things going on in the office, our SS had been lying about progress and he would not be with the company much longer.  She was promised a call from the CM on Monday. On Monday she had to threaten to call the owners to get a call back from the CM.  He too was very apologetic, confirmed that the SS was leaving and that he would do his best to get the project to PCI within 2 weeks. He sounded very overwhelmed. More hollow promises???

Today my wife ran into our future neighbour.  She asked what the hell had happened because after witnessing months of no action at our site, there had been tradesmen climbing all over each other in the past week and a half. FINALLY!

Received notification yesterday that SS has left and we have been allocated a new SS.  Hate to see someone sacked (if that is what happened).  But as per Fowler Homes' tag line - 'you deserve the best' - and we were getting far from it.

In this period we have seen doors hung and handled, architraves finished, splashback, painting, cupboard fitout, basin splashbacks, plumbing finish off, mirrors, partial shower screens, internal clean and commencement of flooring.  Still to go - under stairs door, ensuite shower screen, finish grouting, install bath and spout, finish flooring, brick rectifications, finish painting, driveway.  By Friday? Maybe not... but at least they are having a crack.

A real shame that we had to reach meltdown point before we could get any progress.  I am hearing negative rumblings from many, many sources.  Fowler Homes will not be in NSW's top 20 builders for long if they cannot improve their completion rate and response to customers.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Two and a half weeks have passed since my ultimatum with the Site Supervisor.  I told him that I had faith that he could deliver and that I would not need to escalate my concerns. I was lying, and my true feelings were correct.  Initially there was a promise to finish within 4 weeks.  By the end of Week 1 there was ZERO progress and the promise was diluted to a defects inspection at the end of 4 weeks.  By the end of Week 2 we had benchtops and plumbing, but not the promised plaster touch-ups, painting or shower screens. Mid Week 3 we gain have ZERO progress. A total of about 1 days work done in 12. Way to ramp it up!!!

Like your pet dog cowering in the corner after tearing out your flower beds, my SS stopped returning my calls.  No choice today but to try to get in contact with his boss.  CSO has promised to pass on my concern and I will get a response tomorrow. Just like I will have my home at the end of October?!? I wonder if they can deliver a phone call on time!

Looks like we have been suckered into a big rush to the 90% progress claim stage and then foot off the gas, leaving us on 90% mortgage, full rent and no prospect of being in our home when our baby arrives.  A competitive tender at the start, but Fowler Homes are now costing us big time.  Sales people tell you a six month build time but that is just to get you to sign on the dotted line. Dirty, dirty, dirty.  Couldn't sell the place for what we have paid so far.

Are they competent enough to sneak it in before the contract period? Probably not.

If you are building with Fowler Homes, don't be expecting to be in your home until they are in the brink of paying you liquidated damages at the end of their bloated contract period - 41 weeks for us, could be longer for you. 10 years ago houses were being finished in 13 weeks. What has happened?

If you are thinking of building with Fowler Homes, don't. The value proposition represented in their tender will be blown to bits when they take a year to finish. I'm certain you can do better else where.

My wife is telling me she is going to picket the display homes (8.5 months pregnant). I hope we get a decent response tomorrow because I'm afraid she means it.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Painting & Ultimatum (with pic)

Since the completion of the tiling last week the painting has mostly been completed this week.  We checked it out early in the week and thought we had made some major mistakes on the render colour and the downpipes/water tank/water heater... We were seeking a variation from Fowler to change the colours, but went back today after more painting had been done and it looks better and we have decided to stick with it.  Probably not exactly what we were after, we hoped the render was a bit more cream, but it is close enough, particularly looking at the mock up I did all of those months ago which is shown in the header of this blog.  I think that the colour scheme will develop more once the front porch gets decked, we add a charcoal retaining wall to the front yard and the grass and front fence go in.  I can see why the rich clients on Grand Designs change things mid-build so much - if only we had the budget to be so fussy!

Render painted in Taubmans Vintage Lace

After following Kikichan's dramas with Fowler on (link Kikichan's productreview drama while it lasts), and emails with her I note that they have sped up on her project after she had a go at them.  I have been playing nice guy so far, but decided that I might need to go a bit heavy to ensure progress is made.  I rang my SS on Friday and then followed up with the following email:

Dear SS,

As discussed just now on the phone our build has exceeded 7 months to
date. We have not contributed to any delays, on the contrary we have
on a few occasions reduced the impact of schedule blow outs through
being flexible and identifying problems early.

We have now paid all but the final payment and as such are incurring
near full mortgage plus rent costs. You are also aware of the
impending arrival of another child for our family. As you would
appreciate, we are extremely keen to have our house finished.

We agreed that the build could be completed within four weeks, which
from today is the 9th November. I vigourously request that you ensure
that this milestone is achieved on time. I will call you weekly to
monitor progress during this period. If I do not feel that progress is
occuring at a satisfactory rate I will need to escalate my concerns,
however I have faith that you will deliver, and that this will not be

Please feel free to call me at any time if I can be of assistance in
meeting this deadline.

Hopefully assertive without being too heavy handed. A shame that things have to start getting heavy for commitments to be made.  It will be interesting to see if he can deliver.

I just cannot understand how these builders do not focus on speedy builds to improve their cash flow and customer satisfaction.  Check out this blog from a Wisdom Homes customer if you want to see how quick it can be.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Big Setback

I have not posted for weeks, because no major progress has been made. Over 5 weeks ago I inspected the house and found that the wrong tiles had been laid in the Bathroom, Ensuite, Laundry and Powder Room.  They actually went ahead and finished the last 10% of the job after I told them it was wrong (a bit presumptuous that we would cop it!).  Fowler Homes' tiling sub-contractor Abruzzo Ceramics had called me the week before and said that they would call me again so that I could meet the tiler and advise exactly how I wanted the tiles laid... but they didn't ring me back.  Turns out that the Tile Selection Officer failed to designate matte finish, and polished were ordered and laid. The polished finish changes the colours, particularly the cream which turned a yucky yellow. Plus polished tiles on the floor are just plain dangerous in wet areas. And we paid a massive variation for the tiles that we chose.

The resolution options offered were:

  • Abruzzo would lay more tiles elsewhere at no charge - we did not want more tiling
  • Abruzzo would refund us some money - we chose to build because we wanted to choose all of the finishes and we were not happy with what had been laid
  • New tiles were to be laid over the wrong tiles - floor heights and wall thickness would have been massive and looked stupid, again, this is a new house, not someone's dodgy reno!
  • Demolish the rooms and start again - this includes re-sheeting the walls, water proofing, screed... This was the only option we could accept, at massive impediment to the building schedule
What a massive cost to them!

Basically nothing else could continue because the vanities, plumbing, electrical, painting and flooring can't start until the tiling is finished.  I cannot for the life of me understand how it could take over 5 weeks to resolve.  We are now 7 months into construction (and 17 months since signing on for a tender) and we would probably be in this week had it not been for this. We have paid all but the Final Progress Claim so we are paying nearly full mortgage plus rent. We also have Baby #3 due soon.  Any apologies from Fowler Homes? Did they snap to it, pull out all the stops to resolve it quickly.  No freaking way! Is this the performance of a good building company?

I am going to have a look this afternoon.  If the tiling is not completed I will be forced to depart from my Mr Nice Guy persona and start firing some rockets. Fingers crossed things start moving now.

My brother in law has just paid a deposit on a block of land and is starting to look for a builder.  Am I suggesting he uses Fowler Homes?  I wish I was typing 'yes' right now, but unfortunately it is a 'no'.  Here's hoping that they can change my opinion between now and the end...

UPDATE 6/10 PM: Went to the house and 6 painters were hard at it on a late Saturday afternoon. Tiling had been finished, vanities and laundry tub were in, downpipesd installed.  This was probably about as good as I'd hoped for. Luck changing?

Monday, 30 July 2012

Tiles and Ktichen Selections (with Pics)

Our tile quote came back and it was remarkably high.  There was an error that I found in the quote too, they used lineal m instead of sqm - lucky I checked!  Another example of how we travel blindly through this process with regard to budget.  Luckily I had included a few provisions/contingencies and tiles are only going to wet areas as we have floor boards and carpet else where otherwise this could have been a massive variation.  I wonder if we could have got the bank to fund the floors and driveway supplied by someone other than the builder?  We could have saved heaps here if we had the cash.  In the end, I am happy with our tile selections and I hope that the laying is of a high standard.

We also had our Kitchen Session with the Director of Pre-Fab Constructions at the new Studio Fowler.  It was a little hard to concentrate on the kitchen as this was our first visit to Studio Fowler (it had not been completed when we did colours in 09/11).  Our kitchen guy was very helpful.  He talked us into letting him do the pantry instead of Fowler - this would let the colour scheme flow better and the removal of some nib walls freed up space for some more bench area.  We also added some drawers to the pantry, and a built in double bin.  We got the chance to revise the colour of our vanities, we had chosen a funny brown and now we have gone for a warm grey - good result.

Final Kitchen Plan - original had a white glass panel door for the pantry, this looks better now
We were worried that Fowler Homes would charge us a plan change fee but the Kitchen Selection should have occurred around the time of the Colour Selection except they axed their kitchen supplier at that time and then forgot to arrange a session later - I had to push to make it happen.  They did not apply a change fee so we were happy. Hopefully they have got that ironed out now for new customers.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Now We're (Gyp)Rocking! (with pics)

Progress rolls on at a moderate pace.  Since last update (~3 weeks) we have seen:

  • Lower level roof tiles
  • Rendering
  • Electrical and A/C rough in
  • Commencement of gyprocking

Not too shabby.

Rendering (and the offending incomplete roof above the garage!)

A/C and electrical rough in

Master Bed with Soundscreen insulation

Same wall as above with Gyprock commenced - starting to look pretty now!

Central area on top floor (and my eldest monster's head!)

Is this wall starting to pop now?

Great to see the house really coming together.

We also did our tile selection at Abruzzo on Saturday. Quite happy with the support from the Tile Consultant. Would have been better if we could have carried the samples around the showroom to match colours (samples were fixed in frames).  We chose 300 x 600 charcoal tiles for floors and feature walls and then 300 x 600 crema tiles for the other walls.  For the laundry and powder room we chose a silver grey.  A little bit surprised that we still haven't got the quote back from them by Wednesday afternoon so we don't know if we have blown the budget yet.

SS told me that he would not estimate an end date because Kitchens had been delaying his jobs lately.  He asked if we had done a Kitchen Layout yet, which had never been offered to us.  Had to push our Fowler Homes CSO to get a Kitchen Session booked, but this is now locked in for tomorrow.

What Part of 'Complete' Don't You Understand?

We received a progress payment claim that included 'completion of roof trusses, bricks, roof tiles and plumbing rough-in', however brick laying to the back corner of the garage, and roof tile laying to one corner of the garage roof had yet to be completed.  I declined the claim on the grounds that the work was not complete, and that the bank may object and place my loan at risk for me signing before works were complete.  I received a return email from Fowler accounts the following afternoon to say that the brick laying was completed that day and that the roof was 'all but complete' so the claim was valid.  I reconfirmed my commitment that I would not accept the claim until the roof was complete.  The Site Supervisor responded via email after midnight to say that he would suspend the job until given further instruction from accounts!  This certainly caused some heart palpitations when I checked my emails in the morning.

I tried to call him to discuss the reason for suspending works as I was pretty confident that he was stepping outside of what was allowed under the contract, and I thought it was important to maintain the positive relationship we had developed up to that point.  After a nervous day I received an email late in the afternoon to say that the roof tiling would be completed by close of business! I got my Dad to check the next morning and then lodged the claim and they were paid two days later.

A few interesting points related to this saga:

  • I got some advice from NSW Fair Trading that I was most likely to have been within my rights to decline the claim, but would need to see a solicitor if the dispute reached a stalemate.
  • I have been very positive and responsive in my dealings with Fowler Homes to date.  I was particularly disappointed with their lack of communication, and particularly threatening to suspend the job on such dodgy grounds.
  • A more customer focused response would have been to either explain to me why their claim was valid (even though it wasn't), or commit to completing the work quickly (as they did when pressed).
  • The use of strong arm tactics makes me worry that Fowler are having cash flow problems.  I hope that I am reading too much in to this.
Did I expect disputes like this to occur? Yes.  Am I over it now? Mostly.  Am I hoping for better in the future? Definitely.  Do I really expect that I will get better in the future? Probably not.  The joy of project home building.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Clean Your Act Up! (with pics)

This week brick cleaning has been completed on the upper levels as well as painting of the eaves.  I am quite happy with the colour of the Austral Metropolis Topaz bricks, and the laying quality.  The bulk of the scaffolding has been removed so I guess the rest of the cleaning and the lower level roof tiling can proceed this week.  Looking forward to this so that the internal work can get cracking.

Red bricks will be rendered and painted in Taubmans Vintage Lace

Our internal brick wall was cleaned too.  I think I made a mistake going with raked joints, they should have been flush to make it look more rustic.  Hopefully the white ceiling and floorboards will make this wall 'pop'. These bricks came from The Brick Pit at Smithfield.  The owner was very helpful and the bricks were delivered within a few days.

Recycled brick internal feature wall after cleaning
Also completed were the frames for the  kitchen and cinema bulk heads and a cavity door frame was installed for our ensuite.

Getting there...

I notice Fowler Homes have updated their website.  The plans for the Monaco have changed, there are some new house designs , and the upgrade packages have changed (including the upgraded roof tiles and stair balustrading upgrade that I negotiated into my tender).  They make mention of new processes - it sounds like they really are working to improve their service.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Bricks and Upper Roof Complete

I have been struggling to get to the block before dark hence no photos, but:

  • Bricks are complete bar the back corner of the garage - I think there is some scaffolding in the way.  All looks pretty good, especially the piers and parapet in front of the Cinema that I added to jazz up the Contemporary facade (I should have been an Architect!).
  • Upper level roof tiles have been completed - Bristile Classic tiles in Gunmetal looking really good.
  • Soffit linings have been installed on the eaves
Bricklaying is such a messy and time consuming step. I'd hate to be the cleaner who has to clean the mortar out of the windows and tracks of my sliding doors, I will be making sure they are spotless.

I am following an Eden Brae job blog which is cracking along.  I'm sure Fowler Homes could be a bit better organised and be progressing my job faster.  I bet that speed of build would be a big draw card for most customers stuck paying rent or living with family!  The other suggestion I would make would be around communication.   A fortnightly email would be enough to keep me happy, and might quell some of the angst I read on other blogs.

We visited the new Homeworld Display at Kellyville yesterday.  Although it is listed as  'open' on the website, only one of the three homes is finished which was a bit disappointing given how far we drove.  I was hoping to see some of the package inclusions (particularly the kitchen) but most of it was non-standard.  The two houses yet to be completed are massive.  I hope that all of the tradesmen are not tied up on this job at the expense of mine.

I am at risk of sounding whingy so I think it is time to sign off.  Hopefully a happy post to come shortly with some pictures...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bricks and Mortar, and Plumbing (with pics)

Brick laying commenced yesterday and by today they are about 2/3rds of the way around the lower level. We like the colour in general, and are a little worried about the colour variation, but it is hard to tell because the bricks are absorbing water from the mortar. As stated in the last post, Austral have agreed to tint the light ones if there is too much variation.

Plumbing rough in has also gone ahead in the past two days.  I am surprised at the spaghetti of hoses and pipes that will eventually be concealed.  You get a real sense of how internal work is very rough and that the art of building is in the concealment (bricks, skirts, architrave, gyprock, cornice, etc).

The following problems were found, and then resolved through some quick calls from the SS:

  • Upgraded Main Bathroom freestanding bath only comes in 1700 mm (not 1500 mm as specified). Agreed to use the 1700 mm and reduce the long side of the shower from 1200 to 1000 mm.  This means that the Shower niche needs to be made thinner.  I am happy with this because I'd prefer the bigger bath anyway.
Free standing bath upgrade
  • Flick mixers for dual shower heads in Ensuite would clash with Niche.  SS wanted to delete the long niche and make smaller ones at each end but I wasn't happy with this as they wouldn't be visible.  Alternative - Niche to be raised 200 mm. Great result.
Ensuite water supply with raised niche height (to be completed)
Very happy with the flexible and cooperative approach taken by the Fowler Homes SS.  More steady progress being made.  Driest May in Sydney on record, sorry Farmers but keep it comin'.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Australbricks Metropolis Topaz - Problem Under Control

Our SS responded straight away last night.  He really should be getting some rest rather than responding to complaints about bricks!  He rang the Austral rep first thing and arranged a meeting on site after lunch.

I showed the rep some examples of the colour range exhibited in the packs delivered.  He acceptedthat the colour range was greater than should be expected.  He compared the samples with other packs around the site and felt that the lighter sample was the outlier and felt that it may be present in small quantities (within the usual 5% allowance).  The two resolutions we agreed were:

  1. He suggested that the brick layers are asked to look for lighter 
  2. bricks and sort out where appropriate. An example was left for the brickies.
  3. If the colour variation cannot be successfully sorted by the brick layers, Austral will tint any unacceptable bricks to an appropriate colour (anticipated to be within a few hundred).  Apparently you can't see the difference after the tinting process.

I am happy with this plan provided that I am given the opportunity to review the laid bricks after cleaning and agree to what needs tinting (if required). A timely and satisfactory result - can't ask for more.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Australbricks Metropolis Topaz - Problems? (pics)

Very excited to have the bricks delivered today as they are such an important feature of the facade.  I made sure I had a good look because I want them to be right.  I have found a few concerns that I will raise with the SS.  The colour variation in the bricks appears to be greater than that shown in Australbricks display centre on Wallgrove Road.  I am OK with a bit of variation so that the bricks look natural, not painted, but the fashion of the day is monochrome.  Am I being too fussy?

Australbricks Metropolis Topaz Display Wall

Range of colours in my bricks

Close-up of colour variation
 Also, some of the packs have been placed a bit rough on uneven ground and have broken apart.  Although I am happy we chose colour through bricks rather than coated ones where the body colour shows through, I still don't want them to be chipped.

 I'll see what the SS has to say.

We now need to order our Sydney Pressed Common Recycled Bricks for the Meals Room feature wall. I am seeing these used all over the place and they look great.  Very happy that they will be laid soon.  Shopping tomorrow.

All Framed Up (pics galore)

Fowler Homes are well and truly on a roll with something happening almost every day for the past two weeks or so.  We now have the second storey and roof trusses complete and the windows installed.  We got a chance to have a walk around the second storey for the first time given that Fowler Homes does not have a Monaco display home.  The central sitting area is massive but furnishing will be a little difficult given the placement of doors and the linen cupboard.  The bedroom are all a good size and the changes I made to the location of the windows in bed 3 and 4 really suit the views we have.  The views from all second storey windows are fantastic - a real upside from building up on a hill - and to counteract the extra cost of building on a sloping site (split level, drop edge beams, retaining walls).

We are not getting any real communication from the SS, but other than this we are really, really happy with the progress so far. I am excited.

I love the two step roof adding a bit of perspective

An imposing view, large side acces

Stacker and sliding doors to alfresco - one of the main reasons we chose the Fowler Homes Monaco

Sitting room window highlights the park and hides the roof tops

I moved this window to avoid the two storey house next door, now it looks out to the park

Master Bedroom WIR on left, ensuite or right

View from Master Bedroom windows, 10.38mm lam glass to reduce neighbourhood noise ingress

Amazing view from Bedroom 2, you can see skyline on the South Coast at night

Bedroom 2 view framed by the large awning window

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I Was Framed Your Honour! (with pics)

Framing commenced yesterday and they have completed the first floor in one day.  Some of the rooms feel a little bit small, but I am sure that I've read they feel bigger with a roof and when the walls are lined.  The ceiling height at the front is massive - you can see the second layer of noggins where a normal ceiling would be and then ours at 3450 mm.  The entry hall and big front door will look great. Can't wait now for the second storey.  Still have to say that we are happy with the rate of progress, particularly given the rain.
View from the street

Front section showing extra high ceilings

Rear alfresco showing sliding door openings and big window

Palatial entry and front door

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Fowler Homes This Week - A+

While the slab was curing we needed to get rid of the excess soil to make space for the external plumbing.  The contractor we used did a fantastic job moving the soil around to level the site up and in the end only took away 2 loads when they could have taken 8-9, saving us heaps of money :).

We really are going to have a good sized side yard, which is why we built two storey.  There was some money in the tender for some steps off the front porch that it is clear now won't be needed.  We will need a few steps off the laundry though.

This week Fowler Homes delivered on the promise of completing the external plumbing on Thursday and Friday.  They also cleaned up the site a bit more.  We have been quite happy with the constancy of progress in the past two weeks.  If this can be sustained we will be happy, happy, happy.  Now we are ready for the frame.  There is no Fowler Homes Monaco display home, so we are super keen to see the frame up and get a feel for the spaces.

There was a dispute over the piering variation.  When I inspected the depths with the excavator driver he calculated 89 m, which I signed off on.  The CSO rang to advised that we would be charged for 93.9 m, so I queried the variance.  Turns out the excavator driver had miscalculated.  If pressed I would have offered to split the difference 50:50 but Fowler Homes extended some good will and will only charge for 89 m. Nice.

Fowler Homes this week - A+.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Building Process Timeline Page Created

I have just created a new page on this site to track the building process timeline.  The link is near the top of the home page.

Busy Bunny Left Us a Slab (with pics)

The concretors delivered the goods on Thursday and finished the slab, just in time for Easter.  Now we really get a true picture of how much yard space is left and it looks pretty good for a nice flat space at the back and quite a large side yard because of our 20+ m frontage.  Now we are up for our first big progress payment :(.

Fowler Homes got in touch with us this week about removing the excess dirt.  They offered to do it at $550/12 tonne load.  I found another contractor to do it for $300/load, starting first thing Tuesday morning.  They will also move some up the back to use later in levelling the yard.

Fowler Homes Site Supervisor told me that the external plumbing should be completed next Thursday (1 week for slab curing) and then the frame should be delivered within the week following that.  We also confirmed the mortar and joint type for our internal recycled press brick wall in the Meals Room - off white with a raked joint. Nice, nice, nice...

Although I'd love it to be quicker, progress has been reasonable so far.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review Paranoia

If you have followed my blog, read this review at productreview: Am I being paranoid or does it seem like someone is using my experience to write a review? Although I have been a bit frustrated, things have not been that bad so far and I would not be giving them one star. If I am right, I think that this really is a bit unfair, and says something about the trustworthiness of these reviews, both positive and negative. Actually, construction progress has been reasonable so far...

Update - that review disappeared from the site.  Do you think I was on to something or what?!?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Piers Me Off! (with pic)

Piering occurred today.  Nice to see the progress but was given almost no notice to go and verify the depths.  Watched for a while when a 3 m pier was dropped and started to think the worst regarding a variation - there was only an allowance for 50 lineal metres in the contract and I find out today there are 55 piers.  Once we assessed all of the depths it came out as 89 m, 39 m over the allowance x $80/m = $3,120 unbudgeted.  I am a bit 'piers'ed off! I reckon Fowler Homes could have predicted this.  I had a look at my Wisdom Tender and they had given a fixed price!  A definite trap for first time Builders.  If you have a site affected by fill, consider the potential for piering variations.

The concrete pump arrived before I left so the piers should be filled today.  Formwork, plumbing, reo and then lay slab - could all happen this week weather permitting and Fowler being on their game.  Here's hoping.

Piers drilled, setting up for filling

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ground Breaking News (with pics)

Just when I was planning my "2 weeks gone and we've only got a porta-loo" whiney post I get a message from my Dad to say the site scrape has been done. It must have been completed on the Friday afternoon before the heavy rain that night. Finally something of real substance. It is amazing how small the block looks already and now we are of no doubt that we will need some retaining walls :(. Quite a bit of dirt to remove from site. Didn't we get muddy too. Regardless, we are happy to see the progress. It even looks like we got the swimming pool we were after (right in the middle of the garage though)!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Construction Commenced? (with pic)

Well, well, well, we have some action:

  • Our new Fowler Homes CSO returned my call within 24 hours and told me the name of our allocated Site Supervisor
  • A silt fence has been erected at the front of our site
  • Initial survey pegs have been placed
Does this constitute construction commenced?

The fence erection occurred exactly 3 weeks after Fowler Homes received the construction certificate, and I guess this constitutes commencement of construction? This is therefore a week within what is allowed in the contract, not even taking into account all of the rain.  It is funny how excited we can get over a bit of shade cloth and a few pegs!

Again I have been somewhat concerned about the volume of negative reviews on  One nasty one today quoted a project number that looks legitimate.  I do wonder if some of the others are real customers, disgruntled ex-employees or cheeky competitors.  Surprisingly Fowler Homes have somewhat conceded some poor performance, blaming rapid growth and some incompetent personnel which they have churned.  From our perspective they have been way too slow getting us to this point, but certainly no where near as bad as some of these reviews.  Here's hoping our experience proves them wrong.

Time for a prediction - Melbourne Cup party in our new home!  Pessimistic? Realistic? Optimistic? Will Global Warming, La Nina and GFC II join forces to conspire against us? Stay tuned.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Earthworks... But the wrong kind!

Visited the block today hoping to see a construction fence or some survey pegs. All we found was a massive pile of excavated dirt from the site next door right where the slab will go! I can see machine tracks from their freshly dug front yard so I have taken some pictures as proof. Maybe they have a truck coming on Monday to take it away. My cynical side tells me they have no intention of taking it away. My brother in law can drive a bob cat so if worst comes to worst we can hire one and dump it over the side of their lovely retaining wall into their alfresco area. Hopefully it doesn't get to that. No action from Fowler Homes yet, 2 weeks after receipt of the CC. Come on please.

Update 1/3/12 - turned up I blamed the wrong neighbour... lucky he was good about it.  Got onto the builder at an adjacent block who admitted it was him and has now taken it way. Phew.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Construction Certificate Issued

The final hurdle - the Construction Certificate was received by the Builder yesterday. Construction should now commence within 2-3 weeks (we'll see). It has taken over 8 months to get this far which seems totally wrong. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars approved by the bank, I'm sure the builder wants it, and I want him to have it too. Any way, can't wait to see some action! Not long now.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Somehow I deleted this post and I know I shouldn't say this but it was one of my best.  It went along these lines:

Building is a slow and complex process.  Some people will not deal with it well, getting frustrated and angry, making it painful for themselves, their family, their builder, and sometimes me their blog audience.  They are likely to enter their home with negative feelings, which is really sad because your home is such and important place, probably the most important place in your life.  An alternative way is to expect problems and delays, from this position you can only be pleasantly surprised.  The final outcome is likely to be the same via either path - a beautiful home - but the journey can be a positive or negative one.

Now one would need to be the Buddha or Gandhi to not get frustrated from time to time, and I am realistic enough to know that I will fall onto the negative side from time to time, but I will strive to stay positive.