Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

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?