Bricks Pt 3

Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 19-01-2011

Maria went by the house earlier tonight and took some more happy snaps. It looks like the bricks are complete! All infills have been, well, filled; brick window sills have been placed, brick sills for under the doors have been placed as well. We could spy from the front door that heater ducts are in, and having a look around the house, our stink pipe has been topped and the gas exhaust pipe has also been installed. Coming around the back, it seems our skylight for the alfresco has also been installed!

Not long before lockup now.

Bricks Pt 2

Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 16-01-2011

Okay so it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on our blog. Naturally there was some time off for everyone (including the hard working tradies) so there wasn’t much activity happening with our build, but soon into January they started up again. I luckily had 2 weeks off starting from Christmas, so I visited the build near the end of my holiday on a weekday and found the brickies at work. I waved hello to them and they waved back but were on their lunch break and didn’t seem interested to come out and have a chat, so I just took some happy snaps and then drove away.

The house is really coming along now – we just went there earlier today and it seems 90% of the bricking has been done. Burbank jackhammered the front corner of the slab just before Christmas, (after saying that they weren’t going to – a note of contention) but the concreter left some exposed reo and left it like that for the whole 2 weeks of holiday time, which is great (*sarcasm*). When we went there earlier today the concreter had finally patched up the front but we’re pretty sure that none of the small section of exposed reo at the back has been patched up (behind Bed 3). It is now submerged under the soil, and I’m going to email my liaison tomorrow about it. Some bricking left to do is the front garage, the side wall (front half), front Bed 1 where they jackhammered the slab, and the angled brick for under the windows. After that – lockup!


Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 28-12-2010

I just want to get out first that I wish everyone who has come across this blog over the Christmas break a Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings. I know it’s a little late now, but where Christmas is situated in the week for 2010 makes timing a little off, also it doesn’t help when your birthday is also on Christmas Day (yay!) and spend all day at the Boxing Day sales!

Anyway, I know you all want an update on the house, so here it is: we’ve been bricked. Only the east wall has been bricked, up to approx 1.8m, from just in front of the gas connections, all the way to the back wall where the alfresco sliding door is. This occurred before Christmas, and we don’t expect any more work to be done until the tradies return from their Christmas break in the new year. So far though, we are going very, very well.

Slab issues fixed, roof and sisalation

Posted by | Posted in Resolutions, Structure | Posted on 19-12-2010

A lot has happened since my last post, so this post is a little long.

Burbank have stepped up to the mark and have addressed every issue with the inspection report, which is great news. I had a meeting with the site supervisor and manager on Friday 17th December and went through the report and had a good look around the house as well.

Things that have been addressed:

  • The biggest issue – slab extension at the back of the house has been applied. This was done in stages – rods were placed at the back wall of Bedroom 4 and the wall between alfresco and family room (where the sliding door sits) and concreted up. This concrete started to crumble a little, so it was patched up with non-shrinking bondcrete. It looks like we now have a relatively straight back edge of slab and footing.
  • The second biggest issue – all instances of exposed steel reo has been patched up, bar one at the back of Bedroom 3. For some reason, the back of the lot was backfilled right up to the slab, burying the exposed reo under dirt and mud. I had reminded my contract liaison that this needs to be addressed and had word come back saying that this is no problem, but as far as I know this hasn’t been addressed yet (it may have by the time you read this though).
  • There are a couple of instances where the guttering is a little crooked, my father in law counted three instances but to the best of my eyesight I can only pick out two. The SS suggested maybe it was the roof scaffolders that perhaps had accidentally pushed down on the guttering; he noted that the fascia is dead straight, so this is quite possible. Either way, this is an easy fix as the clips are adjustable.
  • Treated pine block has been placed at the outer front wall / corner of the garage, and had concrete applied to fix it in place.
  • Front garage lintel bracing has been redone
  • Top plate that wasn’t supported properly between 2 studs in Bed 1 fixed
  • The slab for the front wall between Bed 1 and the portico was short by approximately 10mm – this wasn’t mentioned in the inspection report, but was fixed anyway (thanks Burbank!)
  • The wall between the hallway and the garage was overhanging, this has been patched up
  • There is a minor issue with the laundry sliding door, one of the melamine-topped wood frame was split a little. Burbank offered to replace the whole door, which is great.
  • There is an issue at the front right corner of Bed 1 (near the electricity meter box), it’s one of the (rare) instances with this house build that the slab actually extends too far past the frame. When this gets bricked up, this extra jutting section of the slab will be eating into the cavity space, which could cause problems further down the track. There are two options – (1) cut the slab to trim away this section (not advisable), or (2) trim the bricks slightly before being laid here. Option 2 was chosen.

As soon as the last section of exposed reo at the back has been addressed, I can personally consider the issues with the slab resolved. It’s not going to get any better than this given the circumstances, and if the fixes that have been applied are still not satisfactory in a hypothetical sense, the only other option is to bust the whole thing up and start again. We all know that pigs would fly before that option would even be considered by the constructor! So there is no real point in dwelling in this situation further. I am happy now. Onwards and upwards.

Now for the new things!

Roof tiles have been laid! Having a look around, every single tile is spot on and in line. I can’t believe how perfect they are, capping tiles placed and the concrete used to join it to the rest of the roof (does anyone know what this is called? I came across the term earlier in the week but have forgotten it now) is colour matched perfectly and correct.

Plumbing has been done! The plumber did a great job. I could only see one small section where the plumber had to cut through the stud, and only then the absolute minimum has been cut out, which is fantastic. All pipes are routed smartly around, and no shortcuts were taken. I have seen much more horror jobs on the web, I am grateful our job isn’t one of them.

Solar panels for hot water have been installed! This is the first obvious high-tech item that has been put onto our house. Naturally after handover there will be some more high-tech gadgetry within the walls of our house ;)

We have also been wrapped! We aren’t too far away from bricks now.

I left the meeting when it finished with a smile on my face, and I am excited about building again. I am happy that Burbank has addressed the issues, and have done so professionally. Whenever I talk to anyone from Burbank though, they seem to be hung up on time (I guess since they have a hard deadline they need to stick to contractually, which is fair enough), whereas I am more interested in the quality of work. Either way, I am satisfied (and so is Maria of course, there’s a lot of “I this” and “I that” in this blog!) and am happy.

Slab Engineer report

Posted by | Posted in Problems, Structure | Posted on 02-12-2010

We received the engineer report from Burbank yesterday which addresses our issues with the slab by adding dowels to the rear of the slab and boxing up a slab extension with a concrete pour. The job for the concreter has been uprated to urgent, and will also get the exposed steel reo fixed up on the sides and back of the slab. Once this has been done, I can go and inspect with the site supervisor.

So here are the engineer diagrams.

Assuming they do a better job this time around, I guess this is sorted. It sucks to know that this slab has been flawed right from the start, however I have to commend Burbank for stepping up to the plate, taking ownership (which is one of a few things I wanted them to do straight away) and fixing it. Let’s hope the fix they apply is a good one and of good quality.

Slab and Frame Inspection

Posted by | Posted in Problems, Structure | Posted on 24-11-2010

So in light of the recent developments of our construction, we decided we better step in and get an independent inspection carried out. The bloke that came out on Monday morning apparently was pretty good (I was at work, so my father in law went in my absence) and picked up quite a few things:

  • Edges of the floor slab wasn’t boxed properly, so in many places (almost every corner) it has forced the frame that is attached to it to either overhang (severely, in some cases up to 80mm) or underhang.
  • Steel reo is exposed in three areas
  • The issue with the back wall is that the slab wasn’t boxed straight and hence one side of the wall is overhanging, while the other side is square. Overhangs by up to 70mm
  • Left garage wall is overhanging by about 30mm – Burbank placed a square block of wood to compensate for the gap but this isn’t deemed adequate and needs to be replaced with materials of higher durability eg. treated pine, to prevent possible future timber rot.
  • Lintel above garage door not tied properly to studs and plates
  • Another top plate in Bed 1 not supported properly

Obviously the two main concerns are the exposed reo and the dimensions of the slab pour. My father in law asked the inspector if our slab is a bad job and he said that he’s seen worse – but that’s obviously no reassurance. Writing this now has put thoughts into my head, fears that Maria and I would be paying our home loan for the next 30 years for a house that might not last 10.

I got in contact with Burbank and informed them that, despite them sending us the invoice for slab payment, we will not be paying it until the slab issues are resolved (this was before I sent them the inspection report, which only got to me this morning). After some to-ing and fro-ing about it, Burbank relented and agreed to defer the payment until the issues are resolved. I also got news today after sending them the report, that Burbank has agreed to rectify every issue identified in the inspection report, and I will be receiving copies of engineering sign-offs for whatever fix requires an engineer to look at it.

It is utterly gut-wrenching to see that your dreams have been kicked off with a false start right at the beginning. Anything but the slab is relatively easy to correct, but with the slab in the condition that it’s in right now, you know that the construction has been marred right at its core. It’s really disappointing that there are people out there that really don’t care about their job – whether that is whoever supervised (or probably just sat there and yakked off for a couple of hours), whether that is whoever was surveying (did they have a tape measure? Honestly!) or the concreters themselves.

The slab is a poor slab, and sure there may be some techniques and tricks that can be applied to make it a bit better, but the fact remains – it’s a poor slab and that will plague the back of our minds for years to come.

The frame on the other hand, is near perfect. It’s astonishing to see the difference in quality between the two stages, especially as they happened so quickly between them. For those who are following my blog and are building with Burbank (or any other builder for that matter), please please PLEASE check the quality of work for your slab and try to alert your liaison of any issues you might find.

I’d hate for this to happen to anyone else.

Frame or Slab issue?

Posted by | Posted in Problems, Structure | Posted on 21-11-2010

So we swung by the house (can’t call it the “lot” or the “land” anymore!) and had a good look around. It’s handy when there aren’t any other houses being constructed around you, which makes it easier to go around the house and have a look at what progress has been made.

All the windows have been placed in, and it seems the frame is at a complete stage, but we discovered that there is an issue with the back wall (in particular, Bedroom 4). Maria took photos of the issue a couple of days prior to us both looking at it on the weekend, here is the pic in question (red circle shows issue).

It seems that the frame for Bed 4 seems to be just sitting on thin air. We’re not allowed to go on site without permission from Burbank, so I can’t display a more close-up picture, but walking around to Bed 3 it’s clear that the frame on that side is square and flush with the slab edge, but further on down it goes crazy and just floats on air by the time your eye runs to the corner of the alfresco and Bed 4. Either the frame itself was pre-fabbed crooked (not likely), the frame itself wasn’t installed square (possible), or the slab itself isn’t square along the back edge (also possible).

I contacted my liaison at Burbank about this and she informed me that our SS is aware of the issue and is getting an engineer around to have a look at it. She also said that the SS would try to call me on Friday to discuss it, but I haven’t received any call from our SS yet. I asked if Burbank deems the frame to be at ‘complete’ stage and she said yes, so I have booked in an independent inspector (not one that has been nominated by Burbank, clearly their inspectors don’t have measuring tapes otherwise we wouldn’t have this issue with the back wall!) and all that’s going to happen at 10am tomorrow (Monday). It will be interesting to see what the inspector report reveals.

There is also an issue with the back door to the alfresco, it seems that entire wall is also floating on thin-air.

Who said building a house was easy!?

… and now we have frames.

Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 16-11-2010

Maria swung by the lot again after work and, to our surprise, Burbank not only deposited more presents in the form of our windows and roof trusses, but knocked up the frame already!

We’re absolutely staggered at the rate they’re constructing. For those other Burbankians that feel that they are trudging and plowing through molasses-like paperwork, let me assure you Burbank more than make up for it during construction phase.

I’m a little concerned about timing for other things though – I really hope Burbank give the slab some time to cure before they start bricking. I’m sure they will.

We have slab.

Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 15-11-2010

Maria went past the lot early this morning and saw some activity, so we were suspecting / expecting slab being laid down today.

A swing by after work today confirmed it – we now have slab! Also, Burbank have already delivered frame! What?! So quick! These guys don’t mess about!

Waffles and steel netting

Posted by | Posted in Structure | Posted on 11-11-2010

Burbank are so gracious – more presents deposited at our site! Waffles and steel netting have been delivered, slab laying is imminent and according to our Burbank liaison, framing should start early next week. Does anyone know if there is an issue where there is surface rust on the steel netting?