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Vena McGrath

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The Drama of Having a New Home Built
by Vena McGrath   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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If you are considering having a project builder build your new home, you might get some insight from my story.

My son and I sold our home in Sydney in February 2011 and moved to the South Coast to live where we purchased a block of land in 2010. We have most of our furniture and belongings in storage and are living with a relative awaiting our new home.
The bricks we chose in Sydney had to be cleaned after being laid, this we understood and paid extra for. Imagine our horror once the bricklaying was completed and the cleaning carried out when we found hundreds of the bricks almost stripped of their colour. Not only that, but hundreds of them also have chunks gone out of the face of the bricks like someone got at them and dug out pieces of brick. We are still waiting on the builder to get the brick company out to repair all these bricks. There is no way we will sign off on the house until the matter is settled and the bricks have been repaired. Our worst nightmare is that the brick company will blame the builder for the damage and we will be in the middle of a war to have the problem rectified.
There is a section of guttering that goes around the front entry of the home but doesn't run into any other guttering. This section was supposed to be drained in a hidden downpipe inside a tall brick pier at the side of the entry. However someone made a boo boo and did not enclose a downpipe to a drain before erecting the brick pier. The contractors who installed the guttering put a connection for a downpipe next to the brick pier just as you step onto the entry porch. After contact with the builder’s so-called supervisor who told us that there was no way the downpipe could now go where it should have been (inside the pier) he was advised by my son to move the connection to the side of the tiltadoor on the garage with a bend on the downpipe so it fitted properly against the brick wall and wasn’t an eyesore on the porch section. This was agreed to verbally.
Every time it’s rained the yard has been flooded because the guttering had been installed with no downpipes and the water just lays there for days until it slowly drains away or dries up. After contacting the builder’s supervisor again this week to enquire why no work had been done last week or this week, my son was told that the yard was too wet??? My son agreed and pointed out that the reason it was under water was because none of the downpipes had been installed so the water from the guttering ran into the yard every time it rained. I’m assuming the high cost supervisor didn’t even know that the downpipes weren’t installed as he stammered and said that he would contact the plumbers again to come and finish the job. That afternoon the plumbers turned up and installed the downpipes but didn’t put the front one where it was supposed to go. So there it stands right in your face on the porch! Another call to tell the supervisor what he should have already known and oh, sorry, the plumbers are d***h**** and will be told to move it. As you can see from the two issues above, the supervisor that we are paying to project manage the job doesn’t even check up to see what work has been done or if it’s done correctly. Until we pointed out the problems no-one mentioned them and they would have stayed as they are for us to sign off on and move in if we weren’t watching progress and noting issues.
We have already had a meeting with the team at the Nowra office of the builder and listed our complaints but we might as well have not bothered. I shudder to think what might be going on inside the house that we can’t see! We will have to do the inspection with our contract on hand and check off everything to make sure we have been given what we have paid a premium price for. The home is single-storey and is costing us over $280,000 just for the house. Shudder!!!!!
So just a warning to anyone considering having a home built by a project builder; they don’t have their own teams of tradesmen, they use sub-contractors and cut corners by having one supervisor travelling all over the place looking after numerous work sites. Don’t believe their glossy books where they blind you with pretty pictures and well-chosen words.

One would assume for the fee the client is charged for this guy to supervise the construction that he would be checking up the workmanship and correctness of the work before each subbie leaves a site. Assuming that is fantasy stuff because it doesn’t happen. We are 25km from Nowra and there are only 2 of their houses being built here that I’m aware of so it’s obvious this guy isn’t going to drive out here too often to check on 2 homes. We have been told that we are just one of many clients complaining about this builder on the South Coast, although that doesn’t make us feel any happier. This supervisor is either having a lend of his employer or has a larger number of houses in other areas away from here.

So that’s my beef for today. Sorry if I’ve become boring and tiresome but perhaps I might just help someone else who may be considering having a project home built. Be very aware and do your own project management of your new home as often as you can and don’t be backward in coming forward with your questions/complaints. Make sure you keep notes on everything that happens including phone calls (who you spoke to on what date and what was the outcome) and keep all correspondence. Write down every wet day too because you will receive wet day claims and high wind day claims one after the other if the weather is bad. You just might need this information at a later date.

Of course I'm not implying that all project builders are like this because I don't know if they are or they aren't. However we did have a new home built in 1990 by AV Jennings and other than a couple of minor concerns, our home was built to last. 20 years later we sold it and the brickwork looked like it was new; the pointing was perfect and stayed that way. The interior never aged with just a couple of minor cracks in corners that were caused by movement over the years and were easily fixed. The kitchen was the original and nothing ever fell apart or fell off. The tilework still looked great in all the wet areas. Our home passed the building inspection with flying colours.

We can really see the difference between the builder we have now and AV Jennings. I should add here that so far the house has been under construction since April 2011 and it's now October 2011. There's only part of the kitchen fitted, no bathrooms have been fitted out, no tiling done in wet areas, no painting done etc. etc. We were supposed to have handover on 5/11/2011 but I don't see that happening. Our AV Jennings home was commenced in March and we moved into our new home mid July.


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