Wednesday, 9 April 2014

4 months of heating cooling woes

It's been 4 months since we moved in and we're really happy with the house. There are a few (minor) things to fix and a few things we would have done differently ( - pay attention to where the doorbell speaker is positioned at installation) but overall things are good. Comdain have been great to deal with - no issues there whatsoever.

The only real problem we've had (and it's caused a lot of grief) is the ducted heating/cooling. We have two units - one for each floor. The units have broken down numerous times leaving us with no air-conditioning during those unbearable hot spells Melbourne experienced this Summer and now, with no heating. One breakdown you might excuse but 4 breakdowns in relatively new units is just ridiculous. We could just say "So we got some bad units, just fix it and move on" but dealing with the company that installed the units has been both disappointing and frustrating. Calls not returned, leaving us to do the chasing. Taking days to come around to even look at the units. Sometimes not coming as promised or giving just 15mins warning that they are about to come around (- who can afford to take time off work "in case" the engineer can come by). No clear explanation of what was wrong - only that it's all "fixed", only to have it break down again days later. We have heard that others with units like ours have had recent problems too. Comdain have been great and are dealing with the installer now. We'll keep you posted on this saga.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

We're in!

About a fortnight ago, we had our PCI. We had been issued a Certificate of Occupancy a few days before so we knew that we'd be in very soon. The PCI took a couple of hours and aside from minor things that required some touch up paint or  patching, all looked good. The private inspector came by a few days later and that was worth it because he picked up on things such as one scratched window glass, poor cleaning of the bricks etc. Comdain agreed to rectifying these problems.

On handover day, we were met by the owner of Comdain who took us through the house pointing out various features and what maintenance would be required in the future. It was fantastic having this final walkthrough with him as we discovered little things that weren't working properly (vac-pan in kitchen) and he too agreed that the brick cleaning was below their standards; all of which he said would be addressed. (In fact, the ducted vacuuming guys were out the next day and also helped us re-program the alarm).

Having spent a little bit of time now in the house, there are some things we absolutely love:
The vac-pan and the laundry chute are a hit with the kids who have been falling over eachother to do the housework.
Features like the wide eaves, double-glazed windows, fly screens on all openable windows have meant that we have been able to keep the house at a good temperature without using the heating/cooling.
Storage! ( enough said.)
Having the dishwasher and sink for dirty dishes in the pantry. 

We've also noticed things we should have done:
Added a Powerpoint in our long corridor for a nightlight.
Thought about practical things like how the ironing board would be positioned so the we could position a Powerpoint to suit that.
Road-tested our kitchen (and pantry) tap before choosing. The water stream just doesn't seem as strong as we would have liked.
Getting a louder doorbell ( or an intercom).

But there's not much to complain about. Comdain have built an amazing home. We'll keep you updated on post-handover dealings with Comdain.

A few pics:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Building with Comdain

With the end in sight, we thought it was about time we summarised our building experience. First and foremost, dealing with Comdain has been a real pleasure. So much so that it hasn't put us off the idea of one day building again. There is no doubt that you could build a cheaper house with another company and people often ask us whether the "extra" cost of Comdain is worth it. Here's what we think we got for our money:
Excellent communication - there was not one enquiry or email or phone call that wasn't responded to in a timely manner. Unlike our experiences with another builder, we did not have to chase Comdain for answers.
Custom design - when we originally looked at high volume builders, we were often trying to adjust their layout, accepting a fa├žade we didn't particularly like because it fit our block, tacking on more rooms in odd places. Now we have a home that suits our lifestyle rather than the other way around.
Quality workmanship - The tradies that Comdain use have been with them for many years. Their attention to detail, and that of the SS and CM are clearly evident. In addition, they were great to talk to and provided us with some very good and sound advice.
Common sense - Going into the building phase, one of our fears was being locked into decisions made earlier that may later turn out not to be the best. Our concerns were unfounded. Comdain were very reasonable with ongoing adjustments and even suggested some themselves. In addition, they were accommodating when it came to other requests, e.g. allowing the TV antenna installation by a third party while their scaffolding was still up.

This is not to say that everything went to plan. There were details that were discussed early on which we were told we would be consulted about at the right time, that unfortunately never occurred. One example was trying to specify the location of the ducted vacuuming ports. We really wanted a vac-pan (port for sweepings from the floor) located in the main ensuite. We were told this could be discussed with the installer when the time came, but one day we walked in to find that the ports were all installed and it was too late to make any adjustments. This is not a criticism of Comdain particularly but a caution about the building process with any company. So much time is spent going through your wants and needs with the sales person and house designer but unless these are documented in your contract, it is likely that your SS or CM will never hear about or remember all of these. If you can't have a clause written in your contract such as "Locations of ducted vacuuming points to be determined with client", then you need to be on the ball and constantly monitoring your stages.

Are we happy we built with Comdain? Yes. Would we recommend them? Certainly.

Details of the PCI to come.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

PCI booked

The PCI is booked and we are so excited with the prospect that handover may be before Christmas. We have decided to book a private inspector even though we have not used one to date. There are two reasons for this: firstly, there are so many things to look for from scratched glass to chipped paint and working taps that you're just bound to miss something; the other reason is because both the site supervisor and construction manager are really nice, reasonable and practical guys. If we had an issue that we felt was significant, it would be very hard not to accept their view as they have always been reasonable and professional. Hopefully there won't be any major issues but if there are, we won't be asking them to rush anything just to get in before Christmas.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Early Christmas present looking likely.

Fence balustrades and gates installed yesterday. Electricals done. Carpet scheduled for later this week.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Lights, camera, action!

Electricians in today hanging up lights and fitting powerpoints. Also in: glass splashbacks, sinks, showers, basins. All looking good. 
Still encountering small problems that need to be resolved. Some issues have been difficult especially if it's something initiated by us because we are constantly reminded that any changes could easily set handover day back. You really have to decide which battles to fight and what you're happy to concede.

Some random shots ...

Laundry with the big 70L Clark trough:

Guest ensuite


Just add carpet!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Garage door installed!

Wet day in Melbourne today hence the colour of the bricks (and the frame of the car door in the corner).
Garage door in Jasper.