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Friday, 20 March 2015

update to 21st March '15 - inspection, flooring

We did the final inspection yesterday.  Move in remains scheduled for the week after next.

Generally, everything is looking great.  The downstairs wooden flooring has been laid and we're really pleased with the colours and textures throughout the house. Unfortunately the carpets hadn't yet been laid due to an overrun on another job. 

We had some help from dads and a family friend in inspecting the property.  Collectively they have a lot of construction experience and we were pleased with their thoughts that everything is generally well constructed and well finished.  Aside from a few unfinished things (like the carpets), and some paint touch ups, there wasn't much to fix. 

The windows throughout are of a poor quality - that's pretty much the only thing we're disappointed with.  The sliding stacker doors through to the alfresco were already very difficult to open... something to watch in the next 3 months of the warranty period.

Still also a great deal to do before the house becomes a home , including the driveway, garden, decking, and perimeter fences/walls. Then of course decorating and furnishing the inside.  We'll put some pictures up once everything is finished.

Friday, 20 February 2015

update to 21st Feb '15 - move in date!!! & pics

Great news - we have a final inspection and move in date.  We'll be inspecting mid-March and moving in just before the Easter break.  The site manager was helpful as we asked if the date could be brought forward a little, giving us the Easter long weekend to get settled, and the request was accommodated.

Progress is coming along nicely also.  All walls are painted, bathrooms are pretty much finished, and the staircase is looking great with glass balustrades all in place.  lighting, switches etc are in, and it now seems like the main things to complete are the flooring, air conditioning and final appliances fit out.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

update to 8th Feb '15 - Hmmmmmm

Following the good progress during the shutdown, not a whole lot has happened in the last 2-3 weeks unfortunately. 

We were obviously hoping that the momentum would carry through and that we'd hear about our completion date soon.  We asked roughly when the walk through would be and the initial feedback was encouraging:  end of Feb walk through, and end of March move in.  Somehow in the course of a week or so, this was moved back and we're now advised that walk through is end of March with move in around mid-April.

So this basically leaves us as moving in exactly on the date of the contract deadline (including the various extensions which add up to 16 days).  Pretty deflating.  Remember that during contract discussions we were told by sales that the contract period would be a whole lot shorter than it ended up being, and even then we were told that the end date was very conservative and that they nearly always come in ahead of time.

I guess all we can do now is hope that they are just managing our expectations and will outperformance the guidance provided. 

No pictures or updates to provide other than the notes above.... there really isn't much at all that has happened...

Friday, 23 January 2015

Update 24th Jan'15 - credit where it's due...

Happy New Year.

Things have come on really well, despite the broader industry shutdown over the new year period.  During the holidays almost all of the tiling has been completed, the final bits of gyprocking are done, and some paint has gone down on walls, ceilings and doors. 

We didn't expect the painting to have started yet, so seeing progress like this made has lifted our spirits.  It makes such a difference when expectations are exceeded and we sent our thanks to Alkira.

Once all of the tiling is completed, we'll be in to the final stage of the build.  We're now wondering how long it'll be before we're in and are hopeful we'll get an indication in the next week or two. 

Below are a few pics of the latest progress, including our Audrey Hepburn tiles in the downstairs bathroom!  The front entryway tiling is finished, the kitchen bench is in, and the TV niche and fireplace is coming along well.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Update - 21st Dec'14

Merry Christmas everyone! 
Not much activity over the last few weeks, but some good news about the weeks ahead.  The underfloor heating in the bathrooms was completed, and a pile of sand was delivered.  Some screed has been laid down just recently, in preparation for floor tiles going down.  A few other things have been completed, such as installation of some sinks, and the extractor fan going in. 

We learned that the kitchen cupboards either side of the extractor were the wrong size, but that was fixed up without any hassle whatsoever which is great.

Some good news from the site supervisor - the tiling company is planning to work over the xmas break to get the tiling done before the industry re-starts mid-Jan.  We really hope they get this done as it'll help things along nicely.

We had a response from the owner after we responded to his letter and removed the email from one of our posts.  It noted that someone reading the blog doesn't have both sides of the story and asked that we be mindful not to say things that could be seen as negative.  It also noted that they're working tirelessly to build our home to expectations and due to the magnitude of the build, some issues will be encountered along the way. Nothing was sent to us which challenged the accuracy or reasonableness of the specific issues we've flagged through our posts.

Fair play or not?  Let us know what you think.  In our opinion, it's perfectly reasonable to encounter issues along the way.  It's also reasonable to ask that we're mindful when posting.  We don't think it's reasonable to ask that we don't post negative comments.  

Issues as they arise should be dealt with such that Alkira would be happy to have prospective customers see the way they've dealt with them.  I don't think there's anyone out there who expects to build a home without any issues.  It's how those issues are dealt with which will make the good stand out from the bad. 

Anyway, it's great that they're trying to make progress over the break on the tiling and I'm sure many builders wouldn't bother.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Progress to 7th December '14 & letter from the owner

Things are clearly winding down now.  The carpentry has been partially completed - kitchen cupboards and also cupboards in the bathrooms are in, along with the marble worksurfaces.  Further work has been completed to try to rectify the issues with the fireplace previously mentioned in other posts.  It looks like it's almost there, although the gyprock still isn't covering the fireplace walls.

We were told over a week ago that the tiling would commence earlier this week.  The only thing completed was the underfloor heating as far as we're aware, so hopefully tiling will be done before the end of next week, which signals the start of a 5 week shutdown.  Still cannot get over the fact that the industry takes 5 weeks off.  Most companies only provide for 4 weeks leave and that's for the entire year.

We received a letter from the owner of Alkira Homes last week.  Our blog was brought to Alkira's attention by a (prospective?) customer.  They noted that the posts could be damaging and harmful to their reputation and also in some instances defamatory.  We're pretty sure that defamation involves false statements... we absolutely believe we haven't made any false statements in this blog and have asked us to note what they believe to be factually inaccurate.

They asked that we remove an email we copied in to one of the posts.  The email did not contain any names (they were all removed), but we have now removed the email in good faith.

It's worth us noting for the record that everything we post we reasonably believe to be true, and everything written either reflects our opinion or a factual representation of things that have occurred.  We responded to Alkira and noted that if they feel like anything does not reflect their view of the facts, we're happy to correct the blog. 

We didn't go in to this process with any intent of giving people a hard time... we obviously want a smooth process and a good quality home.  We've been very deliberate in posting good things along with the bad to ensure we're balancing the posts whilst also recording all events.

It's our opinion that if Alkira doesn't want a damaged reputation, they should focus on lifting their quality of customer service.  They should also discontinue the practice of not righting their wrongs.  As previously posted, after we paid thousands of dollars to draft various plans, we learned that their sales staff who had confirmed in writing that the build time would be 36 weeks had made a mistake as the actual build time would be 45 weeks.  The cost to us in additional rent is substantial but Alkira refused to compensate us.  There have been a few other smaller things which have frustrated us including an absence of an apology after they tried to claim thousands of dollars from us which they were not legally entitled to claim under our contract.

Anyway, we're hopeful everything will be smooth sailing from hereon in, and if it is we have every intention of noting so in our future posts.  We really hope that we'll be in a position to write about a fantastic finished product which was completed way ahead of schedule!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Lock up - plenty of progress

It's been a while since the last update - sorry about that!  Lots has happened since the last update.  A few dramas but generally all has gone well.  The following is now done:
  • interior walls and insulation
  • ceilings
  • internal and external doors (one issue here)
  • architraves
  • waterproofing in and around wet areas
  • garage door
  • guts of the kitchen (one problem encountered), including all carpentry (no bench tops / appliances etc yet)
  • carpentry in bathrooms
  • Bathtub in main bathroom
  • Guts of the aircon throughout
  • fireplace has been installed (a few times, see below)
Also, finally (after all the insurance dramas previously mentioned relating to the fallen tree) our electrical pole and wires have been installed and we now have an electrical supply to the house.

Fireplace / TV niches
We mentioned the issues in the last post.  A month on and it's still not resolved but we think it's now close.  They ended up having to moving the fireplace out and down, and build the wall out so that the cavity is wider... this meant we lost some space in the rumpus room which wasn't great.

Speaking with the site supervisor it was clear that the communication was poor from the main office and that Alkira seemed to have never had to install the set up we asked for in any other house.  Bear in mind that the set up we asked for is on display at Kellyville and you can understand our frustration.

Kitchen issue
Not so much of a big deal but frustrating.  We specifically asked that we have a deep drawer under the bench so that we could fit a few bins in it.... we didn't want our bins out in the open and we previously lived in a property where they were concealed within a deep drawer until - it worked really well that way.

Anyway, they told us during the design phase that they'd be in touch nearer the time to discuss the design if they encountered any problems with it.  You've guessed it... they didn't contact us and went ahead with fitting in out without designing it how we specified.  We now have a strange 'U' shaped deep drawer which you can't really use for anything.  We've requested they fix things up and we need to meet them on site shortly to discuss... more to come later.

Door issue
Again, not a big one but another thing to have to work through...  during design with home option gallery we selected our internal doors.  We chose a sliding cavity door for one of the doors because we didn't want it opening outwards in to the hallway, and it couldn't open inwards due to the interior design.  We were told by home options gallery that the internal doors we selected couldn't be used for a sliding door, so we had to select a plain door as a compromise.

Fast forward to now - we're told by the carpenters on site that there's nothing wrong with selecting the matching internal door and that it could be fitted as a sliding door.  We say great and ask them to fit it.  We're then told it'd cost $240 for the new door... a whopping $180 increase on the $60 / door upgrade cost from the time of selections.  We're advised the increase is due to 'admin costs' and because they'd already purchased the other door.  We argue that we received incorrect advice from home options gallery.  We're then told that Alkira no longer uses home options gallery (for these type of reasons) and after some negotiation we ended up paying $180 for the matching door.  We could/maybe should've fought it harded because Alkira is ultimately responsible for the companies they chose to outsource to, but decided to focus on the fireplace and kitchen issues and pay the extra $120...

We're told that the tiling isn't too far off now.  The site supervisor is now a bit more chatty with us which is great so we're getting much better information and guidance and we now tend to avoid the construction office.  We still think February is an achievable move in date, although March is looking more realistic due to the stupid 5 week shutdown (wish I had 5 weeks off!!).