Monday, March 22, 2010

Flooring - the Hair Greying Topic

I had no idea how difficult flooring would be. Didn't really give it much thought because apart from tiles in the bathrooms & laundry, Eden Brae are not doing any other flooring for us.

All we know is we like the look and warmth that timber provides (American Oak, pictured above, is divine). I can't have carpet anywhere because the dustmites brings on hayfever. Also with two young boys who find ingenious ways to make a mess (just cleaned strawberry drooled in a trail from kitchen to dining room a few minutes ago), carpet was definitely not an option.

Luckily we are living in a place that has tiles. So easy to clean but the grout between them changes from green to brown all over the place so they look awful. Tiles are out because of the grout issue and also they lack the warmth I want.

Hardwood flooring looks beautiful. For us, this was our initial plan, until we saw prices and also the problem of getting it laid quickly after handover (afterall, we want to move in ASAP). Most hardwood needs to acclimatise for several weeks and then we need 200+ square meters of the stuff so the cost of the product plus laying put it outside our budget. I've also seen the effects of humidity in Sydney.. my parents had a few meters of their beautiful floors suddenly buckle last year.

Strandwoven - Natural & Coffee

I found out about strandwoven bamboo flooring and it seemed the perfect alternative. Cheaper ($60 - $120 depending on who you go to). Incredibly hard so seemed impressively durable. Faster to install if you get it prefinished. Ability to sand back as per traditional hardwood floors. Bingo. Flooring finito.

Until I started digging further and further and the more I read, the less it seemed a wise choice. Its a product that comes out of China and the issue there is you never know what type of quality you're going to get. Also the resins and chemicals used (especially in strandwoven) could be toxic.

Another problem was that the look never really appealed. I thought the coffee stain would be OK but after we borrowed a large sample board of the stuff and took it home, I just couldn't shake the feeling it wasn't right for our house. Images of installations that I found online ranged from looking quite good to teeth gratingly terrible.

Largo - Natural Vanished Oak Close Up & Room View

Now we're considering laminates. The top of the line Quickstep Largo range looks beautiful. I've been quoted $49 for materials only and we can install it ourselves since its the click lock system. Heart racing moment when I saw they had an American Oak finish (ha! what has home building reduced me to?!?).

It was decided and topic was closed until 10pm last night when I chanced upon a forum that mentioned a vinyl alternative "Karndean". This product apparently looks like hardwood flooring but is obviously cheaper. Doesn't sound hollow like laminates. Durable. But it does cost more than Quickstep (the product is more expensive plus it has to be professionally installed).

AAARRRGGGHH.. anyone who has either Karndean or Quickstep Largo please contact me. I need the value of your experience with these products.

Dreamy eyes

Now that the slab is down, I can see where exactly each room is, it's outlook and also how TINY everything looks. I'm meeting the Site Supervisor this afternoon with tape measure and camera to ensure all is per floorplan. I've been told that its normal for the slab to make the rooms look small. But being a detail freak, I need to make sure.

After all the time spent on paperwork and endless emails to correct/change things, I can finally look through my collection of inspiring rooms to refocus on the interior design. Here's my favourites to date..

Master Bedroom

Boys' Bedroom


Final floorplan

Major changes to original floorplan
* used Eden Brae promotion for extra square meters
* added the "guestroom" at the back of the house which will be used as the boy's play/media room
* extended the laundry out to meet the garage wall and removed door and jamb between mudroom and laundry
* relocated LP to laundry
* added a wash basin to WC
* removed the small "media room" that was in the middle of the house with no windows and used the space to extend the kitchen & family room and add a walk in pantry
* removed the pillar to the alfresco area so have uninterrupted view to alfresco and garden
* raised the ceiling height

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Construction has begun

It's been more than six months since my last post. In between we've had months of thumb twiddling time as we waited for a start date and made the last of the changes involving the finer details.

No more am I allowed to ponder any detail. Well not true. I am. But it's to my detriment as I can't make any further changes.

Long story but finally dirt has been excavated (Mar 8th), piering done and plumbing pipes went in (Mar 11th) and concrete poured (Mar 15th).

Four days later drainage pipes were in and more excavation with more soil used to fill the front of the house and driveway. Was a shock to see heavy machinery on the slab only four days after been poured. Spoke to the Site Supervisor and he said that this was normal and there was no choice because of the fencing around the block and limited room. Frames should be delivered later this week and already we've had a replacement SS. So much for that bottle of JD we gave the first one. Wonder if I should call him and ask if its already been opened haha.

Moving back in time..
We had a new Customer Service Administrator appointed to us late last year and she has changed my perception of building. We would be pre-construction if we'd still been lumped with the previous CSA. A new dawn arose when our phone calls were answered. Emails were responded to the same day. Correct information was sought and then passed to us with progress reports along the way. Astounding.

We were really dealt a Joker with the first CSA. Months were wasted on incorrect information and lags in communication. The average time between us getting a response from email/phone call was two weeks. Even then at times the information was not correctly researched so was either misleading, incomplete or ridiculously far from the mark. We ended up going up the management change to resolve the "Kitchen Saga".

Too painstaking to go into the details about it but eventually we were told we could not relocate the standard kitchen cabinetry into the Walk in Pantry and Laundry even though originally this was ok'd. We had to go back to the drawing board and weeks passed dealing with Home Option Kitchens, the council and Eden Brae. All the kitchen cabinetry ended up being used for the island bench with a 90cm set of soft close servery drawers, dishwasher allowance, double bowl sink, and bin drawer. We still had to pay a design fee and a few hundred for the two tone colour choice and hardware upgrades.

After handover, the rest of the kitchen will be installed. Possibly Ikea flat pack although their cabinetry won't accommodate our 70cm oven. We've used a high end kitchen company to help us with the overall design (ended up similar to the kitchen pictured). They all do free design consultations so I made the most of this service. You should too if you're building. Does take time (I spent around 4 hours at one appointment). They ask the right questions and have the technology to show you a 3D image which HOK couldn't. Also HOK make minimal effort, charge exorbitantly and even lumped a design fee on the quote which I found laughable. Our HOK meeting lasted 40 minutes and that was stretched out because I asked lots of questions.

Back to the future..
The moment of seeing a bulldozer on our untouched block of dirt was indescribable. WOW moment lasted all day for my 3yo who finally got close to the construction machinery he talks about everyday. All those days of blurry eyed checking of contract details, hours of online research, squeezing things into the budget that was already bursting at the seams and tear-your-hair-out miscommunication with the builder that took weeks to resolve, all melted into the background.

Afterwards we played in the excavated area where our boys' bedrooms would be. We now
can take the back seat, and watch the home we have in our minds appear in pieces at a time.

And try not to look at any more floorplans so I don't get the urge to plead for another variation. Never mind the
Eden Brae charges. Divorce papers may be served.