Share our trials and tribulations as we build our new home - a custom Dominico by Fairmont Homes NSW

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kitchen 'Mood Board'

My kitchen inspiration:

Jo McIntyre kitchen with natural stone, wooden floors and handle-less drawers:
 Sydney Blue Gum Floorboards:

Caesarstone White Shimmer:

 Caesarstone Nougat:
 Handle-less drawers, wooden floors, glass-stacker doors, crystal rangehood:

 Calacatta Marble:
 Jo McIntyre kitchen with stone benchtop/splashback and wooden flooring:
 Caesarstone Free Spirit:
 Dulux Handmade Linen:
 Domayne Lulu Drinks Urn:

Beautiful glass jars (photo courtesy of B is Building a House):

 Marble benchtop and wooden floors:
 Skylights, wooden floors, white/handle-less drawers:
 Gorgeous, neutral kitchen with loads of texture from stone and glass:
 Our Smeg gas cooktop:
 Our Smeg pyrolitic, french glass oven:
 Our Smeg crystal rangehood:
 Our Teka sink:
 Gorgeous skylights:

(From left) Caesarstone "White Shimmer," Melamine "Classic White," Wattyl "Angora..." Wattyl "Hunter Grape." (Background: Dulux "Hogsbristle Quarter")

Spotted Gum timber floor:

Our future dining room table:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Developer Approval an Early Christmas Present

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas. Mick and I had a wonderful, though slightly displaced, Christmas surrounded by family and friends. We are very much looking forward to having Christmas next year in the new house though, and we’re one step closer now thanks to our early Christmas present of Developer approval which came through on the 22nd. I don’t think our builder was able to send it to Council before the weekend, so that’s a job for the New Year. But yay! We’re excited to be moving forward.  Stocklands only wanted one thing changed which was our garage door colour. They wanted it changed from white to off-white or surfmist…so we agreed to change it to surfmist as it matches the balcony railing. I had a slight doubt then about our window colour being white… perhaps we should have changed it along with the railing and garage door to cream but I think surfmist will look almost white and white windows go with anything which is a good option for if we want to change our colour scheme later (this was a tip from our builder).

We also booked our kitchen appointment for January 21st and we’ve been looking into our splashback options. I have fallen in love (and Mick also) with Calacutta marble but it is expensive as it is a natural stone that is only quarried in one place in the world, Carrara Italy. It’s beautiful BUT expensive and not the most durable option as it is easily stained by acids such as vinegar, fruit juice, tea, coffee, wine etc (which aren’t good things for most surfaces but some are more susceptible to damage than others). An alternative is engineered stone such as Caesarstone or Quantumquartz and of course glass which has been the plan until now. We like the idea of having a seamless finish from benchtop to splashback and a white kitchen to compliment the bold feature wall colours we’re planning on having as well as the natural elements like the timber flooring, skylights and views to the timber deck and backyard. The current favourites for look and price are:

Quantumquartz “Turino” 

and Caesarstone “Nougat.”

So, Mick and I plan on visiting display homes and showrooms for inspiration though I have found my ‘dream’ kitchen which we both love. I found it via one of my favourite blogs, B is Building a House and it is a renovation done by Melbourne Designer Jo McIntyre (click here to view website).

Here are some photos of the kitchen:

I love everything from the stone to the handleless drawers. The long dining room table, timber floors, galley-style kitchen and even the doors help give a visual as to how our space would look with those finishes.

I’m very excited to begin the design decision-making process. I’ll have to finalise my mood boards and share them here, I do them up mostly for Mick as he isn’t able to visualise. I, on the other hand, have the entire house blue-print in my mind which has slowly been filled-in with detail like finishes and colours. I often “walk-through” our home J

So on into the New Year, and new house, we go!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We're on the market!

The unit is on the market and had its first showing on Saturday before it was even on the internet! Professional photos are being taken and a floor-plan drawn up on Monday and I look forward to seeing how it comes up and the response we get from buyers. Here's hoping for a good price and quick sale!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Final Plans off for Approval

Ok, we have submitted for developer approval this morning! That should take two weeks then, if it is all approved, we submit to Council who can take up to six weeks. We’re not in a hurry as building can’t start until we sell Mick’s unit anyway, but we just hope it is all approved without too much fuss…

Here are our final plans (note: they are copyrighted to Fairmont Homes NSW):

Here is the landscaping plan which has been a long-time in the making, but I am proud of what I achieved:

We’ll be installing more downlights in the Alfresco Area, upstairs hallway and Family/Media Room after hand-over. We’ll also be having cabinetry made for the formal living areas, the wardrobes fitted-out, the Alfresco Area decked and landscaping done after hand-over. We’re also contemplating having the painting done ourselves depending on how much Fairmont charge for feature walls, an extra coat (we want three rather than two) and to have all the coats rolled not sprayed. Having the painting done properly is especially important for new builds. If you spray the paint on (project home builders normally have at least the undercoat sprayed to save time and costs), it doesn’t adhere as well and no paint job ever done subsequently will ever be as “strong” as if it were rolled.

Final colour selection is as before:

Roof: Monier Tiles Elebana ‘Barramundi’
Gutter, Fascia and Downpipes: Colourbond ‘Dune’
Cladding: Wattyl ‘Maltshake’
Render: Wattyl ‘Romeo Romeo’
Brick: Boral ‘Rose Cove’
Windows: Aluminium ‘Pearl White’
Entry Door: Hume Savoy Range XS24 1200 Entry door in a dark-wooden stain and translucent glass
Garage Door: Panelmasta Caprice ‘White’
Balcony Railing: Colourbond ‘Surfmist’
Eaves: Colourbond ‘Paperbark’
Driveway: Coloured Concrete Colour-Thru 'French Grey'

See link below for post with full details:

On the “home-front” Mick and I moved out of the unit (let me just say that moving is one of the most awful things!) but we still have some things to sort and either store or tip. That is waiting for Mick to get back from Papua New Guinea. In the meantime, the painting is done and vanity in. The bathroom mirror nearly fell off the wall (thank you Dad who managed to rescue it in the nick of time) and it appears that the handymen didn’t put it up as instructed so that’s another great job for Mick to sort when he gets back. A big thanks to Mick’s brother who put blinds up in the second bedroom, his sister-in-law who let the Salvos in to collect stuff, and also to my Dad who nearly wrecked himself cleaning the windows inside and out, which hadn’t seen a squeegee in a million years! And lastly, thanks to all of the friends and family who have helped us out with the unit and moving. Hopefully we can list the unit to sell this week and the financial, emotional and physical stress of it all can be over with. Moving, building and selling are hard enough but we both have chronic conditions which makes it especially taxing.

So, now we cross our fingers and wait…

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Musings and Moving

So, we’re still deliberating on the raked ceiling in the kitchen/meals area. We’ve asked for an exact quote from the framers so we will see what they say. In the meantime, here is the sketch our builder did for us as to how it would look:

It won’t be a large rake, but enough I think to add architectural interest and even a slight angle makes sky-lights look more beautiful like in the pic below:

I also managed to find a light we like at Domayne which looks like a cloud of glass bubbles. It’s very long however and we’ve been unsure about where we would put it. It finally dawned on me…the stairs! That way we can feel as though we’re in the bubbles when we’re on the upstairs landing and below it it will look beautiful too…anyway, just a thought. We haven’t actually purchased the light yet, and thinking about these things may sound like I’m jumping the gun, but it helps us think about light placement (something we need to decide on now).

Photo of Fairmont's Display Dominico

Things are really moving on the home-front…literally! This Sat we move into my family’s home and it has meant that Mick has powered through sorting his stuff (he has years of it accumulated and, thankfully, a lot of it has gone!) and we are very tired as we spend our evenings packing. The tiling is finally done (no thanks to Strata’s tiler having to tile the shower three times!) and the painting will be done while Mick is overseas. Then there are two doors to fix, a blind to put up in the kitchen and vanity to install and we’re done and on the market!


*Fingers crossed* If we can manage to submit for Developer/Council approval before Christmas, we can finally be under way!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thank goodness for small mercies

Sorry it has been a while between posts. We have been extremely busy with work, looking after baby birds, packing up the unit, battling tilers (who finished their third attempt at the shower today!), Mick having to trek to Orange for two days and his Dad and brother kindly helping out with the unit renovation. Plus we hope to move out of the unit this weekend, before Mick has to go to PNG for two weeks....then there's Christmas... Phew!

I still haven't completed the landscaping plan (having not had the free time at the unit to sit and do it, and because the software we bought has virtually no Australian plants in the library! So I have done what I can with that software and now need to do the hard part of exporting the image to SnagIT and making amendments there...almost wish I had paid a landscape architect $1k!). With regards to the house, we have been asking a million more questions of our long-suffering builder mostly about lights (downlights cost a fortune!) and raked ceilings. Thankfully my mother has managed to find a good electrician who can wire up our media room and do any electrical work we'd prefer to do ourselves after hand-over. Here's the thing though, we've fallen in love with the idea of raked ceilings which we're considering doing to the back-half of the downstairs (i.e. anywhere without a floor above it excluding the Alfresco area). To afford it though, I'm considering trading-off the spa bath and timber floorboards...with the idea that these can always be installed later, whereas a roof is nearly impossible to rake after hand-over. It would also, I believe, give a "wow-factor" and make the two skylights "pop." Hmmmmm....decisions, decisions....

In the meantime, I have managed to purchase a Lulu Drinks Urn from Domayne (as seen in Donna Hay Magazine), which was no mean feat! Taren Point Domayne had sold out and explained that our only hope lay online where there were only a few left. I managed to order one and have it delivered to Taren Point so I avoided shipping costs and we picked it up today! They are now completely sold out and the worst part is, their catalogue featuring the urn only came out this week! And their supplier can't get that particular urn in for quite a while (it's from Spain). They will be getting another type of urn in over the coming weeks, but I prefer the Lulu.

At this point I'm very proud of my (small) triumph :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

External Colour Selections and the Kitchen Sink

Ok, we have made our final external colour choices and they are as follows:

Roof: Monier Tiles Elebana ‘Barramundi’
Gutter, Fascia and Downpipes: Colourbond ‘Dune’
Water Tank: Colourbond ‘Dune’
Cladding: Wattyl ‘Maltshake’
Render: Wattyl ‘Romeo Romeo’
Brick: Boral ‘Rose Cove’
Mortar: Raked finish, off-white
Windows: Aluminium ‘Pearl White’
Entry Door: Hume Savoy Range XS24 1200 Entry door in a dark-wooden stain and translucent glass
Garage Door: Panelmasta Caprice ‘White’
Balcony Railing: Colourbond ‘Surfmist’
Eaves: Colourbond ‘Paperbark’
Driveway: Coloured Concrete Colour-Thru 'French Grey'

Roof tile:


Wattyl Colours:


Here are some pics of the bricks with ‘Dune,’ ‘Maltshake’ and ‘Romeo Romeo’ colour chips. We think they work well together. The hardest part really was choosing the render colour, especially as we can no longer get Wattyl sample pots (the reason, we’ve been told for this, is that the company has been sold and in this transition time they’re re-negotiating with suppliers…or something to that effect, no one really knows for sure). 

Overcast light:

Full sunlight:

We actually like that the render colour chosen looks different in different lights. It looks more red in direct sunlight and more purple in indirect or overcast light. They both look nice against the brick and I think/hope it will make the facade even more interesting. Especially as the bricks are two-toned.

The final draw-up of our external colours thanks to New Home Visuals:

We’ve also managed to order a Kitchen sink, which has been no mean feat. The sink we found discounted at Bunnings was the last one in the store and had already been reserved for someone months ago. It took several weeks though for Bunnings to convey this to us (Note: they’re helpful when you’re physically in the store, but don’t rely on them calling you back).  Anyway, turns out there is one left in the entire chain, and it’s at Taree. So, our local Bunnings called Taree, asked them to confirm that they had the sink, that it had all of its accessories and asked them to ship it to us. It’ll take several weeks, but we’re not in a hurry. So, assuming it turns up ok, we'll get a $2,000 sink for less than a quarter of the price!!!! The reason it was $2k is because of all the accessories it comes with. It has a cutting board, plate tray, colander, grater and soap dispenser! We love this sink, and I hope it survives its journey.

Our Sink:

Lastly, I’m a bit behind in doing up a landscape plan.  I know roughly what I want to do, but it’s made complicated by the Estate Guidelines which dictate the types of plants we can have, how many and which size! It’s not easy, especially as there is money riding on this (we had to give over a bond to “promise” we’d build a house in-keeping with the Guidelines). So, tonight and tomorrow I will be brainstorming with my mother who is a gardening almanac. Hopefully we can still submit to Council and Stocklands this week. We’ll keep you posted.

On the home-front, tiling is underway in the unit, painting starts soon and Mick and I are slowly preparing to store things so we can get the unit on the market. Unfortunately Dec/Jan is the worst time to sell, but the area is very sought after so *fingers crossed* it’ll be ok.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Colours, Landscaping, Tiles and Spas!

With the second-coat of our paint samples drying as I type, Mick and I are one step closer to council submission. ‘Maltshake’ is definitely going to be our cladding colour. It’s warm, creamy and has a subtle pink undertone to tie it in nicely with the rose in the bricks. Colourbond ‘Dune’ seems to be a good segue colour between the ‘Barramundi’ roof tile and cladding. It’s just the render colour that is tricky. We’re waiting for the final coat to dry, but so far we like ‘Berry Bliss.’ It’s a sort-of “earthy rose” colour. I’ll update you with pictures soon.

I think that external colours are the hardest to choose. You need to be sympathetic to your neighbours’ colours and take into account the estate guidelines (if applicable) whilst still choosing colours you like.  In our case we can’t afford to render the whole fa├žade and we can’t choose a dark brick, so our first two preferences are out. There are a lot of colours to choose at the front (roof tile, brick, guttering and fascia, render, cladding, driveway, windows and doors including front door and garage door, eaves, balcony railing etc) so you want to choose colours that don’t overwhelm, but the scheme needs to be able stand on its own when there’s not as much happening at the back and sides.

And of course we ended up falling in love with a brick that itself has two colours (Boral ‘Rose Cove’).

Oh well, it’s not like we see the front of the house all the time and we can always re-paint…right?

On another note, we ordered a spa bath for the main bathroom! It’s not a very large bathroom and we can’t fit a large bath, so we decided to indulge by making the small space count as much as it can. We’re getting the Caroma Newbury Island Plus Body Therapy Spa with hot pump and electronic operation (click here to see more details and there's a picture below). It’s the only one that is double-ended that fits in our space (and I like the rectangular shape), and the hot pump means that we can keep the water warm. I’m in love!

Also, while picking up tiles for the unit I found the tiles I want for the main bathroom and ensuite in the new house. I know it’s too early to choose but they are beautiful! You can see them in the photos/links below:

This tile for the wall and floor of the main bathroom:

…with the matching mosaic (which shimmers) for around the bath and in the shower niche (and the bath niche I’m going to ask for).

For the Ensuite, we want to use the black gloss tile that is on the walls in the photo below and also have the mosaic “feature wall” in the shower as pictured:

They are very beautiful tiles and I just hope that when it comes time to choose, they are still available and we can afford to buy them!

Speaking of money, Mick and I are trying to save a little by doing the landscaping plan ourselves. Mick bought a very complicated (and it’s not even the professional version!) piece of architectural software that we are slowly mastering. I hope to have a landscape design by next week. The software will also be handy for visualising the rest of the house and it saves us $1k in landscaper’s fees (click here to see the program). We’ll also be doing the landscaping ourselves, with the help of my family and a builder/handyman they know. I love gardens and my family has a lot of gardening and landscaping experience. Plus our block is not very big and our plans are not overly ambitious.

Lastly, Champion Homes have cleared the formwork from our block and it looks like our neighbours’ cleared our block of the green waste. We’ll have to pop by next weekend and thank them. Having an amicable relationship with your neighbours is important.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stuck in the Middle With You

We got a call from our builder Thursday mid-morning to let us know that the house being built next door has dug up the footpath at the front of their block, along with lots of earth, to lay their driveway and so very kindly dumped it all on our land!

Considering the builder, Champion Homes, has been refusing to answer our previous calls or emails about the ongoing problem of them using our block, leaving rubbish on it and leaving the temporary fence open, this called for more drastic action. A very professionally-worded but clearly p*ssed off fax, including clear photos of bob-cat tracks going from our neighbour's block to ours, copies of unanswered emails and the threat of legal action, seemed to illicit a quick response. They have promised to clean up the debris on our block from their build, but honestly, given their reputation, I'll believe it when I see. I have demanded an exact time and date, which I am yet to receive, and my parents have kindly agreed to be our representatives when it happens.

And can you believe it gets worse? The neighbours who have just purchased the existing home on the other side seem to have pruned and removed plants from not only their side of the fence, but ours as well. Then to top it off they left the green-waste "hidden" amongst our garden! At the very least this is disrespectful and at the worst illegal. I can't even chalk this up to a misunderstanding because the boundary-line is clear and the fact that they've tried to hide the evidence on our block is damning. People will never cease to disappoint me. I mean, if they wanted to clear the garden up a bit, all they had to do was contact us through council or our builder (who's sign is on the temporary fencing at the front of our block), just as we did with our other neighbours, and we likely would have agreed. The fact that they then left the rubbish on our block is, in my opinion, just disgusting.

So, our Thursday evening was spent taking photos of the block (which is 45mins from where we currently live) and our Saturday will be spent having a talk to our neighbours (or at least leaving a stern letter in their mailbox).

But as you know there is always a silver lining. It's a bit hard to find ours, but I believe it's the re-assurance that we have chosen the right builder, Fairmont Homes NSW. If it weren't for Daniel checking on our block (as he often does after visiting their other site in the area) and taking time out of his busy schedule to take photos for us when he saw the carnage, we might have realised the problem too late (perhaps after rain washed away 'the evidence'). Also, after letting the owners of the home being built know about our plight (and that we don't blame them), they gave me call and I got to know them a bit better. We had a lovely chat and they told me about the dramas they themselves have had with Champion Homes and gave me a brief introduction to the street. (I don't feel it's my place to discuss the dramas our neighbours have had with Champion, but may I please tell you that I would not wish building with them upon anybody!).

Anyway, here are the photos of the block from Thursday evening:

The pile of concrete and earth on our block:

Tracks across our block:

Some more incriminating tracks (hmmm...i wonder who did it?):

Some of the green-waste scattered in our garden:

Our Builder's sign on the temporary fencing at the front of our block:

A flock of cockatoos grazing in the golf course across the road (I always seem to manage to have a bird photo or two don't I..?):
Thanks Mick for taking a 'happy photo' for me in all the depressing ones.

On a positive note, we found a sink we really like for sale at Bunnings! After checking if we can supply our own sink and that the builder can't get it cheaper, we will be picking it up from Bunnings on Saturday (along with a sausage sandwich I bet!). You can check out our sink by clicking here. We like that it actually manages to tick all of our boxes. No mean feat considering I wanted a laundry-sized sink in the kitchen (to be able to hand-wash my large baking dishes and platters easily) and Mick wanted a secondary sink and drainage tray. And it's on sale!

We're also in the process of getting quotes for wiring our Family Room up for surround-sound speakers and a HD projector, in the continuing effort to turn it into an awesome Media Room. We're also looking into raising the floor at the back of the room to create a 'theatre' effect. We'll also make the window at the rear smaller so we can make the room nice and dark, and now that we're getting skylights in the Meals Area, we can afford to lose the light. Then after we recuperate costs, we hope to be able to actually install the projector and surround-sound system, along with a media unit, some recliners and plantation shutters to complete the transformation. Below is a photo of what we aim to achieve:

On the home-front, tiling in Mick's unit begins Monday. So this weekend will be a "mixed-bag" between preparing the unit, picking up tiles and a sink and confronting our neighbours. As always, we'll keep you posted...

Edit: Council rangers have said that Champion Homes have commissioned a work order to remove the debris. We'll have a cruise by the block sometime soon to check that it's been done. We also spoke to the neighbours on the other side last weekend. They explained that they're new in the country and have been taken advantage of by a dodgy landscaper who has obviously been the one who left the green waste in our garden and our neighbour claims that they didn't know about it. We will give them the benefit of the doubt, after all we don't want to start WWIII, but I hope that we don't have any further issues.