Sunday, November 23, 2008

The back story - Construction: frame stage

This is where it starts to get ugly. We were a bit annoyed that we had to be the ones to pick up the missing drain - isn't that what the site supervisor is supposed to be getting paid for? But we shrugged our shoulders and figured no harm done...

Next, framing timber was delivered, and the slab marked up for the frame. NOW things were getting exciting!

Then we notice another drain sited oddly in the edge of the slab behind the garage, right where the doorway will be. Hmm. This is the lower concrete sill that runs all the way around the slab, on which the brickwork is built. Surely that can't be right?

We call the site supervisor again - no, that shouldn't be there, it has to be moved. The plumber will be back to do it soon. Oh-KAY. Seems like no biggie and the frame moves ahead.

But ....UH-OH! This is a MAJOR biggie:

A piece of our slab edge at the rear corner has cracked right through. Gah! We demand a site meeting with the supervisor, and show him exactly what we're concerned about. He pokes the cracked concrete with the edge of his boot and the whole piece breaks away, along with a bit more - about a metre in length. Husband goes slightly ballistic. We are assured that the slab will be repaired - engineers will be called out to look at it and decide what needs to be done.

The verdict is: the slab needs to be drilled into and steel reinforcement bars inserted, then new concrete framed up and poured. Sounds reasonable to us, what do we know about concreting? Or building engineering? A few days later, we arrive to find this:

The slab repair has obviously been done, and we can only assume that the drilling and addition of reinforcement bars actually happened. Fingers crossed.... BUT - we are not impressed by the leftover concrete that has simply been poured out onto the ground. If they think we're digging that out when we start landscaping, they're mistaken. We request that the excess concrete be removed and are assured it will be.

Meanwhile, we're underwhelmed by our framer's work. I understand that it's a big and complicated house, and that small details can be missed (LOTS of small details), but what sort of idiot thinks that a door frame should go in upside down?

The laundry door has an aluminium tread along the bottom.... Yes, that's it there - at the TOP. Even if that wasn't a clue, the hinges are on the wrong side.

Then there's this:

Bedroom windows. Two are awnings and one is fixed. Even if you didn't READ THE PLAN, DUMMIE, surely it's obvious that the odd one out - the fixed window - should go in the middle, not on the right?

There were niches missing or sited wrongly. One, supposed to be in the kitchen, was placed more or less in the right spot, but only to half the correct depth and facing the wrong way - so that it would have been a nice feature inside the linen cupboard. We had nib walls left out, and our entertainment niche in the bedroom was framed as a strange kind of angled wall instead. And there was so much more...

All of this began to piss us right off, and we started to look really closely at everything this guy did. The roof trusses went on and Bike Boy was convinced that something just wasn't right. All we had was a partial truss plan, so it was kind of hard to check, but there was another Bridgeport under construction on a neighbouring estate, so we went and took a look. Hmm. Ours didn't look anything like that. This one was neat, square and waaay better quality than our frame.

We voiced our concerns several times to the site supervisor, and he agreed that the roof trusses hadn't been placed according to the plan, but that it would be OK, if the framer just made a few amendments. We weren't entirely convinced, but at this point we were still asssuming that we were dealing with professionals who knew what they were doing, so we decided to wait and see what happened.

The portico and parapet wall, which were features of the facade we'd chosen, were unfinished. We were given some waffle about wrong materials being delivered and new ones expected, but to us, it looked a LOT like the guy just had no clue about how to put together the front part of our house.

The wall wrap was put on - very badly. I know it gets covered by bricks and other cladding materials, but I'm pretty sure it's not meant to have gaps or big wrinkles in it. Then the Big Storm hit. Melbourne was buffetted by ridiculous winds, and OF COURSE, our wall wrap was blown off and torn to shreds in places.

Bike Boy was by this time of the Trust No-one school of thought, and insisted on emailing to get written confirmation that all damaged material would be replaced with new, and not simply nailed back up. We got a reply, agreeing that this was so. Ha!

We got one or two small sections replaced, but the rest was simply reattached, ragged edges, tears and deteriorated metal backing and all.

Gee, do you think the fact that it's see-through might mean it isn't going to do the job it was intended to do?

Again, we got promises that it would be rectified, and again, it didn't happen. We were still waiting for the drain to be moved and the concrete clean-up to happen. The portico was still untouched, and tiles had gone on without anything being done about the roof trusses. I think by this stage we were in May.....

Brickies began work, although there'd been no sign of the plumber or electrician yet. We had issues with the brick work. Just for one example, I don't think expansion joints are supposed to be 5mm wide at the bottom and 25mm wide at the top. And I could be wrong, but I thought they should be more or less a straight line:

I can't quite recall the order of events now, but at some point the idiot framer returned to fix all the bulkheads that he'd framed to the wrong heights. This included a raised ceiling in the entry (the ceiling is 10' high here). As he was attempting to frame up the 300mm bulkhead around the edges, he obviously realsied that the way he'd put the roof trusses on meant that the ends of a couple were sticking through into the entry - and because of the raised ceiling height, these ends were BELOW ceiling level. His solution? Cut the ends off the trusses!

This time, we went completely mental. No more Mr Nice Guy. OK, they'd get the roof truss company to send out their engineers and figure out how to fix things so the structural integrity of the roof was unaffected. WE wanted the tiles ripped off, and the trusses replaced with new ones - the right way! In hindsight, we should have insisted. The trusses got bodgied up - they don't look pretty, but we got copies of the engineers reports and drawings, which seem to agree with what's been done - so hopefully they'll hold up.

Then the plumber finally turned up to do the rough-in. He ran all the internal pipes, and that all looked OK. Then he did the water lead-in from the meter. Uh....

We hit the roof! A very long, very detailed and full-of-photos email was sent off. We listed all our complaints, cited what had been promised yet not delivered, and made it clear that we were not paying a cent more until these things were rectified.

We had long ago got to the point where we put everything in writing, and insisted on written responses. We could see this thing turning into a big old nightmare.....


Sacha said...

Ouch ouch ouch.....that stage must have been a 'pain in the butt' stage for you and your husband...

I must say I almost started laughing at your framer's idiotic job on the back door. sorry for that :(

But I think the person who deserves all the blame is your superviser, yes, I mean after all it was his job, to see everything was going ok at the site, which is supervising. Well its kind of obvious by the never-ending flaws from the start till now. Am I right?

Kek said...

Oh, you're right Sacha, definitely! Now, if only the mistakes and muck-ups had ended there....unfortunately, there's more.

And don't worry - I laughed at the upside down door frame myself. It started to not be funny after about the 50th mistake though.

Oh well, we're almost there now.