Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Down, down, the prices are down!

I find it impossible to pay full price for anything.  It's simply not necessary - the are plenty of bargains to be had no matter if you're buying clothes, cars or building products.  Half the fun for me in making a purchase is calling, visiting and googling about 100 different suppliers to find the best price.  Ironically its the first place I've gone to that I generally return.

I have to acknowledge that I am very lucky that I'm able to use my contacts  to obtain particularly good pricing on a range of goods (special thank you's to Brett's Timber & Hardware, Finlayson Timber & Hardware and Boral) for this project.

However, the most amazing bargain of all, one that has nothing to do with my work and something that anyone else can obtain, is the incredible kitchen, pantry and laundry cabinetry that we sourced through the wonderfully helpful Adam at Aussie Cut.

Aussie Cut is a high-end cabinet making factory.  They've got this wonderfully clean and tidy, high tech factory at Brendale - it has huge computer operated machines that slice, dice and create kitchens following some data entry and the press of a button.  I've had seen their advertisement in the Master Builders magazine about 18 months ago and then coincidently my mum and her partner sourced their kitchen from them last year - they got top notch quality at a brilliant cost because basically you are cutting out the middle man ie the kitchen designer.  Of course this wouldn't be for everyone - you need to have a pretty good idea of what you want plus you need to draw up a plan and measure everything yourself.

And so this is what we have done.  I must admit it wasn't particularly easy and it took a couple of trips out there to get it right.  On my first visit - the first Friday of the school holidays  - I had to leave and burst into tears when I got in the car because my two naughty brown eyed, brown haired boys misbehaved so badly I couldn't concentrate and was getting my measurements topsy turvey.  In hindsight this was a blessing because we really hadn't put enough thought into things.  Happily some holiday time and James' huge effort in drawing and measuring up ensured the next time went smoothly.

It's semi gloss lexicon quarter 2 pac for those that speak "builder".  40mm organic white ceaserstone benches to come 
Still getting the plans "right" before going to the factory and then spending a few hours sitting with Adam talking through the plan and checking measurements was quite nerve-wracking - like sitting an exam.  If we made any, they would be expensive mistakes! We asked if we were particularly inept or if they often got people walking through their door with similar plans.  We were pleased to hear our approach wasn't uncommon!

My pantry - not quite finished  but getting there...
The kitchen took about 3 weeks to manufacture - most of that time it was getting "2-packed", it was then delivered and installed by our builder.  And the result?  Couldn't be happier!  We've got a custom-designed 2-pac kitchen, pantry & laundry all with blum softclose drawers for less than I would pay for an ikea kitchen.  What's not to be happy about - as I said I truly love a bargain!

One side of the compact laundry - I've got drawers to store the dirty clothes...
Sink to go in the top of there and more drawers for dirty clothes!
The kitchen was delivered mostly assembled and our builders have installed it.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Voila! Almost.

For all those who have been concerned that I've abandoned this blog due to being squashed under a pile of building rubble I can assure you that thankfully that didn't occur.  However, at the end of last year I did disappear under a huge pile of life related busyness - work, school related issues and reno. The good news is I've managed to climb to the top and its looking pretty good from up here.

The house is looking amazing, better than we could have hoped for.  There have been a few hiccups along the way but nothing that couldn't be fixed.  The amount of time we spent labouring over the plans have really paid off because there isn't anything much we would have changed - except perhaps the location of the linen cupboard - swaaping it from one side of a door to the other in the hallway.  But that's chicken feed really.

In think I left you all hanging in suspense as the framework was going up so here are few pics to whet your appetite whilst I get back into the swing of blogging.
Looking out the kitchen window

Beautiful 130mm spotted gum board from Boral - I love them...
And the beautiful spotted gum deck also from Boral, there will be many a party out here in time to come...

I look unsure in this photo but changing this dining area into a bedroom is one of the smartest decisions, it was such a huge long room before it really hasn't changed the living area at all, in fact I almost think it makes it more balanced. 
On a final note for those family and friends reading this, its the 8th festival of my sweet William this weekend.  It's been a busy and at times tumultuous 8 years but he is the light of our lives and I am so proud of the effort he puts into himself.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Check, check again and again and again.

When dollars are tight you can't afford to make any mistakes.  I learnt a valuable lesson today - even when you think something is right get your builder to check it and then check it again.

Just as James clicked the send button to the place the hardwood flooring and decking order I decided to compare the provisional cost indicated in our quotation with the final price received.  As soon as I saw the prices, $4500 vs $5900, I knew something was amiss.  We were getting an exceptionally good price and I had expected it to be way under the provisional cost than over.  In fact some of the other decisions I am making are based on that I am expecting to be under, rather than over budget on the timber used.

As soon as our builder arrived I mentioned this to him.  It was decided that it might be a good idea to re-measure now that the framework is up.  Thank goodness we did as the original measurements, taken off the plan, were incorrect as the laundry and powder room had been included.  They should not have as they will be tiled with nice penny rounds.  It also became apparent that the flooring for the kitchen/living area had not been factored into the original quote as the builder had assumed there would be original flooring that was usable - not too happy about this but need to look on the bright side that it could be a whole lot worse if we weren't getting such a discount.

This certainly gave me a wake-up call.  I've been coasting along assuming that the builder will get it all right.  The fact of the matter is that mistakes do happen and I need to get on top of things to ensure they don't. We've decided to get up early in the morning and do a bit of measuring and checking to make sure that since the frameworks up that all the doors and windows are in the right place!

Guess it pays to be living on site!

Friday, 16 November 2012

As I sit and write this there are three strong, very hot (as in heat not looks) men carrying framework up our narrow side path.   Things have been moving fairly slowly over the last 10 days since the ground work finished but I understand that once the framework goes up its entirely possible that the roof could be going on next Friday

Since the picture below was taken the back part (the old kitchen) has been removed.   Seeing the "footprint" of the space and the deck has been reassuring - we've always been a little concerned that the area wasn't going to be big enough, however we can see now that it will be very functional and the deck is going to be huge - big enough for complete outdoor living - table/chairs and a lounge suite.  I'm very excited about this as I have always loved a lounge outside.  I've been busying googling rattan lounge suites on ebay in a hope to get one and restore it.  The deck area is basically from where you see the gap between the particle board.

Gone are the old cement steps, these will be covered in lovely spotted gum decking, the space under the floor on the right is standing room heigh and we're thinking that this can be used for a tool room and space for messy activities like mosaics - something I love doing but don't always want to have to clean up afterwards.

Unfortunately we have to remove two trees that we were hoping to keep - they were going to be just too close to the roof line.  James says he is never going to remove another tree stump in his life - given that he has been know to walk around wearing t-shirts stating "trees spoil city views" - I'm not quite sure that I believe him!