Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rain, rain, go away...

Damn this Melbourne weather! Got a call from PK this afternoon to say that the stumper arrived on site today, but quickly decided that the block was way too sloppy to even attempt to use any machinery this week. Understandable when you consider that Wandong got 45 ml of rain on Sunday/Monday, Beveridge got 85 ml, and Seymour got more than 100 ml!    

I know that rain is predicted for the next week or so, but here's hoping that the block will dry up enough for the stumper to at least make another attempt this time next week. It's a bit sad that summer seems to have well and truly disappeared now...

7-day forecast is not looking too positive...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Slab party!

So happy...we now have a garage slab! Hooray for progress!

Front View (including our new meter box)

Back View (including the drainage point for the laundry)

Close up view 

The tap that the plumber originally placed smack-bang in the middle of the driveway has also been moved to a more sensible position:

Two of our neighbours have also been making cracking progress. As far as we knew, this block was still for sale two weeks ago when we last visited our site, now they have drainage! The race is on...

Drainage already!

Our neighbours have all put their fences up, and you might be able to squint and see the beginnings of a slab for the middle house

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So apparently stumpers are hard to find nowadays...

Received a call from the builder last Monday to discuss the happenings with the build.

Apparently, we haven't been seeing much action on site as they have been having difficulties finding a stumper who would be willing to travel to Kilmore. Given that they have not built a house on stumps for about 10 years, they didn't have many contractors on their books to choose from.

All is good now - they have now made contact with a stumper willing to travel (who comes highly recommended by the surveyor) and everything is good to go again.

Unlike a slab house, we will not need drastic excavations done for our drainage as it will all be underslung under the floor joists and connected to the outlet at a later stage. The only drainage required at this stage will be for the laundry, which is being built as part of the garage slab. The garage slab should be done this week, and once that is set, the stumper will come in to do the stumping. Keogh expects all this foundation work to be completed in the next 2-3 weeks.

At this point you may be asking yourself, why even build on stumps at all?!

Well...when building on completely flat ground, building on a slab is far cheaper than on stumps. However, as the land slopes more and more, there reaches a point where building on stumps becomes more cost effective because it basically offsets a lot of the excavation and site works required to build on a slab.

So let's imagine for a moment that we had a graph showing the cost of building on stumps vs. slab, where cost is the y-axis and land slope is the x-axis (let's just simplistically leave it at the single level of land slope at the moment). If both graphs are linear, with stumps starting out as more expensive, as land slope increases at some point the cost of building on a slab and on stumps should meet and cross over - eventually resulting in some cost economies to building on stumps.

While our block is not quite at the point where building on stumps was cheaper than a slab, we were quickly approaching that crossover point. Additionally, the added benefits of stumps (and personal preference!) over slab pretty much sealed the deal , making the extra costs worth it in our minds. Like everything, it all comes back to the $$$....from what I have read, this is the main factor that dictates the popularity of the slab in modern buildings.

For our personal situation, we weighed up the pros and cons of stumps vs. slab and came up with the following list:

- Extra space under the house for storage
- Insertion points for ducted heating can be installed under the floor (more energy efficient, as hot air rises)
- Ease of service additions later if required
- More in keeping with the traditional "feel" of Kilmore
- Easier to check for termites
- Slabs are vulnerable to water and roots - water or roots can crack a slab, and once moisture gets in this can cause concrete cancer that can never be detected until it reaches an advanced stage

- Bearers and joists are comparatively more expensive than concrete
- Takes longer time to build on stumps
- Other items required to be incorporated into the build to attain a 6 star energy rating (e.g. require underfloor insulation)

On balance, we have more pros for stumps than we have cons, which is why we decided to take this option - that is not to say that slabs do not have their pros either, it just wasn't going to be as suitable for our situation.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baby steps...

Sometimes I wish that we lived close enough to the block to be able to spontaneously pop past everyday to check on progress. As it stands, we need to make time on the weekends to make the trek to Kilmore and back - which makes it all the more disappointing when we don't see any major changes :(

We expected to arrive at the block yesterday to find drainage completed and possibly the start of the stumping...but, NOTHING. I think we are going to be making a few phone calls on Monday to find out what the hold up is.

That being said, we have made some small baby steps since the arrival of our bin and toilet back in mid-Jan - we now have a temporary fence, set-out completed, and a tap.

All fenced in!

Set out pegs - this is looking out from the back sliding doors over the future deck

Temporary tap connection

The other positive point from this weekend's travels is that we finally got to walk through a finished Keogh house. I was flipping through the real estate guide last week when I noticed a house for sale that was "custom built by Keogh Homes". Given that we haven't actually seen any of Keogh's products in person before, we were very excited to go and check it out. That is one of the downsides of building a custom home I suppose, that they don't have 20 different display homes that you can walk through and check out in person.

Must say, it was very impressive! I think Frank the designer did a really good job at making the most of an odd-shaped piece of land, and everything was finished to a very high quality. Although the actual plan was quite different to ours, most of the rooms were a similar size so it was good to get a sense of what we are going to end up with...  and if our house ends up even half as good as this one, I will be very happy.

Kitchen - very similar style to what we want (probably won't be going with the green walls though!)