Building A New House
Jun 14, 2014 8:25 pm
Thanks in advance, I have just come across this forum and it seems to be a great resource!
I am in the process of building my first home in Canberra, and am close to done. We have however run across some delays in the meantime, and right now are 4 weeks overdue, with work to be done.
Last week, our builder told us he was basically done, and we could move in. Kinda. I have provided email chain below with names [obscured] for information.
I am interested what people think of this exchange, I am very eager to move in, we have two 4 month old twins and we are currently stuck in a single room waiting for the house to be completed. I am worried he was being friendly and lenient to us, allowing us to move in early and I threw it back at him?..
Anyway exchange is as follows;
"Last inspection was completed today so you are welcome to take over occupancy and arrange for power connection. Can you let [site manager] or [office member] know when you want to move in so we can do the handover."
I was confused, as we hadn't been notified of practical completion, or given a chance to inspect the work with site manage or builder (and I have some issues I would like addressed);
"That's great news thanks [builder].
I will try to get electricity on by tomorrow. After electricity is on we can book practical completion inspection as soon as possible.
I have had a couple of small things moved in (a TV cabinet and flat packed desk) and want to move some potted plants into the garage or onto the slab outside this weekend as my mate has a truck hired for his own house move.
Apart from this I will wait till inspection done etc before moving anything else in.
Let me know if you need anything else from us at this stage."
"Inpection is done - you are good to move.
[site manager] will coodinate the remaining tasks (outdoor) with you but you are welcome to move in.
Yours sincerely, [builder]"
"Hi [builder] thanks for quick reply,
I thought we had to get a notice of practical completion, then do inspection, there are still a few things that tradies will need to come back for.
Don't get me wrong I am eager to get things done as quickly as possible but dont want to take possession prematurely, before everything is completed.
I've looked into that retaining wall a bit more, and its going to have to wait until the extra fill in the backyard is done, because won't be able to get bobcat in after.. Considering this it might be best to stick with your guy, as it seems the wait is unavoidable. "
"The COO inspection was done and the home passed with flying colours. The remaining tasks don't affect your ability to occupy - when you do is up to you - just keep in mind that we have to meet you to do the handover so give us a bit of notice.
I spoke to the retaining wall guy yesterday and he is still over a week away - assuming the weather remains fine. The balustrading is due shortly - they were going out again today for final measurements.
We have decided to get a load of topsoil and barrow it into the back yard as it is to difficult to get any sort of machinery down the side. Peter is getting that done shortly. There will be some left over for some cover of the front.
[site manager] is going to contact you re the clothesline - just to confirm location. You are welcome to contact him on xxxxxxx
I was confused at this point and rang him to ask what he meant- were we to move in now and be informed of practical completion later, and have inspection then? On the phone builder said that all inspections had passed, and that was that, so I told him that in our (HIA) contract it says that before final progress payment is made the builder must provide us with notice of practical completion, and then receive a list within 5 days yada yada... I followed up immediately with an email;
"Hi again [builder],
Just to clarify I am referring to clause 23, which says that once the works have reached a stage of practical completion the builder must give notice of practical completion, and then within 5 days meet with owner to inspect the building works.
Then within another 5 days we will provide a written/signed list of any work that needs to be done, and once completed pay final progress payment.
"We will advise when the remaining tasks have been completed and then notify you of Practical Completion.
Anyway folks, would like to know what your impression is.. is the builder trying to pull something dodge, getting us to move in and not having a practical completion inspection, or am I being paranoid?!
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought2
Jun 15, 2014 8:23 am
By "last inspection" the builder obviously means the building surveyor's last inspection. If the house passed this inspection, the occupancy permit can be issued and you can occupy the premises. This does not mean, however, that the house is without defect or built to contract. My short experience of building has taught me that you can never be paranoid enough when accepting handover of your house.
I am not familiar with the HIA contract and hopefully somebody who is can provide an answer concerning clause 23; however, it does seem strange that the builder is not prepared to fix a date for PCI. f I were you, I would find my own good building inspector and have him or her go through the house and prepare a defect list before you move in. Depending on what the defects are, it may not even be possible for these to be rectified while you are occupying the house. If the build is late the builder may be trying to avoid paying liquidated damages and that is why they are anxious for you to move in. Does Canberra have the equivalent of a Building Authority where you can seek advice?
Is the builder expecting final payment at handover? You need to clarify this.
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought3
Jun 15, 2014 9:47 am
This whole thing sounds funny to me. Here in Canberra we are required to appoint a building certifier - did you use the one your builder "recommended" or choose your own? If you used the recommended certifier, I would suggest finding an independent one and having an inspection done.
It is the certifier's responsibility to ensure that a certificate of occupancy can be issued, and there is no way I would be moving in until that is available. If you move in and discover a problem with the construction, there may be claims from the builder that you have caused the problem.
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought4
Jun 15, 2014 9:57 am
The certifier was appointed by our builder, who he has assured me in the past "works for my behalf" I have already arranged an indépendant inspector who came and looked at an earlier stage, though my builder not aware of this. The hia contract has damages for going over time... $1 per week.
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought7
Jun 15, 2014 12:04 pm
The building certifier just sounds like the equivalent of the building surveyor here in Victoria. They do not inspect the house for defects or breaches of contract, unless the ACT is more stringent in this regard. If the builder is only paying $1 a week liquidated damages then it is not particularly onerous on him to delay handover until you are satisfied your contract conditions have been met and that you can occupy the house without getting in the way of rectification works, particularly if you have young babies. You don't want them breathing in fumes if the paint needs touchups for example.
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought8
Jun 15, 2014 9:42 pm
Currently we are in a bit of a bind, stuck living with my mother in law, sharing the single small bedroom with twins, and this gives the builder power as he knows we are desperate to move in.
He has given us permission to move in already in his email, and I am currently considering arranging the practical completion inspection as soon as humanly possible.. submitting him a list of defects, and then moving in instantly after, as he wont then be able to say we caused the damage/defects. The paint issue you mentioned could be a problem though, as there is a significant amount of repainting to be done...
I have mixed feelings about the builder as a whole, he apparently upgraded the frame and insulation for free, as well as the heating system. He also allowed me to find my own contractors to install solar panels and blinds without adding on the builders margin, which he could have done.
But the delays, and cagey behaviour around the practical completion certificate really bother me. On the phone he totally denied the fact that I got to inspect and submit defects, saying it was all done in the following 90 day period after moving in, until I cited the contract...
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought9
Jun 15, 2014 9:53 pm
You're not comfortable now. Its not going to be better once you are in and chasing the builder! Don't rush it! Staying an extra month in your current living situation isn't going to kill you. You've managed so far! I *know* what its like. I've spent the last 18 months living in my parents house with my partner and his 11 year old daughter. I feel like I'm dying and I want to kill people lol but I'd rather my house be finished properly and not rushed because at the end of the day while my family is driving me insane I do trust them more than any builder.
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought10
Jun 16, 2014 8:01 am
he apparently upgraded the frame and insulation for free, as well as the heating system.
Is this what he said? If he did, ask yourself why? Sorry to sound cynical but after our building experience, I am. Our builder kept on insisting to us that nobody needed to inspect the house; two years later and we are still finding out how "creative" he was in following the contract and the building regulations.
The only opportunity you have to ensure that defects which should be fixed are and that the house has been built to contract is before you pay and move in. You may be lucky and the builder may just be trying to do you a favour but if he has built more than one house then he should know about PCI. If he is telling you he doesn't "know", then there may be a reason. While you're about it, why not get Bashworth's e-guide to PCI:
Re: Nearly Finished a build in Canberra- opinions sought11
Jun 16, 2014 10:00 am
While you're about it, why not get Bashworth's e-guide to PCI:
Thanks for the link! I just bought it. Probably the best $4 I'll ever spend.
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