Balcony Drainage

If you are going to have a balcony don’t forget to consider  the drainage.

You need to make sure that you have a large enough drain, for example this.

And the whole balcony slopes down to the drain.

If the drainage isn’t done properly you are going to have staining on the front of your house.

Here are a couple of photos of balconys with drainage problems.

This is a really bad example of staining where it looks like there was no drain, and the water drains off the edge.


Although this isn’t as bad you can see that some water has been staining the building as water runs out of the grout between the tiles.

Getting the Colours Right

Let face it, I am a typical man and colours don’t really interest me much.

I like to limit myself to the standards of White, Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

I’m even not too sure about Indigo and Violet. . . What’s wrong with just saying Purple?

Don’t start on talking about colours like Aquamarine and Avocado as I will quickly get lost. . . and that’s before we mention the 100 different types of white, or ’50 shades of Grey!

The average project home builder has about the same sense of colour as me so if you want a particular colour here are some things you need to do:

  • Find out if the builder has a standard paint supplier or will allow the use of any paint manufacturer as early as possible.
  • Get that paint manufacturers colour charts and pick the colours and finishes (gloss, satin, matt etc) you want before the colour selection.
  • Make sure the full description of the colours are handed over preferably with copies of the colour cards stapled to the documents for reference.
  • Check the colours are correctly described in the contract documents.
  • Check the final finishes against the cards at the PCI inspection.

Did you finish up with a colour you hate on your house? Or just the wrong shade of white?

For similar posts see Selection

More about selecting finishes including 24 pages of Check Lists in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Checking Door Painting

Do you read the guarantees on things you buy?

Well here is one on a door at my local Bunnings store.
II am including this post for 2 reasons.

DIY door installation

If you are going to fit a door don’t rush the job make sure you paint all edges before you install it.

When its an external door I would reccomend at least 3 coats all over if you don’t want it to shrink and expand when the weather changes.

There is little that is more annoying than a door that continually sticks.

New Houses

With new houses the guy who paints normally comes along after the doors are fitted so its quite common that both the top and bottom edges don’t get painted.

This is just one of the things you need to check before you agree to the final payment.


For more advice on things to check see the PCI Guide


Practical Completion Inspection

The Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) is probably the most important inspection, your chance to identify any faults and get them fixed before handover.

It’s a lot simpler to get them fixed before you move in!

If you have employed an architect or project manager for the whole project, or you get an inspector for the PCI only they should run the whole exercise.

If not it will be up to you.


The normal procedure is to meet with the site supervisor and go around the house noting any defect.

The site supervisor, will then normally put a red sticky paper dot on any problems and record the defects. You then counter sign the defect list.

The builder should attend to all defects in about 10 working days so handover can occur.


To make sure you are prepared here is what you should have for the inspection:

      • A copy of the contract and the drawings so you can tick things off.
      • Checklists (For only $4 you can buy the anewhouse PCI Guide complete with checklists of hundreds of items.)
      • A couple of light bulbs to check light fittings.
      • A lead lamp so you can check power sockets.
      • A cloth so you can make clean dust off the kitchen counters and vanities counters to inspect for scratches and chips.
      • Some boots so you can walk round the outside if its muddy.
      • A torch, tape measure and spirit level
      • A packet of dots in case the Site Supervisor’s supply runs out.
      • A camera

Also make sure the supervisor will have a ladder, or bring your own.

What you won’t be able to check

Most builders don’t fit Appliances and the Hot Water Service until handover to prevent theft.

Remember to check these on Handover Day.

Also it won’t be clean!

More information at PCI – 12 Hints

For similar posts see Getting it Right


Why not buy the PCI Guide for more advice and extensive checklists….only $4


Keith, Hero of ‘The Block’

If you are having a new house built Keith should be your hero too!

Over the years, foreman Keith Schleiger “The Blockinator” seems to be cast as the bad guy.

The guy who causes delays, disruptions, and upsets the contestants.

The Real Bad Guys

The real bad guys are the tradies who have spent most of their careers getting away with things such as:

  • Poor waterproofing;
  • Removing important structural elements;
  • Shoddy workmanship;
  • Working unsafely;

You would think knowing they are in front of the camera they would try and lift their game . . . . . but old habits die hard . . . and they still think they can get away with things.

What Keith Does

Keith protects people like you who are buying a new house

He makes sure everything is built with care, and meets all the building codes.

Your House

Who is protecting you when your new house is being built?

  • The Site Supervisor is responsible for perhaps 15 or more builds so you will be lucky if they visit more than twice a week!
  • The Building Surveyor will only visit 4 or five times!

Both are paid  by the builder, whose main interest is getting the house finished quickly!

That leaves plenty of opportunity for tradies to cover over their dodgy methods before anybody sees the issues.

If you can’t check things yourself perhaps you need to employ a ‘Keith’ and engage an independent inspector.

Practical Completion Inspection – 12 Hints

Here are some hints for your PCI Inspection

  1. Take your time. There is no need to rush, you have spent a lot of money and it’s your chance to get things fixed.
  2. Look at things from a different angle. It’s easy to miss things below eye level, when you are standing. In each room sit on the floor (or a camp stool) and have a good look around at that level. Sit on the toilets and shut the door.
  3. Take your shoes off and walk round in stocking feet then you can feel any problems with the floor.
  4. Turn on the Taps. Fill the basins, sinks, and bath to the overflow level and then check for leaks.
  5. Run the showers and check they drain.
  6. Flush the toilets, check they are securely fixed to floor and don’t leak
  7. Check locks Make sure privacy locks on toilets and bathrooms work
  8. Check switches and power points Test power points. Make sure that where you have several lightswitches on one panel the layout of switches is logical
  9. Check you have the electric points you selected. Make sure all the lights and power points have been fitted
  10. Sensor check If you have any sensor lights make sure the delay and sensitivity is correctly set. We had one in a wardrobe in our current house that went out if you stayed still for 5 seconds.
  11. Check for rough edges Such as on the edges of paintwork from paint drying in lumps/drips particularly window sills. Those rough edges can catch your curtain fabrics and pull threads.
  12. Record everything Making sure ALL of your concerns are noted down on paper, legibly and not skipped over. There may be some things where your SS will just say “Oh, that always gets done before handover”. Make sure it is written in the PCI list anyway. Unless it’s in the list, it may not get done at all.


Why not buy the PCI Guide for much more advice and extensive checklists….only $4



Working With Your Site Supervisor

If you are building your new house with a big builder once the contract is signed the most important person in the build is going to be the Site Supervisor(SS).

The site supervisor is responsible for programming the works, ordering materials, selecting who will carry out the various tasks (from the tradies contracted to the builder), and supervising the works as well as liaising with you.

To get the best results for your house building a good relationship with the site supervisor is important.

I am not saying that you have to be best friends, but you should aim for an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • When you are first contacted by the site supervisor why not suggest buying them a coffee to start the relationship off in a good way.
  • Let them know what things are important to you.
  • Arrange site meetings during the working day. – Typically the building trades works from 6.30am until 4.00pm. It’s your house so if you can’t make the effort to meet during their work hours don’t expect the supervisor to use their family time to meet you.
  • If you are given a mobile number that doesn’t mean you can ring in the evenings and at weekends.
  • If you spot a problem be firm but don’t go off the handle. “I noticed that ‘X’ was different to the required specification” is going to get a better response than “YOU SCREWED UP!”
  • The typical site supervisor will be involved in building several houses at once so sometimes they can’t get straight back to you.
  • If during construction you are told that something you wanted can’t be done ask to be shown the regulation that doesn’t permit it. On our last house I wanted the gas meter and electrical meter together. One night I checked the site and the plumber had installed the pipework to another location. When I was told that they couldn’t be together I asked the question about the regulations and the meter location was moved without further discussion.
  • Sometimes it can be worth waiting a bit longer for the better tradesman to become available, rather than rushing the build.
  • Always go through the site supervisor, don’t try to order the tradies around if you visit the site.

How have you got the best out of your site supervisor?

For more info while the build is underway see Construction


Energy and Water Ombudsman

If you have an ongoing problem with the supplier of Water or Energy utilities its worth contacting the Ombudsman in your state.

Our Problem

About the middle of June we got rid of our last gas appliance and asked for the meter to be removed.

We were told that by our energy retailer that it would take the wholesaler (Multinet)  20 working days to remove the meter.

Well 20 working days passed and the meter was still there so but we weren’t worried because we shouldn’t be paying anything.

Around about 40 working days a charge of 88 cents/day was taken from our credit card.

When we complained we were told that the request had been wrongly entered and it was going to take another 20 days to remove the meter and we ‘should’ get a refund.

‘Should’ isn’t good enough for me so we made an online complaint to the Victorian Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV).


At 9.30 the next morning we were contacted by a representative of EWOV to discuss our case.

An hour later we received a email from Multinet saying they were looking into the problem.

By the end of the day the meter was gone.


If you are getting the ‘runaround’ from your water or energy retailer you should seriously consider taking your case up with the relevant ombudsman in your state.


Occupancy Permit – What Does It Mean?

Occupancy Permit (or Certificate of Final Inspection) is not the same as Completion.

It doesn’t even mean the house is ready for PCI Inspection or even that you would be happy to move in.

What’s typically needed for an occupancy permit are:

  • All the structure of the house has been completed and the rooms comply with the minimum dimensions (for example ceiling heights)
  • The roof drainage is connected to an approved point of discharge.
  • Bush fire protection measures are completed(If required)
  • Handrails and balustrades (and pool fences)  installed.
  • Provision of sanitary and other facilities in at least one bathroom.
  • The building is constructed to prevent the penetration of water and dampness to the inner parts.
  • Waterproofing of wet areas completed to the satisfaction of the Inspector.
  • Smoke detectors are working.
  • Power and water connected.
  • If you have gas appliances the pipework is  ready for connection to the gas supply.


Three things that you might expect are:

      • Painting
      • Internal Doors
      • Floor Finishes/Coverings

As well as many other things that are included the building contract.

Building Inspection- Compliance or Quality explains why a compliance certificate doesn’t mean the house has been built to the required standard



Pre-Plasterboard Inspection

Plasterboard can cover a lot of defects . . . . . . . so if worth checking on things before it goes up.

Typically the timing of this inspection will be after the ‘Lock Up Stage‘ but before the completion of the ‘Fixing Stage‘.

Due to cost lots of people don’t use a Building Inspector, or only use one for the Practical Completion Inspection (PCI).

I think making sure things are OK at the ‘Pre-Plaster Stage’ is as important as PCI , so if your budget is strained that is where I think your money is best spent.

Getting things fixed at this stage is much easier than trying to sort out issues between PCI and handover.

A further advantage of a detailed inspection at this stage is that it really emphasises to the Site Supervisor that quality is important to you before they get to the ‘Fit Out Stage’.

Don’t forget the outside, Checks, if they haven’t been done at an earlier stage, should include:

  1. Site Drainage –  Are the drains and sewers in and the construction looks OK. Is the site graded so water doesn’t pond against the house
  2. Brickwork /External Cladding – Does this look neat and well finished, and not have bricks overhanging the edge of the slab?
  3. Building Weather Tight – Look up is the roof complete? Is there any evidence of rain coming in? If you asked for sarking has it been installed?
  4. Layout – Are the rooms the right size and the doors and windows where you expected them to be
  5. Framing Defects – Does the frame look and feel solid, square and straight? Have the electricians and plumbers damaged any of the structural members during their installation of pipes and cables?
  6. Electrical and Plumbing – Are power cables and mounting plates in position where you want all your power sockets? Do the plumbing connections look to be in the right places
  7. Wet Areas – Has the waterproofing been applied and look complete?
  8. Insulation – Have the correct insulation batts been fitted into the external wall frame, with no missing areas, or gaps between individual batts. Has any noise insulation been installed between rooms and between floors, with no missing areas, or gaps?

Doing your own PCI ? . . . the PCI Guide provides extensive checklists and advice for only $4