Bankrupt Builder – Getting Finished

If your new house is under construction a typical procedure to finish the house with the insurer is:

  1. The insurer should appoint a building consultant.
  2. The consultant will  inspect the house and work out the scope of works to complete the house.
  3. The scope will be passed to you for acceptance.
  4. Three quote will be required based on the scope of works. These quotes can be from builders nominated by the insurer or you can seek quotes yourself from licensed builders.
  5. Once quotes are received the insurer will work out the amount of their liability and make an offer of the amount they consider appropriate.
  6. Assuming you confirm your  acceptance of the offer you can then accept a quote and  sign a new building contract with your choice of builder.
  7. The contract will include a new house warranty insurance policy which should be issued to you. (You  then have two policies; one for the original builders work, and one for the new builders completion work).
  8. Normally the insurer will make stage payments as required under the new contract on your behalf until the amount of the agreed insurance settlement funds are spent.
  9. Your mortgage provider will then continue making stage payments until the house is completed.

Remember its important to keep your mortgage provider aware of the progress of the claim and the proposed new building contract.


To follow the whole process start at  If The Builder Goes Bust


Brickwork – 45 Degree Corners

One of the things that really annoys me as I walk around is 45 degree bends in brick fences like this photo.

Bricks are meant to be laid so that they fully interlocked and this is a long way short of that.

I have even seen this type of corner on a house, where the joint will lead to penetration of water into the wall.

What this tells me is that someone:

  • Didn’t understand what can be done.
  • Planned the work poorly.
  • Tried to save money.
  • Employed dodgy bricklayers.

The photo on the left is what a proper 45 degree brick corner should look like.

It uses a special brick which is called a squint.

These brick are a special order, so they take time to be delivered, and they are more expensive……………….but they do make a much better job!

See Bricks for more posts on understanding brick work

 Planning some building work in the garden? see Brick Fences


Wastewater Treatment ‘House’ – WIN !!

Would you like to live near a Sewage Treatment Plant?………….Well the 2 storey house in the centre of this picture is the Osprey Point Sewage Treatment Plant.

You can see from the photo how close it is to the houses in this upmarket New Jersey Retirement Village.

I have visited this plant and talked to the people in the houses and there is:

      • No Noise.

In fact people like living near the ‘Plant’  because there is a bit more of a separation from their ‘Neighbor’.

The link below will take you to the Google Maps Location if you want another look.

Osprey Dr
Upper Township, NJ 08230, USA

Show on Google Maps

The treatment plant is built by a company called Aqueonics in the USA.

For more Unusual houses go to What the………………….?


High Ceilings – Unexpected Effects

Quite a lot of people go for  Higher Rooms because it does give a more impressive interior effect.

Something to bear in mind is that it can effect the external appearance of the house by making the windows look small.

This photo of a house under construction  illustrates this. The additional courses of brickwork between the head of the window and the fascia board looks a bit incongruous.

The alternatives to deal with this for this single storey house are:

  • Make the windows taller.
  • Have Overhanging Eaves which brings the fascia lower.

With 2 storey houses the effects of the higher ceiling can be even more pronounced.

If you think you may go for higher ceilings it’s worth thinking about how the house will look from the outside.  If the display house you saw has high ceilings its easy to check, otherwise you may need to see a drawing before you make a final decision.

The Design Section has more posts on planning your new house.

Or see the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


West Facing Solar Hot Water System?

If you are committed to sustainability then space on the North facing roof is at premium.

One option may be to look at putting the solar hot water system on a West facing roof.

This will mean you can maximise the space for north facing Photo Voltaic (PV) solar panels.

Although the solar hot water system will not be quite as efficient there are a couple of reasons why it is a worthwhile option.

    • If you check the solar alignment post you will see that its possible to get around 80% of the maximum efficiency compared with a North Facing system.
    • For most families the time when you will be using most hot water is the evening and early morning. The West facing system will have less time to lose heat before use than the North facing system.

I’m not saying West facing is best but it can be a good compromise.


For more Green Ideas see Sustainability


Facade Fail

Wood Columns….

Stone Columns…..


Painted Board……

Flat Roof…….

Pitched Tile Roof……

This House looks like it’s in a competition to get as many different materials in the Facade.

It’s a display home……….another attempt to make it look different…………To me it just look a confused mess!


For more Fails, and Unusual houses go to What the………………….?


Conventional Raft Slab

A ‘Conventional’ Raft Slab is a concrete base with thickened beams laid directly on the base.

This photo shows the base covered in poly and with reinforcement in position ready for placing of concrete.


  • Better thermal mass, and incorporates thermal mass of ground  so better suited to passive solar design.
  • Less susceptible to bad workmanship by concretors
  • More resistant to point loads, such as jacking a car.
  • A thicker overall slab makes it easier if you want Floor Drains (To allow for the dropped floor in those rooms)


  • Generally uses more concrete, than ‘Waffle Pod Slabs‘, with more waste as volume is less predictable
  • Trenches excavated in the base, that can fill with rain causing delays
  • More complicated excavation with additional cost


Also see Ground Conditions


Want a Flat Roof ?

When thinking about a flat roof for your new home my advice is…..a roof can be:

  • Flat.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Have a long leak free life. 


Sounds harsh but my experience, and others I have talked to, confirms this opinion.

My personal experience  with a flat roof was my parents house which had a pitched roof for the main house, but a flat roof for the garage.

After about seven or eight years the garage roof started to leak. Following 4 attempts to fix it they bit the bullet and had a pitched roof put on the garage. No more  problems in the next 30 years.

Yes, I know many multi-storey building have a flat roof without problems but with these tall buildings the roof is a small proportion of the total cost and so the builder can invest in a more sophisticated, and expensive, roofing system.

In your one or two storey property the roof will be a much bigger proportion of the total cost.

Most builders go for a low cost, low tech roof to keep the cost down. If it’s flat it will probably last until the guarantee period runs out and then you could be faced with ongoing repairs.

These comments will also apply to balconies over habitable rooms which are also prone to leaking.

If you do decide to have a flat roof you will need plenty of large downspouts (See Roof Choice – Risk)…………..otherwise you could have several cm of water on your roof in a storm, which will really tests the waterproofing.


Want Tiles or a Colorbond Roof see  What’s On The Roof


Interior Fashion

When we looked at remodelling our first house in 1976 the fashion colours for bathrooms fittings were avocado and sepia.

I really thought avocado would look nice………How very 70’s, or even how very early 70’s!

It was a good thing we decided to stick with white! Although I have to be honest at the time the main reason was cost, as we could use the existing toilet that was white.

If something is very fashionable it usually means it quickly gets out of date.

One thing that taught me early on was although its interesting to look at all the nice new designs of fittings and fixtures you should try and pick things that won’t date. Even though you are building a house for you to live in for several years you don’t want a dated when you come to sell.

Before you get carried away with a lot of ornamentation remember this will date faster than anything else and the ornamentation will be difficult to keep clean for a lifetime.

Some of trends I have seen a lot of recently are:

  • Mini down lights. We caught the down lights trend in 1991 when they used standard incandescent 100w bulbs. My worst lighting decision ever!
  • Stainless steel worktops, which has taken over from polished granite (although this is now being superseded by caeserstone)
  • Feature walls, why would you pay hundreds of dollars for something you could paint yourself in a couple of hours with $50 of paint.
  • Free standing cast iron baths, but how many of us have a bath and how do you clean round them?

How dated will these things look in five years time?

I have to admit one thing I did get caught up in, in 1991, was having a two person spa bath. I think it was only used by two of us once and only used at all about every two years in the ten years we lived at that house.

The best advice I can give is:

  • White bathroom fittings.
  • Light wood doors on kitchen units.
  • Neutral tones for carpets and tiles.

This make the house more of a blank canvas where you can show of your fashionable items like rugs, carpets, paintings, painted walls and furniture. At least they are easier to replace when fashion changes.

How have you become an Interior fashion victim?

For similar posts see Selection