Saturday, 24 November 2018

Building in NZ - preplumb and prewire

Your home is starting to look like something you will live in in the not so distant future. This is the start of seeing little of your builder and more of other trades. There are many other trades and it's not just the plumber and electrician and the insulation guys. Suppliers are all specialists and they install their own products. Some are required to produce producer statements and garantees for you to get your Code Compliance at the end of the build.

You might never meet your plumber at this point. Like me you may turn up to a site inspection and the plumbing is just there, but no taps or water cyclinder, no showers, vanities or toilets. This is the PRE stage where basic piping is done but nothing the owner will see to use will be installed at this stage.

However, beware that mistakes aren't made even now. I cannot impress on you too much that the buck stops with you and you need to know your plan and specifications inside and out. Dream it if necessary and even then you might not pick up on mistakes the first time they are visible.

Case in point: on seeing the plumbing for my ensuite I commented that it was going to be impossible for the recessed bathroom cabinet to be installed if the blumbing ran behind it. Oops! Plumber had to come back and put a dog-leg in the piping but the recessed cabinet was going to give more grief in the future (more on that in a future post).

I deliberately eliminated the bath from the original plan as baths use too much water and are not 'sustainable'. Plus, most people I asked never used their baths, except for kids. My house is not designed for families or kids. I would have liked a bigger bathroom and third bedroom but I was limited in what I could do as I had to use a standard plan and could only tweak it and the subdivision developer insisted on a certain size of house (overall, too big for me). Without plenty of money and an architect you can't have what you want. Compromises happen from start to finish but you can still have something you like.

Notice that the window sills and frames are now in, the insulation is in the roof and exterior walls. Cavity sliders are useful but complicated things which take time to install and paint.

You will have a detailed walk-through with your electrician. There will already be a basic plan submitted to the Council for the building consent but it will not have been your choice. You should have already submitted a plan though to your builder for costing because electricians are a cost that is not fixed. Danger! I used a building plan and colour coded every place I needed power points, TV and internet connections, downlights, chandeliers, outdoor lighting.

I hate houses with ceilings full of downlights. Most new homes are like this. I feel assaulted by a wall of light. There's no atmosphere or 'feel'. Lighting should be functional but also emotional so I've got only the basics of downlights in purely functional areas but French-style chandeliers everywhere else. They were an expense not covered by the lighting PC amounts and the cost wasn't insignificant, though I saved on downlight costs. My ceilings will also not be full of holes, more tranquil.

Don't be surprised when your electrician draws all over your framing, making notes for him/herself on what goes where and they MUST take photos or write everything down because during the internal fitout mistakes will probably occur and need to be corrected.

Please do consider outdoor lighting requirements for the future before they pour your slab or at the least NOW. I needed to be certain that cabling would be available under my patios, before they were poured so conduit holes had to be made in my slab and then through the cladding. Even then, the builder made mistakes and blocked up two feeds. Fortunately the electrician was able to find a work-around.

Your log or gas fire will go in now but it won't be fully installed. There can be quite a delay on that.  You will wait quite some time for a garage door too. The telecoms box and the fuse box will be prewired. What a forest! It's rather impressive that what you see at this point will actually become a fully functioning modern home.

You can't take anything for granted. It's YOUR house and the number of mistakes that can be made increases. Next post - the interior fitout which means gibbing and painting etc.