Monday, 31 December 2018

Building in New Zealand - the interior fitout

Things get interesting now but messy and often frustrating at this stage. There may be scheduling hold-ups. Be prepared to deal with mistakes being made. Stay focussed and involved so you can identify errors while they can still be rectified. Your house is insulated and the gib stoppers have been busy. Do make sure they haven't gibbed over power points. I had that problem and it took some reminders to get it fixed. There's a device that can be used to identify the hidden metal casing surrounding powerpoints hidden behind gib which minimises the likelihood of them putting holes in the wrong places.
Speaking of holes in the wrong places; my joinery in the laundry ended up covering the only place one could have a light switch. The hole was all ready to go then got covered by  cupboard. They ended up putting a covering over the hole inside the cupboard and putting the light switch outside the laundry. A practical solution.
However there was no hole for my clothes drier to connect to a power point and the hole for the washing machine cord was in a stupid location so another big hole was needed. That didn't get rectified until the very end of the build.

You'll want to check the electrician has done his thing correctly but this will happen after the painters have had at least two weeks exclusive access to your home. They don't like to share with other trades at this stage as they need easy access and will start with the wet areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. In the third week your kitchen will go in and the plumber will be working on site with the painters. Be prepared for touch-ups as other trades knock walls and mark them; skirting boards in particular.

The flooring goes down after the painters have mostly completed things and it's a good idea for the installers to put down cardboard to walk on to protect your new flooring - vinyl planking in my case. Then the builder put down plastic 'paths' to walk on after the carpet had been laid.

The extra joinery I had arranged went in smoothly and without incident leaving me with a tidy and elegant library with a roomy window seat providing good storage for items such as photo albums, sheet music. Some of you might find it good for storing toys. The garage bench and cupboards are great for storing garden chemicals, tools and towels for cleaning up messes.

Make sure you check in with your window treatments supplier at this point to make sure they are on track for installation after your house has been cleaned.

Surprises: the kitchen took several weeks, I don't know if that is normal. The cupboard fronts wrapped in plastic were some of the last things to be installed along with appliances, splashbacks and plumbing. Decide where on the sink(s) you want your tap located. My pantry needed bifold doors as space was limited. These are fiddly for builders to do and require adjustments.

The bathrooms took ages, mostly due to the fact the tilers seemed occupied elsewhere. Tilers are always busy, be prepared to suck it up and hope for the best.

My fit-out was complicated by the fire surround installation. The fire surround is big and a real leap of faith that it will look right in the room. Happily my fabricator Peter did a good job and liased with my builder and tiler as it was chicken and egg as to how to get it installed. I'm certain there was a bit of head-scratching as to how to get it together with space gaps for safety and aesthetics.

Finding the right marble isn't always easy. I managed all that myself to save money because everything extra your builder does gets a 15% margin added PLUS GST on top of all that.

There was no hearth mentioned in my building contract despite the fact there was a log fire, and it was at this time I realised I needed to spend a lot more time and money getting a suitable hearth installed.

 Another reminder that your builder often doesn't put everything you need in the contract, probably so you don't realise the house is going to cost more than you think.

I can attest that there are many traps and you will go over budget and in my case, being unemployed during the build and facing mounting costs made me constantly anxious. The last two weeks were the most anxiety-ridden of the whole build. More on that in future.

The electrican did his best to get the hang length of my chandeliers correct without me to advise but the one in my bedroom was too low. He came back and fixed that while he was installing the outdoor lighting.

As you can see, this is a busy time in the build. You need to keep on top of it all and keep the pressure on your builder. if it looks like things have ground to a halt they probably have so ask the hard questions or your build will go down the pecking order for urgent work on other houses. In my case it was busier than it should have been as the painters hadn't painted the soffits and I had to wait weeks for them to get on with that. The celcrete columns hadn't been started.

More on the exterior and landscaping in a future post. Next post looks at window treatments and extra touches to make your house your home.