Share our trials and tribulations as we build our new home - a custom Dominico by Fairmont Homes NSW

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Apologies for the overdue update, but as you can see even within this post, it has been an ongoing struggle for us with changes being made every five minutes! We're also planning our wedding, which has ramped up with the date being less than a year away now and our combined Engagement/Housewarming party currently planned for early March. But we'll continue to fight the good fight and keep you updated. 

The Good:

  • -       Scaffolding has come down and the exterior is (mostly) looking good:

  • -       Giprock arrived on site last week and is due to start soon

  • -       First rough-in of most trades done
  • -       Data-cabling done
  • -       Our air-con exchange unit can move next to the HWS, which frees up vital room down the side passage

  • -       Drain box was installed in the laundry

  • -       Powder room plumbing corrected

  • -   Balcony has a floor and (mostly) a roof

  • -       Waste water pipe moved from Study (Yippee!)

The Bad:

  • -       Air-conditioning: vents have not been installed as per the plans and can’t be due to direction of floor joists and raked ceiling /  ducting taking up valuable space in already tiny closets, or just badly positioned within the closets / no say was given to us before install of vents, ducts and controls (this debacle deserves its own post…stay tuned)
  • -       Positioning of some items are either incorrect or were installed without asking our input first. One such example (pictured below), is the alarm keypad (white cable) and video intercom (blue cable) which have been installed next to each other but on different walls. The video intercom location is where we specified, and allows for a consol table in the hallway. The alarm keypad was never mentioned to us, and is now inconveniently located (and must be moved):

  • -       Have I mentioned the struggle to get landscapers to quote the job? Even our landscape architect is finding it near impossible. We finally met with one on Saturday. They’ve promised to have a quote to us this week, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m also preparing for the worst, cost-wise.

The Ugly

  • -       Front windows as drawn in the plans don’t meed code (apparently double-hung windows on the second floor are a falling hazard for young children…makes sense, but would have been nice to know earlier, say, before replacements were installed). It wasn’t until the scaffolding came down that I noticed them, but now that I see them, I hate them. None of the sashes match in thickness and I hate the line that runs through the middle pane (the main reason we chose the other windows was to have one single, uninterrupted pane of glass).

It's hard to see in the pics, but none of the bars are the same thickness (because the lower part of the frame is a different window to the top section), and it doesn't look very good.

This is what we got

This is what we (now) want (originally there were only two sections either side of the centre panel)
Update: It's not looking possible to get the windows we're after (we may be playing a game of "imaginary window"). I'll keep you posted.
  • -       We can’t have our skylights *pauses to cry*. The reason, from what I can understand, is that the roofers and/or Fairmont didn’t take the skylights into account when designing the plans/roof. So, there is no flashing that exists (or can be made) that can be installed around the skylights in the position on the plans, due to the hips and valleys of the roof i.e. we could have the skylights…but they wouldn’t be water-tight. Our option is to have one smallish skylight, which I’m really unhappy with (pictured below). Plan B (which Fairmont is currently working on *fingers crossed*) is to install the largest skylight that can possibly fit. I’m trying to see the positives and be thankful that we can have a skylight at all, but this was THE favourite part of the house for me, the part I clung to when all else would go wrong. The space just suits two skylights in the size and location indicated on the plans *sigh* Let’s move on…
U Update: A skylight (not sure which one) was installed today. Stay tuned...

Fairmont's suggestion. We've asked for larger.

  • -       We’ve realised that the wall between the stairs and Bed 4 blocks light and the view. So, we’ve asked for it to be removed and balustrading installed there instead.
The wall with the red thing in front of it (currently covering the stair hole), is the one we want to remove.

  • -       Had I the time over again, I would have made the doors taller (especially downstairs).
  • -    The wardrobe in Bed 3 is very tiny, and now even tinier due to A/C ducting running through it (no choice there I'm afraid). It's 1.1m wide internally. To overcome this, we've asked for the triangular framing between the door and wardrobe to be removed so that we may install a built-in bookshelf after hand-over. This will at least add some interest and as well as storage.

  • - The views out of our fixed Media Room window and Formal Living area aren't ideal. I had thought that worst-case-scenario, they would look onto fence, and I could grow some manner of plant against them. However, because our house towers over the finished level of the soil, we will look over the fence at a rather ugly side of our neighbour's house i.e. pipes, fans and the like. In the Formal Living Room I'm content to install sheer drapes (as well as blockouts), but the fixed window in the Media Room really was a feature I was looking forward to, as you look straight at it from the Kitchen. There's not enough room or light to grow a plant to the required height as I first planned. So, my mind is currently thinking on options such as installing a very tall, thin feature of some description outside, or perhaps using a vinyl decal for the window...

I think it's too easy for tradesmen to forget that the buildings they're working on usually come with more than a financial commitment from the owner. They are people's homes, which makes the disappointment that much greater when expectations aren't met.


  1. Talk about frustrating. Sorry, but tradies can be a law unto themselves. The outside is looking really nice particularly the colours.

    1. Thanks Kazzak. I know we'll get there in the end :)

  2. We have had so many issues too, similar to yours, not asking and not doing everything how we have asked. Regretting choice at the moment. Hopefully this will be rectified and you will both be happy ash

    1. Thanks and I'm sorry to hear of your issues too. It's never smooth sailing (a fact I knew before signing up, but I still didn't realise how bad it would be, and we're not even the worst story out there! And poor Mick has learned a nasty lesson from scratch).

      Keep on top of them! I'm determined that no matter how many battles we lose, we still win the war (though the faith is waning).

      Good luck!

  3. The outside does look good, and hang in there it's looking good.

  4. It's such a battle isn't it?! It shouldn't have to be. Hang in there, you've made it to this point and done so well with keeping them in check. One day you'll look back on this and be amazed by how well you handled it all. The house is looking fabulous as usual, I love it even more every time I see progress. You have done an amazing job with picking suitable colours!

    And I think you're right, they absolutely forget that they are working on what will be your home, and the 'it'll do' attitude is not enough.

    1. Thanks Laurenb. We're determined that no matter how many battles we lose, we still win the war ;)

      Btw, I know I've said it before, but your place looks amazing! How I wish we had the space (and vistas) to have built something similar to yours... Maybe next time (If we lose our marbles and build again!).

  5. " I think it's too easy for tradesmen to forget that the buildings they're working on usually come with more than a financial commitment from the owner. They are people's homes, which makes the disappointment that much greater when expectations aren't met."
    SO well said. I am sorry to hear of your disappointments. From a 'trade' point of view, I feel that some of the issues are common and unavoidable (ducting space), others the lot of project home building (windows, view lines). Some though could be addressed with a sensitive project mannager;eg the skylight issues. Keep plodding away and keep your chin up. You are creating a home which will be so much more than bricks & mortar....soon you'll be filling it with wonderful memories of engagements and such! Exciting!!!
    Consider having the highlight glass replaced with milk glass or applying frosting to it. We use this on all windows where the view is not optimal or privacy is an issue and it looks neater and costs less than curtains / blinds etc. There are some pics on my blog somewhere if you want a peep at what I mean. x KL

    1. Thanks KL. I agree that a lot of the issues are typical. I just wish our builder had explained them to us in the beginning as we really had no idea (as I suspect most clients don't). It's a tough one because on some levels, the builder is really trying, and on others not so much. We're just frustrated that a lot of the trades don't submit plans or, they submit them a few days before work starts (i.e. plumber, roofers, framers...and not to us). At least the sparky gave us a call before he started, to clarify a few things (though he did still make some changes without asking). I was prepared for some battles (and to compromise). But I wasn't prepared to lose so many.

      But, as I say every time I get a bit down about it all, there are FAR worse problems in the world, and at the end of the day, we're very lucky to be building a lovely house.

      Bring on the happy memories!

      Ash :)

    2. And thank you for the tip on the windows. I had considered frosting the glass, but will it look odd when there is another window in the room that is clear? I also think about it from a re-sale point of view... Hmmmm...I shall def head over to your site for inspiration!

      Thanks again!

      Ash :)

  6. Ugggh. How annoying that they didn't consult you about some of those changes that could have been avoided :(

    Great to see the progress though!!!


    1. Thanks B. Tell me about it! Those decisions have delayed us immeasurably and every weeks costs us money :(

      Oh well, at least it will be (mostly) done the way we want.


  7. Hi Ash
    Could you plant anything along the fence line that wont block your light... Bamboo grows really tall and fast and very hardy.


  8. Oh and bamboo needs hardly any room and can be grown in narrow pots

    1. Thanks Sands. I had originally planned on Bamboo in pots but the height it would need to grow is a tad ambitious... I won't rule it out til we're in but I'm liking the idea of frosting the windows there.

      Thanks for the great suggestion :)


    2. Hey Ash check out its amazing how high this.stuff.can grow...multiple storeys high!! I love the stuff.

    3. Ooo, looks good! I'll def put that on the list of things to look at...when funds allow. Haha!