19 09 2012

We got a phone call today from our Metricon CSC, Megan, to give us some great news, wait for it………we have a site RE(START) DATE – Thursday 27.09.2012!! That’s right, we will have a start by the end of next week!!

Great job from the folks at Metricon to get a response and a date on a site start quickly. Let’s hope it goes according to plan and no major issues from here onwards and we get some solid progress before Christmas.

Now when everyone asks “how’s things going with the house?” we can now provide a progress update rather than just saying “we’re still waiting for Metricon and the council to sort out the pipe”.

Easement back on the title

Today we also received a copy of the title with the easement back on the title as per the original creation.  A dashed line (cirecled in red) went missing in action at some stage between 1959 and 2011.  So when we did all our house designs and initial permit approvals, an easement was not considered.

Here’s something that made us laugh – when we read the title, we saw the following regarding the easement:

“…[we] give and grant unto the said [council] the full and free right and liberty to and for them their servants, agents, contractors and workmen at all times hereafter to enter and reenter upon and to pass and repass for all or any of the purpose hereinafter mentioned and either with or without horses or other animals carts or other carriages through over and along the land….”

Besides being a long sentence, there’s no mention of motorised vehicles or equipment.  So does that mean we can refuse entry if they don’t come with horses or carriages?  🙂

It will be 133 days (4.5 months) delay when site re(starts) next week.  In the end, the cause of all of this is a dotted line missing from the title!!!!!!!


We have council approval – Finally!!!!

18 09 2012

Today marks a very big step forward in our building project. After months of waiting, phone calls, emails and frustration, we finally received notification from council that we have approval to commence building works on site. Yay!!!!

The issue of the pipe on our block has been resolved. The easement that was not listed on our title actually does exist, it just went missing in action a some stage between 1959 and 2011. An amendment has been made by the land titles office to reinstate the easement on title. Obviously we would have preferred not to have had an easement on title at all, but at least we didn’t have to get into a situation with the council where we were arguing over whose responsibility it was to have the easement created.

As a result of the easement, we have had to move the house 600mm closer to the south boundary which has meant that we have had to reduce the width of the garage. We had originally added an extension to the width of the garage so now we are back to a standard width. Not ideal but in the whole scheme of things bearable. The retaining wall on the north boundary will be constructed 1.4m in from the fence line rather than up against the fence line so we will lose the use of the land in that space, although its nothing that a nice garden won’t resolve. All in all, we can cope with the changes we have had to make in order to get back on site.

It has been over 4 months since the pipe issue caused site works to be suspended.  Now it is over to Metricon to arrange all of the details for construction to begin again.  We are hoping that the construction phase runs smoother than this whole pipe saga.  Here’s to calmer waters.


Waiting for council approval

14 08 2012

The updated house designs have been submitted to the council for approval. We asked Metricon today to find out from the council how long the approval will take and ensure that the council will fastrack our application – the council are aware of how long the process has been and want to have the matter resolved ASAP.

There’s also a few inconsistencies in the design that needed fixing which Metricon said they will fix and resend back to us tomorrow.

Last time, it took the council 2 days to reject the design so we are hoping that the council will approve the latest design which they already agreed to in principal in 2 days too.  And with some luck we can get our site cut started soon after (in the next week).  Fingers crossed!


Flip flop

31 07 2012

Flip flops is the American version of what we call thongs.  We went googling to look for an image of thongs and got the American version which wasn’t really appropriate for this blog.  eeek.  Flip flop is what the council seems to be doing.

We had a very good chat with Metricon’s Operations Manager, Cameron on site today to discuss what options we have to progress Our Nolan.  During our chat Cameron mentioned he got an email this morning from the council stating they are now amenable to allowing the house move closer to the neighbour on the south side.  This would allow us to move the house further away from the pipe and the implied easement.  If this can be done, then this is great news!!!  This would be the best option to keep our design largely intact.  As our garage wall is already right on the fence line, in order to make this solution work we suggested to Metricon that we were happy to move the garage into the entrance hallway (the entrance is huge) rather than lose any width to the garage.

The council has put a condition on this approach by stating that they would turn the implied easement into a prescriptive easement.  We will need to look into what this implies, but we suspect the implications would be similar.  An easement is an easement.  Or is it?  If anyone knows the difference and in particular the legal implications, please feel free to let us know.

It was really good to chat with Cameron and he spent some time to explain the situation and what has been happening.  The council want to resolve this issue by the end of the week so we are now looking forward to seeing the revised plans from Metricon soon.  We just hope the council doesn’t change their minds and flip flop again.


Implied Easement on our block, further delays and more frustration (grrrr)

28 07 2012

Yesterday we were informed by our Customer Service Manager, Nick via email that the council has rejected the Metricon proposal to move the retaining wall to deal with the underwater pipe that is on our block.

Since end of May/early June,  Metricon have worked on a revised engineering plan and on Wednesday they met with the council – we were hopeful of a positive outcome but that was dashed yesterday.

We would have liked to speak to Nick about the outcome and options moving forward yesterday (we were dissapointed we didn’t get a phone call with the news in person).  From the email the council stated:

Based on my calculations from all the drawings the placement of the retaining wall will impact on the existing Council asset.

I have also confirmed that the location of the dwelling cannot be moved further south which also makes things more difficult.

As we have previously discussed there is no easement on the property, however implied easements rights now come into place in this situation.

The issue with the pipe has been very frustrating on a number of fronts.  The council didn’t provide any notice of the pipe to Metricon when the builder originally requested the documentation.  As a result the plans and design were based on information of not having the pipe.  It has also been very frustating to take so long to produce the revised engineering plans.

The problem of the pipe and implied easement is the principle issue which to an extent is out of our control, the second issue, which is more in our (or Metricon’s) control is the process of how it has being resolved and how long it has taken.  We will now go through the weekend very irritated and sad that our dream home is nowhere near starting.  The whole process is very draining (pardon the pun).

By the numbers, as of today it has been:

  • 271 days (9 months) since we signed to commence the preliminary works with Metricon.
  • 128 days (4 months) since we signed the final contract with Metricon.
  • 72 days (10 weeks) since stopping site scrape works.
  • 46 days for Metricon to produce the revised retaining wall engineering plans.
  • 2 days for the council to reject the revised retaining wall engineering plans.
  • Countless days of dissapointment and frustration with the process of resolving the issue.


We Have Council Report And Consent Approval

8 04 2012

This is an overdue post on our council report and consent.

We were made aware that we may need to apply for report and consent when we first received our preliminary contract plans on 16 Jan 2012. This was confirmed at the Preliminary Contract meeting with our Sales Consultant, Melissa on the 2 Feb 2012.

Due to the dimensions of our block and the siting of both our house and the neighbour’s house, our plans did not meet 3 council regulations:

  • Building Regulation 409: Setback from street boundary not complying with Reg. 409 (Min. street setback)
  • Building Regulation 414: Side or rear setbacks not complying Reg. 414
  • Building Regulation 416: Building setbacks not complying with Reg. 416 (daylight to existing habitable room)

More information about these regulations can be found in the Building Commission Practice Notes.

We had the option of Metricon applying for the report and consent as the builder on our behalf or applying ourselves as the owners.  We elected to apply as the owners to enable us to deal directly with our neighbours and show them our plans and how they impacted on the regulations.  In order to simplify this process we drafted a letter for both our neighbours (left and right sides) to sign stating that that they “did not have any objection to the above proposal’s non compliance and grant permission for the above to occur.”  Whilst they were not obliged to utilise the letter we drafted, both neighbours were happy to sign it.

If we did not provide any comments from the neighbours in relation to the regulations to the council as part of our report and consent application, the council would be required to write to all adjoining property owners that were affected, notifying them of our application and give a time of 10 days for a response. This would also have been the case or if the builder had applied for the report and consent on our behalf.   We felt by speaking to the neighbours personally and getting their consent directly that this helped facilitate and expedite the council approval process.

Our application to the council included the following statement:

The proposal for our dwelling requires report and consent as follows:

  1. Front setback (409) – by bringing the house forward, more secluded open space is created to the rear and excavation costs are minimised with this reduced setback. In addition, the frontage is similar to the adjoining residence’s frontage to the south of the subject site.
  2. Side setback (414) – the side setback of x.xx meteres is only marginally less than the required x.xx metres for the building height. The impact is minimal, and will not detrimentally affect the adjoining neighbours in any manner.
  3. Daylight to existing habitable room windows (416) – does not comply by a minimal amount, and will still be providing an excess of 3m2 light court with a minimum dimension 1m clear to sky.

We have discussed the above issues with both our neighbours and showed copies of the site plan for the proposed dwelling and they have given their written consent (attached), and therefore request that our application be approved.

We submitted our report and consent application to the council on 13 Feb 2012 and received council approval 8 days later on 21 Feb 2012.  We provided Metricon with the council report and consent approval letter so that it can be supplied to the building surveyors when applying for building permits.


Preliminary Contract Plans Received by Email

16 01 2012

Today we received our preliminary contract plans by email from Karen, our Customer Support Co-ordinator (CSC). How exciting!!!!

We will go over the plans in detail over the coming days. But one obvious thing we noticed in a glance over of the plans was the missing outdoor room extension. We were notified last year that we couldn’t get the Grand Outdoor Room due to the amount of cut needed out the back, however, we were advised we should be able to get some sort of smaller extension.  I have sent an email back to Karen asking her to clarify this.

Looking at the documents, it seems like we will need to apply for three Rescode Report and Consent items with the council.  We will apply for this ourselves as the owners with the help of our close friend who is a seasoned designer.