Site Scrape

It’s been over a year since our demolition and the property had become overgrown with weeds and knee-high grass. It was so high we were starting to wonder how we would mow the lawn before construction started. Not to worry, the excavators came around yesterday and scraped the whole site front to back.
Now it looks like this:

Only small tufts of grass around the edges are all that’s left. The site is nicely levelled to clay. The front section has a make shift gravel driveway presumably so vehicles can bring materials in. Interestingly, the back was scraped to be a bit lower than the rest of the site. This would make a great spot for a pool. Instead, this is where we’re putting a granny flat.

Next up – piering and slab pour!


Ground breaking stuff

Today a good friend drove past our place and saw something we’ve been waiting for a while now… excavation!

Will take a look at the site tomorrow and get some pics to post up!

Good night!


Model Making 101

So you’re excited to see what your house might look like before it’s built.
And you want to use something a little better than Microsoft Paint and a little more flexible than LEGO City ™.

What you want is a 3D CAD package.

CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design and used to be the preserve of high end architectural firms with expensive and powerful computers – and the requisite high priced drafting personnel to operate it. Now it is within reach of enthusiasts and DIYers alike thanks to falling computer prices, rising compute power, better graphics processing and rendering and cheap storage.
CAD is what your builder’s drafting department have used to create your floor plans, landscaping plans, engineering diagrams and other drawings.

A major improvement is the ease of use that modern CAD packages now have. No longer do you have to attend a 5 day course in physical modelling to create usable models that give you visualisation power and insight into spatial interactions. You can now build something useful in the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the cost.

There are a wealth of CAD packages out there. Some leading options on the market are:

  1. Live Interior 3D Pro (BeLight Software)
  2. SketchUp (Trimble)
  3. AutoCAD (AutoDesk)


Live Interior 3D Pro

A good entry level CAD package, Live Interior 3D Pro is reasonable priced at $114.99.


  • Extremely easy to use. Floor plan centric – by drawing your floor plan the walls, roof, etc are automatically created.
  • Instant rendering and walkthrough mode.
  • Import objects from the Trimble 3D Warehouse.


  • Photorealistic rendering requires additional Render Boost for $150 USD.
  • Pro version only available for Mac.

This is what we used to model our house and it has proved a lifesaver in catching issues before going to Wisdom estimating.



SketchUp used to be owned by Google where it really took off amongst users due to the fact it was free. Since being acquired by Trimble there is a free version called SketchUp Make and a professional version Sketchup Pro priced at $590 USD which allows you to create your own objects.

The benefits of SketchUp:

  • Free (SketchUp Make)!
  • Really easy to use
  • Vast library of ready made objects in the 3D warehouse including Samsung fridges, Miele ovens, etc. You can easily search for an object and add it to your house design. Do a search and chances are your item has already been modelled.
  • Ability to export to more advanced CAD packages such as AutoCAD (Pro version only)
  • Seems to be adopted by some builders so you may be able to start with their base design and go from there.


  • More advanced feature require the Pro version at $590 USD.




This is the grandaddy of them all. Infinitely flexible, there is nothing you cannot model in AutoCAD. Also expensive at monthly subscription of $370. This one is for the pros.


  • Can model just about anything
  • It’s what your builder is probably using for floorplans so you can directly import them


  • Learning curve
  • Cost is prohibitive for most people



Give it a go!

These are just some of the options out there. I’d recommend going with SketchUp and trying out some basic design element of your house first. Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid to give 3D modelling a go. It’s lots of fun and you get to build your dream house before the builder does!


Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wisdom

Admin is now a distant memory and we’ve been given the following schedule.

  1. Construction Ordering (also known as Production Estimation) – 15 days
    During this time orders and plans are sent to suppliers and tradespeople. Fence, silt control, and excavation are done as well during this time.
  2. Piering – 4-5 days
  3. Slab – ??
  4. Rest of the build

Easy huh?

I’ve started to track the days on the blog and we’ve just hit the 15th day. Still no sign of excavators or concreters.
The excavator was meant to come last week but has now pushed out to next week some time, possibly, maybe.
Time is wibbly wobbly with Wisdom and the issue is the same as it was in Admin – lack of staff. In particular, lack of estimating staff.

Although, there is another department that does the production estimating instead of the tender estimating there still seems to be a shortage of experienced estimators leading to bottlenecks at the most crucial steps in the construction process.

In comparison, we know of people building with others that are moving quickly through Admin and are almost at our stage.

On the positive side, people keep saying that Wisdom build good quality homes.

Just wish they would get started already!

The Tardis has landed

portaloo tardisTARDIS2

A Blue Telephone Box landed on our property today.

However, upon closer inspection there was no Doctor, no Clara or sonic screwdrivers to be seen!
And to my wife’s disappointment the Police Box was not a Police Box but  a Portable Toilet ™.
Pretty sure space and time will distort if you go inside though.

Anyways, enough nerdiness.

We have reached that milestone many a home blogger has chronicled, anticipated and celebrated – the surprising arrival of the site toilet.

It’s a sign that construction is just moments away from beginning.
A subtle hint that, soon, dozens of people will be arriving to lend their skill to constructing a new home.
A humble reminder that a journey of a thousand brick starts with a plastic dunny.

We are relieved it is here.

Never been this excited about a toilet before!!

Signage and silt control has also appeared.

Meet and Greet

Things are starting to move on the construction front which is a great feeling after so long in admin!

Yesterday we met our Wisdom Landscapes supervisor Stuart on site.
He took us through what was going to happen with site prep, paths, fences and driveway and timings during the build.
One thing we wanted to clarify was what site prep would be done.
It’s been so long since our demolition and the grass had grown knee high, along with some friendly weeds.
So we were concerned we’ve have to do some clearing before construction.
It was great to hear that Wisdom would do the excavation and clear the site so there’s nothing else to do before slab down.

On the same day we also got a note from Wisdom that we’ve been assigned a Site Supervisor called Darren!
We did some internet research (read stalking) and he seems like people are very happy with his work which is great!
Apparently, he does many of the houses in the area.
We’re really glad we’ve gotten a good SS as this seems to make all the difference during build.

Ordering has begun and we were told this would be a further 15 days from today which is what we were told 6 days ago.  They said they would fast track this given how long we’ve been in the system. So slab down is June at this stage.

Out of admin hell

I can hardly believe it.

2 years since we spoke to a salesman…

1.5 years since our tender presentation…

6 months since we signed the contract…

And we are finally, exhaustingly, out of admin.

It has been a frustrating 6 months.

We know others have been experiencing all the same problems so things seem to be getting worse over at Narellan.
Hopefully it’s like childbirth when all the waiting and pain is forgotten when the beautiful baby arrives.
Except having a baby is quicker!
Glad it’s over so we can get on with what we’re doing this for in the first place.
Our file has now gone to management for production estimating and ordering materials.
Then it’s 15 days before commencement of construction.

Cannot. Wait. Until. Slab.

Bring it on!


End Panel and Construction Plans… finally.

Our End Panel documents and construction plans finally came yesterday

What was supposed to take 10 days took almost one month to turn around. Sure, there were some public holidays in there. But one month!?

Anyway our patience, as you can imagine, is at an all time low. Our friends and family keep asking us what’s happening with the build and we’re getting so tired of telling them the same thing.

As mentioned in some of the comments, the End Panel looks exactly like the variations we signed off a month ago.

The construction plans have some mistakes so it’s back to Wisdom.

One thing that really is annoying is that we need to pay the full cost of variations upfront before they even start construction, instead of having them spread across the payment schedule.

We’ll discuss with Wisdom as this is an extra financial burden that has never been flagged with us.

After we sign off on End Panel we move to ordering supplies, excavation, fencing (already done) and toilet.  Construction will then begin 15 days after End Panel is signed off. We’re hoping we don’t have to multiply that by 4 at Wisdom’s excruciatingly slow speed.

One of the things that can help immensely with design decisions and placement is a working 3D model of your proposed house.

In the next few posts I’ll show you how to build your own house even before the builder gets through admin!

I’ll take you through how to:

  1. Turn the builder’s design into a fully explorable 3D model.
  2. Add design elements to kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc including windows and doors.
  3. Design electricals and lighting.
  4. Design landscaping.
  5. Create walkthroughs and flyovers to give a sense of what the house will be like to live in.

The results can be quite stunning and it’s exciting to see the house come to life.

Some of the benefits of having a 3D model handy are:

  1. It allows you to visualise colours selections
  2. It helps with placement of walls and objects. Especially helpful with window placement and heights.
  3. Key rooms can be designed in great detail before appointments – eg. kitchen, bathrooms, home theatre.
  4. It allows you to visualise environmental factors such as light from the sun throughout the day
  5. It helps spot things that look ok on a floor plan but don’t work in real life.

Stay tuned!



Design and Modelling

Hydraulics – The Sequel

We went back to Wisdom to question the high hydraulics quote.

After escalation to the Customer Service Manage and Estimating Manager we now have a new quote:

  • Upgrade all stormwater charged lines to and exit lines to 100mm PVC
  • Provide detention basin brick walls to LHS  and RHS . No allowance has been made to export any excavated material from the site.
  • Supply & install one flushing pit
  • Supply & install one discharge control pit
  • Supply one orifice plate & trash screen for discharge control pit
  • Excludes inspection/compliance fees by owner’s hydraulic engineer (if required)
  • No Allowance has been made for Gutter Guards – if required additional charges will be borne by the owner.

Same total of $7,888.

Still waiting for end panel (5 days) and final construction documents (another 5 days).
Given Easter Public Holidays it is highly unlikely we’ll be able to start until May.