What really happens at handover and completion  

I struggled to find any information on what happens at handover so I hope the following helps others.

Handover is far more than being tossed the keys. The handover ceremony takes around an hour.

Firstly, we presented our SS with a bank cheque. Without this important piece of paper the house will not be released. You can let your bank pay the final invoice, but you can lose 7 – 10 days so most go with a bank cheque. This cheque is then photographed and emailed to M accounts for the house to be released.

We then got an opportunity to do another inspection and test out all taps, toilets and appliances.

We were given a lesson on the 90 day window to report anything. Basically we log all the odd jobs and things we are not happy with and all-in-one handyman comes out and does a few odd jobs. So far, we have a lone item – sticky shower screen door. The latch just needs to be eased a bit.

Anything urgent and you get a special number to call for warranty issues.

We also got all the certifications and papers for every single trade person who worked on the home. We also got given all of the warranty information about the home, how the 7 year warranty works and the conditions relating to the M 25 year warranty.  A few things will void your warranty, including not conducting annual pest inspections. I’ll put one of these in the diary for every 12 months.


We were also given a number of tips on how to care for the new home.  Some of these are pretty simple like don’t crank the heating early as the house is still breaking in.  Keep an eye out for water damage as the discharge pipes can come loose after some warm water hits them etc.

We were also handed all of the instruction manuals and care instructions for pretty much everything in the house. I think I counted 45 documents.  Great reading. I was surprised how many of the appliances require a pre-burn or a running in period.

Once you sign your life away for the last time – sign here please – you then get your keys and the highly desirable M key ring.

And what handover would be complete without a gift set. The kind people at M also hand you a lovely gift box. This round, it is from the Jamie Oliver collection. Thank you. Nice touch.

Oh, and given that the house is now ours – including all liabilities – I am now sleeping sentry at the house until we officially move in. I know others have chosen to do this.

I know the risk is low, but we have a house full of appliances and it does look unoccupied. And you just never know, those pesky kids may come back again with their spray cans.

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Day 234 – What is that in your pocket? Jingle jangle….KEYS!  

Once upon a time – some 1606 days ago – E&M decided we needed more room for our growing family. Today, that dream became a reality. I can’t say it has been the easiest road – or the shortest – but I believe the final result is superior to all the other options and dead ends.

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As for the build itself, that was fast. 234 days after watching our vacant site get pegged we have keys. That, by any standard, is a quick build.

The feeling today is very hard to describe. It does feel a bit like the birth of a child – that same numbness and excitement – and amazement of what you have created. It doesn’t feel real. It seems like a sliding door moment. I feel blessed and very thankful for all the wonderful advice and support we have had along the way.

I am thrilled with our builder of choice; a builder that has exceeded expectations. I appreciate you can’t please everyone every day, but we are over the moon.

Our heads are racing with all the things we want to do – and could do. I’m thinking we will cocoon for a while as we work out what is next.

The biggest thank you goes out to our M site supervisor in Melbourne’s south east, Gary, who has been perfect. His attention to detail and his focus on building a great home has been magic to watch.  He has a focus and always hits his dates. You really do put your hands with the Metricon Gods when it comes to your site supervisor. We had a blinder!

When the house was vandalised, Gary went into overdrive and had painters, cleaners, and window repair people on the site by noon. Hearing the emotion in Gary’s voice after the attack was testament to how much he wanted to deliver us an amazing house. I am told the house was back to good as new by the day’s end.

It has been a tough week waiting for the final count down. The vandalism episode even harder to take. We are emotionally spent. I am exhausted thinking about it. Even busy at work, the days have gone very slowly.  And there has always been that nagging feeling that a delay – a la gas – or worse – may come out of the blue.  We were right.

Walking through the house right now I am thrilled with our selections. You take a leap of faith when you select something off a sample. I’m sure I’ll find a few, doh, moments but none so far.  I love the space. I love the colours. I love the floors.

I love it because E&M built this home together and have shared an incredible journey. It has been hard, and long, but the most enriching experience. I am wiser. I am stronger. I love E&M even more for it. I am more patient.

I look forward to nesting again – to removing boxes and temporary from my life. I look forward to painting walls and not caring about blu-tack stains.

I look forward to cooking with my kids and tilling the soil with fresh raspberries.

The dream starts today


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Day 231 – Vandal attack

Just got a call from the builder.

Last night my worst house nightmare scenario was realised.  A group of kids broke into our house and decided to cause some damage.I am told they smashed a few windows, hacked the island bench and spray painted the walls.

We live in a neighbourhood where this sort of thing is very uncommon.

The police are at the house taking pictures and fingerprinting.

 It could have been way worse, but what a low point…

Feeling very sick in the stomach….


Day 231 – Gas meter

The gas meter has been installed and ticked off by the plumber. Lucky we checked the job with the gas company – it had not been logged and did not exist in their system. What the?

I have found a few times during the build that one person’s reassurance that something has been done or is in train is not necessarily the full story. As always, take your build into your own hands if you are unsure.

We are so close to the finish line it is not funny.

House is getting a major final clean and dust down today ready for the big day.

Not many sleeps to go….surely???



A life full of boxes and checklists

Our attention now turns to what has to happen to move in. Suddenly we are now thinking pack up and move, rather than leave and build.

The rental needs big deep clean; and the garden needs about 40 hours of weeding and love. The hot weather hasn’t been kind to it, even with my watering.

We kept all our moving boxes in the shed all taped up so that is at least one job that can be done. The big house cull was done at the other end, so really, just a little bit of dumping will happen.  I’ll organise a garden mow and edge as well. I’ll also get some steam cleaning quotes.

We will use the same move company – they were awesome – and gave a totally stress free move.

We now start to time the rent notice period with the keys.

Next will be electricity transfer, water, gas, reconnecting the phone lines.  Then it will be crossover permit, asset protection bond back etc. Quite a bit to do.

The fruit tree death count sits at around 12 dead; and five that I think are on a critical list. Interestingly the ones that I was most worried about (citrus) actually had a 100% transplant rate.

Moving in checklist

  • Front fence installation (with uncle bob)
  • Telephone and Internet connection
  • Confirm final payment with bank
  • Clothesline (recycled from old house)
  • Letterbox (recycled)
  • Driveway
  • Retaining Wall Quote
  • Notify Australia Post and redirect mails
  • Order Bins from Council
  • Arrange for house and contents insurance
  • Electrician for lighting
  • Get aircon guy in to install reverse cycle for office
  • Council asset protection bond inspection
  • Council crossover permit


Standard Metricon kitchen – what does it look like?

Kitchens are by far the most read part of this blog. And I’ve had a few offline questions about this very important room!

So lets indulge a little more. How do you decide to design your kitchen? What comes as standard?

standard kitchen

island standard

Firstly, none of the amazing images you see from the M marketing team, or on any blog for that matter, are standard kitchens.

The standard kitchen is very basic. The designs or schematics above show you the cut n paste that comes as part of your draft plans.

Depending on the house you choose, there will already be a base-line kitchen configuration. This just a starting point. You can pretty much do what you want within the existing walls.

As a rough guide, the M team work on a provisional sum of around $6,000 on top of the base price for the generic kitchen upgrades that most people consider.

One of your appointments – cabinetry – is your chance to work with a kitchen design guru who will help you get the most out of the space.

You are not alone. You get some very custom work at this point. Just be careful to keep in mind that cabinets – as great as they are – can get quite expensive quite quickly.

The fridge cavity also came as standard in our design, so we left that alone. All we did was upsize the size of the cavity to fit a larger fridge if needed (we added 50 cm to the height and width)

Our base kitchen came with an L shaped kitchen, but that didn’t suit the way we wanted to use the space so we removed the L and replaced it with a large floating island bench.  We chose the largest island possible for our space, within the constraints of a single cut stone (no joins) and the maximum allowed overhang for stools and ease of sitting.

We put overhang on two sides so there will be plenty of seating room should the bench become a poker den or a mass tomato sauce up party or pasta making party.

Our package did not include a splashback, so we went with a feature window. We did add some feature tiling to the areas around the window for some added detail. A number of packages include a glass/tiled splashback.

Also the base kitchen configuration – for us – was a little cramped and the drawers and cupboard were a little small and not overly usable. So we pretty much custom designed each cupboard and drawer (oversized).

The benchtop standard was a very limited laminate range of category one. I’d be surprised if anyone finds too much in that list that is okay. The good colours – and range – really kick in at category 2.

After much debate, we decided to go for a feature piece of stone at 50mm. We cheated on the stove/sink side and only used a 20mm piece of stone. In the butler’s pantry, we cheated even more with a laminate that is the identical colour of the stone (but hidden away and hard to tell it is).

The big decision is trying to work our where your hot workspace, water and cold workspaces will be. We decided to have the sink and stove off the island so we have a large clean bit of real estate to work with.

Cabinet choices:

  • Laminates (standard or upgrade)
  • 2pack
  • Vinyl wrap

Benchtop choices:

  • Laminate
  • Wood
  • Diamond gloss
  • Stone
  • granite

Cabinet kickers

  • I’m not sure these are a standard. We went with a slightly more expensive kicker that gives the impression that the kitchen bench is floating.

Appliances as standard

  • Canopy exhaust (we upgraded)
  • Stove with built in oven (we upgraded)

Other items as standard that we were happy to accept:

  • Tap
  • Sink
  • handles


Finding your landscape design style – what style are you?  

A garden is a lot like a house; it needs to be functional, beautiful and livable. It also should contain lots of nooks (housebythewater!) and lots of rooms and moments that surprise and delight. One of the big no-nos in garden design is stealing too many styles and meshing them together. The canvass can look very messy.

My edible theme is a style well suited to the Mediterranean design series – elements of spanish, italian and french, but with a modern  symmetry and perhaps a few more hard surfaces.

So instead or random self-seeded beds, hopefully a bit more structure in terms of height, shape and contrast.   Series of items in twos or threes could be a simple way to add form and consistency.

The garden master design is really key to the future of this garden. If we can get the long term vision organised up front, I’m hoping the plantings, and projects will sort themselves out. In previous gardens I have made the mistake of taking each area as its own area – leaving the entire picture incomplete.

A big thank you to http://www.landscapingnetwork.com/garden-styles

for this design guide. Feel free to visit them and download the entire sheet.


Which design style are you?

Mediterranean Design Sheets





Traditional Design Sheets






Tropical Design Sheets

-South Pacific



Country Design Sheets





Modern Design Sheets

-Art Deco



And here are a few examples of how edibles can look amazing. Red cabbage and lettuce look dazzling. Who said vegetable gardens need to look messy, ugly and like utility ares? They can be works of art – that make tasty salads, should the temptation get the better of you.

Our vegetable friends have so many amazing looks. Now, back to the weeds in the rental.

web edible_garden_new_york_botanical_garden_0610 NH-SO11-ediblelandscaping-swiss-chard NH-SO11-ediblelandscaping-lettuce  edible-landscaping-design-idea-garden chicken-with-basils1 citrus on rust

edible garden

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Day 220 – PCI Give me a P. Give me C. Give me an I

Today we had our final inspection. The next time we see our home will be for the key ceremony!

The PCI inspection is your last chance to look over your home and make sure you are happy with it. We spent 50 minutes checking doors, taps, climbing under things.

I even sat in the bath and stood in the shower. Not sure it helped with the inspection, but it was a useful perspective.

Truth be told, I looked hard for items or issues to raise, but our eagle eyed SS has put red dots on everything that don’t meet the standard. Most are small paint touch ups. The painter was in today finishing off the few dots left. I know everyone has a different experience but the volume builder Gods were with us on this build. The quality and care has been first class. If a few paint touch ups are the sum of the PCI, then I am a very happy customer.

It really does come down to your SS. Ours is a first class operator. His attention to detail and desire to make everything perfect – is really amazing. His philosophy is do it once, do it well. Whilst you can hear stories of builds having  issues with wrong construction materials, wrong electrical installations, wrong light fixtures, wrong tiles, wrong laminates, we have not had any issues. Touch wood.

The carpets are in and they look great. I was worried that the colour was too dark, but in the house and in the sun light it is perfect. It will hide the dirt but it also has a really nice weave and texture. We went category 2 for a bit more warmth and colour selection.  They are Carpet Call carpets and they are commercial grade, meaning they will wear really well. One upgrade you can’t look past is the increase in underlay quality. It is around $500 but so worth it.  It is a nice sponge and sound dampener underfoot. Don’t miss this one. The standard underlay would be more at home in a compost heap.

The blinds are hung and look great; they sort of blend in with the wall colour. We didn’t want them to be a feature.

…still waiting for the pesky gas meter, but everything else is pretty much done.

Master bedroom with its feature bamboo. This room is boomingly huge

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Front office with sheer blinds and carpet installed2014-05-16 08.12.10

Airlock doors leading to open plan living out the back with kitchen, dining and lounge2014-05-16 08.12.41

Carpet on the stairs. Would have liked wood stairs but the budget would not allow it. Our staircase is hidden away and is not a feature of the house so happy to save a tad here.2014-05-16 08.13.14


Upstairs leisure room with carpet and blinds.2014-05-16 08.13.19


I think this is a cupboard.


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The bath that was never in our plans but then suddenly we decided that the offer from M on this upgrade was too good to refuse! :>

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Master bedroom with balcony views

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Bathroom upstairs. The north light pours into this room. Just an amazing space.

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Adults bathroom with bath.


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Upstairs hallway with feature red dots.

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Day 218 – We have a handover date

Everyone says the last home run takes forever.

I can agree with that. The weeks are now dragging. So slow.

The gas pipes were run down the street on Monday and Tuesday.

Now we are just waiting for a gas meter.

This meter stops the plumbing certificate which stops the occupancy certificate from being finalised which stops the handover which stops the bank’s release of final payment. 

Game of dominos for anyone?

We had our final QA inspection via Metricon’s third party provider. 

There are 13 minior items that need addressing – scratch on a tap, a few paint touch ups, a few hairline cracks on bricks that will be replaced, and a small 2mm gap between the brickwork and window that needs to be filled.

Great news as well – we now have a draft key handover date on the calendar of a few weeks time.

Very exciting if everything goes to plan.


Day 212 – But where is the gas meter?

So, we are done. Finished. The house is complete. Blinds are in. Carpets are in. Independent M inspection went well. Certificate of occupancy went well.   There is nothing more the builder needs to do (few touch ups)

…but the gas man is another story.

It seems the gas meter, and connection to the gas mains in the street is months late. The job was booked in March, and still nothing.

Dormant house. Waiting. Next month’s rent is also due next week. Very frustrated.

Of all the delays…who would imagine it would be the gas….

Makes me smile as we almost turned off the gas and had a fully electric / solar house.

We have an inspection and official presentation of the house next week  – photo bomb to come…(minus the gas meter)