Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Visiting Random Display Houses

I'm itching to see new houses, so we went to display house in our area. Definitely not the same as one in VIC (they are all different builders) but enough to give us a bit more ideas on what we likes and what we don't like.

Don't like: 

  • Not a fully tiled ensuite/ bathrooms. They can look unfinished. So back to drawing board and see our budget to fully tile at least the ensuite
  • Small tiles especially on wet areas. Why do they spend nothing on area that's so much cheaper to upgrade?
  • Extra glossy wood grain cabinets (scroll to see pic)
  • Dark/ yellowish benchtop on bathroom and ensuite
  • Large tiles
  • Large shiny tiles
  • Large shiny light coloured tiles :p
  • Pool!
  • Strategic use of mirrors. If you go to any display homes, look at where they put the mirrors - this is their tips on how to make the place feels bigger ;)
  • Clean modern kitchen

Some random photos. I have about 300 photos but can't upload all of course.

Shiny! I like their mirror tricks along the bottom, making the place bigger

Hubby likes this tile

I like the round chairs... not very ergonomic though

Landscaping ideas - but maybe not with loose stones

Nice pendant lights

An idea for not so plain toilet

Tile colours

Black kitchen - not my taste but nice to see example nevertheless

Unique looking table :)

Another wall ornament, making the place less empty

More tile samples

Kinda like this floor tiles
Shiny wood pattern cabinets. Just not for me.
Kitchen - Like this one. Nice and modern

One display with pool on the backyard. Big YES
Fully tiled pool with acrylic wall
Nice neat landscaping next to pool
The black benchtop and white silicon lining on basin - too apparent and not great
Small fibreglass pool - the concrete ones above looks better I'd say

Monday, 25 January 2016

The hunt for Caesarstones samples

I have not received my Caesarstones samples from the website, so decided to hunt for ones, aka. visiting some kitchen and bathroom renovation stores.

I have always like Alpine Mist, so that's definitely on the list :)

Current bench-top selection:

  • Alpine Mist for the kitchen. This is an upgrade to category 3
  • Frosty Carina for ensuite and bathroom. This is an upgrade to category 3


  • Organic White for ensuite and bathroom. This is an upgrade to category 2. Hubby said Ensuite need to be on higher range, so if ensuite is Organic white, the other should be organic white too :p

I like the creamy Dreamy Marvil too for bathroom, but it has "lux" feeling. It might difficulty matching the colour and style into the bathroom.

Alpine mist vs. Bianco Drift on Caesarstone Supernatural Range

Alpine Mist vs Statuario Nuvo (veins not very visible in this sample)

Alpine Mist vs. Dreamy Marfil on Caesarstone Supernatural range 
Bianco Drift on kitchen table - not bad but I think I prefer slightly less patterns
Sleek Concrete on Deluxe range
Raw concrete on Deluxe range
Snow vs. Alpine Mist

Frosty Carina - kinda like this for bathroom :)
Ravine Polytech samples - Love the Drifted Oak...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Taps and Basins and Toilet Choices

Boutique Homes has standard upgrades range in their showroom, but you can choose upgrades directly from their supplier site. 

  • Caroma (any basin, taps, toilet suites, bathtub, everything)
  • Dorf (taps mainly, and shower rails)
  • Stylus (for toilet suites)

Note though, if you choose ones from the non-standard range, the upgrade cost can be very expensive as the item is not bulk buy. Non-standard means Boutique only get a small discount from supplier and they will add their builders mark-up on top of this, i.e.there are certain items that cost more than RRP on supplier websites to change! 

For example, we wanted to change the Stylus standard toilet (RRP $414) to Luna Wall Faced toilet suit (RRP $639). It costs... *drumroll* ... $789 per toilet!

It costs $234 to upgrade to Stylus Banksia Wall Faced Close Coupled toilet (RRP $660)

Prima II close coupled toilet
Caroma Luna wall faced toilet - Add $789 each!

I like sleek toilet. Just not for $790 from original! 

Our current selection (from looking at internet pictures) below. I hope this helps save our time in colour appointment. 

Banksia Wall Faced Close Coupled Toilet
in lieu of original
Caroma Leda Vasque Inset Basin
in lieu of original for ensuite
Standard Caroma Carboni sink for bathroom
Dorf Viridian Basin Mixer
Caroma Cosmo Double Rail 900mm

Liano Swivel Bath Outlet - so it's not poking
anyone's back when they're in the bathtub ;)
Quatro single 900mm rail
Maybe :) or Cosmo looks ok too
Quatro Toilet Roll Holder

Standard Caroma Tasman II
Quatro Robe Hook - Maybeeeee.
Not sure if we need this.
Only for ensuite if we do

Cosmo Towel Ring - Another maybe. 
Dorf Viridian Wall Basin Mixer

Monday, 18 January 2016

Visiting AustralBricks Design Studio...

Apparently there is a design studio for AustralBricks 5 minutes from my workplace. So I went there to pick up some bricks :D

Now, they don't have the full range for Victorian Bricks (NSW has different range), but some of them are available and some of the one I'm thinking about. They look so different from the brochure, so peeps, make sure you check the colour in person. 

Photos :) 

Australbricks design studio in the CBD

On the top left, the two smaller bricks, my favorite Ultra Smooth Jazz
and Chill. They're Group 15 on the list and I have got no idea yet how much it would cost for the upgrade (cry).

The bottom left line smaller bricks (left to right) are La Paloma Miro (group 13) and Ultra Smooth Rythm (group 15). I kinda like the Miro in this instance, but Rythm can be quite pretty too.

The right side from top to bottom - Indulgence Praline (group 3), Access Ash (group 2) and Access Fawn (group 2). If I need to choose the three, I think I'd tend towards Praline.

Other samples I saw
Access Cream is one of the default.
Not liking the Redgum as it is too red
Harvest cotton is in Category 2 if I remember right,
better less yellow colour
Biscotti - a bit dark?

Another picture of Access Cream
The Ultra Smooth range. They're expensive!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Pool oh pool, which one would you be?

DH ideal house has a piano. My ideal house has a lap pool. These are some of the basis of our choice of land and house plan. 

In the ideal world, I need a minimum 25m pool. Now. It won't fit in the current house plan and will be too expensive. Smaller lap pool is possible though (still signed with blood), just consider it like a stepping stone to get there :) 

The pool size I'm considering is approx. 10-12m in length and as close to 2m width as possible. Remember this landscaping mock up? This is the default plan for now. It allows slightly wider pool so I can actually choose a fibreglass poll - albeit the lap pool series. 

The two obvious pool choices are: 
  • Concrete pool
  • Fibreglass pool 
There are four local companies that install the both the concrete pool and fibreglass pools in my area. All of them would have a stand in the Pool and Spa expo. I'm hoping to bring the finalised house sitting to get a more accurate quote :)

Initial quote below. I can't help but feel like concrete pool would be the better option at this point...


Luxury lap pool, anyone?

I have got the quote for a concrete pool: $49,865 including GST


12 x 2m and 1.3m depth. 


  1. Engineering Design & Structural Computations, Building permit, 2 x Certified Building Inspections (one for steel & one for fencing)
  2. Certificate of Currency for the Builders’ Insurance is issued and included, General Public and Product Liability Insurance is also included
  3. A 5 to 10 tonne Excavator will be used to complete the pool dig, size pending on access.
  4. The cartage of clean spoil is included up to 15km from the site address. All cartage fees beyond 15km are extra, unless stated otherwise in the contract.
  5. The pool consists of a steel structure spaced at 300mm centres vertically and horizontally or as instructed as per engineering plans, all at Australian Standards
  6. The floor of the pool consists of 75mm of course aggregate to assist in the drainage to the hydrostatic relief valve, which is located at the lowest point of the excavation.
  7. The Skimmer and weir are designed to surface skim your pool from leaves and debris to assist in keeping your water flow at maximum rate ensuring the health if the pools water using 50mm piping. 
  8. The water is returned into the pool through 2 x 40mm pool returns.
  9. Pneumatically sprayed concrete, hand trimmed to a minimum of 150mm and a minimum wall meet floor radius of 180mm (as per Australian Standards)
  10. Pool concrete sprayed at a minimum of 32 mpa at 28 days
  11. 6 Year Structural warranty.
  12. Filter - Astral Cantabric Sand Filter with Glass media combined with an
  13. Pump - Astral Viron P320 EVO pump, with power savings of up to $800 per annum. Backwash point required. Up to 7year warranty.
  14. Coping - supply & lay of 250mm x 500mm x 20mm Exfoliated Granite Coping, Sandstone or Bluestone coper,
  15. Waterline tiles - Italpro range of Ceramic Mosaic tiles, a 180mm waterline tile (48mm x 48mm) 15 different colours is available
  16. Interior finish - Silkstone Interior, any colour choice. Silkstone Interior backed by 7 year warranty. 
  17. Lights - 4 x Spa Electrics EMC, LED Single colour light, this is flush mounted creating superior lighting in your pool. Multi colour also available in upgrades. 
  18. Running of all light cables to plant location and transformer installation is included as standard. (Electrical connections are not included)
  19. The Astral EQ25 PH self cleaning and self testing Salt Chlorinator combined with a PH doser designed to deliver accurate chlorination utilizing the  salt to sanitize your pool for the health of the whole family. The PH doser is also designed to measure and deliver pool acid as required, to ensure a stable chemical balance for your swimming pool.
  20. Solar heating - Supreme Heating Solar. Designed to suit Australia’s climate, carries a 15 year warranty and will reduce heating costs by harnessing the sun’s heat, delivering this free heat direct to your pool. 
  21. All of our solar systems are run on their own independent and dedicated lines. Your system will run using a solar Boost pump as well as a digital remote sensor temperature controller, programmable to suit your swimming temperature needs. 100% coverage of 24sqm is required to satisfactorily heat your pool. 
  22. Deluxe handover kit, with telescopic pole, leaf scoop, Vacuum and hose, Brush, Test kit and start up chemicals along with full instruction on the use and maintenance of your pools operation and chemical requirements combined with start up of chemicals and equipment by one of our trained pool technicians. We also supply an owner’s manual and full ongoing after sales service available on request.

  1. Town Planning
  2. Out of ground formwork
  3. Cross over deposit
  4. Rock Excavation
  5. Shoring of below ground
  6. Overburden
  7. Safety fence
  8. Backwash connection to Sewer
  9. Electrical, Gas and Sewer connections
  10. Relocation of service lines
  11. Bobcat

Also doesn't include pavings, fencing and robotic cleaner. Pebble pool surface (not fully tiled) 


As for fibreglass, it's a bit more difficult as several different provider around. I narrowed it down to two manufacturer of the shell: 

Compass Pool

Their Fast Lane range has a dimension of either 10.3 or 12.3 x 2.78m externally

Sample pool
3D look of the Fast Lane pool shelf

They can't provide quote over the phone, but price indication is approx. $50k+ including the automatic in floor cleaning.

The colour I want is closer to Atlantic or Pacific (prefer a deep blue)
Bi-Luminite Pacific
Bi-Luminite Atlantic

Aqua Technic

This is a WA based pool manufacturer. The range I'm looking at is either 

  1. Ultimo 11.4 x 2.9m or 
  2. Primo 9.4 x 2.9m (external measures)

The colour I'm looking at
Pool ColourGuard® Starlite Cosmic blue
Pool ColourGuard® Marble Assana blue
The Crystite® Deluxe series Twilight
The Crystite® Classic series Azure blue


Quoted price: $39,024.08  plus 100% solar heating $4,450 --> Round it up to $45,000

Quoted price: $37,945  plus 100% solar heating $4,200 --> Round it up to $42,500

Only $2500 difference to the larger size

  1. Excavation and installation of the pool chosen
  2. Engineering drawings
  3. Domestic building insurance
  4. Building permit
  5. Standard excavation including cartage up to 8km from site (inferior to concrete pool quote at 16km)
  6. Base and stabilized backfill material for standard excavation
  7. Delivery of pool shell to site and placed up to 12m by crate truck
  8. Pipes and fittings
  9. Solar provisions
  10. Hydro-static pressure valve
  11. Filtration - Astral ZX250 cartridge filter
  12. Pump - Astral P320 26 variable speed, 8 star energy rating (same as concrete pool quote)
  13. Water sanitation - Astral EQ18 Self Cleaning Chlorinator with pH control and ORP automatic adjustment system (inferior to the salt water chlorinator quoted for concrete pool)
  14. Skimmer box - one surface skimmer
  15. Return to pool - 2 return jet lines complete with adjustable eyeball outlets
  16. Pool lighting - 2 x spa electric high performance multi-coloured LED (less light than the concrete pool quote, but multicoloured LED instead)
  17. Agricultural and underfloor pumping system
  18. Steel reinforced concrete bond beam
  19. Temporary pool fence hire for 6 weeks
  20. Start-up chemical
  21. Training on operation and maintenance of the pool

  1. Solar heating between $4,200 to $4.450
  2. Crane $1,200
  3. Bobcat $1,100

Not included:
  1. Soil/ Geotechnical report
  2. Relocation of services on proprty
  3. Excavation of rocks
  4. Asset protection permit through council
  5. Electrical and gas provision