Seems it always happens, but you hope that it won’t... The insurance report has come through and they will only cover half of what was taken. Less the one thousand dollar excess too. Sigh.
This week on stuff.co.nz I’m talking about building brands in the construction industry, a little sideways I know, but something I find interesting and I’ve had plenty of chats about with various tradies and suppliers onsite and off. And if you were wondering who Chris our plumber was – its Chris from K10 – he’s definitely our no problems only solutions man.
When insurance companies are brand building, ideas of trust, dependability, being companies that kiwis can rely on, are almost always thrown into the pot (just watch a few insurance adverts). But thus far, that hasn’t been my experience. When we were burgled in our home around five years ago it was the same story, yes, you’ve been burgled, sorry about that, but no we won’t pay to replace anything much. At the time, the memories of the Christchurch earthquakes were still fresh in everyone’s mind, so I didn’t feel I had any right to complain. And it’s the same this time, from the comments some of you have sent in about being burgled on building sites, we got off so so lightly. And we’ll be moving in soon to add personal security to site along with the camera that’s up now. When I say we’ll be moving in soon, that doesn’t mean we’re close to finishing (at the moment the kitchen is only half built and plumbing is still weeks away). But the police have warned that as soon as the appliances go in, those burglars will be back. So this time, we will be too. And until then, there’s not really anything left to steal…unless you count mud, bent nails and cigarette butts.
Thanks for all the well wishes after the burglary. And then the other one. We're hoping (really hoping) that insurance will cover at least some of it, but it looks like it's not necessarily going to be straight forward (when is it ever...). The build doesn't care about thefts or the costs of replacing tools and materials. The build just wants to keep on trucking. And so, on it goes. This week on stuff I'm talking paint, choosing your palette in fact. And I think Mike Our Man of Hammers and Mr BuildingBoxes are still laughing at me trying to ask their opinion on the various shades of white.
There was even more of that when I came up with the design for the door to my office. It's a beautiful cedar door, Mr BuildingBoxes said. You're going to paint what on it? Mike Our Man of Hammers said. And then of course, I convinced Mr BuildingBoxes to use his exacting mathematical brain to work out my random (but not) pattern, it was taped up, painted and voila, a new door was born. Okay, it took a little while, but the important part here was that most of the time was in the preparation. Once that was done, it was a relatively simply task to get something old, looking not only new, but pretty funky. I"m hoping its the same with the house, because the preparation is taking forever.
You will have seen the final result of the door on stuff last week and you can see more a break down of how to get there over at Habitat by Resene. I have to say, looking at it all taped up in lime green I almost changed my mind about painting it black and copper, looks kinds Keith Haring-esk. (That's my fifth form art class coming out there. See I was listening) There'll be a few more of these types of posts with Resene if you like to get a bit creative with your paintbrush, so when there is more, I'll add more. Right now though, its down to taping up the house, the WHOLE house, ready to paint...
If you’ve been over to stuff you’ll know that we had a visit from some unwanted guests. The perfect irony of burglars who steal the high tech door locks still makes me almost chuckle. But only almost. Because of course it leaves us out of pocket. How much, we’re not exactly sure and happily, our Contract Works Insurance is hopefully going to kick in. Of course there’s a decent excess ($1000 in case you’re wondering) but given the extent of the stuff they’ve taken, it’s well worth the claim.
Interviewing the police was an eye opener for me about the types of things stolen from building sites, but I guess it stands to reason. It has however, made me nervous about leaving ANYTHING outside. They took our (super heavy) hand made bench for example. The more we look into the things that are missing though, the clearer it is that these were guys with either a shopping list, or a very clear idea of what they wanted. They went through a box of pretty expensive stainless fittings for example and stole a box of square head screws right at the bottom but left the rest.
Then of course was the weird stuff. The hose from our crappy build site vacuum cleaner. If anyone has a guess as to why you’d take that and not the whole machine we’d love to hear it. Mr BuildingBoxes figures they either had the same model and just wanted the hose, or maybe expected us to throw it away now it is utterly useless. I’m guessing it’s something much more random, who knows.
Chatting with a spokesman from IAG (the parent company for NZI, AMI, Lumley and State in New Zealand,) I wondered if they had any advice for would be builders. The short answer, DO get insurance. Contract Works isn’t like Home and Contents because there’s not necessarily a building to break into (obviously). But each policy is different, building materials are usually covered, and some tools, (there’s a catch all phrase about labour and works being covered in an agreed contract) but the policies tend to be quite specific so read the fine print people.
If you’re part of a group home build, insurance will most likely be included in your fee. But if you’re doing a labour only contract like us, or a variation on one, you’ll find part of the contract you sign with your builder (which you now need for works over $30,000 under the Building Act) is an insurance section. Apparently many people overlook this part and come to their insurer once the project has started. But banks usually require a certificate of insurance and most builders will ask for it before they start work.
If you do get burgled on site the advice from the insurers is pretty common sense: contact them asap, call the police, meet with the loss adjustor and go through all the paperwork to itemise and prove what’s gone missing, and have a think about your ongoing site security.
So far, so good for us. We’re meeting with the loss adjuster and our insurance agency NZI, have said it should all be straight forward. In the interim, if you’re building and you get offered these locks in amongst a box full of building goods – call the police – they’ve only been in the country since June so they’re probably ours. And if you get offered a vacuum cleaner hose….well, maybe you can ask the guy why on earth he bothered stealing it.
Over on stuff.co.nz I’m talking about landscaping, something that is completely outside of our scope. We can grow plants, we’ve got a bunch of them germinating at the moment, but knowing that they’re going in the right place and that they’re not going to die instantly…that’s a whole other kettle of kippers.
Happily, we’ve been working with Renee Davis, Head of Landscape Architecture and Design at Unitec and also a general awesome lady. It’s been a really great process for us, mostly because it’s something so new to us and also because Renee has both held our hands through it and pointedly steered us in what feels like the right direction all along the way. I mean look at that plan - comprehensive enough for us to not stuff up!
So a little more on the process? To start with, Renee worked out a site inventory and analysis of soil, drainage, climate conditions, and existing vegetation. Obviously you don’t want to be planting things that are going to curl up their toes and die within months of you planting them, because that costs you cash (and there’s no point planting a tree somewhere your Mr BuildingBoxes really wants a shed). This was a process of discovery for us, we knew we wanted the Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist to have plenty of room to run around, we wanted to grow a whole lot of vegetables and fruit, we wanted to use as much of the natural features of the plot as possible as about a third of it is covered in bush, and I wanted to be able to dry the washing! This last one goes against the “pretty” of the landscape design, but it’s a practical consideration that has to work for us – because we’re all about keeping our power bill at a bare minimum and with a south facing section, the options are somewhat limited.
We’re building the decks ourselves (just another of the things we’ve added to our potentially foolishly long list). Renee has helped work in how to integrate the vege beds and decks so that I’ll be able to stagger out of bed with a view of my office and the veges, get all inspired, and then potter my way through the broccoli to my desk. In the midst of house sitting through a plethora of different types of houses biggish and tiny, I’m keeping that glorious thought of deck/vege/room of my own on a pedestal. Can’t wait!
Renee does take on some private clients – in her tiny amount of spare time – the woman is super busy! But you can get hold of her through her website.
A family of four: writer, scientist, lego engineer and destruction specialist. Our previous home is featured in New Zealand Interior Style and this new project promises to provide plenty of great, green, smart and maybe madcap solutions to new building in New Zealand.