Porter Davis have this thing called a “Liveability Consultant” it took us a very long time to figure out who they were talking about. All of our questions about insulation, sisalation, heating, noise reducing batts & plaster were directed to the Liveability Consultant located at World of Style. The only thing is – they don’t have a Liveability Consultant!
Liveability Consultant – The mystery face game
They have two Brivis consultants that sits at WOS, one during the week that does the scheduled appointments and one that covers the weekends. These two ladies only cover the heating and cooling systems as they are Brivis employees, not Porter Davis employees, just like National Tiles have their employees in-house. There’s no point asking National Tiles about Electrical information and there is absolutely no point asking the Brivis team about sisalation, insulation, hot water systems or anything else, however they do sit in the designated Liveability Consultant area.
So if you want to know about your options for different insulation types or pricing – no one can help you.
I packed a bit of a tanty at WOS one day. It had been building for a while, I had been wanting pricing on ceiling batts and to know my options on sisalation products – going round and round in circles having been told by WOS to ask at tender, then being told by our Tender Presenter to ask at WOS for the infamous Liveability Consultant. After asking at reception, I was directed down to the Brivis area much to my disappointment, low and behold, the Brivis employee was unable to help me. Actually, this is not true, she did know a little bit about the insulation but only because people keep asking her questions due to the fact that she sits right in front of the display. The information she gave us was nothing in-depth, just reading out the names and sizing as its printed on the wall.
So I went and found the WOS team leader – I don’t know if she is a Team Leader or Senior Management. She’s a stern looking woman who is always sitting at her laptop in the alfresco display area, in the centre of the WOS building and she is the person the staff run to if you ask a hard question. After what felt like an excruciating amount of time but must have only been 20-30 minutes, all my patience was gone and I acted like a 2-year-old. I vented my frustrations on the now gathering crowd of WOS employees, who were either, A. trying to help, B. wanting to listen to the answers so they know for future reference, or C. (the majority I’m guessing) who were rubbernecking at the site of a car crash. I finally got my answer – no one knows anything!… and I should ask at Tender, but wait, I’ve already been to tender and they couldn’t help me. I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed FFS, (I can’t remember if a literally did this but I was super pissed off at being given the run around – my grandmother would have been shocked at my behaviour) anyway it made me feel better, embarrassed the hell out of my husband and highlighted the lack of knowledge in the WOS team members.
From there, Dave and I contacted the PD suppliers directly for this area, skipping the WOS team completely. I have to say Brafords were extremely helpful. They were able to tell us their recommendations for our home based on our house size, the location within Australia – this is a big factor as it affects weather and temperature and changes the requirements and then there’s the fact that we were doing an iron roof and Hebel as opposed to brick and tile.
After a few planned conference calls with different suppliers, we came out with great insight into the products that will be used in our house, what options we had and the best recommendation for our situation. It felt refreshing to talk to people that know their product well and can give you the reasons why they do or do not suggest something. Yes, I should get a 2nd whirlybird as my house is that shape and that square meterage but it’s not a requirement so PD only include one. No, you don’t need to pay for this fancy soundproofing product – just use this option instead.
I think PD forget that most of their clients are first home builders and don’t know the basics or are not from the building industry so don’t know information that they themselves take for granted.
I am one of those people that want to know the reason behind a “No”, why can’t it be done? If I know the reason I can either A. accept it and move on or B. change the way I think, rearrange a few things and come at the problem from another angle.
The only downside of going directly to the suppliers was that no one could give me pricing, but at least I know what it was that I wanted and the reasons I did or didn’t require something.
One of the things that we found a real disappointment was that PD do not utilise all of Bradfords products. They have a fantastic product that was recommended to us by the very helpful and knowledgeable Bradford’s team member who we had many conversations with. When you have a Colourbond roof they recommend that you use sarking (not that PD will tell you this). The sarking is there to control the condensation that can form on the underside of your roofing, it is also very useful to add under a tile roof so you don’t get waterlogged ceiling batts (and plaster) when a roof tile moves and you start leaking.
Bradfords take this sarking one step further for Colourbond roofs and add a layer of Gold Batt insulation to one side. This has the benefit of reducing noise, heat transfer and adds insulation value to your ceiling space. The product is called AntiCon. After all our research to find the perfect products to make our home the best it can be, we were told by our tender presenter that it could not be added to our contract because they don’t use this product.
Dave asked me to add this bit to this blog because he still hasn’t been able to build a bridge and get over it. He’s still a little bitter that we weren’t able to utilise the perfect product for our home just because PD can’t be bothered to buy one more product from their insulation provider.
I had read a lot of information on Home One about termite protection and different posts referred to the different options that other volume building companies provided. Some options included poisoning the ground, now I’m no eco-warrior, I can empty an entire can of fly spray on a cockroach until it stops moving in a pool of white foam and I’m bad at recycling my takeaway Hot Chocolate cups. I just don’t like the idea of poisoning the ground, that stuff kills more than just termites, it kills all living creatures in the soil including worms and bugs – and birds eat bugs, have you notices the distant lack of birds in new estate areas? So, I wanted to know what options for termite control were available and what the different costs were. Porter Davis said right from the beginning that they provide it and it’s noted in the quote as ‘Provide Termite Protection’.
But what do you get for your 3 words noted in the quote, well no one was able to tell me so I went and found a Termite company that could explain it to me.
In the Termite Protection trade, they refer to a ‘Part A’ and ‘Part B’. Part A is a physical treatment to the perimeter and/or slab. It’s the blue or yellow plastic strips you see attached to the edges of the slab. If it’s in the slab it’s applied as a membrane barrier before the slab has been poured. Part B is poisoning the ground below the slab and/or the surrounding perimeter of the property. I read somewhere that this needs to be topped up every 3-5 years and inspected every year or your insurance is void. However, it’s been about 6 months since I did all of this research and now I can’t find the paperwork that states this as I went looking for it to double check myself before writing it up here.
People on Home One said they had a choice but you had to pay more for Part A and Part B was optional. A 3rd party company was able to give me cost differences so I knew roughly what I was going to be up for with Porter Davies. I now had a greater understanding of all the options and decided that I would do my bit for the environment and pay the extra, but alas, it was not meant to be…….
At that stage of our journey we had the Building Co-ordinator From Hell (BCFH), don’t even get me started on that subject, I could rant about her till the wine bottle was finished and then some! I can already feel myself getting hot under the collar… but I digress. I contacted my BCFH and asked the question, what did PD provide within their Standard Inclusions for the Advantage range, could I have the membrane option rather than the chemical option and what would the price implications be. I waited patiently over the next 6 weeks and received 7 emails putting me off , saying that she didn’t have the answer, general brush-offs, telling me to ask my Liveability Consultant and that I would be told the answers at Tender, FYI The Tender Presenter does not deal with this kind of question they are not equipped to answer them, this sits squarely in the centre of the BC’s roll.
Finally, she came back to me with one sentence “Part A is a treatment to the perimeter and Part B is poisoning the ground below the slab. This is the only option we provide and there are no options to upgrade.” This is very vague in regards to what’s being provided and very black and white in their stance. So I gave up. Yes, there comes a time when you just have to say F*#% it, eat the Palm Oil laced cookie, use the non-recyclable plastic shopping bags, exfoliate your face with that scrub that contains those little beads that clog the ocean floor and get the termite protection what kills worms, spiders and bugs that live in the soil – the circle of life doesn’t really matter. Humph!
A “NEED TO KNOW” BASIS
If there is one thing I’ve learnt from all of this is I think Porter Davis work on the “need to know” basis, all this stuff is still going to go into your house, but they slap you will the costs at the contract appointment after they have done the 6 Star Liveability report. Then tell you that you need to have it, but you don’t need to know about it until the 11th hour when they are telling you to sign on the dotted line.
You don’t need to know the cost of Double glazing the whole house “Oh that will cost $20k or more” we were told by our Sales Consultant at the beginning. We asked about double glazing all the way along and no one wanted to tell us anything till after the 6-star report, which is only done a week before the contract appointment and means you have to do a Post Contract Variation. We made the Tender presenter add it to our kitchen picture window but this was a fight, she was so reluctant to do it.
Nobody from Porter Davis, throughout the whole process, actively offered us any of the below and it was like pulling teeth to find out options and pricing. It’s Need to Know information and the customer paying the bill doesn’t need to know.
- Noise reduction solutions such as batts and plaster
- Options for ceiling insulation, between floor insulation or between wall insulation.
- Ceiling/roof sisalation
- Whirly Birds
- Upgrading your hot water cylinder size
- Increasing the number of solar panels on your roof for the hot water
- Upsizing the infinity water unit
- The need for roof sarking (if you don’t live in a BAL area)
All of the list above were things we wanted to do, and we got some of them. Others like upsizing the infinity water unit to a larger one, was just too hard, no one would help us. I have 4 showers, 2 baths and a husband who loves to run the hot tap in the kitchen for 20+ minutes while pre-washing all the dishes before they go in the dishwasher. The little infinity unit that comes with the original Forsyth design of 2 showers and 1 bath will not keep up with our demand.
So next time someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, tell them to ask the Liveability Consultant.