It took about a year after signing our building contract, before we could finally move in. There were hair-pulling moments during construction and some problems which still exist - but it has more to do with how the land was cut and filled.
First of all, here is our house:
That's our neighbours' house and driveway in the background. They built on the south facing slope, while we built on the north so we get sun exposure all year round. It was part of the reason we have a wrap-around verandah, but also because it makes an ordinary rectangular box look heaps better.
To save on heating and cooling costs we had the brick walls insulated with poly-fibre batts, as well as extra foil underneath the roof. Most of the heat comes in via the windows now, which run along the whole north and south facing sides of the house. The solution we've found is to partially close the thermal lined blinds. That way we still get enough light but not all the heat with it.
We have solar hot-water panels on the roof and plan on more panels in future, to help offset our electricity usage on the grid.
Many of our projects in future will deal specifically with erosion though. My advice to anyone contemplating building on a slope, is only do a partial cut if any at all. We were naive when it came to sloping sites and went with our building contractors' options. Their options however were meant to cut-down on costs for them. Next time I would consult an earthworks professional before even considering what type of house to build.
Despite all the dramas however, we still got a home and a comfortable one at that. I can't ever go back to drinking town water though, after living off our rainwater now.
We have to be careful how our tanks are sited on the sloping block too. A word to the wise, if anyone suggests placing your water pump directly underneath your inlet pipes - tell them to take a hike!
One tremendous downpour and the pump and electrical outlet got washed out! You can still see the water pump in this shot, but once the viewing portal cap blew off from the pressure, our pump was pummelled with water. They installed two large inlet pipes for water to enter the tank, and only one smaller pipe for excess water to drain out of it. Doesn't take a genius to figure out why the water began escaping where it could.
We didn't think to question how the water pump was positioned. It's downright dangerous to have the electrical outlet directly underneath there too. Its just one more thing to fix that the builders got wrong.
We're torn between getting the builders to come back and fix it under warrantee or paying for our own water-tank specialists to fix their mistake when installing the next tank. We've lost confidence the builders will fix it properly. Beware the cheap construction company - they're able to offer a reduced price mainly by cutting corners.
It's been a big learning curve for us though and I'm sure there's still more to come!