Our Move to Carlyle Gardens

Moving to Carlyle Gardens Resort, like all removals, was a pain. Here are some of the issues we found in moving from an apartment to a house. Some delays apply particularly over the rainy season.

Delays in House Completion

We were scheduled to get the key on 19 December 2008. The first issue was completion of the new house was delayed at Xmas by builders and wet weather at Carlyle Gardens. On 12 January 2009 the sales folks at Carlyle Gardens phoned. Builders are still at the house. Landscaping is not getting anywhere (not that this surprises any of us in the tropics).

The sales person at Carlyle Gardens phoned soon after we returned home on 22 January 2009. They were expecting to have our new home handed over by the builders this afternoon. That is a month later than the earlier estimate of 19 December. It is good that it is not hanging on into February or March. However the timing was pretty bad for us, unless it could be done as a walk in handover. Next week is a holiday weekend. We will be away all February, and I had commitments towards the end of January. Looked like that gave us three working days, which did not look viable.

I had already lined up a van and (child) labour for a January move (during the school holidays), and had to cancel when the December date would not hold. I did not want to try to organise moving with even less notice, so that means March at the earliest.

While we do not know exactly how everything relating to paperwork proceeds from here, the two week cool off period is already impossible. We could see all manner of paperwork problems piling up over a short time while we had an inflexible deadline for leaving Australia. Our solicitor here is also not exactly flexible, which could complicate matters even more.

Jean said she didn't think the end of January was going to work for us. We would be back at the end of February, with only one commitment at the end of the month. Try early March for the handover. That way we have probably a whole month clear to work around potential problems. Odds are there would be no problems if there are no hard deadlines in the way.

On 30 January I phoned Carlyle Gardens to talk to the sales folks. The reason they had not contacted us a week or so back was that the house builders were not in fact ready for inspection and hand over mid January. It seemed likely they are not exactly ready even at that moment.

We arranged to phone Carlyle Gardens again at the end of February. We plan a trip to Carlyle Gardens in the first week of March, after returning from New Zealand. I hope to be able to take a car full of stuff from our shelves during each trip, even if it goes into a storage depot there. My room will be a real pain to pack without getting rid of some of the full boxes first.

Settlement

We contacted Carlyle Gardens sales folks on Monday 2 March 2009. Money settlement stuff for the house all organised. The financial people phoned the sales people and they agreed a corporate cheque was not the same as a personal cheque, and was much closer to a bank cheque. Obviously I did not manage to elucidate the difference when I attempted to explain. Glad we have that settled. We organised for a 1 p.m. handover on Tuesday 3 March. That gave us time to drive to Townsville starting early Tuesday morning.

We wanted to get started on this move while the weather was fine. It seemed Townsville had continuous rain all through February. Since we had encountered fine weather since we returned from New Zealand on Thursday we wanted to get as much moving done as we could before the rainy season returned.

A little later the sales people phoned back. The project manager wanted some time to check and correct any defects in the house. Better that sort of stuff got done before we started trying to move in. We rescheduled settlement to Thursday 5 March 2009. At least that gives more time to pack things.

On Thursday 5 March 2009 we made an uneventful four hour drive to Townsville. I did most of the highway driving, leaving Jean the horrors of Townsville traffic. We had left home at 7 a.m. We reached James Cook University just after 11 a.m. Despite knowing there is a main entrance, we never seem to be able to work out precisely how to get there. Jean's parking karma was working full time, and we got a 40 minute visitor parking spot just near the services building.

Jean had told the financial people at JCU we needed to change our cheque collecting date from Tuesday to Thursday. Alas, the manager Jean had talked to was off at a meeting elsewhere. Although the remaining two staff could get all the paperwork done, they could not issue our cheque. The manager was expected back around lunch time. We were early, and in any case our settlement was not scheduled until 1 p.m.

The financial folks phoned up various people to organise a cheque without us waiting. After a while someone at Brisbane figured they could issue, but print the cheque on the remote printer at JCU. That seemed to work. I think we need to bring them a box of chocolates. They could easily have taken the view that you have to wait until the manager returns, like so many businesses do.

Carlyle Gardens was our next destination. Nice quick drive on the new ring road motorway. Our salesperson saw us wandering towards her office, and hid. No, actually she was happy to do the paperwork straight away, since we were there. Or we could get lunch first. We took care of the paperwork.

So we ended up with a 75 day delay in moving in. We were by no means the only people with timing issues. In our case, our salesperson knew that we did not have any critical settlement dates to meet.

If you have timing critical events, like selling your former house, you need to be clear about whether you are going to put your furniture into storage, and where you intend to live. The whole moving thing is a lot easier if you do not have a time limit on moving out of your old house.

Inspection and Key

Next was the walk through inspection of the new house. As expected, the landscaping is not done yet. However the power was on, and there were no visible defects of workmanship. The air conditioners worked. The fans worked, and turned the correct direction. The stove seemed to turn on, and the dishwasher had obviously been tested. The doors all opened or slid, as did the windows.

There were two missing insect screens, main bathroom and living room near patio, which went on the report. The screen door keys were not going to be available for a while (lock problems). Indeed, even the house keys were not yet available. A power point at the end of the kitchen cupboard was not installed. The venting of air conditioner water and downpipes were ... silly.

We later discovered one of the ceiling air vents did not seem to operate correctly, but that discovery came only when we had our step ladder in the home.

We went to lunch at the Carlyle Gardens Ball and Wicket restaurant. Pickled pork roast, yum. Have not had that in years. Jean had the spatchcock. While we were having lunch, our salesperson brought us our house keys, so we could start moving stuff in. We also met Allan, the restaurant manager.

Packing (Part 1)

Having received the key at lunch on Thursday 5 March 2009, we were able to start unpacking. This multiple trip unpacking only worked because we lived within a driving day of Carlyle Gardens. Had we been further away, a one trip move would have been needed. Most people at Carlyle Gardens lived even closer than we did, but some came from interstate.

I quickly unpacked the car into the garage. I had been so proud of how much I had packed in the Subaru, having pretty much completely filled it. However looking over the tiny pile it did not look impressive rattling around an empty house. Four boxes, out of 40 I had packed (Jean had at least another 20 boxes packed, and we are probably only half packed). One small bookcase, out of around 40, mainly to see where bookcases would fit. Two drawer units, out of nearly 20, again to check how they fitted. A small glass top table, folding chair green, folding chair large blue. These were outdoor furniture, but gave us someplace temporary to sit or eat.

Box 4, kitchen gear, seemed to be lost, which upset me greatly. That was the starting box for the kitchen. While unpacking, I eventually discovered it had been double labelled as Box 31. Other boxes moved were box 29 bathroom with bathroom stuff, and box 30 kitchen glasses. Box 32 had plastic trays of hobby electronic components components and some portable fluorescent lights. That was not so much fragile as that it needed to remain upright (putting 5,000 resistors back in order is not my idea of fun). Plus the only box they would fit in was one I would need later for a computer, so that box needed to make a return trip early.

I also took my historical computing relic, the Applix 1616, plus its grayscale monitor. This was mainly to clear space on an Ikea unit we needed to disassemble back at our apartment.

It is not so much that we had brought anything special with us. Having a mover do the whole job would be easier, and we will be seeking a removalist. We brought things needed for the first few days (toilet paper, soap, a few glasses and some plastic dishes). We also brought things that were fragile, or needed special care. Mostly old electronics of mine, collections of components in drawers from which everything would spill if handled wrong. Plus a small step ladder for getting at curtain fittings and lights.

The main reasons from bringing stuff was to clear enough floor space at our apartment to be able to continue packing. Plus we wanted to see how certain items would fit. Hence the sample drawers, and the solitary bookcase.

We had brought some old sheets, which we held up to the windows. As temporary window coverings, they seemed unlikely to make the grade. Too thin. I suggested we look in Spotlight for curtain blockout fabric or curtain linings, as a temporary fix. We do not expect to find curtains and fittings we like all that quick. We had however brought a box of thumb tacks to tack up whatever we used as curtains. We planned to tack to the top of the window frames, where the holes could not be seen.

Furnishing

Retravision at Domain is an electrical goods store we had checked previously, back around November probably. We only had what little remained of the Thursday afternoon to get the essentials for the new house. Jean surged in, and started checking the upside down fridge freezers of above 300 litre and below 500 litre capacity. A salesman turned up just when she wanted to check some capacity figures on one she liked.

Jean quickly added a front loading washing machine, a small microwave stove, a gecko proof electric kettle, and a battery vacuum cleaner to her booty. They could deliver the two large items today or Friday. We probably would have been better to have gone for delivery today, but we were really getting tired by then. So, Friday delivery it was.

We stopped at Willows Shopping Centre to get food for our stay. Milk, orange juice, ham, tomato, cheese, a few bread rolls, some salad, all from Coles. Despite the Itara resort where we were staying having a full featured kitchen in each self contained apartment, we thought it was unlikely we would want to cook a meal during our stay. I also stopped at Lowes to get three cheap polo shirts and a pair of shorts. The humidity was making me feel a real grub when unloading boxes, so I wanted more than one change of shirt a day on hand.

At this stage we discovered that Tropical Cyclone Hamish was potentially headed this way. The problem even with cyclones that miss you is they often cut the only road. So we would need to rush back to Airlie Beach as soon as we could.

Dawn is the wrong time to get up, so we were awake before dawn on Friday 6 March 2009. We must have reached the new house only a little after 7 a.m. Mostly we took measurements of rooms. Some measurements did not match what I thought from the plans. However the resulting differences were often better for what I wanted to do. We left as soon as shops were likely to be open.

Domain shopping area seemed to contain a splendid range of bed shops. Sleep City had several Australian made ranges in soft, medium and hard. Sounds almost like the three bears. They had several pillow top bed models that suited us, although some were distinctly better than others. However we ended up with a Queen size latex rubber mattress, partly since that was what could be delivered today.

The delivery people do not seem to like latex mattresses, as they are very heavy. However since they have no internal structure, they are not rigid like a box spring mattress. So they are a real handful to move, especially once they escape from their cardboard box.

Curtains for you and me. Except we do not have a clue what to use long term for window coverings at the moment. At Airlie Beach, the nearest neighbour who could see in would need a telescope from across Boathaven Bay. For the past decade, we have had vertical blinds, which I rather like. Jean is less impressed, but that could be because my blinds still work, while her ones have failed.

We were going to tack some sheets to the top of the window framing, as a temporary covering. However the sheets we took were just too thin. I had suggested blackout cloth from Spotlight fabrics. So Jean found the shortcut from Domain straight into Spotlight. After we looked at several $6 to $10 per metre fabrics, I came upon a roll of $3 a metre curtain liner seconds. So we got 20 metres of that ... and a pair of scissors so we could cut it up.

Then we had to rush back to the new house at Carlyle Gardens, and stay there until all the furniture deliveries arrived. Luckily they all did arrive on the promised Friday.

We again stayed overnight at the apartment we had rented for the few days. The last of the deliveries made it too late to contemplate the drive back home. Tropical Cyclone Hamish is headed down the coast. We still wanted to get home to Airlie Beach before the Bruce Highway flooded. We stopped at our new home at Carlyle Gardens very early on Saturday 7 March 2009 to collect some of the empty boxes so we could continue packing.

Packing (Part 2)

I made another trip early on Wednesday 11 March 2009. Unloading the car went well, filling the foyer fairly quickly. I soon abandoned the unpacking, and went seeking lunch. The bridge between Carlyle Gardens and The Far Side was still not open, even to pedestrian traffic. Considering the heat, I drove to the Carlyle Gardens administrative building, where I was introduced to Col and Carol, who had also recently moved in. Next was the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. My roast beef even came with a nice glass of red. While waiting, Col and Carol came in, so I invited them to join my table. It was interesting to hear of their three month delay awaiting a Telstra phone. Seems almost a constant theme.

Back at the house, I finally completed the unpacking. This was mostly because the boxes had to return for further loads. I had moved boxes 7 and 8, both containing SF books. The small Dick Smith loudspeakers. Plus an AudioEngine 5. ST-TNG DVDs. Yamaha Sub-woofer. A weather station, router, and various wheels for workshop stuff. The two boxes of Applix floppy disks also went, just to get them off the Ikea. I also took another bunch of fragile plastic parts boxes. A box of generally obsolete electronics parts, like old hubs. Another box of kitchen gear. A big box of computer magazines. The bedside bookcase, so I could take Jean some photos of how it looked in various positions. Plus the wooden table I made from the waterbed parts, so Jean could have it for her room. That actually was not a bad haul to take.

Cutting the curtains was next. Despite my mother being a seamstress, I am certainly no dab hand with a set of shears. However eventually I had a bunch of drapes hacked out.

When Jean said we needed 20 metres, I thought that was more than a sufficiency. However somehow we had both dramatically underestimated the coverage needed for all the windows. Each of the three bedroom needed two drapes, of around 2.2 metres. The dining room needed the same. The lounge windows to the patio needed closer to four drapes. That makes around 12 drapes each exceeding two metres, and we have not even considered the laundry. Twenty metres are certainly not enough. So I did the best I could.

I have to say the quality of thumb tacks has declined since my youth. I seemed to break around one tack in three when hand pressing them into the woodwork to hold up my impromptu curtains. Obviously I did the tacking into the top of the window surrounds, so no sign of the position of the tacks will be seen when we finally find proper blinds. This was the first time I was sufficiently organised to stay overnight in the new house at Carlyle Gardens.

Spent the next morning doing more unpacking, and completed putting in the curtains. Well, curtain substitutes really. It becomes more and more apparent that the wall spaces are inadequate for the quantities of bookcases we shall be bringing with us. My reason for staying this morning, rather than returning to Airlie Beach at dawn, was I had heard there was a residents meeting today. As expected, there were numerous complaints.

Complaints at Residents Meeting

Defects to be handled. Contractors are turning up at random times, without notice. Sounds like North Queensland to me. Walkways have cracks, opened with angle grinder and mastic applied. Mastic colour does not match. You have a walkway? Awnings need to be colour co-ordinated. That must be in the talk the manager gives new residents. Downpipes are different between builders, with Greens seeming to be liked more.

House design changes, as allowed by the contracts. We have a solar tube skylight over the kitchen, which was not in the exhibition home. It is nice.

Complaints about lights going on and off randomly. Lights flashing in the dark. I know about that one, and it is different to random lighting. Light circuits for electronic fluorescent lights need to have dual pole switch, to cut neutral as well as active. Queensland electricians are not going to wire that way. However electronic ballast fluorescent lights will have one of their capacitors charge from induced voltage in the non-switched line. Then they will do a gas discharge. Our back bedroom light does this about 3 times every 20 minutes. All depends on wiring, and make of light.

Ergon trenching. Be patient. Paint touch up. Why does painter bring only one colour of paint. Termite proofing certificate? Ours is inside the cupboard at the kitchen sink, and also in the electric meter box.

There will be a footbridge. Eventually. Probably not until Stage 3.

Pay TV. Austar. Awaiting ClearSky launch, expected 19 March. 570 to 572 have no TV reception at all. They are on the same fibre as the new construction. I still have no clear idea how TV feeds reach us.

Hot water switches. Argument about where they are located. Ours is off at the electric meter box.

Air conditioners sitting in water at some homes. Check footings at bottom of unit. Mike says they should not be mounted on walls. Two of ours are mounted up on walls. I never yet saw an AC installer who did what he was told about installation locations.

Floor waste drain hole not in laundry. For some reason, Queensland regulations do not insist upon it, so builders do not install. Only in bathrooms. I note kitchens do not have an overflow drain either, despite having dish washer plumbed in.

Vans and motorhomes additional parking on hard standing overspill area. No formally handed over. Nominal charge. Replaced by permanent parking but not for at least 18 months. Income from charges goes to the village. No power or water available.

Signage. New signs to come. Private no entry. Plus three directional signs to Carlyle Gardens.

Letter boxes. Need approval for structure, not sought as yet. After contractors leave. Something unofficial to start with. Will be built later.

Centi-meter. Not in some homes. We have ours. It seems to work fine.

Beautification of the drainage ditch that Council own. Council are happy for Prime to take over looking after it, but in their own sweet time. No time span given.

I drove back to Airlie Beach in the afternoon after the meeting.

Packing (Part 3)

The amount of floor space in the apartment is still insufficient to accept the number of boxes being packed. How did we ever manage to get that much stuff into a three room apartment! I will have to make another trip to help empty the apartment floor enough to pack more.

I took a few more loads of small stuff down to the car before leaving on Tuesday 17 March 2009. It took around 25 trips down the two stories of steps to fill the boot, back seats, and front passenger seat. I had put 20 of the boxes in the car during the previous day. Was driving just after six in the morning.

I contrived to time this trip so I could attend the Telstra presentation about mobile phone facilities in the Townsville area (and using your mobile phone) soon after I arrived. Had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens Ball and Wicket restaurant. In the evening there was the St Patricks Day party at the Carlton Theatre, with the Townsville Pipe and Drum Band.

I drove back to Airlie Beach at dawn the next day to continue packing. Late in the day, Jean got a phone call from our lawyer. Had we received his letter about our new home contract? Well, no, we were not expecting to need to see him again, as we thought we had signed everything a few weeks back. Now that Airlie Beach mail actually gets sent to Cannonvale, we also do not check the mail very often. At present, once or twice a week for mail. In the future, perhaps monthly.

So Jean drove off and collected the remains of the contract from the Post Office. We made an appointment for Thursday. No great problems, and it was good that he called.

Moving Day

Our moving day was Monday 23 March 2009. I already had the car just about full of stuff the previous day. We were also completely packed, to the extent that a jumble sale is packed.

John the mover arrived at 9:25 a.m. with his helpers David and Tai. He has estimated 3.5 hours. David felt ill after several hours work in the heat, and had to leave. I certainly felt the effort of the steps from the few small loads I carried down. Packing everything into the truck took until 1:30 p.m. Except for a car luggage pod and one tall stand, everything fitted. That was impressive.

Sunland Shopping centre at the end of the motorway was our last stop. We needed stuff like milk for the next day. We bought a pizza for dinner, and continued on to Carlyle Gardens, arriving around 6:45 p.m.

Unpacking the car was fairly quick. Before even eating the pizza. A far different experience to the packing of the car.

The air conditioning went off after a few minutes. It came back on about a half hour later. The other air conditioners also failed to start. Nothing wrong in the meter box. No circuits tripped. We turned on fans and opened doors in the meanwhile. We later learned that the air conditioning and hot water service was on Tariff 33. The electricity authority can turn them off during periods of peak demand. In summer, that happens regularly for about a half hour morning and evening when people are cooking dinner.

Looking at the rooms in our new house again, I still can not see how to make effective use of the space. Walls are all too short for decent bookcases.

John the mover turned up on our doorstep at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday 24 March, rather than several hours later. We had half expected that, and except for not having had breakfast, were ready for him. His daughter was going to help him, but John was alone, with no helpers.

The new house is flat and level, and could take a ramp directly into the garage (in case it rained). Plus except for a few items, everything we own weighs less than 20 kg. Unloading did not require two people, except for a couple of awkwardly large bookcases, and the treadmill. I was able to take most of the light stuff directly to where we wanted to unpack it. All the boxes and items were marked on every side with stick on paper dots, with different colours for which room or area each needed to go to. This made unpacking much easier.

John's daughter arrived just as we unloaded the very last item. Well timed, and a credit to university education. The unloading was basically complete by 10:30 a.m. The less said about the unpacking the better.

That evening I went to a Meet and Greet at the bar for new arrivals. That was followed by Carlyle Gardens Project Manager Peter Kirkham giving a talk to the Computer Club on future proofing Carlyle Gardens with fibre optics, structured wiring and TV via the optical fibre.

It seemed only appropriate that the future awaited us.