One of the good things about buying the house when we did is that we have about one month to move. We are doing a lot of what needs done slowly, trying to be as efficient as possible. First thing we did was clean – it is a new house, and quite clean actually, but there were some spiders that needed to be introduced to the sucking end of a hoover… And we wiped out the kitchen cabinets, washed windows, etc. It wasn’t ‘dirty’ really, just a bit dusty from sitting empty for several months.
In the course of this cleaning, we noticed a few ‘minor’ things not working – the gas stove, gas water heater, electric oven, and electric heating and cooling. The gas issues made sense – the builder hadn’t had the gas turned on while the place was empty, so all it took was a call to Origin Energy…presto, we have hot water and a way to cook.
The electrical issues were a bit different. The first thing we tried was turning on the heat, as it was about 14 degrees when we were there on the Saturday after we got possession. Dan turned on the main power on the outside unit, then came back in to turn on the thermostat. It did nothing, not even light up. Aussie friends who came by looked at it (we thought they might know more about this weird system) and couldn’t figure it out either. Then later we tried to turn on the oven, which is just down the wall from the thermostat, and it didn’t come on either. So we figured that there was some connection between the two, and that something was blown or there was some switch we couldn’t find.
On Monday morning, Dan texted the real estate agent to have him ask the builder about this. Quite soon after, an electrician called to make an appointment to look at the problems. Or, more accurately, the problem because the oven wasn’t a problem it was just silly. The electrician pointed out that there are 3 controls: type of use (bake, grill, etc), temperature, and a timer. Turns out you have to turn all three on…we only tried the first two, figuring we weren’t timing anything. But the timer is actually the main control for the oven, and also has a manual setting for when you aren’t timing. We felt like idiots, but the electrician did say it was a stupid setup and he gets this same call often. He then looked at the thermostat and did the same thing that we had all done – push the on button a few times, go flick the main on the outdoor unit, look in the main power panel…nothing. So he says he will tell the builder it requires the HVAC people who installed it.
Later that afternoon, HVAC guy comes. Pushes on button a few times, flicks main power switch, looks in panel…and decides he needs to go up in the ceiling to look at another part of the unit we didn’t know existed. He fiddles around up there for a while (we were starting to worry that he had been killed by spiders) then comes down and tries it again – and it worked! He said that the control panel has two sets of leads that the thermostat could be wired into – one of which says “connect thermostat here” and the other says “do not use”. Well, one of his illiterate colleagues a few months earlier had hooked the thermostat to the one that seems only to be there to test the reading comprehension of apprentice electricians. And no one had tested it. Duh.
So now we have heating and cooling, hot water, and places to cook. And we have a few other things in the house. Each evening after work, we load up the car with a few boxes (dishes, clothes, CDs, whatever) or something small-ish (dining room chairs, for instance, whatever fits in our car), and make a run to the new house. Things get put away, boxes brought back for the next evening. Weekends, we can do a few trips.
But the most important thing we have is a letterbox. There wasn’t one installed when we got the house, and we have been discussing what we want to do. Most likely, we will get someone to build a really nice one with stone to match the rest of the landscaping. But Lisa thought we should have a temporary one, quickly. So we went to Bunnings and bought the cheapest little post and the second cheapest letterbox, and Dan put it up. The post is so thin that he just used a little garden trowel to make a hole to stick it in, then packed the clay (our neighbourhood is red clay) back around it, and it is still standing a few days later. The day after we put it in, we got junk mail! At least we know it works. Day two, it had a garbage collection calendar in it, because someone from council dropped off our wheelie bins. And the third day: mail. We weren’t even going to check, but it had rained hard the night before and Dan wanted to make sure his pathetic installation was holding up. While looking at it, he thought he might as well see if there was anything inside and, lo and behold, real addressed mail brought by a dude on a motorcycle! There were two pieces, both from our bank, which makes sense because pretty much only them, our solicitor, and the real estate agent know we live there and might be mailing something. And we got the docos from the solicitor to the house in Kooringal already…Aus post in amazing – the house settlement was at 2 pm Friday, the solicitor put the stuff in the post at some point after that, and they were in our mailbox Monday morning!
Oh yeah, and the NSW Roads people know where we live too, because after driving for a year with our Alberta licenses, we now have Australian licenses that have our permanent address on them. We can now prove we live here!