Thanks Gavin, that is an interesting link.
For my purposes, I was trying to stay away from any 'boutique' distributions and rather wanted to stick to something more universal. This way I'm not at the mercy of something that'll fall out of favour in future. But I'm also a bit of a propellerhead and like to tinker, another reason to do it from scratch.
I've also not spent too much time looking into ext4. I kinda stick to things I now when I know very little
and didn't want to risk the data on newer technologies. ext3 works for me and I've got more than enough performance, but I will look into ext4 in future as well.