Monday, October 19, 2015

It's official

Final certificate
It’s official, after more than 8 years of work the house is “done” and we have the final certificate from the council to prove it.

We purposely didn't keep track of our time because we reckoned it would add up to be a scary number.  However, I do know that we have:
  • Moved every brick, by hand, at least 3 times. 
  • Constructed around 22 square metres of leadlight.
  • Hand sanded about 70 square metres of plasterboard.
  • Used roughly 50 metres of copper plumbing pipe for things other than plumbing.
  • Spent over $2,000 on screws, more than $500 on caulk and precisely $202 on sandpaper.
Admittedly, there are still a couple of small things to do, like strip and install 50 metres of cedar skirting board and make another four panes of leadlight - so the housewarming is yet to be scheduled. And after that? Well I think Louis L’Amour got it right when he said:
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stairs (still)

Pine handrail and copper balusters
So, after a nice distraction we’re back to the main job – installing the hand rail and balusters on the staircase.  The pine hand rail we’re using came from a 100+ year old house and, would you believe, is just about the right length.  The balusters on the other hand took quite a lot of thinking.  One early idea  was to get our friends to make one baluster each and then install what was sure to be a random assortment.  But we figured we wanted to finish this decade and dismissed the idea.  We then looked around for off the rack solutions and scoured second hand building places.  But not much really grabbed us and the few that did must have been gold plated going on the price. 
The challenge has been to get something that:
  • Fitted in with the overall “restored old house” ambience,
  • Met the building regulations,
  • Fell within the budget,
  • Could be installed by us, and
  • Had a warehouse, industrial feel.
We finally settled on 19mm copper pipe connected by brass plumbing fittings.  We’ve used the same approach to “hide” the electrical wiring and also, not surprisingly, for the actual plumbing.  Putting the pieces together is slow but giving me ample time to consider a few other outstanding problems.  Firstly, I need to find some non-slip nosing for the stairs that meets the regs but doesn’t look like it came from the Jetsons. There’s also an awkward bit on the landing that I’m not sure how a rail will work and, unfortunately, I’m in need of one more stair newel. 

Apart from that…. we’re close.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A nice distraction

Farm house and 2 storey garage
We got a little distracted recently when the opportunity popped up to remove some bits from my father-in-law’s child hood home.  The building, which is over a hundred years old, has seen several decades pass since it was someone’s home.  The avant-garde lean on the two storey garage provides a visual queue as to what will probably happen next.
Front veranda

One of the treasures we picked up was the original front door, with glass intact.  The plan is to ultimately incorporate it into our home.  But in the meantime it’s safely ensconced in the shed with the other treasures; 30 metres of skirting, 8 metres of pine handrail, 2 mantle pieces, 10 square metres of pressed tin ceiling (didn't I say I'd never do old tin again?) and a couple of light switches.
Front door
It was sad to see what had once been a modest but much loved farm house looking so dilapidated. Its broken windows had let in a flock of starlings and an apparently incontinent possum, while cattle had pushed over veranda posts in the quest for the ultimate back scratch. 
But despite the obvious neglect there was still a nice ambiance to the place as it almost appeared to recline amongst the old trees, occasional clump of jonquils and remnants of a picketed garden fence.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The big push of April 2015

Rolex supervising the
trench digging
We were blessed with the opportunity to spend a 3 week block of time working on site during April 2015 – and work we did.  Here’s the wrap up.

Water tank, solar tubes and
worm loo
In hot water
Under the supervision of arguably the best plumber in the district, Phil, the hot water system was installed. We opted to put the rack of solar tubes on the ground rather than on the roof mainly to make access safer both during installation and future maintenance. One slight hiccough arose when a huge storm came through between installing the hot water tank and filling it.  Who’d have thought that a 350litre tank like that, sheltered by the house and attached by copper pipes to the wall would blow over? There was no damage, but poor Phil had to redo his copper work which was no longer text book neat. Mental note for next time – fill tank asap.

Long ago I discovered that I did not want to be a ditch digger. I came to this conclusion after hours of ditch digging. I can now add that I do not want to be a plasterer. After 2 weeks of sheeting and mudding I am over it. But it is finished. We did encounter a challenge where the plasterboard wall meets the
Rytek ceiling. Because the latter is metal it expands and contracts much differently to the plasterboard which means it’s difficult to achieve a visually pleasing joint. After much discussion the solution we went for was to use "P50 shadowline" which gives a uniform shadow line (hence the name eh?) between the two surfaces. It looks very neat, but took an age to get right.

Painting for pleasure
After all that plastering it was (almost) a pleasure to get on to the painting. I think I spent more time climbing up and down the ladder than I did putting paint on the walls.
Plastered, painted
and fanned
Part of our building approval requires the installation of ceiling fans in the upstairs bedrooms. We’d anticipated this and already had the electrician wire a 3 pin socket on the rafters for us. All I needed to do was plug the fan in or so I thought. I hadn’t realised that the fans came in kit form. Some of the components can be assembled on the ground but several, like the blades, can only be put together once the fan is hung. So there I was, 3 metres up trying to follow some poorly written instructions whilst juggling a 12 kilo fan and 5 large blades. The first fan took 3 hours to install, the second 45 minutes. Proof that I am teachable at least.

Bathroom cabinet
I finally got around to installing the bathroom cabinet as well as the mirror in the loo.  That's both rooms completed now.
So what’s left to go?
Well the list is getting shorter:
· Handrails for the staircase.
· Leadlight for 6 doors upstairs.
· A ceiling fan for downstairs.
· Paving the back veranda, and
· 1,853 other things I can’t think of at the moment.