Monthly Archives: August 2014

Trees

I’m sure you recall our tree-in-the-middle-of-the-driveway problem?

We’ve been asking around to see who will relocate it for us. We tried Wisdom Landscapes, seeing as they will be on site with an escalator for the driveway anyway, but they won’t touch it in case it dies. And they say it will die.

We managed to get a quote from The Tree Men for $350, which is better than we thought.

Apart from that I thought it might be time to post another picture of the plants we’ve been growing up to size at home.

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The NSW Christmas Bush, Lilly Pilly and Warratah have all grown fast. Before the Christmas Bush were about 1.1-1.2 m tall, now they’re somewhere around 1.7 m (it’s hard to measure a tree!). The Lilly Pilly was 1.5 m and is now about 1.7 m and has filled out quite a bit. The Warratahs are now around 50 cm tall and we keep having to cut back the purple fountain grass, it’s practically ready to climb out of it’s pot.

In case you’re wondering, that yellowy-spiky thing in the bottom right corner is a pineapple plant. It’s not real impressed that it’s winter.

At the new house we’ve been given a tentative PCI date of September 18. Fingers crossed!

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Garage door, window hoods and toilets

Come Friday afternoons I’m practically desperate to know that even if my work life has spiraled out of control this week then the build has continued to make progress. But, frustratingly, at the moment all we can really do is peer through the windows.

This week though we got to see a few more bits of the outside as well. First up is the garage door. You can also see that the electrician has been back on site to install the security system and light batten holders.

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Security and light fittings

Security and outdoor lights

And then there is the window hoods. If you can recall, these were on the insistance of the DRP. That’s why 5/8 of them are utterly useless.

Window hoods on the secondary frontage. These face north so they will be semi useful in summer.

Window hoods on the secondary frontage. These face north so they will be semi useful in summer.

Most useless window hood in history. Yes, we did argue that this would be stupid and yes, they did insist on it anyway.

Most useless window hood in history. Yes, we did argue that this would be stupid and yes, they did insist on it anyway.

There are more on the western front but I didn’t snap a picture. I may have been distracted by our shiny new door furniture.

Front door handle

Front door handle

Weather strip on front door

Weather strip on front door

Around the perimeter of the house a orange pipe has been laid for the termite control. You can see it here under the outdoor power point.

Outdoor power point and termite control

Outdoor power point and termite control

On the inside (peering through the window, I’m sorry) I can see the taps, towel holders and even the toilet has been installed. The tile work has been finished off, too.

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Powder room

In the kitchen I can see the range hood has been delivered, the lights are in as well as our sink. No news on the cupboards though.

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Kitchen

While all that is happening James and I have been busy sticking to our cleaning schedule. So far we’ve managed to cull an awful lot of paper (who knew, in the digital age, that two people could keep so much paper?) and enough books to start our own library. If anyone needs any engineering textbooks let me know!

Other things that have made their way to the bin is about 10 half used tubs of various  moisturisers (and I STILL have a dry skin). I also finally got rid of a kilo of talcum powder, which we only ever used once to make deodorisers for James’ sweaty bike gear (that totally works, by the way, but you definitely don’t need a whole kg).

Next on the hit list is electronics. We’ve managed to sell off one piece and hoping to either sell or donate the rest. Sadly, the goods seem to be coming in as fast as they go out… we’ve had to buy a new iron (the other one met the wrong side of some fusible interfacing one too many times) and we’re in the market for a new washing machine. But, alas, washing machines are a whole other story and it’s getting on towards dinner time!

Painting, tiles and other bits and pieces

Having worked all weekend I’ve barely had time to think about the build, let alone write about it, but I have a spare few minutes now.

After much deliberation (and I’m still not sure we made the right decision) we asked to have the top of the kitchen cupboards reduced in height just enough to fit in the cornice. We think this will fit in with the rest of the house better. It’s not a huge place and we think the square set would have looked a bit out of place. I will miss the sleek modern look of those cupboards though! Sigh.

We also made this decision knowing that the square set cornice was not a “done deal” and arguing back and forth would take time and energy we just don’t have at this point. We have asked for a refund on the extra money we paid to have the height of those cupboards increased in the first place ($430), but we haven’t heard back about whether that will be honored or not yet.

We think the cupboards will take between 3 and 4 weeks to be rebuilt, plus install time, so we have our fingers crossed it won’t push out our guesstimate move in time.

While all that is going on the tile guy has been going slow and steady. The things we know about the tile guy (having never actually met him) is:

  • he’s a one man show
  • he has not managed to put the wrong tile in the wrong way on the wrong floor (yet) and the work looks fantastic
  • he is happy to work around the painters and they don’t mind working around him (we’ve heard that painters and tilers don’t always play nice together).
  • he chain smokes. Inside our house. The house reeks of cigarettes. (We are not smokers and the smell drives us mad).
Main bathroom

Main bathroom

Ensuite shower

Ensuite shower

Decorative tiles have arrived

Decorative tiles have arrived

The painters have been busy as well. Our parapet moroka has been painted and after a nervous moment where I thought I was going to hate the colour I’ve decided I like it instead.

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Finishing touches have been put on the eaves and cladding over the garage (sorry for the blur).

wpid-20140815_172639.jpgBits and pieces of the services have been painted, like the plumbing on the rainwater tank. We’re actually not pleased with the plumbing work here, it didn’t need to stick out as much as it does. Further confirmation that our plumber is a bit lazy.

wpid-20140815_172303.jpgThe laundry door has been painted, as well as our front door. Inside, all the walls and the stair case has been painted.

Laundry door

Laundry door

Front door

Front door

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And we were thoroughly locked out over the weekend so I’ve had to settle for snapping photos of whatever I can through the windows (which are filthy, by the way).

Kitchen bench has arrived!

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And so have the bathroom benches and sinks.

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Unfortunately that’s where the fun stops because we can’t get inside!

Behind the scenes we’re having all kinds of trouble with the stupid tree that needs removing  (long story). We’re also busy getting quotes for things like dirt, turf and haven bricks to guesstimate how much the landscaping will cost us. Because we haven’t filled every square cm of the block with our house, our neighbour’s builders have been using our back yard as a thoroughfare. That means we’re going to have to add quite a bit of fill. $$$$

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Kitchen dilemmas

Remember all the trouble we had with the kitchen company? We fought them the whole way over prices, paperwork not being returned, incorrect quotes, everything. We had our quote revised 6 times. Well, they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

We have an issue with the overhead kitchen cupboards. If you can recall, I specifically asked for the overhead cupboards to extend up to ceiling height, removing the need for a bulk head. This made sense to us for a number of reasons- not least of which it meant that they wouldn’t draw a lot of attention to themselves and just kind of blend into the wall, making the room look a little bigger.

Well, we got what we asked for but the problem is that someone should have pointed out they cupboards would never work with the cornicing! If they just run the cornicing into the cupboards it will firstly look really stupid and secondly we won’t be able to open one of the doors.

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The SS invited us out to discuss some options. This was the first time I’d met him and he actually seems really lovely. He spent an hour with us going through the cornicing issue and a few other little niggling things. Basically, he was not at all impressed with the kitchen company. If you can remember there are two companies and we didn’t get any choice which one we got. The SS said that if we had the other kitchen company this kind of thing would never have happened because they are so thorough. I offered him some feedback on our experience with them and hopefully he takes that back to his boss.

Back to the cornicing- we don’t have a lot of options. The big boss wants to rip the cupboards off the wall and send them back to the kitchen company to have them remade 150 mm lower at the top to be able to put in a narrow bulk head and wrap the cornicing around all the cupboards.

Another option (and one that the big boss probably wouldn’t approve anyway) is to remove the cornicing from the kitchen, dining and leisure rooms and have it square set. Square set cornicing is usually the most expensive option and I’ve heard some builders will flatly refuse to do it.

Any suggestions?

Making online shopping even better

It’s not often I see a product that meets my “wow” criteria. To be a wow product, it would have to be:

  • something I’ve never seen before
  • something that would change my day to day life
  • not in the order of thousands of dollars

However, I did have a wow moment in Bunnings the other day when I spotted this:

Say good bye to making special trips to the post office!

Say good bye to making special trips to the post office!

What is it, you ask? It’s a letterbox for receiving PARCELS!

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Ok, so it’s not the most attractive letterbox around (but believe me, not the worst one on the shelf, either), but I would never have to make a special trip to the post office just to get my online shopping again! 

And before you go thinking $329 is a bit steep for a letterbox, think again. Letterboxes are seriously more expensive than I thought.

The best bit!

HOOORRAAYY! The kitchen has started!

Also, the ceiling has been painted and the plaster seal paint is finished.

Kitchen- viewed from dining room

Kitchen- viewed from dining room

Kitchen- viewed from leisure room

Kitchen- viewed from leisure room

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The bench top will sit out as far as the measuring tape in this photo. And that’s one of the tiles that will go on the floor. We were surprised to see they are not where near as grey as we thought they would be.

Showing where the bench top will sit out to

Showing where the bench top will sit out to

On the underside of the overhead cupboards you can see the small recess for where the LED strip lights will go. Can you remember all the fuss that was made about these lights?

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Recess for LED strip light

On the inside of the cupboards there is a small false shelf that will house all the power cords etc for the strip lights.

False shelf

False shelf

We have two issues that have to be resolved. First one is that the fridge space isn’t high enough. We specifically asked for a higher than normal space (1835 mm). What they’ve given us is 1830 mm but that doesn’t take into consideration the height of the tiles. We hope they can fix that without too much drama.

Fridge space too small

Fridge space too small

The other issue is what to do abut the cornicing for this part of the kitchen wall. If we just install the cornicing along like all the other bits we won’t be able to open the overhead cupboard, which we pad extra for so they would extend to the ceiling. We think someone should have thought about that before now!

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A fair amount of the tiles have arrived and the water-proofing of all the wet areas has been done.

Ensuite shower

Ensuite shower

Main bathroom

Main bathroom

The bathroom vanities have all been installed as well.

Main bathroom

Main bathroom

Ensuite bathroom

Ensuite bathroom

We have a rain water tank now.

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Last, but not least, the window has been moved into the rightful spot. While we were inside today checking out the kitchen a plaster guy came and started working on patching up the inside around the window.

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Next week the tiling should start. 🙂

Stairs

The stairs were installed yesterday. They’re nothing too fancy, we just went with the stock standard stairs. The handrails and banisters will be painted, not stained, and the steps will be carpeted. Here’s some photos.

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Storage space under the stairs.

Storage space under the stairs.

They’ve also started moving the window over. Now that some bricks have been removed it’s fairly obvious why the window has been put where it is. They’re going to have to modify the frame to get it into position. I just don’t want to know…

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We’re hoping that the floor tiles will started this week but they haven’t been delivered yet.

Something not quite right

This week the plaster work and carpentry continued. The cornicing went up in most places as well as architraves and skirting boards. All our doors have been hung (inside and out- except for garage door), which means we’re essentially locked out unless someone forgets to lock one of the doors (thankfully they did or I would have died from anticipation). Unfortunately that means there will be less opportunities to take photos from now on.

Front door installed.

Front door installed.

Laundry door installed. It won't be staying timber unfortunately, it will have to be painted.

Laundry door installed. It won’t be staying timber unfortunately, it will have to be painted.

This is the leisure room. It's a good example of the cornicing, architraves and skirting boards.

This is the leisure room. It’s a good example of the cornicing, architraves and skirting boards.

Pantry doors installed.

Pantry doors installed.

Little door installed to access space under stairs for storage (hard to believe this little baby cost us $300).

Little door installed to access space under stairs for storage (hard to believe this little baby cost us $300).

Mirror robe doors in one of the bedrooms.

Mirror robe doors in one of the bedrooms.

Mirror robe doors in our "walk in".

Mirror robe doors in our “walk in”.

Internal door to the garage- this is the door we've chosen throughout the whole house.

Internal door to the garage- this is the door we’ve chosen throughout the whole house.

Around the outside of the house there has been a big clean up of all the rubbish, which has made the yard space look bigger. The lower part of the brickwork has been cleaned as well.

Primary frontage.

Primary frontage.

Secondary frontage.

Secondary frontage.

In one of the conversations James had with the SS a week or so ago was about the downpipe you can see in that picture above. I had taken one look at it from the street and told James that it was wonky. James had gone in for closer inspection and noticed a bracket was bent out of shape and guessed that was the problem, and he mentioned it to the SS. The SS comes along and notices that the problem is a bit bigger than either of us noticed. The ensuite windows and the powder room window don’t line up! Now that I’ve pointed it out to you I bet it’s so obvious! Take a closer look:

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Oops. The window’s don’t line up.

What a funny mistake! The bracket on the downpipe is definitely broken so that will be an easy fix, but now they have to re-position one of the windows as well. Glad the SS picked it up. We probably would have just kept looking at it thinking something’s not quite right. We bet the SS is glad that we’ve kept all those spare bricks.

We were also given our first “guesstimate” on when the build should be finished: 6 to 8 weeks. If it all goes to plan we will probably be moving in a week or two shy of our landlord kicking us out!

Just the thought of moving makes me slightly ill. All that packing. All the cleaning! And, possibly worse, all the unpacking. 

Which is why we’ve decided to approach it like a side of vegetables. You wouldn’t leave the brussel sprouts until the last bite, would you? If we do just a little bit of the boring stuff each weekend then we won’t have a whole plateful come move-out time.

We figure there is roughly 6 areas of our current rental- yard, bedroom, guest room and bathroom, study, living room and kitchen. We’re going to be going through one area each weekend for the next 6 weeks, doing a major cull and clean out and maybe even packing what we won’t be using. I suspect whole bottles of wine will be lost to this cause- I’m certainly not approaching the bathroom cupboard sober.

bathroom mess