Monday 22 December 2014

The Shed is Built !!

At long last the shed is finally up, proving once and for all, all good things come to those who wait... actually, as my shirt says, to those who work their asses off and never give up! 

Yes it's been a while, starting way back here on 3 July 2014, dealing with unexpected set backs due to sewer pipes and council building regulations, subsequently learning about the history of the property through the council building searches, choosing a builder and signing contracts, before finally seeing some progress with the form-work done for the slab to be laid. So without further ado, see the shed evolve through the photo essay below...

A big thanks to Trevor from McSheds and Cameron from Gun Constructions for getting the shed delivered and constructed by Xmas. I can honestly say that while we were limited to a 3m x 4m shed due to the council building regulations Trevor and Cameron ensured we got value for money. Best of all they took care of all the non-construction related aspects for us as well from design, to council approval, to final building certification. Last but not least, a big thanks to Kate for coordinating everything as resident on-site construction manager, so that the only thing I needed to do was pick out shed colours one lunchtime (thanks babe x).

Cheers, Col

PS. In lieu of a topping out ceremony yours truly celebrated this building completion with one of James Boag's finest :-)

Monday 1 December 2014

Building the Shed - Update # 2

Sometimes it feels like you're getting nowhere fast when renovating... and then it all starts to come together at the same time. This week we've had a new pool pump installed, new LED lights installed in three of the four bedrooms, two new Solarstar roof vents have been installed, the new hot water system has been installed, and we even managed to find some replacement floor tiles for the laundry (now that is a story that deserves its own blog post in due course as we progress through the laundry renovation). 

Even better, I managed to score two slabs this week, both of which managed to put a smile on my dial :-) The first slab was a reward for taking the old hot water system and copper piping to the metal merchant, who gave me enough gold coins to stop in at the Bottle'O on the way home and grab a slab of XXXX Summer Lager - who says renovating is not without its rewards.

But even better than that, was finding out on Friday arvo that a second slab was only a few days away, with the form work for the shed's slab to go down on Monday, with the concrete to be laid Tuesday. How very cool to come home today and see the slab for the shed ready for a pour tomorrow... sweeeeet!!

It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a concrete pour !! Best of all it will be done by the time I get home and then it's a short wait for the slab to cure and the shed goes up the following Monday.

Cheers, Col

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Gutting The Laundry...

This post could also be titled 'Why you don't have chipboard cupboards in a wet area' for reasons obvious to most but oblivious to some.

For those who read the blog regularly, you would know that recently we commenced gutting the laundry in preparation for a new fit-out, as the location of the laundry wasn't going to change regardless of any master plan for the renovation. We also knew it would come with some unique challenges, as the tiles around the hot water system cabinet were laid after the hot water system was installed, and with no spare tiles located anywhere in the house disguising this oversight would prove difficult. The chipboard cupboards are an blatant no-no in a wet area, and these had swelled and expanded over time due to a leak from the bathroom (which was an immediate fix required before moving in). And the final challenge we face is that the laundry door to outside is off centre (a gap of 500mm from door to wall), meaning that any cupboard and bench fit out would need to be custom made rather than the DIY flat-pack route we planned to take ourselves.

But I digress and below are the before and during demolition photos of the laundry prior to its makeover. Brick masonry walls and tiles proves to be more complicated as expected.

How the laundry looked on Day 1 when we got the keys to the house.

And how it looked before the first hammer was hurled in (controlled) anger.

The 1976 hot water system is inside that CHIPBOARD cupboard!!

Being ex-military, everything is done in Phases. 
This is demo phase 1 - removal of all the wood.

Ol' Gurgler - it just sits there gurgling ALL day...

Rule No 1 - Don't build cupboards out of chipboard in wet areas - durgh!
Rule No 2 - Don't tile up to the cupboard, tile up to the wall. 
(Renovators in future years will love your forward thinking!)

Rule No 3 - Render the wall, then fit the home made shelf, don't install the shelf and then render the wall around the shelf... double-durgh!!

Note the protective duvet cover over the new Bosch washer-dryer, which was meant to be installed after the renovation, however our old top-loader didn't get the memo and gave up the ghost about three months too early - doh!

On the upside, I finally got to use my Ryobi reciprocating saw for the first time. 
That baby goes through wood like a hot knife through butter!

Demo Phase 2 - getting the tiles off was a 'gentle' process. Couldn't bang the walls too hard because of the new bathroom tiles on the other side of the wall, and I was trying desperately to get three tiles off in one piece to reuse on the floor; I only managed to get two... :-(

Cleaning Up - My fave part of demo!

So there you go, demo 98% complete. This week our Plumber Ray is installing the new energy efficient hot water system (it's new, holds twice as much water, and being modern it is more efficient than the ol' gurgler you see here), relocating it outside, while Kate has the cabinet maker down to do the final measure up for the new fit-out.

Wish us luck!

Cheers, Col

PS. As an update on the shed, we received a copy of our builders insurance cover for the project in the mail last week, and we are hoping to hear on the building approval from council this week.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Building the Shed Update #1

This post is a quick down and dirty on where we are at with getting a shed built in time for Xmas. After shopping around to find a shed that meets code for building over or adjacent to sewer lines (which we wrote about here), we finally settled on a shed using local company McSheds, who quoted on the following design:

The shed is an all steel construction using steel stud work on a slab with a recessed edge for addition weather protection and is also an anti-vermin barrier (see below):

We've paid our deposit and signed a relevant BSA building contract, and the builder has been out on site already to peg the site for the slab, and to gain the necessary measurements and layout on site to obtain council building approval (forecast to take one week). After approvals it should be a week for the slab to be laid, and then the shed constructed in the following two weeks. With a BSA building contract the payments is in stages following completed works; 10% deposit, 25% on completion of slab, 55% on delivery of materials in kit form, and the remaining 10% on completion.

Of course if you build a shed, you MUST have an organised storage system to maximise use of space, and I'm planning on using the ROMAK QIQFix Range from Bunnings to fit out the space. We'll be buying all the cabinets and shelving in the next two weeks so that it's ready to be put together as soon as the shed is finished.

And every shed needs a good sturdy workbench, and I've always wanted to make my own timber one using the design file that's available for download on the Mitre10 website. It will be slightly shorter in length, as I'm using a solid timber top off an old drafting desk I brought back from America. I think this will be my special project over the Xmas holidays!!

And there you have it - so much work done and we are on track with this and so many other projects, all thanks to Kate and her diligence and persistence in arranging quotes and following up on Tradies. I'll keep you updated on the progress of the shed as it evolves, and Kate will do a post soon on the start of the Laundry renovation, and another on just how complicated arranging window refits can be.

Cheers, Col

Monday 3 November 2014

Developing the Renovation Master Plan...

...Where are we up to?

I'll be upfront and state openly "I can't believe where the time has gone"! It seems like only yesterday that I wrote a post titled Patience and Planning, but in actual fact it was in early July. In that post I wrote about things we were hoping to incorporate into our plan, and how a master plan would allow us to sequence the implementation of them, as we commence the renovation proper. I also wrote two weeks ago about 10 Renovation Tasks to do Before Xmas, in the hope that this would get us back on track.

So how did we fare with some of these ideas and goals, and where are we up to with developing the master plan?
  • Building a shed at the rear of the house: We hit a bit of a stumbling block here with the issue of building over / adjacent to sewer pipes, which we wrote about here, however we have now signed a contract to put in a reduced sized shed (3m x 4m) with the aim of it being up by Xmas...
New Shed Right Here By Xmas !!
  • Choosing an energy efficient hot water system to replace the cold war relic currently heating water for the house (either solar tubes, heat exchange or high star rated electric). We've actually committed to a high star rated electric system (not what we thought we'd choose), which again will be installed by our plumber by Xmas, and Kate will right a full length post on that in the not too distant future.
  • Replacing our old (on their last legs) top loader washing machine and small tumble dryer with new appliances which have high star ratings for energy and water conservation. Well here's a funny story - The Good Guys have moved location in Townsville, and we happened to walk in on the spur of the moment to do some research, and ended up walking out later having purchased a Bosch integrated front loader Washer / Dryer. Our aim was to store it at home and install it when we complete the Laundry renovation (again - before Xmas). However, guess which electrical appliance decided to DIE on the night that we left to go on our holiday to the Whitsundays? You guessed it, the washing machine. Thankfully we had 'one we prepared earlier' to whip into action as soon as we got back from our holiday.
What do you think of my new German Appliance?
  • Gutting the Laundry to start its renovation. Tick! 90% complete on this front - we have a dishevelled skeleton of a laundry with a brand new Bosch Washer Dryer sitting in the middle of the room in stark contrast to its surroundings... Kate's had our cabinet maker out to measure up the new cabinets for the laundry as well.
Sneak Preview of Laundry Demo Part II
  • Source and purchase required tiles, fixtures, fittings and new door for the laundry. Ummmm, still working on that one, though Kate thinks she may have some final contenders.
  • On site visit from builder's construction manager, to get a Tradie's perspective on our renovation ideas. We've done this and it was really handy in gaining a different perspective, which helped prepare us for our initial master plan meeting with our builder and his key people.
  • Conduct our first focus meeting with our builder to develop the master plan for the whole renovation, broken down into phases. We've done that this week, and are working on the tasks that came out of that meeting. This is another area I will write a detailed post on soon, as there is lots to cover here that's handy to know if you are thinking about doing the same.
  • Have a big pre-renovation clean out by participating in Australia's biggest garage sale. Done - but a bit of a 'meh' result.
And jobs still to tackle...
  • Paint all door trims (4 x Bedroom, 1 x Bathroom, 1 x Toilet) and all skirting boards white (yes - they are still canary yellow).
  • Re-point and fix up a few tiles in the roof and install 2 x Solatube Solar Stars to ventilate the roof space.

So there you have it. To be honest, I don't think we have done too bad in the last few weeks since the school holidays ended, and am starting to feel like we are back on track (just in time for the silly season). Mixed in amongst this was a long overdue holiday, Poppy doing swimming lessons, and Sasha and I undertaking our respective Yachting Australia 'Learn to Sail Courses'. Like I say, never a dull moment.

Coming up next on the blogosphere will be Kate's reasoning and rationale about why we've chosen the hot water system we have, and not the one we thought we would.

Cheers, Col

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Wha' do ya sink of ma ombré, hombre?

Translated - What are one's feelings towards my 'shaded or graduated in tone' walls, dude?
Yeahhhh well, it worked in my head, maybe not on paper.  Confused?  Read on...
Before we moved back to Australia, we had told the girls that this will be our last move (liar liar pants on fire) and they could have their forever bedrooms and a special feature wall colour all of their own choosing.  As we all know, that didn't happen in the last house as we kept it all neutral knowing we were going to move 'one last time'.  Fast forward to this house.  We stood by our promises and allowed the girls to chose a special colour for their new, REAL, forever bedroom walls.  The only rule was that out of the 4 walls, 3 would be white and they could pick the fourth wall colour, as long as it was a nice lively colour - not black or brown. 
Now I have to digress a little here to explain may be thinking to yourselves, 'surely they didn't need to be told that, as if two little girls would pick brown walls'.  And mostly you'd be right but just to show how much we, as parents, influence our youngest here's an entry into Poppy's Yearly Question Book**(see ps.) from 2013...
So her favourite colour had evolved from just 'purple' last year to 'purple and brown' and her career of choice was now 'a wall painter'.  We left the answer as that in her book, but she wasn't done.  She went on to say, "...but I wont be painting my peoples houses all this boring white. No, nope, no, I will paint everything brown".  Then she started gesturing at walls, "this one BROWN,....that one BROWN".  And so on, so do you see now why the caveat was put in place?  Ok, goodie...lets continue.
So during the start of the bathroom demo (i.e before we lost the toilet), I was spending all week painting the lounge and kitchen walls and at weekends we would occasionally camp out at the house.
Col would paint the ceilings and do general maintenance stuff, and I would continue with the bedroom walls.  The girls would spend hours creating a model house out of a huge piece of cardboard that we had acquired from somewhere or another.  It is amazing how well children can play when they have 'nothing' to actually play with.  We see this every week at the beach, they could sit for hours making 'kitchens, meals, soups, flags, houses, you name it, they find it in seaweed, shells, sticks, seeds, coconuts etc.  Love it!
Sasha even included a trophy room for her Irish medals and trophies in her half of the house...haha!
On one of these camp outs Sasha said to me, 'I've chosen my wall colour'.  Yayyy! I was so excited to be able to nip to the paint store and buy some bright pink or lilac or......ombré aqua!  Whaaatt??! I assume you will all know what I am talking about as this ombré phase is very popular at the moment, from graduated hair colours to nail varnish and fabrics to cakes, like this one from Sasha's Frozen party.
So yes, you're hearing this correctly... my 10 year old was asking for an aqua wall going from light aqua at the top all the way through to dark vivid aqua at the bottom.   Ha!!  I laughed out loud at her suggestion and said 'Honey, there is no way that is happening'.  Not because I didn't like the idea, it sounded awesome but I knew there was no way I could achieve it.  The blending would need to be seamless to pull it off otherwise it could end up being a 1st class entry to the pinterest fail site, you know, like this sort of thing...
She looked so disappointed when I said no but in true Sasha fashion she tried to hide it and said 'I bet you could do it Mum, but it's fine - just do aqua'.  I thought about it some more and decided maybe she was right, maybe I could do it?  I could at least try, if I didnt tell the kids and it all went wrong I could just paint over it and be done with it.  That week I had bought a different white paint to our usual colour and hated the result.  So I had a whole tin of this stuff that we would only ever use as an undercoat, so I went to my paint guys and asked if acrylic paints are the same as the stuff they tint the paint with in store.  (Thinking that I could use up my 'mucky' white by mixing it with acrylics and making my own tints of the aqua).  It was only a small wall and to buy 3 or 4 shades of each colour just for a tiny wall would end up costing a lot of money and producing a whole heap of wasted paint.  The paint specialist said it was basically the exact same stuff as their tints only their stuff was highly concentrated, so essentially a drop to them would be much stronger than a whole spoonful of plain acrylic.  I was happy with that, so bought a tube of teal acrylic paint, 3 disposable paint pots and off I went.
Sasha had previously got the paint chip you can see above from the hardware store when she was looking into colours schemes so it gave me a good idea of where to start.
Unfortunately I don't have any shots of while I was doing this apart from mixing the paints above.  Mixing the paints was tricky as you are never quite sure how they will dry and how different they will look on a wall with different and changing lights.  But really you just have to go for it, you can always add in some tint as you go if needed.  It is a very finicky process, especially up here in the Ville, it is a task that has to be completed in a major hurry as the blending process is key to the whole thing working and you can only blend it well while the paint is wet and it dries pretty darn quick here in the tropical north.  I was on my own here the day I did it so I had to work like crazy to get it all on and blended.  So the only picture I managed to take was when I had marked up the wall...
 Roughly dividing it into thirds to give me an idea of where to start and stop my different shades
I basically started with white at the very top and then gradually added the lightest aqua in the first section, continued on into the middle then added the mid range colour.  At that point you blend it together...then you blend again and again and again....over.and.over.and.over!!  Until you think you can't blend them anymore...but you do it all again just to be sure.  I was working with about 6 paintbrushes throughout the whole job.  Then the same goes for the next section.  The process is actually super, SUPER easy it just takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of elbow grease.  It was really hard to get a decent photo of the wall, (you were probably expecting a super cool Canon shot - sorry) all I have is this camera phone picture but it shows the graduation without any furniture in the frame so I hope it gives you a good idea.  The carpet guys were coming a few days after completing this, hence why in this picture you can see our lovely new mink carpets, not those smelly old yellow ones anymore hoorar!
On seeing this room completed I took Poppy's purple colour choice and ran with it in the ombré design too....

Poppy's didn't turn out as well as Sasha's because I started it a bit too light at the very top.  It still looks great and I loved it even more when the carpets were installed, but it is definitely too light. 
But this no longer really matters comes the obligatory Kate face palm....I am doing it all over again....wait, what!???  Yup.  Once we were all moved in we realised that no matter how much I wanted the bedrooms set out in the way I had done it, i.e - the bed going along the back wall rather than going along the 'feature' window wall, it just doesn't work.  These rooms are very narrow as we have previously mentioned and no matter how we set the rooms out, the only way they really work, in terms of allowing enough space and not looking over cluttered, is to have the bed running along these walls... covering the lower part of all my lovely hard work.  It is such a shame, but it is easily fixed.  When I have time I shall repaint these walls white and re-produce the same effect on the back wall.  Or I may even go across ways instead of top to bottom to counter any furniture covering it up, that way you will always see the graduation.  Anyway until that happens the rooms still look fab either way and it was great fun to do, it looks awesome and the girls, especially Sasha, love it.  When I mentioned it to Maddi (House Rules) way back when we interviewed her for the blog she said, 'Damn I wish I had known that before I went on House Rules I so would have used it' 
Darn it I could have sat there at my telly shouting...'Yayyyy Go Maddi - that's our Sasha's idea!'
As always, thanks for reading!

Ps - Col asked me to include a few lines on Poppy's Yearly Question Book as he said no one will have a clue what I am talking about.  We have a special book that we write in every year.  We start with a photo of her and her age, then ask her the same series of 6 questions; where do you live, favourite colour, favourite food, favourite TV show, her best friend's name and what she wants to be when she is older.  Then there is a page for a drawing, a page for some writing, and a page for us to jot down her favourite activities.  It's a lovely way to keep track of changing ideas and dreams but also a great keepsake for her to have when she is older.  The front of the book is just the most perfect quote too...