Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another month, another housesit

On the road again today to move to East Malvern, after a 2 week stay at Mum and Dad's.  This time, we're at least staying put for six weeks, housesitting for an English-Australian family that are going to old blightly for the Christmas holidays.  Ironically, their house is also under renovations which are nearly finished - but they've been nearly finished for quite a while now so we'll have builders coming and going for the next week or two it seems.  Still, it's a very nice roof over our heads for a change.  The only downside is taht ruby can't come with us, so she's staying with her cousin Charlie for a bit.  Poor thing, she thought we were going to leave her behind completely and was looking very sad as we were packing up.  But she's pretty adaptable and seems to get along well with Charlie most of the time although feeding time will probably be a bit of a battle.

Dropped by the house today and all of the steel work is finished, with roof and walls now being formed for the new parts, plus beginnings of new plaster for the old parts of the house.  Openings formed and skim coats of render all over the place.  It's looking much more like the final shapes of the spaces are nearly formed.  Just as well, as we've just approved a whole bunch of variations, including reblocking throughout, and very expensively, new rafters and tiles for the entire roof.  At this rate, there really won't be much of the old house left, so it had better be worth it!  

But it is looking promising.... so today we also went looking for a dining table light, an important feature as it will hang from nearly the highest part of the ceiling in the middle of the open plan area, so is a bit of a feature.  I think we've nearly decided on a 'ball on a stick' light made of Murano glass.  I'm off again to Japan next week so when I get back perhaps we'll have a few more walls.....

21 November Panorama

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Around the world in a month

Only a very quick post as I'm in between trips overseas - just got back from Europe and on way to Japan.  Europe was a trip to look at computed tomography beamlines and involved some time visiting and doing experiments at SLS, where the sheep graze under solar reflectors (?) and the Sprungli chocolates and cakes are delicious!  

First phase of the steelwork is in and now we can get a much better idea of how big the living/dining space will be.  We've shelled out so that the roof structure can be renewed - the purlins/rafters were far from straight, not surprising given they're probably more than 90 years old.  Not much other obvious progress but the car parking area is now nearly backfilled and the levels look good - our interior staircase will not be quite as high as we had thought.  The fusebox has been chased out of the brickwork and is in it's new position closer to the front door.  And the bathtub has been delivered... seems a bit premature as there's not actually much of a bathroom to install it in as yet.  Have picked the colours for the tiles and carpet - all of which have silly names - so we're getting the interiors sorted slowly.  Still no lights though!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We'll all be eating silverbeet

Another couple of weeks, another site meeting.  This time the block walls are in, filled with concrete, and waiting to be rendered and backfilled.  The steel frame install will be taking place over the next week or so.  Here's Rob trying out the new ensuite - note the plunge pool.  There's not that much new to see really at the moment, but things seem to be progressing.  The car parking area is behind a new retaining wall, from which we will be able to look down into next door's driveway.  Looks like it's time for a new fence there....  But the most amazing this is that despite being bulldozed and buried for the last month or two, the silverbeet has emerged unscathed - we'll all be eating silverbeet after the nuclear winter.

This week sees us living in Vermont South, after a week or so at Chris and Jenny's.  We're not here for long, which is just as well really as it's not the cleanest house we've ever seen but hopefully it will be cleaner when we leave than when we arrived.  In residence here are Cody and Tim, looking relaxed here with Rob (this was not at all a typical state of affairs!).  Ruby is finding all the competition a bit tough.  Tomorrow we're off again for another week, this time to Mum and Dad's.  At least Ruby will find it more peaceful there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Concrete shoes

Another week has gone by and now the footings are in, with reo bars sticking up to accept the blockwork that's going to form the base of new walls for the living/dining/kitchen area and also the retaining wall to the garage, sorry carparking, area.  This apparently freaked out the neighbor who was concerned a multi-storey block of flats was going up. 

It's also now a flattened backyard, with nothing remaining of the vegie patch at all!  All the new stormwater pipes are in under the new flattened area too.  The good news is that the cracking on the south-east corner is probably just due to stormwater accumulation, so may only need repairing rather than a big structural fix.  We'll see how it turns out when it's had a chance to dry out and the structural engineer reassesses things.  The roof framing is a bit of a concern, with a lot of warping to the purlins, so we might have to look at replacing them. Not so much from a structural point of view, but more because the new part of the roof is metal and so will have dead straight lines, making the old tiled roof look even more wonky in comparison.  Apparently some of the roof props were resting on the ceiling joists and so not really doing much propping properly at all!

On the inside, we've been looking at furniture layouts for the living space too, concerned that it's going to be a tight fit, but it's still hard to tell how big the space will really seem once it's got walls all around and a ceiling in.  I'm pretty sure that we should get some custom joinery desks made for the study so they fit exactly, but we've got a while before we need to do that. 

But at least this week it was only a very short walk to the site meeting, as we're round the corner at Milly's place.  Ruby tolerates Charlie's incessant whining we think (check out the look on her face), but they seem to get along most of the time at least.  Noah the cat has made himself scarce, probably quite sensibly really. Off to Chris and Jenny's tomorrow for the next ten days or so....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Making progress

Demolition works are pretty much done - all the stuff by the demolition subcontracter is done, including taking out a lot of concrete and other junk on site, so it's all looking a lot cleaner now.  The back half of the house is now completely open to the elements, but it's giving us a good idea of how the open plan area will look like.  It's going to be great to have the really large window overlooking the entire back yard, and to have the light flooding in to that side of the house.  I'm a bit concerned that the kitchen/dining/living area a lot smaller than I had thought, but I'm hoping the space is still deceptive at this stage and it will seem larger when the proper ceiling heights are established.  

We finally found a couch that we both like, by going for a really deep one which is low but allows for adequate slouching so I really hope it fits in.  We'll see I guess; it is hard to tell at the moment.  On the flip side, the master bedroom is bigger than I expected, just by demolishing the flimsy cupboard that was there before.  Even the 2nd bedroom which will shrink when the master bedroom cupboards are installed, still seems nice and generously sized.  We've also had our second site meeting, this time with our landscaper, and are all set for him to do major earthworks before the footings, particularly for the retaining walls, get started sometime later this week.  

We're also about to move house again - our first housesit in Highett is nearly finished, and apart from the inconvenience of a longer commute and not having all the bits and pieces around us that we might like, it's been pretty good overall.  And Ruby and the resident cat, Moggett, are finally getting along quite well! We can't really complain though about living rent free for two months.  It's going to be a bit piecemeal for the next month or two, with moving every week for the forseeable future, but hopefully some more sits that are a bit longer are also on the cards.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thunderbirds are GO!

 Finally, finally, finally we have a building permit so the builder can actually move onto the site and get started officially.  After many frustrating delays (not helped by a very conservative building surveyor apparently) we finally got a permit last Thursday 1st September so now it's all systems go.  Here's hoping we can still be on track to finish by next Easter.  The builders haven't wasted any time at all, having moved straight onto site to start propping up the roof in preparation for the demolition work.  Just as well the weather has been dry, as we can now see straight through to the sky.  But it does show also why the house is so cold in winter - there's so little insulation in the roof and then just the tiles between the ceiling and the sky.  Looking forward to having a properly insulated roof which should really make the house much more pleasant in summer as the thermal mass does keep it pretty cool; hopefully cool enough to do without airconditioning, which we can't afford!  

In the meantime, we're getting towards the end of our first house sit, some 6 weeks after moving out, and so are urgently looking for new places to live.... hopefully something will come up soon as we're homeless at the end of the month.

Demolition - phase 2

Phase 2 involved the carport and the laundry demolition (actually done on 10 July).  A big job as the laundry is not only bigger but also had internal walls and lining.  After cutting the power and water (thanks George) it was all systems go with an even bigger skip than last time but a slightly reduced construction crew.  Some pyromaniac decided to get rid of some of the excess timber by burning it in the BBQ; a fine idea although I don't think the fig tree nearby appreciated the bonfire that resulted.  We also managed to turn water in the stormwater pipes to steam coming OUT of the downpipes! The carport was a much easier affair to get rid of, although the posts were pretty obstinate being set in concrete and bricks.  But finally, the day ended with the laundry gone and the skip full.  Poor Ruby doesn't know what's happened to her home, which is not just a pile of debris! Here's an unpdate on the backyard panorama, nearly 2 months after the demolition, with jungle grass taking over both the backyard and the vegie patch.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A man and his shed

Now that the move is (hopefully) imminent we needed something to store all the stuff that's currently under the house.... hence the shed.  According to the instructions, building the shed is a simple 5-step process - 5 steps that took 2 weekends and about 15 hours!  And required an angle grinder to fix one design fault in the ridge cap whereby it would have been impossible to otherwise fix the roof onto the walls.  The other definite design fault was the fact that the pre-riveted door hinges could not possibly have allowed the doors to close flush with the door reveals because the reveals were effectively smaller than the thickness of the door itself!  But several hundred self tapping screws later, the shed is finally up.  Notice the rustic dirt floor, lined with scavenged pallets.  Never let it be said we don't build quality.  Oh yes, and let's hope we don't get any strong winds over the next twelve months.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Autumn daze

A few warm days rounds out the (end of the) start of autumn, or the summer that never was.  Normally we should still be having the odd scorcher in the first few weeks of the university year.  Instead it's been cold and occasionally (very) damp.  Ruby is out enjoying the last of the sunshine. The end of the tomatoes is near, with the plants dying off from the bottom up, even as there's still a lot of fruit ripening.  I've bottled over 4 litres of tomatoes, and still not sure I've got it right as the bottles seem to lose liquid during the bottling process so that the fruit is only barely covered.  But the bottles are sealing at least, so I hope they'll keep ok.

Quite a few eggplants still, but they're getting to the end too.  I've pulled out the beans and the strawberries, putting in silverbeet for a quick crop hopefully before we have to move.  Potted up a few strawberries to hopefully carry with us wherever we go.  Will plant snow peas when the tomatoes finally finish up, again hopefully for a really quick crop.  Will be sad to not have access to a vegie patch during the renovations, although looking forward to a full 4 crop rotation system when we finally get started again! 

Although there's not much new in the old rose bed, we've redone the bamboo fence to dogproof it, especially as Charlie (Ruby's cousin) tends to just barge on through. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Demolition - phase 1!

Today was D-day for the garage.  Thanks to the demolition crew who managed to not only destroy the garage but also to not need emergency medical treatment in the process.


Completed new fencing on 3 sides (out of 4 neighbours) this week, and it seems a good time to take some "before" photos, before the demolition crew gets here this afternoon!

Here's the front

and here's the back

More vegie bonanza

 Finally, the tomatoes are getting ripe, but every so slowly. 
In the meantime we've gotten lots of eggplants - I keep picking them small as they seem to have glossy, taut skin then, which gets wrinkly as they get older.

It's still not been very sunny, and only moderately warm but humid.  Sprayed a couple of times as the caterpillars were chewing holes in the tomatoes, green as they were.  But at least they're on their way now.... the trusses on the grape tomatoes are filling out well and even the beefsteaks are starting to show a little orange tint to them now.  I think the beans are nearly done and the zucchini seems pretty variable in quality but is still producing.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strawberries forever

Not so much obvious happening in the patch this week - although strawberries are ripening fast now that we are having a few days of 30+ weather.  Still no colour change on the tomatoes though! But it looks like we definitely have 2 beefsteak (?), 2 grape and possibly 1 zebra type plants. I can't remember the types I bought last year (this lot have all come up on their own in the original bed and been transplated to a new bed).  The beefsteak ones are pretty big and on trusses of 4-5 close to the main stem, still getting bigger too; grapes in big trusses of up to 10 or so, and zebras also on long trusses.  But the zebras are small and still very green so it's hard to tell what size they'll end up.  Took out and tossed all the remaining lettuce yesterday - it was bolting to seed and even though we didn't get as many meals out of them as perhaps we should have, we still had quite a few.  Harvested probably at least a kilo of beans this week to.  They probably should have been picked earlier as they were starting to get a big bumpy and past that very early tender stage, but still good.  Eggplants are very long and skinny and don't seem to fatten up much, but that's ok as they are still seedless that way.  Still not very good germination success with the chives - not sure what's going wrong there but one batch have come up in a pot.  May try again when I transplant the spring onions and make some more space in a couple of weeks.  Also got the sign off from 3 out of 4 neighbours, so new fence is going ahead next week on all sides except the north west (driveway) side - that's ok as it's really the back that needs doing before we cut off access.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vegie bonanza

This year is turning out to be huge in the vegie path - lots of rain and moderate amounts of sun seem to be making the patch bloom.  We've discovered that zucchini doesn't like cool, humid weather - it seems to make them blow up like balloons at one end and shrivel at the other.  But once the weather warms up/dries off they recover quickly.  We've had a good few kilos from the 2 plants already.  The eggplants are slow to mature, and we haven't eaten any yet, but they look promising.

The vegie beds with possum netting     

 Beans are doing very well, with several meals out of half a dozen plants and still flowering, so more to come.  The tomatoes are looking great but everything is still very green and I'm impatient for them to ripen.

No signs of ripening yet
On the other hand, now that the weather is hotter and sunnier, the strawberries are really starting to ripen and we're getting about half a dozen ripe ones per day!  With the renovations, we not have a vegie patch for a year or so - just as it was really taking off, but at least we know now that the secret seems to be heaps of compost and water!