First dip into the pool.

Design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

This week work on our pool began.   I’m told that if we built the house first, deeper footings would be necessary to accommodate the pool so close to the house.  The down side is that the builders will have to work around the pool, and for that to happen safely, the pool will be covered by scaffolding.  Tim Davies Landscaping (TDL) have designed the pool and its surrounds and have subcontracted Future Pools to actually construct it.

The bare facts about our future pool:

  • Concrete.
  • 6.7 x 3.8 metres
  • $45 650 (not including fencing or paving, includes TDL’s fee).

Pool plan

 

We went backwards and forwards with the concrete versus fibreglass decision.  I’m not commenting on this debate because my findings on the subject were inconclusive.  However, choosing a fibreglass pool of this size could have saved us $14000.  In the end, we went with our “gut feeling”, influenced in part by the historical superiority of concrete pools and the wisdom of my Uncle, who’s occupation is servicing pools.

The basics are organised by TDL:

  • Pool construction and finishing.
  • Tiled deck.
  • Gates and fencing –  a mix of glass, aluminium “slats” and modutech screen.  (The latter may be replaced at a later date by a “pool/sauna house”.
  • Lighting.
  • Screen for the pool equipment.

We will need to organise:

  • Pool blanket and somewhere to keep it when not in use.
  • Heating (solar).
  • Cleaning and maintenance.

I shall be leaving the finer details of that to he-who-wants-the-pool, however any pool dwellers out there with advice, you know I’m all ears…  And while I’m at it, my favourite-neighbour-ever is moving to Perth (yippee!) and is in the market for a new pool.  W.A. readers with recommendations for pool installers, please do leave a comment.

And just because I love to daydream about House By The Water, I made a pool mood board.

Poolside at House By The Water.

  • Tiles: Marazzi “block” for outdoors in Grey and Silver.
  • Finish:  Duraquartz in “sky blue” (TBC).
  • Trees:  Pleached Lilly Pilly trees (or pears/olives/evergreen ash?) and a feature Frangipani.
  • Outdoor lounge: Lujo sun lounge.
  • House render:  Dulux Grey Pebble (shown as background colour).

It’s looking good, if I may say so myself!

 

 

 

So fa, no good.

A sofa for appreciating the view.  Source:  Houzz.

A sofa for appreciating the view and conversation.  Source: Houzz.

While the builders are preparing to cavity fill our brick retaining walls with concrete, I’m doing important things like browsing sofas.

The current state of sofa affairs is not up to standard.

Exhibit A:

I've repositioned the seat cushions at least 3 times already today.

I’ve repositioned the seat cushions at least 3 times already today.

  • Ikea’s Ekeskog sofa bed.
  • 8 years old.
  • Very comfortable for television viewing as long as no one moves.
  • Can seat the whole family at once.
  • Performs well as a sofa bed, being sag free and able to accommodate bodies that are longer than 6 feet.
  • Removable, washable covers.
  • Ripped on the corners.
  • Categorically cannot keep the seat cushions in place.
  • Daggy/slouchy.

The greenie in me will not throw out sofas without a good reason, so here’s the plan:

Move Exhibit A to the second floor, out of sight.  It can see out its days in the upstairs living room that will be a multipurpose space: study, secondary television viewing area, kids’ hangout, spare bed when we have a full house.  If it lasts, it will be palmed off to the first lucky “Little Pig” to leave home and require share-house furnishings.  I will consider recovering it with off-the-shelf slip covers such as these made by Comfort Works:

Not bad for $460, but it wouldn’t solve the problem of the slipping seat cushions.  I’d staple those in place except for the need to remove them to use the bed.

 

Exhibit B:

Actually, having a looking-good day.

Actually, having a looking-good day.

  • Freedom 3 seaters (x2)
  • 10-15 years old.
  • Dignified survivor of 3 projectile vomiting babies.  (Okay, you probably didn’t need to know that.)
  • Good bones.
  • In some light you can see heat damage from spending years in storage/transit.
  • A bit of light wear on the arms.
  • Old fashioned shape.
  • Has a green tinge in some light.

Plan:

Use Exhibit B in the library.  These couches are too old-fashioned and small for the large space that will be our main living area but they’ll fit nicely in the smaller library.  I’ve been researching the cost of re-upholstering these sofas.  Without actually asking for quotes I estimate that each couch would cost approximately $700 in labour, plus material.  Roughly, a minimum of $1000 per sofa, more likely $1500 considering my love of 100% linen.  Too much.  I’m not into sewing, although I did buy a sewing machine years ago for the specific purpose of recovering a foam couch.  My skills are basic, but some of these simple sofa cover options are within the realms of possibility (if not for me, then certainly for my handy Mum):

(Pictures:  1.  The Design Files  2. Graham and Green  3. House of Turquoise  4. Alvhem Mäkleri  5.  RTL Woon Magazine.)

Finally, this leaves a vacancy in the main living room, open to the kitchen and dining room, for

Exhibit C:

Any of these will do.  (Picture sources: 1.  Houzz.  2 & 3.  Jardan.  3.  Domayne.

  • Modular, fabric sofa.
  • Australian-made (except for the first sofa).
  • Expected to last 20 years plus, with a warranty to prove it.
  • Not too slouchy so that you can converse with guests.
  • Not so modern that it goes out of fashion in the next 5 years.
  • Price unknown – $5000-10000.  (The Domayne sofa is just under $5000, but Jardan do not list their prices which is never a good sign.)

I really like the sofas with a “chaise longue” (the bit without the back rest) for their flexibility.  You could perch on the end to face the kitchen or turn around to admire the view or fireplace.  Or rest your feet on it at the end of the day.

Have I missed any Australian-made options that might fit my criteria?  Have you successfully breathed new life into an old sofa?  Got a sofa that you can’t bear, but it stays because you don’t want to add to landfill?

 

Healthy tradies.

August is Tradies National Health Month.  As luck would have it, I have some shining examples of Tradies demonstrating healthy work habits on site at House By The Water.

(Photos thanks to our Site Supervisor.)

Please note:

  • Team work.
  • Beautiful weather conditions.
  • Upright backs.
  • Area cleared and bricks delivered close to work.
  • Sun smart hats.
  • High visibility shirts.
  • Eskies, presumably filled with water for good hydration.
  • Use of carts.
  • BYO microwave to reheat leftovers.  (No hamburgers for lunch for these Brickies.)
  • Some kind of metal teepee that is surely an ergonomic device???

I’m giving these fellas 10 out of 10.  I hope they enjoy dangling their feet over the canal wall as they take their lunch breaks this week.

When I’m not galavanting around the world and obsessing over house building, I’m a physiotherapist.  I’ve seen a few painter’s shoulders and brickie’s backs over the years.  It ain’t comfortable!  Without harping on the message, here are my tips for keeping a Tradie’s body in good working order.

5 Top Tips for Healthy Tradies:

  1. Be fit.  Physical work doesn’t always count.  Regular exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep, increases energy and is great for your heart.
  2. Take time to think about the task before you do it.  Work smart.
  3. Little things can add up to big problems over time.  Watch out for repetitive work and poor postures.
  4. Look after each other.  Share the load.  Ask for or offer help.
  5. Speak up.  If something doesn’t look safe, say so.

For the special Tradie in you life, please refer them to the National Tradies Health website for more information and a quiz with adventure holiday prizes.

Thanks to our tradies this week for some very impressive looking retaining walls:Retaining wall text

And for a good laugh for everyone, take a look at this short video clip:  S#!t Tradies NEVER say.

S#!t Tradies NEVER Say.  (Click on link or photo to watch video.)

S#!t Tradies NEVER Say.   (Click on link or photo to watch video.)

 

Building inspections.

Our house is being built in Australia and we are not there yet.  You’ve heard me fretting, rather pathetically, about not seeing our house grow up and desperately dropping hints for our local friends to send me progress photos.  You can imagine my delight to learn that our Site Supervisor is not only adept at typing an informative email but can also take a great photo!

This photo comes to you care of Brian, our Site Supervisor:

Since it is Tradies Health Month, I am

Since it is Tradies Health Month, I can only be pleased that such great access has been created for delivering bricks right to the work site for minimal handling.

Last week the area surrounding our retaining wall footings was cleared to allow access for bricks.  Bricks, sand and cement should now be on site and the bricklayer will take about a week to build up the retaining walls and planter boxes.  The walls will then be “cavity filled” with concrete.

In the mean time, I’ve been looking into building inspections.  I consider building inspections to be a layer of insurance – protecting against human error.  Even if we were around to regularly view the work of our builders, we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought we could judge the correctness of all the work.  Building is such a huge investment that getting an independent inspector in at key stages of the build seems like a “no brainer”.  So my research has been about the timing and number of inspections and the cost.

There are various opinions regarding when it’s best to inspect – some are based on payment instalments, others based on the building process.  Brian Ashworth from A New House suggests either a 3 or 5 inspection approach:

5 inspections:

  • Base – before slab pouring to check slab location, plumbing and site drainage.
  • Frame – to check frame and slab.
  • Lockup – to check the outer shell of the house for weather proofing and brickwork quality.  Plumbing, electrical work and insulation may also be checked now.
  • Fixing – to check waterproofing of wet areas and the location of all fixtures (sinks, cabinets, architraves, etc.)
  • Practical Completion – for the last chance to address any errors before handover.

3 inspections:

  • Base – as above.
  • Pre plaster – a combine frame/lockup inspection before plasterboards are installed.
  • Practical Completion – as above.

From a quick wiz around the web, I would say that an average price per inspection and report is about $500, with inspections at some stages costing more than others.  Some companies offer a package price for the series of inspections.

So far the quote I’ve received is more expensive than this, but the inspector has been recommended by one of my trusty readers. We are also building a large house (432 square metres including garage, alfresco and porch) and are probably located an hour away from the inspector’s office, so perhaps we can expect to pay a bit more.

We are planning to inspect at these stages:

  1. Base/Pre slab.  $595.
  2. Brickwork completed and roof frame erected to check brickwork, cavities, cavity trays, lintels, concrete slab, wall plate, roof frame etc.  $695.
  3. Practical completion.  $995.

Have you used an inspector?  What problems might you have had if you didn’t?  If I pay an inspector a couple of thousand dollars and he can honestly tell me that the builders have done a great job with high standards and in accordance with our plans, then I’ll be very happy.

Building Lingo Quiz

What does it all mean?  That is the question.  Photo source:

What does it all mean? That is the question. Photo source: Pinterest (original source not found).

Hands up if you understand every word of your building contract?   Hmmm… I thought so.  What about your house plans?

A recent email from our builders (to explain a change in our retaining wall dimensions) may as well have been written in Dutch.  Like every industry, construction has plenty of jargon.  But when technical language requires my signature at the end of it, I want to know what it all means.  Already, there have been many occasions during our building process that I’ve had to look up word meanings or request more information.

For some serious help with understanding your builders, here are some references:

And for a light-hearted challenge, come this way….

Can you talk the talk?  Test your knowledge on House By The Water’s Building Lingo Quiz.

Click here to take the quiz:  Building Lingo Quiz.

(The link will open up a new tab in your browser.  The quiz should take less than 5 minutes.  Return here with your score.)

 What do your results mean?

80-100%:   You are probably in the trade.  This blog is the place for you.  I need your help.  Stick around and I’ll see what I can do about a slab.

60-79%:  You’ve done this before.  This blog is the place for you.  We’d love to see pictures of your new home and any good tips you might have to share.

40-59%:  You may not speak the language of construction, but at least you know your Australian slang.  This blog is the place for you.  I love a bit of an Aussie yarn.

0-39%:  Room(s) for improvement.  This blog is the place for you.  Stick with me and we’ll learn together.

*  Bonus points will be awarded for adding a comment about a new word you’ve learnt while building a home.

 

Window dressings

Photo source:  Linxspiration.

Photo source: Linxspiration.

I’ve got a feeling this will be round one of several attempts to plan the window dressings.  Already I’ve been thinking about the options for months.  Slowly the picture is becoming clearer.

First, check out this “cool” tool at SunCalc that shows you from which direction the sun will shine on your house at various times of the day and year. Sun calc Cicerellos Mandurah   This example shows the direction of sun at Cicerello’s (fish and chip shop) in Mandurah today.  I used a public address so you can see the full screen and all the options available.

To protect House By The Water’s location, I’ve zoomed in for the next shot.  You can see the angle of the sun from dawn (yellow line) to sunset (redline). Sun exposure at House By The Water.Our main living area (on the canal side of the property) is going to cop the afternoon sun.  In the middle of summer, the sun will set over the water which will probably create a lot of reflection.  The roof of the alfresco area will shade most of the living area, but as the sun gets very low we’ll need window dressings (in addition to external shade). Our living/dining area has a lot of  large windows, including the void space above the living room.

The Rubix has a lot of glass.  Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

The Rubix has a lot of glass. Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Over the months I’ve played with the idea of curtains versus blinds but my conclusion is that we need blinds.  The curtains can be optional extras added later depending on how the mood of the space evolves, not to mention budget.

I love the clean, minimal look of blinds such as those pictured below.  They allow the view to be the star.

Pictures:  1.  Christopher Rose Architects on Houzz.  2. The Design files.  3. Improvised Life (Original source not found.)  4. Bayden Goddard Design Architects on HomeDSGN.

On the other hand, I love the homeliness and softness of curtains, and in particular, linen.

Pictures: 1. HomeDSGN.  2.  Home Adore.  3.  Vosgesparis.

At the simpler end of the house, lies the children’s bedrooms and the bathrooms.  For these rooms we think plantation shutters will be a great option.  There is no particular view from the front of the house (we think!) and shutters are easily handled by children, control the light well and can add a layer of insulation to the windows.

Photo credit:

Photo: Pinterest  (Original source not found.)

We had shutters previously, all over the house, and loved them:

image10

Old room of the Little Pigs.

And for the master bedroom, we must have some linen curtains, probably with blinds hiding behind them.  I have a serious weakness for linen:

Pictures:  1.  Planete Deco.  2.  Once Wed.  3.  Apartment Therapy.  4.  With thanks to © Lucas Allen.

And of course, the smart option is to shade the windows from the outside.  Trees, I can do.  Blinds and screens? – I haven’t scratched the surface of these options yet, but there are certainly some inspiring alternatives available.   I fear the logistics and the prices at this point.

Pictures:  1.  Luxaflex.  2.  Evelyn Müller.  3.  Desire to Inspire.

So you see, another can of worms is opened.  Later, I’ll try to be more specific.  I thought I’d throw it all out there now because I know my readers always have some suggestions for me.  My Mum has been scaring me with curtain prices and the whole insect screen debacle (which is still in the “too hard” basket) has been a warning to me that balancing sun control, view maintenance, privacy, aesthetics and budget is not going to be easy.

Retaining wall footings

Usually, when I have a nightmare, I wake up just before any real danger strikes or I do this funny “treading-air” manoeuvre which lifts me above the trouble.  Perhaps prompted by an absence of news from our builders, I dreamt that my husband and I decided to go and look for ourselves.  Despite the fact that we are very familiar with Mandurah, we kept getting lost along the way and couldn’t find our block.  When I woke up that morning, there was a pleasant surprise for me.  The team at “Progress Realty Photo Services” (who are rendering their services free-of-charge, but have put in a large homemade apple pie order) had been on our site and sent us a photographic update.  I could kiss them!

Photo One:  

Remember that retaining wall cost shock I had a few months ago?  Well, here’s where that money is going:

Retaining wall footings.

Retaining wall footings.

Sometime soon, it should start to look a bit like this:

Future retaining walls - plans by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Future retaining walls – plans by Tim Davies Landscaping.

 

Photo 2:

Earth/sand moved from the canal side of the block and, what I can only assume is a kind gift from the neighbours – a palm tree.  Should I tell them that we have an aversion to palms, except when found on tropical islands?

Early housewarming gift?

Early housewarming gift?

I’m guessing that the wire is reinforcement for the slab?  It could also make a nice garden feature….  or cheap front fence?

Photo 3:

The boss of “Progress Realty Photo Services” demonstrating the scale of the earth piles.Progress Realty Photo Services on site.

To call it “earth” seems overly generous.  Trying to grow plants in that stuff could be an impossibility, but I’m happy to see no giant rocks.  I don’t want a site works cost shock like the retaining wall shock.  I’m not sure if I can “tread-air” fast enough to escape one of those.

So there you have it.  The first blog post of the “piles of dirt and building materials” kind.  How did you go?  Still awake?  Now that construction has commenced, I promise to intersperse posts filled with scintillating construction site photos with other posts.  Some hot topics coming up are window dressings, building inspectors and jetties.  Right now, I’m collecting quotes for inspectors and those insect screens are still bugging me.