Never without a hitch. 

Good news first.

Doesn’t our kitchen look swish?

kitchen

House By The Water kitchen.  I think I might “pin” that.

I glammed the house up a bit with some greenery in honour of my Mum’s visit and the return of The Three Little Pigs from holidays with grandparents.

Kids' bathroom.

The Little Pigs’ wash trough, with maiden hair fern sitting atop the laundry chute.

girls room

Christmas gifts for our 11 year old pig included an Armadillo & Co rug and bedding from Adairs. Furniture still in transit.

The fireplace saga….

 Round one of fireplace saga took place a year ago, I won’t bore you with the details.  Round two of fireplace saga started with us collecting our fireplace from storage last month to find that we only had 4 metres of flue.  No good for a 6+metre building.  A few extra days and we soon had some extra flue.  Next, the fan kit for the heater ($750) was nowhere to be found.  Storage upturned and triple checked, supplier contacted and no evidence that it was delivered or not.  Nice Wolf huffing and puffing (enough to circulate heat around house). No chance of paying for another.  Fireplace installer and supplier both agree that fan is not necessary.  Fireplace installed without fan and with a frame that’s sort of just hanging loosely off the wall….

Moving on.

Driveway.

A quick rush to get the driveway concreted before the timber floors were to be finished.  The aim was to have an access point to the house that doesn’t involve traipsing through sand.  A couple of quotes later and a bobcat was ploughing sand out of our front yard.  Well worth the $300 + clean fill when compared to the hours of digging that would be the alternative.  I’d never have thought we’d have 3 truckloads of sand/dirt to clear.  All was going well until a little water spring appeared from the water meter.  “It was already leaking.  Can’t you tell by the green grass around it?”  “Fair enough”, I said, wondering if there was also a leak from our letterbox which also has a green patch of grass.

I supplied the concrete contractor with a copy of council’s requirements for driveways, but thought that this should be old hat for any local concreter.  If you follow council’s requirements, they’ll reimburse you for some of the cost of the “crossover”.  Well, they almost got it right.  No expansion joint at our property boundary….maybe I should get them to come back?   Maybe it’s too late.

concrete driveway

The base for our future cobblestone driveway.

Our window shutters were due to be installed mid January.  When I inquired about progress last week I was told there was a “slight delay” of a few more weeks due to one of the shutters being unusually small.  Hmmm…..

Our timber floors are currently having “a rest” before being sanded and finished.  The blackbutt stairs and our curved void area are quite impressive.

 So, there you have it.  Progress, albeit with hitches.

Coming up:

  • Tree farms.
  • Floor finishing, I hope!
  • The return of our furniture.
  • How are the builders tracking with the pre-handover list?
  • And, you never know your luck, a pool before winter?
Jardan Melbourne

Window shopping in Melbourne 

Yeah, I know my last post was about running out of money.  This was purely research.  Really.  I had 3 or 4 hours to spare and three suburbs to cover.  Special thanks to the stranger at Oakpark train station who loaned me his Myki public transport card so I didn’t have to wait for the Post Office to open at 9am to purchase a card.

Church Street, Richmond, was first on my list, to sit on, look at and touch Australian-made sofas that are available online but are not on show in Western Australia.  Jardan sofas woo me in every Australian interiors magazine.   The Jardan store is one that you feel you should have packed your pyjamas and moved right in.  It’s much more homely than the somewhat clinical photos I’d seen imply.  On top of their famous sofas, they have an eclectic collection of rugs (not all online) and some art I could have stood in front of all day if I had not been a woman on a mission.  It was good to sit on the sofas.  some are just too deep  for cups of tea and upright conversation and others are just right.  I identified some beautiful fabric should I select one of their products in the future.

Jardan sofa

Jardan sofa in “ink blue”. Proving once again that colour in the photo/on screen does not equal reality

Church Street is a sort of sofa shopping hub, amongst other homewares, furniture and interior decorating supplies.  Right across the road from Jardan is Voyager Interiors.  They had some completely dreamy sofas with removable covers, all the way from Italy.  I think they flew business class.  Anyway, I was interested in their Australian-made “Odense”, so after it passed the sit test I organised a quote and fabric samples.

Voyager Interiors sofa

Australian-made “Odense” by Voyager Interiors

I popped past Fitzroy to have a squizz  at Southwood Home who I have been admiring on Instagram for their Australian-made furniture for a long time.  Some of their bedside tables are contenders for a future place at House By The Water.  I gazed at their beautiful linen for longer than is normal then plodded down the footpath in search of a Mark Tuckey fix.  The decision to move into the Jardan show room or the Mark Tuckey showroom would be a close call, but on this occasion the doors were locked at Mark Tuckey so I’ll stick with my own home for the time being.

I met my sister for lunch at Weylandts’ Kitchen in Abbotsford.  This sister, previously referred to as The Sensible One, is building a new house soon but is usually too busy with work to loll about dreaming of future interiors.    To quote my sister, Weylandts was “like visiting a museum”!   (That was a compliment.)  It’s a huge warehouse showing off furniture and homewares from around the world but definitely with an African focus.  Weylandts is a South African company with an eye for style that I love.  Their collection is perfectly curated and original.  Giant tree roots hang from the ceiling!  Some products such as rugs, lighting and artefacts are competitively priced.  Looking at these photos again now makes me sigh….:

Meanwhile, what’s been happening at House By The Water?  The timber floors have started.  The Auswood brothers set off at a cracking pace two weeks ago, sanding and sealing our concrete floor then laying the beautiful, raw blackbutt timber from NSW.  So far the bottom floor timber is down and about half the top floor.  The tricky bits such as the stairs and our curved, suspended slab edge are yet to be done, but the end of concrete dust, sawdust and a furniture-less home is in sight.

Concrete sand and seal

Concrete sand and seal

Blackbutt everywhere.

Blackbutt everywhere.

Scullery getting homely.

Scullery getting homely.

Self levelling concrete.

Self levelling concrete.

Coming soon:

  • Will the fireplace saga ever end?
  • A trip to the tree farms.

 

When the money runs out…

…you wait, and you DIY.  

Spending is over.  Paying bills is not. It would be lovely if we could just keep handing out cash in order to quickly finish off the house but the optimistic reality is that landscaping and furnishings are going to take a year or two, limited by funds and time. 

So the Nice Wolf started work on the cobblestone pavement on the canal side of our property.  The idea is to practice our skills before taking on the project of cobble stoning the drive way.  To remind you, the quotes for  a cobblestone driveway were in a the order of $35K.

DIY cobblestones go something like this:

  1. Get all keen and order the cobblestones.
  2. Take a week or two to recover from the shock of the arrival of the crates and crates and crates of cobblestones. 
    Endicott cobblestones

    Endicott cobblestones from Eco Outdoor

     
  3. Prepare area, level ground.  In the case of our canal landing this involved carting in road base and hiring a compactor.
  4. Mix concrete and lay the cobblestones.  Some cobblestones are nice and consistent in size, but the ones I selected have huge variation in thickness between stones, therefore a thick layer of concrete was needed to compensate.  
  5. Grout between the cobbles. 
    cobbestone grout

    Grubby work.

      
    cobblestone grout

    My first attempt at grouting. I will experiment with a piping tool next time.

     

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Well, at current rate, I estimate we’ll be finished by June.   

cobblestone progress

Work in progress

 
Now, you know that I like to pass my home decorating dilemmas on for reader opinions.  The latest interiors quandary is the colour of our interior blinds.  Living in House By The Water for just 3 weeks has confirmed that we do need blinds to protect us from the setting Western sun.  Our living area is basically inhospitable from 4-7pm in Summer without blinds.  The heat and the glare is severe.   
living area windows

Living area windows.

 
So roller blinds it is.I’m going for a light filtering blind.  You can still see through it during the day time and my first inclination is to go with a charcoal colour.  I’ve seen examples of this looking good.  My hesitation is that when the blinds are fully rolled up, we’ll have a black bar of colour across the top of all the windows.  I’d prefer a more camouflaged approach.  The obvious alternative is a lighter coloured blind but I’m worried this will be glaring and too much whiteness during the day. 

Roller blinds

Charcoal or “Sterling” (below).

 
I think this is a job for Pinterest, but do send your opinions my way.

I’m hoping for the timber floor installers to start this week and the return of the landscapers to start to get the pool into working order.  

I’m still pinching myself everyday, checking that my amazing new surroundings are real.  Our jetty visitors this week have included ducks, dolphins and a rather large stingray!

*Note:  please excuse editing anomalies.  This post was produced entirely on my mobile phone.  Apparently, laptops  and concrete floors do not mix. 

Jetty Christmas!

Santa on the canals.

Santa delivers lollies on Christmas Eve.

In the scheme of things, I thought that a jetty was low priority.  After all, we don’t actually have a boat.  But The Nice Wolf had other ideas and last week the Jetty Man motored up to House By The Water, drilled in a couple of poles and attached a brand new jetty.  Just like that!

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.  Jetty by West Coast Jetties.

The Nice Wolf paid attention to the functionality of our jetty design, I oversaw the aesthetics and I am rather pleased with the result.  An unexpected bonus of the jetty is that it visually extends our “back yard”.  Suddenly our canal side area seems so much larger.  The jetty has been well used already:  breakfast while dangling feet over the water and many boating guests, including Santa, a previously anonymous blog reader and some new neighbours who welcomed us with a gift of champagne!  Plus, there has been plenty of shenanigans on our kayaks and the Three Little Pigs’ Christmas gift, a blow up paddle board/windsurfer.

Another highlight of the week was the installation of our cray pot pendants.    They are not quite finished yet, but already I love them, especially at night.

Christmas baking provided a good test for our ovens and kitchen space.  Pavlova?  Check!  3.5 kg salmon?  Check!  2 adults cooking at once?  No problem.

Kitchen

Kitchen in use.

Kitchen crowd.

Boxing Day kitchen crowd.

Guess The Handover Date Competition.

Congratulations to John!  John guessed December 24th would be the day we received keys to House By The Water, 6 days later than our actual handover day.  A good bottle of West Australian bubbly is  available for collection or delivery.  Thanks to all blog readers who joined in with this competition.

Keys Please, Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Three Kids at sunset.

Three Little Pigs, toasting the new house with “kids’ champagne” and pizza.

At 9 am yesterday, The Nice Wolf received keys from our site supervisor for our new home.  In a slightly non-traditional ending to the fairy tale, we had a pseudo pre-handover inspection and handover all in one.  That means that there are a few items still to be completed by the builders but we are able to move in.  Full credit to the builders and all their associated tradespeople for working their butts off for the past 2 months in order to deliver our house before their Christmas break.

This last week saw some crucial elements added to House By The Water.  Balustrading, toilets (phew!) and, just in the nick of time, gas, or more significantly, hot water.  As a bonus, our landscapers finished our deck and made a good start on the pool fencing.

So here we are, completely exhausted and thoroughly happy.  What other way is there to celebrate than with good champagne (thank you Webb and Brown-Neaves) and pizza on the deck?  We had a great evening, with many small boats cruising the canals to view the local Christmas lights.  All the boaters were in a Friday, festive mood, waving at us as they went by.

Today, the littlest pig turned 6 and was very happy to be served breakfast in bed on a mattress on the floor.  There has been a steady stream of tradies and we’ve been erecting some makeshift curtains.  We’ve been vacuuming concrete dust and laying down plastic drop sheets in a probably vain attempt to minimise the dust until our timber floors are laid.  We’ve been unpacking a few bits and pieces and received our new mattress.  Basically, our work is just beginning.

I will post lots of photos soon.  I just wanted to check in today and say, we’re in!

Ensuite.

Ensuite at night.

Would you let your husband choose tiles? Alone?

Note from wife sign.

Photo source: unknown.

Up until this week The Nice Wolf (a.k.a. husband) has been too busy to get involved in the minor details of House By The Water.  He’s left all the interior decisions to me and many of the other decisions too.  An ideal situation, as far as I’m concerned.  Well, The Nice Wolf is now on holidays and has been busying himself with thoughts of reticulation, hanging cray pots from the ceiling, cobblestones and many other future DIY projects.  He’s been popping past House By The Water to act as liaison between myself and our landscapers and to submit a daily report on the head count of tradespeople on site.

And yes, he had to bring a note from his wife in order to make a tile selection.

Pool tiles.

Pool tile samples were duly brought home for my approval.

More about that head count.  It has been exceptionally high this week.  Webb and Brown-Neaves and related contractors have been pulling out all stops in order to get the keys to us next week.  On top of that, our landscapers, Tim Davies Landscaping, have started work.

Here is just some of what has been happening:

The lights were installed:

The painters have been inside and Kitty Grey is looking very pretty:

The tiling and stonework is just about finished:

The robes were installed:

Sinks, tapware, shower screens and mirrors (not shown) were installed:

Work on the deck began:

Jarrah decking.

Deck in progress.

Behind the scenes we’ve been booking in the wood fire and floor installers, connecting the internet and phone and ordering the council-supplied bins.  In a very pleasant twist of events, we received a variation notice from the builders giving us an $11.5K credit for site works.  Yep, you read it correctly.  Credit.  Yippee!   (Skipping all the way to the cobblestone shop….)

Looks like I’d better start chilling that wine.

…She’s making a list, checking it twice…

Kitchen splash back.It seems to be the done thing to start writing lists at this stage of the build.  I’ve been postponing my list writing for fear of what I might find.  But here it is, out in the open, for all of you to tut about how it’s not possible to do all those things in just two weeks, before the builders shut down for a long break.

To do:

  1. Finish interior tiles: powder room, splash back, laundry chute/bath surround.
  2. Exterior texture (nearly finished).
  3. Stacked stone feature (started).
  4. Render, waterproof, texture planter boxes and retaining walls (started).
  5. Paint walls (started).
  6. Install balustrade.
  7. Plumbing finals, installation sinks, taps, toilets.
  8. Electrical finals, install light fittings (started).
  9. Phone/future link finals.
  10. Shower screens and mirrors.
  11. Robes (started).
  12. Door hardware.
  13. Manhole.
  14. Stacker doors, front door.
  15. Flyscreens.
  16. Garage door.
  17. Install appliances (started).
  18. Insulation.
  19. House clean.

I started the list last weekend, and although it seems like there has been plenty of activity at House By The Water, the list looks fairly unscathed.

As I am a “glass half full” kind of person, here is my list of items that were completed this week.

Completed:

  • Balustrade measured up and a new balustrade finish negotiated to avoid availability of product delays.
  • Splash back tiled and grouted.  Looking very lovely, if I do say so.

    Scullery tile and bench

    Masia Gris Claro tile and Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

  • Bathroom and ensuite tiles grouted.
  • Powder room floor problem # 4 (some tiles in the series darker than the rest) resolved by creating a new pattern.

    Powder room tiles.

    Powder room tiles.

  • Robe areas painted.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

  • Stacker doors installed.
  • Appliances, sinks and toilets delivered.  Ovens installed.
  • Downlights, some pendant lights, smoke alarms and power outlets fitted.

    Vintage LED pendant.

    One of the void pendants. Cray pot to be added later.

  • Robes started.
  • Stacked stone progressed.
  • Front door delivered.

All considered, I’m pronouncing it a good, productive week at House By The Water.  Stay tuned for the big week of painting ahead.