Nice Wolf battles coastal storms to build steps.

Installing step pavers.

Slow work on steps

It’s bloody freezing outside.  I’m sure our weekend weather comes from the Antarctic.  (I’ve not had a winter for several years, so I may be a little sensitive.)  The Nice Wolf is tough!  And handy.  And is currently outside working on step pavers and cobblestones through squalls of rain and chilling wind.

He’s on a schedule.  The professional landscapers are yet to install our garden lights and the roller door which covers some outdoor storage beside the canal.  To complete these two jobs, they need us to complete the step paving which houses step light canisters and the section of cobblestone paving around the storage area.  Of course, by “us”, I really mean The Nice Wolf.  These are both seriously slow jobs.  The steps have to be done step by step, literally.  There is concrete carting and setting time involved and some fiddly circular holes to be made for the light canisters.  Perhaps a professional might knock the job off in a day, but for my weekend warrior, it is taking more than a few weekends.  Never-the-less, he’s getting there and his labour is free.

Laying cobblestones.

Cobblestone progress.

The landscaping is slowly progressing.  The outdoor tiles around the pool area have been completed and we have a fence and gate installed to restrict access from our front yard.

Monument colorbond fence.

Colorbond pool fence.

We went for a cheap option for this side of the pool fence.  We may alter this area to include a covered outdoor kitchen a few years down the track, in which case, the fence will go.  In the meantime, I’ll cover it up with some creepers on the poolside.

I’ve been itching to get started on the planting.  I need to be patient and wait for the hardscaping to be done.  The longer I have to wait, the more I change my mind.  I’m oscillating between choosing a frangipani or an olive tree as our feature tree.  On one hand I love the colour of the olive leaves for our colour scheme, on the other hand, the frangipani’s sculptural trunk and branches are hard to beat.

Coastal garden

Lomandra, coastal banksia and a native ground cover.

I snuck in a few extra plants which made me very happy.  What can be better than gardening beside the water?  My coastal banksias were looking lonely, so I planted a row of lomandra and a row of native ground cover either side of the trees.  I popped in a few ground cover plants around my kangaroo paws too, to create a bit of interest and try to limit weed growth.

Six months maintenance.

Six months since handover past and I sent my list of items requiring attention to the builder.  There was nothing of great significance on the list and I’m pleased to report that most of the items were quickly fixed with a minimum of fuss and tradie visits involved.  I will do a full review of our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, sometime soon, but I must give them a pat on the back at this point for making the “six-month maintenance stage” fairly painless.

Ensuite.

Our ensuite. Simple, spacious and lovely!

Finally, a little “HELLO” to the House By The Water tourists!   We’ve been getting people stopping in their cars outside our house to take photos.  Some are braver than others and say “hi”.  I love that one lady this week asked if she could hold her tile (that she happened to have in the car) up against our paintwork.  That’s totally something that I would have done!

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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.

 

Bench tops and tiles.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Kitchen island in Alpine Mist and orange plastic.

The good news is that House By The Water is starting to come together.  The bad news is that the photos are lousy.  Dodgy, locked-out, bad angles, reflection-on-the-windows, ground-floor-only kind of photos.  I’m going to show you any way.

Last week the painters made the ceilings, doors and door frames white.

Then the tilers got busy in the bathrooms and the laundry.  I caught them on the job one morning:

Since then, the wall tiles in both bathrooms have also been laid.

The laundry tiles are almost complete.  There is just a small section under the cabinets left to tile.  This is going to be the hiding spot for our robotic vacuum.

Laundry tiles.

Keeping the laundry basic.

My powder room floor tile choice is proving to be more than just a puzzle:

Powder room mat effect tile.

Puzzling powder room tile.

The tiles come in a series of 6 different tiles.  When they are pieced together they create a rug effect.  We planned to use just three in the series since our powder room is fairly small.  All nice in theory.  Problem 1:  wrong tiles delivered.  Problem 2: replacement tiles still wrong.  Problem 3:  calculation of powder room floor space did not include extra width at the door openings, therefore 4 tiles in the series are actually required.  Problem 4: the second tile in the series is darker than the 1st and 3rd tiles making it look all wrong.  Gotta feeling the tiler isn’t going to love this tile.  I just hope I still do once all the problems are resolved.

The renderers covered some of the planter boxes beside the canal:

Planter boxes.

Planter boxes rendering in progress.

And, most exciting of all, the Caesarstone went in today.  Most of it is covered in protective plastic, but I managed to get a close up of the Alpine Mist bench top in our scullery through the scullery window.

Kitchen bench.

My kitchen bench. House priority #1.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone

Behind the scenes, the landscaping ball is rolling again.  I’m selecting tiles for around the pool for the third time.   The first tiles were discontinued, then the second.  There’s a chance we will have some decking before handover of our house which is a thrilling prospect.  You all know that it’s the glass of wine on the deck that I’ve been dreaming about for the last 3 years.

Our dishwasher is purchased and is awaiting fitting.  We bought the integrated model of Fisher and Paykel’s double dish drawer.  This means that the dish washer will be disguised as a kitchen cabinet.  Very swish!  We’ve had Fisher and Paykel dish drawers in several houses over the past 15 years and I give them two thumbs up.

It’s almost time to start making some lists.  It’s not long now before Webb and Brown-Neaves’ work is done and ours is just beginning.

How cabinets made my day.

Fearing another slow week, I decided to trial a new strategy to keep work progressing rapidly at House By The Water.  Bribery.

Our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves asked me to meet the tiler on site on Monday, so first thing in the morning I left the tiler a box of chocolates hoping it would make him work at his best.  I know that the tiling is a big job and a critical one in the pathway to the builders handing over the keys on December 18th.  Well I’m not sure that it had the desired effect, (any tilers reading, please send in your suggestions,) but we do at least now have the bathroom and ensuite screed.

Bathroom screed.

Kids bathroom. Note: hole in floor for laundry shute.

Ensuite screed

Ensuite

The renderers have started to add the final textured layer to the house exterior:

Grey pebble render.

Dulux Grey pebble render.

I collected some render that had fallen to the ground to take to the tile shop.  I need to select a tile to cover the top face of the patio awning.  I want it to be inconspicuous.

The concreter poured the garage floor and a concrete plinth beside the house for the air conditioning unit to sit on:

Grano garage floor.

Grano garage floor.

A couple of broken windows have been replaced and some interior scaffolding is in place.  I hope it means that the painter will start soon.

But the highlight of the week is definitely the arrival of the cabinets.  My mum sent me a text message during the day…”There’s a large furniture truck outside your house.”   Oooooh!   Cabinets!  Cabinets for the kitchen, scullery, laundry, bathroom and ensuite.  Lots and lots of beautiful storage.

What a giant puzzle it must be now to put it all together.

For those of you who are missing my little chats about interiors, I promise a short break from building talk next week.  I’ve been making a few exciting purchases and plans for our interior but I can’t reveal them just yet.

Racing season for builders.

Melbourne Cup?  Pffft.  All eyes in our household are on a different race.  It’s the race between our builders and the clock.  December 4th:  Practical Completion Inspection.  December 18th:  Keys to House By The Water.

Some punters don’t believe it will be done, but after the new pace set in October, I am backing Webb and Brown-Neaves.  I’m literally backing them.  I’ve booked short term accommodation until December 18th, not a day later.  We all know what happens after December 18th.  Nada!  Building industry shut down.

So what has been done this week?

Well, we have a new sign:

Webb and Brown-Neaves sign

Webb and Brown-Neaves upstaging our new letterbox.

And we have a new bill.  The so-called “lock up” stage has been reached with boards in place of many of the windows.  Several  windows are missing, some were broken during installation.

Lock up.

Lock up, sort of.

Our friendly tradie, who cleaned up the site last week, has laid some bricks to hide the pipe that drains rain water into the canal:

Bricked over pipe

Small steps this week.

One bath has been set in position and the plumber has the bathrooms all ready for tiles:

Bath

Bath in position.

The tiles and grout have been delivered, so there’s only one thing missing….. the tiler.

Come on, tiler!   Please be at our house tomorrow.

 

Little discoveries from my W.A. visit.

Cocoflip replica

Replicas galore.

1.  I’m so glad I checked out the “Cocoflip” pendant replicas. At $300 (versus $1500 for the real thing) – I had to consider them.  They looked great from 2 metres away, but then as I got close I noticed that there was no join between the “ash” top and the “aluminium” bottom.  So I reached out to see how it was done and realised that the whole thing was painted tin.  If I’d been fooled online and had the replicas delivered I would have been so disappointed.

2.  A sad moment at Myaree Ceramics…. the oil-blue tiles that I had coveted to replace our discontinued splash back tile, have also been discontinued.  No time for crying.  There were a number of good options that were close to my original grey subway tile selection.

How about that white “painted brick” tile (bottom right)?  Very clever.  Possibly not in keeping with House By The Water’s style.  Here’s my selection:

Splash back tile.

Masia gris claro tile. $96/m2

I’m going to have it laid vertically for a modern touch.

Next, I needed to reselect floor tiles for the laundry and powder room.  The laundry was easy.  I’m keeping it simple.  A matt grey tile.  The powder room, however, is a little room where it may not cost much to experiment with something a bit “out there”.

Powder room mood board.

This floor tile is a bit unusual so I made a mood board to help the Nice Wolf visualise how it might look.

Here the Caesarstone bench top in clamshell and the floor tile seem to clash but in reality they looked good together.  The tiles actually come in 4 different prints (of which we’d use 3) so the tiler will have to puzzle it together.  Hmmmm?  That could be unpopular.  I’m waiting for the costs of laying this tile to be confirmed before I commit.

3.  Next stop, a meeting with the owner of “Well Built Landscape Construction” (WBLC) to discuss our front yard plans.  I give Nick 10 out of 10 for keeping his overheads low, with our meeting taking place in McDonalds!  WBLC gave me the best quote for a cobblestone driveway and have produced some stylish home landscaping.  We discussed the driveway and our front fence and gate.  I begged him to help me decide whether to go with vertical wood or steel infills and render for the front fence.  He would have humoured me with either option, but my sensibilities and his have pushed me towards steel infills.   WBLC will provide a quote to kick-start our front yard, leaving the garden preparation for us to do at our leisure.

4.    At Nick’s suggestion, I went to Water Garden Warehouse to study steel infills for our front fence.  They supply my favourite steel infill pattern – the “wattle”.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

I photographed steel art featuring this pattern a year ago at Home Base because I loved it.  It’s still my favourite.

We need to choose a finish.  Powder coated is smart (no rust stains dripping down the rendered wall), but the rusty steel and Corten options have a more organic look.

Work in progress - but you get the idea.

Front yard mood board.  Work in progress – but you get the idea.

5.  And just because it’s right next door to Water Garden Warehouse, I had a browse in Eco Outdoor.  Our cobblestones will come from here and I always love their outdoor furniture, though it’s usually over-priced.  Currently they have a sale on so their outdoor sofas are closer to the realms of possibility.  It’s a good place for alfresco inspiration.  They have some tempting heavy linens for making cushions and a great vertical garden.

Vertical garden

The wooden frame hides typically ugly vertical garden infrastructure.

6.  I popped into to say hi to my “Construction Liaison” at Webb and Brown-Neaves’ office.  It’s always nice to put a face to a name.  Emma took the time to explain to me a proposed change to the width of our “gutter fascia” that despite my best attempts to understand, by studying the drawings, I still could not fathom.  I have been assured that the change is purely cosmetic.

So that’s it.  All else for the remainder of our house construction must be done remotely.  The next time I visit Western Australia will be for the “practical completion inspection”.  But you know, I’ll be hovering around in the mean time, one way or another!