Merry Christmas from HBTW!

OK, so it's not exactly the Mandurah canals, but I can dream.  Source:  Habitually Chic.

OK, so it’s not exactly the Mandurah canals, but I can dream. Source: Habitually Chic.

I’m getting in the holiday spirit and will (metaphorically) put my feet up for a week or two!

In case you miss me and need a little online reading, I thought I’d share my favourite home building blogs with you.

1.  We’re Building a House.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/blogs/we-re-building-a-house

You’ll have to be quick to join the many fans of this blog because the lucky owners of this NZ home have just moved in.  But there are still a few bits and pieces to finish up.  Jon and Gemma’s unique and beautiful home has been built on a very tricky site.  The result is great and Jon has been keeping a diary.  Jon is a talented wordsmith with a sense of humour, so not only do you get the nitty gritty of home building, but you often get a good ol’ belly laugh too.  My favourite recent post includes a discussion about whether or not to let house guests wear their shoes on a gorgeous, new wooden floor.  Personally, I voted “no”!

2.  House Nerd.

http://www.house-nerd.com

This blog has everything from new and old house tours and DIY home reno projects, to reviews/introductions of homeware stores and other fun bits and pieces (like weddings).  The best bit is that it’s all based in Western Australia and that’s kind of ground-breaking!  It was a very tough decision to pick my favourite recent post – any of the house tours are contenders, but I really love this tour of an Old Stone Farmhouse in rural Western Australia.

The next blogs on the list are from new home builders just like me!  The twist is that they are not building with the common, big name (big volume) builders in Australia.  Their houses are so, so far from mine, and each one is going to be wonderfully different.  This list also doubles as my “house swap list” for when I’ve lived in my new house for a while and am ready for my next holiday.  (I haven’t warned the home owners yet, but I’m sure they’ll agree once they see my finished house!)

3.   Our Self Build Story.

http://selfbuildhouse.wordpress.com

With permission from:  Our Self Build Story.

With permission from: Our Self Build Story.

Check out the view from this house-to-be in the Isle of Skye, Scotland.  Whoah!  The stunning view comes with some geographical and meteorological challenges.  To keep warm in the future, the owners have installed a ground source heat pump.

4.  Home in the Making.

http://parkhomeinthemaking.wordpress.com

This “contemporary farmhouse” is being built in Johannesburg.  I find it amusing to see how construction differs in South Africa.  The author, “Africadayz”, is sometimes disconcerted by the chaos of so many people on the building site.  In Australia, we’d be celebrating that.  It’s good to know that supplying tradesmen with “morning tea” of Coca- Cola and biscuits is a worldwide practice.

5.  Happy Laughs

http://happylaughs.wordpress.com

With permission from Happy Laughs.

With permission from Happy Laughs.

Happy Laughs is building a barn in Texas.  When I saw her photo of recycled farmhouse beams arriving at her property, I knew it was going to be a special project.  Happy Laughs’ home is currently being framed, and, can you believe it, her tradies recently had a few days off due to snow.  In Texas!  Happy Laughs has 4 kids and from the pictures she’s selected to inspire her home, I know she is building a warm and lively home.

Wishing all my readers a very, happy Christmas!  

Thanks for all your tips and comments.  See you in January when I will be very excited about my trip to Australia for the “pre start” meeting with our builders.

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Landscape design

When we woke up to a little package of 3D landscape drawings in our inbox it felt like Christmas morning.  Immediately we were visualising our summer days sitting on the deck, watching boats putt by and listening to the kids splashing in the pool.

We are not afraid of a bit of work in the garden and fancy that we could put together a nice yard with plenty of greenery, a place to BBQ and a bit of decking.  Our last garden was certainly all DIY.  But when we saw what our landscape architect came up with to complement our future home, we knew it was better than any plan we could have conceived.

So that was the good news.  The bad news was that this impressive design was double our budget.  Together with our landscape architect, we’ve been cutting pieces to bring the design closer to our budget and now we are at a point where our “back garden” will look more like this:

Plan B is without the fancy louvre shade structure at the end of the pool, has a fibreglass pool and leaves Igor and I with plenty of the work to do ourselves.

Plan B is without the fancy louvre shade structure at the end of the pool, has a fibreglass pool instead of concrete and leaves Igor and I with plenty of the work to do ourselves, including all of the lower (canal) level.

I think it has the “Wow” factor.  It’s a little less organic/Aussie/au naturel looking than I had imagined for us, but it really suits the house.

To keep within our budget, we are forgoing the shade structure for now, but the umbrella looks pretty good and some of the landscape can evolve over the years.  The pool, on the other hand, needs to be right from the start.  This is why I’ve been reading up about concrete pools versus fibreglass pools and badgering people-in-the-know to figure out which is best.  There are pros and cons to both, but assuming a good quality product and careful installation, the most significant “pro” for concrete in my mind is the look of it, and the critical “con” is the price.  I am talking about at $10 – 20 000 difference between the two for the proposed design.  Has anyone got two bobs worth to add to that little dilemma?

 

House By The Water goes facebooky

Sometimes I have house thoughts that are not quite big enough for a blog post, but still demand some attention.  Like this week, I began seeking timber floor quotes, which tipped off a whole new round of questions – “plank on ply” versus “direct stick”, matte, satin or gloss sheen, etc.?  As you may have already gathered, I’m a little bit geographically challenged with this house build.  We are building in Western Australia but right now I’m 5 hours by plane away and it’s only going to get worse.  So I can’t just pop into a few showrooms for a little browse and chat with sales staff.

This blog and its readers have been helping me blunder my way through so far and it’s all been such a lovely relationship that House By The Water now has a little offspring.  For all those not-yet-blog-thoughts, please visit my new facebook page. You can click on the facebook link in the right column of the blog home page or click here.

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if you blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great.  (Photo from:  homedsgn.com.)

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if your blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great. (Photo from: homedsgn.com.)

Friday inspiration

Who needs magazines these days?  (OK, I may have bought a little magazine today, to celebrate that it is Friday.  It cost me a whopping $25.  But it came all the way from France and is beautifully wrapped in plastic.  And it goes very well with chocolate.)

But the modern day girl flicks though cyber pages.  Here is my latest favourite place to hangout on the web:

The construction site in my head.

My brain has been all over the place this week.  The Three Little Pigs have been on school holidays.  If that is not enough to rattle my head, the world news has been drawing attention to my current backyard (South Korea), interfering with my focus.  Fortunately, my months of obsessing about all things house-related has paid off, and when I go to sleep at night my dreams have been about our new house and not missiles.

In my dream, our new house had a glass stair well and stairs, so we could see the canal from the stairs.  That particular idea will not be making it to the real thing.  (Photo from: http://hbdstairs.wordpress.com)

In my dream, our new house had a glass stair well and stairs, so we could see the canal from the stairs. That particular idea will not be making it to the real thing. (Photo from: http://hbdstairs.wordpress.com)

On the subject of building, here’s a snippet of what I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • Adding a laundry chute to the house plan.  Straight from kids’ bathroom to laundry.
  • How to make a 900mm oven, plus a 600mm oven work, with minimal disruption to our favoured house plan.
  • Whether or not I can live with tiles for a kitchen splash back.  Is cleaning grout going to be an ongoing problem?  The Nice Wolf cooks a particularly messy spaghetti bolognese on a regular basis.  Is glass daggy these days?  I’d love stone (to match kitchen bench), but probably that is an exorbitant cost.
  • Window treatments for energy saving, mosquito exclusion, privacy and aesthetics.  (This one is big.  It might make it to a blog post of its own.)

The Nice Wolf raised the idea of asking for a named Site Supervisor (who comes with good references) to be included in the building contract.  Has anyone done that before?

The lovely sales rep at company X (builder currently on top of our shortlist) sent me lots more photos of our favourite house.  The house used to be on display, so they have many pictures.  Lots of the details you don’t see on websites – laundry, WCs, inside the cupboards, exterior fittings, garage interior.  This is as close as I’ll get to browsing display homes for a little while.

So much to think about….

The oven(s).

I think I’d better issue all my lovely blog followers with a measuring tape.  This time I want your oven measurements, especially the width.  How much width does a macaron-baking Mama and pizza-throwing Papa need?

I’ve been going through potential house plans with a fine tooth comb and there is a chance we’ll be having two wall ovens.  Is 600mm enough?  Would you sacrifice 2 small wall ovens (included) for one 900mm oven?

And does any one have one of those new-fandangled steam ovens?  What do you think?

A small oven could stifle the Nice Wolf's culinary creativity.  This lovely oven was surely 900mm wide.

A small oven could stifle the Nice Wolf’s culinary creativity.

P.S.  It’s now 9 days later.  Thank you for the comments and emails about your ovens.  We are leaning towards one 600mm oven, plus one 900mm oven.  (His and hers!)   In the interim, I’ve found the perfect oven:

4a59b5267073d64f79e6834483589805

True love. This is the kind of oven I’d give a name to. And possibly kiss it.
(Available for the price of a small car at: http://www.plessers.com/Thermador/prd486edg.htm)

 

The kitchen bench.

Attention has been drawn to the kitchen bench.  It needs to be big!  My uncle, very experienced at sitting around kitchen benches, says so.  He likes to sit and watch the cook(s), getting his fingers dangerously close to the knives, in order to sneak a little taste.  He reckons that my Mum and Dad’s kitchen bench is the perfect size, and given that it has recently been the scene of Christmas dinner preparations for 21 people, he could be right.  So I sent my Mum to measure.  3.2 m x .85 m.

Mum and Dad's kitchen bench - the gold standard in benches.

Mum and Dad’s kitchen bench – the gold standard in benches.

Here is another beautiful kitchen bench, in a beautiful home:

What do you think?  I think that it would be more useful if the space underneath the bench was cupboards, but I’m impressed by the bench’s capacity to seat a family of 5.  I wonder how long it is?  At our last abode, there was bench seating for 3, so I ate my breakfast standing up for a year.  That’s enough.

Here is another one of my favourite kitchen benches:

And here, sadly, is my current kitchen bench:

I promise never to make macaroni cheese again if I have a big kitchen bench.

I promise never to make macaroni cheese again if I can have a big kitchen bench.

If you love your kitchen bench, please measure it up and post a comment.