The Nice Wolf and I have been flat out getting at least some of the garden ready in time for the influx of Christmas and Summer visitors. I’ve lost count of the weekends the Nice Wolf has been laying cobblestones. He complains that I get the good jobs and it’s probably true. Planting, painting. Any way, no time to write, but I feel I owe my readers at least some photos of recent progress. I hope you enjoy the gallery:
Every spare moment has been spent in the garden lately. Planting, reticulation, lawn preparation, mulching and cobblestones, of course… No time at all for blogging. We’re on a mission. Guests are coming for Christmas.
Fortunately, the “House By The Water” videos, made by our builders, are ready. You can enjoy a little chat in our kitchen and living room instead of reading a post. There are two short videos. Click on the pictures below to view. I don’t think I’ll take up vlogging, but it was fun to do this once.
Six months have past since handover and I sent my list of problems into Webb and Brown-Neaves. Nothing drastic. They’ll pay me a visit next week to review everything. Hopefully, the fixes will be quick and with minimal time off work required.
We finally got around to our handover with Intelligent Homes who were subcontracted to install our security and communication systems. Burglars, be warned! You’ll need ear plugs.
The Nice Wolf hung an old front door bell that we’ve been carting around for more than a decade. It came from our first house. We took it off to render the 70’s brick and promptly lost the bracket so never rehung it. I’m very grateful now.
The waterline tiles have been laid in our pool and there has been talk of solar versus electric heating. I can almost believe that we’ll be swimming in this pool come Summer. I’d better get cracking with the fence painting and planting.
There’s a chance my blog may spontaneously combust this week. Last year I paid a small amount for “custom design” and no ads, but this year I put the money towards this floor lamp:
So if this page is looking a bit weird later this week, that’s why. I shall attempt blog first aid as necessary.
Our boxes and furniture arrived. The kitchen boxes took me a full weekend to unpack and I’ve declared a ban on any further kitchenware purchases. Our plentiful kitchen storage is full.
This 3 day weekend, my mission is to clear the house of all the other boxes. I’m spurred on by a special request from a South African reader for photos of our void area and by the impending arrival of an important guest, Aunty Kate.
Our living room (with void) is furnished temporarily with old furniture:
I have big plans for this living area, but I have to be patient. In the end, practicality won over lust and I’ve ordered this sofa:
The sofa is coming from South Africa and is due to arrive in May. I’m taking that to mean July, because everything seems to arrive later than advertised. (Hello? Bed I ordered in December. Shutters I ordered in October. Are you there?) When the sofa arrives, I shall borrow some rug samples from Frisky Deer and will select a rug to complement the new sofa and the “I.O.U. artwork” that is yet to be purchased following a conspicuous birthday a certain time ago.
I’m only half way through my box emptying spree, but I feel like showing off our living area. I’ve earned a short break…
Through the chaos of the week, I’ve enjoyed finding little spots that give me pleasure. Honestly, everything looks better with timber floors:
And finally, a preview of our powder room:
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!
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.
My powder room floor tile choice is proving to be more than just a puzzle:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
One bath has been set in position and the plumber has the bathrooms all ready for tiles:
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.
It has been another action-packed week at House By The Water. I can hardly keep up with the pace. Most of the ground floor windows are in place. It seems that the glazier had to wrestle with a few of them and the windows came out second best.
The arrival of the windows heralded the discovery of my first major addenda blooper….
A loo with a view? Hmmm… Not sure who’s bright idea a clear glass door beside the WC was, but it was certainly my error not to pick it up on the addenda.
The carpenters have been busy hanging doors, creating shelving in the linen cupboards and adding trim to the edges of the stairs and around the exposed edges on the suspended slab:
The stacking glass doors on the canal side are not ready, so the openings have been boarded up for now to provide some security to the indoors. I’m sure it means we will be locked out any moment now:
The tiles have been delivered and a bath! That was a “this is real” moment.
And last, but definitely not least, the whole site has been tidied up:
Off site, the Nice Wolf and I took a whirlwind tour of Perth and Fremantle. In honour of my birthday, The Nice Wolf paid careful attention to The Best Places to shop in Western Australia and we covered as much ground as we could before serious furniture shopping burnout set in. We got a few sofa quotes a long the way and added a few of our own destinations to the list including Eco Outdoor where we drooled over almost everything in store:
Other highlights were Empire Homewares’ warehouse and Shedwallah, both in Fremantle and both with some real treasures, new and old:
We made an exciting purchase, but it has to stay under wraps until one of the Little Pigs has a birthday.
Deliveries have been arriving by the minute, directly in proportion to the dropping of our bank balance: curtains, light fittings, a very fancy coffee machine.
The Nice Wolf managed a successful drop of the lighting to the secret warehouse . Can you believe that after all those dreadful warnings not to step out of light-labelling line, he forgot his appointment and arrived late?!!! Goodness, I hope the warehouse staff were in a good mood today.
And just to squeeze in a little more out of our week, we hired a boat for an hour so we could
motor past House By The Water three times see the sites of Mandurah:
So, we may have made a short visit to House By The Water at half past midnight, upon our arrival in Mandurah. And it’s quite possible that we are averaging 3 site visits per day this week. We are a tad excited. We have a lot to catch up on and so do the builders. The new construction plan is all go go go, aiming for handover before Christmas.
Here is the promised tour:
I added the above photos to this post this morning, but by my second visit to the site this afternoon more ceilings had been plastered and lots of the scaffolding was removed. Woohoo! So now you can really see the size of the living area, including the living room void and alfresco area which looks especially huge.
And for this week’s style dilemma, the stack stone that I selected almost 2 years ago for the feature column on the front facade is currently unavailable, so I needed to reselect. I checked the options online and made a tentative selection, but for $14K worth of stone and the labour to install it, I thought it wise to see a sample. Midland Brick in Mandurah stock Boral’s stone cladding and I went to inspect. I’m so glad I did because the colours of the stone on my computer screen were completely different to the real samples. That made me nervous so I decided to take a short list of samples around to the house for testing:
Online “Aspen” (left) was my first choice, but in reality there was too much orange. So Echo Ridge (middle) and White Oak (right) were the last two contenders. I’ve selected Echo Ridge, wanting a bit of dark contrast to the rest of our light grey pallet to break up the front facade with texture and colour. My Mum (starring in the photos) likes White Oak the best which is very beachy, but slightly off my colour pallet of greys.
That’s all for now. My head is still a bit rattled by jet lag, too much excitement and a hectic week.
Orchestrating the construction of a house from overseas has been relatively easy. When you hire a volume builder, part of what you pay for is the project management. 10-15 years ago it would have been a different story. Most items can be viewed online these days and most people can be contacted by email. Our requirement to “be there” really only involved one visit for “pre-start selections” – checking out the tile, lighting and internal fittings in person before making selections. This end of the process, as we are nearing house completion (and I use the term “nearing” loosely), is a bit awkward. The non-binery date for completion makes the logistics of returning back to Australia kind of tricky. I won’t harp on the issue of short-term accommodation again, but I do want to mention local storage. Our furniture will be packed up this week, some of it destined for a plane ride to Western Australia but most of it will go on a long, slow trip on a ship. And for once, the incomprehensibly long process of exporting and importing our goods may actually be in our favour, saving us storage fees in Australia.
But this post is inspired by another aspect of our move. It’s a kind of ode to my parents, and all parents in Australia who have strapped beds, tables, refrigerators, sofas, etc., onto a trailer and driven hundreds of kilometres to “help the kids move”. My parents have been doing this for over 20 years. With my sisters located in Sydney and Melbourne, they know the Hume Highway like the back of their hands. When we unexpectedly moved overseas 4 years ago, we’d just recently bought a new camper trailer and we didn’t want to sell it. Similarly, we needed to buy a car in Australia 2 years ago to tow the van for a couple of months. Buying and selling cars all the time is irritating, so we decided to keep that too. My parents have kindly kept our van and car for us in their garage all this time.
So as we plan our intercontinental move (5 flights, 48 hours, 3 kids, oh, the pleasure!) my Mum and Dad are planning a cross-continental move. They’ll drive our car and van across the Nullarbor (5 days? 48 driving hours? No kids, phew.) If that’s not dedication enough, my Mum has also packed all the things we’ve left or had delivered to their house over the last few years. Travel souvenirs, gifts intended for the new house, kids Christmas presents that didn’t fit in suitcases, material won as a prize and a few purchased items for the house that I couldn’t resist buying early when they were on sale.
To all the Mums and Dads around the world, and especially mine,
thanks for adding “removalists” to your already long-list of occupations.