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:
As life becomes more hectic and posts are more distant, there’s rather a lot to catch up on. House By The Water made its film debut. Out of respect for the job well done by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, I agreed to host an interview about our building experience. There were conditions, of course. Firstly, the filming would be confined to the part of the house that I could guarantee to be tidy given the habits of the Three Little Pigs. Secondly, I would do my best to make House By The Water look stylish, if the builder’s marketing team could do something about making me photogenic.
It was a fun morning. It was the longest make-up session that I have ever endured, much to the amusement of the Three Little Pigs. Reneé, from WBN, did an excellent job of being a temporary TV journalist and Troy was cool and calm behind the cameras, trying his best to keep me relaxed without involving alcohol.
I made a last minute attempt to purchase a new floor rug for the living room, but fell for the rug that was “out of stock”. Fortunately, Dee from Frisky Deer Interiors, stepped in with the loan of a luxurious Armadillo and Co rug for the video shoot. It looked very good at House By The Water
and I secretly hoped that tea/wine would be spilt on it and we’d have to buy it.
I may or may not let you all know when the video is published.
Enough stardom, onto the pool.
The landscapers are almost finished. There are just a few finishing touches left in their scope (and years of work left in ours). The pool was filled and commissioned and despite the weather still behaving like Winter we decided to “bugger it”! We heated up the pool for one weekend and let the Little Pigs in for a wallow.
I finally committed to an olive tree beside the pool. Though young, it’s already a feature, looking especially lovely lit up at night:
The canal side landscaping is finally starting to come together. It shall be ready for the Christmas visitors and the throngs of tourists boating passed lured by Christmas lights.
Since we last talked, I’ve been sleeping on a lovely new bed! We ordered an “Iris Dunes” bed from Snooze. They are made to order, in Australia, so I asked for the bed head shape to be varied from the wavy version in the show room. I think it looks excellent!
It’s a little bit wide for the mattress, or is the mattress a little narrow for the bed? Both are King sized and both are from Snooze, so it’s a bit annoying that the slats are visible on the sides. After waiting 3 months for the bed, I can’t bare to send it back to be modified…
More on the master bedroom soon…. (Freedom have a furniture sale this weekend, so I have plans… Plus, I need to ‘fess up to a Pottery Barn curtain disaster.)
The living room blinds arrived and were masterfully installed by a pleasant fellow from Kresta blinds. One wall of blinds were not measured accurately, so they need to be sent back to QLD for recutting. (Note to self: do not chat with sales lady when she is trying to take measurements.) I was a bit nervous that my dark choice of roller blind would look out of place on our light walls, but I’m very happy with how they look. In fact, they are more pleasant looking than our fairly ordinary window frames. I’m currently typing in our living room, without wearing sunglasses, which is a plus.
The landscapers concreted around our pool in preparation for tiles. The rate of landscaping progress is excruciatingly slow. Luckily, I’m well trained in patiently waiting for trades to arrive. It’s going to be great when it’s finished. You just need long range vision.
Aunty Kate (a.k.a. my sister and unqualified, highly-opinionated interiors advisor) is currently in residence. Possibly sleeping off the latest feast on the deck. Of course, I was aiming to impress her. This called for a quick stock up of flowers and greenery from Frisky Deer and a whirlwind cleaning spree. You can imagine that the effect lasted only minutes with the Three Little Pigs around, but I made sure to snap a few pics as proof that House By The Water was momentarily clean.
In any case, Aunty Kate has given the official thumbs-up to House By The Water with one exception. The
purple blue blind in the powder room. Remember the interesting powder room door? It has clear glass. Perfect for sitting on the loo and waving to the neighbours. A bit of a blunder with the building addenda. Various solutions are still being thrown about, but in the mean time, the Handy Wolf and I picked up a cheapie roller blind from Masters for self installation. It was inky blue in the shop, without any sun behind it. It’s vibrant purple in our powder room.
Cheers! And happy Easter!
At times it seems like jobs will never end, but after 6 weeks our timber floors were finally finished.Life has hit crazy-busy levels over the past couple of weeks, but my current favourite past time is to find a little corner of the house to put right.
Landscaping is moving at snails pace. Over the past two months the landscapers have removed the pool scaffolding and rendered around the top of the pool. Full stop. I’d better start cracking the whip if we want it to be ready before next Summer.The Nice Wolf has been working on a jetty-style entrance. The idea was to reduce sand entry to the house as soon as possible.
I’m indulging in a moment of sentimentality because, well, it’s a conspicuous month. A certain birthday. I’ve been reminiscing about the 21 houses I’ve lived in, being amused at the decorating fashions that have been recycled over the years and hypothesising about the influences of my history on my current choices for House By The Water.
My first House By The Water.
The A-frame rental.
1980 – 1984
The humble Australian weatherboard house.
On the eve of my 7th (?) birthday, once I’d gone to sleep, my parents moved me into my very own bedroom. I pretended to remain asleep, but really I was peeking at the newly pine-lined room (thank you Dad), complete with custom made soft furnishings (thank you Mum). Their renovations had been top-secret until that moment.
Was it 2 hours before or 2 hours after settlement of this house that Dad started wielding the sledge hammer? This old farmhouse needed some work. My room was pink and black (ergh!) with a barre and gigantic mirror for ballet practice, but my favourite spot was on a wooden platform up a tree where I would write my journal. Slowly Mum and Dad beautified this country house and large garden.
The garden, with its mountain view, was the perfect place to return to for our good ol’ fashioned country wedding several years later.
Double story English brick houses.
On student exchange to England, I had the privilege of calling 4 different English houses my home. All were double story and each had a great sense of cosiness. For the first (and only) time, I experienced the luxury of a bedroom basin. I thought it was decadence to have my own basin for teeth cleaning. The grand home above was extra special with a beautiful outlook over a massive garden and a hidden veggie patch keeping my hosts in stock with fruit for evening crumbles. Yum.
Melbourne – student digs of various descriptions.
So long as a tram rolled passed the door, there were no holes in the floor and the price was right, then we were happy tenants. Even so, I managed to secure a cute old semi-detached house (not pictured) to share with friends – you know, the kind of house that is one room wide. It was in Melbourne that the Nice Wolf and I had our first home together. We rented an apartment in Carlton with a great city view. Yes, it was best appreciated with the lights off! But, ooh, what I could do, if only I could get my hands on that apartment now!
Bendigo character house.
The Indian Ocean. Mandurah brick and tile.
Two full-time incomes for the first time and freed from Melbourne rental prices, we decided there was only one place to be. By the beach. These houses are typical of Mandurah, but with amazing views. We swam in the ocean most afternoons after work, and watched a pod of dolphins take their daily trip North. When we moved from the first house to a second house in the same block, we loaded our white goods onto a trolley and wheeled them down the street. The second house was built by a builder to be his holiday/retirement home. We rented just one level. The workmanship was fantastic. Without a doubt the best feature was the upstairs, outdoor spa, just right for serving cocktails as the sun set.
This house was our first purchase. A 1970’s brick and tile do-er-upper. We spent 3 years renovating on weekends – rendering the outside, restoring the roof, installing recycled wood floors, completely gutting the kitchen and 2 bathrooms. The Nice Wolf is pretty handy and put in a new kitchen. We did most of the work ourselves and a lot of it the hard way. It was a good project to “cut our teeth on”. My favourite place was the back yard.
This was a beautiful townhouse in a beautiful area, walking distance from Lake Ontario. Wood floors, high ceilings and a wood-look, gas fire place for wintery nights.
The source of much inspiration. Plantation shutters, wood floors, white kitchen. Our first pool.
City high-rise monstrosities with views. China, South-Korea, Brazil.
House By The Water…..never move again.
The landscapers took charge of our block for a week. The only evidence of their presence from my far away vantage point was a hefty invoice. So I sent out an S.O.S. to my Mandurah friends: “Do we really have a pool?”
The resounding reply was “Yes!”
Let me draw attention to the features:
- Things sticking out of the wall (for lights, we hope)
- Built-in ice bucket!
I don’t think it’s too early to “bags my spot”. I’ve never been good at art, but just so it is on record, my spot is marked by the green arrow:
Thanks to my lovely friends and Brian, site-supervisor extraordinaire, for the photos:
The pool was whipped up in a matter of days and the site was handed back to the builders.
- Set up scaffold over the pool (for safety) and along the retaining wall.
- Fill the retaining wall cavities.
- While the concrete is curing, waterproof the back of the walls.
- Backfill the site.
- Prepare the house pad for the slab.
I am eagerly waiting for the site supervisor’s next report, any day now, confirming that these tasks have been done.
In other minor news, I have subscribed to Nearmap for one year. Nearmap is a provider of aerial photographs. Initially I was put off by the high price of $200 per year, when the Mandurah area was only scheduled for 4 updates in the next 12 months. So I let it go. My hesitation paid off and a half-price offer appeared in my inbox. $100 for one year. Still expensive photos at $25 a pop, but you know how I like my photos…..
The most recent photo was taken on July 18th when work on our retaining wall footings had just begun:
It has been fun to check out the block over time (Nearmap pictures for our area date back to 2009) and to see some of our previous homes.
Are pictures of piles of sand and curing concrete not your thing? Don’t worry, I’ll be philosophising about home cellars, libraries, rugs and spaceship lighting again soon. Maybe one of those topics is up your alley?
It’s no secret that I’m home-building obsessed. But I’m not the only one. There’s a zillion people like me, and worse, hanging about on the “HomeOne Forum“. There are first-time home builders, repeat offenders, and even professionals. No question is too silly, tips are given and mistakes are shared. It’s on the HomeOne Forum that I (virtually) met Miranda and Cameron, fellow customers of Webb and Brown-Neaves. Miranda and Cameron recently moved into their new home and it’s a home to drool over. Miranda has been such a fantastic help to me during our build process so far, warning me of traps for beginners, sharing details of trades she recommends and answering my endless questions.
I’m so excited to introduce awesome couple, Miranda and Cameron, and their equally awesome new home to you!
When Miranda, a lawyer, and Cameron, a management consultant, became engaged and started searching for a family home in Perth, they were looking for established homes. During their search they viewed a house built by Webb and Brown-Neaves a decade earlier. The block was too small to accommodate a double garage and was crossed off the list but the house made a lasting impression on Cameron and Miranda, particularly how well it suited the neighbourhood. This lead to some research into building costs, the purchase of an old house fit for demolition and the decision to build a new home.
HBTW: What were your new house “must haves”?
M & C: 3+ bedrooms, study, home theatre, large WIR, scullery/ pantry, island bench in kitchen, large living areas at rear opening to alfresco, pool, storage spaces, as large a backyard as possible and a rear garage.
HBTW: And “nice to haves”?
M & C: Free standing bath, storage space that could become a cellar, 4th bedroom/ activity room, very high ceilings in the living areas (at least 33 courses), slightly larger minor bedrooms than the norm and the pool located beside the living area.
HBTW: What inspired your home layout and material choice decisions?
M & C: Having a corner block with a rear lane way and a North-facing back yard dictated much of the design. In terms of style, we are drawn to natural, organic but elegant spaces. We stayed in some inspiring accommodation in the Maldives for our honeymoon just before we had to make a lot of the decisions for our house.
M: I searched for a ceiling fan like the one we saw in the Maldives and was lucky that Beacon released the “artemis” just in time for our builders to install it.
HBTW: What or who was your best source of building information?
M & C: Hours of research on google, the HomeOne Forum, Miranda’s dad who is an engineer and friends who have built before.
HBTW: How did you divide the planning and decision making between you?
C: I looked after the electronics, cabling, sound and TVs. Also the pool equipment and heating.
M: Most decisions were made together. Even though this takes time, the house belongs to both of us and we are both indecisive. We usually wanted a second opinion, or third, or fourth!
We took a six-week interior design course at Home Base. I think it was great that we did the course together. We learnt a lot and it gave us some structure to be able to work out what style we liked and why, which choices work together and the pros and cons of various options. I was surprised that there were very few men at the course.
HBTW: What are your top tips for those starting the process of building a new house?
M & C:
- Sales consultants can make a big impact on your experience. Visit different display homes until you find one that you feel comfortable with.
- Get everything in writing. Make lists of what you have to do and what the builders have said they’ll do.
- Check all drawings, addendas, variations and costings very carefully.
- If something is very important to you, be prepared to do the research yourself. The “impossible” may actually be possible.
- Really think about your block, not just its aspect, but also the ground levels in relation to privacy and views.
HBTW: How about tips for people already building? Like me!
M & C: Sorry HBTW, some of our tips won’t work for you…
- Visit your site often and take lots of photos. They might not be relevant immediately but could be useful later.
- If issues arise and the builder proposes a solution, make sure you know the cost implications before you agree.
- Be able to describe your style in a way that makes sense to the various people you’ll be working with. (Pinterest helps!)
- Add conduits everywhere, especially for motorised blinds.
- Watch out for quotes that don’t include GST or other essentials, like delivery.
HBTW: What was your biggest mistake?
M & C: Believing that Webb and Brown-Neaves could accommodate a custom design or even substantial changes to their normal designs. The majority of mistakes we noticed were related to these changes. Their processes just aren’t set up for that, and it didn’t work well.
M: On a smaller scale, I regret letting the lighting consultant talk me into keeping oyster lights in the walk-in-robe and laundry. Even if the light is better from oyster lights, I don’t like how they look (especially how green they look when they’re on). We’ll need to replace those.
HBTW: Were there any companies that were so good, you’d like to give them a plug?
M & C:
1. Aussie Clotheslines. Their sales people were really helpful. It was easy to book in a convenient time only a couple of days after I rang them. They turned up on time and did what they said they’d do for the original price and didn’t leave any mess or damage anything in the process. If I could say that about everyone involved in building, it would have been a thousand times easier!
2. Just Blinds. Andy organised our blinds and shutters and has been very helpful. He came back a couple of times, for example, when the electrician was struggling with the connections to motorise the blinds. He doesn’t have a shop so he comes to you, with all the samples to choose from and all the info. It was a very easy process.
3. Freedom’s Decorator Service. Felicia, from Freedom in Osborne Park was excellent. She really listened and understood what we wanted. She made great suggestions and not just for Freedom things. She helped us with all sorts of decisions like skirting, blinds and paint colours. She gave us the confidence to do a few things that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, but really like: for example, having a couple of non-matching dining chairs; using several different types of timber in our living area and having a fitball in the study instead of a second office chair. She was going for a feeling that was more “young and fun”, rather than trying to re-create the kind of rooms our parents would want. No disrespect to our parents intended!
HBTW: What is your favourite part of the house now?
M: My favourite part of the house is looking into the kitchen from the living area, where you can see the kitchen, pendant lights, stonework and bar stools. (HBTW: Mine too, Miranda. The combination is amazing.)
C: My favourite part of the house is probably the home theatre, though I really like our bedroom and living area too.
HBTW: What was you biggest splurge?
M: At the time of purchase, my pendants and freestanding bath felt like big splurges but now that we’ve been worn down by all sorts of high costs, we’ve become a bit numb and those amounts don’t seem so high any more.
C: Have you forgotten the cost of the ovens?
M: Yes, the Miele warming drawer, normal oven and steam oven. They were definitely my biggest splurge.
C: My biggest splurge was the pool. And putting the pool up against the house – with the extra cost of footings and engineering work that required. The plan is to put a tv in our alfresco so I can sit in the pool and still being able to watch the cricket! I’m thinking of a housewarming party on boxing day, watching the Boxing Day Test from the pool.
HBTW: What was the first thing you did upon receiving the keys to your new house?
M & C: We rushed straight back to the house to let in the flooring people. They needed to get started that day to get their work done in time for other people who were booked in. We had re-shuffled everything following a few delays.
The weekend we moved in was much happier – champagne was involved that day.
HBTW: Thanks Miranda and Cameron for sharing your home pictures and all the nitty, gritty details. I hope you have many happy years in your beautiful new family home!
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:
- 6.7 x 3.8 metres
- $45 650 (not including fencing or paving, includes TDL’s fee).
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”.
- 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.
- 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!
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:
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?
In honour of the first time I’ll actually set foot on our block since it became ours, I’ve had the
lawn grass mown. So far, most of the house building planning has been in cyberspace. But I have an exciting and busy week or two coming up in real-life Western Australia.
Here’s the plan:
- Celebrate purchasing the block properly.
- Meet with preferred-builder’s rep, the lovely Rita. So far Rita has been wading through my lengthy emails trying to make sense of the changes we want to make to the standard house plan with great patience. She’s also been buttering me up with beautiful pictures and photos of our potential home and plenty of enthusiasm for our vision.
- Go like crazy around lots of display homes by our preferred builder and a few others to collect details of finishings, colours, tiles, etc. that I like. (This is hard to do online.)
- Meet with landscape designers.
- Get quotes for pools.
- Get quotes for air conditioners.
- I’m sure there will be a “7”, and possibly 8, 9 & 10. I’m just not sure what they are yet.
The next report will come to you from blue skies Mandurah, Western Australia.
P.S. I’ve packed my camera and measuring tape!