Day 100: the secret of great comedy

This one’s about timing.

Recognising that there’s a premium on time though, let’s begin with a rattle through (in pictures) of where we’ve been since the last post. Those with more time on their hands can then join me for a meditation on the temporal aspects of existence in general and building a house (did I mention we are?) in particular further down.

The short version (pictorial summary)


If there’s one born every minute, how come Wardsy was the only one to fall for the old “free gym pass” honeytrap?


We may never have tied the knot, but somehow having our names spraypainted on the side of a big old stack of frames seems to suggest a special level of commitment. Especially when the frames are 190mm thick.


Heather stood like this for hours. Right in the way. We had to work around her. It was less than helpful. Thanks Heather.

If we were better with  technology we’d make a stop-motion animation of the stack up top getting smaller and the stack down on the slab getting bigger. Pearl would probably set this to music and make the rising and falling stacks look like mixing desk LEDs bouncing up and down to the beat. Use your imagination. Or scroll quickly through the following pictures:


Day100StackSmaller Day100LowerStackSmall Day100LowerStackLarger



Heather stood like this for hours. Told us it was a real workout technique called “palleties”, a sub-genre of pilates. Tanea had to work around her. It was very inconvenient. Nice one Heather.


Despite having remained motionless for almost the entire time she was here Heather had managed to work up quite a sweat, and helped herself to our hard-earned beers. Cheers Heather.


With the blocks ready and waiting for them the blockies were straight into it on Monday morning. The wall flew up.


Meanwhile Tam and Stan cracked into nogging out the floor frame over the basement.


Stan is a keen advocate of “the colourful site”. “Builders are often surprisingly conservative” he tells me. “I try to liven things up a bit; you shouldn’t be frightened of colour. Brighten your palette and your heart will soar.” Cheers for the tip Stan.

“Had I the world enough and time”: the long-winded version

We’re 100 days in now and successfully (if not completely) “built out of the ground”. Building out of the ground is the bit that everyone warns you about: weeks pass and it feels like the only major thing to see is the money draining out of the bank account (“gouting” might be more apt).

We started on July the 1st with a general assumption that the house would be “sufficiently” built to move into in about 6 months time. Given that January is a non-working month in New Zealand, I felt it would be a good idea to shorten this by about a week. Home by Christmas indeed.

Ever the optimist, that conjured for me the mental image of a very large, colourfully wrapped box (measuring about 10m x 10m x 16m) with a big, festive bow,  perched at the end of the section with a tag on it saying: “To James and Family. Merry xmas 2013”. Despite my disapproval for the idiomatic contraction, this would be a present I think we would all unwrap with considerable gusto and unfeigned delight.

Now, over the half way mark and only concrete to show for ourselves, this is looking more and more, how you say, aspirational (in the political sense, i.e. not going to happen; a flagrant “upsell”). Then again, this was never going to be a turnkey project – us living in a swanky hotel until the builders came along one day to say, “the house is finished. We’ve allowed a couple of weeks for the landscaping to settle in and the paint to dry. Also we had to change out the blue-grey Harris Tweed wallcovering because they supplied one with the wrong ratio of grey to blue and it didn’t go with the bespoke art glass installation screen. But it’s all perfect now. Enjoy.”

Instead, we know that the project will be over (for the paid workers at least) when we run out of money. After that it’s up to us. My absolute requirement (= most fervent hope) is that work will be completed sufficiently for us to have our CCC (Code Compliance Certificate) signed off. For this we need all of the professionals involved (engineer, builder, subbies) to have signed their Producer Statements; this means there’s some stuff we can’t do ourselves to get to this stage. As a minimum then, the house needs the shell completed and weathertight, electrical and plumbing work completed, and lined.

There’s also pressure on getting in as soon as possible so we can start earning rent on the house we’re currently living in. We need this to help pay for the gigantic mortgage we’ve saddled ourselves with. Otherwise we end up in the unsustainable (there: I’ve wanted to get that buzzword in somewhere) position of paying off the interest on the mortgage out of the mortgage itself. I have good reason to believe (thanks for the tip, Greece and Spain) that this doesn’t end well.

So what I’m hoping is that we’ll be in a position to move in around Christmas even if we still have some things to finish off ourselves. What these “things” are will depend on how far along the guys have got us by then. They may include: decking, plastering, painting, wooden floor laying, architraving, landscaping, rudimentary joinery and bathroom fitout. (Actually, things like joinery and bathroom fitout are more dependent on cost than timing, a subject for another blog.)

Given that we will certainly have quite a bit to do over Christmas we’ve decided to stay in Wellington for the summer. I know: we’ll miss you too. But we’ll be sure to have the barbecue running (let’s face it, it may be our only means of cooking), so please, feel free to come for a visit. We’d love to have you. Just make sure you bring a paintbrush and some old clothes with you.


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