Monthly Archives: December 2013

By popular demand: what we did in the holidays…

So as this blog is doubling as ‘letter writing back home’, we interupt house progress with a little photo essay of our days away in the bush. Unfortunately modern technology failed me and my cellphone battery died part way in, so I didn’t quite capture our annual family Christmas day photo, but you get the general idea.

Bush3The long haul in, all 1 1/2 hrs of it.
Note appropriate tramping footwear on James’s part.


First stirrings of a deck.

Bush4A welcome glass with Pippa.

Bush11Assuming the position around the fire.

Bush10Betty writes a hopeful letter to Santa while Tim conducts an imaginary choir of carol-ists.

Bush9A beautiful Christmas morning.


Just a few planks short of a deck.

Christmas LunchChristmas lunch.

Bush6Post Christmas lunch.

Bush7Initial rock walling. Don’t tell Pip, but despite telling her it’d be a piece of cake, I have absolutely NO idea whatsoever how to build a rock-wall. But what could possibly go wrong?

Bush1The walk out.

Lovely couple of days with lovely folk. Thanks Pip n Tim.

A quick return to house news as I’ve noticed a little dis-quiet on the painting the house ‘black’ front – you know who you are…

Here’s a shot of the first coat on the weatherboards of the family room and then a very skilled ‘artists impression’ illustrating the need for the dark colour.


Strong coloured flowers, you get me now?
Perfect right!


Day 178: Busman’s holiday

Well, we’d set Christmas as a kind of target. So how well did we do?

I suggested in a previous blog that my hope was to get the exterior of the house closed in by Christmas. I also noted, however, that there was an impediment to achieving this: the upstairs windows would be delayed until February 2014.

As with all good house building stories, there was no last minute reprieve, no unexpected over-delivery on an under-promise. The downstairs windows were duly delivered; the upstairs ones while largely built are awaiting the glass manufacturers to get back from their sunny beach holidays and start melting more sand (gathered from their togs presumably) to make the glass needed for the whopping upstairs windows.

Having the lower windows on hand in the week before Christmas gave us the opportunity to familiarise the crew with the window procedure, which, as mentioned, is complicated by the inordinately complex system of flashings. We got all the main windows in situ and learned along the way about the  procedure we’d need to follow. But when the weather started to close in on the 24th we simply rushed to frame out the window openings upstairs and cover them with ply.


Closing out the weather (and the view)

As the wind and rain picked up we dashed about like old-school sailors hanging off the yardarm (or other appropriately nautical spar) and wrestling a selection of waterproof sheets onto the side of the house. With various edges still flapping dangerously we farewelled our builders for a few days and set off for a Christmas eve rendezvous with Pippa, Tim, Jesse and Will at their hut in the Orongorongos. The rain was easing as we tramped in, no doubt out of respect for the fact that we were in need of a well-earned break from all this house malarkey. Christmas day was a an absolute pearler. Once we’d eaten our croissants (crisped in a camp oven over the fire, naturally) with Danish butter and New Zealand jam we headed out into the sun.

Santa was evidently put off by the isolated location of the hut and had only brought the kids light presents. For me, however, he exercised no such restraint: he had brought in a large load of decking timber so I wouldn’t experience building withdrawal. Lucky!

So while the kids lit fires on the riverbanks and looked for wildlife to harass, Tim and I ripped into a bit of deck building and Pippa and Tanea lugged river rocks up the hill to provide for landscaping options. Good times.

BusMansHoliday“Nah mate, I wouldn’t do it like that…”

Walking out the next day we felt refreshed; it’s amazing what a difference it makes to be working on someone else’s project rather than your own. And while we are still a way from completion (or anything like it) we reflected that we had achieved a reasonable amount and that you couldn’t deny that there was going to be a new house to move into one of these days. In pictorial terms our conversation looked a bit like this:




AmberOf course as any decorator will tell you, a house ain’t a home till the colour starts going up. And as we always say: if you want something done properly you better get Amber to help. Despite claiming no particular expertise with the paintbrush we felt that after a 9 hour day she was shaping up pretty well. Shame she hasn’t been back since. Never one to hold off from rushing to the best part, Tanea slapped up some colour options:

PaintClourDistastePearl offered her considered opinion

So. Not there yet, but storming towards the finish line. Christmas over we’ll be fully on until we knock the bugger off. We hope you all have a restful Christmas capping a satisfying year. We know we have.

Day 170: Busy busy world

A hot day today, with changeable weather. And, pleasingly, a site that looked like it had been illustrated by this gentleman:


Richard Scarry

No sign of Lowly Worm, Huckle or Bananas Gorilla but plenty of others and…


I’d been pushing to get a number of things done ahead of Christmas with the main goal of completing a pre-line inspection before the council closed down for the whole of January. Passing a pre-line inspection will allow us to spend the summer putting up Gib, painting and plastering while, hopefully, the builders will complete closing in the exterior. Although as I noted previously the upper floor windows won’t be coming till early in February so those openings will need to be closed in with framing, ply and plastic if we’re to keep the inside dry enough for this work.

Although we’ve had the lower floor windows for a week now we’re still waiting for flashings to arrive before they can be installed. In the new environment of heightened concern for weather tightness each window has four different flashing types: a sill flashing that runs from under the sill out over the weatherboards; a head flashing that covers a drip sill above the window; jamb flashings that run each side and are rebated into the window frames; and a flexible flashing that covers the entire window opening. Good luck to any weather hoping to sneak in around the windows.

In the meantime I got on the phone and started cajoling various recalcitrant tradespeople to come around and do their bit. They have all been fending me off for a while now, no doubt being cajoled from other quarters to get things done before the break. For the pre-line inspection I need the roof and spouting installed, the plumbing and wiring and, finally, the insulation in the walls. I booked the wall insulation for this Thursday which meant I needed get all the other drilling out of walls and pulling of cables and pipes done before that. Following the law of the ineffable convergence of tradesfolk, today turned out to be the day they all chose to come, to wit:

  • 2 x Chorus guys putting in the phone line
  • 2 x electricians
  • 3 x continuous spouting guys
  • 4 x plumbers
  • 2 x insulation chaps (getting ahead by doing the upstairs ceiling
  • 6 x builders
  • 1 x partridge in 1 x pear tree

Not to mention:

  • 1 x Pearl
  • 1 x James

It also happened to be the day that a roading crew came to reseal Buckley Rd. A young man in tarry overalls popped in to say that all cars needed to be shifted from the roadside or they would be towed, and so there began an extended period of car, van and ute shuffling until we had them all safely stowed somewhere on site (big yellow in pole position by the garage naturally). It was a bit like being back in Bangkok really, only with fewer roadside food stalls.

I should have charged for parking. Might’ve helped with the debt burden resulting from Tanea’s “chandelier” purchase…


“You’ll need to move the Bighorn to shift the Hiace to get to the Mondeo to move the other Hiace to get to the Stagea…”Day170CarsOutFrontA bit tough on the greensward

Things got so congested I decided to dismantle the scaffolding outside the front entrance just to facilitate the flow of blokes carrying drills and spools of cable and whatnot from hither to yon and back again. The builders retreated to the outer reaches to put up weatherboards and offer dry observations on the various interlopers.


Ian carries on with the soffits, studiously ignoring Ashton the spouting man 

Day170InsulationManInsulation going into the ceiling; nice to see the young folk wearing protective gear

Everyone rubbed along pretty well, although the race by electricians and plumbers to drill out as much framing timber as possible eventually led to a stand-off when Jonathon from Expert Electrical discovered that the Matt from Carrington Pluming had run radiator pipes into the corner he had reserved for the communications flush box.


“But I’d already bagsed this corner…”

Mind you, when you see how many pipes and wires there are to run, you can see how there might be a bit of a premium on the best bits of wall for drilling.


Pipes and wires akimbo

The day ended with the ceiling insulated, the spouting mostly up, the wires and pipes mostly in, and the builders generally amused with the goings on. I made myself useful laying out the sewer line which runs along the neighbours bank before dropping into a trench, a task that has been preying on my mind for some time. All I need now is to disguise the pipe behind some timber and see if the neighbours are happy.

The Desolation of Trademe

Monday morning started with a little more than the usual sense of chore yesterday after having missed the boat for a couple of alterations to window detailing, and the devastating loss of what was to be the pièce de résistance of the entranceway to the house on a Sunday night Trademe disaster. Having bid well beyond what we could sensibly afford we watched ‘cairothecat’ take what was rightfully ours. Cairothecat!!! grrrrrrrrrrrr… (shakes fists!!!!)

(See the stunning light-fitting we failed to secure directly below…)


So not being one to have a particularly strong interest in things from the middle of the earth it was with another slightly miserable sigh that I greeted the afternoon news that Pearl had been given tickets to the Gala Premiere of the latest Hobbit movie and she needed me to come with her. Tam kindly offered to put on a wig and frock and go in my place but his feet are just too big for my heels. I didn’t mean to be a total Grinch but I was quite tired after a long day of sulking about my wonderful light fitting and the movie promised to be THREE hours long. As it turned out the Jackson camp had deemed that all proceeds from the gig were to be donated to the simply marvelous Island Bay Marine Education Centre – where Pearl volunteers – and the wonderful Jules who runs it all had Pearl on his calling list.

CouncilGateAs we raced to make the 5.50pm ticket pick-up deadline I had to stop and take a quick snap of a council housing block that has a gate that I just love and have decided we should colour the house to. It’s just the ‘right’ blue and the charcoal is pretty perfect too (we probably don’t need an intercom, but I do think the safety warning about not climbing over railings is pretty sage advice).
PearlHobbitSo feeling consoled by the fact that at least we could have ‘Wellington City Council flats security gate’ paint colours, I was relaxing into Dolby Atmos, a pork pie, glass of bubbly and many a NZ celebrity to perv at, when I received a call from the Antique shop that had sold the coveted chandelier to say it turned out they had another fine specimen of the same ilk, and would I like to purchase it? (having previously left them a grovelling ‘if anything happens to the sale whimper whimper’ message).


The major down side, of course, was that they generously offered it to us at the same exhorbitant price we’d chased ‘cairothecat’ to, during the auction (there’s justice), but just look at it... 1100cm of pure ‘wideness’, Reserve Bank of New Zealand circa 1980 – your loss!

So I’m not sure if it was the afterglow of 80’s chrome success, but as a Hobbity aside I think after all these years I’m finally a convert. The Desolation of Smaug was absolutely great and I just can’t wait to go again to take Betty.

The snack pack by Ruth was Pretty yummy too.

Day 158: Crowning Glory

Roof on! Hurrah!

Late last week the builders had all the roof framing up and ran up some temporary roof-edge protection around the main roof (it’s a long way down, after all). The main roof was covered with a ply membrane, the family room: not so much. Although it’s there to complete the rigid air barrier that covers the entire house, we particularly enjoyed it as a temporary viewing platform.

Day157UsOnPlyA temporary view


There’s a more than three storey drop off that front edge; it’s really irresponsible of us to be wandering about up there. But the view is pleasant, even to the north…


Pearl tested her sense of balance by photographing her toes while looking down from the upper end of the roof. This has about half the amount of fall as the other end, so I had to applaud her good sense.


We were starting to think we should be building an extra storey on top, especially when the sun started setting.


Next day was all business. My roofer of choice, Darryl came round at about the same time as the steel was being hoisted off the truck. His two lads were set the task of putting rubber washers on the roof screws in preparation for the big push. They sat in the sun, smoking and cursing and generally being of interest to Pearl who had been assigned the job of documenting the process.

Day157PearlsFaveStrangely there are more photos of these guys from various angles than there are of the actual roofing process. Nevertheless, the process was captured at various stages:



Family room roof well advanced; Trev working away below


Darryl, the boss ferried sheets to the boys


The main roof underway

It was all over by mid-afternoon. However because the roof edge protection (i.e. the wooden balustrade) was attached to the boundary purlins, we have to take that down and put up the fascia boards before the final flashings can be installed.

The following day the membrane roof over the laundry and porch was torched on, giving us the satisfying feeling of the whole place being resistant to any water that should fall vertically down from the sky. As rain has virtually never been known to fall vertically in these parts our level of comfort is somewhat diminished.

With the roof on, the builders have applied themselves to cladding, finishing off the rigid air barrier and putting on the battens to which the weatherboards will be fixed. This week we’re looking forward to the excitement of cladding, the first lot of windows arriving and (fingers crossed) Paul the plumber returning. And only fifteen-odd sleeps till Christmas.