No sooner were we back from a gentle, relaxing stroll through the central plateau than we were forced to confront the grim fact that the house had not, in our absence, completed itself. James was disappointed.
Undaunted, we reapplied ourselves to the task in hand noting that our nominal completion timeframe – six months – was now receding into the past day by day as was the happy memory of the duck rice paper rolls that we’d enjoyed on Christmas day in the bush.
Traditional Christmas dinner, Orongorongo styles
The builders returned in dribs and drabs and the Wellington summer added a variety of drips and drops to the mix, ensuring that the post-Christmas restart was fitful at best.
Windows that had been secured in place prior to the holidays had to be more permanently fixed in place, and a headsill and flashing needed to be devised. Unfortunately with most business still closed to allow their inmates a respite from Wellington’s weather there was nobody available to run the special headsill profile or bend the flashings. Fortunately Tim was happy to let me into his plumbing workshop to use the guillotine and folding gear, so I grabbed some extra flashings left behind by the roofer and refashioned them into the appropriate sill flashing profile. The sill itself was made by running lengths of dodgy fence railing timber through Tam’s table saw, and suddenly we were back in business.
When Tam arrived back at work on the 16th of January, the relief for the builders who had been having to tolerate the client bossing them around was palpable, especially for Mark who had been standing in as foreman in his absence. Mark was particularly upset that he had to break some bad news to me on my return from tramping.
That’s not a fancy new kind of obscured glass. That’s a broken window that is.
One of the large double glazed units in our bedroom window had crazed on the inside pane, without so much as a hammer blow or a nail gun to cause it. Why? Speculation was rife, but settled on flexing caused by severe winds as the most likely culprit. This was worrying given that wind is a very strong and frequent visitor to these parts. Steve the window joiner eventually showed up and assured us that sometimes windows just fail, and that this one would be replaced with a better one. Sort of reassuring I guess.
Once again everyone seems pretty busy but without a great deal to see. We were delighted, therefore to have a couple of high impact developments that made the progress more readily apparent, one of which was our own doing.
The deck had been on hold while the focus was on the windows and cladding, but with the upper storey windows delayed and the cladding stalled until they arrive, Stan and Ian turned their attention to framing it out. Due to a lack of solid ground to sink some deck piles into, we needed to upgrade to monstrous 300mm joists to support the full span. The first section of joists were up in a day (nothing that Tim and I hadn’t achieved on Christmas day of course) and giving shape to our future indoor/outdoor lifestyle options.
The deck will be handy as it’s pretty much the only way we’ll be able to get the big upstairs windows in (across the deck, through the kitchen window opening then across the top floor before being passed out to the hefty lads on the scaffold. Careful hefty lads!)
The plumbers also came along to finish up some piping in the walls (pre-line plumbing inspection: passed) and start plumbing up the bathroom fixtures. With the in-wall plumbing done Tanea and I were free to start on the Gibbing, downstairs ceilings first. To our chagrin (and pained upper bodies) Tam specified 13mm Gib (only 3mm thicker than standard but oh so much heavier). To our delight, he also introduced us to a mechanical helper: a Gib lifter.
It lifts the heavy Gib into place for you without the need for a stick or a broom. How cool is that?
We promised to have the ceiling Gibbed out by the end of the long weekend (Wellington Anniversary Day on Monday gave us 30% more chance of achieving this). This had the unexpected benefit of encouraging Ian and Stan to turn up for work on Saturday, ostensibly to move the deck along. However they were overheard saying that they were looking forward to watching our efforts with the Gib. Whatever boys.
If I do say so myself, we did a pretty tidy job of it.
That’s some pretty tidy Gibbing
And we got it all done ahead of the boys return on Tuesday. I know it was a pretty good job because the sense of disappointment as each arrived and poked their heads in for a chuckle was palpable.
We returned the favour by paying extra close attention to the deck framing as they brought it across from the block retaining wall to the house. Yep, have to admit, that’s pretty tidy too.
That should hold a few of us and our glasses of chardonnay up
It’s nice to have the real builders endorse your work, but it also pays to be careful what you wish for. Towards the end of today Tam sidled up. “Do you think you guys could Gib the walls next?” he wondered. I thought we would be fine with that. “Good then. I’ll leave it to you then. Better get that Gib under cover before tonight” he said, pointing to the couple of pallets of Gib that had been delivered in the afternoon.
Just a few sheets to shift then Tam? You’re a prince
By chance Tanea came home early. I played it cool and waited. Sure enough, after a few preliminaries she uttered the words a man hopes to hear the day before his birthday: “Right: what can I help with?”
An hour and a half of heavy lifting later: Result!