Monthly Archives: March 2014

Day 270: Crawling for the finish line

NOT day 1,000,003 as Tanea (ever the catastrophist) would have you believe. But she is telling the truth when she says we’ve had to let the builders go (it’s an expression; no they weren’t pleading to be released). Well, we always knew that the budget was unlikely to be sufficient for the full build and the excitement has all been in seeing how far we can get with hired help before having to do the remainder on the cheap.

By the time the builders finished up they were largely working on the exterior, leaving the lining out to us. While all the windows were in (less a couple of smaller ones that came later) the cladding wasn’t quite complete and nor was all of the trim and scribers, the final line of weather defence.

So this is what our high-level to-do list looked like as the last ute drove off into the sunset:


Desolate, abandoned building project, no builders, sun setting. Sadness everywhere (thanks David Ayre)

  • Complete the closing out of the exterior
  • Get the last window in and trimmed up
  • Get the continuous spouting guys back to finish the job they stopped halfway through (irony alert! That’s not what I call continuous)
  • Fill all the holes and gaps then paint then
  • Get that expensive scaffold down and off-site
  • Finish Gibbing the interior and get it plasterered (not by us, thank goodness!)
  • Get the tiling done (again: not us)
  • Trim the interior with architraving, fascia and scotia
  • Get the window sills in
  • Hang the remaining doors and get all the door and window furniture in
  • Paint the interior
  • Get the kitchen installed (by paid-for professionals)
  • Fit off the electrical and plumbing fixtures (all on fixed price contract)
  • Lay the timber floor, sand and seal
  • Make some shelves and built in seating

If you say it quickly…

Well, actually you can say it as fast as you like; it still takes a bloody long time to do all of these things, even when there’s the odd soul still on the payroll. There’s probably an irony in the fact that this blog has been neglected while we toil morning, night and weekends on these seemingly endless tasks. Surely the blog was the whole point of beginning this mad project?

Evidently our friends want me back on blog writing because they’ve variously been giving up their spare time to help on site, bake us wonderful treats and generally make us feel we’re not entirely on our own on what is surely the loneliest stretch.


That said, what to make of the mixed messages here? You trying to kill us Ruth?


Sarah’s cake was not long of this world. We still owe you a plate…

Looking back at that list, I’m slightly dismayed at how little we can actually cross off, but it’s not for want of trying. The last of the exterior building detail (minus the deck and porch) was wrapped up last week, and we’ve been going hammer and tongs at the painting. More than a few people have made disparaging remarks about our choice of timber joinery and we’re certainly feeling the burden of having superior taste now as we work round them all with oil paint. But at the same time we can’t help admiring just how damn fine they look. They really do give the house that je ne sais quoi that Charles summarised as “1970s motel”. I think I prefer je ne sais quoi thanks Chuck.

We reckon we’re one weekend away from victory with the paint, then I need to get those spouting guys back to complete before the scaffold comes down and access to the upper exterior is a much more life-threatening proposition.

The plasterers – Ben and his son Mika – are nearly done. They keep interesting hours, usually starting around 3 pm and working into the night, but I think this is just because we’re an extra job they’ve crammed in on top of a full week.


Mika strays dangerously close to the extractor vent, risking an “Augustus Gloop” situation

They’ve also been amenable to pushing certain bits ahead so we can prepare for other work that needs to happen after the walls are painted. Probably the most exciting example of this is the kitchen. Ben got that all sanded up for us  about a week ago and after a couple of nights painting (special thanks to Robyn M) it was ready for the Friday delivery of…

Day270NewKitchen1Possibly the most garish kitchen to grace suburbia…


… since our last one

The new one also has the virtue of not being filled with the utter squalor of our lives. Let’s just appreciate its clean lines and clear floor space one last time shall we?


Clean linesDay270Kitchen2

Clear floor space

It’s things like this can really lift the spirit. Even though we couldn’t afford a bench top (making the utility of this thing of wonder and beauty somewhat questionable) we’re absolutely thrilled with the guys who made and installed it (Pete’s of Greytown for anyone looking for a recommendation).


Pete’s boys, using a level even! What next? Drawers that open?

Also uplifting has been the return of the electrician to fit off most of the lights and plug sockets. Now we have good quality light to work by at night and by which to admire the many coloured splendour of the kitchen cabinets. In a fit of radical trendiness we decided to forego the standard white switch gear in favour of black. It’s O for Oarsome.


If this doesn’t start a major new trend we’re going to look pretty silly

Other great moments have included the installation of the stairs (which I believe you have already sneaked a glimpse of)…


Although you may not have seen Tam’s early (failed) attempt to get the pitch right. Bit steep Tam.

… and the completion of the bathroom tiling by Neal Jenkins (another tradey who comes highly recommended).


Clean, simple, wipeable. What more could you wish for?

Somewhere further back in the chronology the timber flooring arrived from my man down in golden bay. It’s one of the Tasmanian Oaks (shameful colonials name for certain Eucalyptus spp.) and is a lovely light looking narrow board. At about one-and-a-half tonnes it made a mighty load for the trailer I hired from the local garage.


I would not recommend hiring this trailer in future


Unpacking the lovely stuff only to pile it willy-nilly…


…in the garage

Lord knows we need the boost. We’re using any daylight opportunity (weather permitting) to push the exterior painting along, then using the evenings to trim out the interior with skirting, scotia and architraving (all the same broad, square profiled pine).


A room well architraved

We’re also trying to get the interior painting underway, but seem to lack the requisite supernumerary arms to advance on more than one front.


James wishing he was part octopus

So yes, the list is still long (feel free to come and own a piece of it) but it feels as though we’re about to be able to cross a number of long-standing items off it. We just need to make sure we don’t keep finding new ones to replace them. In the meantime we just keep admiring the view and soldiering on.


A view worth fighting for



Day number… unsure

Late nights gibbing / painting / sealing / hucking out etc leave little time for blog posting so promised details from the last post are slow to materialise. But I figured I’d just chuck a bunch of photos up in place of words and y’all can write your own story.JamesHall

Jim completing the final gibbing of hall and Neil in bathroom – tiling.
He’s a GEM…

KitchenGibbedKitchen gibbed, standing by for Ben & co to finish the plastering.
Kitchen (minus top) arrives Friday morning.
TimParkThe fabulous Tim of Park & Clarke Ltd. Turned up Saturday morning (after a big night for Pip’s birthday) to take a massive load to the tip for us. Another GEM.
StairsStairs arrive.
StairTeamStair crew arrive. Many GEMs.
OhNoUh oh…
StairLiftYou know they should fit perfectly…
Stairs5How’s the shoulder Tam?
Stairs2Stairs4Stairs3James takes a little break to sit down while everyone else is quite busy holding up the stairs.DebMeanwhile… Deb turns up constantly and paints the nasty tricky oil bits no one else wants to.
Lynleywhile Lynley turns up to paint the nasty ‘above your head’ bits. How many more of those can there be?
SparksJonathon and Paul drilling up a store. – LED lights are us!
WiresHopefully they understand all this…
GibbedHallHall mostly gibbed and us still looking like we care…
NoDeckBack of the house still a wee way away, sorry about the state of the deck Ian…
PaintJobBut the front is one coat away from victory.

Apparently the distant neighbours hate the paint job, one wonders if they’ve clocked the mustard and orange house we currently live in?
ColourSchemeLooking massive from afar.

Day 1 Million and 3

Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but it certainly doesn’t feel like a day under 1 million and 2.

As expected we’ve run out of money. Does that never happen? As a result, sadly, James had to let all our wonderful builders go and being the perfectionists they all are, one could tell their biggest regret was that their unfinished business was now about to be finished by US.

You could just see them screaming ‘NOOOOOoooooooo’ as they drove off.
IanIan receives the news that all his perfect detailed work is about to be completed by utter novices…
OurBuildersIan, Gary and Sef at least relieved they’ll no longer have to endure insufferable wind.
Stan&MarkIan, Stan & Mark talk fishing.
Trev&TamTrev, Tam & James

So, after a whole lot of wailing and a bit of cheek slapping we pulled ourselves together and faced the fact that we were going to have to complete the thing ourselves and sat down to strategise. James indicated he was onto a a cheap deal, due to parallel importing, of some new building labour straight from the Lyall Bay, Brooklyn, Melrose and Nelson mines. The good thing about them being, you just throw them a dry crust and a warm beer every now and then and they keep turning up.
Kathryn Kathryn with pockets of Pef to seal the windows.Andrew&BertieJames, Andrew sorting the cat door and Bertie
SeanSean, in charge of collecting stray nails.
Jesse and Will painting up a storm.
PipPip getting into all the nasty tricky above your head bits.
Deb&WillDeb & Will with more nasty above head bits.
Hev&JCHev & Jonathan measuring stuff.
Tim&JamesTim & James hammering the windows…?


James, Deb, Pip, JC, Rich (who lives next door and just wants it bloody finished even if he has to do it himself) and Tim with dry crusts and warm beer.WarmBeersHev, Deb, Ange, Jonathan & Jim.

A more informative post will follow soon but truly, madly, deeply, grateful youse fellas, thank you so much. xxx