Day 345: Completely floored

Good lord, that was a mission!

But look, once my knees grow back I’m sure it will all seem worth it:

Day345FloorSouth

Is a new floor a fair exchange for a pair of knees? I surely hope so.

It just took ages to lay this, working away with my little wedges and acres of flooring glue, but once it was all down, sanded and finished with industrial grade matt polyurethane we did enjoy standing back and admiring our handiwork.

The road to satisfaction, though, is a long and arduous one, and more than once I wondered whether it would be just as good to have only part of the floor with timber overlay, leaving the rest as filthy ply.

Actually, my commitment was weak from the start on this one. Spotting  a capable chap coming out of a nearby house and loading a van with the legend “Floor Laying” stencilled across the side, I approached him to quote for laying our floor – all 56 square metres of it. He was more than happy to. He would price, he told me, for preparing the sub-floor, laying the flooring (but not supplying it; I’d already bought the timber remember), sanding it and varnishing it. All, as it turned out when the quote came in that night, for only $17,000.

I put on my glasses and read that again. Yep: $17K. Maybe he’d accidentally priced for supplying the timber? No, he hadn’t.

I went to Bunnings to pick up some flooring glue and got cracking myself.I soon had the girls pressed into service, carrying boards out from the garage and laying them out according to length in what became known as “the pipe organ” but which could equally have been called “the class photo”: everything arranged for smallest to largest.

Day345Pipeorgan

The pipe organ

This may seem like a make-work scheme, but being able to select the board closest to the right length to end each run saved a huge amount of wastage over the course of the job.

Run by painstaking run the floor was laid over the course of a couple of weeks.

Day345JamesOnFloor

Taking “cracking into it” a little too literally perhaps?

Day345HallFloor

Working up the hall – round about the half-way mark

Day345FinalWedges

Nearing the end: wedging the fillets off the end wall

Day345LastBoard

The last board going in – James kneeling to offer the traditional builders’ prayer for a snug fit

The floor hasn’t been the only game in town though. We’ve been pressing forward on many fronts with the goal of moving in sneaking ever closer. The best surprise is always the arrival of friendly faces with helping hands dangling somewhere below them. Deb and Heather have been so regular we’ve had to consider charging them rent, but plenty of others have come in and helped us past significant milestones (Tim, Pippa, Will, Lynley, Jonathan…).

It was especially delightful to see Mark – previously paid to work here, now doing it out of love – come over the horizon, looking ready for business and promising the delivery of lunch by his lovely new wife Sarah later on. Mark’s one of those guys who can get on with anyone on a building site: super-friendly, able to direct people without making them feel bossed around, and respectful of all-comers. He’s also the only builder I’ve met who’s kissed my on the lips, but that’s another story…

Anyway, there was Mark with a real tool belt and good building smarts, and there was me wondering how to make the best use of him. Then it occurred to me: I’d been losing sleep trying to nut out exactly how to install the wood burner. It’s an “insert” fire meaning that it all gets hidden in the wall apart from the door and surrounding fascia. We’d decided to set it some way off the ground so we could store firewood under it. The fireplace itself came in about four large boxes and had completely Byzantine instructions in about three different booklets. Some (considerable) assembly was required.

So yeah, that’s what we did. We installed the fire.

Day345FittingFire

Here we are doing that very thing

Day345FireIn

I tiptoe away from the newly installed fire hoping it will stay where it’s been put

Another work stream that has been progressing slowly but steadily is the kitchen. I think I mentioned that we’d bought the cabinetry without a bench top to save money. I may even have wondered whether a saving that rendered the whole thing unusable was false economy. Simply put, the bench top was one of the first things off the priority list when the “running low” light came on in the bank account. We’d priced up a granite top (black, honed, naturally) and it was going to be about $7K. I reckoned I needed to bring that back to about $500. The cheap answer came (as it had in the past to a completely different question) from a chap in Masterton who calls himself “Plyguy” (well, more precisely, he calls his business The Plyguy; he calls himself “the Plyminister”).  The cheap answer was LVL panels, 40mm thick, 780mm wide and 2400 long.  At about $100 each they sounded just the ticket.

They’re basically like ply on its side. That is, the layers of pine and glue are visible on the main surface rather than just from the side. It was a bit of a trick cutting them to fit, and I wussed out and got my joiner to rout out the hole for the sink and hob, but the end result was, I think, rather snazzy, and entirely in keeping with our bizzaro-style kitchen.

Day345SinkBenchOnFloor

Here’s the sink bench after its first sealer coat (also starring the new floor)

Being untreated ply, though, it needs a thorough sealing, to which end I’m in the middle of applying multiple coats of incredibly toxic two-pot polyurethane. The downside is that the final result is highly glossy. The upside is that it should be pretty bomb-proof.

What do you think?

Day345GlossyBench

Peer closely and you’ll note that the sink, tap and dishwasher are all installed in the background. There’s the hob and extractor fan to go, the former waiting until the varnishing is finished. I’m hoping it’ll all be done by this weekend, because this weekend I expect we’ll be fully moved in.

Just sayin’.

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