Sunday, 18 July 2010

Making progress

Despite the winter throwing some truly dreadful weather our way, and both of us being laid low by The Cold From Hell, we've still managed to make reasonable progress on the house build over the last few weeks.

We've finished the cladding!
The west wall, showing the kitchen windows

We've now completed the cladding, and we've started treating it with wood preservative. We wanted a more or less clear finish, as we like the blond colour of the plywood, but there isn't anything like that available in the type of treatment we need to use, so we've gone for a mid-brown stain. It tones well with the roof, and gives the house a rustic, cabiny feel. So far we've only managed to stain the back wall and the east wall, because we've had to wait for a run of two days of dry weather to do any staining, and those have been few and far between this winter!

The stained east wall and some of our new flax plants

You may notice in the photos above that we've now got some plants in our 'garden'. They're a dozen New Zealand flax plants, which we got free from a friend of a friend, whose little garden in town was being overrun by them. In the summer New Zealand flax has large, lily-like flowers on long stalks, and the flowers attract native birds, such as the tui.

We hope to get some tui visiting our flax in the summer.

We've still got a lot of work left to do before we've completed the exterior of the house. Next weekend we're going to start work on the soffit lining on the verandah roof. When we get some dry weather we need to continue staining the cladding. Once the staining is finished we've got to put beading under the eaves and on the gable ends, fascia under the verandah, and timber reveals around the windows and doors. Then there's the verandah deck to build!

Close-up of the stained east wall

Even though we've not finished the exterior yet, we've still managed to complete the first job on the interior, which is insulating the walls. Our next indoors job is to put the insulation in the roof and gable ends. Once that's done and the exeterior is complete apart from the deck, we can get the building inspector in for the 'pre-line' inspection.When we've passed that, we can start putting the gib (plaster board) on the walls.

Frosty morning scene during the cold snap we had last week

Although we're still a long way off finishing building the house, the end does feel as if it's in sight at last, and we're hoping, like all good self-builders, to be in by Christmas. We're not saying which Christmas, mind you! ;-)

Monday, 31 May 2010

Same old, same old

A pattern has been emerging in our blog posts lately. It goes something like this:

1. We're sorry we haven't posted for a while.
2. The house build is progressing much more slowly than we thought it would.
3. It's getting colder.
4. We're fed up of camping.
5. Here are some photos.

Using this system I will be able to make future blog posts in a fraction of the time, simply by writing a list of numbers, and using font size to indicate relative importance.

Here is today's post:

1 2 3 4 5

Further levels of subtlety of expression can be added by using punctuation marks and bold text, as well as a variety of colours; for example,

(1) 2... 3 4 5!

I think you'll agree my new system is simple, elegant, and time-efficient. I'm predicting it will catch on with other bloggers.

Anyway, that's quite enough enumerating for one day; on with the 5!

Our bedroom door

The front of the house with all the doors and windows in

The view through one of the kitchen windows to the west

The view from the kitchen sink - not bad, eh?

We've started putting in the insulation on the back wall.

An overview of the building site

We're halfway through cladding the west wall.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Happy Anniversary

This week we're celebrating (if that's the right word) the one-year anniversary of starting to build the house. In honour of this, I thought I'd post some photos showing the current state of progress.

The view from where our bedroom window/door will be

Our bedroom, currently our workshop

 Our lovely yurt basking in the autumn sunshine

 The height of luxury - our wonderful toilet in the ensuite bathroom

 In the process of cladding the east wall

 The latest incarnation of our kitchen with a real, plumbed-in sink.
Note the hastily nailed-together sink unit. We're hoping to manage something a *little* less ramshackle when we build the kitchen for real.

 The current state of the east wall. We're getting there...slowly. The difference in colour is due to weathering - the left half was clad a week before the right. We assumed the cladding would get lighter as it weathered, but it's going darker.

Iain looking justifiably pleased with himself after we finished cladding the back wall

That sums up the state of play at the moment, so here's a reminder of where we started:

Our house one year ago


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Another milestone reached

Me working on the yurt deck

Over the last week or so we've made a real 'do or die' effort to finish the yurt deck. By around 2pm on Sunday we'd finished oiling the floor, and we reckoned it would take us about four hours to take down the yurt, re-erect it on the deck and get all of our stuff back in. It actually took us over ten, and we fell into bed well after midnight, utterly exhausted.

Me in action nailing the floorboards with our new nail gun

All the stress and aching muscles were worth it, though. The yurt is a much nicer space to be in now, and we no longer have to worry about silage heap smells, mouldy canvas, mushrooms growing by the bed, or having to wear our wellies 'indoors'!

Iain cutting the floorboards to fit the circular beam

Now we've finished the deck we're free to concentrate all our efforts on the house, which is just as well. We got our first frost last night, and the prospect of living under canvas during colder weather doesn't appeal. We've already got two duvets on the bed -- it's only a matter of time before we'll have to resort to woolly hats as night wear.

Inside the yurt showing the finished floor

Iain relaxes in front of the yurt


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Ten months in

I returned from my lightning visit to the UK almost a week ago. When I got back home I wasn't impressed to find that Iain hadn't knocked a single nail in on the yurt deck while I was away. However, I wasn't surprised. Like most men, he needs a boot up his backside before he'll do anything. :-P

We WERE going to spend last weekend putting the cladding on the house, but when we opened up the pile of cladding to take a look, we discovered that they'd delivered the wrong type. SNAFU. So last weekend was spent on the yurt deck instead. We've been working on it over the last couple of evenings as well, and we've almost finished the joists and the circular beam around the outside, which means the next step is the final one: laying the wooden floor.

The plumber came to do the first fix last week, which involves putting all the pipes in. The pipes survived the pressure test without leaking, and his work passed the initial plumbing inspection. Another contractor, aka The Drain Guy, is in charge of connecting the pipes to the water tanks and the septic system. Why the plumber can't do this I've no idea. We've been trying to get The Drain Guy to come and do his thing for the past week, and on a couple of occasions he's fobbed us off with 'Oh yeah, I'm on my way now,' and then he hasn't turned up. We may have to shoot him and chuck his body in the septic tank.

Here are a few pics:

A Spaghetti Junction of plumbing above the bathroom ceiling

Insert shower here

Iain taking a well-earned break on the yurt deck


Sunday, 7 February 2010

Blimey, is that the time?

I can't believe we're into February already. Christmas seems like only the other week.

We've made slow but steady progress on the build in the three weeks since the last blog post, and we've passed one significant milestone: the roof is now on. Putting the steel on the roof is one of the few jobs that we're not doing ourselves. We decided to get contractors in partly because neither of us has a head for heights, and partly because we knew that if we screwed things up, it could have all sorts of disastrous repercussions. The consequences of not managing to get the roof 100% watertight or completely windproof don't bear thinking about, so we decided to leave it to the experts.

A new accessory for tightrope walkers?

Fixing the last few sheets of steel
The finished roof, complete with guttering and downpipes

The next job is to fix the cladding. We've ordered a type of plywood sheeting called Shadowclad. It's got vertical grooves in it that give the impression of vertical weatherboards. It's one of the cheaper cladding options available here, and is (supposedly) relatively easy to install, so we'll just have to see how we get on. Our building supplier can't deliver the cladding until late next week, so we've got some time to work on the yurt deck and do the thousand and one other jobs that are constantly calling for our attention.

Iain fixing a beam on the deck for our yurt. Can you spot Pookie?

Iain takes a breather

Iain cutting one of the beams for the yurt deck with his latest toy tool, a mitre saw.
 It's got a laser, which is very exciting.

Team Whittaker is going to be a man down for a spell (a woman down, to be precise). I was planning on visiting the UK in July to see my Mum, but she's been taken ill, so I'm bringing the visit forward. I fly out on Friday, and I'll be away for eleven days. This will delay the cladding going on, as there's no way Iain will be able to put it on by himself. The sheets of plywood are 2.7 by 1.2 metres and 12 mm thick. You'd have to be a giant squid to be able to handle that on your own.

Gratuitous cuteness: one of the sheep our neighbour is grazing on our land

And with that non-sequitur, I bid you goodnight.


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

In the frame

First of all, apologies for the odd photo placement and sizing. Blogger isn't playing nicely this evening; it took ages to upload the photos, and then I couldn't get them in the right position or the right size. Never mind; I don't mind the fact that the final photo is huge -- I think it's a really nice one of Iain.

A couple of days ago we finished building the verandah roof, which means...drum roll...
...the framing is now complete.

The building inspector inspected the framing yesterday, and, much to our surprise, it passed.

Above: the finished verandah and the yurt

Below: the front of the house

An embarrassing blot on the landscape: our building site. From left to right: the posts for the yurt deck, a pile of soil and clay dug up when the water and septic tanks were buried, the water tanks (with septic system barely visible in front), blue tarp with the concrete mixer underneath, pile of earth from the slab excavations (front) the caravan (middle) and house (back), pile of hardcore left over from the driveway (front), our car (middle), piles of timber (back), our yurt

The first beam of our yurt deck

Iain takes a break from building the deck

Now that the framing's been signed off we can get on with closing the house in. The roof goes on first, then the cladding and finally the windows.

Today we put in an order for the roof. There's a 2-week lead time on that, so we've now got a couple of weeks during which we can concentrate on building the deck for the yurt. Unfortunately they're forecasting several days of heavy rain and gale-force winds to coincide with our days off at the weekend. We're looking forward to the time when the house is closed in and we're working on the interiror, because the weather won't be able to hold us up then.