Sunday, 24 May 2009

The hare and the tortoise

The Hare

On Saturday, en route to the building site, we went down to the river to take a look at the boat Earthrace, which was moored in Wanganui for a few days during a promotional tour around New Zealand.

Earthrace moored on the Whanganui river

If you're not familiar with Earthrace, she's a 24 metre long tri-hull 'wavepiercer', which means that instead of riding over the top of the waves like an ordinary boat, she cuts right through them, dipping up to 7 metres below the surface. The Earth bit of her name is a nod to the fuel she runs on: 100% biodiesel. The race bit refers to the fact that she was designed to break the record for circumnavigating the globe. She did just that last year, setting a new world record, when she crossed the finishing line just a few minutes short of the 61 day mark.

The back end of Earthrace (note my careful use of the correct sailing term)

Bizarre Fact
The skipper of Earthrace, Pete Bethune, underwent liposuction, and the fat was used to make a small amount of biodiesel for the boat.

Iain was blown away by the boat's radical design (but, I noticed, not sufficiently impressed to pay 5 dollars to get on board and have a look inside.) I was more lukewarm in my appreciation. I'm not a big fan of boats, mainly because of the whole seasickness thing. I was also disappointed to see that the outside of the boat had been vandalised by taggers (probably while it had been moored in Auckland), so it was looking a bit tatty. Finally, I've got reservations about the boat's ecological credentials, because I'm not convinced by the 'biodiesel is green' argument. Sure, biodiesel is carbon neutral, so it's much better than ordinary diesel, but it's a long way from being pollution-free. If you were really serious about minimising your environmental impact, you'd be in a saiboat.

The Tortoise

Iain and I spent the weekend on our building site (the plan for every weekend for the forseeable future). The weather was cold, windy and wet, but we gritted our teeth, wrapped up in seven layers of clothing each, and got stuck in. Our job this weekend was to secure the frame to the slab, which doesn't sound like much, but it took us the whole weekend to do it!

Iain hammers in a bolt

The base plate of the frame is attached to the slab by 14 cm long bolts - sixy-five of them in all. To attach the bolts you have to drill through 4.5 cm of wood and 9.5 cm of reinforced concrete. We had to hire a special hammer-action drill to do this. We also had to repair the frame in one place where it had split, and we had to take apart a piece of framing and alter it when we found that one of the drainpipes coincided with a stud.

On Saturday afternoon we had a flying visit from our friend Diane. She took this photo of us. As you can see, conditions were pretty grim!

Hammers: blokes' version (left) and girls' version (right)

Next weekend we've got a load more hardware to put into the frame (straps on all the lintels and window studs, and about 200 wire dogs to attach each stud to the top plate). We've also got to plumb the walls vertically and get the top plates square horizontally. We're going to be spending a lot of time going up and down ladders!

Monday, 18 May 2009

The first week on site

I took a week off work in order to make a start. The weather didn't do us any favours and it took us a while to get into our stride, but we're making progress! Next weekend we hope to get the frame trued up and properly bolted down.

Everything arrives

Where do we start?...

...With a cup of tea!

"Which way round does this go again?"

Only another 100 slots to chisel...

Making progress

Friday, 15 May 2009

Citizenship ceremony article

Click on the link below to read the article about the citizenship ceremony, which contains our interview.

P.S. More build photos coming this weekend!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The finished slab

This morning we drove out to the building site to take our first look at the completed slab, and to see how the driveway has held up under the more or less incessant rain we've had over the past week.

Part of the lower section of the drive is flooded, but the slope is reasonably dry, and there haven't been any major landslips where the hill has been cut away, so hopefully the lorry that delivers the framing timber on Monday will be able to get up the hill.

We took a couple of photos of the slab. The first one gives you a pretty good idea of how big our house is going to be (or how small, if you happen to live in anything bigger than a caravan). It also makes Iain laugh like a drain, because it caught me off-guard in a moment of excessive Gumby-ness.

A quick reminder: Monty Python's Gumby family

Spot the family resemblance?

The second photo gives a close-up view of some of the pipes and wiring. Iain's standing just outside where the kitchen window will be, and I'm stood just outside the bathroom. The grey pipes in the foreground are the toilet cistern inlet pipe on the left and the toilet waste pipe (the big one!) The short green pipe with the coil of cable coming out of it is the telephone cabling. We have no idea why it's coming up next to the toilet, but no doubt it will be handy if Iain ever gets a hankering for pizza while he's sitting on the bog! The thick black cable is the electricity.

Tomorrow we're meeting a builder on site, who is going to give us some tips for putting up the framing, and then on Monday the frame and trusses are being delivered, and we'll be starting work. Watch this space!

Friday, 8 May 2009

We're kiwis!

Iain and I have just got back from the District Council offices, after being sworn in as New Zealand citizens. There were about forty or so other people being granted citizenship at the ceremony, from eleven different countries.

Standing up and making the affirmation was done on an individual basis, and I was pretty nervous. It doesn't help your nerves when your surname's at the end of the alphabet, and you have to go last! Making the affirmation feels similar to making your wedding vows, but rather than making a commitment to a person, you're making a commitment to a country.

While we were waiting for the ceremony to start, Iain and I were interviewed by a reporter from the local paper, and the article should appear in print on Thursday. I'll scan it in and post it up when we get a copy.

We took our little snappy camera with us, but we didn't bother taking any photos, because there was a professional photographer there. We'll post up some pics when we get them.

Saturday, 2 May 2009