Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick word on 2011

Just thought we would do a brief post about 2011, where we got to and where we hope to be in 2012.

House Build
As you will have seen by all the recent posts, the walls are finally up (well the frames anyway). This has been a long process, delayed through the lack of a builder to help Derek. But we have found ourselves a good one and the work has forged ahead rapidly with him on board.

We're hoping that all of the joists/rafters/beams etc. are all finished and ticked off for the roof to start in February (the roofing guys are having all of January off). After that we can finally get the straw delivered and then it will be full steam ahead (fingers crossed the weather is nice to us).

Derek the builder
Derek is looking very fit and healthy with all of this manual labour, he even has a tan (although not on the legs so it's a little odd). I don't know how I'm going to convince him that he has to go back into an office job after the house build, but we'll see where we end up.

Kylie's Job
For those of you who don't know, I changed jobs in late March. The Director of Housing was promoted to Deputy Secretary Disability, Housing and Community Services and asked me to move with her. So I am the Manager, Strategy, Performance and Information for the group - which has involved a lot of learning about disability and community services, budget briefs, Secretary briefs etc. etc.

This coincided with the toughest budget that the Tasmanian government has had in quite a while, so there has been a lot of cost cutting, voluntary redundancies and the like. Not a fun time for anybody.

It's been a very steep learning curve, but I'm really enjoying the new role and having no staff to manage (yeah!!!).

Loony Lil
We've had Lily for a while now, and she's just part of the family. I don't know how Derek would cope without his worksite companion, even though she does spend a large amount of time sleeping in the ute or sleeping on the slab.

She is such a well trained dog, we can't get over how well trained. Although we still haven't stopped the jumping and mouthing when she is excited, but then again the puppy brain is still there so she has a little while to go before she'll outgrow it.

The lows
Into every life... so the saying goes. This year has been a tough one with Derek's Dad illness. He still has a long way to go before we can say he is better, but Derek visited last weekend and was very happy with the progress that Norm has made. Makes it difficult to be this far away when something like that is going on, but it's just meant a lot of phone calls and good use of frequent flyer miles.

Apart from that, the rest of the family is going well and we're looking forward to seeing mine for xmas.

We hope that everyone is well and can't wait to get the lovely new house finished so that hopefully some of you will come and visit. Trust us, it is lovely down here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Building Status - Ceiling Joists

Last week saw the wall frames bolted down, squared and braced.  I had two days on my own doing noggins, nailing off bracing and other little jobs.

We then started on ceiling joists and managed to get the joists done in the bedroom.

This week we lost two days to the weather - lucky it is summer.  Despite the weather we have put the ceiling joists over most of the other rooms.  We stood up the walls for the guest area and put up some more of the perimeter beams.  So a very successful two weeks.  Very happy with what has been achieved and the quality of the work to date.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frames and Perimeter Beams

The weather on Monday was pretty average and we didn't achieve too much on the frames.  However the last two days were successful and we managed to stand up the largest frame of the build, the bedroom wall.  Damn heavy and hard work for two of us but it is up and looking very good.

Have squared and bolted a few of the frames and currently don't have any problems with the frames.

So I have two days to do the odd little jobs and get ready for next week.  Hopefully the weather next week allows us to to get all the ceiling joists in.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More Framing Progress

Unfortunately Derek didn't get any work done last Wednesday due to weather.  However more progress was made on Thursday and Friday.

Squared and secured some of the frames put up on Tuesday and erected a few more.  Derek is very happy with how square, straight and level everything is so far.  Hope it continues.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Framing Started

Well after what seems like an eternity we have finally found a builder who will help Derek and can fit us into his schedule.   So today Derek managed to get out all of these top plates, bottom plates and studs he had cut previously and start to assemble some walls.

It is amazing how much more work gets done with an extra set of hands.  Still have to square them etc, but there are some walls and we can start to see some rooms.

Hopefully the coming days yield as much productivity, very exciting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Area Floor Complete

The guest area floor is now complete.  Took a few days waiting for the wind to die down, so that Derek could install the sheets on his own and not be carried off into the bush.

So now it is more perimeter beams and frames if we ever see a builder. At least it is still moving forward, we just wish it was moving faster. Looks like we will have to wait for the new year for the roof now, which puts the baling back another month as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Posts are up

After what seems like an eternity, all of the steel posts are now up.  Derek managed to get all the posts on the slab up on his own, but needed help to get the seven posts up above the garage.  Well he managed to get one up on his own, but that just proved he needed help.  Today help arrived and all the posts are now standing tall.

They also managed to sheet some of the flooring above the garage - enough so that Derek now feels comfortable walking around on the second storey. And they've lifted all the other sheets up, so that the rest of the flooring can be done solo.

Unfortunately they didn't get all the perimeter beams up but they made an excellent start, as you can see in the photo.  So all in all it has been a successful day, and the wind even stayed away to make it even better.

Lily is getting sick of all the work above ground level though, as she feels like she is missing out - and she's not wrong since she gets less ball throwing and tummy rubs.

On a positive note, the builder should be doing a site visit tomorrow, so we should have some idea of when him and his crew will be on site to get the walls and rafters up. Fingers crossed we can still do a roof before Krismas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Building a Floor

Last week was successful despite not having a builder.  Derek managed to get the majority of the floor joists in for the guest area, which is above the garage. This apparently involved a lot of interesting nail gun work and, given Derek's dislike of heights, some precarious positioning on the ladder. This has resulted in quite a few interesting bruises on Derek's legs, where he has braced himself on the ladder. This was particularly funny on the weekend when we had some beautiful weather, and Derek was in shorts :-)

The bolts for the perimeter beams have arrived and so this week will be the start of getting the perimeter beams.  Hopefully we get some joy with the builder this week and can stand up some of the frames, then this thing will really start looking like a house.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Garage Sale Success

As part of a project Kylie is doing we visited a few garage sales on the weekend.  The last one we went to on Saturday resulted in some successful purchases for the house build.

Managed to score a finishing gun, dumpy level, jigsaw, hammer drill and some other odds and ends for very good prices.  Kylie found some very cool preserving jars that she has a plan for.  Could have bought a lot more but it wouldn't fit in the Pug and it wasn't needed :)

Unfortunately the project off-road buggy was already sold as was the welder needed to finish it :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lily and the Bee

Building work today was interrupted when Lily lost a battle with a bee.  The photo below is after the vet gave her an anti-inflamatory and an anti-histamine shot, and no this is not distorted she really was that puffy.  She is recovering well and has hopefully learnt her lesson - flies are fun to catch in your mouth, bees not so much.

As we like to say "it's a good thing she's pretty", although maybe not so much at the moment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Concrete and Steel

The last two weeks have been successful with more concrete being poured, primarily for the porch and verandah slabs.  We also did the fireplace hearth at the same time.

We have also received the steel posts and steel beam to hold the guest area floor.  Many an hour spent drilling holes in the posts but they are nearly all done.

Framing has begun and progress should improve next week when the builder is expected to give me a hand.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A wonderful find

For those of you that don't know, the area of the house that we have marked as the "Studio" will become a library and a creative space for me - I guess Derek will be able to use it if he has to :-) Come on, he will have a gigantic shed so don't feel too sorry for him.

Anyway, the eastern wall will be floor to ceiling bookshelves, potentially a mezzanine level or a really cool sliding ladder. This is something that we've known in our minds for a while now.

There is one other design element that I've been hoping to obtain, a piece of furniture that I've always wanted - a set of plans drawers. We've found a couple of them down here, one needed significant restoration, and wasn't really quite right, the other was a little too expensive for what it was.

Then, the other weekend, we went shopping at a really cool antique/second hand place down here and found these:

Or should I say "found and purchased these". A beautiful set of plans drawers in very good condition which are a better height, due to the extra drawers on top. They are massive, so big that they will not fit through a standard doorway - which is to our benefit as they had already been sold twice, but to people who couldn't get them into the house. Fortunately we have double doors into the lounge/dining and them double doors into the studio, so no dramas there.

The coolest thing is that they came out of the Hydro, they even have a little asset plate still on them. Apparently they had their own workshop and they would have been built in-house, which I think is particularly special.

Not only do we now have a gorgeous piece of furniture to set the tone for the room, but we have our own little piece of Tasmanian history in it as well.

Now if only we had the house to put it into... :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The masonry is complete

A couple of weeks ago, after Derek came back from seeing his parents in Murwillumbah, we completed the masonry walls for the house. By we I mean that that Bill the brickie did all the skilled work, Derek was the labourer hauling the bricks around and I just went to work each day :-)

Regardless, below is a picture of the house as it currently stands,
Internal masonry separates the lounge from our bedroom/ensuite.

You can see some of the real dimensions starting to form at this point. The garage is huge, but we knew that would be the case. The car is parked just outside what will be the garage door. And if you remember the floor plan the second storey over the garage is the guest room, which we are really going to consider turning into two rooms as it might be a bit too large, but we'll wait until it's all up first.

You can see two gaps in the wall between the lounge and our bedroom. The larger one of these is for the fire, with the small one beside it being a wood store.

So where are we at the moment with it all? Well Derek has ordered the metal, a large part of the frame will be metal, and he's also organised for a builder to come and help him put all of the frame together. All going well we hope that this will be completed by the middle of October, at which time the roof will be put on.

This means that by early November we should be able to have the straw delivered and start the walls. This is going to be quite a long process, we think. I'm going to take a week off work to help get some of it going, but there are a lot of bales to go into the walls, and a lot of splits and cuts to do in the bales to make it work. Then of course there is wrapping it in chicken wire to get the sealing render coat on, inside and out. So add to this installing all the external windows and doors and we believe that we will be at lock up by March next year - maybe a little earlier if we can find some labour to help with the baling and rendering.

Apart from this everything else is going well. Lily is a little bit nuts but really a very well behaved dog. My job is also going well, some very interesting things going on that are really stretching my skills, but at least I'm learning new things.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We Have a Slab

After a few weeks of hard work filling concrete block cores we finally have a slab.  It took around 150 tons of fill once the foundation walls were core filled and today the weather held off enough for us to get the slab poured.  We had a few light showers but this didn't stop the slab being finished.

So now we have a few weeks waiting for the slab to cure in the Tassie winter before we can start getting the wall structures up and the roof on, which will lead to the all important straw filling and rendering. There's a lot more to do, but finally being out of the ground is a great start.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's been a year already

Wednesday last week was our one year anniversary of moving to Tasmania. We can't believe that it's been that long, although in many ways it feels a lot longer.

So a status update is probably in order to celebrate...

Lily is going well, she is generally very well behaved except that she needs to bury any bones you give her. Not for a long time mind you, it just seems that they have to be covered in dirt. Usually this isn't a huge problem, but with all the rain in the last few days we haven't really been keeping an eye on things and when we went out tonight we realised she's dug up about 1/3 of the vegie patch. Anyway, we'll get over it I'm sure

Assuming that it ever stops raining, we should have a house slab laid next week. Derek has discovered the worst job in building cement block walls - core filling them with concrete. He's made over 7 tonnes of concrete so far, and he's only just started doing the garage walls. Needless to say that he's much more like a tradie at the moment than a computer nerd, no more soft office hands :-)

On my job front, I've neglected to mention that I never went back to Housing Tasmania. Merc offered me a position to stay working with her in Disability, Housing and Community Services - I am the Manager, Service Improvement and Design (we're not entirely sure what it means yet either).

We'll post some photos of the house when the slab goes down.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our floorplan

We've been pretty slack about getting this up, so apologies for that. There have been some minor internal changes since this was drawn up, but they are only minor.

Some notes on the drawing:
- the thick external walls are the strawbales
- the corner window in the lounge is a window seat
- the stairs in the studio go to a mezzanine level (we're unsure about this at the moment)

The quality of the scan is quite low but it gives the general concept of the building. For those of you who don't know, the house has been designed by Nigel Jones, who does quite a lot of sustainable design and has done more than a few strawbale homes.

And a building update:

We have a garage slab and the footings for the main slab poured. The brickies have been hard at work the last couple of days, with Derek's able assistance, and we have almost all of the walls in the garage completed.

Hopefully the deluge that has been the last 24 hours has now stopped and they can get on with more tomorrow - there has been some localised flooding in Huonville tonight but it hasn't cut us off from the highway so it's not too bad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our New Addition

For those of you who don't know, one of the things we had planned to do when we moved down here was to get a dog. The plan was to rescue a pound puppy, and we've been keeping an eye on the RSPCA Adopt-a-pet and Hobart Dogs' Homes site since just after Christmas.

A couple of weeks ago we were heading up north for Agfest, yes it was as exciting as it sounds and I'm sure Derek will write all about it, we found a puppy we thought would be right in Devonport. So after an exciting morning of looking at heavy equipment, water tanks and bogans we headed up to the RSPCA.

Long story short, we decided that Lily would be the perfect addition to our family so we adopted her and picked her up last Saturday. She is a Springer Spaniel/Labrador cross and is very pretty. She is 8 months old and has obviously had a bit of training, although she forgets it when excited - which she is very often.

We had a very sleepless night on Saturday night, but we think we've resolved the problems and last night was much better.

Lily has been keeping Derek company in the ute and up on the land for the past couple of days. She will be spending a lot of time with Derek while he is building the house, and hopefully we socialise her with the german shepherd next door quite soon so he doesn't have to keep hiding her in the car.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Building Permit

We finally have jumped through all of the initial hoops and we now have a Building Permit!!!

This means that we can start the slab work next week, as planned, which is extremely exciting and a little bit daunting at the same time. So more to come shortly, on this and a few other things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's official - Derek is never allowed to pick another movie!

Supporting the Australian film industry be damned I say! In some sort of delusional mindset last night I let Derek choose a DVD, which we are currently watching. I should know better, after the debacle that was Drop Dead Sexy but I let him pick anyway.

So what is the movie you need to avoid at all cost to your sanity - Arctic Blast! It isn't even finished yet, but I really want the -80 degrees Fahrenheit fog to kill everyone in the movie, now so I don't have to tolerate any more sh!tty acting and moronic dialogue.

What's worse is that it is mainly set in Hobart, so that should make it a little more fun. Instead we notice all of the geographical and social anomalies - like the fact that it is a school day but Salamanca Markets are on!!!! I can't wait for the end, especially since it appears that we're all going to be saved by the AMERICAN in the movie! Right now I'm begging for a rift in the ozone layer - make it stop :-)

Where has the time gone?

No we haven't dropped off the face of the earth, it may just feel like it at times :-) It's been over three months since we posted so there is a bit to cover off.

We've had a number of people come and visit, which has been fantastic. Recently that has included Derek's parents and then three days later my parents - which was probably too much of a good thing in such a short period, but nice nonetheless.

My Job
Things are going well in Housing Tasmania, I'm really enjoying my job - although I could spend a little less time with some of the National agencies. I've been asked to assist our new Executive Director (she was the Director of Housing) sorting out the structure and strategy for joining Housing with Disability and Community Services, which is an exciting opportunity for the next month or so.

The Current House
After waiting forever to try to get our roof replaced we've finally found someone else to do the job. The tin has been delivered and if the rain ever stops we'll have a new roof very soon. It's a good thing that it wasn't actually leaking! It's one of the things that we're slowly getting used to, we came here to have a more laid back lifestyle we just didn't realise how that would work with the tradies :-)

The New House
We've had some progress with the house. Early in the new year we did bulk excavation on the block, turning it from our lovely bush block to a moonscape.
We put 90 tonnes of gravel down for the driveway and future site of Derek's shed.
Fortunately our neighbour has an excavator, a really big one, so the whole process was made a little easier.

On the plus side it is a start to the whole process.
The plans have been signed off by the engineer and are now in with the Council. We should hear back next week on the approval for that, then we need to get the 'Special Plumbing Permit' approved the week after and we're ready to start on the slab.
And, probably the biggest progress to date, we now have a house number - 150.

So that gets us pretty much up to date I'd say. We'll try to be more regular with this in future - assuming I can ever get Derek to do a blog post :-)