Wash day blues no more

The old idea was to have an outside laundry, away from the main house. We've decided to return to that idea with our laundry on the rear deck.

The old idea was to have an outside laundry, away from the main house. We’ve decided to return to that idea with our laundry on the rear deck.

I have a laundry! Well, I have the space built for the laundry and two doors to close it off. The fixings are still to come.

When we were initially talking to the architect who drew up the plans for the renovation, we were all scratching our heads trying to work out how to fit everything into the small footprint of the original house. As I pondered and walked around the neighbourhood (my favourite thinking activity), I noticed that some people had put their laundries on the rear verandah. I had a chat to the architect and he decided that we could tuck the laundry underneath the outside stairs. It meant filling in the side of the verandah to make a water tight room, but the result, as I looked at it today, is fantastic. We have a neat little laundry space that doesn’t impinge on our inside living areas. I think a few other benefits will become apparent, such as a quieter living area, with no noisy washing machines or driers competing with music or the television (when I allow it to go on) and lower risk of water leaks inside. If anything overflows in this laundry, it should drain out through the verandah flooring. Read more

Professional versus DIY

A simple painting job to tidy up one of our rentals.

A simple painting job to tidy up one of our rentals.

There is always a toss-up about whether to do something yourself, and potentially save some money, against getting a professional in to do the job.

We have completed a fair bit of cosmetic renovation work over the years. I am a mean hand with the paint sprayer, painting the inside of a house in a couple of hours and husband extraordinaire has learnt many tricks over the years in hanging doors and finishing those fiddly corners of the skirting boards so they sit neatly. In the past we have always done the majority of the work ourselves. It has been enjoyable and saved us money at a time when we weren’t earning a lot and had more spare time. Lately however, we have found there are other things we would prefer to do rather than spend our weekends painting and tiling.

This latest project is vastly different to others we have tackled, those past projects were cosmetic renovations, where we focused on improving the look of a place by painting, replacing floor coverings and tidying the gardens. Over time, we have took on more complex renovations, employing tradesmen to install new kitchens, revamp bathrooms or polish the floors in some of our rental houses. The more we have used outside tradesmen, the less profit there is in the deal, or at least that is what it looks like. Read more

A wild, wet week

Rear elevation of Queenslander, water courtesy of Cyclone Marcia.

Rear elevation of Queenslander, water courtesy of Cyclone Marcia.

Wow, what a wild week it was weather wise. Parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory took a beating with both Cyclone Lam and Cyclone Marcia hitting Australia this week. Thankfully Marcia had downgraded to a tropical low by the time it hit Brisbane. The massive amount of rain we received has well and truly settled the fill under the house and shown us that we need to add more fill, or we will end up with a mosquito breeding ground. The house is nearly closed up, still waiting on those front doors, so there was no issue with the inclement weather affecting the internal fixings of the house.

While the builders were busy with their work this week and the rest of Queensland was in cyclone management mode, I was working, and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather of Cape York, in the Northern Queensland community of Pormpuraaw. There they are still waiting for the wet to really set in. We experienced high tides and stormy seas from the effects of Cyclone Lam, which washed away some of the ocean-side tracks, but that was it. Read more

The benefits of going away

The windows have been installed, now just waiting for the doors to arrive.

The windows have been installed, now just waiting for the doors to arrive.

There is definitely a benefit in going away for six weeks while a major renovation is being handled by your builder. Now I know most people want to be around so they can answer any questions about where the power points should be placed or have input into the many minor adjustments that need to be made when something just isn’t where it should be according to the plans. I’ve decided though that I’m not one of those people. We went away with the house sitting like a bloated spider on spindly legs and have come back to a house that is almost at lock up stage.

This week I have had to go through the house and look over those minor decisions that the builder has had to make and every one of them has made sense so I don’t see that me being here would have made much difference to the outcome, perhaps just slowed down the process while they waited for me to make a decision. Of course you do need to have a good builder that you can put your confidence in and that’s definitely been the case here. Read more

Oops, should have read twice, signed once.

Making sure the supports are welded in the correct location

Making sure the supports are welded in the correct location

I made a slight error the week prior to the Christmas break, nothing that will bring the house down but in my haste to get things done before Christmas and the holidays I didn’t talk through the whole job with one of my contractors, the company that was to re-roof the house. The builder had told me that it would be better to add in some extra timber supports to the roof where the existing frame had sagged over the years. I had a quick word to the roofing contractor about the need to ensure the new roofing allowed for taking out the dips in the roof which he interpreted to mean packing out the rafters here and there. I didn’t read through the description carefully in the quote otherwise I should have realised this difference. In my defence I was rather busy getting some work completed before going on holiday plus organising a whole host of other things related to the development. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t picked up until the team arrived on Monday to commence the job when the builder and the roofing foreman got talking. A quick call to the roofer confirmed my error. After a hurried discussion with the builder confirmed that the problem would be cosmetic only, we decided to go ahead with the re-roofing. Read more

Thinking about roofing

Since we are renovating and building a new home and have the opportunity to see what else is available in other regions of the world, I have been keeping an eye open for ideas from the northern hemisphere that might translate across to Australia, as well as checking out the differences.

Tar paper roofing tiles with shallow metal guttering both assist in the management of snow and water in this climate.

Tar paper roofing tiles with shallow metal guttering both assist in the management of snow and water in this climate.

One area that has interested me in particular is the varying roofing and cladding materials used over here in colder Scandinavian regions. For example, in Tromso, the chalets we stayed in had tar paper roofing tiles; that wouldn’t translate well to Queensland – the tar would drip off the roof in 40 degree heat, I am guessing. I asked someone how the roofing was constructed using this material. The process it seems is to lay down the ceiling timbers on top of the rafters first then add a layer of waterproofing material followed by plywood, insulation, plywood, waterproofing material and finally the tar paper, keeping everything snug and dry.

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