Sunday, 29 June 2014

Had a lovely conversation with Jeff about the origin of the wood used in our benchtop J. 

The story goes something like this: he collected it over 30 years ago from a demolition in North Beach/Watermans Bay.  The building being demolished was an old ‘guest house’ – a ‘holiday hotel’ where olden day Perth folk used to go when their doctor told them they needed ‘fresh air’ for their ailments.  The guest house was situated on top of Flora Street, overlooking the Indian Ocean to one side and Star Swamp to the other.  These planks of jarrah were the floor joists holding up the second story – they were about 5m long and solid and firm and well-seasoned and dry. 
And we love them of course and feel very privileged to be their new caretakers.  Jeff is quite happy with how they are sitting but warned us that one part of one plank ‘might not behave’ – so I am talking calmly to it to let it know we will take care of it and it doesn’t need to worry.  It is no trouble at all to gently massage it either – it is just stunning to run your hand over this benchtop.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Two steps forward, three steps back – yep, we are still playing the owner-builder game...

One step forward – this gorgeous kitchen benchtop arrived – Thank you Jeff!!

Two steps forward – the pump worked well to get the water out of the plumbing pits, we reckon it cleared quite a few 10,000L of water!

Step back – humidity in the house staying up above 60% = bugs not going anywhere fast!

Step back – the plumbing pit is filling back up – seepage from the banks and more rain!
Step back – looks like the concrete waterproofing product has reacted with the concrete sealer (it should be nice and smooth from what we understand) – and who knows if our wood floors can be laid over this!  And yes, we did tell the supplier we had concrete sealer down there.

There are quite a few What if’s? and If only’s floating around in our heads at the moment L…time to find the positives!
Positive – look again at the gorgeous benchtop – and wait ‘til you run your hand over it!! J

Positive – still breathing – only just – got a cold…
Positive – still learning – could do with a break actually…

Positive – still breathing J
Positive – still learning J

Monday, 23 June 2014

So…our world of building – it’s been another couple of weeks – things have slowly progressed, stress levels as expected (highs and lows) – and the list to completion might almost be in sight – but not quite yet!
Plumbing well progressed – check J.

Septic tanks well watered in:

Yes, we’ve had a drop of rain or two…looks like a great lap pool though!
Architraves – check J. 


Stunning, of course – and made mostly from recycled architraves that we were given from a local house demolition J.  And, I only had a minor heart-start to see all the liquid nails that had to scraped off our newly painted walls – so a bit more filling, sanding and painting is now back on the list.
Oh, my kitchen – she is sitting in there, waiting patiently for her benchtop – and I only made Michael pull it out once (so Ryan could cut out one cupboard, and add two to the end instead) – better I changed my mind on Day 2 than later, eh?  Well I thought so anyway – and it is a much better set up now J.  Quite a lovely compromise for a kitchen that was custom made for a different house, in a different configuration.


And for people who know such things – the appliances were just for show – they are now removed so the benchtop – arriving Monday – yay! – can be screwed in place properly.  I am still thinking I will paint those jarrah cupboards – but no time right now, and happy to wait until we see how dark it will look with the jarrah benchtop too.
Now - family, friends – meet Desmond, our new dehumidifier.  He is a trouper, working non-stop with narry a complaint – and already got the humidity down 10% - that’s about 20 litres of water removed in the few days he has been here.  Still need to get down another 10% if we can…


But, good news – the bugs are much less frequent visitors already – yay J.   And as much I do really love bugs, these still gotta go!!
And Saturday’s family bonding time before soccer – assembling the units for our leach drains – we give our kids good, clean entertainment around here!


We chose plastic leach drains this time because they sound more environmentally friendly – made in WA, recycled plastic and 100% recyclable.  And everyone says they do the job right – so not much to not recommend them I hope. 
So, now – we are waiting for the wood floor man – who was supposed to be here a fortnight ago, wouldn’t answer or return our calls last week, until finally he did and said he was too busy to do our job – so we are waiting for the new wood floor man (who’s name, in fairness, was given to us by the first wood floor man).  The new wood floor man has promised us he will be here by the end of this coming week… so, we wait...patiently…and know there is plenty to be getting on with of course - one thing high on the list will be to get a pump so the lap pool goes, and the leach drains go in instead!

Ah, lookie, the garden is coming along:
We planted our rockeries several weeks ago – wee little natives from the Geographe Landcare Nursery – they look like they have settled in well.  Kangaroos only ate a few.

 Vege tank beds sprouting green too J.

I put in a few of most seeds that I had – so you will see corn and sunflowers in the middle there with the peas – yes, I know it is not the right time for them, but I wanted green desperately – and if they do grow tall enough, they will help support the peas – and we might even get a renegade sunflower…
I turned the first compost bolognaise (see it in the background) and made a second pile, and a third and a fourth – I love compost!

And lookie at this little garden friend – oops, I think I frightened him.

And people – we have a baby cauliflower!! 

Come, my little flower – grow big – so I can eat you!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

When I wonder, when I question, when I doubt….

God gives me the answer - this is why...
Isn’t that a stunning sunrise – no photoshopping either!!

Michael and I are doing quite a bit of wondering, questioning and doubting just lately.  At this late stage of the build we are getting tired, feeling the effects of working hard for the last several months to get our home to this stage and are really feeling ready to just have it finished and done!  We are feeling ready to move in and start a ‘real’ family life again.  We are feeling ready for it to just be us here.
Plus our building permit expiry is looming and it is going to be a close call if the house is completed by then.  The requirement is that the bathroom and kitchen are fully functioning (including a splashback apparently) – and since we haven’t quite got any benchtops organised...well, you get the picture…
I love bugs – I really do.  I appreciate the teachers who have taught our kids about mini-beasts.  I appreciate all that bugs do in our world to pollinate flowers so we have food, to compost and clean up, to provide entertainment in their antics.

I do love it so much more when they do all that outside and I only have to be involved as I choose.  How selfish of me!

I am having to remind myself that we are imposing our environment into theirs – and I will need to bide my time until a new equilibrium is reached where we happily co-exist.
I had to remind myself that finding two types of spider and two types of black bugs on the silverbeet you have picked for dinner is fine!!

And so…the Dept of Ag have told us we have barklice in the house.  A slightly bigger relative of booklice – or the same thing depending on local naming.  And of course, they are not really lice, but arthropods (like earth-bound crayfish!).  There is always good news though, isn’t there?  Since it is known that they feed on microscopic algae/fungi/mould associated with plant stuffs, they are a good indication of too much humidity in an indoor environment – so we are grateful they have brought that to our attention.  Unfortunately for them, knowing this now means we will do something more about it – and their ‘perfect home’ will be uninhabitable for them – but perfect for us!!  We have already ordered a dehumidifier online (not a one single one available locally L) – and they should die off within a few days of us plugging it in. 
I put our temp and humidity gauge in the house over the last weekend – and we are averaging about 17oC inside at about 78% humidity.  It does feel quite nicely warm compared to the outside temp of about 12o.  But indoor air humidity should be around 30-50% according to asthma guidelines – so we have quite a bit of moisture to pull out of the air – and help those walls dry out!!  Last nights' reading was down to 68% humidity - and it was a rainy, wintery ol' day - so hopefully those damp absorbing granules are already working too!

Wish us luck!  Pray!!  Send good vibes!  We could do with this going well for us.
Oh, and a lousy house is not because of the strawbales!  These bugs love any humid house and have been found in many a pantry (plant) foodstuffs or even new houses after ‘standard’ builds due to the moisture in plasterboard before it has dried out.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Here’s the better photo I promised: J


They are gorgeous window seats aren’t they?!!
I am still loving all our walls – the strawbaled ones look stunning as usual, and the ones we are painting, I just love the colour – so all good all around.

One small problem, and I mean we have some small – visitors…
… of the crawly variety…


They are mostly underneath the truth window, though are under all windows and in all corners of the house now – so they have been sent off to the Ag Dept to get identified.  The most likely strawbale bugs are booklice or spider mites – both of which seem to break out/in of ‘grain’ storage with warm, humid weather – so the deluges we have had of late, before the render has completely dried out, might be what has brought them out of the bales.  I wasn’t na├»ve enough to think we wouldn’t have some critters in the bales, but I was hoping they would die a natural death before I had to deal with them…and drying out seems to be what will drive booklice/spider mites out of our home too - so - while we wait for summer for that to happen completely, I am getting some damp absorbing granules to have in containers around the house – just to feel like I am doing something at least…and we will wait on the Ag Dept to tell me we have nothing to worry about.
Meanwhile, last week Michael has been digging trenches on all four sides of our home – so it feels like we have a moat now (and sure did when the rain filled quite a bit of it!).


Then, Kent the plumber was here today – so we have a network of greywater and black water pipes started - which aren't actually upside down, despite the suggestion of this photo!


And, we would have had some septic tanks to plumb them into too…save for us not receiving the correct invoice for them, so we couldn’t pay until this morning – and then they want to wait until the transfer is in their bank account before they leave the yard…sigh, so we wait (~patiently).
Now, let’s talk seriously about loos!

I still can’t believe I had to go to a shop and sit on loos to choose one!! LOL.  My criteria was – easy to clean – because, Hello, I’ll be the only one doing that!  The lady did tell me these ones had been designed/shaped for – ahem – clean flushing – IYKWIM ;-)
Too much information??