This week on-site we saw the installation of our stair balustrade. As you can see the balustrade starts at the first landing, meaning the bottom 3 steps spill out into the room. This really fits the 1930s style of the house, and is how it probably would have been if it were two stories originally.
Midweek the painters came in and covered everything in plastic, so that the walls and ceilings could be sprayed with undercoat. Our ceiling batten detail meant that there were joins all over the ceiling that needed to be filled. Using 'no more gaps' would have to be one of our least favourite renovating jobs, so we're glad that someone else had to do it! Now that the ceilings have had a coat of paint we think they are looking fantastic - the detail is visible but it's not shouting for attention.
The exterior is moving along too. The bottom half of our columns were rendered and are ready for painting. The footing for our carport was dug out and concreted. The carport is going at the front left of the house, and we opted for a carport because we like the look, and it frees up valuable internal living space that would otherwise have been eaten up by a double garage.
This weekend was the deadline for choosing our pool finishes. The cost-effective porcelain tiles we chose for the pool surround slab have a top surface colour, meaning they were not suitable for the coping tile (the edge of the pool) as you would see the edge of the tile and the layers of colour through it. So, we had to use something different. We opted for a granite coping tile (as per the picture) and then a mosaic waterline tile (that covers the top foot of the internal pool wall.
Once the painting is finished we are expecting the floors will quickly follow - and then the kitchen! The kitchen is currently sitting on the deck under a tarp, so hopefully it has survived the storms this weekend!
The outside work really started this week. Michael and I were at home sick, which came in handy as we were available to meet the builders to discuss the level of our front yard. We decided to get it as flat as possible, and the earthmovers made short work of it. After 2 days of pushing dirt around, the entire block around the house was basically flat.
Part of the ground preparation was installing the conduits for gas, water and electricity, and stormwater plumbing.
Around the back, the last of the scaffolding came down, so the view from the back deck is finally revealed. Now we just need something to sit on out there (instead of the bath) and we're set!
Unfortunately the scaffolding came down before the builders had a chance to install the welded steel balustrade to our bedroom doors, so they used a digger to hoist it up. We had originally specified a glass balustrade for the bedroom, but glass is hard to keep clean, blocks out breeze and it would have reflected the interior of the bedroom at night. We love the flat bar steel, it disappears visually, particularly at night - but it still lets the breeze in. We had this powder coated to match the door frames.
Moving inside, the storage under the stairs was resolved, with a door to match the opening (which we will trim with timber to make it disappear as much as possible). Paint will make a world of difference to this timber work. Upstairs the floor levelling continues, the floor of the sunroom and the kitchen had to be packed to the same level as the original flooring before the finished surface is installed.
The bathroom vanity cabinets were installed - all 3 bathrooms have the 2-pack shaker style cabinetry that is wall-hung to make the bathrooms seem more spacious. We are really happy with the colour and our decision to go modern on the hardware, to avoid making it too 'Hamptons' themed. The kitchen was delivered into a bedroom, and will be installed once the floors are finished.
Our floors have never been particularly level (understatement of the project). We are going over the top of the existing floorboards with a herringbone parquetry, so the original floor needed to be straightened to give the floors a level base. In order to achieve that, the builders cut a huge section of the floorboards out, and then planed down the floor joists that had bowed. That area was then filled in with the structural yellow-tongue board.
Our baths arrived! They are composite stone, and were an eBay bargain at around $2200 each. The seller held on to them for months before we were finally ready, and they made the trip up from Melbourne in one piece. I think that trip was less painful then the trip from the truck to the house. They are heavy, and predictably did not fit up the stairs or through any doorways (luckily the scaffolding hadn't come down yet). I'm glad I was at work for that one.
The internal doors were installed, we are thrilled with the size of them. The design makes them look skinny, but the photo with me in it really illustrates the height of the doors and the ceilings. The doors are 2.4m high, which is the height of an average ceiling. Also, we used the internal door to upgrade the wardrobes, so once they are painted they should look much classier than the average wardrobe system door.
The big news this week was the tiling. By the end of the week, the 3 bathrooms were 90% tiled, and we had to pick grout colour. I'd love to know who is using the purple, green and blue grout colours - we just picked a silver to let it blend in.
On the weekend we finally chose our interior paint colours. We also found a bargain on dining chairs and kitchen counter stools. I think the next interior project is curtains, and we want something dark and luxurious - we might borrow the design from an open home this weekend.
We also made a somewhat last minute decision to add a roof over part of the swimming pool. The structure will be fairly simple, but because of the size it will need building approval, certification and engineering. Neither of us like to spend a lot of time in the sun, so this roof will mean we can use the pool at midday without fear of sunburn.
The scaffolding came down this week! The shape and scale of the house is finally revealed - and the details are now unobstructed. I think the colour with the trims and the shingles works, so we're relieved.
Down the back, the weatherboard wall on the deck went in. Those two doors will connect to an external staircase, to get us from the deck to the pool without going through the house. The timber balustrade was also installed on the upper deck. We borrowed the balustrade detail from a house we love nearby.
Inside the ceiling battens started to go up. We agonised over the width of the timber for the ceiling for 2 weeks, but we are now really happy that we persevered with the detail on the ceilings. The wider ceiling boards cost more, but we negated that cost by changing the skirting boards from a detailed profile to the same timber, so we broke even in the end.
The bathrooms are waterproofed, and the tiles are on-site so that big job can get underway. The wardrobe and internal doors also arrived. Some were damaged on the truck, and they are special order from Sydney - so we might just be super open plan for a while until the replacements arrive.
Our pool surface was also prepared for the new coat of render, it got 'sparrow-pecked' to create a rougher surface. Time to make a decision on the pool tiles.
Now that the scaffolding is clear, work can get underway on the pool, decking, and carport.
The exterior painting is nearly finished! The textured render columns are started, but need a few more coats to get up to the right texture. Those columns still need painting, but aside from those columns the exterior painting is 90% done.
The rest of the VJ ceilings were installed, including the ceiling of our front porch. The front door is looking very bare, but it should sharpen up with the wall light and house name plaque.
This weekend we had to confirm our lighting choices for the whole house, so that can be ordered. We made some last minute tweaks, our lighting is a mix of styles but hopefully it all comes together nicely.
We also set on our pool coping stone (the edge of the pool). We'd like to do natural stone for the whole area, but that's not in the budget. The pool renovation hasn't started but early decisions are better than last minute ones!
This week also saw the solar panels installed on the roof, and also the taping of the plasterboard walls upstairs. It's hard to believe that there is another 3 months of work left to go, but I guess the details take time.
Apparently the exterior scaffolding is coming down this week, so we'll get to see how this house really looks!
This week the first plasterboard went up on the walls. Within about 2 days all of the walls in the whole house were sheeted ready for finishing. Plasterboard is so quick! The bathrooms were also sheeted with the cement sheeting ready to be tiled.
The internal staircase went in on Tuesday, and we are really happy with the detail of the bottom two steps. We also made the steps slightly wider than normal to make them feel a bit more grand, and to make it easier to get our furniture upstairs :)
Michael's mum Julie is a leadlight artist, and she very generously made some clear diamond panels for some new windows (and replaced some damaged panels) to match the existing windows. Julie lives in central Queensland so had to do a car trip with the precious cargo and then Julie, Michael and my mum spent the day in our garage polishing the panels. The builder put the first two in this week, and they look fantastic. Thanks Julie!
The painters also started this week, and sprayed the first coat on the weatherboards. After our last-minute colour choice, we were relieved to find out that we really like the colour.
Some exciting progress this week inside! The walls and ceilings were insulated, we want to be able to keep the temperature inside as steady as possible, so the wall insulation in addition to the ceilings was a 'must'.
The first sheets of the VJ board ceilings went up. We are using timber strapping to cover the joins and to create a grid pattern, so we're reserving judgment until it is finished and painted.
On the roof, the gable wall timber detail went on (the blue timber) and our solar hot water tubes were installed. The hot water system has a storage cylinder on the ground, and uses the solar collectors to heat the cylinder. It is also gas boosted for when we run out of natural heat, which will mean endless hot showers.
On Friday we had a meeting with the new kitchen designer. The previous cabinetry people weren't going to deliver so the builder moved it to someone else. The new cabinetmaker had a very helpful showroom with lots of examples of things, so the meeting was much quicker the second time around, thankfully. Michael and I left there feeling confident that we are going to get what we want.
We also had to make a final decision on paint colours. We had narrowed our 9 samples from last week down to 2, but weren't ready to commit. There is a house a few streets away that was renovated last year, and we like the colour a lot, so we knocked on the door. The owner was very friendly and showed us the paint that she had used, and we made the decision to copy her colour for our weatherboards. Painting is starting Monday so we won't have to wait too long to find out if that was the right decision!
Unless you look closely you might miss the internal progress this week. Inside on the upper level the ceiling battens went in. These run perpendicular to the trusses and the tongue and groove board ceiling sheets will be attached to them.
Electrical was roughed in, so we now have a cable hanging through the ceiling at the approximate location of each light. The downlights just plug into a power socket in the ceiling, so the holes for those will be confirmed and cut after the ceiling sheeting goes up.
The air-conditioning return was put in by the air-con contractors in the wrong spot - we wanted it a little way down the hall so that it wasn't so obtrusive, so that has been moved. I've been using snapchat to draw on photos to send them to the builder. Photos are always easier than emails.
Outside the cedar shingles were installed on the front bay window, and the sides of the study. There is a second bay window on the left side and that is soon to be shingled too.
Our builders told us that the painters were starting on the exterior on 1 August, which is only a week away! So on Saturday we ended up at Bunnings buying sample pots. We thought it was important to paint the samples on to weatherboards so that we properly accounted for the shadow lines, and what better place than the front of the house? We didn't quite tell the builders we were doing it, but no covering that up. We made the decision a family affair (that's my mum in the panama hat) but still haven't made our minds up. It'll be a last minute decision, no doubt.
Lockup arrived this week (and with it, the lockup invoice...).
Lockup means that the external cladding, roof, doors and windows are all fixed. The weatherboards are 99% finished with just a few corner stops to go on. We are still missing the left hand side wall of our downstairs deck, but that's on its way, and it's not keeping anything weathertight so it is not urgent.
The gable detailing has started. We decided to install cedar shingles in the top triangle of the gable wall to replace the existing painted shingles - but the new ones we will just leave as raw timber. There is a before and 'during' photo of the gable walls, the wide timber boards should finish it off nicely.
The timber trim work around the pillars and our bathroom louvres has been done - these are nearly ready for rendering. I had to send some sketches to the carpenters, because they and I had very different opinions on what a rendered pillar with a window should look like...
Inside the open plan living space ducted air-conditioning went into the ceiling cavity, and the ducting is roughly in place. It looks so industrial for just one room, but I guess it is a big open room with a stairwell, so it needs good air flow. Electrical rough-in should happen next week, and then the ceiling and wall sheeting should start.
The builders let us know that the exterior painting will be starting on 1 August! So the pressure is on to choose a paint colour... Whilst we love the mustard undercoat colour of the new weatherboard because it represents progress, I think we'll choose something a bit classier :P
The kitchen supplier that we had already met with is now looking wobbly - so the builder is considering moving the project to a different cabinet maker. That doesn't really bother us - I'd rather put another day into planning and discussion with the new cabinet makers to get a great product on time, than end up over-schedule or with a product with which we're not 100% happy.
Once the exterior painting starts it is going to start looking like a finished product outside - and the scaffolding will come down progressively. Before that happens, we have a solar hot water tank and 22 solar energy panels going on the roof - so I guess those are not too far away either.
This week is half way through the 40 week schedule.
Visually not much is changing but we are progressing towards internal sheeting quite quickly. We had a meeting with the builders Wednesday morning to confirm air conditioning placement. We elected to go with a ducted system for the upstairs open plan living area, and then each bedroom and the downstairs living are getting their own bulkhead unit. A bulkhead unit works just like a standard wall-mounted split system, but is concealed either in the ceiling or in a bulkhead. Effectively it looks like a ducted system but is advantageous because each room can be controlled individually for on/off, timers, temperature and fan speed. It was a considerable cost to move away from ducted but we will make efficiency savings based on how we use the rooms.
Once the air conditioning units were put in, the builders framed the ceilings around them. We lost a bit of ceiling height downstairs because one of the beams was increased by the engineer, so they have ended up at 2.9 metres, which is still half a metre higher than a standard ceiling.
The tongue and groove (VJ) sheeting arrived on-site for the ceilings. We are doing this throughout and it's a major feature. There is still electrical cable to go into the walls and ceilings before the ceiling sheeting goes up, but it won't be long now.
On site last week we picked up that the plans were not sufficiently clear about the stucco columns at the front of the house. We came up with a solution with the builders and I think it works. The blueboard in the last photo will be rough rendered to match the existing stucco columns that weren't able to be saved.
All of the window frames are now installed - there are some leadlight glass panels to go in yet, bit this means that the external cladding can now keep moving and it won't be long before plasterboard goes in.
This week the sliding doors went into our master suite. They are so easy to open and close - nothing like a double-sprung door roller :)
We had talked with our builders about recessing the deck sliding doors into the floor structure so that the metal track sat down at around the same level as our finished floor. Long story short - it was not installed that way, so we would have seen a 5cm aluminium lip (just something to trip over). The builder agreed to re-install it on the floor framing directly, which happened this week. I've shown a picture of a floorboard against the recessed track, much better.
The opening for our stairwell was cut into the floor. We have a slightly wider than normal set of stairs, plus a small void. You can see the framing for two half-walls to enclose the void, I think balustrades can be a bit fussy sometimes so we are doing a combination of solid wall and timber balustrade.
The stair manufacturer fortuitously turned up to sketch and measure while we were on-site, so true to form I decided to return the bottom two steps, creating a podium, and in doing so found a way to spend a bit more money...
Our custom made timber windows arrived - to match the rotten ones we lost. Oh, and our TV recess took shape - now we just need to find some room in the budget for a 55 inch TV!
This week some of the new windows and doors were installed. After they went in the builders carried on installing the new weatherboards around them. It's starting to look like a house rather than a construction site!
The big sliding doors onto our deck are 2.7 metres tall, so 30cm taller than the ceiling in our last house. Oddly because the opening is so wide, I think they look shorter than a standard door.
We had an on-site meeting on Friday with the electricians - to go over the lighting and power plans. You might remember that we changed our walk-in robe layout so we also had to change the lighting and power for that room, as well as the ensuite and master bedroom. We also made some tweaks to the final positions of switches, powerpoint and the circuit organisation based on how we think we will use each room. Nothing beats that feeling of always having somewhere to plug in the vacuum cleaner!
On our architectural plans we had included roof-tiled window hoods over the windows down the sides of the house. These would have matched the existing 1930s hoods on the front elevation.
We made a last minute decision on Friday (much to the builder's annoyance) to ditch them. It was so nice seeing so much sky through the windows upstairs, I think it would have been a shame to reduce the light and views with a window hood. We are still doing them to the front, to keep the house looking right - but the sides will be uncovered and much more modern looking.
The pace seems to be picking up now - we are heading quickly towards lockup, which means a stage payment will become due (damn) but it will also mean that the interior elements can get started (walls, air conditioning ducts, ceilings, flooring - all the nice bits).
Off-site, I continue my hunt for the perfect kitchen handle.
This week the colorbond roofing went on to the front study, and the side bathroom. The study is in an old enclosed porch, and the bathroom in an old sleep-out (typical of Queenslanders), so these two areas are not under the main roof.
We prefer the look of the bathroom roof (with the 3 pitch directions) and wish we had done that to the study too, but they're so tall nobody will ever see the top of them again. One of those cost-saving decisions we will just have to live with!
The plumbing rough-in happened, so the walls and ceilings are now full of pipes. We tried to take photos to avoid nailing through a water line when we hang artwork in a few months. This means that once the windows are delivered and installed - we will be ready for weatherboard cladding, electrical rough-in, air conditioning and internal linings!