Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Eight weeks from slab to windows

I told you guys we were motivated to get this thing built, and I wasn't kidding.  As of last Friday the house is wrapped and windows are in. They're not boxed out or whatever you call it, but they're all where they're supposed to be.

We went with a kind of wrap which means that once the windows are boxed in/out/whatever, the house is technically watertight.  The brickie can be bricking outside and the work can carry on inside at the same time.  Building at this time of year it seemed like the sensible choice.  As I type it's raining pretty steadily, and although the sun is shining in these photos, that was a brief interlude between some pretty persistent wet weather.

Since we're at a sort of juncture in the build, I thought now is an opportune time to give a wee shout out to some of our trades so far who have been pretty stellar, helpful and easy to deal with.  Quite a few of them don't even have a website, which I think is usually a pretty good indication of their skills.  If you're able to run your business on word-of-mouth alone, you must be pretty good at what you do.

Architect: Toolbox Architecture

Builder: Brad Raven

Earthworks: JJT Contracting

Slab: A+ Driveways

Frames and trusses: Timberco

Windows: NuLook

Roof: Central Roofing

Plumber: WC Plumbing

Sunday, 11 April 2021

A roof and the beginnings of a shed

We have a roof!

And not a moment too soon.  They finished up on Friday and yesterday the rains came pouring down, with more predicted for... well, basically the foreseeable future.  Now we just need the windows installed and the wrap wrapped and we're watertight!

Isn't it beautiful?? Here's a few more angles!

The very observant or deeply invested among you might also have noticed a "few" pallets of bricks around the place there. Yup! Bricks are here ready to go, and you can't see them but the windows have also been delivered (stored in the garage for now), so (so far...) we're tracking really well time-wise.

We also have the beginnings of a shed, which is desperately needed. The original build plan was to have the shed built first so we could order materials etc and store in them in the shed at the ready, but it just hasn't panned out that way. 

It'll be great to get this thing complete and then I can start ordering stuff like kitchens and toilets and have somewhere to put them! Not to mention emptying cupboards in our seriously overfull current house and bringing them down here. I have already started pulling out and boxing up things that we're not going to need or use between now and moving in. Some may say I'm going a little early, but if my past many MANY moves have taught me anything at all, there's no such thing as starting too early.

The number one most popular question from literally everyone has been, "So when do you move in?"

The short and simple answer is, there's no date. Living onsite, it's not like we have the worry of two mortgages or paying rent. We won't be putting our current house on the market either, so we don't have to worry about a settlement date that we need to be moved out by. That being said, we're very motivated to get the build finished asap. If we move in in August, that would be amazing! If it's September, that's a good result! If it's before Christmas, I'll still be happy!

So, I'm shooting for July.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Frames and trusses

What a difference a fortnight makes, am I right?

You might recall that last time I left you with this tantalising image:

It was a Sunday and the very next day they started standing the frames up.  I'm officially obsessed with walking through the house.  One of the benefits of living 200m away is that we go down to the build site after the builders are gone, the kids play on the mountains of topsoil, and I pick up rubbish and walk through over and over again.  I love this house, you guys.

It's suddenly moving forward so quickly.  The frames were up within a week, then the trusses came along. 

Now we can really start to see what the house will look like.  As you can see the scaffolding is also up now in readiness for the roofers.

West elevation. The front door is tucked in behind that ladder and the garage is to the right of it.

North elevation. There'll be big sliding doors in the middle leading out onto the deck. In my mind I'm already out there in a very comfortable chair sipping a drink.

South elevation - bedrooms galore

So, next stop: roof! 

Monday, 1 March 2021

Slab down!

Is that not a beautiful sight? 

Just like everyone told me it would, the build has suddenly progressed at pace these past few weeks.

The slab was poured last week, after more council/engineer wrangling over the foundations.  We got that all straightened out amidst much drama and many phone calls to and fro, so that the pour could go ahead on schedule.

The guys arrived long before dawn, we awoke to the rumble of trucks, and by mid-afternoon it was just a lone sprinkler arching back and forth to keep the slab wet as it cured.

My sister informed me that it's bad luck not to scratch your names into the slab and luckily I got there just in time before it hardened forever. We do not need any more bad luck on this project, that's for sure.

Then the frames were delivered on Friday and I've stared at them impatiently all weekend because I knew they'd start going up today.

And they are!  I've already been able to walk through the master bedroom, the kitchen, the hallway with its lofty ceilings... It's so good to be able to visualise what it will be like once complete.  It's going to be beautiful.  

But you'll have to wait for the next post for all of that!


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Council wrangling, piles, the beginnings of a slab

I told myself I wouldn't update again until the slab was poured, but the amount of to and fro and stress and drama of the last month deserves a post of its own.

I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty details, but suffice it to say that the process of subdividing our land, and then getting all the consents and approvals required so that we can build our house has been a total pain in the ass.

I'm not someone who loses sleep stressing about things, but this has stressed me out.  There's been months of very little progress, and then all of a sudden everything is needed NOW IMMEDIATELY, and it's a frantic scramble.  I haven't heard of many other people having these difficulties so I have to assume the problem is us, but I also have no idea how we could have done things differently.

Anyway!! Boring.

That is all (hopefully) behind us. And there has actually been tangible progress onsite in between the multiple phone calls per day to council, surveyor, lawyer, back to council... I'm stopping. I am. This is not interesting.

What is interesting is huge cranes!

Those are some very expensive logs.  If we ever have a major seismic event, our house won't budge.

Sand!  Plumbing!  Electrical!  Boxing up for concrete!

Polystyrene!  Portaloo!

I've had a few people on Facebook and Instagram ask about the polystyrene, to which my educated response was, "I dunno."  Luckily I've since done my research and it's a RibRaft foundation, which is seismically strong (for those of you in other locations, this is a major consideration in shaky NZ), insulates and helps to raise the floor height.  Or something.

It's becoming easier to visualise now that the shape is in place, and we can see generally where things are with the location of pipes etc.  The photo above is looking through the house from the master bedroom. The far end by my car is the garage, with the front door just to the right of it.

We're hoping to have the concrete poured next week, weather permitting.  Yesterday it poured with rain and now it's blowing a 120kph gale so cross your fingers for some calm and sunny weather for us.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Driveway, building consent, site preparations

Look how excited my kids are about the house building process.  I feel a little bit the same way.

Although to be fair, we have made progress since the last update. For one very important thing, we have building consent.  The driveway is complete. The site is prepped.

The driveway took a couple of months to complete because - of course! - we got a LOT of unseasonal rain in November and December. In November for example rainfall was three times the usual amount.

Eventually we were able to get the metal down.

Then it was time to get started on the house site! First the top soil was scraped back.

Then it rained some more. Insert eyeroll emoji here. We had to install a drain for the driveway which prompted filled with water, reminding me of that immortal line from The Castle.

Who knew there were so many boring expensive steps involved in building a house?

More metal deliveries.

Time to backfill!

Now back to the house site. There's a good amount of top soil.

Then there was another break in progress due to the Christmas and New Year break.

Here we are in 2021, back into it.  Metal for the house site.

Many headaches trying to work out the profiles.

I had to do a pano to fit the whole site in.

Once the profiles are sorted, the next step is piles - 137 of the things. Then the slab, and then maybe we might actually be up out of the ground. Now that will be exciting.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Building a house

This has been an expat blog, a motherhood blog, a running blog, and now it's going to become a building a house blog.

Yes, je retourne!

We are about to start building a house, and as much as I want to be cool and not talk about it constantly, it's pretty exciting and I am not cool. I want to share every step forward, however small, because it feels like it's taken forever to get to this point. Rather than clog everyone's Facebook and Instagram feed with constant updates I thought, "The blog!" Of course!

My last post was from early March, right before New Zealand went into lockdown. We ended up staying home for about nine weeks I think. But this story starts a lot longer ago, back when we were still living in Perth in 2016, when we bought this block of land (or section, as they call it in NZ).

The shape and size of the block/section lent itself to subdivided, we thought. The little house by the road, where we currently live, is a great little house but it has its limitations. We could subdivide and build our dream home further back from the road.  We were duly warned that the subdivision process would be difficult and it certainly was, and lengthy, and expensive. We initiated the process in winter 2018. It was at the end of lockdown this year, almost two years later, that we finally got the news from our surveyor that the subdivision had been approved and we could really start to think about the dream home. Lots of planning, research, consents, paperwork, quotes...

Fast forward to now, and the driveway earthworks are happening as I type.

(I apologise in advance that I cannot get these photos to line up nicely!)

Yes. It's a long driveway! 180m to be exact.

But! Before the driveway could be formed, the power transformer had to be upgraded...

And before the transformer could be upgraded, the power cable and water pipes had to be laid...

And before the pipes and cables could be laid, the trench had to be dug...

So over the past couple of months all that work has been done, and now we're here:

The top soil has been scraped back, and now the engineer is taking samples, or testing something, I think? And then the driveway gets made.

And then, THEN! We start on the house!! Well, actually I think the shed comes first, but the point is, we start building! There will be structures! Where once there were none!