Sunday, January 29, 2012

Little posy

Angus is such a sweetie…he is always picking me flowers, grass seeds, seed pods from the gums trees and presenting them to me...  “This is for you Mummy, put them in a vase”.  One of my girlfriends suggested that I should definitely encourage this sort of behaviour, as it will put him in good stead in later years…. :)   So we bought a couple of little vases for him. This little posy is one we picked together on a walk around the property.

The Build - Wk 4

Some of the stump holes were dug this week, but the excavator was not powerful enough to complete the task, so another one is now booked for next week…over 100 stump holes to be dug.  On Saturday Phil excavated and prepared the carport site next to the house.  The stumps were delivered and the large celery top pine posts were ordered.  In the meantime, we need to make a decision on the double glazed windows – whether to go for timber, metal or a composite. Not a decision to be taken lightly when the costs will be over $50k.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

View from the littlest room (outside the house)

On a recent trip to Canberra all my family and friends joked that I only came to visit so that I could have hot showers and a flushing toilet for a week.  Well they were right about the showers, but I have to say, I really missed the view from our loo…..our own little forest, beats the back of a door anyday! J

Garden Decor

I have never really been the gnome kinda gal and it looks like the neighbours agree.  They don’t do things by halves down here…

The Build - Wk 3

Our builder, Phil Hart from Middle Earth Constructions, was on site to commence marking out the site with Graeme.  By the end of the week, we could actually walk around the house layout, imagining ourselves in the space.  Next job for the week was working out how many stumps we need, which was a challenge when you are not used to using house plans…. So far the weather has been good to us and the long range forecast through to the end of March is more of the same - thankfully! We also paid for the 330 straw bales that are currently being baled up by a farmer near Launceston. Luckily the shed is finished!

The Build - Wk 2

The excavating was really taking shape now and to be honest looked downright daunting!  Such a steep and high slope was being created at the front of the house site, which would mean very deep footings to be dug.  Ray estimated that around 1,000 tonnes of dirt got shifted! During the course of the week, Ray battered down the steepness of the slope, but still allowing a good access road in front of the site for the builders, etc.  Once the house is built, we will probably dig another dam and use the fill to make the slope more gentle. 

The Build - Wk 1

Soon after New Year, our neighbour, Ray Green, arrived on site with his digger, dozer and his truck.  First thing to go was the lovely acacia tree, which although not indigenous to the area, was a landmark for where we would build and a tree planted years ago next to the original timber house.

Even though the site only needed to be levelled by 1.4mtrs from one adjacent corner to the other, it seemed like we needed to move a lot of dirt.  With the sloping hill behind the house site and to provide drainage from the springs up the hill, Ray cut deeper into the side of the hill to allow for all of this.  At the same time that Ray was cutting in, Graeme decided to hand pick any appropriate large rocks out of the excavation to be used towards our feature rock wall in the living area.  He found some wonderful flagstones amongst it all.  Also, Graeme set to work in slashing any thistles around the site…of which there were plenty.

The Shack

When Graeme returned from a trip to Tassie in May 2011 excited that we wouldn’t have to rent in town, or fit out the shed with living quarters, but instead live in the shack on site…I have to say I wasn’t quite so enthusiastic.  The shack, or humpy as I called it in those early days, was set up by the previous owners when they holidayed each year for the school holidays.  Great for temporary holiday accommodation, but I couldn’t see myself living in it for 6 months or more.

As it has turned out, it has proved to be very comfortable and it is great to be on site with the build in progress.  The previous owner, Phil Warner, actually put a lot of thought and effort into this shack, lining one of the 20ft shipping containers with 1.5” thick foam on all the walls and ceiling and carpeted the floor.  This container has become the bedroom quarters for us all as the insulation seems perfect for the autumn and winter ahead of us.  The wood stove also backs onto this container, keeping the boys in their bunks lovely and toasty. Graeme also cut a small window hole in the wall to allow light into this area…a revolting job, using an angle grinder to cut through the metal and foam, but a great result.

The central living area originally had carpet laid on gravel, but due to the wetter than wet winter, by the time we came down in September to sort things out the carpet was so mouldy…never knew mould came in so many colours.  We ripped that out quick smart and let the gravel dry out until our move in November.  Graeme then laid plywood on the gravel and we managed to pick up some brand new thick carpet up from the Glenorchy tip shop. A huge improvement and instant cosy feel to the shack.

The long kitchen bench that Phil had fitted, now boasts a shelf underneath it and little curtains that I made to make it look neat.  That area now acts as a storage area for pots and pans, cleaning gear and as a pantry.  Our sunken bath also attracts a lot of attention from visitors and lizards!  Whilst we still have to boil up the water in situ, the drainage is plumbed out into the bushes.  Thanks Phil!

The back wall used to be a plastic cafĂ© blind with a huge drop of thick carpet, but Graeme has replaced this with a window we also picked up from the tip shop.  This will give us better protection from the weather, provide additional warmth in winter when the sun shines, allow us to see the house site and has instantly given us much more light in both the living area and bedroom.

The second 20ft container is divided in two – one side housing the shed stuff, ie: generator, tools, etc and the other side is an office and storage area.  Once the container arrived from the docks, I intend to put a single bed in there for any keen visitors! I also could no longer stand the look of the shipping containers from the outside...burnt orange, touched up with green paint and peppered with now the containers are one colour! 

The recent improvement to the shack is an outdoor awning that Graeme has built at the front, roofed in laserlite.  This has extended our living area by an extra 30 sq mtrs!  We can leave the Weber BBQ out and not get so wet when coming home in the rain – also the washing machine is now under cover.

The Shed

It is hard to believe that Graeme’s dream of a man-shed (warehouse) would be a year in the making…but it was.  We purchased the steel for the shed in December 2010 to beat the large increase in steel prices on the 1st of January.  The next job was placing an application into council to approve the shed…a process that we thought would be straightforward, but in hindsight, it would have been much easier to lodge an application for the shed with the house application.  I suppose they were worried we might want to live in it, or as it was suggested, it would make a good hydroponics shed… So after explaining that it was to house Graeme’s collection and to keep the straw bales dry during the build, the application was approved….by which time the weather had turned.  Tasmania had one of the wettest winters in years – great! 

Getting into the property proved to be a challenge with the sodden dirt driveway being cut up each time a concrete truck arrived, resulting in the last truck not being able to deliver the last load of concrete. That was back in May 2011.  Fast forward to November 2011, around about our arrival date, the last load finally got poured, after the driveway was repaired yet again.  The builder told us that by pouring the top layer with a big break in between would make a really hard surface in the long run, but to be honest we could have done without the grief.  Building commenced in December with 95% of the work completed by early January.  The alternate guttering Graeme ordered is proving to be the final challenge in completing the shed.

We have now applied to have the power put onto the shed and house site, and await the delivery of water tanks.  Once the water tanks are in place, we will be able to take delivery of the 40ft container that still awaits us on the Hobart docks.

The Move

The move took place over a period of 12 months.  Knowing the amount of ‘stuff’ we had, Graeme purchased a 40ft container and friends of ours out at The Oaks kindly agreed to let us park the container on their property.  I am sure they probably thought they’d never see the back of it, but 12 months on, the semi-trailer rocked up and loaded on a much heavier box than when it was first dumped there.  Graeme spent literally weeks of his life packing up his garage and gathering up bits from friend’s garages and then transporting them on the 90km round trip to The Oaks. 

He fitted out the container with a mezzanine so all his garage stuff could be tied down to the floor and all the household effects could be boxed up and stored on the mezzanine.  About a third of the container was left free at the front for packing the furniture, which we used professional removalists  for. 

About a week before we left for Tasmania, the semi-trailer picked up our worldly possessions and transported them down to the docks. We assumed the container arrived before we did in Tasmania. Currently it is still at the docks in Hobart, awaiting the site to be prepared next to the shed.

We left Sydney on the 13th of November in convoy.  Honestly it looked like the gypsies were coming to town.  Graeme drove the ute packed to the hilt and towing the Model A Ford, whilst I drove the Commodore with the two kids (just in case I got lonely) and towed the Austin 7 Chummy. We stopped off in Canberra for a few days after leaving Sydney to say our farewells to family and friends there. We then headed down the highway stopping overnight in Chiltern, before our voyage to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania.  Arriving in Tassie on Friday the 18th of November, we headed straight to our property at Collins Cap to be greeted by lots of rain…so we ate our lunch inside the car until the rain cleared.  That first week we hired a campervan to stay in whilst we got the shack all ready for habitation!