It's true. Building a house gives plenty of opportunities to justify having takeaways for dinner. Over the past couple of years we have been inundated by congratulations, well wishes and queries about the build. We hope we've been able to help just a little. We so appreciate all the support. Good luck with all your projects, happy silly season build up, and have a great 2017.
I was talking to some friends who are just about to embark on a New Build Adventure of their own (complete with a baby on the way). And when they got out paper and pen, and started taking notes, I realised just how much we’ve learned during this process. One of the biggest lessons is the time it takes for all sorts of “small” tasks. And especially at the beginning, making sure you book in space to get the design, then the estimates, then the redesign, then the quote, then the consents….. it eats up more hours than a hungover Sunday.
If you’ve headed over here from stuff, thanks for stopping by. If you’ve not been before and you’re looking for the yeays and nays, have a nosey, check out some of the people involved. Anyone who is featured on the Supporters page definitely gets a big tick from BuildingBoxes HQ, but to put them all in one spot – here are the suppliers and people we used who we’d use again. Most of these are in Auckland (sorry guys!) but there are some products and a few consultant types who are from further south.
Architect - Glyn Bilkey
Builder/Carpenters - Mike Kennedy – Xsite Construction
GroundWorks – Adam Turner - (Who gets an especially big tick from The Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist because, diggers)
Roofer - Marcus Bond – Tin Tin Roofing – 021775915
Plumber – K10 Plumbing
Cabinet Maker – Peter Lennon (Display Nest) – 021423202
Concrete Cutters - Todd Concrete cutters
Resene for all the paint inside and out.
Gib - GIB, nice to have something so recognizable I don't even have to tell you what it is.
Colorcote for the roofing and cladding steel
Methven for the tapwear in bathrooms and kitchens
Dimond for the cladding and roofing steel forming (which includes all the flashings - this image of our house is supplied by them - pretty huh?)
Caeserstone bench tops (in the kitchen and on the bathroom vanity tops)
Melteca (the beautiful ash veneer on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets comes from these guys)
ProClima Airtightness membrane systems
Rheem Hotwater Cylinders
Allegion door hardware
Econergy hotwater Heatpumps
Fantech – And their Zhendar ventilation system
PSP – Clearvue roofing systems for the clear covering over the deck
Cavalier Bremworth Carpets
Allco – waterproofing membranes and products
Polished Concrete - I'm pretty sure you can work that one out
Bloody Good Folk who gave advice and support
Roomie – Interior and lighting designer to the stars and starlets
Peter Frazer – Painting adviser and general master with brush in hand
Hugh Grierson – Hop Scotch - purveyor of fine beverages and storer of stuff
Simon Williamson – Arborvista - adviser of all things tree related
Keith Huntington – Energy Usage Assessor and Sustainable Architecture Consultant
Lindsay Wood – QS Adviser
Majid - from Aladdin Rugs
If you’re still reading and you’re keen on integrating some sustainable or passive technologies and wondering whether it’s worth the expense, you might like to read these two pieces I wrote a while back for Red News on the cost of building green and what the implication are for resale value.
Main image supplied by ColorCote - taken by Kellie Blizzard
When I wrote about our kitchen plans, I mentioned I was thinking of putting in a copper splashback. We ummed and aahed about it for a while. But when the Sleek Concrete Caeserstone bench top arrived and then we painted a wall black (in the middle of the night because that's when all the best decisions are made right?) it became clear that the copper really would make the kitchen sing.
So, like all good DIYers, we ordered and collected the splashback, waited until the Destruction Specialist and Lego Engineer were saftely asleep and then we put that puppy in. Oh yes, that's always the best idea isnt it? To instal heavy, tricky, expensive pieces of kitchen in the middle of the night?
It was a convivial exchange between husband and wife. "Back a bit, your side, no your side, back a bit, in, there, yes there..." I think you get the picture. But we got there. After four dry fits, a few trims to one edge, and then a whole bunch of stinky adhesive.
It still has it's protective coating on, but even with that, and a copper trim to go on the black wall under the window, it's looking pretty lush already. It's a bright copper - not aged and sprayed, so we WILL get marking on it. As we go on we'll decide whether that works for us and whether the polishing gets me down, or whether we'll let it go - do it's natural thing. I'll let you know, for now, it's just....pretty.
And while I'm talking pretty, I just thought I'd point out the practical too. Those Blum cupboard openers you can see? Genius. Soft close, don't get stuck too high, but don't drop and hit you on the head when you least expect it. It's the small things in life isn't it? The small, practical, genius things - oh and the pretty swathes of copper.
With Last week it was all about the bath and showers. But none of that works without tapwear and when it came to choosing what would go on the wall of my shower, I wanted something sleek and stylish, but also eco thinking, so that we could be smart with how much water we are using.
For that reason, you’ll spot Aio Aurajet shower heads in both the showers. The Lego Engineer thinks they look “very smart” maybe because he just built a circular halo out of lego and thinks there is some synergy in their design… But it was nice to find someone thinking about both style and substance in an appliance that we’re hoping will last the house it’s lifetime.
Then is the way it performs. Mr BuildingBoxes wasn’t sure he looked as good as the usual shower models, but he did well, don’t you think? Wet hair, enjoying the spray on his back, could have been a shower model…well, let’s not get carried away, he hates having his photo taken. But the reason he looks like he’s enjoying that shower is probably because these things are crazy good. I like to feel like I’m getting wet in a shower, you know what I mean? Not having to dance around to find the water, so when you start talking reducing the water flow in a shower, it makes me nervous.
Happily, it’s all good with these puppies. Mr BuildingBoxes calls it physics, but I call it magical water trickery, because these showers deliver over 20% more spray force than a usual shower, and because of the way the water almost mists out around the edges, it feels like you’re using more water, even though you’re not. The spray stimulates the nerve endings (there have been studies, don’t take my word for it*) And because you have to heat all your shower water (even though we’re doing that super economically with our Econergy Heat Pump), that’s a big saving on your energy bill. Consumer NZ tested water-efficient showerheads in 2010. They found replacing a 12-litre per minute showerhead with one that flows at eight litres can cut your hot water bill by $153 a year while still giving you a comfortable and effective shower.
And then of course, is the sleek and sexy. Taps are something you touch every day. Or they should be. So we wanted ours to be solid. But getting solid and sexy to mesh sometimes is a lot harder than it should be. Happily all our tap and showerwear has a twenty year warranty, and the three styles (Minimalist in the kitchen, Aroha for the downstairs bathroom and Aio for the boy’s bathroom upstairs) are all about as sleek as they come. The new Aio range also comes with Ecobrass® - which is lead and heavy metal free.
With Grand Designs just starting on NZ television, I'm quite glad our finish line is in sight. It'll be great to kick back and watch someone else go through the madness for a change. So that said, I'll be pulling all the bits and piece together over the next wee while. It's been amazing getting so many comments and queries from you all, so if there is anything you have a burning desire that I share, here or on stuff, do let me know. For now, I might go fill that bath...
Any of you who have been following this from the start will know that the one immoveable item I had on my wish list for BuildingBoxes Central, was a bath with a view. Like a spring lamb all excited about new grass, I’m bouncing, and bleating my head off, because my bath went in this weekend. *throws confetti*
It’s a luxury that I am quite aware may get usurped by the water loving Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist, but I’m hoping to keep it mine for as long as possible. We did build them their own bathroom after all.
So, with self-indulgent grown up luxury in mind, but with a tight budget firmly in hand, what did we choose? This puppy is a freestanding Cassini bath from Athena. It’s made from easy clean sanitary grade Lucite acrylic (which retains water temperature better than some other materials and ensures stray children’s filth is cleanable), and is reinforced with fibreglass laminate if the boys do decide to do their ninja leaping worst. It was a pretty straight forward install (thanks to Chris, Our Man of Plumbing), the waste is in the middle, cos who likes sitting on a plug, and, something Mr BuildingBoxes wanted to ensure, it fits two grownups, comfortably.
As well we have showers, a small one in our room, and a bigger on in the boy’s “family” bathroom. I know traditionally the family bathroom would be the one with the bath, but, I figure we only need one and as they grow older, surely they’ll appreciate the size of their huge shower. That was a rather last minute change. Mr BuildingBoxes was determined to have a linen cupboard upstairs and so he and our Architect had designed a cupboard to eat into the bathroom space. When the frames went up and I saw just how much space it would eat up though, I was not particularly excited.
Happily I pointed to the huge laundry we’ve got which fits all our linen and more, and Chris pointed out that showers these days come in ALL sorts of sizes: a 1000x1600 Athena Lifestyle shower fitted our bathroom space almost exactly. We’ve gone for acrylic showers, and I’ll go into more of why on stuff in a week or so, but suffice it to say that I hate cleaning, and cleaning grout? Who has the energy, really. When it comes to install too, these puppies, are quick, cheap (no pre-forming of the floor for drainage) and because there’s no membrane required on the floor, there aren’t any leakage issues. But do remember to get a qualified plumber to sort all that out. We have the same again downstairs, just in a smaller 1000x1000 size, because, the bath…
Finally, it was vanity time and because Mr BuildingBoxes had managed to get all smart with his kitchen bench top measurements, we were able to get the two vanity tops out of the Caeserstone slab. It meant I could have a top mount basin which I really like the look of, but which we couldn’t afford when we looked at off the shelf vanity options. With Peter, our Genius Cabinet maker on board though, we have two custom vanity units, with tops in Sleek Concrete, and they look, we’ll, lux. (The basins are a Valdama overtop basin and a Slab basin, again both from Athena, in case you were wondering.)
So, two bathrooms, one bath, and one glorious view. If you’re wondering about the floor too, I painted it. Yes. Really. It was quite a process, but cheaper than the European tiles I would have had if our budget wasn’t tighter than…a tight thing. If you’re interested in the hows, I’ll share a post on the Resene Habitat site in a week or so.
A while back I talked about choosing a colour palette for your home. It’s a bit overwhelming deciding on the look of a whole house, in your imagination. And when I spoke with a colour consultant about the process, her advice was to start from the ground up. That’s all very well, but when it comes to floor coverings where to start!
The type of flooring in a room can change the look and feel dramatically. It also needs to work with your lifestyle and budget, which for us means being cost effective and able to withstand the rigors of the Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist.
We also wanted the bedrooms to be warm and soft underfoot. Solution? Cavalier Bremworth. They’re a New Zealand owned and operated company that likes to make finding the right carpet for your home and lifestyle as easy as possible. And the more informed you are about your preferred choice of carpet, the better I say.
Cavalier Bremworth has a great buying guide and videos from an independent interior designer about the different steps you need to consider when purchasing carpet. There’s even a 3D Floor Designer Tool to mix and match your desired carpet against a Resene wall colour of your choice if you like getting busy on your computer before you step into a store.
Our process. Step One: Fibre
As I said, our main concerns were warmth, comfort and durability, along with sustainability. For all of that, wool wins. Especially in a nation of around 60 million sheep. It’s naturally beautiful, durable, family-friendly and very easy to clean (contrary to what you might think). Wool’s scaly structure acts as a natural stain resister and will repel most liquid spills – stains can be easily removed if you get to them quickly. It also naturally regulates the humidity of an interior – absorbing moisture when the air is damp and releasing it when the air is dry. This can help prevent mould growth and improve the indoor air quality of your home (keeping you warmer in winter and cooler in summer) – making it a great choice for those with breathing difficulties. Cavalier Bremworth has the most extensive range of wool carpets available in a range of different styles.
We weren’t too worried about fading as the bedrooms are predominantly on the southern side of the house, but if you are, a solution-dyed nylon (SDN) carpet is the way to go. SDN’s are also very durable and are a great family-friendly option – most having very good stain and fade resistant warranties. Cavalier Bremworth had plenty of those as well, just to dazzle me with choices when I was making decisions.
Step two: Style and texture.
In carpet terms, that means whether you want cut pile or a loop pile. Cut pile carpets are usually more luxurious underfoot and can range from a hardtwist (set like a perm to hold the twist) to a plush pile (where the fibres stand up straight). It’s important to note that all cut pile carpets will develop shading over time which gives the effect of light and dark patches on the floor – especially plush piles – quite like velvet or suede. However this doesn’t affect the durability of the carpet. Loop piles on the other hand can offer a classic or casual look and are very easy care. They don’t show footprints and are great for busy families. They provide real texture on the floor too. For me, I just like the look of loop pile. I’m not sure I can put a finger on it, but aesthetically it works for me, and for Mr Building Boxes who has more opinions about aesthetics than he likes to admit, even to himself.
Step three: Colour.
This is really the start and finish for many people. It’s all about the look. But there is a science to how it works in your rooms, just like paint. Darker carpets absorb light and will make a room feel smaller and cosier whereas lighter carpets reflect the light and make a room feel spacious. In our house, there is also the all important - can it hide that trail of muddy footprints test - to consider.
Make sure you take a sample home and look at it in different lights throughout the day to make sure it will achieve the look you’re going for. Carpets can generally appear around 20% lighter on the floor when laid, compared to a small sample. It’s also pretty difficult to get an idea from a small patch, so if you can get a decent sample size to take home, and a tip someone shared which worked well for me is to slide it under a piece of furniture, make a square with your hands and focus in on the carpet and furniture, somehow it makes it look like its “in” the room. Either that or I really haven’t had enough sleep lately.
Result? We’ve gone with Lisburn carpet in Holland. A 100% pure wool carpet in a fairly dark grey-blue, with a pale thread. We had a piece on site for a while and even in the filth that is a building site, it dusted off well, so we’re hopeful it will hide at least a fraction of the mess that the Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist like to create on a daily basis.
A family of four: writer, scientist, lego engineer and destruction specialist. Our previous home is featured in New Zealand Interior Style and this new project promises to provide plenty of great, green, smart and maybe madcap solutions to new building in New Zealand.