This week on stuff, I'm talking about cladding. Getting it finished, finally! It means that we are in a mad rush to finish off the outside of the building completely so we can get the scaffolding down. All that scaffolding stuff is booked out on a per week basis, and those weeks are mounting up...along with the bill.
One outside job we haven't quite been able to work with corrugate, has been the down pipes to take all that water our roof will produce away (and into tanks). There are options in steel but they don't come in the right size for our capacity, and we because the water tank is above floor level, the down pipes need to hold water (not something that's so good in steel). So instead we're using good old PVC. Trouble is, there are a lovely range of colours available, just not black... Given the whole house is black, except for the splash of cedar, it seemed odd to suddenly have something else in the mix, and when you hold the nearest colour (ironsand) next to the black, well, it's not black, is it. Anyone say #firstworldproblems?
There is good reason that PVC drainpipes don't come in black, says Mr BuildingBoxes. Sun equals heat, equals movement in PVC, equals issues with the joins, and stability of those precious down pipes. Of course for us, given the down pipes we're talking about are on the southside, it's not really a problem, but still, no premade black PVC down pipes for us, or you.
Still, if you've paid all that money for the house to look sleek in black, you want it looking sleek and black. Solution? Mr BuildingBoxes and his spray gun. The trick to getting such an even finish, he tells me, is to go at it with long even waves of your spray gun, you're painting after all, so do it in strokes, with a steady hand and at an even distance. Don't, however, balance your newly painted drainpipes precariously and let them fall to the hard, unyielding garage floor. Because they will smash. And you will have to glue that smashed piece back in, sand the crap out of all the sealant you put in to put the puppy back together, and then paint it all over again. Just saying...
This week on stuff.co.nz I'm talking memories: making them, leaving them, tucking them away for someone else to find. Memories folded into time capsules to be exact. And there's now one tucked into the soon to be ceiling cavity of our downstairs bathroom. I would so love to be a fly on the wall when it gets opened...I think, I mean, who knows what the future will be like. There might be the jet pack I was promised, or there might be...a re-emergence of dinosaurs after some genetic lab experiment goes viral (the Lego Engineer would certainly like that).
In the present however, we're moving out of the house I bought ten years ago and which has seen us make lots of memories as a family. It might not look like it in the picture, but we're almost there.
There's a lot of stuff life builds up. Too much really. And a part of packing has been culling. Friends of ours tell tales of moving their life over to New Zealand from the UK and putting it all in storage while they traveled and worked out where they would live. After living without all their "treasures" for so long they discussed just never collecting any of it. Hopefully after my cull, we wont be left in a similar situation - we've managed to get all our worldly possessions down to less than ten cubic meters. Of course that's still a bunch of stuff. My heart goes out to anyone living in their car this winter. Puts it all in perspective doesn't it?
This week on stuff, I'm talking about the cedar cladding. More specifically about the almost disaster I had with the interior cladding. In short - I had stained it, thinking that I wanted it to match the external cedar. (We are, after all, trying to get the entrance way to roll from out to in with the cedar running the whole length of both internal and external walls). However, the colour from the stain was so strong that it was never going to match the external cedar once some sun and rain had had a go at it. Happily, the problem was solved, thanks to Mark from TimberTECH. Man almost knows more about timber than a lumberjack.
But, it has shown me where my priorities are. Not that it's really ever been a secret. I am in charge of the inside, says Mr Building Boxes, and while i'm also in charge of how the outside looks, I care more about where we are going to be living our day to day lives.
A big thing for me is making sure our sleek shiny concrete floor doesn't make the place seem to sterile. Not only that, but I don't like everything to look super "new" and polished. When an interiors image catches my eye it's almost always because of the mix of old and new that has been lovingly meshed together, and with that in mind, I've been looking at what I might be able to find to put into the new, new house. It's a difficult balance at the moment, as I can't really buy anything (as we're about to move out of our current house and have nowhere to put it) but if I find just the right set of drawers say, to turn into a vanity, I need to get it now so that I can work it into a design with the cabinet maker. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I also don't get much time to get out and look around, or at least, not much time without the Lego Engineer and Destruction Specialist. I was at a second hand store the other day and was drilling the boys not to touch anything, when the guy was all - let them touch, it's fine. I looked at him a little sideways, but shrugged and let the boys go. About ten minutes later he was concerned that they might have a)stolen one of his toy cars, b)reordered his vintage cup collection, c)hidden all the hats, and d) attempted to kill each other with the stupid-sharp dagger/walking stick/harbinger of doom....guess he either doesn't have any kids of his own or they haven't been to the same school of destruction specialization as mine have...
This week on stuff.co.nz I'm talking insulation. Putting it in yourself to be exact. We estimate we've saved close to $1500 doing it ourselves. Like I said over on stuff, it takes time, but it's not difficult and there are great How To guides online for both ceilings, underfloors and walls with chirpy Australian banter.
I've talked here before about our choices with insulation, so I won't go over everything again, but I thought I would just detail quickly why we've chosen to use Earthwool Glasswool. Or rather, why it got Mr Building Boxes tick of approval (for a guy with a bunch of degrees and who works with plastics, polymers, adhesives and all sorts of chemical nasties, this was a big one)
Sorry if you were looking out for this on Tuesday. The long weekend meant a days delay on stuff.co.nz and so this comes out a day later too.
This week on stuff, I'm talking decision making. Death by a thousand paper cuts kind of decision making, where just as you think you've nailed it, you discover there are another four decisions to make within the decision you just made.
In that mix, we've needed to work out what's going on in the kitchen. The units and benches themselves were easy decisions, with Laminex giving us some great advice, but the appliances were another story. In the grand scheme of the build it's not a huge amount of cash, but somehow, spending it in a store makes it seem like a bigger deal. One that we wanted to make sure we squeezed into the allowance we had in the budget and didn't go over.
So in the spirit of decision making - here is a treatise on bargain hunting.
Appliance shopping seems to be one of those things, like buying a used car, where bargaining is totally acceptable. I'm not the bargain for everything type, but my dad is, maybe I learned from a master. Either way, there are some people who would never ask for a discount, and some people who almost always do. I'm not trying to tell anyone how to suck eggs, but in case you're one of the unconverted to bargain hunting, I thought I would share just how much there is to be saved with a bit of gentle persuasion.
On our shopping list we had:
First thing to note, is having a few items on our list helped enormously. Our bargaining power went up, because its a bigger sale for the operator. Second, we made a list of a few different versions of the appliances we wanted and then Mr Building Boxes made a wee spreadsheet of the standard retail prices for all of them. Then we shopped around. And we did it on a long weekend - Queens Birthday - where every store in the land is promising you bigger and better for less.
When I say shopped around, really I rang around, and was given a quote over the phone or via email with a "queen's birthday sale price". We then narrowed it down to the two stores with the right appliances and the best prices and went shopping. This meant we could a)check that the models we thought we wanted were what we wanted (which turned out not to be the case with the dishwasher) and b)could look the sales folk in the eye...
We ended a pretty quick whip around two stores clear about what we wanted, and with two much more competitive sets of quotes. We then went to the store with the best set of quotes, asked them to match the cheaper items from the other store and boom. We saved $1756.
I'll say that again. The advertised price for the items (some of which were on "special") for all five items was $6865, and we paid $5109. Saving $1756. All with a relatively painless and pretty quick process. Sometimes it pays to be a bargain hunter.
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.