Some people know I’m preparing for a seachange; I’m ‘pulling up stumps,’ as they say, in the suburbs, and have already moved, in the interim, to a trendy townhouse in the inner city’s dress circle. What is it like, you might ask?
Think Gourmet ice cream and Vegan eateries, Sushi Trains on many a corner, craft beer bars playing Indie music and a variety of those glamorous shops that sell ludicrously expensive white and taupe furnishings with cushions that are perfectly positioned for looks, rather than comfort. Yep – in a nutshell – that’s Hipsterville. Right at my doorstep.
Imagine little old suburban me, walking the shared bike way in my daggy joggers, being steamrollered by cyclists festooned in those all too revealing lycra bodysuits. [Yes it did happen- several times]. The little Schnauzer was even caught in the slipstream of these semi-pros, who seemingly insist on riding three abreast…
Can you imagine two billion litres of sea water? Well it is about 1000 Olympic sized swimming pools. That is size and volume of the lake created near our soon to be Home By the Sea.
The man-made lake which is about 14 metres deep, abutts another Quay development (still under construction), behind which is the sea, itself.
The seaside housing estate sits on 143 hectares of excavated soil that has been removed and re-distributed through the estate. On a typical day there are around 160 personnel on site and 60 earthmoving machines in operation. Mind-boggling statistics.
Meanwhile, at the Home by the sea, the tilers have been hard at work, and this coming week the painting and rendering will commence!
The painting will take about ten days, apparently. Three coats of Dulux Snowy Mountains Half. It will take a bit of paint to cover those walls.
I chose a neutral colour to go with the Coastal Scandinavian colour scheme. Most of the colour and tones will come from the furnishings and fittings.
Our almost weekly visits to the house at times could at time seem over the top or fuTile, but humans being humans, mistakes are not uncommon.
On a large project such as a double storey house, and a large scale commercial building company, tradesmen’s crews work on multiple houses, at the same time. Add to this, there are so many different options and choices for fittings and selections, it is little wonder that mistakes occur.
And so, with this latest visit, we were pleased that we found everything in order.
Or was it?
The Kitchen and Laundry Cabinets and Splashbacks were certainly looking great.
The Benchtops had been installed, and were really looking smart under their protected covering. And the floor tiles and bath/shower tiling was all but complete – just the balcony to be grouted.
I worried that I did not have enough variation in the colour scheme in the upstairs bathrooms? I am regretting not adding a white subway splashback tile to lift the cold neutrality of the bathing areas. Ah, first world problems.
Even the garage door had been installed, but was not yet wired up. The electrician is to return to install and connect the lights, fans, power, cooking, and smallish air conditioning unit. (Notwithsdtanding a smaller carbon footprint, I live in the sub tropics so I have to a small A/C unit to be able to breathe and function in the humid summers we have).
I really was born in the wrong hemisphere!
This pic of me, is more my climate, of choice.
On returning home, from the site visit, I was proudly looking through the photos, when the MOTH announced that he had not seen any lights installed on the balcony. Almost simultaneously, I spotted a another problem, albeit a minor one. Sigh….
You might remember I said that this was our forever house, and we don’t plan on moving from there, until we are forced into a nursing home, or into the good earth itself.
Therefore, our design had factored in all the “Old persons’ gadgets and fittings, we could, such as Extra Nogging for future Grab rails in the downstairs bathroom, a wheelchair accessible walk – in shower downstairs, and a downstairs media room, a.k.a Mancave, [should that be MOTH cave??]. The Mothcave could quickly become a bedroom, if necessary for oldies who can’t manage stairs.
And also we requested:
Lever lockset doorknobs with a long easy to open handle, for potentially (sorry Manja), gnarled, arthritic hands! In fact, the MOTH went to a lot of trouble and emails to ensure there were NO round Knobs anywhere!!!!
We also wanted a lockable internal door to prevent break-ins via the hall. (One of the benefits of Social Media was that this had been a popular Burglary tactic, and design locks to foil this, if possible).
So on zooming in on the photo, I spotted this. Can you see it?
In the past week or two, the exterior Scyon cladding to the upper storey was installed and painted, almost as soon as it was up. It makes sense, I guess, to make use of the scaffolding, while it was still there. And naturally the soffit was also painted. ‘Soffit’ – such a strange word. I wonder what its derivation is?
I can now get an impression of the final look of the house – less the rendering on the front outside corner, of course, which will be a lighter colour, to lift the darker wall shades.
Meanwhile the Roofer has also returned to complete the flashing around the vents on the roof. That means the roof is finally finished and with Spring around the corner, (if not here already), we will have no worries with the oncoming storms, that are prevalent here, in Springtime.
Not that Queensland really has much of a Spring. Usually it jumps straight to a mild summer around mid September!
Inspection of House
Last week we met with our Site Supervisor to have a walk through the house so far, checking layouts and seeing what has been done. We are not supposed to enter the property unauthorized due to insurance and legality issues. Until the stairway is installed the only access to the second floor is via a ladder! A bit of a risk for those without WH& S training.
No one seemed to worry so much about that in days gone by, did they?
Outdoor Alfresco Ceiling Installation
When we came to inspect the ceiling in the outdoor patio area, we noticed the wooden feature ceiling that cost me SOOO much money, to include in the design, had been installed – the wrong way!!!!! What????
It was an error as they had not seen it with a “castellation” or routed profile facing out before! It WAS them that drew our attention to it, so we couldn’t complain they were not totally upfront in the matter.
To be fair to the carpenters, cedar lining is often laid flat, but with a beveled intersecting edge and a flat profile in high-end homes and boats. However, there wasn’t any beveled edge to the way they laid this profile, so I was pretty disappointed.
The Site Supervisor has been brilliant, though. He and the Company don’t want their clients to be stressed, so they reassured us that the installation could be reversed, if we wanted that. Although I am worried about any obvious nail holes……
I decided that I couldn’t leave it as it was, given that it was the routed, “KIT KAT look, that says ‘COASTAL Scandinavian’ style, that I wanted in the original design.
What do you think? Would you leave it or get the builder to reverse it?
What a change a week makes. The Bricklayers are all but finished, so we can finally get an idea of what the base of the house will look like.
You might notice the bricks are different on the front of the house – a bit patchy compared to the rest. This is because there is rendering to be done on the front of the house. The rendering and wrapping of the corner of the house, abutting the two street frontages, meets the Estate developer’s covenant requirements – not so our wishes.
I suppose it adds a level of interest and a certain look to the estate?
The plasterers are finished the walls inside and the waterproofing of the shower recesses and wet areas have been completed.
Cladding the Second Storey
The scaffolding that has now been erected is necessary for the builders to install the cladding to the upper part of the house.
I was very excited to see bundles of vertical lined cladding and my treasured cedar roof arrive ready for installation on the next vacant block.
Of course the cladding is going to be painted.
I have chosen a Dulux Teahouse colour, at least I think that is what it was called. It is a bit hard to remember every paint selection, but in my head I have the colour hue itself, even if the name is wrong. It is a little bit like the cladding on this Stockholm house, (slightly different facade to ours).
Next week, the staircase will be installed and perhaps some cabinetry?
Progress has been slower in the last few weeks. School holidays might mean that the tradesmen have taken a break. But they were back at work early last week getting ready to lay the bricks.
However over the next week or two, the house will look a lot different as the external coverings are completed.
Weatherseal and windows have been installed. External and Internal doors to Laundry and Front of House. Now we could get much more of an idea of the ultimate size of the rooms.
I am being asked about window coverings. In building a house, you are required to think a long way ahead. Before you anticipate you need to do so.
The MOTH does not like shutters, yet everywhere we go – shutters are visible in many houses. I do agree I don’t want shutters everywhere, as it tends to look too much, but it does say Coastal, and we are at the coast.
Vertical blinds are out, and if it is curtains, they certainly have to be easily washable, otherwise they are major dust collectors, and blow about in the wind. And we do live by the water, when wind is a prevailing force.
It has been wrapped in a green weather resistant lining in preparation for the laying of the external bricks and cladding. And my much sought after cornerless butt-joined window has been installed in the MOTH’s mancave/future geriatric bedroom on the lower level.
The first Bricks arrived some time ago, after an initial hiccup with the delivery – read more about that hiccup here. But there was more pallets to come as you see here. The MOTH estimated about 11,000 bricks.
Installing all the electrical wiring, plumbing and services does take time. Which is fine if they do it right. And then there is insulation installed in roof areas and upper walls. This is what makes our new homes more expensive but more energy efficient.
New homes in Queensland must comply with a Six star energy rating. I do hope this will result in a cooler home in summer, but warmer in winter. It has to be better than the previous open plan home which has a partly insulated roof space.
My memories of that home meant we froze in the shadow of a double storey home on the northern side and melted when the summer sun hit the long southern side of the uninsulated hardiplank walls.
I can’t really say that I will have water views from my Home by the Sea, but I can say that I have water glimpses from our balcony.
A few weeks ago I also had glorious views over to the Glasshouse Mountains, volcanic remnants from eons ago that have significance to the Indigenous Peoples.
When they started building the houses across the road, the view was obscured. Oh well, a short walk to the lake’s edge fixes that.
The mountains I used to see from my property are the same mountains I see in the distance when I am on my way there.
The rain finally stopped so that work could continue. The plumbers were busy but the electrician who was scheduled was nowhere in site. The tiler had to finish pointing the lower tiled roof.
MOTH and I had a debate about the location of the clothes line. He is concerned he will hit his head on it, and I would prefer it near the laundry door. This location, however won’t receive much sunlight. This won’t matter in summer, but in winter…..
This was a major complaint about our old residence which had no sun in winter due to the double storey house located next door. The external Clothes line there was located directly outside the laundry door, however, things just did not dry in a day, due to a lack of direct sunlight, and you were required to leave hanging outside overnight.
Perhaps the solution might be to string an extra line up in winter on the sunny side of the house. The whole external clothes line cannot go there as the space, whilst wider to the boundary fence, is limited due to location of other fixtures, such as the air conditioning unit, gas and meter box and windows.
There is always the back yard, but as it is on the smaller size, I don’t want to be looking at flapping washing when I could be viewing a nice garden.
The MOTH is also eyeing off garden sheds. This again will be limited in size due to the back yard. And he wasn’t going to paint the fence! What????
I would have though he would relish getting out there hands on, making the fence all pretty….he clearly had other ideas about our Home By the Sea.
If you have been following our building journey, at A Home by the Sea, I can tell you that we are yet another step closer.
The weather Gods were not kind to us this week, but it is becoming more and more apparent that our building team are the very best. The forecast of rain so concerned us given that our upper floor would be open to the elements and the floor is not at all weatherproof!
So we were extremely relieved when our weekly visit revealed the builders had finished the complete guttering and roof (at least the roof that is over all upper floorboards) in just one day.
Great team effort guys! (and girls?) *
*Note: No sexism on A Home by the Sea.
Perhaps they tried their very best given that a week of rain was on its way. I like that they are so conscientious and pro-active. They is very reassuring. We have come this far in four weeks!
And now the remaining roof, more plumbing/electrical on the lower floor comes next!
We decided to take some time out to support local business and mingle with the locals at the Boat Club. There is a great view of the Marina from there.
The large boat in the foreground of the next photo is a Marlin fishing boat, and the official weighing station is on the right of the photo.
Our weekly visit, this week, brought us a quick reality check. The house now looks large, and we can now get a full idea of its double storey scale on the property with the second storey timber frame going up. The roof will be installed next week, given no issues from Mr. Weather Man.
We are pretty happy with the way it is turning out. Although I expected some more winter sun to be impacting the al fresco area.
But then I ask myself: am I going to be outside when it is cold, or snuggled inside?
The front rooms of the house are drenched in winter sun – good for ageing folk who might ( I hope not ), develop arthritic knees and enjoy a good dose of morning sun, in winter.
Summertime will see most of the sunlight on the rear of the house, however this is the section of the house that will be airconditioned, and shaded by eaves, so I feel sure it will work out in terms of its comfort level.
Micro climate and Aspect
This is why we chose a north-facing property. Ideally, we would have purchased a property with the back yard with a north facing aspect, given that the garage limits half what is open to a northern face, as most garages face to the street in new estates.
However, you can’t control what type of structure is built on the parcel of land behind you in a new estate, and with smaller blocks requiring double storey houses to secure a family’s need in a residential house, the northern sunlight in a rear yard might be effectively blocked out by the neighbour’s build.
This is what happened in our previous home. It also equates to more energy use in keeping a home liveable, in winter, unless you are happy wearing thermals and coats, indoors.
Despite living in a sub-tropical climate, our former house was always so cold in winter; much colder than the northern facing townhouse, we are in at the moment. What’s more – because it is a townhouse, the garage can be located at the rear, so all the living areas and bedrooms can face north. Just glorious.
Days here in Queensland are so perfect during a winter day with cloudless skies, little breeze and low humidity; however, the nights can get down to single digit celsius temperatures. Not pleasant if you have a house style made to cope with sub tropical summers. Read: little insulation; lots of open plan rooms and large opening windows without double glazing.
So, a north facing block is for me, in my retirement.
Does aspect and micro-climate figure in your design for a new home?