Category Archives: renovation rescue

The things we do…

And the things we don’t.

I wish I could say I had an active and fulfilling weekend.  We really should have been getting stuck into the kazillion and one preparatory things we need to do with the house.

A bike ride, or some decent exercise of some sort would have been smart too. But it didn’t happen, unless you count a 5 minute walk to the corner shop to get milk late yesterday. (Can’t count a spontaneous meal out, just the two of us, when we found ourselves ‘sans’ kids for Saturday night either!)

I did pin Himself down to going through the list of queries from my meeting with the Designer last week. And late yesterday afternoon he did finally drag me out to be his ladder ballast while he pulled down a rickety old pergola from the side of the house.

None of which was particularly physically active on my part.  He might have wrestled with some rusty nails, and I might have reached up and taken the joist, and tweaked it off the other bearer. But no.. not calorie burning in the slightest.

More of the paperbark came down on Saturday, but showers of rain interrupted that.  Plus it is/was a fair size tree.  Did I mention that the young guy next door was doing the job for us? So it’s not a rush job, as such. We also have some more trees in the front yard that we will now get him to do – particularly now we’ve seen that he does a good job.  (More nature deficit disorder for me…!)

We discussed, a bit, our grand plan for The Renovations – weighing up Owner Builder-ing vs paying a Builder to do the whole job.  We have decided to do it as Owner Builders, though we will still get a Builder to do some parts.  The driving factor here is saving some money – particularly on a complicated job of both extensions and internal renovations – where a builder will just automatically put x% on to cover contingencies.

There is also a bit of ‘grunt’ work that we can either do ourselves, or pay the neighbour to do – like jack-hammering up existing concrete. Taking up the slate floor. Etc.

It will have to be done in well thought out stages, so apart from doing the required Owner Builder course, there will be a fair bit of project management involved.

Guess who will have to do a lot of that?  Though I tend to doubt my logical abilities in that area. (While Himself essentially works in project management.)

Meanwhile, though, I have a bit of a deadline looming with the start of the netball season. I’m the bunny who thought up the idea of a handbook for all players – hence I’m the bunny that does it every year.

And the website – also this bunny’s idea – has been looking “meh” for a while, with a lot of pages overdue for an update – never mind the look of it.

So what do I decide to do this weekend?  Redo the website.  Of course I did!

I made compromises with myself.  I could have used the opportunity to really teach myself a whole lot more about doing a decent website- consolidating what I started to learn in the course I started last year – and taking the time to figure out the stuff that ultimately blew my mind and made me ditch it. Some commonsense prevailed, and I’ve just smartened it up a bit. Because there is only so much of my life I can afford to give to my kids’ netball association!

So it’s gone from this:

to this:

In my head there is a better looking site design, but only if I didn’t sleep for a month in order to teach myself all the web design skillz that I don’t yet have a handle on!  My lovely daughter whipped up the banner for me (though I added the netball figure with my meagre photoshop skillz).  The green, if you are wondering about my colour choices in the first place(!), is the association colour, and up until last year was the colour of the association skirt.  We changed the skirt to black last year – with the green confined to a subtle strip down each side of the shirt.  Another reason to change the background!

Anyway…  someone tell me it’s an improvement. Even if it’s a lie!

So I have a big week ahead of me. Finish getting information onto the website. Finish the handbook.

We have a meeting with the Designer on Wednesday – and I’ve managed to convince Himself that he has to take a day off work so that we can get around to the various shops – bathroom fittings, light fittings, oven etc…  Some final choices need to be made, although there are some things we will be telling the designer to just not worry about. (Like paint colours for the girls’ bedrooms! And the letterbox. Or even a front fence!)

I will endeavour – now that it is starting to happen – to tell the story, as it evolves, of  The Renovation.

Meanwhile, I should get off my backside, stop blogging, and start doing!



Filed under miscellaneous minutiae, renovation rescue

In the name of progress.

The greenie in me is sad.

We have started getting some trees lopped down in preparation for our extensions.  Even though we live in a patch of suburbia, on an averagely small suburban block. (About 680 sq m) – we’ve still had trees around us. And I like it that way. They provide some privacy – screening from the neighbours. Shade. General ambience. And birds.

So it goes against the grain to get rid of any. Well – the native trees anyway. I couldn’t give a stuff about the others – or the tangle of shrubbery (as per our Valentine’s day pruning epic…)

The time has come, though. Time for some of the bigger trees to go.

Five years ago we cleared along that back fence :

but neglected to poison the shrubs we cut down

and it all grew back. And up.
(Where the heck did those casuarinas spring from?!)

So, back to the future – I mean the present-  the gum tree – to the right – is not actually in the way of the extensions – but it’s been sick for a while – presumably something like dieback.  It’s also right on top of the sewer line that runs along this side of our back fence – and we’ve had some root blockage issues there – so there really wasn’t a choice . It had to go. Even if every other time it died back, and we thought ‘oh dear, I guess we’ll have to cut it down’  it would get all this new growth and provide nice shade on summer mornings.

Like tree euthanasia, really.
So I’m coping with that one going.

We also have to make room in that back left corner of the yard –  (like for a trampoline that I had the genius idea of buying last Christmas) – so a couple of scraggy casuarinas in the left corner came down too.

What I’m really sad about though, is the paperbark tree closer to the house. My paperbark.  From our bedroom verandah – and indeed our bed – you feel as if you are up in the treetops with the birds!

And, given that it’s on the north side of the block, it makes good shade.

But it’s right in the way of where the new lounge room is going.

And even if the walls could have been designed to miss the trunk, the roots would wreak havoc with the foundations.


The rest is coming down tomorrow.
(Other random smaller trees along that fenceline have also got the chop.)

I’ve been a bit emotional about it all day today.

The only plus (and you’ve got to find pluses, don’t you…?) is that now I can see OUR gumblossoms, that, in their quest for the sunlight, have been adorning the neighbour’s yard.

And on the agenda will be planting nicer native shrubs in other places around the fence line to make up for our environmental vandalism.


Filed under australiana, renovation rescue, wah!

Renovation rescue

Finally, after too many years of talking about it, we’re going to get extensions – renovations – done.

We’ve got a building design company working on the plans, have already handed over a pile of money to them, and back in July they got the unofficial nod from council to go ahead with the concept plan that involves putting a double garage in the front yard. You have to get special approval to put a building closer to the boundary than the required 6m – but we look like we’ll get away with it because we will improve the street view of the house – something that well and truly needs doing.

Whoever built the place plonked a kit home on the block, and decided to flip it around and face the front towards the east- the ocean – but into the backyard, which backs onto another block between us and the ocean view. (Noone has built on it yet – but it will probably happen one day.)

So the front of the house was really supposed to be the back, thus the laundry is right next to the ‘front’ door, the first floor bathroom window faces the street, and the top floor has tiny windows facing the street. Truly, it doesn’t look that good. (When we were house shopping, I was disinclined to even inspect it, and it was only the unique insides that sold me on the house (despite the fact that it had 3 bedrooms and a carport when we were looking for 4 bedrooms and a garage!)

As well as indiscriminately rotating the house on the block, they didn’t consider making use of the northerly aspect, so we have no windows facing north. (Why would you put the carport on the north side, and kitchen/dining, with windows, and a wider passageway on the south side? (If they’d thought about it for 5 minutes they might have come up with the idea of flipping the plans – mirror style!)  So, anyway, we have a light issue – with the kitchen plonked on the south side, and you currently need the lights on in it all day.)  Skylights, and high windows on the north side are figuring greatly on our plans.

OK, so we are also going to add a fourth bedroom (so two out of three kids don’t have to share), a study, a new laundry (with loo – so one can go to the loo on the ground floor),  a new bathroom on the middle floor,  and a big new living area out the back. We are solving (we hope) a lot of storage problems, and we are going to do some major changes – like rip up the godawful black slate on the ground floor (and be rid of it in the two upstairs bathrooms.)


And we’re now at the stage where we’re pretty happy with the plans. Next BIG step is to find out how much it is going to cost – ie. getting some sort of ballpark quote from some builders.  And hope that we don’t have to make too many compromises.

It is exciting, yet so daunting I am starting to feel a bit freaked out.  At times we wondered if it would have been cheaper and easier to move – but we like our location, and we didn’t like our chances of finding a 4 bedroom house with a double garage that wasn’t also going to need work.

We also contemplated knocking it down and starting again – but decided that it would cost more again (money that we’d rather spend on something else). And we would lose some of the unique characteristics of this house – namely the third storey with exposed rafters, and the sensation of living space that isn’t hemmed in by other houses.  The three storeys give more floor space all up, and we would never get the three storeys through council again.

So. Decision made. Scary, scary!  When I start contemplating the cost of new kitchen, flooring, bathroom stuff (never mind all the actual building work) my eye starts twitching. When I contemplate the fact that we’ll need to find somewhere to rent, and to move out for the duration – hence forcing me to deal with a major culling of all our Stuff – I’m heading into hyperventilating territory.

No – it will be good. It will be exciting. It will be bloody fantastic when it’s done. (I just hope our marriage survives it!)  And so overdue it’s not funny. We’ve been talking about this more or less since we bought the place 11 years ago – and it would not be a lie to say that because of so much of the shabbiness, I’ve not been as houseproud as I might have been.  I would be embarrassed to admit all the cleaning issues I have not dealt with because I had the shits with what was wrong, and what was well overdue to be replaced.

I might even come out the other side of this a new woman, rejuvenated by pride in her abode. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t mind sharing the trials and tribulations, before and after shots, and harvesting everyone’s ideas and experiences .. so stay tuned for more Renovation Rescue.


Filed under renovation rescue