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Showing posts from July, 2010

Kitchen and laundry design

We've met with two kitchen companies this week, and as a result, we have some serious doubts about our budget. It is clear that we don't have enough money to fit out the kitchen, pantry, laundry and perhaps the walk-in-robe like we wanted.

We are planning for different appliances, including a larger fridge, new oven, new rangehood and our existing gas cooktop and microwave. We won't be buying them all soon, but instead over time. However, we need to ensure that the space we allow in the new cabinets is large enough - and for items like the fridge which aren't standard, that is a little tricky. We've reviewed catalogues with dimensions, and checked forums to get ideas.

An example of the problem is also our recently purchased washing machine. Its extra depth means that when opened, its lid is quite tall. In our now removed laundry, and in our current rental house, it didn't/doesn't fully open under the cabinets and wall mounted dryer that we have in eac…

End of Week 4

It looks like the beams are all in place for the first floor, and the walls for the laundry, stairs, hallway and pantry are finished.

We can clearly see the line of the extended entrance hallway now, although it hasn't been fully knocked through yet. The ladder in the photo is where the bottom of the stairs will be.

Looking up through the stairwell, the roof trusses for the existing roof have been removed ready for the first floor walls to be put in place.

The pace has been a fraction slower this week, with one of the three in the building team at trade school, and the work being a little more complex.

Roof off

This afternoon the builders removed part of our roof, to enable work to start on our first floor. The major rafters are in place. Tarps now cover part of the roof and ground floor extension.

Matt also clarified that the 300mm movement of a wall will see our new main bedroom that much larger at no extra cost.

First floor beams in place

Today the first floor steel and timber beams have been lifted into place, and the new wall for the laundry commenced.  We agreed at a site meeting last week to change the door, and as a result, we could make the laundry slightly bigger.

Walk-in pantry taking shape

The walk-in pantry is taking shape, encompassing our former dining area.  The entrance to it can be seen on the left side of the photo.

The frame for the ground-floor walls of our staircase are also in place, in the process creating our new 'hallway' that links our two living spaces.

We've also decided that the kitchen window is too low, but with the advice of some kitchen designers and cabinet makers this week, we hope to shortly work out what size window we can fit. The bottom of the current window is 930mm from the floor level, which will pretty well match the surface level of a bench.

The steelwork that was delivered yesterday can be seen in the living area of this photo, ready to be moved into place. During the day it was put in place.

Kitchen window and bench heights

Looking at our photos of the kitchen, as well as on site on Sunday, we became concerned that the kitchen window was too close to the bench surface. The kitchen sink will be beneath the window and it is impractical to have the 'window ledge' at about bench height because we think that the window will be splashed with water from the sink.

I spoke to Matt, our builder, today and we've decided to put the order of that particular window on hold until we resolve it. We're meeting two kitchen designers this week, so we'll seek some opinion about how big (or small) the splashback should be between the bench top and bottom of the window.

Separately, the walk-in pantry frame is mostly in place, and the steel beams have been delivered to site.

Furnishing the ensuite

This morning we went shopping at plumbing and tile stores, to make some decisions about the ensuite, kitchen and laundry.  We went to Reece at Mentone, then next door to Beaumont Tiles, then to Dingley Tile Centre and finally, in the afternoon, to Bathroom Bazaar.

The staff at Reece were helpful and their products nice, as are the tiles at Beaumont Tiles.  We spend a fair bit of time at both before going to the Dingley Tile Centre to find that it isn't open on weekends.  Maybe their main market is tradespeople - I suspect few home owners are tile shopping on weekdays.

At Reece we decided on a Posh Solus shower mixer tap ($125), and we're considering a Mizu Gooseneck Sink Mixer for the kitchen ($249).

Late afternoon we went to Bathroom Bazaar.  We bought some of the bathroom fittings for our main bathroom from Bathroom Bazaar, about four to five years ago. 

As before, the staff were very helpful and the prices heavily discounted.  We bought an ex-floor stock toilet and ex-floor…

End of Week 3

On Friday the frame for the ground floor was mostly complete. The three areas of the extension's ground floor are now clearly defined.

We can stand in the rooms and look out the windows, and better envisage the final size and appearance of each space.

Temporary supports have been placed along the line of the former back wall to the house, so the position of the doors and stairs is not yet clear ie the columns don't reflect the position of the doors.

Variations meeting

We met with Matt, our builder, on site this morning to run through some variations we've requested, as well as some technical issues. It was a good discussion to have. We've agreed to move a non-structural wall, change some doors and a window, and get quotes for other options including greywater and water tanks.

The ground floor frame was nearly finished by the time we left the site just after 9am. It is now possible to stand in the extension and look out through where the windows will be.

Floor down

Today the builders finished the floor and tomorrow they commence the frame.

Eventually floor boards will be placed in the extension, but this is delayed until later to minimise the opportunity for damage during construction.

The plumbing beneath the extension floor has also been fixed in place by hanging it from the sub-floor.

The beams are also in place for the gable ended verandah.

Once the framing is in place, the builders will take final measurements and then order the roof trusses.

Tonight we've paid our third invoice. We've also reviewed the window and door schedule before they're ordered. We've picked up a discrepancy with one window, which we'll need to sort out quickly. The quote from the supplier is not for what we'd planned, but we did change our requirements during post-tender discussions with the builder so that has probably contributed to the problem.


Today the sub-floor is in place, which was captured by Jen when she took this photo.

The fireplace is the old living room has also been removed and work commenced on covering the hole over.

Brick laying and posts

Today the front verandah posts were concreted in, and the bricklayers laid six rows of bricks for the sub-floor.

I'm surprised how fast they brickies have worked - I wasn't expecting to see the outline of the extension when I arrived this evening.

Greywater systems

Sometime in the near future, we plan to install a greywater system (as well as solar-electricity).  Whether it is part of the extension project will depend on how we're tracking with our budget.  If, as it progresses, it looks like our contingency fund is okay we'll probably commit to some extras.

To minimise installation costs for a greywater system, we plan to have the plumber put in as much of the necessary plumbing during the project as they can.  It shouldn't be complicated - probably just some extra fittings so that a greywater system can almost be 'plugged in'.

The first step is to determine what Greywater systems are approved for use in Victoria, and which ones are eligible for Victorian Government rebates. If you live elsewhere you should similarly check with your equivalent of the Environmental Protection Authority, Water and Sewage Authorities and Local Planning Authority.

The EPA provides guidelines and lists approved blackwater and greywater treatment …

Colour choices

We're having a Colorbond roof on the extension and existing house. This will help the older part of the house where the roof was starting to sag, by removing the weight of the tiles. We've also paid extra to use Colorbond with Thermatech, which has an infra-red reflectivity coating to reduce solar radiation heating the house in summer.

Our five-star energy assessment, during the design stage, was based upon a medium-shade of Colorbond. We've chosen "Windspray", which is almost a light-shade in terms of thermal efficiency.

We're looking at different shades of white for the rendered walls.  We're comfortable with the appearance of some other houses in our area and this will match in well.

We were initially surprised to find that paint manufacturers sell outdoor paints in Colorbond colours, and the Colourbond website has a 'visualiser' that enables you to mix and match from Haymes and Colorbond colours on images of houses.

End of Week 2

After two weeks the builders have completed demolition, the footings have been poured and the stumps concreted in place. The building inspector inspected the works before the concrete was poured.

Timber from the house frame has been recycled and used to close in one of the laundry doors.

With the water pipes disconnected and electrical cables removed, the kitchen and laundry have been 'knocked through'.

Timber and bricks line the driveway, and sand is stockpiled on the nature strip. Steel columns have also been delivered.


Nat has been shopping around for kitchens and appliances during the week.

So far we're obtaining quotes from Zesta on Warrigal Road, Cheltenham, and Lets Talk Kitchens on Nepean Highway, Cheltenham. Nat has two or three more companies that she plans to contact, based upon referrals from friends.

Our extension and renovation requires more than just the kitchen to be fitted out - there's a walk in pantry as well as the renovated laundry. Prices for the kitchen will affect how we treat the pantry and laundry.

Options we're considering include the cabinetry finish - laminate or two pack, as well as the benchtops - laminate, Caesarstone or Corian.

Update, 18/07/2010: Following from Kevin's comment on this post I found this website that claims to make a fair comparison of natural stone and manufactured benchtops. The comparison is based upon aesthetics and performance, not embodied energy and sustainability. Similarly, a Choice has a comparison of features, with no comm…


The excavations for the strip footings finished today, as well as those for the stumps. The side fence was also completed.

After a day stressing about whether the extension will be big enough, I met Matt, our builder, on site this evening and we measured it out to help me visualise it better. I'm now much happier in general, although perhaps the kitchen is smaller. We do have some flexibility in how we use our internal space.

Tomorrow morning the building inspector will check the footing and stump excavations, then at lunchtime and tomorrow the concrete will be delivered. Matt is also expecting the framing to be delivered by the end of the week.

Jen took the following photos for us.


The following photos shows the completed trenches for the footings, effectively showing the wall line of the extension's ground floor.

The gap in the fence is where the garage was yesterday.

The extension still doesn't seem big enough....

Big enough?

Tonight, in the dark, I went to the house and found a mini-excavator parked in our future extension. On three sides of the house the trenches for the footings have been dug. The area within the footings doesn't look as big as I expected - I'll try to get back there tomorrow to see in daylight.

Early this morning the brick garage wall, which was also the boundary fence, was knocked down and removed. The builders have also put in the posts and rails for the replacement fence, to fill the gap left by the former shed wall.

Building blogs

The Home Renovation and Building Forum has a blog list, sorted by Builder. If you are thinking of using a particular builder you may find helpful information about their client's experiences. See this link for the blog list.

Quick Fix

During yesterday's strong winds, the black plastic covering the hole where our chimney has been removed, came loose. A call from Jen and Jason alerted us, soon after we arrived home from the Home Show.

Jason helped me try to nail the plastic back, but within a few minutes of us finishing it had torn loose again. A call to Matt, our builder, saw him driving over within about 15 minutes (I passed him on the way home) and I found this morning that he'd secured it well with additional staples and timber strips nailing across the plastic. I'm happy with Matt's prompt response.

Home Show

We went to the Home Show yesterday afternoon, for about an hour and a half. This year seemed to have a few more exhibitors, with a focus on lighting, windows, gas fireplaces, spa baths, insulation, solar panels and solar hot water.

We grabbed handfuls of brochures about solar panels, LED lighting and doors to scan for ideas.

In the past there have also been discounted magazine offers ie get three or four back issues for a bargain price, but they were missing this year.

We did see the $25,000 cubby house on display, as well as Bob the Builder.

Was it worth the money? No, I don't think so.

End of week 1

By the middle of Friday afternoon the back wall had been completely removed. The asbestos sheeting from the shed had been removed by specialist contractors that morning, and after I had taken the photographs, the wooden frame of the shed was knocked down.

The brick wall of the shed, which is also the boundary fence, will be knocked down on Monday and during the week it will replaced with a wooden paling fence. This was a variation to our contract because we hadn't specified it.

Demolition continues

Our builders have pressed on. Most of the rear wall is missing, all of the sunroom except its slab is gone, the front verandah is gone, and new doors are being opened within the interior.

Demolition underway

Demolition commenced today, with the interior of the shed and its roof being removed, the side gate knocked down, most of the sunroom gone and the kitchen in the skip.


This morning we met our Builder on site and handed over the keys. We discussed what fittings we'd keep, like the rangehood, stove and gas heater, and which ones would go.

Once an electrician has disconnected our power, in the next day or so, and a skip has been delivered, the building team will start demolition.

5/12/2010: Nat was at the house this afternoon and advised that the skip has been delivered.  Matt has also quoted on replacing the side fence with a wooden paling fence, as soon as the shed is demolished. We've accepted his quote.

Locking doors

We've upgraded our 'door hardware' on our bedrooms, with some contemporary door handles that have replaced our 1960's ones. A local locksmith changed the locks at our new rental place, so we used the opportunity to also have the doors hardware replaced at our renovation house.