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Showing posts from August, 2010


We're putting a skylight into our new ensuite.  Originally we thought this would be good because we couldn't see the need for a window that would need to be frosted over. No-one would be able to see in or out via a skylight (well, except for pilots and passengers in those planes from Moorabbin Airport!).

We then changed our mind after thinking about ventilation through the top floor.  Most two story homes we've been to have had issues with the top floor being very hot.  A window would have the advantage of being able to easily left ajar so that a breeze can blow through, whereas a skylight is either fixed or opening, and if it does open, more difficult to open and close. 

However, when we spoke to our builder, Matt, we were several hours too late - the wall had just been framed and erected. Matt was willing to change it for us, if we obtained building approval, but he also explained that the window might well be a more expensive proposition (see my original post).

We thoug…

End of Week 8

After eight weeks with the builders on site, we are now at the stage where we have the first floor Colorbond roof and guttering completed, and the house frame pretty well completed. There some more work integrating the old and new roofs together, but it looks like it is close to being finished.

We're very happy with the gable ended roof over the front verandah, which replaced the flat roofed verandah (which was once, we think, a pergola). We can see it peeking out from under the tarps.

Inside the front gable roof is one of the locations we're considering for in-roof storage, although access is a little tight.

We've also chosen the render colour, by taking a Dulux colour chart to some nearby houses on one morning during the week, and matching colours the best that we could. We're going with B1 Natural White - I haven't worked out a way to show the colour here, using the Dulux website.  Inside the house, we 're continuing with the Antique White walls and White …

Roof and gutters

The installation of our first floor roof and gutters is proceeding. Jen kindly took these photos this morning, because it is difficult to see progress from ground level.

Under the tarps, the gable roofed verandah has progressed significantly, but it won't be completed until the first floor is roofed and rendered.

Lights - phasing out of incandescent lamps

When looking through lighting shops recently I thought about the number of energy inefficient incandescent globes that were for sale - I thought they had been banned already.  Of concern was the number of small globes in chandeliers, giving me another reason not to like them - one chandelier was burning 240W across its six globes.

It turns out that from October 2010, all incandescent 'fancy round and decorative' lamps of greater than 40W will be banned from sale, and in October 2012, all greater than 25W will be banned.  As soon as energy efficient smaller lamps, including pilot lights, are available, their incandescent versions will be banned too.

Details are available from the Australian Government's Energy Rating website.

End of Week 7

At the end of the week, the roof is substantially complete over the extension.  The trusses for our gable end were partially erected, giving a better impression of the front of the house.

I met with Matt to discuss some more issues arising from the design, including another dimensioning problem relating to the plans.  We also looked at an alternative location for the in-roof storage, within the gable ends, and undertook some checks to see if the front, first-floor, window will have the same problem as the main bedroom window.  There should be a narrow gap between the roof line and window frame.

Scaffolding and windows

The scaffolders erected the scaffolding today, and the windows and doors were delivered too. Mia, Liam and I arrived as the trucks were delivering the scaffolding and windows/doors.

It was also the first time that we've seen how the house will look from the front, because the tarps were thrown back to enable the scaffolding to be erected.

During the afternoon, after the picture above was taken, the trusses for the gable end over the front verandah were put in place.


We now have a problem with our main bedroom window.  The roof line from the ground floor is slightly higher than the bottom of the bedroom window, on the first floor.  The actual design may be wrong in that a window that is too large has been specified.

It looks like a new (replacement) window will have to be ordered, at extra cost.  The rest of the windows should be delivered to site tomorrow.

Separately, the in-roof storage area doesn't look to be in a good place because it is at a junction in the roof.  As a consequence, it is where the trusses meet and there's very little clear space for actual storage.  I've agreed with Matt that we'll review its location once all the roof trusses in place, to see if there is a better location.

Retro chairs

Looking through Real Living Magazine, there are a range of advertisers selling similar products.  In particular we've looked at Matt Blatt, Sokol and Replica Furniture.  Their ads feature some of the same items, enabling easy price comparisons.

Last night we found some items at Matt Blatt that one or both of us like (lights, bar stools) and tonight we've found some retro chairs at Replica Furniture.  Some are classed as "for the study", which means Nat doesn't like them.  Any of the items are probably a few years away....

Replica Furniture is in Abbortsford, and is open on weekends, so we may need to try some of them out to see if they are as comfortable as they look.

End of Week 6

With the continuing rain and wind, progress seems slower.  However, the roof trusses are well underway, and this morning I stood on the first floor and walked into our new ensuite, retreat and walk-in-robe, as well as looking out our first floor windows over suburbia.


We went to Beacon Lighting this morning to have our first look at lighting.  We pretty well disagreed about everything, but later in the afternoon we agreed on one light, found online at Matt Blatt after Nat saw their ad in Real Living Magazine.

I like the look of this IKEA LED kitchen counter and bookshelf lighting. We didn't see it when we were at IKEA last weekend, but I found a link to it from the Homeone forums.  Similarly, on the forum, there are some good "on" and "off" photos of a kitchen that uses LED strip lighting from

I looked online for some retail shops that would enable us to compare LED and normal downlights, but haven't found any yet.  Beacon Lighting only had one example of LED lighting, which wasn't helpful.  They have a lot of compact fluorescent lighting.  We'll need to check out Light Up Australia, Select Lighting and Enviroshop.

I've also updated my earlier post about LED lighting with information abou…

Roof trusses

This evening, by torchlight, I could see that the first trusses are in place above the first floor.  More are sitting in the driveway. 

I also found that our side gate was off its hinges and lying on the ground.  I'd have thought it was unlikely that the wind could have blown it off, last night, because the hinges aren't broken off.  I'll have a closer look during daylight on the weekend.


In the last few days the rest of the tiles have been removed from over our old lounge room, ready for the new roof line to be constructed. The tarps are now our only roof covering, including over our 'feature' ceiling. The current gale force winds and rain have us concerned.

The frame for our upstairs walk-in-robe has been completed too.

Otherwise, the bad weather is slowing progress, and the ground floor is awash with water that can't run off the flooring because of the framing for the walls and doors.

First floor framed

The first floor frame was put in place today, and this evening I stood and looked out our windows for the first time. The only walls that aren't in place are the internal walls for the walk-in-robe. There wasn't enough light to take photos.

This morning I also discussed with Matt, our builder, whether we should replace our planned ensuite skylight with a window.  We've become concerned that without an opening window in the ensuite, it will trap summer heat, and could also be damp and always need a fan running whenever the shower is used.  Opening skylights are about twice the price of fixed ones, and difficult to open.

I talked it through with Matt.  He advised that it would need to go back to the building inspector for approval, which he'd be happy to do.  A counter argument we identified was that with an opening skylight, rising hot air can escape through it. Rather than risk a delay, I decided to proceed with the opening skylight.

Dare I say....Ikea?

Late this morning we went to Ikea, in Richmond.

With early estimates for fitting out our kitchen, pantry and laundry about 30% over our budget, we decided that we needed to consider interim measures for the laundry, and maybe the pantry, so that we could install the kitchen we want.

We found some options for each, so that we're pretty sure we can achieve a good outcome without spending thousands on custom cabinetry.  Ikea has some good ideas and good gadgets.

I was also reminded that every recent Ikea store has a similar layout.  Walking through the Richmond store today was a similar experience to walking through the Festival City store in the UAE sometime ago.  And that experience was quite different to the old Moorabbin store, pre-Richmond.

We also remembered how comfortable some of the Ikea armchairs we've had have been, and similar designs are still on offer.

We walked away with an armful of catalogues and photographs of items we liked.

End of Week 5

This week was a little quieter, with several days of rain slowing progress with framing for the first floor.  However, the rear verandah posts and beams are in place, the frame for the laundry walls and internal bracing completed, and the site generally cleaned up.  Most of the structure remains covered in a tarp.

I've also calculated what ducting and fittings I'm likely to need to extend the ducted heating and cooling in to the ground floor of the extension.  It appears that the heater is a 20kW unit, which has sufficient capacity.  I'm still uncertain about the evaporative cooling's capacity.  I've posted details on the Home One forum to see if anyone can advise me. 

I've also received a quote back from Duo Duct for the heating, and will email my cooling requirements to them tomorrow.

Tomorrow we're going to check out options for storage in the laundry.

Sizing ducted air-conditioning and heating

Tomorrow I'll be investigating the options for new ducted evaporative cooling and ducted gas heating outlets in to the extension.  As part of my homework, I've looked for online calculators to help determine what size units are needed, which I can check against the actual size of the units we have installed.

For evaporative ducted cooling, Braemar provide an online calculator.

For ducted heating, Dual Heating and Air-conditioning have guidelines.

An interesting fact from the Dual Heating and Air-conditioning site is that a home with only ceiling insulation takes 100W per square metre to heat, whereas an energy efficient home take 60W per square metre.  Our extension is 5-star energy rated, so my calculations can be based upon 60W, whereas the older part of the house will take 100W per square metre.

For air-conditioning, the Whirlpool forum (the telecommunications/technology forum, not the fridge company's forum) have FAQ and a library of helpful links.  We'll look into…

Standing on the first floor

This morning we dropped by the site again, and had an impromptu site meeting.

We agreed that the splashback for the kitchen sink will be 100mm of tile, plus 69mm of architrave.  The final height will depend on the height of the benches, which will vary between manufacturers.

Matt also took me through the problem with the plans and the position of a first floor wall.  The bedroom will be 300mm bigger, but the 'retreat' space will be 300mm smaller.  I'm not worried about that.

While there I identified another issue.  Because the ducted evaporative air and heating isn't shown on the plans, there's no allowance for the ducting to run through the structure of the floor, or the walls.  After bouncing some ideas around, Matt has identified some ways of achieving it using the new (not yet built) verandah roof and the false ceiling in the walk-in pantry that should enable us to get around the problem.  Matt recommended that I check out Duo Duct Fittings to see if I can quic…

First Floor floor

Today the underfloor was put in place, on our first floor.  The main hallway was also completely knocked through, from our old one into the new extension, so that for the first time we can stand at the front door and look through the length of the house.  The builders have also started putting in the first floor balustrade above the stairwell.

It is hard to photograph because it was covered by tarps when I arrived quite late in the afternoon.

LED lighting

Updated 29/08/2010.
Updated 15/08/2010.

I'm again looking into LED lighting for our living area. In my heart I want LED lighting. I am concerned that our contingency will be consumed well before then and we won't be able to afford to install it even though it makes economic sense to do so.

We didn't specify it when seeking quotes because I couldn't find mainstream consumer LED downlights because they are relatively new into the mainstream domestic market. However that seems to be changing, and I'm discovered new online sources of information (for example this this forum article and this one too).

Based upon information in the forum, a Google search found some useful links, including the useful guide to LED lights for existing light fittings at The site has an online calculator for the savings that can be accrued from LED lighting compared to halogen downlights; however for new installs it is pretty unlikely anyone would be using halogen downl…

Loose tarp

Thanks to J and J, our excellent neighbours, we were alerted to the tarp on our roof coming loose this afternoon as wind speeds increased and a storm front was approaching. I SMS'ed our builder then went to check the site, and sure enough, found the tarp had blown loose from the ridgeline of the house, leaving our remaining ceiling and walls exposed to the weather.

On the way to the site, Matt (our builder) had called to say he was on his way. I left the site before he arrived, but within 45 minutes of our conversation I received an SMS letting me know that it had been secured. I'm very appreciative of his efforts.

Update 02/08/2010:  Matt checked the tarps again in the evening, and we were both there this morning.  No rain or wind damage during the night, despite the strong winds and heavy rain.