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Showing posts from January, 2011

LED lighting: what is it like in practice?

Having blogged about our search for LED lighting, it is time for some photos of them in operation.  Leading up to moving in, I was quite concerned about supply and the quality of their light.  We had trialled one Crompton LED light and been able to compare it against others in two houses with LED, halogen and CFL downlights.  Now we have them and use them, I think they are excellent.

We have 12 in the living area, in three rows of four.  Each row is on its own switch.  The row against the wall, which is also above the TV, is on a dimmer.

When watching TV and movies, we sit with just the row against the wall on, dimmed quite low.  We have also sat with just one other row on, and to date, for a long period not used them all at once.  The light is a warm white, not harsh and clinical like others I have seen and read about. However they are bright and I recommend a dimmer so that you can adjust them to a comfortable level for the use of the room at any one time (but note that not all LED …

Foxtel and Optus reconnected

We had Foxtel and Optus reconnections in the early afternoon.  Both companies gave us the usual half-day window, and called just before to let us know they were on the way.

Optus has done away with the Motorola Surfboard cable modems and we had bought the 'EMTA' from our old house.  What I did forget is that the EMTA remembers settings and as happened in July when we moved to our rental house, our wireless router could not get Internet access because the EMTA remembered settings from the laptop it was first plugged in to, to test the connection. The EMTA provides both cable Internet and telephone access (via VOIP).

After several hours playing with settings on the computer and wireless router, I remembered the problem and solution.  I removed the EMTA's battery then unplugged its power cable, then plugged the Ethernet cable into the wireless router, and restarted the EMTA. A few minutes later I had wireless Internet.

It is a shame that Optus does not provide basic ins…

Moving Day

Moving Day was a long day.  We used Mini Moversagain, and they arrived at 7.15am. About six hours later they had unloaded and left; leaving us with rooms full of boxes and days of unpacking to sort it all out.  Again with Mini Movers there were no breakages or damages that we have found, although we had a close call with a drawer sliding out and falling on to the concrete.  Fortunately there was not even a mark on it.

Including about 30 boxes and wrapping paper, the move cost about $1,100.

While we were packing at our rental place, Stegbar installed our ensuite shower screen. Unfortunately the mirror they were also to fit was the wrong size and there will be a week delay before a replacement is available.  When accepting the quotation I had questioned the size because it differed from that in our quote by Premium, however the salesperson assured me he had double checked and it was right.  Turns out he was not.

In the early afternoon we received our Optus and Foxtel reconnections


148 pieces of glass

At the end of another big day in the house, we assembled our chandelier. According to Matt Blatt, it is a replica Angelo Mangiarotti Giogali Chandelier, originally designed in 1967. What is even more interesting is that during his illustrious career he apparently taught at the South Australian Institute of Technology and the University of Adelaide in 1976 - places with close associations to my family.

We've hung the chandelier in our dining space, where we plan to, eventually, have an eight seater square dining table.    There are also four LED downlights around the chandelier for everyday lighting - although with the energy efficient globes we've used in the chandelier there's practically no difference in the total consumption.

And yes, there are 148 pieces of glass that came individually wrapped.  We unwrapped and hung them tonight.  Changing a light globe will be tedious - lets hope those lights live up to their manufacturers claims.

31/01/2011 Update: Here is a photo of…

Three days until moving day

Today the building team commenced their blitz, making substantial progress towards completion.

The painters were there early, undertaking some touch ups and also painting some new carpentry such as around the front door and front french doors.  They also started on a window they had missed before, perhaps confused about whether it was in or out of the contract because it was on the interface between the old and the new house.

Our electrician, Mark, was there early and has come close to finishing with a days concerted effort.  He has fitted all our lights and the ensuite exhaust fan.  To keep up with him I made two trips for lights; the first to Big W at Westfield Southland for CFL globes in our outdoor lights and later to Bunnings for interior globes.   I have eight more standard bayonet fitting lights to buy.  In all places where lights will be on for long periods I have opted for the lowest wattage lighting solution I can find.  Generally they are LEDs, which we have used in the mai…

Smartstrand (IQ150) carpet laid upstairs

Late this morning our carpets were laid and I am pleased to say that our carpet saga has come to what seems to be a happy conclusion.

Our builder, Matt, was on site mid morning vacuuming the upstairs floor for us to remove as much dust as possible before the carpet was laid.

Harvey Norman Floorings subcontractor turned up before lunchtime, about 45 minutes ahead of schedule, and finished within a few hours. 

To lay the carpet, the doors to our robe, linen cupboard and bedroom had to be removed.  They cannot be put back because of the thickness of the carpet, so I will ask Matt to plane a few millimetres off the bottom of each so we can rehang them.

When laid, the carpet is very pilly.  We went to our rental place to collect the vacuum, and it took about 30 to 45 minutes to vacuum it all up.  With another coat being put on our downstairs floorboards and our stairs tomorrow, we were careful to sweep and vacuum the stairs to remove as many loose fibres as possible.

We were left with a …

Update on polishing the floors and stairs

About lunchtime today I was painting window frames when our builder's floor sanding and polishing contractor turned up.  We've had chats over the last few days, and late yesterday he applied the first coat of polish.

I had been concerned that he was running behind because at about 3pm yesterday he hadn't started sanding the stairs at all.  He had sanded the floors several times.  However there was no sign he was about to get ready to apply the semi-gloss polish.

I went inside today to have a look, and could see that he's done an excellent job. In particular, the stairs look fantastic.

A light sand and second coat should have been applied this afternoon, then another Thursday afternoon.  If that happens, with protective blankets across the floors we will be ready for the carpets on Friday.

Replica furniture

We've been keeping an eye on replica furniture suppliers for bar stools, lounge chairs and tables.  As we've posted before, we used one supplier, Matt Blatt, to purchase our dining room feature light, and we've considered them for the bar stools.

Since them we've found out how to purchase directly from China.  That carries some high risk, and massive savings, particularly if we were to ship them using China Post and be prepared for slow delivery (Australia Post has a joint venture with China Post).

I'm also looking around for mid and low level suppliers - the ones that don't take out large ads in glossy home and lifestyle magazines.  Close to home, we've spotted Relaxhouse Modern Furniture on Centre Dandenong Road.  Some further Googling and following links found me at Warehouse Direct AU on eBay.  Their location is also Cheltenham and their stock and pricing incredibly similar to Relaxhouse - so much so that I suspect they are the same people.

An eBay sear…

Washing line

John joined me today, with his hammer drill, to help put up our washing line in its new place.  Before our renovation and extension, it was over against our north western fence, behind the shed before it was knocked down. In that spot it was out of sight of the house, and received a breeze, but it was shaded in the hottest part of the day by the fence it was against.

When preparing for the shed to be knocked down, we had slabs poured for two garden sheds and an extra slab poured for the washing line.  We put it against our western boundary in a place that received the northern and western sun.  The neighbours living room wall is on the boundary, which gives us a handy spot to mount the line and should reflect some heat that will help dry our washing.

In its new spot, it is between the vegetable patch and chicken run.  Minor changes may be required to those places now so that the washing does not get dirty or caught on chicken wire.

Floors not ready until Saturday

We found out today that the sanding of the floors is taking much longer than expected.  The revised schedule if for them to be finished on Saturday, nine days after they started.  As of today, the sanding continues with finer grades.

As a result, this Wednesdays showerscreen installation has been moved back to next week, but the carpets should be ok for Friday.  The floor boards will be covered over to enable access by Harvey Norman Flooring, and the final coat applied when the carpet layers have left.

How to reduce an overgrown lawn to stubble in less than three hours

During the renovation our lawnmower has been at our rental house. Without regular mowing a large part of our garden and former lawn quickly became overgrown (perhaps due to alternating warmth and rain for the last six months as the drought has broken).  Besides joking with our favourite and tolerant neighbours, and one feeble attempt with two different line trimmers to slash it back, I have let it go untamed.  Access has been complicated for a while with construction materials and waste along the edge, but our builder actually removed most of it about two months ago....

We are scheduled to move back in next week, so today I make one serious attempt to remove the problem.  Our fear has been of snakes and mice, particularly if it died back to a tangle of dead grass in February and March.  We noted that our chicken was happily walking through it, so snakes do not seem to be a problem right now.

After spending the morning searching for reasonably priced Blundstone steel cap boots to replac…

Temporary fix for rotting window frame

A week ago I spoke to our Builder, Matt, about replacing rotten timber in one of our old window frames, as a temporary fix.  This week his chippies cut out the worst timber and replaced it, and used wood putty to fill some smaller gaps.

We realise it isn't a great solution, but it is much cheaper than a new window.  In a former house of ours, keeping similar fixes well covered in layers of paint last about five years.  Lets hope for a similar life from these, once sanded back and with a few layers of paint.

Harvey Norman carpets confirmed for next Friday

We called Harvey Norman Flooring during the week and confirmed that they still have us scheduled to lay our IQ150 Smartstrand carpet upstairs next Friday.  They wouldn't confirm an arrival time - instead if they don't call us the day before we have to call them late in the afternoon to find out when it might be.

Given our history with them I'll be watching their work carefully and I will keep the blog updated.

Floor sanding

Today the preparation work has commenced for sanding and polishing our timber floors.  It will probably take four days or thereabouts, with no access to the house for that time.

Pantry door

Our Gainsborough push plates have been fitted to our two-way pantry door.  With the new hinges and some planing, the door now swings well.  It isn't 'free' swinging because the hinges are quite stiff with their rather complex two way mechanism. However, the door will be a good feature, making entry and exiting the pantry easy when our hands are full.

Side gate

Our new side gate was installed today.  We've gone for a plain gate, and we'll paint it for consistency with our front fence.  I like its position - we can clearly see if from our kitchen window should someone use it, or look over it.

2011 work commences

The building team started back on our project today.  The door handles have been installed again, including the push plates on the 'barn door' (or 'saloon door' - a door that swings two ways) of our pantry.

Perhaps more importantly, it looks like the stain from the water leak has been removed at its worst point.  The floor boards were left to dry out over the Christmas - New Year break.  The hot weather of the last few weeks will have helped with that.

There's a container of deck stain remover out the front of the house, so I am wondering if it has been used to remove the quite dark stain at one of the joins in the timber floor boards?  I'll ask when I next see our builder.

They are also undertake a general site clean up, with a large skip in the driveway being filled with construction waste.

Our removalist is booked for 27th January.  We've gone with Mini Movers again, after such a great experience with them last July when we moved out.

Where we started

We found some photos of our house from before we moved in - when the previous owner was still living there.  With his permission we took some photos - and they've been helpful to remind us of how far we've come.

Have a look at our About page to see the full range of interior and exterior photos, from when we bought the house (2006), and the day we moved out to start the renovation (2010).

Fence progress

Over the last two days we've removed almost all the blue trim, replacing it with the Colorbond "windspray" grey.  The white paling fence at the verandah looks good now it is finished.

Over the coming weeks (or maybe months) we'll paint the rest of the palings white.  However the priority is to paint the window frames on the rest of the un-renovated parts of the house because they are in poor condition.

4th January 2011 update: I stayed away from work today, with a cold, but continued painting (sneezing and coughing isn't a barrier to painting).  We made a lot more progress.

Our builder, Matt, also dropped by unexpectedly.  We had a look at the worst window frame.  Matt will replace the rotting timber window sill, to save us spending an estimated $1,500 on replacing the whole window. The temporary fix should give us a few more years from the window.

Front fence - what colour?

Yesterday I sanded back the section of fence across the end of our verandah, and painted its blue trim in Colorbond "Windspray" to match the roof, gutters and posts on the house.  With only one coat, it is a major improvement on the blue.

I can't remember why we originally chose a blue trim - perhaps we just liked the colour, and with the original cream brick (or was it blonde brick?) it didn't really matter.

Even though it isn't a great design feature, the fence along the driveway is important.  Our front garden is an important play area, with several large shady trees, and the fence helps contain the children safely within the space.  And even more importantly, about one child is run over in a driveway every day in Australia (CARRSQ, 2002), typically by a family member. A home design that prevents driveway access by children is a recommended preventative measure.

We'll paint the palings of the section across the verandah white, but now the question remains a…