Thursday, 16 February 2012

The new 'Black'

(Well dark grey, actually) Be bold, be daring. This is how to dramatically alter the appearance of your entire home, in just a few hours!

Dawn reveals a distinctly different- looking south face.
The south-facing side of our home was always designed as a heat retaining shield against winter’s icy ravages. Featuring just one window and our front door (well, two doors including the cat’s entrance), it is the ‘un-showy face’ which we want present to the world – or the roadside, at least.

Hmmm, it's quite dark isn't it..?
As a contrast to the other three exterior faces, this wall is clad in an often commercially-used fibre-cement facade called titan panel. It’s durable, has an attractive ‘negative detailing’ between the boards, and its natural colour is a pale sort of cream.

No going back now!
It had always been our intention to eventually paint this wall the same dark grey as we have used on our roof, not just for weather protection and consistency in our colour scheme, but also to help the house recede into the landscape when seen from the road.
We always wanted to make as little visual impact on our surroundings as possible, something which an expanse of pale cream was never going to achieve!  The darker colour will hopefully help retain interior heat as well - this coming winter will be the test.

This shot hopefully illustrates how the darker colour will enable the house to
merge into the landscape a little more. (yes, we know we've missed the top bit -
that's what this weekend is for!)

Monday, 13 February 2012

H 2 Uh-oh

With an enormous project like this, perhaps it’s not too pessimistic to accept that something might go wrong.  Right at the very end of our build, something doesn’t seem to be holding water.

Henry the rooster points out the offending tank
  Some people have been kind enough to tell us that they’ve enjoyed reading about our (here comes that word) ‘journey’ which we began posting about almost a full year ago.  We’re hugely grateful to them but sometimes I wonder if I’ve short-changed anyone who reads this blog.  House builds are surely enormously stressful processes, fraught with unforeseen hazards, costs, relationship break-ups and mental break-downs.  There has been very little drama in our own project – everything seems to have gone ridiculously easily and smoothly for us.  I assumed that the real grief would only surface when we began repaying the principle on our mortgage – and no-one wants to read about that.

However, mere weeks away from final, ultimate completion we could no longer ignore the creeping suspicion that one of our water tanks was losing water – a lot of water. 
As anyone will tell you, it’s been a very disappointing summer.  Barely able to muster more than two sunny days in a row, January has provided enough rainfall to keep the landscape in Wairarapa a lush, glowing green. Lawnmowers everywhere, usually enjoying a long summer break by now, are still being pushed into noisy service every weekend.

We’ve consoled ourselves with the knowledge that all of that rainwater was filling our water tank, and so it was, until our plumber installed our pump and threw the lever which allowed water to flow into both our tanks.  It was shortly afterwards that Rose noticed that the simple equation of one tank-full of water divided into two should equal two half-tanks of water, didn’t seem to be holding true.
Optical illusion, evaporation and a hose accidentally siphoning the water were all considered and discarded.  When we finally started using a measuring stick to ascertain the amount of loss, the plunging levels could no longer allow us to ignore the obvious.

A top view of the full tank

And here's how it looked a few weeks later
 We were upset, of course. The high water table on our land certainly doesn’t need the addition of 22,500 litres, and we’d also unknowingly wasted water which Roger had allowed us to use from his farm supply to top our tank up.  This unwelcome complication also takes us even further from our almost realised dream of actually being able to shower in our own home for the first time in a year. Talk about so close and yet so far!

On the bright side, the plentiful rain this summer means that we are allowed to use the farm supply to replenish some of our loss once the problem is fixed (thank goodness we didn’t pay for a truck-load of water as many people do in summer) and our Plumber is coming tomorrow to fix it.  He’s adamant that it can’t be the tank and that it s more likely to be a loose connection somewhere.

Here’s hoping half our lawn doesn’t have to be dug up to find it!

So we'll be continuing to get our water like this for a little while to come...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Everything and the kitchen sink

Monday was ‘K’ day, and Rose stayed home to witness the grand installation of our new kitchen. But there were side-shows, too.

The extensive renovations we completed on our last home all grew from Rose’s desire to own her ‘dream kitchen’. And it was, leaving an awful lot for the next one to live up to. In fact, despite going through the whole design process with a thorough and accommodating team in Masterton, she seemed to be preparing herself for disappointment – she’d already had her dream kitchen so this could only ever be ‘the other kitchen’.

It doesn't look much like a kitchen yet...

In designing our home the temptation has always been strong to copy what we’ve done before – and why not? If a decision has worked well in the past why re-invent the wheel?
There’s little doubt that our previous kitchen worked wonderfully well – in fact, it possibly sold that house for us, but we felt it was important to make a clean break this time around to avoid ending up with a pale imitation.

...but it doesn't take too long...

...particularly when the sink is lifted into place...

...and bench tops fitted...
The previous colour scheme was dark and mid greys, so this time we went light instead. The gas stove and hob which Rose tracked down is larger than the usual domestic stove, so fortunately we had a lot of space to play with. And this space has been fitted out with as much storage as we could get away with, meaning that we currently have the surreal dilemma of trying to fill all the drawers, rather than find space for everything. But we we’re under no illusions that the law of households abhorring a vacuum will prevail, and we’ll eventually expand to fill even all this space.

...for a brand new kitchen to be born.  The fridge fits - thank goodness!
At a time when many are trying to make ends meet, I have to say that I do feel somewhat materialistic writing about the pros and cons of a brand new kitchen.  As with our previous home, we hope it will become 'the heart of our house' and so therefore is vital to get right.  It may be ‘the other kitchen’, but it looks beautiful and we both love it.

The glass partition is lifted, carefully, into posiiton
Meanwhile, across the hallway, the 2.1m high by 1.6m wide glass partition was being fitted for our shower. Although it isn’t a council regulation (odd, as everything else seems to be) having a stabiliser to keep the glass rigid wasn’t compulsory. However, once lifted into place, the potential flex in the glass sheet quickly convinced Rose to go with the stabiliser arm option. It’s actually quite innocuous, and doesn’t detract from the overall minimalistic appearance we were striving for. The dream of having our own shower for the first time in almost a year comes ever closer…

We'll probably wear less clothes in here once the water is connected.

While this was happening, baleage contractors arrived to take some of our bales (including smiley face) away to a new home. Anyone who’s been to the Waiararpa recently couldn’t help but notice the excess of baleage this year – the unusually damp spring and summer means that there is more of these giant green-wrapped parcels around than there has been in several decades. Naturally, this is also the first season we made our own, and were left with a thousand dollars worth of feed which was unlikely to be wanted by anyone. Fortunately we’ve managed to sell over half, and will hang onto the rest for the time being, confident that someone will want it when winter starts to bite.

Our 'smiley face' is taken away to it's new home, with half of our other bales. 
And finally, Rose wasn’t content simply to be an observer and managed to finish the cupboard unti for the spare bedroom. Now we have somewhere to hang our clothes, protecting them from our plaster dust coated floors, and can finally retire the very tired and bowed hanging rail which graced the shipping container for all those months. We can find our clothes again!

We'll finally be able to see what we're putting on in the morning.
No more unintentional cross-dressing for me!