Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry xmas, etc!

phew, seems like the last couple of weeks just flew by. Finished up work for the year, which means we've got a few weeks free to tidy up the house, try and start on some landscaping etc.

Anyway just before xmas we submitted our 90 day inspection report, along with a copy of the invoice the concreter gave us - and a few days ago we received a cheque from Metricon covering the replacement of one cracked footpath bay. Nice to see the builder coming good on reimbursing us for the cost of that one as promised! We haven't heard anything yet about getting the 90 day inspection items done, but the office is probably shut for a few weeks so I imagine we won't hear back until end of January. Until then, the most annoying thing is putting up with a recalcitrant garage door that opens, but rarely closes properly, grinding away and getting stuck. Still cursing the cack-handed data wiring zombies that didn't connect the antenna and gave me crappy unsecured data jacks that fall into the wall cavity.

We've also had heaps of furniture arriving from Bay Leather Republic and King Furniture - and for anyone with a bit of spare cash around, the current King Furniture post xmas sale is pretty good, for what it's worth. You gets what you pays for. I'd love to get more King furniture but Tina says I've spent enough there and we've run out of room for any more of their designs. Then again, I reckon I could just about squeeze a chaise lounge into the laundry...

On that note - we've got a sofa to give away for free if anyone wants it, it's a two seater fabric sofa with black & white stripes, couple of coffee stains, comes with a brown suede type cover. Erm... maybe good for the shed, or if you're a hard-up student, or just want a free sofa. It's free, remember! Pickup from us in Melb eastern suburbs. If you want it, put your email address in the comment section below and we'll get in touch with you.

And with xmas over, it's time to keep the credit cards burning. Erm... towels, pillows, blurays, and the impulse buy of the day was a Jura superautomatica Ena coffee machine. Just as a hint to anyone considering coffee machines, in general we've not had good experiences with Sunbeam stuff - cheaply made not to last it seems and we've been through 2 of them. Was considering a Saeco, but my boss has had trouble with 2 of them. We did a housesit with a place that had a top-end Jura that worked brilliantly, so we thought this one might be good - house ain't a home without a coffee machine! And the silver-white colour matches our kitchen perfectly!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

More DIY shelves - laundry cupboard and pantry

Figured while I was going about making shelves, I'd add another one to the laundry cupboard and pantry. With the tall 2.7m ceilings, there's a huge amount of empty space above the standard 4 shelves the builder provides. To be honest, if we had thought about this we would've got the builder to add another 1 or 2 shelves, I'm sure it wouldn't cost too much extra - handy hint for anyone building with taller ceilings! Get tall doors, maybe raise your robe fitoffs, maybe add in extra shelves.

As it is, it costs about $10 per shelf in materials, so it's not that much anyway, just time and tools to make. This is the laundry cupboard, full of junk. The starserve is up above the top shelf, as well as all the data fitoffs, as well as my adsl modem router.

I simply measured the width of the shelf and cut some melamine to suit, and cut up a couple of additional bits of melamine for end supports. This shelf, just like the shoe shelves, simply sit on top of the existing shelf so if we ever want to remove them in future, just lift them out.

End result, another shelf above the top shelf in the laundry cupboard. I won't be putting anything heavy up here, but it's good to have the extra storage. Did exactly the same for the pantry.

We have our 3 month maintenance coming up soon, so this weekend we're going through the house to check the operation of all the doors, windows, checking cornices and other joins for cracks etc. We've been keeping a list ever since handover, so this we'll submit next week.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

DIY: Additional shelving in cupboard

With the floors pretty much done, and an itch to go spend yet more money at the Bunnings conglomerate, I figured it would be time to give Tina a little present and give her the shoe cupboard she's always wanted :)

We already have a huge walk-in linen cupboard in the laundry and another one upstairs, so the one in front of the powder room at the bottom of the stairs would be ideal to convert to a shoe cupboard. We don't wear outdoor shoes inside, so this is the best location near the front door and internal garage access door for swapping over shoes.

Things needed: Measuring tape, pencil/marker, drop-saw (or jigsaw, circular saw, hand saw if that's all you have access to), eye and hearing protection, glue, nails or screws.

Anyway the standard linen cupboard has 4 shelves in it. They're about 126cm wide and 35cm deep, but the doors are slightly narrower. If you wanted to go all out, you'd figure out how to remove the shelves (peel off the little white stick-on dots hiding the screws, undo everything etc etc) but since the additional shelves would only hold a few pairs of shoes, I decided to make mini-shelves that would rest on the original shelves at each end.

You can buy melamine boards in various lengths & widths, and fortunately found some in 1200x300mm which was ideal for what I needed.

So we got 4 of those planks and a spare one to cut down into supports.

And finally reassembled everything - a little tricky without removing the original shelves, but not too hard. Held together with wood glue and nails, plenty strong enough for shoes.

And the final result? Linen cupboard converted to shoe cupboard. Plenty of space! The downlight positioned just in front of this cupboard lights it up perfectly.

Really didn't take much time - about 10 minutes to measure, 10 minutes to cut, 30 minutes to assemble and install. Difficulty 3/10 - hardest part is measuring and figuring out how to construct your shelves - whether they stand on top of the existing shelves like I've done (recommended for light loads), or whether you want them fixed like the original shelves.

Whle there, we also picked up a sample of some simple white quad to install around our floor, so if it's wide enough to cover all the gaps, we might start on that next weekend.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nolan "On Display" video

Found this while surfing through random videos of people playing with their Jack Russells on youtube - the Nolan display home (I think it was in Point Cook?) featured on "On Display". We never got to see this house in the flesh as it closed down before we even throught about building a house, so it's interesting to check out the video. Some of the pics from this house are also used on the website.

However, we've got to say - normally the metricon display homes are beautifully decorated - however this one has some truly shocking colour schemes. Anyway, watch for yourself and make up your own mind!

Also had a lovely afternoon at a neighbour's house who invited a few of the residents on the street over for a Christmas afternoon tea. Was really good to meet some of our neighbours who we've not met before, and all of them have said what a good street it is - couldn't agree more!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

DIY grout sealing

So with the weather forecast being pretty dire this weekend, I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and get the floating floor finished - only had to do a little finishing off in the study, kitchen and pantry, but the last fiddly bits took me forever to plan, measure, measure, cut, swear because it didn't fit, measure, cut again, and finally put it in properly. Anyway no photos because it's a mess and I can't be bothered cleaning up.

However, here's some photos we took earlier of sealing our tiles. Most people know the pain of scrubbing out mouldy areas of grout in showers, and while sealing the grout won't eliminate the problem, it should make it less of a problem.

The issue is that water penetrates grout, stagnates and forms the ideal breeding condition for mould. Sealing the grout essentially aims to provide a hydrophobic (water repelling) barrier, to prevent the water getting in.

So, this is what you need to get started: grout sealer (try your local hardware or tile store), some paper towels, fine brushes, a plastic tub, gloves and eye protection. Electric shaver is optional.

On the instructions for the grout sealer, our one said to spray it over the grout and use paper towels to mop up the excess. We thought a much more precise and efficient way to apply it would be to spray the sealer into the plastic tub, then paint it on using the brushes.

The paper towels are used in case any drips go onto the tiles. With doing walls, you can't use too much sealer as it'll drip.

However, doing floor grout you can put a lot more sealer on, as it'll pool in the grout line.

Also, if you've been using your shower, you should let it dry out for 48 hours before sealing it, and not use it for 24 hours after sealing it. We also did 2 coats in the shower to give the sealer as much coverage as possible.

This is a pretty simple DIY, 1/10 for difficulty. Just takes a bit of time and patience to do a neat job. You might need to redo it every 4-5 years or so depending on how you use your shower.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Concrete finished

OK, so this was all done last Friday - the footpath and crossover concrete was poured, and the guys were back to expose the aggregate. Here you see a bloke with his high-pressure washer spraying off the top layer of the driveway.

And a close-up view - concrete still very dark with high water content.

Unfortunately the colour didn't stay as dark after the concrete had dried out - this is 4 days later. A bit of a pity as I liked the very dark look it had in the earlier photo!

After all the aggregate was exposed, the driveway was acid etched, sealed, and had expansion saw cuts made. Hopefully we'll be able to drive over the crossover tomorrow! Think I might get a quote on getting the remaining footpath replaced, as it looks pretty crappy next to the brand new concrete.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Concreting day two

So at the end of Wednesday, we had the driveway all formed up, plus the concreting behind the garage plumbed in for two additional drains and formwork.

This morning, starting nice and early as usual, the rear concreting was done in about 90 minutes. It's a colour-through charcoal grey. Along the side near the fence is about a foot of land, will eventually get around to putting in some weed matting and probably white stones there.

Standing in the garage looking out of the house, this is the driveway. It will be an exposed aggregate, 80:20 mix of black and white stones. Because of the slight slope from the street to the garage, there's a stainless steel grate plumed into stormwater drainage. There's also a great big footprint you can see on the left side near the portico, but our concreter says not to worry - they'll be back tomorrow to wash off the top layer of concrete to expose the aggregate and that footprint will come off as well - sure hope so! Anyway, I also got a year older today, certainly doesn't have the excitement it used to when you were 18 to 21, but gots lots of concrete as a birthday present - quite happy with that!

Finally, a big chunk of footpath has been removed as well as the old original crossover. If the weather is kind tomorrow, we'll have the crossover formwork inspected by council and poured as well!

Also got a call from Bay Leather Republic saying our theatre recliner will be delivered on Saturday.... at 6:45am! Can always go back to bed after that.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Driveway and concreting preparation

Got woken up today by some loud trucks pulling up outside; turns out it was our concreting contractor appearing unexpectedly - I guess 8 weeks delay isn't too bad.

Anyway, we're in the process of getting a double sized crossover, double sized aggregate driveway, and concreting behind the garage to the rear of the house. Not sure when it'll be all finished, but at least it's starting!

Also had the real estate agents (who sold us the old house) turn up to give a valuation on the property. One day (if we ever have a positive account in our bank balance again), we wouldn't mind redeveloping another plot of land; the only problem is local prices have gone totally wild and finding a well-priced plot to redevelop is getting very difficult - what interest rate rise??


Saturday, November 13, 2010

DIY: Obscuring/frosting windows

When we were specifiying our house, most of the upstairs bedroom windows had to be obscured up to 1800mm or so, so that you couldn't look into the neighbour's windows or backyards. It cost more, and that's because the actual glass is replaced by special obscured glazing. Part of Rescode, so there's no way to get around it. But our powder room and ensuite windows are clear, meaning we can see out - and people could see in. The solution to this issue then, is to add frosting/obscuring film, so that looking in or out isn't possible.

For a DIY, this is about a 7/10 for difficulty - it's easy to do, hard to do well. Anyway, what you'll need is some obscure/frosted film, Bunnings may have it, or you may be able to buy it from a window tinting place. Also some scissors, a sharp blade, a measuring tape, and ideally a helper.

Anyway, Step One: Clean your windows thoroughly, scrape off any excess silicon holding the glass in, and make sure it's fully dry. I also got a little step stool to help clean the top of the window.

Step Two: Apply the film to the window. First measure the window size, and add a few centimetres all around as you won't be able to position the film exactly spot on. Peel away the first 20cm or so of the backing paper, and with a helper, position the film so that it entire covers the glass area. Press down with your fingers to get it to stick to the window. If it's off centre, you can pull it off and re-apply, I did this many times.

Step Three: Once you've applied the film reasonable well, use your fingers or a plastic card to push out any air bubbles.

Step Four: Use your sharp blade to trim away the excess, using the window frame as your guide. I screwed this up on one window, trimming too far away from the window frame, so I'll have to redo the window later on.

And that's pretty much it - frosted windows for privacy.

So, if you have any windows that you want obscured, you could give this a go. The film shouldn't cost any more than about $35/sqm, and the worst that can go wrong is that you screw up applying or trimming the film, and you have to start again.

Other things we did today? We were meant to pick up a couple of almost-new King Furniture couches from a private seller, but she reneged on our deal despite a deposit left and a written contract. Pretty sad, poor behaviour. I won't name names, but if someone with a name similar to "w3ndy gr4nt" from a suburb similar to "k3ilor 3ast" wants to do business, don't trust her one bit. Anyway, we ended up spending a small fortune today, what with the King Furniture floorstock clearance sale yielding a brilliant find for our sitting room, and a good deal at Bay Leather Republic for electric home theatre recliners in the softest leather in the world - looks like we won't be spending this Christmas squatting on the floor at least!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Unrelated: Why Micro$oft still sucks

So, finally moved our bigscreen plasma from mum's place into its rightful position in the family room, hook up the xbox360, and... nothing.

Well, not nothing, but lots of this:

Yep, the shining example of Microsoft product development and hardware testing. My 360 is rooted, and not for the first time - this problem came up a couple of years ago and I had it "repaired", and now it's happened again. Checking my xbox live account, turns out the warranty expired in Jan 2009, despite the repair being done within the warranty period.

No wonder I've hardly touched the 360 - I've also got a Playstation3 which is superior in pretty much every way - free online play, worldwide game compatibility, better interface, builtin wireless, Bluray, PlayTV, easily changeable hard drives. I'd be quite happy to burn the xbox360 except I've got a lot of Guitar Hero/Rock Band hardware on the 360 format, and with xmas at our place this year, all the cousins will want to rock on.

So, for all you people looking to buy a game console, STAY AWAY FROM THE 360! It's unreliable and you have to fork out more money each year for the assumed pleasure of online gaming. Buy a Playstation3, Wii, a pack of cards, a blackboard and chalk, some mouldy cheese, all these options will give you more gaming pleasure and will certainly last longer than any Microsoft product.

On that note, now that we've got broadband going again, I was in the market for a new computer, and it ain't going to be powered by Micro$h!t, that's for sure. And what am I going to do with my stuffed xbox360? Something I should've done a long time ago - I'll take it to a console specialist, get it repaired, and modchip it like mad so I can play all my *cough* "backed up" games. Yeah, that'll show 'em.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Internet connection fixed in record time, and furniture sneak preview!

Well, it's been a surprisingly good experience getting hooked up to broadband. I wanted a TPG connection as they seem to have the best deals currently, but our exchange is full for TPG. So the next best deal seemed to be with iinet. I signed up with them a couple of weeks ago and was told up to 20 working days for connection, turned out to be about 8 working days.

The day after connection, I bought a new ADSL2+ modem router, and nothing happened. Lodged a fault report, the next business day (Monday) was called to arrange a technician inspection. That happened on a Tuesday, and by Wednesday (today) Telstra had been onsite to fix the problem. Plugged in my modem, and everything's great! Very good customer service by iinet, they also called me today to confirm they think everything had been fixed, and to callback if it hadn't. If only all companies looked after their customers this well, there'd be a lot more satisfied customers out there!

Anyway, the driveway/crossover which had been scheduled for tomorrow has been delayed... again... which make it about 6 consecutive weeks of delays. Some of it is due to the weather, and some of it is due to astrological improbability (which means there's no reason given, we just getting delayed). I'm told the driveway will definitely happen next week - in tradesman terms, definitely has the same meaning as probably not.

So we've been keeping ourselves busy spending lots of money ordering furniture. This little beauty should hopefully be in the house this weekend - King Furniture's Opera, a 2 and a 3 seater in black leather for the sitting room, probably.

Personally, I'm a closet modern furniture buff - think Eames, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe etc. One day I'll get around to posting pics of some of the modernist chairs we have and getting into some of the details about them, and no doubt that's when we'll hear the sounds of internet browsers been closed and people going off to watch OK Go and trained dogs. Anyway, the original idea was to get a couple of Barcelona style chairs for the sitting room as they look incredible - unfortunately all the replicas we've sat on have been pretty uncomfortable. The Opera is a good choice for a sitting room - it has a relatively low back, allowing interaction all around the furniture, but the low back means it's not great for lounging around or watching TV. Good for chatting, and I also plan to spend a lot of time on my back lying across the 3-seater, reading many trashy SF novels the size of a phone book. The design of the Opera is great too - simple, clean lines are a defining feature of Modernism, and will never date. I mean, how many 1970s' puffy sofas in green floral fabric do you see on eBay for $0.99? And did I say how good the leather is? We also have other King Furniture on the way, maybe another sneak peek another day.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kitchen: floating floor installation, and ADSL investigation

So after reporting to iinet on Friday night that my broadband wasn't working, I was called yesterday morning to schedule an appointment sometime today on my day off - the technician came around 10:30, tested the line and determined that there's a fault somewhere up the line. He called Telstra, and apparently it'll all be fixed up tomorrow! Kind of surprised to see how fast things are getting fixed - so far, big thumbs up to iinet for their customer support. Hoping to be on proper ADSL2+ by tomorrow night!

Spent the rest of the day preparing and laying the flooring in the kitchen. After removing all the plaster lumps and filling in holes in the slab, laid down the underlay/moisture barrier.

Few hours later, kitchen flooring is done. The only parts I'm leaving for later are the small gaps where I have to cut boards lengthways to slot them in, hoping to have them all fixed up this weekend.

Nice to finally have the concrete slab covered up, the amount of dust coming up all the time was driving us insane - couldn't keep anything clean!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Floating floors, day...?

Did a bit more flooring since the last post - finished off the study on Cup Day.

We salvaged the temporary front door (it was going to be thrown away anyway!) and stuck a couple of trestle legs underneath it to turn it into our new study table. Not sure if we'll paint it, vinyl wrap it or do something else, it's a bit rough at the moment but looks nice and is huge!

Nearly finished the entry and hallway, and there's a few fiddly bits left under the stairs and towards the powder room and laundry.

Will need to find my jigsaw for some complex cuts near doorways, and re-arrange my dropsaw to do lengthway cuts.

Also finally got my iinet ADSL2+ connection established - bought a brand new ADSL router, and... well, nothing works. Lodged a fault report with iinet who will then take it up with Telstra if it's a Telstra wiring error. However, if there's a fault in the wiring internally, then it's yet one more stuffup to fix up. Unfortunately I think we got the worst data cablers in the world to do our house, with the antenna not connected to starserve and the data plugs not correctly attached - they all "fall in" to the wall cavity when I try to plug in a data cable. Meh. Anyway, should it turn out to be a problem with the internal wiring, I'll get it fixed up and send the bill to Metricon, who can then get the idiot cablers who stuffed it up in the first place to reimburse my costs.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Floating floor installation Day 2, more pain and suffering but we're getting there.

Today I completed about 60% of the sitting room floor before lunch while Tina prepared the family room for installation; removing all plaster lumps, vacuuming and underlay. We then started on the family room after lunch.

Before: Family room cleared of all furniture (of course), slab as clean as possible. If you look closely out the window, you can just see the head of Mr Meyer, our lemon tree - despite our poor track record of keeping plants alive, Mr Meyer seems to be thriving even in the constant rain we've had the last few days.

Next picture, about halfway done with the family room. The complicated thing here is that we started the entry and hallway before the family room, and we want the boards to line up. This involved lots of measuring and calculating, and allow 15.9cm of space before laying the first full board in the family room. Once the boards here meet up with the hallway boards, I'll go back and trim a line of boards to fit against the wall.

Essential tools for floating floor installation: Hammer, pull bar, rubber mallet, tapping block, spacer blocks, pencil, ruler, measuring tape, a bigger hammer when you realise you should've spent more than $3.99 on the first hammer which weighs as much as a banana and is about as effective. Plus a few bandaids for those scraped knuckles, and lots of swearing when you accidently bang your rubber mallet against the wall and it leaves a big black scar that you'll have to come and patch/repaint later. Or just pay someone else to deal with the pain and suffering of installing a floor. But I figure we've come this far, we might as well push on until it's all done - it's like watching a bad movie, thinking you should walk out but there's only 20 more minutes to go.

Finally, the end result, family room pretty much all done, but where it extends into the hallway at the bottom of the picture not yet done.

Pretty happy with how things are going so far, but the complicated part really starts tomorrow where I have to make sure the family room floorboards are perfectly parallel with the hallway flooring. Plus doing the study with the double cavity doors - I think I'll have to put a 3mm expansion gap filled with cork, caulk or an expansion joint, depending on how closely we can cut and lay the flooring.

I've also discovered a little dip in the floor, right near the entrance door - d'oh! I think I'll put a potplant or something over it to stop visitors walking on it and noticing the defect. High tech solution, right?


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flooring update: Floating floor installation Day 1

Been a busy week, so not much time for blog posts. Tina's brother made a surprise visit from the UK, so spent most of the week eating out and stuffing our faces. Anyway, we made up for all that indulgence during the first couple of days of the Melbourne Cup long weekend, getting started on our floor installation!

The delivery of 130sqm of flooring and underlay was scheduled for Saturday, but ended up arriving Friday afternoon instead. We measured up the ground floor, and it came to 122.5sqm - but decided to order a bit more to allow for offcuts, excess etc - always a good idea!

Now, at this early stage of the post I figure it's a good idea to make this disclaimer: installing floating floors is difficult, time-consuming and back-breaking labour! Don't believe the salespeople when they say anyone can do it with a few simple tools in half an hour, it ain't true! While we have decided to install our own floating floor, I'm certainly not recommending everyone reading this blog to give it a shot unless you have the required tools, a lot of time, forgiving neighbours who don't mind 8 hours of power-tool usage, and a spare labourer or two, this is NOT a one-person job! On that note, Tina has done a superb job as my unpaid labourer, preparing floors, taping underlay and moving lots of floorboards around - gutsy!

Anyway, getting back to the story, Friday and Saturday was set aside for preparation. As one of my uni lecturers used to say - Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance! Lots of lumps of plaster and other junk was left on our slab, so it took a few hours going around on hands & knees with a hammer & chisel, chipping off all the lumps. Our slab was pretty flat - ideally you don't want any more than 3mm variation from flat over a 2m run. We then swept and vacuumed the slab in preparation for the underlay.

The underlay is 3mm foam with attached plastic membrane - important if you're laying a floating floor on concrete, to prevent moisture building up and warping the boards. You can lay floating floors directly over old floorboards, vinyl tiles, tiles, concrete, providing the foundation is stable and not too uneven. We taped over all the joins with duct tape. The underlay runs at 90 degrees to the direction of the floorboards.

The first row we laid along the long side of the entrance. The little black blocks are spacer to maintain approx 10mm gap between the floorboards and the skirting to allow for expansion and contraction of the boards. We'll cover up the gaps later with some flat bead/quad. The brand we chose for floorboards was Tarkett, using their "clicky-locky" system, which is actually really painful to work with, if you follow their instructions! Their idea of an easy installation is to lay an entire line of boards, then lift & click it into the previous line of boards. Easy to do, if you have 2 boards - impossible if you have a long line of boards 4 or more! To solve this installation problem, I decided to grind off the end tongue of every second board, that way we could install 2 boards at a time and tap them together.

We then just kept adding rows - we staggered the start of each row by approx 1/3 or 1/2 of a board. With the random design of our floorboards, keeping the joins consistent isn't necessary - good for us! When it comes to placing the boards in the kitchen, we'll use wood-glue to seal up the joins during placement to minimise problems of water spillage.

Finally we decided to wrap things up around 8pm (local laws state no power-tool usage after 8pm, or before 9am) and I figured I'd annoyed the neighbours enough. Plus today was Halloween - saw lots of kids walking up & down the street, but probably scared off by the noise my drop-saw was making! Luckily for us too, our neighbours dropped in for a stickybeak this afternoon and loaned us a circular saw - thanks Anthony & Suzanne!

So, this is the end result for about 6 hours of floating floor installation by a couple of inexperience n00bs to DIY flooring. My parents dropped by and were impressed so far - certainly better than the dusty concrete slab we were putting up with before! Essentially we've got the entry done, and hoping to complete the sitting room and study tomorrow now that we're getting the hang of things!

Just to repeat - installing floating floors isn't easy or simple! We slept for 12 hours last night exhausted, and that was only after slab preparation and the first 2 rows of floorboards. Will probably get the same amount of sleep tonight as there's another big day ahead tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who have ordered our soft-closing door dampers from! We're about halfway through our initial order of door closers and hope everyone is having as good results as we have experienced!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

so.... here it is - tim-and-tina's soft door closers now available!

phew, what a weekend! We ordered flooring (yay!) and a lounge (finally!), sealed the grout in the bathroom, but more importantly, took another video with another example of how the door dampers (soft closers) work, and how you install them!

Next video - an example of a door damper freshly installed in mum's kitchen, while she was still cooking!

Want one (or two, or fifty?) Go to our new website and check out the detail about our soft-closing door dampers there!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Tim and Tina's first video blog!

So, due to totally underwhelming demand (no-one asked for it!), here's our first video blog entry! Though of course, Tina (my long suffering silent partner in this whole blogging thing that has gone on way longer than intended) refuses to be in the video or say anything. What's that whole thing about hearing your own voice on a video, surely I don't sound like that...

... anyway, here's a short walkthrough of the kitchen area. My video smarts are pretty dull, so it was recorded on an ipod nano, not edited in any way. I tried it on my iPhone but because it records in HD, 2 minutes of video equals 200mb of data which is not feasible on our current wireless internet plan (another reason we need unlimited ADSL!)

Have a peek at our kitchen, and if you're after our special soft closing mechanisms - a little project I've been working on for the last few weeks - stay tuned on this blog for more details on how you can order them too!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fence replaced, telstra connection?

Our long-suffering neighbours will be glad to find the fence replaced - because the garage was being built 150mm inside our boundary, the existing old fence had to be pulled down for the slab & bricking to be done in the area. The new section of fence is about 10m long, and has a mini retaining wall section in our side of the boundary, as there was about 30cm of site cut in the garage slab area. On the left side of the pic, you can see the rear roller door, plus an extra water tap added. The plan is to concrete this rear section all the way to the back of the house, to allow for extra car parking/washing plus a shed.

And I've been puzzling over this for a while... probably want to set up an unlimited ADSL2+ connection to the house, and I'm not even sure we have a phone line connected to the exchange. We have the standard 2 internal phone points, and we do have a Telstra box mounted near our gas meter with a conduit running into it... plus all these extra wires hanging out the side of the house. I know one of the black cables is a standard coax lead-in for cable internet (or Foxtel) as we added a lead-in as an electrical upgrade. The white one looks suspiciously like a Cat5/6 or six strand phone connection. So, do I have a phone line connected - can I just call TPG, iinet etc and get a naked ADSL connection established? How can you tell - comments please! And before you ask - we haven't had a landline phone in 5 years, so I don't even have a phone to plug into these internal phone sockets!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evaporative cooling installed

Fortunately the rain and hail held off today, and the crew arrived at 8am to start work installing our evaporative cooling system.

There were 4 blokes on the job, and managed to get everything installed by midday. This is the Braemar 550 with 7 vents. The one thing about the Braemar is that the unit is simply a huge box - some other designs have a sloping lower edge so they sit a little closer to the roof. This makes them appear visually smaller - but has the side effect of being a tiny bit noisier too. Anyway, the shape of the box wasn't really a factor in choosing this unit, since we're not going to spend much time staring at it from the street. At least it's a matching colour (Slate Grey) to our roof tiles!

Still got a pile of old ruined fence sitting in the front - the fence guy injured his back and hasn't been back on our job for a week so far.

The end result - the boss was good enough to spend a bit of time discussing vent placement and where things should go for the best result, so I was happy for him to advise us. The main thing was that we want as much flow as possible down through the stairwell, and it's not necessary to have the main vent directly over the stairwell void. This is because this big evaporative unit pushes a huge amount of airflow into the house, so the main thing for whole-of-house cooling will be keeping the upstairs windows only a little bit open, all the upstairs doors open, and the downstairs windows wide open to get maximum air exchange.

So now we can bring on Melbourne's heatwaves without fear! The smaller bedrooms have a 12" duct, the master has a 14" and the ensuite a 10". The leisure area upstairs has a 16", and the stairwell void, a massive 18" duct. Getting some window blinds is the next priority. I rang the bloke today about the flooring from the last post - he said he'd call me back, never did. Anyone who's been following the blog knows how shitty I get about bad customer service...


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Flooring - narrowing down colour choices

Did a bit of window shopping yesterday - headed back to Fowles in Clayton to check out their floor display. Plenty of laminates and timber floors to look at, but not so many in the greys that we're after. There was another flooring place nearby, and we picked up a couple of samples from there as they had two that are close to what we're wanting.

These samples are from Tarkett, a German brand. Also sold in Bunnings, but they only have a few samples from a different range. Both of these samples are commercial market laminates, and the one on the left has lots of variation. When you combine it with a few other boards, the visual board width varies, so some boards appear twice as wide as the other ones. There are also "imperfections" printed into the laminate (not in this sample board); so this board would look perfect in a funky clothing store, or maybe a laneway cafe. The board on the right has a lot more consistency and has a definite black/charcoal tone to it. Matches the charcoal stain on our door, but over a larger open area perhaps will be too dark.

Closer.... and you can see how the darker board shows up footprints - but then again, with our current slab exposed we're getting heaps and heaps of dusting. The lighter board shows up hardly any footprints at all. You can also see the click system they use, similar to all the laminates in the market where you can just "click" the boards and they lock into place. I think we're leaning towards the lighter one, as it suits our grey neutral colour scheme better, and shows dirt/dust less.

So, just like evaporative cooling vs refrigerated aircon described previously, all the various floor systems have their pros and cons - for us, the main thing is the colour and appearance of the floor, and we can't find the look that we want in a real wood or bamboo floor (plenty of reds and browns, no greys) - so far only laminate. Haven't looked much into vinyl planks, but I imagine they'd be able to produce a grey vinyl plank with no difficulty.

Anyway, not going to settle on a colour yet as there's plenty of other retailers to check out - though we're hoping to have picked one and have it delivered to our house before the Melbourne Cup weekend. Plus I need to get stuck into preparing the slab for the floor; which means many painful hours on hands & knees, using a hammer & chisel to knock off all the excess plaster and gunk that has built up on the slab.

Had a little dinner party with some old friends last night, and got a Lemon Meyer tree as a housewarming present - awesome! Always had plans to get one (to supply the necessary lemons for Coronas) so hopefully today we'll pick up a big pot and some advice to keep this thing from dying - we don't have a good track record with plants, but I think we'll put some effort into keeping this one alive!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Evaporative cooling booked in

So far in Melbourne we've had a couple of moderately warm days - mid 20s or so? In our house, we found the ground floor very comfortable - not hot at all, which is a big benefit to the thermal mass of a big concrete slab. Upstairs - bit of a different story. Quite warm, even with only 2 west-facing windows. Definitely need some proper cooling for when the massive Melbourne heatwaves hit!

Anyway, this is something we planned for back when designing the house. The cost for refrigerated AC as provided by the builder was something like $20,000+, and the large running costs of AC are a bit offputting. We pulled out the tiny Breezair evaporative cooling unit that was in the old house we demolished, installed it in the top floor of my parent's house and was surprised at how effective it was.

So for anyone wanting a quick comparison between evaporative and AC, here goes:

AC pros: Gets very, very cold, even on the hottest days.
AC cons: Expensive to run, recycles the air.
Evaporative pros: Cheap to run, cycles fresh air through the house.
Evaporative cons: Possibly will struggle on the very hottest 40+ days.

And the arguments to and from could run for years - if you're so inclined to read more, check out this great lengthy discussion on Whirlpool. I love being ice-cold with AC, but I figure we might only need it a few days a year. So the plan is to install the evaporative cooling upstairs and maybe add in a split system AC downstairs if we find we need it. We paid for upgraded roof trusses, roof water & powerpoint for future evaporative cooling installation, but after speaking to a few evaporative installers, they said it doesn't really make much difference. Oh well!

Anyway, I'd booked in a few quotes today.

Coldflow were meant to be first, but seeing as they couldn't even be bothered turning up or calling to explain why no-one came, they're immediately off the list. If their attention to detail and customer service is this bad even before making a sale, why would I ever bother buying anything from them? Thumbs down. Weather World didn't want to send someone out, so they emailed a quote for a Breezair 210 with 8 outlets based on floorplans I emailed them prior.

Finally, Maroondah Heating & Cooling had the final visit of the day, and got the job. Damien had a peek up into the roof, spent some time measuring up the rooms and discussing the various options available. Ultimately we settled on the Braemar 550 with 7 outlets; with specific attention to the size of the outlet in each area plus placement of the unit itself, he reckons we should get pretty good cooling to the whole house including downstairs - here's hoping! Installation is booked in for next Tuesday. Chose the Braemar instead of the Breezair as they're made by the same company (Seeley International), but the Braemar have fewer problems due to their fan design.

And for those still at decision-making stage, should you get evaporative cooling done through the builder? Well, Metricon wanted $5500 for a 5 outlet Bonaire Summerbreeze, which was undersized for our house. Our quote for a 7 outlet Braemar was over $1000 less than that, with the top-of-the line unit.

*warning rant beginning here*

Finally, while he was up in the roof cavity Damien confirmed for me what I had suspected - my antenna isn't connected to the Starserve system, with the coax wires just dangling out in open space. Good job by the data installers, real good job there.

Unfortunately here is another area that Metricon is failing in after-sales customer service, having reported to my SS, my CSC and to the girl who did a follow-up courtesy call that my antenna hasn't been connected, what's been done about it? Nothing, zero, nada, zilch. I'll be writing a rather pointed letter come three-month review time, because after paying about $1500 for an antenna, Starserve and a bunch of TV points, you'd think you'd actually get a working product rather than something dead-on-arrival. And the worse thing is, a technician could splice the cables together in about 5 minutes to solve my problem. Instead, I get to complain endlessly to everyone who walks into my house about a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place - "Yes, I know I've got rabbit-ear aerials on my TVs, because my antenna isn't connected". So, to everyone building, make sure your antenna is connected to whatever TV outlets you've paid for, because when's something broken, it's probably going to stay broken for a while. Not to mention all the other issues from the "completion" inspection - all little fiddly things which could be easily fixed but aren't, and I guess they'll just be added to the 3 month problem list.

*rant expired*



Related Posts with Thumbnails