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?



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