Monday, September 26, 2011

DIY: Setting in outdoor pavers / stepping stones

With a lot of soil-shifting complete, decided to do a bit of work getting the dead side of the house along the laundry a little tidied up. The plan was just to order in a truckload of pebbles/rocks to line the side with, but we decided to maybe stick some pavers along the side to make it a bit neater.

Disclaimer: We know nothing about landscaping, garden design and all that kind of stuff, so please don't follow any of our recommendations! If we get something horribly wrong in the photos or description, that's to be expected.

Tools needed: Gloves, mask, eye protection, string, stakes, wheelbarrow(s), shovel, hammer/mallet, mortar/concrete, spirit level

Try and get the ground as level as possible. In our case, in the 2m between houses the ground drops nearly 50cm and the neighbour has some brick walls with vent holes that can't be covered. No luck here in getting much level ground! Anyway, I set up a string guide, marked our where the pavers should go (roughly 60cm centre spacing) and tried to get things as level as possible.

Got some 20kg bags of premix mortar (concrete). Empty it into your wheelbarrow, add water (approx 3-4L should do) and mix thoroughly. I found one 20kg bag was enough to set in 4 small pavers.

Lay down a bit of mortar, place the paver and use the level to tap it in. I ran extra mortar around the edges of the paver to try and help secure it.

Once all the pavers are laid in, I'll cover the rest of the area with weed mat/layered newspaper and then get in heaps of stones/pebble stuff to fill in all the gaps.

You know, before getting started, I though "How hard could it be?" to lay in a bunch of pavers perfectly straight? The answer is, it's a lot more difficult than you think, especially when your ground is waaaay off being level to start with. There's a few pavers out of alignment, but I think once the stones are set in around them it'll be a lot less noticable. Plus we won't be spending all that much time in this side area of the house. So far, not an expensive exercise as the pavers are $2 each and a bag of mortar is $7.

Memo to self: Investigate putting up a proper side gate so the dog doesn't get out!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is It Big Enough?

So we received this comment on the last blog post recently;

"Is Nolan 41 is big enough? what do you guys reckon? I am interested in a big home, should I go for Nolan 50?"

Kind of a hard question to answer I think. What's big enough for a married couple with no kids might be much too small for a family with 5 kids, in-laws and a lot of visitors. And in the second part of the post, you say "I am interested in a big home" - so why not just go out and build a 100 square + hotel?

Or buy one already made, like this on in Doncaster East... it's only got 5 bedrooms and an 8 car garage!

Apart from personal preference for "a big home", there are other reasons for considering alternative sized dwellings. Most population studies point towards growing number of single-occupancy dwellings, so someone looking to start an investment portfolio or develop residential property might look more towards compact, single-person dwellings with good access to public transport. For example, with a 700m block you could develop a large single house targeted at the upper end of the market, or construct 2-3 small townhouses - cheaper entry price, larger target market, easier resale, perhaps greater rental potential as well. However, if it's for your own personal family with no immediate thoughts towards resale, then build what you like - it's your mortgage after all.

Do you really need "a big home" too? A larger house will cost more to build nett than a smaller house (though interestingly enough on a per square meter basis it usually works out far cheaper). You can also factor in higher ongoing costs in terms of utilities, council rates, insurance, furnishing etc.

But ultimately, just go and buy the Monarch 58 for sale in Balwyn, a steal at just $2.85m. It's on Domain here, or Realestate here.

We covered the pros and cons of buying a display home earlier. This particular development we've visited a couple of times becuase it's quite near our place, and follows the usual inner suburban display style of white tiles, dark wood, and lots and lots of styling and building features unavailable to "normal" customers. You'd hope this display home is built to a decent standard as well; at least you don't have to deal with the occasional depressing elements of house building! With the Balwyn median price of about $1.5m, this display home offers quite reasonable value for the area with a huge block (910m in Balwyn is enormous!) and many superexpensive upgrades. The base price for a Monarch is something like $480k, but with the upgrades and landscaping I wouldn't be surprised if the build cost alone was around $1m. Not real keen on the main road location however, Belmore Rd is a nightmare to drive through in the morning and afternoon peak hours.

Finally, went and walked the dog to an auction on the next street to ours this morning - an old place on 800sqm passed in at $700k with a reserve probably north of $800k, which makes it the second one in our immediate area to pass in at auction. Who knows where the property market is going to go in the next few months?


Friday, September 16, 2011

IKEA Springvale opened

So Ikea have opened another store in Melbourne, which was great news for us as we're both pretty tragic IKEA fans! Plus it's only about 20 minutes away from us. Their designs are generally top-notch if you like modern, relatively minimal furniture pieces at good prices, and they have so many items it's pretty much guaranteed you can't leave the store without buying something interesting.

I think the only questionable aspect of Ikea products is the longevity of the chipboard/paper pulp products, though everything we've ever bought is still functional. Oh, and their mattresses are not good at all - bought one for our old house and sold it on ebay a few weeks later.

We decided to head there last Sunday evening, as they're conveniently open late night weekends, and strolled the 2.5km walk that is the guided route through the store. I didn't mind this wire wine rack, I think it was made of two $50 sections stacked on top of each other. More functional than beautiful though.

Plus some ideas for our laundry. We have a big walk-in linen cupboard full of my computer gear and car parts (what else would you store in a linen cupboard?) but we have a big blank wall above the laundry sink and bench. We'll probably put some open shelves above the bench - so you can hang things to dry on it, or store stuff that will still have plenty of air circulating around it - and maybe a wall-mounted cupboard or two. Also maybe some wall-mounted hooks and fold-down drying racks. Not that I'll get to use it, since we got married Tina has demanded I stay out of the laundry for fear of ruining her clothes... who am I to argue?

If you wanted to delve deeper into the inner workings of Ikea, there's a National Geographic feature docu on the production process (google "Ikea Megafactories", about 1 hour long), or this decent read by Businessweek.

And speaking of Ikea, by any chance is there anyone from USA reading this who wants to lend us a hand? We need two (or four) of these Besta suspension rails to wall-mount some Besta cabinets, and for some reason Ikea Australia have decided NOT to sell them locally, and Ikea USA won't ship internationally?!!! If we can't get this necessary hardware to mount the cabinets, I'm going to return them and get something else. I'll pay for the rails, postage to Australia and some more for your time! Leave us a comment if you help us out!

To finish with, today is day 364 since we got the keys to our house - can't believe it'll be ONE YEAR TOMORROW! Maybe I'll bake a cake for the house... though there's also soil to shovel, a dog to walk, a bike to be pedalled and a few other things to do tomorrow.



Related Posts with Thumbnails