Tuesday, 24 April 2018

autumn addition

Spent the last few days working on framing up the verandah facade.

Haven't worked out yet whether to face it first with ply and then another skin of some sort - or find a material I can use on its own. I feel some research coming on.

Spending a bit of time on the veggie garden. The winds down this way can get quite severe and i have often been concerned about the damage it can do to the veggies.

So I have planted a row of small grevilleas (1.5M x 1.5M) to create a low hedge that will act as a wind break along the edge of the garden that gets most of the wind.

Where is the rain????

Sunday, 15 April 2018

where did that go?

Well I can't believe it has been almost exactly a year since my last post. So much and yet so little has happened.

Apart from 6 weeks overseas to Tajikistan etc, plus another couple of weeks on a spontaneous trip to Norway to celebrate an old friends birthday last November, plus 5 days a month out of town - I have also been teaching almost full time.

Then at the beginning of December I had a major medical crisis which had me in hospital for a month followed by 12 weeks recuperation with very little physical activity.

And then the teaching began again!!

So unfortunately very little has happened on the house front.

The summer veggie garden suffered badly from my absence in hospital etc, with no one to water it and almost no rainfall. I managed to rescue a dozen or so eggplants, a couple of buckets of capsicums, all of the 80-90 red onions survived, the rhubarb survived by the skin of its teeth.

The pumpkins were miraculously still alive but they threw out 20 or so small pumpkins early and then much later when I was back watering regularly again, many more new pumpkins formed but it was too late in the season for them all to ripen. Still - I've ended up with around 40 butternuts this year - though not as large as last years.

Rhubarb and pumpkin patch when I returned to the land:

My friend Jana watering them a few weeks later:

But a few small things, and one big one, have happened.

I framed up around the 4 large windows at the front of the house - and the windows themselves will be installed very soon.

I cut around the steel first leaving a few small tabs of steel to hold the container walls in place. This will make it easy to open the holes for the windows when the installers arrive.

I did the same with the exterior doors.

I used steel offcuts to skirt around the base of the house so that later I can back fill the land to the top of the concrete piers so the house will look as if it is sitting on the ground rather than perched on piers.

Another small job ticked off was bracing the roof trusses.

I also placed ply boards around the roof trusses so that when the roof tin goes on the strong winds that I get down this way will not blow around the insulation batts or risk lifting the tin (think occasional wind gusts over 90kmh)

Originally I had booked a roofer to put the tin down (I wasn't prepared to juggle 15M lengths of roofing iron on my own) and I was going to lay the insulation in tandem with him. Unfortunately my hospital stay threatened to derail this plan for 4 months or more so I asked him if he could do the insulation as well.

So in early February I got myself a roof! Huzzah!!

And more recently I have been spending countless hours traipsing around the acres collecting thistles. They were too far gone for spraying and the seed heads had already formed. So I went around with secateurs and deheaded hundreds of the rotten things and then uprooted the rest of the plant. There were also hundreds of mullein I needed to rip up as well.

Mullein - a noxious pest down this way!

The last couple of weeks I have begun planting some winter crops. Broccoli, spring onions, red onions, and bok choy. I am also going to try cauliflower this winter too and I've just put in about 20 plants.


Bok Choy:

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

odd jobs

Things have slowed again. Once school started I began getting quite a lot of teaching (unusual for term 1) which put the brakes on the build somewhat. I need the extra work as at the end of June I am heading off on another overseas trip.

This one is 8 days hiking through the Fann Mountains in Western Tajikistan followed by a 2 week 4 wheel drive across Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor (Afghan border) into Kygyzstan. Then I am flying to Azerbaijan travelling up through the country into and around Georgia and then journeying down into Armenia. 6 weeks altogether and I can't wait!

I had an issue with the glass sliding doors. There were no instructions on how to turn them from a left hand opening to a right hand opening. I had put them in temporarily but the primary door should have been on the inside but was on the outside. I couldn't find anyone who could tell me what needed to be done. Even the Bunnings where I bought them from couldn't help.

I had an idea that I needed to invert the doors which would mean re-positioning the casters. It took me two weeks to get a hold of the person responsible at the company that made the doors. They were able to tell me that, yes, I do need to turn the doors upside down and move the casters. This was a bit of a struggle as the double glazed doors are pretty heavy and getting them on a trestle by myself was a challenge.

Another task concerned the ceiling PFC (steel roof beam) that crosses the kitchen and forms the top of the "T" beams that I put in a few months ago. I was always a little concerned, despite the engineers instructions, as to the strength of this beam to support the weight of the roof. My paranoia led me to believe I could see a slump starting to occur.

I put a straight edge along this beam and found there was indeed a slump of about 10mm over its 4.5m length. So to put my mind at rest I decided to put a second beam under the first.

It is placed a little off centre to the one above - this is so that it also catches the end of the perpendicular beam and provides extra support there too.

It will mean that the kitchen bulkhead will be 100mm lower but that will not bother me as the beam covers are meant to be a bit of a feature to break up the ceiling space.

A spare length of tubing and my car bottle jack helped raise the two beams 10mm while I fitted the extra vertical supports either end.

I also moved the door framing in the second bedroom due to the fact that when I moved the bathroom wall to make more room for the loo - it shortened the distance between the door frame and the bathroom wall and I was worried the door handle would hit the wall.

Otherwise the rest of my time has been spent with weed control and in the veggie garden. Despite the long hot summer I have reaped considerable produce. This is my first time growing eggplants and I have to say they have been very successful.

This is one of several baskets full:

There are several capsicums in there too - and you may notice a couple are purple. I'd never seen them this colour before - and they came from a packet of green capsicum seeds. I am going to keep seeds from these and grow them again.

Below are some of the 65 butternut pumpkins from this years patch:

The day before yesterday I ripped out the pumpkin vines and the eggplants and mulched them for my compost. And then I neatened up the garden, put down fresh compost and mowed around the veggie garden:

Today I decided to plant some trees and shrubs to act as a windbreak for the deck. Some of the worst winds come from the west and will blow straight down the deck.

I bought 5 Grevilleas and 5 Banksias and planted them close together.

I haven't had a lot of success with maintaining tree guards - most of the ones I've put in last less than 2 years. Strong winds and clumsy roos have taken most of them out. The roos also seem to like to trash trees for some reason:

Above is a naturally seeded Acacia (Wattle) - one of a great many that pop up on my property. This is the damage roos do to them.

So for these new trees I decided to try a new approach and make one huge tree guard using some old fencing wire and fence posts.

We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

the light inside

The Summer holidays from school allowed me to get ahead with some of the build.

With one window in I then attacked the other small windows. The first one after the study window was the kitchen splashback window:

Firstly I finished quite a lot of the internal framing (so I would have something to attach the windows to).

One of the great things about being the builder is that I can make changes to things as I go.

With the kitchen splashback window, originally I had it placed lower - about 150mm above the sink level. But I soon realised that I would be mainly looking at the ground at this level. So I moved it higher.

And this is the view I will now have:

Next came the bathroom window - to the right of the photo. It has a fixed 600x600mm lower panel and a 600x1545mm openable upper. (Hard to get a front on shot!!):

Below shows the cavity (pocket) door that separates the bathroom from the guest bedroom. The bathroom will have a regular door at the other end into the kitchen.

Finally - the second window in the main bedroom:

And the view:

Then I made a start on the roof trusses. But first I realised I needed to put verandah joists up to have something the fix the verandah ceiling to. They needed to be in place before the trusses were erected.

Each half of each truss is just over 7m long and weigh around 40kgs.

It was a bit of an effort to get them up on the roof by myself. But I managed!

The first two were tricky to get vertical and stable. Once this was done the other went up reasonably easily.

I still have some tie-downs to fix before I can get professional roofers to put the tin roof on. I decided not to attempt it myself as each metal sheet will be 14.2m long each - too unwieldy for me to get up on the roof. Also - if anything were to go wrong, or bits of roof were blown off - the roofing company will be held responsible.

I will also be employing some window professionals to put in the four x 2.1sq.m double glazed front windows as they each weigh over 200kgs!!

Finally, last week I installed two glass sliding doors.

The first is a double glass door - one fixed and one sliding which goes in the guest bedroom:

The other is a triple door leading from the lounge to the back deck:

I used some deck off-cuts to make a temporary ramp up to the deck as I will soon begin using this door as my main entrance to the building. At the moment entry is through the container doors in the guest bedroom and I want to close these permanently and finish off the internal framing over these doors.