Tuesday, 21 December 2010

New Skylights

A bit of a bum post, you know, no camera, no good photos, blah blah blah.

Here is a photo of one of our old skylights:

Dirty old glass, broken and what you can't see is the rotten wooden frame.

Anyway, we got our new skylights yesterday - essentially they are just a wooden box/frame with a piece of glass slid into them and narrow ventilation gaps around the edges. We have a full set of working drawings for the house from back when it was built, so we handed these over to the joiner and asked him to make us new ones exactly the same.

And they seem to be just that, except that our glass order got muddled, and instead of frosted/opaque glass, we have crystal clear glass. I groaned, nothing ever goes right, but when I broke the news to Matt, he shrugged and said he quite likes the clear glass...it's not as if anyone can see in, and it lets more light in.

So with no further ado, I give you our new skylights, as seen through the eye of my iPhone:

...ooh! we can look up while we are on the toilet and see trees!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Twiddling thumbs and paper pixies

Wondering why no posts? ....because there's been no action of course. Nothing, nudda, zilch. Apparently someone was going to be here Friday, then Monday, then Tuesday.....

We have had an extremely awkward conversation with the guy overseeing this work, where we sort of stumble around the fact that we are unimpressed with the standard of work. We are total pussies though and didn't demand that the whole thing be started again. He conceded that certain parts were shit and the builder who is going to finish the job will re-do these parts....now it's just a question of when someone will show to actually do something.

In the meantime I'll leave you with these cute paper pixie houses, built by these guys who were also responsible for this.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Update with crappy iPhone photos...sorry

Sorry, but my camera has passed away, suddenly. But as I know you are all totally enthralled with progress in our bathroom, and just dying to see how things are going, I'm giving you some iPhone photos...some not very good ones.

First, something good - our new benchtop arrived and has been installed - it is divine. So clean and orange. I love it. We are using the old sink - it's heavy and porcelain and we see no reason to replace it with something cheap and plastic (as that's all we would be able to afford). i gave it a good scrub and it has come up like new.

Now something not so good...

Most of the tiles have been laid, but we have to say that we're not stoked with how it looks. It's not the fault of the tiles - they are fine, and we know that things are far from finished, but there are too many odd looking gaps for our liking..

Plus, as you can see above, the tiles have been built up so they are higher than the window frame, which means we have to build up the frame with another bead...which is getting pretty messy all round.

At this stage, we have someone else stepping in to finish the job and hopefully rectify a few of the issues we have (yes, there are more, but to be honest I am a bit over the whole thing to feel like listing all the badness right now)..

Anyways, sorry about the snaps, unfortunately we didn't budget for a new camera right now, so I'm not sure when the high quality photos will return...sigh.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Where we're at.

It's been nearly two weeks with no shower...yikes! The whole taps debacle held things up immensely as the builder had other commitments last week so things didn't really move forward at all.

But we have waterproof walls. Nice blue waterproof walls.

And the benchtop has been taken away...

So a bit of a mess, but hopefully we will get things moving again at sparrow's fart tomorrow. Matt is getting tired of washing himself down with the garden hose...

Monday, 22 November 2010

My husband's famous..

On a brighter note (the taps arrived this afternoon - delivered by a sheepish employer in his own car), my husband is now famous.

Appearing on the back page of Home magazine, talking about the Lyttelton tunnel building:

What a hottie.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Young mother totally loses the plot in public place...

Okay, so the first major hiccup (watch out, this is an ultra long worded post, so make a cup of tea and get comfortable). Last Saturday (one week ago) I went into a shop we have here in Christchurch called Smiths City to order some taps. We are simply going to replace the old taps with the latest version of the same thing - by the same company and everything. So, nobody buys shower taps anymore - usually people replace them with mixers, but we figured we'd just take the easy route and stick to taps. Anyways, so nobody stocks taps - they have to be ordered from the manufacturer which is cool, so last Saturday we went into Smiths City to order our taps.

There was a bit of confusion regarding the pricing - something was $130 but no-one was sure if that was for one tap or both the hot and cold. We need two sets - ie four taps. I mentioned to the shop guy that if they were $130 per tap then there was no way we could afford those ones, cos that would be over $500 just for some taps which was just silly. The shop guy laughed and agreed and asked another lady to check that it was the price for two. Which the woman went somewhere to check and came back and said that it was for definitely for two taps. Now, that's still heaps of money - $260 just for some taps. Whoa. Anyway, we went with that and ordered (and paid for) two full sets.

So, they came in on Wednesday which was a bit late, we had to put the plumber and builder on hold cos they couldn't do much without the taps (as we have the huge holes in the wall which need to be sorted before tiling can proceed) so I was a bit stressed. It was also really hot - like nearly 30 degrees, and the baby was unhappy and crying a fair bit cos of all the men and power saws etc.

So I went down on Wednesday, with crying baby on my hip, ultra tired, dirty and smelly (as we have no shower, and incidentally baby had vomitted down my front before I left home and I couldn't be bothered changing - put together this is a great image oui?) to pick up my taps when disaster struck.

Firstly, they only had one set of taps. Okay, this means work will still have to be on hold. Then, they tell me that I've only paid for and ordered one set anyway. Uh, hello? And get this, it's the same lady who went and checked for me on Saturday to make sure the price was for a whole set. Then it gets really screwy - she denies ever having told me this, and tells me it they are always priced per tap and makes it totally sound like my fault. She was so rude - she kept turning her back to me and speaking over me and trying to get rid of me.

So...it gets a little messy here. In my head I was trying to work out which part of this was worse - the fact that we can't proceed at all with our bathroom until more taps are ordered, or that we have to fork out another $260 on taps. These thoughts, combined with the heat, crying, sweat, smell and fatigue lead my eyes to well up and me to quietly whine..."but we can't afford more taps"..before breaking down in snotty nosed red-faced tears. In public.


I have never behaved like this in public before. I had to grab my phone and call Matt in order to stop myself actually sitting on the ground and throwing a total tantrum. I wandered around the store, sniffing and sobbing and talking to Matt while he tried to calm me and wisely suggested I just pay for the taps and get out of there.

Returning to the counter, the ladies were obviously a little freaked out by the crazy smelly red-faced crying lady with the confused looking baby on her hip, and although they didn't apologise, they offered me a $50 discount and assured me the taps would be here by the end of the week. Okay, I sniffed, and paid for more taps...

End of unpleasant experience? Why no, it's now Saturday and they still haven't arrived. When I rang this morning I was told to phone them again after 9am on Monday to see what had happened. What the &%*#?

"Smiths City Has It All" reads their slogan. Should be "Smiths City brings young mothers to tears" or "Smiths City hasn't got what you want in stock and will break you down by stuffing up your order, taking ages to get things in and being rude to you in the process".

I'm stepping aside now and passing it over the Matt - I'm sure he will be much more rational and demanding when he speaks to them on Monday. This has pushed the whole project back by a week. A whole extra week with no shower! Don't worry though, we have been driving across town and showering at my folk's place every other day. And the baby is happy enough if we fill up his toy bucket with water and dunk him in that.

ps. see that tap up in the photo - $130 right there. Wham.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

We're on!

Things started with a hiss and a roar yesterday - the plumber and builder arrived and by the end of the morning we were meant to have the taps sorted and the walls prepped for the first stage of tiling.

Neither of those things was achieved.

Firstly, we found we needed to cut giant holes in the wall to expose the taps fully. After a heap of noise with some sort of power saw and a massive cloud of grouty dustiness we had holes:

Note to self: baby does not sleep through the noise of power tools, loud men, and debris crashing into a enamel bath.

Unfortunately we then concluded that the whole taps need to be re-plumbed which the plumber couldn't do without the new taps present. I ordered the new taps on Saturday but they hadn't arrived so Mr Plumber had to leave and can't come back until Friday, which brought things to a grinding halt. Grmph.

Well, not a total grinding halt - the plan had previously been to tile over the existing tiles, but after the mess created above we realised that the old ones peel off quite nicely so I worked away at getting them off but that didn't really work out (note to self: baby doesn't sleep through noise of hammer and chisel) .. so we spent the night elsewhere and Matt came back after dark to finish it off.

This morning we had buckets of old tiles and a skanky shower door ready to be thrown away.

And lovely (!) bare walls.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bye bye bathroom!

After weeks of inaction following the Big Quake, our mate Gary got back to us last week with a quote to sort the bathroom (re-tile the walls, resurface the bath, replumb the taps and replace the formica benchtop) and to build new skylights. We said ok, he said he'd be round to measure at 3pm the following afternoon....but never showed. Grmph. We threw our hands in the air - tradesmen!

No more contact, brief one-word responses to emails...then, I popped out for a coffee this morning and when I got back there wasn't one, but three vehicles parked on our driveway! With men everywhere - what was going on?

Turns out Gary rescheduled the measure-up to this morning, but didn't feel the need to tell me - heck, they just found an unlocked door round the back and let themselves in! True! Oh well, he is not a bad guy, and so I let him get away with it. I am a pushover.

So we are all on. Today I need to scrub the existing tiles with my old friend the sugar soap and then the tiler will apparently come and prime the walls tomorrow. So no more showers for some time (don't worry, we will be driving across town and showering at my parent's place so we shouldn't stink too bad).

So here's a few bye-bye photos of the bathroom:

Bye-bye icky lime-scaled grout and grotty shower door...

Bye-bye recessed soap dish and old worn out taps...

Bye-bye faded benchtop...

Bye-bye brown tiles (but I'll miss you)...

Bye-bye dark dark bathroom...

...we were wanting to replace the tiles with white ones of a similar size, but the cost was horrendous - it would have cost about $3500 just for the tiles!! We are not that rich. We are not actually rich at all. So we are going with a larger simple glossy white tile (there's one on the bench in the photo above but you can hardly see it as the room is so dark). We did consider a dark blue/grey too, to match the bedroom cupboards, but thought it might make things a bit dark, and neither of us is particularly good at committing to colour choices. So we went with boring.

However, we are sticking to the original with the benchtop and replacing it with another Valencia Orange one... ooh la la.

So watch this space for a flurry of excited, frustrated, despairing and entertaining posts over the next couple of weeks. For the record, we were told that all the work would be finished by mid-December....not feeling very hopeful of that, but we'll see.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


When we were gardening on the weekend we dug up not one, but several of these little plastic tags:

So the horrible ivy was actually deliberately planted! I like the description - "tolerates almost any situation" - it sure does!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More outdoor goodness..

We had a cracker weekend here in terms of weather, so we made the most of it and got out in the garden. Something I had been meaning to do for a long time was tidy up the path round the back of the house...it was covered with about twenty years of leaf mulch and dirt, but somewhere underneath it all lay a neat brick path.

So although I had intended to do it myself, my mum couldn't hold herself back and got stuck into it with gusto on Saturday. The end result?

A path! This side of the house is all dark and cold and gets absolutely no sun at all so I am thinking of planting a wee fernery along the wall. See that ivy on the right? Evil evil stuff. So invasive and clingy and overpowering. There are actually full grown trees underneath that ivy.. being strangled and suffering a slow and no doubt painful death. We abhor ivy. It is the devil's plant.

Anyway, enough of the anti-ivy campaign. A few weeks ago, we tidied up the small garden bed outside the kitchen window...it was a bit of a mess but had potential..

Matt hauled away most of the big boulders (a couple were too big for his wee muscles so he left them sitting in the middle of the courtyard), and I dug some compost through the soil.

I planted a herb garden (rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sorrel, chives and parsley) and also about a dozen little lettuces for summer salads.

I am really hankering for a proper vege garden with real veges like potatoes and pumpkins, but for now this will have to do.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Matt's five cents...

We spend a fair bit of time talking about the things that are wrong with the house, but there's a lot that's right. By 1968 Warren & Mahoney really had it going on. They were no doubt the best architects in New Zealand and their style was unmistakable and often copied.

What made them so good? Huge talent and attention to detail.

Stark white blockwork walls, off form concrete fireplace mantel and exposed chimney flue.

Tongue and groove ceilings seem to float above the walls. Unusually the ceiling has no cavity - these are the floorboards of the second storey.

In a country in love with wool carpet and soft furnishings; quarry tiles and no curtains would have been pretty rad at the time.

All the doors are custom, made from rimu timber with brass fittings. There's 10 in total.

More pics to come.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Blocked drain funtimes...

This is our bath. The tiles are back to looking yucky as I am too scared to clean them, what with the general leakiness of them now. We are waiting on a quote to get the bathroom re-tiled, so until then why spend time cleaning something that is only going to get replaced? Cleaning shmeaning I say.

Anyway, see that plunger there? Well, the drain has been kind of blocked since we moved in - years and years of scum and dead hair - eeewwww...

I have been trying to unblock the drain using the plunger, but it only makes a temporary improvement. When the drainlayers were here last week, they suggested a new method.

Okay, I have gone all Perez on you with photoshop here...that white line is the line of the drain from the bath down to the outside. The plan goes like this...shove a hose up the drain from the bottom, about 20cm in, then seal off the drain using some old rags:

Turn the hose on full bore, leave for a minute (while holding tight to the rags as the pressure builds up), then release:

I did this about 3-4 times, and each time big chunks of this gross black jelly kind of gunk came out. The pressure felt really high. However, when I checked in the bathroom (I half expected huge hair balls to be splattered on the walls from the force of the water), the water hadn't even managed to come up as far as the bath....presumably there is more in there.....eew eew eeewwww!

The water was freezing, and the drain seems to work way better now, so I am not going to do it again for a while.

On another note - that tree right in front of the drain? The one with the flowers? That's a pear tree.

I really like it - the flowers are pretty, and it had pears on it in Autumn (I didn't eat any, but they looked nice). On the downside, it has huge spikes coming out of the branches that can cause serious injury if you are silly enough to get speared by one.

Anyway, Matt thinks it's ugly and reckons it has to go. Chop chop chop. I'm quite fond of it. What do you reckon? Stay or go?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Before and After - the dining area

I don't know why I didn't post this much much earlier. I think it is because it has taken ages to get an even half decent photo of this space - it is so dark for a large part of the year, which makes photography difficult. Yet we spend so much time here.

It's the dining area...here are a couple of before photos (nb for those of you that haven't been with us from the beginning - all of the 'before' photos were taken when the house was tenanted. This is not our furniture, nor our dodgy wall decorations, nor our messy bookshelves).

Needless to say, regardless of the general filth which is impossible to appreciate from these photos, the place looked fairly cluttered and generally icky. After we moved in, the place looked like this:

..which doesn't seem too bad until you see that the walls aren't white, they're just filthy cream..here's the white paint going on:

Then, about five months later:

I know this photo isn't exactly pimping, but it really is very hard. I think Matt is going to take a few really good shots of all of the interior at some point, but this will have to do until then.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

New Sewer! - postscript

I forgot to mention the casualties which occurred on Saturday - there were two.

Firstly, the power cable supplying our garage got sliced through by a shovel. Luckily no-one got electrocuted. I have an electrician coming tomorrow to fix it.

And secondly, my father got smacked in the head with a long metal crowbar and was apparently laid out for a while. There was some blood, but he continued working without complaint. I forgot to take a photo.

In light this and the chainsaw incident, not to mention the fact that he was wielding the shovel mentioned above, I feel we will have to increase supervision when dad is helping out.

New Sewer!

Not sure if that title really deserves an exclamation mark, but hey...

A few weeks back Matt and our dads (his and mine) started digging up the old sewer pipes in preparation for replacement.

My husband, the working man.

Boo, the supervisory dog.

Then last Saturday the Pooman came up (seriously, that's what his company is called) to lay the drains. We made a deal that we would do all the digging and contribute to the hard labour in order to save us time. They would do the tricky stuff themselves like jack-hammering the pesky rock that got in our way and laying the pipes.

For half a day there were old men, young men and shirtless men hard at work outside (ladies remained indoors out of the heat and noise...of course).

Burrowes showed up. And ate some cake.

Then somehow got roped in to being chief concrete layer...

Six hot, sweaty hours later, we had a brand new sewer!

Ta da! Now we just have to cover it up again..

(nb, thank you to everyone who came up, including my mum, Alistair and the Browns...sorry I didn't get any photographic evidence of you being there, we couldn't have done it without you).