Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Die ivy die.

About 12 months ago I started attacking the garden, and in particular the crazy ivy which was threatening to engulf us.  Progress has been slow, but we are starting to see something of a blank canvas in which to plant our awesome new garden. Until then, some before and after's:

 The garden path when we moved in (above) and more recently:

Unfortunately, clearing the left hand side of the path has also removed all privacy from our neighbours - before:

and more recently (I'm not going to say 'now', because this photo was obviously taken before our house was repaired):

I also made the most of a some tree-cutter-up-erers (otherwise known as arborists), and had the trees out the back removed -they had been kind of ruined by the ivy. Pre-earthquake:

And now (yes, that's a direct view into our neighbour's back yard - we will have to do something about that soonish):

This tree-trimming has also cleared the path that runs up the side of the house:

Thereby letting tonnes of light into the laundry:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The stairs....

 This project has been in progress for about two years. The stairs when we moved in were filthy:

Those dark bits at the edges? Grime and filth and disgusting-ness. We started sanding them back just before the September earthquake, then we started renovating the bathroom, and decided we should leave the stairs until there would no longer be workmen traipsing up and down them...little did we know that this would take a good two years!!

Anyway, we finished the job last weekend - a bit more sanding, then a few coats of Osmo Polyx-oil  (a nice and natural oil - serves the same purpose as polyurethane without the fumes and stickiness). And voila!

We didn't sand them back too much,  for fear that they would start to look a bit too new - it's kind of important for us to keep the history in them - the knocks and scraps and dents. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Painting. Done.

In one week, they painted the whole inside of the house. It was awesome. They arrived at 7.30am each morning and finished by 4.30pm. 

And they did a much better job than we did first time round... our house is now crisp and white, with no cracks visible. Sweet.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

They're inside!

That's a painter. Inside the house. Painting. And that means we are on the home stretch people!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Hack, hack, hack it apart

 We had a couple of trees fall down off the bank when it snowed a while back...  so today I paid a couple of guys to bring their chainsaws and clear them away..

We arranged for two hours work, as that's all we can afford right now, but fortunately they flew through it, and actually cleared masses of broken trees, vines and weeds, right back to our boundary.

That structure up on the bank is some sort of look-out. It's not ours, it sits just on the other side of our boundary, and it obviously hasn't seen sunlight for years.

It's amazing how much space we have uncovered. And it makes me all excited about landscaping and having a proper garden and lawn.....but we still need to wait for stupid EQC to settle our land claim before we can do much more.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Garden Progress

February 22nd 2011:

October 2011:

February 2012:


At last some really noticeable improvements - with the scaffolding down, my mum and I got stuck into the garden yesterday, turned the soil, laid some compost and planted a few seedlings. There's still a long way to go, but at least the view out of the kitchen window is slightly more bearable than it has been.

For those wondering, the tarpaulin is still covering the back doors as they were replaced, and the new ones have not yet been painted.

Monday, 17 September 2012

All clean and shiny

The scaffolding came down last weekend (but is still on site - scattered around the house).  We are so happy with the final result - it's so nice to have our house back like it was pre-earthquake (well, the outside at least).

On a sunny day the glare makes it kind of difficult to actually look at. And we couldn't be happier about the window sills - glad we took the time to make them nice and crisp.

They are a small detail, but make all the difference when you are looking up at the house.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Honey, honey.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that our house is now watertight and sealed for the first time since February 2011. Naturally I was a bit concerned when I saw two streaks of moisture tracking down the kid's bedroom wall:

On closer inspection, they were clearly not water - they were sort of yellow, and sticky. I started to get a bit weirded out, thinking that maybe it was an animal slowly rotting, or could it even be sap from the wood? Surely not?

Then I remembered that nearly twelve months ago, we had bees swarming around the house. I didn't think they had spent enough time here to make a hive, but...

Sure enough, when I got up the courage to taste the sticky slimy stuff... it's honey! We have honey running down our walls! Presumably when we sealed the small ceiling space, the heat has built up and now it is melting...just what we need.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

DId I say finished?

Oops, when I said that we had finished painting the outside, I forgot the bit where Matt and I went up on the scaffold on Saturday and painstakingly applied paint to the edges and underneath of the window sill tiles. 

This should have really been done ages ago as they had been all messy from when we recycled the tiles back in 2010.

We also painted the small overhang where the tiles sit out from the wall, so that you can see a sharp dark line from below.

Things are starting to look nice and sharp now.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Painting, done.

The weather this week has been amazing - five days straight of sunshine and breeziness. Perfect painting weather. All week the painters have been up on the scaffolding putting coat after coat on the walls. The ultimate goal was to make the new blockwork seamless with the old. They did a good job trying, but I think we will always be able to see where the old blocks are taken over by the new:

See the transition up there? But that's okay, I think it's kind of important that some parts of the house still tell the 'story' of the earthquake.

I went up yesterday and washed all the windows (it's not very often that we get the chance), and it looked pretty sweet overall.

They also applied a line of grey paint along the edge of the roof tiles, so make them look ultra-sharp. 

And with that, the outside of our house is finished. The scaffolding can go away...hopefully for a long time.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bits and Bobs

When we found the replacement blocks for our house, I was able to have a walk-through of the house which was being demolished. Never one to let an opportunity pass, I talked the foreman into removing a few bits and bobs to be recycled at our place. It is totally crazy, but houses are generally being demolished with all fittings and hardware intact. Such a waste.

So, I scored a few bronze doorstops (our ones are the spring type and are all wonky so we have at least two doorknob sized holes in our walls) and a pair of window latches. Our main bedroom window had fake ones painted dark brown. We got our builder to fit the new ones this week.

They are old and filthy, and didn't clean up well with Brasso.  We have been using the word 'patina' a lot around here lately...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Blockwork, done. Roof, done.

As of last week, our house is watertight for the first time since February 22 2011. Not a moment too soon either. The blockwork was finished and replacement tiles placed along the edges where they flew off in the earthquake. The replacement tiles are below. They are exactly the same. But were red at some point in their history.

And you can kind of tell.

So, I quickly looked into the possibility of painting the whole roof in order to cover it up....but...turns out our roof is unpaintable. And I don't mean in a there's-not-enough-time-and-it's-too-short-notice kind of way or a the-weather's-not-good-enough kind of way. I mean, no-one is willing to paint our tiles, ever.  Because the roof is too steep. Apparently, it would be far too tricky to paint them well and balance on the roof at the same time.

So we either remove all the tiles, paint them individually then re-lay them, or we leave them as they are to weather so that they will one day look the same. We are going to do the latter.

The remaining mortar/concrete has been filled in, and the outside is now ready to be prepped for painting. Hoorah!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A halt in proceedings.

Just like in an episode of Grand Designs, we woke this week to record-breaking torrential rain. So work has temporarily stopped.

Our bank has started moving a little though:

And the good old river of clay is trying hard to make a come-back:

And we have had the pleasure of discovering just how our skylights have suffered with the aftershocks:

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A tidy round the edges..

The grout that forms the perimeter of our floor has degraded considerably with time and earthquakes - large chunks have been regularly popping out, and gouges of grout-less-ness (yes, that is a word, thank you) have been left in their wake. 

Last week, one of the 'men' spent the day indoors slowly chipping out the remaining grout bit by bit.

And when we came back from a night away, we found the seam had been all filled in with lovely new grout.

I was a bit concerned that the new stuff wouldn't fit in very well with the original, but we are both very happy with the result. 

In fact, we are pretty happy overall with all of the work so far -  things seem to be going suspiciously well.  Sadly, as I am a pessimist, I can't help but think things are going to take a turn for the worse sometime soon.