Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Shed progress

The shed is coming along quite well, especially considering the rain we have had over the last few days. Luckily Stu has had Davey helping him out quite a bit, and also had the assistance of Matt and Alan at different stages.

Progress shortly before 11:00am this morning

The pitch of the roof is like that for the solar panels. This way they can go straight on and will be positioned at the optimum angle.

Concrete colour update
The concrete company are certain that the correct colour was supplied for our slab. Apparently the edges of the slab (where I did the colour comparison) is often a different shade to what the slab will look like in the middle and once ground down. So hopefully all will be OK. The concrete polishing is going to occur next week, not sure yet of what day it will actually start.
Our builders have spoken to the polisher and hopefully the crack that is there will not be a problem. Fingers crossed it doesn't get any bigger, or any more happen.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Slab Worries

A crack has appeared in the slab - part that is planned to be polished of course. I am hoping it's just a surface crack that will be removed in the grinding and polishing phase but I really don't know.

This is just part of it, it runs almost the whole way across the house
That's not all either. I have been out several times, in different lights to check, and it looks like the wrong colour has been poured. The tones are just far too yellow, which you can see clearly now it has dried out. Looks to us like we have been given 'Golden Plains' rather than 'Pompeii'. Pretty expensive and irreversible mistake.

Bright light - Golden Plains, then Pompeii sample

Overcast - Golden Plains & Pompeii
The match is so good with Golden Plains, they better not try to fob me off with it just being a 'variation of the tone'. Please let me know which colour you think is the better match.

A little about Thermal Mass

The reason we have decided to use polished concrete for a lot of our flooring is for it’s use as Thermal Mass.

Materials with high thermal mass, like concrete, help to stabilise temperatures within the house. On hot days, our flooring will help to absorb heat, releasing it slowly during the night with the use of cool breezes which should then transport the heat out of the house. On cold days if there is any winter sun available, because the slab is exposed it absorbs what heat it can and releases it in the evening. This should help us to cut down on our energy bills for both heating and cooling. Thermal mass effectively acts as a temperature battery, soaking up the heat when there is a lot of thermal energy available and releasing it slowly later on.

It’s not just the floor which will help with our temperature control, there are several other factors very important to utilise thermal mass effectively.

House design and orientation is a key factor which had to be considered. We had to make sure that our house was oriented  well so that we receive winter sun, yet shaded effectively (with the use of eaves as well as curtains and blinds) so that summer sun is kept out. With design, window placement was very important so that we can catch any available breezes, have them run through our house and exit again. Our design has also incorporated a double layer of windows in the living area, so we can open up both levels of windows at once. The hot air will naturally be drawn out the higher windows, whilst the lower windows draw cooler air in.

Finally, we are required to be active agents in assisting the process. In summer, we need to make sure all blinds are pulled to keep the sun from heating up the floor and absorbing unnecessary heat, and then at night, open all windows to catch any available breezes to assist with removing what heat has been absorbed. In winter the opposite is in effect, we have to ensure our slab is exposed to as much sun as possible during the day in order to gain the warmth needed for the house in the evening.

This is a basic explanation, for more detail check out the Alternative Technology Association website www.ata.org.au

Friday, 24 February 2012

Completed slab

Unfortunately the steady rain we experienced on Tuesday after the slabs were poured has done some damage to our slabs. It is only really an issue for the garage and shed slab, which have gone quite chalky and will need to be ground down.
Our shed parts have arrived and Stu is out there working on getting it up as soon as possible, if you find yourself with a spare hour or two over the next week, please feel free to pop to the block and give him a hand!

Beginning of the shed build
The coloured concrete part of the slab is quite noticeable to the grey, just not quite sure it is the colour we expected. I still have the samples we chose the colour from so will be taking them to the block later on today to compare how well they match.

View from the master bedroom end. The colour division is pretty easy to spot
It's going to look quite interesting once it has been polished up, which will probably be later next week. The rooms we are having polished concrete flooring are the lounge, dining, kitchen, walk in pantry, hallway and rumpus.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Slab

The builders were there bright and early this morning,  I got a message with a photo shortly before 7am telling me that 3 loads of concrete had already been poured for the shed.

Photo taken by Glen from KB Living. I just love how great our builders are with communication
We called in to the block before school drop off to see the shed, master bedroom and garage had all been done.

The shed

The boys hard at work doing  some of the plain concrete areas

I popped back in about half an hour later after a heads up from Glen that they were pouring the coloured concrete. Currently the colour isn't that exciting, it's called 'Pompeii' and is a pale brown. You can't see the nice stones we have selected to be in it, and it should darken considerably once it is dried and polished, so it's still no real indication yet of what the flooring will look like.

Taken from the garage/girls bathroom corner, doing the coloured  concrete
Luckily the rain didn't start until after they were finished pouring. I've returned a few times today to try and get a picture of the whole house but every time I turn up it starts bucketing down again. I can't wait to have a walk on it!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Ready for the slab

All the preparation work is done, early tomorrow morning KB will start on the slab! Can't wait to see how it will look

Peaceful sunset looking down on the master bedroom...in less than 12 hours this spot will be buzzing with activity

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Slab Prep continues..

After the rain and storms on Thursday night there was a bit of damage done to the sand and footing holes, but it wasn't too bad luckily. We are still on track for the slab pour on Tuesday. The insulation, lining and reo are done for half of the house now, the remainder will get done Monday.
Stuart has been out today doing the trench work for the power to the garage and shed, Freya was also at the block, supposedly picking up the rocks from the drain and putting them back on the driveway, but instead she spent her time splashing in puddles and getting covered in mud from head to foot. Needless to say she loved it.

The new water feature outside our master bedroom

Thursday, 16 February 2012


The boxing is in place and so is the preliminary plumbing. I gave Freya a 'virtual' tour this afternoon she was pretty excited, and wanted to move in now!

Freya exploring the house

The polystyrene for the slab insulation and the reo have arrived now as well.
The shed is boxed, lined and has the reo in place, we are expecting that slab to happen around the same time as the house, as KB Living (our builders) will be doing that for us as well.
Stu plans on doing the power trenching and also has to put the conduit for the electricals in before the slab is poured, so looks like he will have a busy weekend.

The shed

Today I changed the colour we had selected for the benchtop in the laundry, we changed it as a friend had advised me she had originally chosen the same colour we had when she built, but it was one that scratched and marked easily. A very good reason to share colour selections with people you know! I picked up some colour samples to match our floor tile and carpet too, as they didn't turn out well in the photos I took. The only thing not selected is the splashback tiles for the kitchen - I want to wait and see how the floor turns out once polished before I choose these.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sand is in

The weather was kind to us last Friday night and Saturday so our concrete footings were poured on the weekend. The sand is now in place in anticipation of the boxing. It's exciting to see the outline and shape of the house and shed, walking around it, it all appears quite small though! It's just an illusion I'm sure as the new house is approximately 7 square larger than what we have now, so I'm certain it won't be too small.

Looking towards the house from the corner of the garage, the garage will be  lower than the house

Looking down towards the garage from the corner of the Master Bedroom

Stu bought a slasher off ebay on the weekend, and went out to the block on Sunday and slashed the back yard. He also took the Kanga out and fixed up the driveway. I'm sure the driveway will need to be fixed up a few more times before the build is done.

The backyard!
We have been told that the slab is booked to be poured next Tuesday, I can't wait to see it! Lets just hope the weather plays nicely so it doesn't get postponed.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Footings are dug

The excavation is almost complete, all that remains is a bit more scraping to the garage. All the footings have been dug, and providing the weather stays kind to us and we don't get too much rain (which may not be likely as I just heard thunder begin) then the builders are planning on getting the footings poured tomorrow! Yep our builders are working on a Saturday for us. How's that for service!
We can now see how the house is going to be situated on the block, and the boxing for the slab will begin next week.

Standing at the corner of the garage looking towards the house. You can see some of the many footing holes

We found out this week that the slab doesn't need quite as long as we thought to cure - polishing can take place after 2 weeks, then frameworks can begin after that. It's all happening now :)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Excavation Begins

Excavation started today and already the cut looks massive. It's still pretty hard to picture how it's all going to look when it's completed.
Looks like we will need a retaining wall constructed on the east side of the block too. Not going to be much of a back yard, which will make it easier to keep an eye on the girls and cost us less to fence Ruby in, but looks like there may be a big job ahead of us spreading out all the dirt piles. The tracks the truck is making however, has flattened our overgrown grass nicely, if only we could get him to drive a few times over the entire block could put off slashing for a bit longer then...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Some Good News :D

We found out yesterday afternoon that power will now be connected in early March, which is great news, and perfect timing for us. Fingers crossed that we experience no more delays and it does get done in time.
A quick visit to the block today showed that the excavator has arrived and so has a porta-loo! There is some basic pegging out as well. We are very lucky in that the excavator has agreed to clear out the spot for our shed whilst he is doing the house site, and we aren't being charged any extra.
To save some more costs, we are going to build the shed ourselves. It has been ordered and we expect it to arrive in another week or so. Stu will be taking time off work to get this up, I can't wait until it is done and we can attach a tank to it so I can plant some fruit trees in the back yard, and some other plants along our driveway.
Our aim is to revegetate the front acre with native plants indigenous to our area, and hopefully provide homes for some native wildlife. So far we have planted 2 endangered Strzelecki Gums, and there is one Messmate as well. Stu and I both got quite excited about a month ago when we spied some bracken growing on the block. I cannot believe that one Bracken plant made us so happy, but its so great to see that nature is taking a helping hand in our reveg plans.

Freya & I planting our first Strzelecki Gum back in August

Tomorrow Stu is hoping to do some more work on the drain by the driveway. The next step after that is beginning the trench for the power cables.

Our driveway before rocks, you can see why we needed so much

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Lead Up

Our intention is to build in as an environmentally friendly way as possible.  We purchased our 2 acre block back in March 2011. We have designed our house with the assistance of a draftsman and decided to build it from Timbercrete; a more environmentally friendly option than bricks.
Stu has spent hours on the kanga preparing the driveway, and early in January we had 92 tonnes of recycled concrete delivered and spread out.
The latest news is that excavation should be starting this coming Monday. However, we also just found out that necessary works to our transformer for us to have power has been delayed a further 2 months, until April. It seems whenever you get some good news, something bad has to happen to balance it out.
As we have opted for polished concrete for our slab also incorporating some flyash, our slab requires longer to cure than the average slab does, so the lack of power will probably not become an issue until March some stage.

The driveway after the concrete rocks were delivered. The pipes to the right have since been installed across the driveway to assist with drainage.