Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The photo dump

In the hellish countdown to Christmas, and with my concurrent obligations, I have definitely had enough of this house. If I were more enthused, less tired, and had more time, I would post a series of 'before and afters', showing the transformation that has occurred in the past 2 months.

Instead, you're getting a photo dump of 'after' shots.  In no particular order:

Also, it's available to rent right now. Go on.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Day 57

Yes, day 57! How did that happen? Two solid months of hard labour, and ten years off my life. My back hurts, by shoulder aches and I still haven't shaken this nasty chesty coughy thing.  I've slipped from daily posts to weekly ones, and I have to admit, I'd rather just go to bed than recap the misery that has left me so shattered.  Feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs if you're not interested in hearing a woman rant about the ineptitude of the staff at the Tower Junction Bunnings.

It's the cork. That bloody cork has nearly killed me. At first, I thought the peeps at Bunnings were being fairly helpful, but then I had to deal solely with a woman at the Tower Junction Bunnings and after our first delivery of 54 packets (with the promise of another 56), I began to realise she was COMPLETELY USELESS. She couldn't tell me when these other packets were coming, where they were, how many were coming etc etc.  At first it wasn't a problem, as the 54 packets kept me going for some time, but then I ran out.  No more tiles.  And that's when a little bit of panic set in.  I went into that damned Bunnings store at Tower Junction every day to see this lady and ask for an update, and all she could give me was a shoulder shrug and "I'll give you a call tomorrow" (she never once phoned me, and never came to the phone when I called).  And I'm sorry, but Tower Junction is feral. The carpark, the people, Bunnings,  urgh - it sends shivers down my spine.

Anyway, I may have slightly lost my temper with her (no tears, but close), and suggested that I maybe do the chasing up as she was so useless at it. So I went home and called some other Bunnings to see if they had my tiles.  And guess what? They didn't have my specific tiles, but just about every fucken Bunnings in the country had got cork tiles back in stock except Bunnings Tower Junction.   And then I got really angry.  Someone nice at the Wellington Central Bunnings gave me the name of the distributor who I rang - a really lovely guy named Rob. Rob let me know that yes, cork tiles had been back in stock for a couple of weeks. Then he told me exactly where to get them - Mitre 10 in Beckenham, Shirley Bunnings etc etc.

I jumped straight in the car and went and got my tiles elsewhere. And left a passive aggressive message at Tower Junction saying I'd managed to get my tiles myself.  At some point I suppose 56 packets might turn up there for me, but I'd actually be surprised. I think they were bluffing the whole time.


Here's where I left off a couple of weeks ago (when I had the disaster of too much glue):

So I got some better quality glue, and a proper metal trowel, and use date exact right amount, and although it was better, they still turned up a bit at the corners, and I needed the help of a lot of bricks to get them to stay down. :

But I got there in the end (finished yesterday in fact), and after sanding, they came up ok:

Nearly 900 tiles, all laid by me.  Badly. 

I started varnishing yesterday, and some parts have had their final coat.  Which means we are actually starting to roll towards the finish line.  

Know anyone who might want to live here?  It'll be ready to rent in a fortnight I reckon. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The wallpaper

I got sick this week. I'm blaming it entirely on this house. I got the most rotten feverish virus.  It coincided with a friend coming down from Auckland specifically to help hang wallpaper (she sold her services well - once about 20 years ago she helped her mum hang some - this made her the most qualified person I know).  She also happened to have a touch of the spring-flu.

But nothing was going to stop us from knocking this bastard off. We loaded up on panadol and coffee and got to it.  We figured we'd measure each drop, cut them, then hang them - surely it would only take half a day?

So we measured. SIX hours later we hadn't started hanging paper. That's what happens when you get two sick ladies and a measuring tape together and expect them to work efficiently.  We did have this though, which is something of a work of art:

Anyway, it took us two and a bit days, but we got there in the end..... paper! :

Seriously though, that wall up there was SO hard. Those sticky-outy-bits needed paper on all sides, basically like wallpapering a cube. So uncool.

We both took to our beds at the end. I'm still hacking away, bringing up enormous amounts of goop from my lungs, and I have some kind of mega-weakness thing going on, but that will hopefully pass soon.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Those bastards are gonna stick!

I weighed them down with bricks and went round there and stamped all over them today, and I'm tentatively hopeful they will be ok. 

No the smoothest job ever, but I think disaster has been avoided.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

An update....sigh

It's been over a week since I posted anything, which is more a symptom of my apathy towards the whole thing, than a lack of stuff being done. Such a roller coaster! So, in no particular order (actually, that's not true - from best to worst news):

The hearth tiles.

Half of the tiles around the fireplace were loose, so I pulled them up, cleaned them and then re-laid them.

Turns out the undersides were covered in tiny roots - the previous owner had a potplant sitting on the tiles and the roots had grown down through the bottom and out under the tiles:

The stairwell windows.

The new glazing was installed, and I repainted the frames - they look so much better.

The kitchen bench.

Looks great!

The painting.

The painters finished off the indoor painting - including the chimney and the mezzanine, which now look spectacularly good.

The cork tiles (this is the 'sigh' part).

I think I may have made some stupid decisions here. I may potentially have been fondly reminiscing of the very small area of cork tiling I had done previously (I can't believe I even tried to suggest I was a 'pro' back then).  

Anyway, after the debacle of our cork tiles, I did manage to source about 110 packets from Bunnings (i.e. all of the packets in the country). We had estimated we needed about 100, so I was hopeful this would be enough.  About half of them arrived last week, so I picked them up.

The I spent Monday night at the house mixing epoxy with this guy:

...and waterproofing the floor.

And yesterday I started putting the tiles down.  This is where I think the stupid part of my decision making kicked in. I should probably have waited for someone to actually explain how to do it.

"What do you think?" I asked the painters (who were working outside) after I'd laid about 6-7 tiles.
"Great!" they said. "Keep going!" "Looks about perfect".

So I kept going.

It did kind of look ok:

...but a few of the tiles started lifting in the corners, and the painters said "use more glue!" So I did.  Turns out painters aren't very knowledgeable about tile laying. They started lifting even more.

Our builder eventually showed up. Here's a photo of him and my uncle (who had popped in to see how it was going) puzzling over my terrible tile-laying:

The corners and edges all started curling up before our eyes. It turns out I probably used too much adhesive.  We fetched heavy paint cans and bricks to weigh them down.  It looked ridiculous when I left last night. I had to work my day job today so didn't visit, but got a call from the builder who thinks we may have to pull them all up and start again. And most of them won't survive this, so we will now definitely not have enough matching tiles. 

I can't bear to think about it. What an almighty fuck up. And all my fault (well, I'm blaming the painters a bit too). 

But the real victim here is Boo. She has been so good at the house, but really doesn't enjoy sitting and watching me get stressed. The sooner this is all over, the better. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The long grind

I may have sorted the cork tiles, but I'm too much of a pessimist to reveal how before I have them in front of me - which will (fingers crossed!) be later this week.

Yesterday some painters arrived, and they have set to work prepping what is left to do of the ceilings and walls inside. Hopefully the interior painting will be finished by the end of the week.

Our wallpaper is well on it's way from Europe, but I'm not sure if it will get held up at customs, or if I'll get stung for GST when it arrives (hopefully MAF doesn't bloody destroy the stuff).

I drew up a list of things left to do (aside from the painting, floor-laying and wallpapering - minor tasks) which is a tad frightening, as it's a long list.

Unfortunately I'm not really able to do anything on the list myself, and am relying on our increasingly elusive builder. I bake every day (apple pie today) and the baking always disappears by the end of the day, but I never seem to lay eyes on the guy - I think he might hide down the road and pop in to eat the baking as soon as I leave - like a timid cat (in the body of a 90kg man....this is getting weird).

Anyway, our hopes of having things wrapped up and the place rented by November are obviously long gone.  I am resigned to the fact that at best we have at least two weeks left.

The enthusiasm I had for this project has absolutely waned. Sigh.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cork tiles - the full and frustrating story.

Ok, so there was never any doubt that the floor tiles needed replacement (they're actually particle-board tiles, no longer available, but almost exactly like cork in appearance). 

They were half rotten, no longer stuck down, warped and filthy.  And it was immensely satisfying to pull them out and ditch them out.  After I removed all the no-longer-stuck-down ones, we had to get a fair bit of help with the rest, but persevered and managed to remove them all:

...and then we went a bit further and took up the vinyl on the kitchen floor (see photo above) - "cork will be nicer" we thought gleefully and we ripped up the actually-not-that-bad vinyl. 

Then we (well, the Eastern European boys) ground back the concrete, leaving it smooth and shiny like a baby's bum, ready for the cork tiles:

We were getting 8mm thick tiles, to replace the 8mm thick tiles that we had removed. That way they would sit correctly with the skirtings, doors and bottom window sills. "They're ready to go!" said our builder.  Then he gave me the cost - yikes, SO much more than we thought.

That's fine, we figured. It would look super.  Then yesterday our very sheepish builder phoned. They weren't ready to go, they were actually at customs, and for some reason MAF had declared them unfit for entry. And destroyed the whole shipment.  Another shipment isn't due til after Christmas. And we have no floor. Just smooth, smooth concrete. We're fucked.

I raced around - Bunnings, Mitre 10, Placemakers, the Flooring Centre... blah blah blah blah. Matt started looking at parquetry (even more expensive).  We have had to abandon the 8mm thickness - 6mm is all that is in the country.

This morning I phoned Bunnings stores all around the country - they all have a few square metres - we need about 100.  A lovely lady at the Auckland head office is going to try to collate them all together for me,  our fingers are crossed that there's enough.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Stairs, and the negatives..

When we bought the house, the stairs were carpeted. At the top, there are two small windows, facing each other - one had blue glass, the other yellow.  It meant that there was this weird yellow/purple glow over everything:

Both windows have broken panes, which we will be replacing with clear glass. Anyway, we ripped up the carpet (to reveal rimu), filled the holes:

And spent a couple of days sanding them back, with the help of our trusty power-tool-thingy (is it called a sander? I have no idea about these things...):

Excuse the crazy glow - it's those windows.  They still need a couple of coats of oil, but they're looking way better already, especially with that black negative-detailing up the side:

Speaking of which, that is one of the things we accomplished this weekend (yay for three-day weekends and visitors from Auckland).

Every door and window has a recessed detail surrounding it, painted glossy black. They look great. The ladies at Resene think they are cray-cray and when I tried to get advice about painting them they all suggested I just paint them white, like the walls. But look how cool they are:

...and close up (I think I had sanding dust over my camera lens or something):

And here is an unnamed, bald relative applying his precision skillz to the detailing:

We also spent several hours removing masking tape from the windows - word of advice: pay for decent masking tape. That stuff you buy at Bunnings (5 rolls for $8) is a bitch to remove.

And finally, I cleaned - swept and vacuumed the floor - apparently I may be allowed to seal it tomorrow if our builder thinks it's up to scratch.

In other depressing news, it turns out that cork tiles are much more expensive than we anticipated (although I found out too late that Bunnings had cheap ones - I raced to the store to find some tradie buying the very last of all the Bunnings cork tiles in the country), so we can't afford to pay someone to lay them.  I had really hoped to avoid it, but looks like I may have to lay them myself. Uncool, very uncool.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nice light, a new fence, and online shopping.

Yesterday morning when I showed up, the light in the kitchen was pretty stunning. 

Then the workmen came, and took away the old formica bench top - we're getting a new one, probably black. 

It was a beautiful hot day, and because the European boys were inside grinding the concrete floor, and generally making a huge mess, I got stuck into a bit of gardening, clearing the front fence of ivy to reveal the underlying 'feature' wall.

It looks a bit decrepit, and needs a good scrub and a coat of paint.

We all had a day off today, Matt picked up some wallpaper samples from Resene, but they are truly hideous (all shiny and sparkly, or dull and boring), so after bemoaning the lack of decent wallpaper (or the good stuff costing squizillions - oh how I wish we could afford this Florence Broadhurst paper), we decided to go online and before we knew it I'd added five rolls of paper (designed and produced in Sweden) to my shopping cart and pressed 'checkout now'. Done. Now we just have to cross our fingers it gets here in the next week or so as that's when we need it. Yikes.

Oh yeah, and the builder took one look at how I'd prepared the wallpaper walls (my arduous process of stripping, sanding and sealing) and said it wasn't good enough and he'd need to skim plaster over it all.  Yep, pretty stoked about that.

Oh and our painter broke his foot and is out of action. Not entirely sure of what this means, but suspect it will entail a whole lot more painting from me.