Friday, 29 March 2013

Planning The Refurbishment

This renovation is going to be top-to-toe in that order, because the most urgent task is the roof.

The back boundary is full of trees, both in my land and on the public verge, so I had to walk a little further up the road to take this image. What we're looking at is the roof. YAWN, you say; looks like any other tile roof. Well, therein lies part of the problem. It isn't exactly a tile roof. I suppose a kind of generic description would be: ' Galvanised steel pressed metal roofing sheet formed into a tray with tile shapes pressed into a concrete filling and coated with bitumastic and stone chips. ' Trade name: DECRAMASTIC. Actually, that's one of those trade names like Velcro, which becomes generic.

Now when people say to me 'Why on earth are you replacing your roof cladding?' I just say Decramastic, and they immediately nod knowingly and pat my shoulder sympathetically. I did make allowance for replacing the roof cladding in my purchase offer, so there will be no big surprises here. There are three issues with the roof: 1) the Decramastic trays have been deformed by people stomping over the roof over the years thinking they're on something as rigid as a tile roof, leaving gaps; 2) the sealer coating has weathered to the point of not being there any more; and 3) there's no sarking or insulation.

You can't install sarking after the roof cladding, but with a metal roof, whether deck or Decramastic, sarking is essential because it is a vapour barrier, so the only way to install it is to remove the roof cladding and install it then. The sarking also provides an insulation layer up to about R1.5. But having gone to all that trouble I'm certainly not going to reinstall the Decramastic, so we need a replacement. This will be a metal deck of some kind, but I haven't decided on the profile.

Below the roof is a world of problems on the upper floor, all of them caused by previous owners doing things on the cheap. I'm going to ignore the plumbing and electrical issues for the time being, since there's plenty else to talk about, but I'll return to them in a later post.

The first thing to understand is that this house is about 25 years old and has been through several renovations, all done for minimal cost, and it shows. The most significant renovation was the infill of the ground floor. Whether the introduction of the internal stair to replace the previous external stair was done at this time I can't tell, but I suspect it was.

1. This door leads to the top landing of the external stair, except the stair no longer exists, so it just leads to a useless little deck. It has to go.

2. This east facing window does nothing useful. It has to go.

3. The fridge enclosure is very small because it is sandwiched between two existing windows. My existing fridge barely fits, and the Gargantua Maximus I plan to install instead has no chance.

4. This east facing window does nothing useful. It has to go. Getting rid of these two windows in the kitchen will allow overhead cupboards and range hood to be installed; presently there are none.

5. The brave little Westinghouse cooktop / griller / oven. I have to get down on my hands and knees just to see whether the oven gas has ignited, but I don't know why I bother, because it will clearly take at least a week to lift the oven temperature to 160. Sorry, Westinghouse, but I've had a wall oven for the last 22 years, I'm not taking a backward step. And all you trendoids who bought Agas - good choice, peeps; crawling around on your hands and knees to see how your souffle is doing defers arthritis.

6. Double bowl double drainer sink left over from the previous kitchen, installed here because the previous renovators no doubt thought that installing a dishwasher was a needless extravagance. I'd curse them except it was pretty obvious from first inspection that the entire kitchen has to be thrown out anyway.

7. What kind of a nut job installs a pantry hard on the edge of a sink? What kind of nut job installs a pantry deeper than it is wide? Answer: this wasn't laid out by whoever had to do the cooking.

8. The entire kitchen is white postformed tops and white drawer and cupboard fronts (mostly drawers). It only looks nice if you bleach it daily because the melamine sure does like to soak up a stain.

9. Whoever did all this arrived at a problem: nowhere to put the linen closet. No problem, put it in the family room. Now the family room doesn't have any wall at all: it's closet, or window, or kitchen bench, or bleed-off space to the more more formal living areas. Nowhere for aircon, paintings, bookcases or, well, just about anything.

10. A pet peeve of mine is a toilet separate from a bathroom which lacks a basin. If you have to go to the bathroom anyway to wash your hands, why separate the loo? (You do wash your hands every time, don't you?)

11. Nothing short of wholesale removal and redesign is going to rescue this bathroom. And, if by your ill-considered renovations you've reduced the upstairs accommodation to 1.5 bedrooms, why even bother with a bath?

12. This western window has to go. Not only is it stupid, but it looks onto a clunky aluminium sun screen and that's about it.

13. This is a bizarre use of space; why on earth does the robe to this room need to be set back except that you think it's cheaper to use the common wall to the main bedroom?

14. This western window has to go (see previous).

15. We have a platform in the stair at the upper floor level because the cretins who laid all this out couldn't bring themselves to enlarge the robe in the master bedroom!

16. It probably doesn't matter because the stair is seriously non-compliant anyway; not withstanding the lovely shiny timber it will have to be done all over again, this time properly.

17. Another shelf! This one just as useless as the last one. It comes into existence because upstairs projects north further than downstairs. Of course you put in a completely redundant and inaccessible shelf. Of course you do.

18. The climax - a slow-combustion heater. A wood-stove, in fact. Not only is this thing seriously in the way, but there's nowhere for a woodheap, and no wood supplier could possibly get his truck up the 1:5 driveway anyway. What on earth were these people thinking? Anyone need a slow combustion stove? (Daytime temps in winter up here are like, 20, degrees Celsius - ugh, shiver!).

Monday, 4 March 2013

Let The Renovations Begin

I bought what I knew was going to be a bit of a project. Now that I've moved in I've discovered it's going to be a lot of a project. Never mind, one small step at a time. Here's the view from the front: a traditional Queenslander with the ground storey filled in, which is what nearly always happens.

Since we're on a steep hill slope rather than a flood plain, all you lose by filling in the ground storey is a bit of natural ventilation. And since both floors are actually well ventilated this isn't a problem.

When I first arrived the letter box hadn't been cleared for 10 days or more, and all of the mail was lying in 75mm of water. The letterbox looked like it had been installed in the 1980's when the house was first built - one of those traditional Aussie letterboxes with a semi-circular lid that takes newspapers and magazines, painted reddish-brown on a rotting reddish-brown timber pole. The lid didn't fit properly, which allowed the extended wet season up here on the Sunshine Coast to fill the box with water.

So I bought a new letterbox and post and got a handyman to install it for me (I can do much with wood, but not metal or concrete). I had originally intended to start the renovations with the roof cladding, which is a major but necessary job, but it seems I'm starting at the front boundary instead.

Now this strikingly modern letterbox is not only out of character with the house, but also with all the slightly rustic letterboxes in my part of the street. However, I've got a McMansion up the hill behind me, so I've got to keep up the Jones's, don't I?

The drop from the lower storey to the letterbox is, I suppose, about 5 metres, and the driveway is about 25 metres long, so we're at a pitch of about 1:5. Getting the mail is a day's worth of exercise, and I don't relish taking the recycling bin down the driveway. I think I'm going to have to rig up some kind of winch system.

The letterbox is not leaning, that's just an artifact of tilting the camera to encompass the driveway. Getting up that slope in the pouring rain on a motorcycle was quite a feat; I have no intention of reversing down on the bike, so I'll have to turn around in the garage.