16.Jan.2011 New Year – doors, ceilings, frames and happy days

The year has started with gusto and already work has overwhelmed me.

The good news is that all’s well on the home front and it’s all going swiftly forward. Doors and new door frames have arrived on site and they look beautiful. Hoping to keep them that way.

Almost all the ceilings are done and the painters arrive on site tomorrow to start priming and applying filler coat.

My plans for the new front gate and wall have also been approved. Seems council is a little more efficient lately. I have purchased the strip of land next to my property so we will be putting up the new wall soon – this will make my garden area a bit bigger  and create a greater sense of space around the living area.

The garage is also getting a roof and it’s all feeling like I might actually move in this year.

Happy new year.

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06.Dec.2010 End of year slow down – finishing stage ahead

As the end of year approaches the world starts its gradual wind down after a long and hard 12 months. I have been busy shooting out of Cape Town and haven’t been able to monitor the progress at my house, but needless to say there is definitely a sense that the urgency has left the building. Ceilings are being installed and there is still progress albeit slower.

My garage has now taken shape and hopefully before next week it will have a floor and a roof, but I’m not holding my breath.

I am still in a constant battle regarding the timber in my house – a word of advice to anyone deciding to install timber frames: ensure that they are well protected despite what your builder might say – the acidic content of cement damages and stains your beautiful and expensive Iroko. So make sure that you cover it all up before the plasterers begin their artistic endeavors on your walls.

The last and probably most tricky portion of the house is being built – the front window and fireplace has been shuttered and poured. It’s a complex combination of concrete bench, steel supports and a timber post. The result will hopefully be another interesting addition to the house.

With all the time I have spent away from  my house and with the multitude of decisions that lie ahead I have decided to get the help of an interior design team. More to follow.

25.Oct.2010 Plastering, plastic and patience

The last few weeks have been great. Well that’s a lie. They’ve been ok. I have now entered the phase that should really be contractually accompanied with at least four therapy sessions.

For someone who has a problem deciding on exactly what colour toothpaste to buy, the idea of choosing an entire house of objects and colours leaves me overwhelmed – and completely excited!

The plastering has started – walls are now being smoothed over leaving large areas of colour decisions. My door and window frames started suffering from all the plaster work and I have now insisted on all of the wood being covered – tape and plastic now protect the Iroko frames as the plastering continues.

I have also changed my mind about 1 or 2 things including the addition of TV and extra power points in the two bedrooms. We have also knocked down the concrete bench and are  re-building it at a lower height – it was built too high.

This week sees the first test installation of the glazing around the clear layer of the house – Craig from Glassmen in Cape Town has been the go-to guy on all the glazing and has been great. This also means that I have to make my final colour decision on the steel posts and I-Beam.

I have finally signed for and bought the small strip of land that lies next to my erf – this means I gain about 30m2 of garden area. It also means a slight re-design of my entrance area and gate –  another council submission and more planning.

The question most commonly being asked is when will I move in – the answer is unclear – hopefully by the beginning of next year.

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25.Sep.2010 Roof, plumbing, bench etc

The last few weeks have been quite trying. Between working to pay for the house and the multitude of decisions to be made I might have aged a bit.

I have been shooting for the last week which was preceded by two weeks of prepping a rather large job – this meant that any progress decisions on my house had to be taken quickly. So far so good.

The cisterns are all in place. I used a company called Flush Bathrooms in Paarden Eiland for my sanitary-ware. I have used them before when I renovated my house in Bo-Kaap – they carry most ranges – from cheap and standard to ludicrously expensive. They are professional and helpful and more importantly, price competitive.

My roof is almost done. I went with a charcoal grey for the main structure as it seemed the obvious colour to match up with its background, Table Mountain. I also re-looked the bracing between the steel posts and the new bracing looks much better.

The concrete bench in the main bedroom/balcony has been cast and the room is starting to take shape. Door frames have arrived and are waiting to be installed.

The next week brings many admin hours with it – I have been consumed with work for the last few weeks and so I have had to let certain admin issues slip.

29.Aug.2010 Banks, Trusses & decisions

The last few weeks have been filled with many decisions, battles and victories. The bank is back in my good books, and has reciprocated the favour which means that I might even be moving in by December. That is if I can get all the decisions made before my builder fires me.

It has been a frustating few weeks with work interfering with my on-site time and hence my inability to make some critical decisions. There have also been quite a few glitches in the original master plan and we have had to continually re-evaluate certain areas and certain design choices. For the first time in the building process I have been very frustrated with some of the hiccups. It seems that a final detail isn’t all that. A word of advice at this point – make sure that all the details have been checked by the people actually  building the house before going ahead and that they are in fact practically achievable details  – even if those details had already been discussed at length – it seems there is quite a big gap between theory and practice – sounds pretty simple, but it’s not simple at all when it costs you time and money .

That said – there has been some good progress and the roof trusses are up. The roof sheeting should be going on soon.

The staircase is halfway there. Everyday is another step closer to the final vision. The oak trees have also started growing their leaves back – it’s al looking very much like Spring.

I’m hoping that the next few months run smoother than the last few weeks.

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A few panoramics

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09.Aug.2010 Main Bedroom & more

The pressure of the final stage is upon me. The building continues to take shape and as we approach the final construction stage so the decisions become more critical and numerous.

I have changed the layout of the main bedroom and have had to adjust a window accordingly. It’s great to see the windows framing the views – I already have a favourite view from bedroom 2 – I think that views do not have to be large and expansive – I like the idea of editing views with windows and frames.

There have  been a few hiccups with the conflicts in the plans which resulted in a beam to being placed at the wrong height. Adjustments seem to be the normal route at this stage and no matter how much you prepare and visualise a space, until you are standing in it you never really get a sense of it.

The walls have also gone up that will support the roof and form the facade. The asymmetrical shape of the roof was the compromise I had to accept as the council refused permission for a flat roof. I am slowly getting used to it and think that once it has been softened with the wood cladding it will create a signature shape for the house.

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20.Jul.2010 Main Bedroom

The slab is set and the walls are going up quickly. The wet conditions right after laying the slab were perfect for curing the concrete. Now that the sun is out the work on site is happening quickly and smoothly.

As the windows are placed in position they frame the views – it’s a great process to see what and where the windows will be framing – so much so that I have moved one of the windows over slightly to adjust the view from my bed.

13.Jul.2010 Final Slab

It’s been a few weeks since the last update. Bedroom 2 has started taking shape and the walls have gone up.

The last few weeks have been spent prepping the final slab for the main bedroom. The slab also forms the ceiling of the lounge & dining area.

The usual steel and conduiting was laid. There have been many decisions regarding lighting and electrical points as most of these have to be cast into the slab. There were some oversights in the last slab that will have to be corrected – additional lights will need to be core drilled into the slab.

Plumbing has also been a discussion and wether to lay water pipes into the slab or not was a debate between plumber and engineer, engineer triumphing.

The steel I-beams have been installed and the slab rests on a series of steel posts that rise from both the I-beams and the walls. The only  problem that we foresee is the positioning of the glass on the I-beams. There is very little tolerance where the glass passes the posts, exasperated by the welding joints that make it difficult to place any brackets around that area.

Hopefully the glazing guys will be able to figure that one out.

The slab was poured today – another sunny winters day – and it all went really well. This slab was probably the most tricky part in the design and construction process of my home.

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22.Jun.2010 Slab poured

The weather played along and after many tweaks to the steelwork, the engineer, Andy Cowie (CDA Design CC) , cast his final critical eye over everything and gave it his thumbs up – the concrete was poured onto the second floor slab.

An additional beam was added above the garage and had to be poured at the same time. The beam construction delayed the pour by a few days but the schedule still seems to be reasonably intact. Next step is walls for bedroom 2 and the framework and scaffolding for the remaining slab and concrete walls.

There are still some critical decisions to be made regarding doors, windows and other details that are now starting to creep into the whole process as we get closer to getting all the wetworks in place. It seems like houses are made out of bricks, mortar and many many decisions.

To see the progress of the site from start to current status check out: Progress in Pictures

World cup news: Bafana Bafana exited the world cup in style today. They played brilliantly and left the country with a feeling of a job well done. There have been some great games including an amazing 7-0 win to Portugal which I had the pleasure of witnessing live at the Greenpoint Stadium.

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