Monday, 19 September 2016

spring slowly forward

The glacial moving of this build continues due to a mixture of factors including teaching, long distance relationship visits, engineering holdups (yup still happening) and bad weather. And these are not the only reasons.

But I have made a start on the internal framing - firstly by installing the waling plates. These are the top rails that the ceiling joists are attached to.

In order to install these on my own I needed to work in 3m lengths as anything longer was to unwieldy and heavy. One hand was needed to steady the timber in the middle whilst the other used 3 different drills (first to drill a pilot hole through the wood into the steel, second was to widen the hole and the third to screw the tek screw into the steel.)

Quite a challenge. But like most repetitive tasks - it became easier the more I did.

One waling plate was 5.4m long - did this as I was being lazy and didn't want to have to move all of my tool shelves and boxes!

Then I was able to attach the ceiling joists using joist hangers. Two temporary blocks screwed to the waling plate so I had two free hands to nail made this job a lot easier.

I am still in two minds as to whether I will attach the ceiling plasterboard directly to these joists or add metal battens first to give the joists additional strength and stop any torsion occurring.

I also ordered my roof trusses so I had to prepare the roof for them

As my engineers designed my roof truss plans the truss manufacturer said they should provide me with the necessary methods of attachment for them. I need to lay down joists for the trusses to sit on.

Well it has been over a month and I haven't heard a word from my engineers over my request. They have been useless from the start and they continue in that vein. I shall be happily badmouthing them whenever and wherever possible!!

So I have been flying blind so to speak. Working on the principle that (hopefully) over engineering things myself will suffice. I will still need to organise an engineer to inspect what I do to 'sign' it off.

The first step was to line the perimeter with 45x90mm timber tek screwed into the metal of the containers. Then intermediate pieces where entire lengths were not necessary.

A second layer was glued and screwed through the first:

And temporary supports put under the cantilevered joists (where the back verandah roof trusses will sit.)

A third layer of joists was added and then I attached metal tie-downs at 600mm centres.

Current stage with tie-downs as yet unfinished:

The trusses have arrived. And they don't look like much for the price!

Now I have to sit down and study how to put them up!

In other news - the winter garden, though very modest, was successful as I had an abundance of boc choy and broccoli.

These are now finished, and the garlic and mint are starting to come good:

With Spring here I need to set aside some time to get the Summer veggies planted. This year I will see how eggplants go, and will also put in capsicum, basil, chives, rhubarb (it's still going well from last year), spinach, squash, pumpkin, strawberries, coriander, chili, and perhaps some beans.

Monday, 16 May 2016

below: deck

Things continue to move along slowly. My annual trip to Queensland plus getting quite a lot of casual teaching has been the main cause of this slowness - there always seems to be excuses!

While up north friends there have been busy constructing a small container home for themselves. They used 2 x 20' containers with around a 5m or so space between them which they enclosed.
They used refrigeration containers which come with their own insulated walls.

Back at my own place I made a start on the back deck.

First I tek screwed the ledger (or back bearer) to the bottom steel "C" beam of the containers:

Then I drilled and chem-set threaded rods into the concrete piers to screw the front bearer down:

As a precaution I sprayed the joist hangers with a cold galvanising paint for extra protection:

After which I proceeded to hand nail each of the 58 hangers with 25 nails each to the joists and the bearers!

The near end needed a little specialised fixing as the container corner block was in the way. I ended with a double joist for extra strength.

The end of the final joist was fixed through the hole in the corner block using a nut and bolt with a washer larger than the hole set inside the corner block. The front bearer has been left longer until I can determine how much the external insulation and cladding will extend out from the container and another joist might still need to be added.

Finally I added the noggins which will help solidify the joists and stop them from twisting.

Next I can start laying the decking timbers and adding the verandah posts ready for the roof.

As the internal floor will be around 40 - 50mm higher than the external deck I might need to add a layer of battens on top of the deck joists before the decking timbers so there is no step down onto the deck from inside .

If I do this then I can lay the decking timbers perpendicular to the containers and not parallel which is more traditional:

After quite a successful first harvest, once the 38 pumpkins had been picked I ripped up the vines and composted and turned the soil and put a few things in for winter - bok choy, broccoli, garlic. radishes and some more spinach.

The bok choy has grown enough already that I have been picking them for my stir fry's for the past week. The capsicums and beetroots have just finished and have also gone. But the rhubarb, spinach, radishes, mint, and basil are still providing.

Bok choy (top) and young broccoli (bottom):

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

islands in the dream

It might seem premature - but today I collected my kitchen island.

I'd had the idea for one for a while and I finally found one that seemed perfect.

I've learned from experience that when you want something don't wait around for it - get it immediately. For when you do need it then it probably won't be available.

So taking into consideration my general dislike for the ordinary - I went out and bought a 'Sandleford Ultimate Tool Trolley'!!

It measures W:500 H:960 L:1850 (6' long, almost 20" wide and 38" tall)  and is made from stainless steel with a wooden benchtop surface.

Lots of drawers - the thin ones ideal for cutlery/knife drawers - they will even hold  a stack of 3 low profile plates. The centre cupboard with 2 adjustable shelves will be ideal for saucepans etc.

It is not very wide compared to traditional kitchen islands but I did not intend having any services (like sink or stove) in it and quite honestly I don't see it being necessary to have seats around it. If I do in the future I can get a wider top replacement made for it.

I also made a version of it in SketchUp so I could see what it would look like in my house model.

I think it should go very nicely with the semi industrial look of the place.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

swims, supports and salad stuff

Had a lovely day on the land yesterday.

Jana came up from Sydney for the weekend and we spent the day at my house site doing very little except enjoying the weather and tranquility.

It was warm (33deg) so we took the opportunity to have along and leisurely swim in the dam. I'm really appreciating having the jetty there now as getting in (running jump!!) and out was much easier - no more muddy feet.

Jana also helped out watering the veggies:

Her reward (6 capsicums,spinach, rhubarb, rocket, beetroot, basil, mint and chives.):

The previous couple of days I spent cutting out strips of container wall and inserting the blue steel supports. These are just beside the large openings such as the 4 big windows at the front of the house, 2 large glass sliding doors and 2 regular doors. Four down and four to go.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

wet 'n' wetroom

I have all the timber for the back deck and verandah posts and was just about to start building it when I realised that the deck ledger (the back bearer of the deck attached to the shipping container) will completely cover a row of welds where the containers meet the steel plates set into the concrete piers.  All of my welding must be inspected before it is covered.

I am thinking I should do some other bits of welding first and get them all inspected at the same time. (I have to install about 12 - 75x75 steel posts as additional support around window and door openings. It means cutting through the exterior container walls which til now I've been reluctant to start.)

Internal steel support plan:

I have been in contact with my engineers as there is the possibility I will not need some of these posts as the steel container walls themselves are strong enough to support the roof.

Veggie garden has gone feral in the last 3 weeks - the water tank was a blessing as we had one of the driest past 3 months in years.

I'm harvesting rhubarb, mint, rocket, beetroots, capsicums, basil and the spinach is about a week off picking.

Rhubarbs and pumpkins battling for the central path!

A fierce storm that hit Eastern NSW recently battered my land.

I drove to Sydney that morning to buy a toilet, shower screen, laundry tub, bathroom sink and some minor fitting and was driving back through the thick of it on the way home on the Motorway. Cars were crawling along at 50-60kph. Worst weather I've yet driven in.

Arrived at my land to drop off purchases (cardboard boxes were like soggy bread!) and there was water everywhere. It filled the dam to overflowing. By sheer luck I had the jetty level just at the right height so that at maximum capacity the deck bearers are 50mm above the water!!:

Pumpkins were peppered with little holes from the hail. A few rhubarb stalks snapped off but overall not too much damage.

Decided to get some basic bathroom things so when I get the plumber to quote he knows what he'll need to plumb for (mainly the toilet outlet). The shower will be a basic wet room type with no door just the fixed screen. I would like a long narrow S/Steel grate drain:

but they are pretty pricey for what they are. Will search around to see if there are any bargains to be had!

The laundry tub is the smallest I could find (380mm x 550mm x 870mm) as mine rarely gets used for anything and I'm required by Council to have one.

Was pleased to find the Back-to-wall toilet suite for almost half the usual retail price for the cheapest variety. Some of these toilets sell for well over a thousand dollars!!

Purchases (not the tap or the shower head):

It seems a bit weird buying things like toilets and taps when I don't have a roof or even the windows in yet!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

piers, pump and pumpkin

Two months since my last post and little to show for it!

Procrastination, nervousness about starting the verandah and roof, returning to casual teaching, bad weather, Christmas and New Year, visits to Paul's place, chest cold - all these have led to little construction on the house.

Minor welding, grinding and cutting jobs are about all I have managed to get done indoors.

Outdoors I have been a little busier.

I had a return weed inspection from Council to check on what had been done since their last visit months ago. I noticed that quite a lot of serrated tussocks had partially survived their initial poisoning, so I went back over quite a number of them with more poison.

The veggie garden has come along nicely and I am now picking mint, chives, basil, rocket, beetroots and masses of rhubarb! The strawberries have had their first crop, the spinach is newly sprouted and the pumpkins are just starting to bear fruit.

I have found an endless supply of manure for the garden - I pass the local trotting track everyday on the way to my land and they let me help myself to top quality horse manure. So a couple of more years and the quality of my soil should be pretty good.



I also made a post and slab base for the dam pump (which is chained to the base), which makes filling up the garden tank really easy. 

At the moment the 2" hose from the pump has to be put into the top of the tank every time I fill it. Eventually I will make a permanent fixture for it and bury the pipe from the pump up to the tank. But for now it saves me dragging the pump down to the dam and back for every fill.

There has been very little rainfall over the past three months and the level of water in my dam has dropped about half a metre.

So I took the opportunity to build a small jetty. We like having a swim in the dam on hot days and this will make it easier to get in and out without getting muddy feet.

When the dam fills the jetty will sit a few cms above the water. I think it will also be a nice place to go and sit.

We're having an odd summer with the temperatured yo-yo-ing from day to day.

Last week we went from 34C down to 16C then a few days later up to 38.5C.

Middle of summer me (on the 16C day!):

Also Google maps have updated their aerial coverage and my containers are now viewable:

Recent photo from my front gate showing the dry colours of summer