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

Sunday, 1 November 2015

inside and out

Paul is visiting for a few days so it was a perfect time to get the last ceiling beam in place.

Our last attempt was thwarted as it was too heavy for us to get into position to pre-drill the holes.

So I made a template of the bracket and hole positions and drilled the holes into the perpendicular beam that is already in place. (After checking and checking etc etc a zillion times as steel doesn't allow for errors of even a millimetre.)

Being too cheap to hire any type of mechanical lifting device, I knocked up an adjustable tripod in about an hour and a half and used this to support one end of the beam whilst the two of us focused on the tricky end.

 I found a use for all of my used cutting disks - as washers!

Once the tripod was in position, one of the "L" brackets was bolted in position, the beam hoisted over it and the second "L" brackets fitted and bolted in place. After I'd finished with the tripod it was dismantled so all the parts could be re-used.

Then back down at the other end the steel tube support post was put under the beam and welded in place:

So I now finally have a fully supported interior space.

How it will hopefully look (viewed from kitchen window):

It was a relief to get this part finished.

While I was inside doing the welding Paul offered to take my brand new (early Xmas present) lawnmower for a spin and he cleared around the veggie garden and made a path down to the dam. (The grass is already over knee height and I needed a clear path to take the water pump down to the dam every now and then.)

While he was mowing a path around the near edge of the dam he was suddenly shocked when a large red belly black snake shot out from under the mower and made off into the long grass. Fortunately the mower is on its highest setting so it escaped unscathed.

Rhubarb is coming along nicely:

and I have just started collecting my first strawberries:

Quite exciting for someone who has never had their own garden let alone ever grown any of their own foodstuffs! I have also newly planted pumpkins (2 varieties), rocket, capsicums, beetroots and basil to go with the rhubarb, garlic, mint, strawberries and chives.

But now I must get cracking on the build again!