11 trigalana place http://www.11trigalanaplace.com A Home in Transition Wed, 06 Sep 2017 01:06:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-11-trigalana-place-3-32x32.jpg 11 trigalana place http://www.11trigalanaplace.com 32 32 Ingredients for creating a dream kitchen http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/ingredients-for-creating-a-dream-kitchen/ Fri, 20 Jan 2017 06:58:39 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=909 Ingredients for creating a dream kitchen

Strive for perfection in everything you do.
Take the best that exists and make it better.
When it does not exist, design it.

~ Sir Henry Royce, co-founder of the Rolls-Royce company.

~~~O~~~

It is a cliché to say “the kitchen is the heart of a home” because kitchens of yesteryears were small rooms where glorious aromas would draw conviviality among family and friends. People would gather around the stove top just to get a taste of the wooden spoon.

Today, modern kitchens of contemporary homes are wide open spaces which have the most advanced rangehoods that not only suck away all those delicious aromas, they do it so silently you can hear a spoon drop.

The Before and After

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To be more precise then, the stove top is no longer the heart of the kitchen because open concept kitchens have ushered the island benchtop into the spotlight, making it the superstar of the entire kitchen and quite often, the entire house.

Our previous kitchen was a U-shaped design with the stove top and rangehood located at the end of the galley way. A wall and internal window separated the kitchen on one side with an unusable corridor and oversized laundry on the other side. Space on each side of the cooktop was too small with a dead corner to do any meaningful prep work and was relegated to storing sauces, a toaster and kettle.

The view when doing the dishes was the useless corridor that led to the laundry.

So in designing the concept for our new kitchen, I was absolutely determined for the island benchtop to become heart of this home and transforming the most unusable spaces into highest value use.

View from the kitchen sink

View from the new kitchen sink

Turning a chore, such as washing dirty dishes, into absolute pleasure was foremost on my mind.

Doing the dishes means we can now interact with our friends in the new dining room next to the grand piano. This living space flows out seemlessly onto the new 70 square metre outdoor entertaining deck.

Now that the old wall which enclosed the kitchen has been demolished, the entire living spaces come to life with a panoramic view of the lush and tranquil greenery in the reserve behind our home.

The new 3 metre x 1.4 metre island benchtop

The new 3 metre x 1.4 metre island benchtop

Here is a glimpse of what they might be.

In my next blogpost, I shall talk about “cool stuff” that can be left as feature items on an island benchtop.

Dream Kitchen ~ The Essential Ingredients

Hidden power socket tower

Hidden power socket tower

Since the renovations on our kitchen, living areas and outdoor deck, a couple of local real estate agents have visited our home.

I was a little surprised they did not know what a certain silver disk on our island benchtop was all about.

1. Retractable power socket tower

Retractable 4 point power socket tower with 2 USB ports

Retractable 4 point power socket tower with 2 USB ports

In this modern age of technology, I foresee the retractable power socket tower to become a standard feature in Sydney’s new apartments by 2020.

There are a multitude of models you can choose from online stores – manual or electrical retraction and even ones that change colour. I opted for a simple manual one because it is practical and cheap. I believe the ones that can change colour are those that would devalue your island benchtop instantly.

I love this power point tower because we can charge our mobile phones, iPads and use a host of kitchen appliances on the benchtop all at once.

2. Kitchen sink

Kitchen sink with matt black gooseneck mixer tap and foam soap dispenser

Kitchen sink with matt black gooseneck mixer tap and foam soap dispenser

Just like most things in life, there are kitchen sinks and there are real kitchen sinks.

As far as installation is concerned, a kitchen sink can be one of three things:

a) Top mounted – the edges of the sink sits over and on top of the benchtop
b) Flushed – the edges of the sink is flushed and level with the benchtop
c) Undermount – the edges of the sink is below the benchtop

Double stainless steel kitchen sink 840mm (W) x 400mm (D) x 200mm (H)

Double stainless steel kitchen sink 840mm (W) x 400mm (D) x 200mm (H)

The kitchen that came with this house had a top mounted sink. I dislike this type of installation mainly because food particles get stuck between the lip of the sink and the benchtop. Sinks which are flushed and level with the benchtop require superior workmanship to ensure they are so. Even then, you may experience very tiny food particles stuck between the grooves.

My preferred design is the undermount kitchen sink mainly because one can sweep food scraps directly into the sink. The size of the sink is also important and the bigger they are, the easier it is to clean those large stock pots and pans. The design of the mixer tap is also key to allow ample working space for tough cleaning jobs.

3. Undersink storage

Storage space under kitchen sink

Storage space under kitchen sink

I am particular about undersink storage because this is an utility space to store detergents, cleaning liquids, flammable liquids and plastics.

I have organized this space to house a salad spinner, smaller chopping boards and big colanders on the top shelf. The bottom shelf is used for detergents, flammable liquids and washing agents.

4. Waste disposal bins

Compartment for wet and recyclable rubbish bins

Compartment for wet and recyclable rubbish bins

Sometimes, I lay awake at night wondering how plastic food wrappers, labels and cartons get degraded in landfill.

I am no greenie but I do prefer to segregate wet rubbish from recyclable plastics to do my bit for our increasingly fragile environment. What is important is to have rubbish bins located right next to the kitchen sink for ease of waste disposal. The drawer should also be high enough to accommodate standard wine and plastic bottles for the recycling bin.

5. Dishwasher

Miele stainless steel dishwasher

Miele stainless steel dishwasher

With the amount of home entertainment that we do, Mysaucepan and I find a good dishwasher truly indispensible.

We inherited this Miele dishwasher when we bought this house and though it is due for a service, I find Miele dishwashers to be one of the best in the market (apart from Asko) as they are so silent. Most importantly, they do the job they are intended to do.

6. Dish rack

Foldable bamboo dish rack

Foldable bamboo dish rack

It is stylish to have a foldable dish rack that allows you the option to either leave it on the benchtop as a feature item or to store away for more benchtop space.

I have chosen a foldable bamboo dish rack that accommodates up to 24 dinner plates on the top. This rack acts as an occasional feature item on our island benchtop.

7. Utensils organizers

BLUM kitchen utensils organizer

BLUM kitchen utensils organizer

BLUM kitchen organizers are one of the most highly rated products in the market.

I opted for one that comes with 80mm x 255mm and 80mm x 165mm compartments to hold smaller items such as corkscrews, nutcracker, thongs, can openers, graters, peelers and spatulas.The remaining spaces are fully adjustable to accommodate larger items such as kitchen knives and cleavers.

Cutlery organizer

Cutlery organizer

Forks, tablespoons, dinner knives, teaspoons, soup spoons and chopsticks can be properly segregated.

Spatulas, wooden spoons, wisks, thongs, measuring cups and spices organizer

Spatulas, wooden spoons, wisks, thongs, measuring cups and spices organizer

It looks like we need to spice up our spice rack with more oomph.

8. Deep drawers

Side plates, dinner plates and bowls drawer

Side plates, dinner plates and bowls drawer

When it comes to crockery storage, I am a fan of drawers over cupboards because a stack of heavy dinner plates is easier on your back to lift than to slide.

Large dinner plates, platters, sauce plates and ramekins

Large dinner plates, platters, sauce plates and ramekins

Deep drawers allow stackable options and we can easily stack a dozen 300mm dinner plates and fifteen of our Thai celadon platters in a single stack.

Cups, soup bowls, tea cups, saucers and teapots drawer

Cups, soup bowls, tea cups, saucers and teapots drawer

Deep drawers also have the option of stacking cups, saucers and bowls.

Large stock pots, pans, cast iron pots, woks and saucepans drawer

Large stock pots, pans, cast iron pots, woks and saucepans drawer

Deep drawers can also accommodate the tallest of stock pots, stewing pots, pans and Asian woks.

9. Benchtop prep space

Benchtop space on each side of stove top for prep work and kitchen appliances

Benchtop space on each side of stove top for prep work and kitchen appliances

Whether you use it or not, ample benchtop space is invaluable for both food preparation or kitchen appliances such as the coffee machine, kettle, toaster or the odd Nutribullet blender.

With our new kitchen, I have allocated a 1,000mm x 600mm deep space on each side of the cooktop for prep and pre-cooking. We have found this space to be abundant for everyday benchtop items such as salt and pepper jars, black pepper mill and olive oil dispenser since we do most of the prep work on the island benchtop.

10. Cooktop

Electrolux 5-ring burner gas cooktop

Electrolux 5-ring burner gas cooktop

This is the most important piece of cooking appliance and I have chosen an Electrolux 5-ring gas burner.

The key feature that I love is the large wok burner located in the middle and this allows ample space for Asian style wok-tossing with minimal spillage. For western style cooking, I love the slow simmers and small saucepan burners on the bottom right.

The best feature of this cooktop is the control dials located to the right of the cooktop instead of the bottom. This enables easy dial adjustment during cooking and minimizes spillage over the control dials.

11. Cooking oil and cooking wine rack

Cooking oils, wines, vinegar rack and kitchen towel holder

Cooking oils, wines, vinegar rack and kitchen towel holder

This cooking oil rack comes with a rail to hang kitchen towels.

This rack is both a functional element because it is located right next to the stove top. In addition, it stores away everyday items, allowing your benchtop to look neat and tidy.

12. Overhead storage 

Soft close overhead cabinets with adjustable height stops

Soft close overhead cabinets with adjustable height stops

Good overhead kitchen storage is important for two reasons:

a) Everyday items such as water and wine glasses are easily assessible and free up drawer space
b) From an aesthetics perspective, contemporary soft close overhead cabinets are such a pleasure to use and look absolutely stunning.

13. Rangehood

900mm Schweigen undermount rangehood (Silent)

900mm Schweigen undermount rangehood (Silent)

I chose a 900mm Schweigen undermount rangehood that showcases the best of German technology.

It comes with two task lights that are as bright as you will ever need them to be. The two best features are detachable filters that can be loaded into the dishwasher to get rid of messy cooking grease. This saves a lot of time and effort in wiping down greasy rangehoods.

Best of all, the motor for this rangehood is located on our rooftop which means a whisper quiet operation that allows you to talk to your dinner guests while cooking without shouting at the top of your voice.

14. Pyrolytic oven

Samsung microwave oven and 600mm Bosch pyrolytic oven

Samsung microwave oven and 600mm Bosch pyrolytic oven

Pyrolytic cleaning is an automatic function which cleans your oven with minimal effort. It works by heating the inside of the oven up to 500°C, at which temperature any grease or food residue is simply burned off.

Best of all, this oven has a soft closing feature that prevents slamming while your hands are full carrying that piping hot Sunday roast.

Now why didn’t oven manufacturers think of this much earlier?

15. Walk-in pantry and overhead storage above ovens and refrigerator

Walk-in pantry and overhead storage above ovens and refrigerator

Walk-in pantry and overhead storage above ovens and refrigerator

For any good kitchen, I believe a walk-in pantry is a must.

Though our walk-in pantry is certainly not the biggest, the size is ample for our needs. An automatic light for this pantry is yet to be installed at time of writing though this will be done in due course.

Materia' Black porcelain floor tiles from Italy

Materia’ Black porcelain floor tiles from Italy

One of the features I fought tooth and nail with Mysaucepan during the renovation are these matt black tiles from Italy that bear earthy lines on its surface.  She disliked tiles and wanted floorboards instead.

“Tiles are cold on bare feet in winter” she laments.

To create a luxurious setting, tiles certainly beat carpet and floorboards except for decadent marble. As this is the main living areas in the house, I have also installed under-floor heating that would lend glorious heat from beneath in winter.

Just like a beautiful woman, I fell head over heels the moment I saw these 600mm x 1200mm tiles. They look dramatic when their earthy lines are highlighted by the strip lighting along the kickboard in the kitchen, just like the curves of a beautiful woman as she walks under the spotlight.

When the lighting was finally installed and the warmth of its rays reflected against the earthy grains of the floor tiles, it was proven I made the right decision, yet again.

Island benchtop, two-way bio-ethanol fireplace and steel shelving above

Island benchtop, two-way bio-ethanol fireplace and steel shelving above

Mysaucepan was also dead against the textured wood paneling on the overhead cabinets and under bench but I was adamant it would create a beautiful contrast against the white background. I felt the wood element would also complement my chosen matt black down lights, tapware, door handles and hinges.

During the design stage of this kitchen, I saw the opportunity to install a two-way bio-ethanol fireplace that would heat up to 40sqm of space between the kitchen and the front lounge area.

The best thing about these fireplaces is they do not require a chimney or flue, the burning is odourless and there is absolutely no mess to clean up afterwards.

16. Under-bench storage

Three-metre storage underneath island benchtop overhang and breakfast counter

Three-metre storage underneath island benchtop overhang and breakfast counter

I have also allocated ample space on the overhang side of the island benchtop for more storage space for kitchen appliance and large serving platters.

17. Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting along kitchen floor tiles

Ambient lighting along kitchen floor tiles

When night falls, it is important for a kitchen to look warm and inviting. After all, there is good food and wine to be had, isn’t it?

I chose strip lighting along the kickboards and three copper pendants that emit warm ambient light over the benchtop. Copper is also a great contrast against our stone benchtop, wood veneeer and white polyurethane cabinets.

Definition of a dream kitchen ~ my beloved piano next to it ...

Definition of a dream kitchen ~ my beloved piano next to it …

Last but not least, with my piano next to a glorious kitchen, what else could a man ask for?

So dear readers, what is your definition of a dream kitchen?

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Top 5 Reasons to Renovate Your Home in Australia http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/top-5-reasons-to-renovate-your-home-in-australia/ Wed, 23 Nov 2016 08:20:10 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=781 Top 5 Reasons to Renovate Your Home in Australia

                    Irrespective of why you choose to renovate your own home,
the most important underlying factor must always be the enhancement of its capital value.

                                                             ~~~O~~~

The writer of this article is a CPA of Australia. He has worked in one of the Big-3 international Accounting firms and has developed and renovated numerous residential properties in Australia.

As I write this article, home owners and real estate investors are facing the most challenging times in the history of home ownership in Australia.

Real estate prices are trending at historic highs in Sydney and Melbourne, two cities which I consider premier and the most cosmopolitan in this country. National wage growth is practically stagnant while household debt to income ratio is riding precariously thin. And despite a string of rock-solid economic credentials – inflation of less than 2% per annum, unemployment rate averaging at a respectable 5.5% for the last four years and annual GDP growth of around 3%, interest rates are at 60-year lows of 1.5% and is forecast for at least another cut in 2017.

Notwithstanding the fact we like to change prime ministers like we change BBQ sets every couple of years, the political system is stable and robust as it should a developed nation like ours. Australia is also a $1.6 trillion economy which is inextricably linked with the dynamism of China, the new upstart that is increasingly determined to flex both her soft and hard political muscles in the Asia Pacific region.

The fallout from these factors is a generation of aspiring homeowners destined to become life-long renters in a vast, land-abundant country they call home. For this group of young people, the Australian dream of home ownership is being shut out with each failed attempt at weekend auctions dominated by cashed up investors and baby boomers.

For those already in the property market, doing nothing might seem like a safe option to avoid costly mistakes that might come with real estate investment. But in an economic climate where Australia is poised to reap the rewards of being in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, sitting idly on a pool of untapped equity built-up in your own home might prove to be the costliest mistake of all.

Outdoor BBQ and entertaining area under construction

Our outdoor BBQ & entertaining area under construction

I am currently embarking on major renovations to my own home and have read countless home renovation articles advocating a host of reasons for an upgrade – to gain a higher sale price, to restore style and character, to install green and eco-friendly design and appliances, to increase functionality and comfort, to makes more space for children not wanting to move out, to remodel a kitchen or bathroom that need a serious makeover and the list goes on and on. For me, all these reasons must imperatively point towards a sole, all-encompassing factor – to enhance the capital value of your home.

Home decor gurus and interior designers often advocate renovations to enhance lifestyle and instill cutting-edge design. A good renovation is one where capital enhancement is a consequence of good design and functionality.

So here are my top 5 reasons for renovating your own home:

1. Enhance the value of your home

2. Capital gains are tax-free

3. Borrowing costs are at a 60-year low

4. Australians are passionate home renovators

5. Enhance your lifestyle

1. Enhance the value of your home

I believe this is the most challenging of the five reasons for renovating. The idea of what might enhance my home could be very different from that of another home owner. The key is understanding the demographics of the suburb and its eventual buyers, be they professionals, families, transient occupants, empty nesters and so on.

For example, my own research over a period of time shows the average home in my suburb has 3.83 bedrooms, 2.62 bathroom and 1.94 car spaces. Hence, I bought a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house that has all the “right ingredients” of being able to be upgraded to a 4-bedroom and 3-bathroom house with 2 car spaces. The key is turning unusable space into higher value use to create immediate value. This could involve transforming a dated formal dining area or a unused corner into an additional bedroom, large laundries into bathrooms or a sun room adjoining a bedroom into an ensuite.

An outdoor entertaining deck under construction

Our elevated outdoor deck under construction

By far the most impact is achieved by well-designed bathrooms with good tapware and a modern open kitchen which so often defines the heart of a home. Seamless entertaining areas that blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces will always hold its appeal.

2. Capital gains are tax-free

It may be argued capital gains are a consequence of good renovation rather than a reason to renovate.

But with real estate prices at record highs, upgrading your own home for the specific purpose of creating new equity / capital gains might seem like a logical strategy.The new equity created from renovating a principal place of residence is also free of capital gains tax in the event of an eventual sale.

Renovating, as opposed to selling also ensures you don’t sacrifice hefty stamp duty paid on acquisition and expensive incidental costs such as agent, solicitors and marketing fees associated with a sale.

Capital gains created from a well-executed renovation can cut years and hundreds of thousands of dollars off your mortgage repayment.

Squaring off an unusable corner for a new bedroom

Squaring off an unusable corner for a new bedroom

3. Borrowing costs are at a 60-year low

Although lending guidelines have tightened considerably in recent times, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s official cash rate has remained at a 60-year low of 1.5% per annum.

The majority of home loans with major lending institutions come with an offset account where additional funds in this account is offset against the loan amount owing when calculating interest costs. While negative-gearing is one way to minimize tax payable on investment properties, recording an annual tax loss is only suitable for certain types of investors and certainly not the most ideal.

Low borrowing costs on an owner-occupied home coupled with excess funds parked in an offset account minimize will mortgage payments which are not tax deductible.

Staying in your own home whilst it is being renovated might cause some temporary inconvenience but this will save you thousands of dollars from renting a property elsewhere.

4. Australians are passionate home renovators

There is a reason organisations such as Bunnings and a host of building products businesses are recording strong growth each year.

Australia has a proud tradition of recognizing excellence in tradesmanship and a strong vocational system in producing good quality tradesmen for the building and construction industry. This has contributed to an industry of honest and professional builders who can transform your renovation concept into reality. Home builders often market themselves as builders of dream homes.

New 600mm x 1200mm tiles with under floor heating in our home

600mm x 1200mm tiles with floor heating in our home

DIY enthusiasts need to ensure their handiwork is at least on par with the professionals. Nothing is more glaring that low quality finish that not only fails to fetch market value, it might well devalue the house and involve valuable funds to rectify. But whether we do it ourselves or engage a builder, building that new outdoor deck with a swimming pool or a second storey seem to be one of our favourite past times.

5. Enhance your lifestyle

For me, this is the weakest of reasons to renovate your home despite all the glossy magazines and reality TV shows on renovations about enhancing a property for lifestyle purposes.

The single biggest mistake a would-be homeowner can make is buying the wrong type of property in a wrong location.

Granted that well-executed renovations in so-called “lifestyle” suburbs such as Balmain, Potts Point and Paddington in Sydney or Brunswick, Brighton and St. Kilda in Melbourne often yield significant equity.

It is also important to distinguish between mere cosmetic renovations from extensive structural ones where the latter are obviously designed to yield much higher returns. General guidelines apply where structural renovations in locations greater than 25 kilometres from Sydney and Melbourne CBDs may not yield desired returns due to lower property prices. Conversely, a simple cosmetic renovation in a lifestyle suburb might deliver handsome gains. Though there are no hard and fast rules, following certain tried and tested guidelines from expert renovators can certainly minimize costly mistakes.

The thing to remember is handsome profits are not made from a well-executed renovation sold to a buyer willing to fork out significantly more dollars than what the market dictates.

Rather, capital value is created from in-depth planning and sound research the moment a good property is purchased even before the first renovation brick is laid.

Japanese bamboo basins, black taps and ceasarstone for our ensuite bathroom

Japanese bamboo basins, black taps and ceasarstone for our ensuite bathroom

So dear readers, what do you think are the most compelling reasons to renovate your home?

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Life On Site – The Daily Rituals of Living in An Ongoing Renovation http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/life-on-site-the-daily-rituals-of-living-in-an-ongoing-renovation/ Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:40:50 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=759 Life On Site - The Daily Rituals of Living in An Ongoing Renovation

Living among the chaos of a home renovation is not for princesses. Then again, I ain’t no prince either.

                                                          ~~~O~~~

I met up with four builders who eventually gave me written quotations for our home renovation. One of the many questions I posed to each was whether we can live in this house while the renovation was ongoing.

Three out of four reckon it will be fine. And Mysaucepan thought it would be okay too, so here we are, in our fourth month since works began on 19 July 2016. The obvious advantage of living in an ongoing renovation is savings in rent for the duration of the works. For me, being able to liaise and solve problems instantaneously with my builder and tradies on site is even more valuable and important because it makes their job easier and faster. I have learnt much more about building construction on this reno that all my previous renos and new builds.

WIFI connection

WIFI connectivity

One of the first things our builder did is to fence off the front of our house with the appropriate signage required by building regulations to designate the area a construction site.

And one of the first things I did is to ensure continuity of the most important connection that links us with virtual world.

The heart of the home

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A sleek and modern kitchen is most definitely the heart of a home where family and friends congregate.

The old and dated horseshoe-shaped kitchen was remodeled into an open plan by demolishing its front wall and transforming the rather useless indoor patio and laundry into a new dining area. I felt pretty chuffed when the wall finally came down and we got the first glimpse of our dream kitchen to be in October 2016.

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The old kitchen cabinets and gyprock walls were first removed. Demolition of the kitchen benchtop, sink and cooktop were staggered to enable some light cooking while other works were being carried out.

P5700583 P5700665

New gyprock walls are now installed and to create symmetrical aesthetics with the new 3-metre benchtop in the kitchen design, I relocated the cooktop and rangehood directly behind the benchtop. We are now using this trestle table as a temporary benchtop when the old benchtop was eventually demolished.

Cooking in a kitchen in transition

Essential kitchen appliances

Essential kitchen appliances

A new Phillips induction cooker is my temporary cooking solution when the last vestiges of the old kitchen were demolished. I love the black glass top and sleek design though we have yet to use it.

Despite a kitchen in transition, we did not order a single takeaway meal or pizza delivery since the renovations began four months ago. Instead, we took the opportunity to check out some local restaurants in the suburb every now and then.

Between a portable gas cooktop, turbo-broiler glass oven and microwave, we still managed some of our favourite meals at home.

Our last meal on the old kitchen cooktop

Our last meal on the old kitchen cooktop (Image: Samsung S5 mobile phone)

Pan-seared lamb cutlets seasoned with dried herbs, salt and black pepper is one of the easiest yet tasty meals that we love. This is the last meal cooked with the Kleenmaid cooktop and oven before it was disconnected the next day by our builder.

Nasi lemak with beef rendang

Nasi lemak with beef rendang (Image: Samsung S5 mobile phone)

Another easy and delicious meal is our favourite nasi lemak because beef rendang, sambal and deep fried anchovies can be pre-cooked and refrigerated.

Searing T-bone steaks

Searing T-bone steaks (Image: Samsung S5 mobile phone)

We have had this portable gas cooktop for many years now and it works really well whether it is a winter hotpot or searing steaks.

Amusing ourselves testing strip lighting

Amusing ourselves testing strip lighting (Image: Samsung S5 mobile phone)

Some of the lights have been disconnected and tonight, we test out strip lighting to be installed along the new ceilings. Warm white between different strip lighting brands can vary quite significantly.

Roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary, thyme and tomato gravy (Image by Samsung S5 mobile phone)

Roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary & thyme (Image: Samsung S5 mobile phone)

After forty five minutes in the turbo-broiler glass oven at 220 degrees Celsius, this leg of lamb has a mouth-watering crust, the meat tender and succulent.

Hong Kong style noodles with pork and prawn wontons

Hong Kong style noodles with pork and prawn wontons

On another evening, I prepared some fresh pork and prawn wontons that paired beautifully with this lobster flavoured noodles.

Mexican style tacos with meat sauce

Mexican style tacos with meat sauce

It has been years since I cooked Mexican style tacos and this went down extremely well.

Italian spaghetti bolognese

Italian spaghetti bolognese

A dish like spag bol can last a few meals to save us cooking everyday.

Storage and reorganising during a renovation

Front lounge area used for storing furniture, new kitchen appliances and air-conditioners

Front lounge area used for storing furniture, new kitchen appliances and air-conditioners

As the back area is being renovated, the dining table and other furniture are stored in the lounge area. Tarpaulin is useful to keep dust out of the furniture especially when the cornices were removed.

Makeshift kitchen shelving

Makeshift kitchen shelving

Most of our dry groceries have been packed into boxes while some everyday items are left on makeshift space near the kitchen.

Balinese style stone vanity bowl for new bathroom

Balinese style stone vanity bowl for new bathroom

Empty space underneath the grand piano is useful in storing bulky items such as three split unit air-conditioners.

Designated Zones – A respite area away from renovation chaos

The most important door in the house at the moment

The most important door in the house at the moment

During the planning stage with my building designer, I ensured the layout of the house is segregated into its distinctive zones:

  • Formal lounge zone
  • Living, kitchen and dining zone
  • Entertainment & outdoor zone
  • Sleeping zone
  • Utility zone

Identifying and designating distinctive zones is what makes a floor plan attractive and special.

This door separates the master bedroom, study and ensuite from the rest of the house for added privacy and it has been the most important door during the course of the renovations. It may not completely shut out noise from power tools and loud music, but it certainly shuts out dust and debris.

Blanket used as makeshift curtains in master bedroom

Blanket used as makeshift curtains in master bedroom

Why do Australians love plantation shutters? My building designer said they give the perception of a house being expensive. I beg to differ because plantation shutters are one of the few cumbersome things that both Mysaucepan dislike, which is rare since we rarely agree on anything.

I find plantation shutters need cleaning because each individual panel acts like a natural shelf for dust. They are also rather awkward because they need swinging space to open and are expensive to install. The previous owner had fourteen large panels installed in the living area and two bedrooms. I have since gladly sold all but two panels on ebay. We currently have makeshift curtains by using a felt blanket and large fold back clips.

Mysaucepan suggested using the new bedroom as the master bedroom because it enjoys the privacy of the reserve. I prefer this one for two reasons. Firstly, this bedroom has a northeast aspect and receives an abundance of natural sunlight all day long. Secondly, it is next to our study / home office that will eventually enjoy sliding door-access onto the outdoor deck in the back garden as well.

Under-bed storage used for fragile crockery items

Under-bed storage used for fragile crockery items

Having a bed with linen storage is extremely useful but in a home renovation, this is absolutely invaluable to store fragile items such as crockery and glassware from the kitchen.

Mysaucepan suggested packing our crockery like we did when we moved into this house but being a utilitarian, I saw large baking trays as useful containers to organise and store small crockery items such as dipping plates, tea cups and saucers.

After all, we are only temporarily moving stuff from the kitchen into our bedroom.

Under-bed storage used for fragile crockery and glassware

Under-bed storage used for fragile crockery and glassware and a selection of “Imelda” shoes

Even tall champagne glasses, fruit and salad platters, plates and cups can be stored in the bed. I have also planned a vertical shoe cabinet for “Imelda”, a name coined by our builders when they first opened that linen cupboard used by Mysaucepan to keep her shoes.

I counted about sixty five pairs of shoes for her compared to my total of eight pairs of sneakers and everyday shoes, two pairs of which have not been worn before.

P5700483 P5700657

The last bastion for demolition is the master ensuite which is laced with “grandma” features, a term used by my building designer to refer to old and dated decor.

Since the demolition of our kitchen and sink, this bathroom vanity has been converted to be our temporary kitchen sink and drying area.

My items: hair gel, aftershave, shaver and small white hair brush (in front of light globe)

My four  items: hair gel, aftershave, shaver & small hair brush (in front of light globe)

The existing master ensuite will be completely demolished during this renovation.

While packing our toiletries, I counted five toiletry items for myself – hair gel, hair brush (in front of light globe), toothbrush, shaver and aftershave among the multitude of face creams, eye creams, facial wash, make up among another multitude of accessories that make a woman who she is.

Instant noodles in the bathroom

Instant noodles in the bathroom

There have been times when a simple lunch had to be prepared in the bathroom because renovations were going fast and furious outside this sleeping zone.

Japanese bamboo vanity bowls and tapware for new ensuite bathroom

Japanese bamboo vanity bowls and tapware for new ensuite bathroom

After two months of trawling online for suitable bathware, I finally found a 40mm x 520mm x 1500mm stonetop for Fontaine Industries  that suits the dimension of the master ensuite to a tee.

This stone top will complement the matt black tapware and Japanese bamboo vanity bowls I have chosen for our master ensuite.

The study is a temporary storage facility

The study is a temporary storage facility

In the interim, the study has been converted into a temporary storage facility for furniture and kitchen stuff.

My desk has been moved a third time into the study

My desk has been moved a third time into the study

The “desk” I have been using for the last year will eventually be used for its rightful function as an outdoor dining table, hopefully in about four weeks time.

Utility zone – garage & laundry

Garage used for storing new furniture and kitchen appliances

Garage used for storing new furniture and kitchen appliances. New bathroom wall on right.

In the “old days”, the inherent deficiency of an old style garage is that it was designed and built too wide for one vehicle and too small for two.

This is the case for our house which spans the standard 22-metre frontage that has no room for a second side-by-side carspace unless living space in the lounge is sacrificed. This option is not only unrealistic let alone expensively impossible even if council approved it. Hence, I have used the extra width of the garage as space for the new bathroom which also triples up as an ensuite for the new bedroom and a powder room for guests. The new bedroom can also be used as a teenage cum parent retreat because it enjoys internal access from the garage and also has direct access onto the outdoor deck and entertainment areas in the rear garden.

My building designer advised it did not make real estate sense to designate a laundry in the garage. Judging by escalating real estate values in Sydney, I disagree because I foresee a future of laundries in garages not only out of cost necessity but it also makes beautiful sense from a design perspective. I reassured Mysaucepan a relatively elegant and inexpensive epoxy flooring for the garage will inspire her to take laundry chores to a higher level with new zeal.

For now, the garage is storage for new kitchen appliances and outdoor condenser units.

New desks for our study stored in galley for new laundry

New desks for our study stored in galley for new laundry

I have been looking for a glasstop desk and came across this Molti Computer Desk. Placed side by side, these two desks give me the perfect 2.4 metre length for the study.

Floor and wall tiles stored on the driveway

Floor and wall tiles stored on the driveway

The driveway is also being used to store items that can be left outdoors.

New sliding doors and windows stored on the driveway

New sliding doors and windows stored on the driveway

I opted for 2.4 metre high sliding doors to take advantage of the reserve vista in the rear garden.

New internal access from garage and new flyscreens

New internal access from garage and new flyscreens

There was no internal access into the house from the garage because the previous owner shortened the garage to make space for a study alcove in the living area. I have used this space in the last year as a home office and is now rightfully converted back into a full length garage with internal access.

New living and outdoor entertainment zone

New living area and outdoor deck

New living area and outdoor deck

Underfloor mats have been laid in preparation for floor heating in the new living area that includes a cocktail bar and home to my piano.

 

Laundry on the deck

Laundry on the deck

Being able to walk from the new living area onto an outdoor deck is a home entertainer’s dream.

For now, it is a multi-purpose facility for tradies, storage for the old cooktop & oven (wrapped in tarpaulin in the background) as well as an area for drying our laundry.

Brick cuttings for under house ventilation

Brick cuttings for under house ventilation

I will eventually find a useful purpose for these brick cuttings, either as a doorstop or a creative tool to deter pesky marsupials that roam in our rear garden.

Lemonade on our builder's workhorse

Lemonade on our builder’s workhorse

It can be stressful living on site when you have noise, dust and chaos to contend with each day.

I told Mysaucepan we ought to celebrate in our own small way as each stage of the reno is being completed.

Lemonade on our builder's workhorse

Lemonade on our builder’s workhorse

It can be lemonade on some days …

Margarita for her, scotch on the rocks for me

Margarita for her, scotch on the rocks for me

Or margarita on others …

2005 Bannockburn Chardonnay and olives

2005 Bannockburn Chardonnay and olives

It helps that my best mate Monk pops over on some days with a couple of chardies too.

Cosmopolitan for her, G & T for me

Cosmopolitan for her, G & T for me

Apart from that, I am quite content to just have a quiet drink with Mysaucepan, especially during happy hour on Fridays.

Music in the midst of a home renovation

Music in the midst of a home renovation

Otherwise, I am most happy and alive when I get to play the piano even though sandwiched between a fridge and a porcelain toilet bowl.

 

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Kitchen demolition http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/kitchen-demolition/ Mon, 14 Nov 2016 22:50:51 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=643 Kitchen Demolition

                       Today’s menu has 2 choices – Take it or Leave it!

                                                          ~~~O~~~

It has been a long time coming for I have been wanting to demolish this kitchen that came with the house.

Though functional, the wooden cabinets are dated and old. As an enthusiastic home cook, I dislike the design and layout because the microwave, fridge and rubbish disposal are located in awkward areas. The sink is not an undermount let alone one of those with a big and small section where the latter is pretty much a waste of space.

Kitchen: During the open inspection before we bought the house

Kitchen in May 2015: During the open inspection before we bought the house

When I first saw this kitchen during the open inspection back in May 2015, I thought it rather kitsch with those stark French overtones. But the window at the front of the sink looks out onto an enclosed indoor patio which is an unusable space because it is small and is part of a pathway to the laundry.

I envisaged this unusable space to be an attractive new dining and entertainment area if the wall is demolished and the corner extended outward to be in line with the rest of the house.

Kitchen in September 2015: After we bought the house and have moved in

Kitchen in September 2015: After we bought the house and have moved in

Since moving into this house, we have been using the L-shaped kitchen benchtop partly for storing everyday wine, an occasional area for surfing the internet or prep area for baking and kneading fresh pasta.

Kitchen in September 2016: After demolition of the laundry and outside patio

Kitchen in September 2016: After demolition of the laundry and outside patio

Demolition of the patio and laundry on the other side of the window was truly a breath of fresh air as it temporarily let in more light into the kitchen.

Kitchen on Day 48, 18 October 2016: First glimpses of our eventual open kitchen

Kitchen on Day 48, 18 October 2016: First glimpses of our eventual open kitchen

Our old kitchen felt open when the wall at the front of the kitchen sink was finally demolished.

This entire kitchen will eventually be demolished to make way for the new kitchen with a 3 metre x 1.4 metre island benchtop.

Preparing old ceiling to be joined with new ceiling

Preparing old ceiling to be joined with new ceiling

One of the tasks for our builders is to smoothen and prepare the old ceiling to join the new areas at 2.7 metres in height. Note the new 7.5 metre wooden beam installed is visible above the area where the old ceiling ends.

Delivery of Bradford Gold batts

Delivery of Bradford Gold batts for ceiling and wall insulation

Delivery of Bradford Gold batts for ceiling and wall insulation

To insulate the entire roof and new walls of the house, batts (yellow sponge like layers) are laid.

Bradford Gold ceiling batts being installed

Bradford Gold ceiling batts being installed

Our dining table is temporarily placed next to the kitchen as the old living area has been demolished and is now the new living area.

Bradford Gold batts installed into ceiling at new dining and living areas

Bradford Gold batts installed in the ceiling at new dining and living areas

It is hard to imagine how the previous owners lived in this house devoid of any roof insulation.

During our first summer here in December 2015, this house felt like a convection oven on those forty-degree stinker days. Pending DA approval from council for the renovations, it was also pointless to install air-conditioning.

On the other extreme, cold winter nights in this house felt like an icebox as the doors and windows are at least forty years old with little insulation. Portable heaters gave us some toasty relief from the cold but heat escape is inevitable and efficient energy usage is non-existent.

Packing up the kitchen in preparation for demolition

Packing up the kitchen in preparation for demolition

Our kitchen appliances, dry pantry foodstuff, utensils, crockery and glassware were packed into boxes on the day the kitchen was to be demolished.

Kitchen demolition

Kitchen demolition

It took Scott all of an hour or so to rip off all the old cabinets, gyprock and ghastly old linoleum floor coverings from the kitchen.

Old wooden kitchen cabinets, cooktop, oven and rangehood removed

Old wooden kitchen cabinets, cooktop, oven and rangehood removed

The skeleton of the old kitchen is now bare and the right-angle door cavity at the corner was where the linen cupboard used to be. Mysaucepan used this linen cupboard as a shoe cabinet and I proposed this space must necessarily be sacrificed for the new walk-in pantry in the kitchen which she vehemently disagreed, arguing she needs space for all her shoes.

Being project manager, I had to reject her request because an appropriate space to house all her shoes has already been planned. An important criteria of a good renovation and home extension is to increase the intrinsic value of the property regardless of whether it is an owner-occupier or investment property. In the case of our house, being able to tick off a walk-in pantry in our suburb where the demographics of families abound is imperative, let alone a significant selling point.

Old kitchen benchtop remaining for temporary use

Old kitchen benchtop remaining for temporary use

The old kitchen has now been demolished except for the benchtop which our builders have left us with so that we can still do some light cooking each day.

New gyprock sheets installed in preparation for new kitchen cabinets

New gyprock sheets installed in preparation for new kitchen cabinets

Meanwhile, the gyprock tradies begin installing new wall and ceiling panels to the new extension areas.

New gyprock sheets installed in preparation for new kitchen cabinets

New gyprock sheets installed in preparation for new kitchen cabinets

Attaching gyprock sheets to walls and ceiling is a relatively simple task. However, the positions for all electrical works such as power sockets, wall switches, downlights and pendant lights need to be decided beforehand so that cavity holes can be cut in the gyprock.

Ceiling batts installed for new cocktall bar area and new bedroom (background)

Ceiling batts installed for new cocktall bar area and new bedroom (background)

These ceiling batts will ensure for the first time in the history of this house that living areas will remain cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter.

Gyprock sheets going up in new cocktail bar area

Gyprock sheets going up in new cocktail bar area

A 7.2 kilowatt split unit, reverse cycle air-conditioner will be installed on the wall at the cocktail bar area. This unit is sufficient to accommodate the 50 square metre space of the new living areas.

Measuring ceiling before installing gyprock sheets

Measuring ceiling before installing gyprock sheets

Our two fridges are temporarily moved to the middle of the lounge while ceiling batts are being installed.

Applying acrylic stud adhesive to ceiling battens

Applying acrylic stud adhesive to ceiling battens

Wooden steps to protect door railing prior to laying tiles

Wooden steps to protect door railing prior to laying tiles

Scott has built wooden protective steps to protect the sliding door railings from heavy foot traffic as they stick out from the floor level prior to tiles being laid.

Gyprock acrylic stud adhesive applied to Stratco ceiling battens

Gyprock acrylic stud adhesive applied to Stratco ceiling battens

Installing the last two gyprock panels to the dining room ceiling

Installing the last two gyprock panels to the dining room ceiling

The kitchen benchtop will remain for a few more days before it is demolished to make way for the new kitchen installation.

Gyprock wall and ceilings installed

Gyprock wall and ceilings installed

New vanity units for the bathrooms are temporarily stored in the dining area as the garage has run out of storage space.

View of new dining area from outdoor deck

View of new dining area from outdoor deck

I worked with my architect to find a solution for a “floating corner” amidst bushfire constraints. At last, this corner is beginning to take shape.

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Up with the rafters http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/up-with-the-rafters/ http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/up-with-the-rafters/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:35:56 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=477 Up with the rafters 11 Trigalana Place

It has been a hectic couple of weeks.

And continuous days of beautiful sunshine means the builders are on a roll – powering ahead with construction of the roof over a new bedroom, living and dining areas.

Existing view from the kitchen

Existing view from the kitchen

By 6.30am each morning, the builders are having their coffee at the front of my house. Being an early riser, I am usually up and about by 6am.

By 7am, the beautiful sound of tablesaws, nailguns and hammering is the natural alarm clock for Mysaucepan to get out of bed.

Area beneath the eventual elevated deck

Area beneath the eventual elevated deck

Ant caps made from galvanized sheet metal are placed on top of the brick piers that support each wooden joist.

As termites dislike natural light, these ant caps form a physical barrier designed to force foraging termites out into the open for detection during a building inspection. They do not prevent termites entering the house but any sign of termite activity in the future is easily visible by mud tunnels that form over these shields.

These shields can also act as a barrier against rising damp from the ground.

Timber joists being installed for the elevated deck

Timber joists being installed for the elevated deck

The total area of the new deck is approximately 85 sqm that include two walkways from a new, forth bedroom and the existing third bedroom.

The appeal of this outdoor floorplan is in its square and rectangular shapes. It is easy and cost effective to work with a floorplan that does not have irregular shapes, angles and different levels. Out of the total area of 85 sqm, 40 sqm is for outdoor entertaining, 22 sqm for an in-ground jet spa pool that seats 5 people. Walkways and viewing balconies onto the backyard is 23 sqm.

In addition to this 85sqm, there is a 15 sqm area for outdoor BBQ / roasting spit and pizza oven with integrated handwash basin, hotwater and gas utilities.

Timber joists for new elevated walkway

Timber joists for new elevated walkway from third bedroom

My building designer advised against constructing these two walkways from the bedrooms citing costs and privacy reasons.

I disagreed with him for the following reasons:

1. Privacy to the bedrooms can be easily maintained (with low gates) and is only an issue during outdoor entertaining and that’s even if guests decide to venture to the bedrooms;

2. The new bedroom 4 (with its own ensuite) has views of the bushland and reserve. By allowing access onto the rear deck, this new bedroom can be a very elegant alternative for a master bedroom / parents or teenage retreat. For our purpose, this will be the guest room for visitors;

3. The third bedroom is currently the smallest room in the house and this room will become my home office cum study cum reading room. Because it is next to the existing master bedroom (as any good study should be), allowing access to the rear deck will invariably increase its perceived size and attractiveness. This bedroom can also be used as a nursery for families with young children. I can imagine a mother’s joy of being able to walk directly into a private deck overlooking bushland with her baby;

4. I do not see these walkways as “wasted space” because I see them as viewing balconies since they both front the reserve and eventual spa pool. With a width of 1.5m and privacy screens to shield adjoining neighbours, these viewing balconies can be further enhanced with coffee tables for two people.

Backyard being used partly for storage

Backyard being used partly for storage

Cement pavers from the previous outdoor area have been stacked up on one corner of the backyard and our BBQ has been sitting on the lawn for the last 8 weeks.

Metal railings from an old staircase has been dismantled and are lying on the lawn waiting to be disposed. The two large rainwater tanks will be installed under the rear deck.

Rainwater tanks being installed beneath elevated deck

Rainwater tanks being installed beneath elevated deck

Two 3.9-kilolitre rainwater tanks are delivered to the property on Wednesday, 31 August 2016.

New dwellings in New South Wales are required to comply with the sustainability provisions of BASIX {Building Sustainability Index).

This index aims to deliver equitable, effective water and greenhouse gas reductions across the state. BASIX is one of the strongest sustainable planning measures to be undertaken in Australia.

Rainwater tanks being installed beneath elevated deck

Rainwater tanks being installed beneath elevated deck

Accordingly, materials used to build new dwellings are required to take into consideration environmental and sustainability issues. For example, glass windows need to comply with heat retention indices to ensure efficiency in usage of heating and cooling resources.

Water sustainability calculation

Water catchment in litres is calculated by multiplying roof area in square metres with annual rainfall in millimetres.

Our new roof in the rear has an area of 88 square metres and the suburb we live in receives an annual average of 1,135mm of precipitation or 94mm per month.

Therefore, our average water catchment = 88 sqm x 94 mm = 8,272 litres of rainwater per month. This amount of rainfall should enable our rainwater tanks (total capacity 3,900 litres x 2 = 7,800 litres) to be filled to capacity on average each month. Although this is not potable water, this source is sufficient to be used for toilet flushing, gardening and car washing.

In Australia, the average person consumes approximately 200 litres of water per day or 6,000 litres per month.

Existing view from kitchen

Existing view from kitchen

The builders construct wooden joists over the brick piers once the rainwater tanks have been installed underneath.

Builders sawing off fibre cement sheet

Builders sawing off fibre cement sheet

Fibre cement sheets are laid over the deck area.

Check out our builder slicing off fibre cement sheet in the above video.

Due to ‘flame zone’ restrictions, exposed timber of any kind are not permitted. As we intially planned to have an elevated wooden deck, this idea has since been abandoned.

Builder slicing off a PC sheet at the edge

Builder slicing off a PC sheet at the edge

The choice of modern floor coverings these days has enabled me to decide on a porcelain tile with wood grain look and texture that is maintenance-free compared to the need to resurface and stain a wooden deck every few years.

Existing colorbond roof next to be demolised

Existing colorbond roof next to be demolised

We have come to the stage where the old extention roof at the rear of the house can be demolished.

Check out the demolition of this old roof in the video above.

New frames being erected

New frames being erected

The northwest corner of house was previously a garden bed that was a “dead corner” as it was at the side of the house and not usable at all. This area has been “squared off” to form part of the new fourth bedroom.

By far the biggest gain floor space is to turn unusable space into highly usable areas.

Area for new bedroom 4

Area for new bedroom 4

As mentioned above, the new fourth bedroom with its own ensuite will have sliding doors opening into the elevated deck. I foresee this to be a highly desirable alternative master bedroom, parents or teenage retreat.

We will be using this as a guest bedroom.

New 7.4 metre beam being installed by a crane

New 7.4 metre beam being installed by a crane

The ceiling in the old living areas were only 2.45m high. As the old roof is demolished, this area will have 2.7m ceilings to be flushed with the other areas of the house.

There will be a seamless transition between the existing area of the house with the new extension without visible ceiling beams. This is achieved by installing a 7.4 metre beam that sits on load bearing walls between our new kitchen area.

Check out the crane used to lift and install the heavy 7.4 metre beam over the roof of the house.

Old roof tiles in the skip bin

Old roof tiles in the skip bin

Old roof tiles and all other building and demolition rubble are placed in skip bins for disposal. These bins are not cheap and my builder is conscious to ensure maximum usage by managing the timing and quantity of demolition and rubble disposal. This practice minimizes the cost of rubbish disposal.

Check out how a fully loaded skip bin is lifted and taken off site for disposal of its building rubble.

Roof rafters for the new extension – southeast view

Roof rafters for the new extension – southeast view

A new roof with 2.7 metre ceilings is being constructed in replacement of the old roof.

Roof rafters for the new extension – eastern view

Roof rafters for the new extension – eastern view

2.4 metre high sliding doors will be installed for the areas opening onto the elevated deck to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor areas.

Roof rafters for the new extension – western view

Roof rafters for the new extension – western view

Wall frames

Wall frames between new bedroom 4 and living area

Wall frames between new bedroom 4 and living area

New walls will be sarked to improve heat retention in winter and minimize heat gain in summer. It will also minimize noise penetration between the living areas and the bedroom.

Roof rafters over the new dining area

Roof rafters over the new dining area

There is approximately 12 metres of space opening into the outdoor deck. This is to create the feel of open spaces when these 2.4 metre high sliding doors are opened.

Plywood for the roof and eaves delivered

Plywood for the roof and eaves delivered

Due to bushfire ratings, outdoor eaves and ceilings will be cladded with plywood, gyprock and fibre cement sheets.

New roof rafters being bolted down

New roof rafters being bolted down

We have been having some glorious weather and it is a beautiful spring day when these plywood sheets are being nailed onto the roof rafters.

Installing plywood over roof rafters

Installing plywood over roof rafters

Our builder is directing proceedings on the roof.

New roof rafters and plywood cover

New roof rafters and plywood cover

Glorious sunshine is beaming from the eastern side of the house this spring morning.

New 6 degree roof rafters over the rear of the property

New 6 degree roof rafters over the rear of the property

The front of the house has a north eastern aspect that enjoys all day sun.

View over the neighbour’s backyard

View over the neighbour’s backyard

Our neighbours have a neatly maintained bush that borders the rear of their backyard with the bushland reserve.

Standing on the new roof and a view of the backyard

Standing on the new roof and a view of the backyard

I take a photo of the backyard from the new roof.

The newly replanted palm on the top of the image above has some dead branches. I hope this palm will survive in its new location.

Majestic gum tree in the reserve adjoining the backyard

Majestic gum tree in the reserve adjoining the backyard

I fell in love with this gum tree when I first sat foot in our backyard more than a year ago.

I plan to illuminate this beautiful tree with spot lights from the ground to provide a serene backdrop for the elevated deck.

Builders on the roof

Builders on the roof

Builders Scott and Adam sharing a light moment on the new roof.

The construction of the new state-of-the-art Northern Beaches Hospital can be seen in the distant horizon.

Plywood going up onto the roof

Plywood going up onto the roof

Apprentice tradie Tom is passing up sheets of plywood to Scott and Adam.

Up with the rafters

Up with the rafters

The area of this new roof is approximately 88 square metres.

New facade taking shape

New facade taking shape

I hope this good weather continues as we head towards certification for framing and lock-up stage of construction.

Stay tuned for more updates in due course.

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Getting Down To Building http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/getting-down-to-business/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:32:09 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=395 Getting Down To Building - 11 Trigalana Place

Project planning is an on-going and continuous process before and during the construction phase of a renovation.

I have allowed for contingencies in my budget for the unforeseen – what if we discover a huge boulder while digging into the ground or the entire roof suddenly crumbles during demolition. Depending on the nature and size of the project, I have previously provided a 10% contingency on construction costs for new builds.

Excavation and preparing trenches for concrete foundation

Excavation and preparing trenches for concrete foundation

While waiting for the Construction Certificate to be issued by a private certifier, my builder proposed we save time by demolishing the aluminium garden shed built on a concrete slab, remove trees, garden shrubs and plants on the reno footprint and excavate trenches for the concrete foundation.

(In New South Wales, the document required before building works can commence is called a Construction Certificate. In Victoria, this document is called a Building Permit).

Large heaps of black earth from excavation works

Large heaps of black earth from excavation works

You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that digging a hole in the garden bed can also be deemed gardening as opposed to excavation for building purposes. And I have read about domestic violence among Hollywood celebrities inflicting more destruction compared to the demolition we have carried out thus far.

Cutting a trench out of an existing concrete pavement

Cutting into existing concrete pavement to create trench

Even though there is an existing concrete pavement on the southeast side of the backyard, this concrete needs to be cut to create a trench for the new concrete foundation. A new pathway will be constructed directly above this concrete pavement for new access from the study onto the outdoor deck.

This concrete pavement will form part of the under house storage of gardening tools and equipment.

Boundaries of property pegged by land surveyor

Boundaries of property pegged by land surveyor

The Construction Certificate was issued on 27 July 2016.

Prior to excavation and construction, one of the most important tasks is to ensure the boundaries are correctly pegged by the land surveyor. Although, demolition of the garden shed and removal of plants and trees commenced on 19 July 2016, we lost a couple of weeks due to the heavy rain and storms between end July and first week of August. Once excavation is completed, concrete was poured on 12 August 2016.

Concrete works – 12 August 2016

Concrete mixer truck at the front of the house

Concrete mixer truck at the front of the house

The house has a 22-metre north-east frontage that is drenched all day with natural sunlight.

On this beautiful winter morning, a concrete mixer truck is ready to do its work. Readymix concrete from smaller suppliers are significantly more expensive in Sydney at $275 per cubic metre compared to the $160 per cubic metre I have paid for property development projects in Melbourne.

Concrete being pumped to rear of property

Concrete being pumped to rear of property

The concrete from a mixer truck is pumped through a pipe along the northwest border to the rear of the house.

Concrete being pumped into pier foundation

Concrete being pumped into pier foundation

Each pier foundation that would eventually support the extension of the dining area and outdoor deck is filled with concrete.

Fresh concrete pumped into trench

Fresh concrete pumped into trench

The newly cut trench at the bottom of the walkway outside the study is filled with concrete.

Fresh concrete being pumped into trenches

Fresh concrete being pumped into trenches

As the concrete is poured into the trenchs, it is evenly leveled before it dries.

Fresh concrete being pumped into trench

Fresh concrete being pumped into trench

This concrete trench will be the foundation for the edge of the outdoor deck facing the reserve.

Leveling fresh concrete

Leveling fresh concrete

 

Concrete hardened and set after three days

Concrete hardened and set after three days

Brickworks – 19 August 2016

Bricks temporarily placed on nature strip

Bricks temporarily placed on nature strip

These bricks are for the underside of the elevated deck as it needs to be fully concealed to comply to the ‘flame zone’ fire rating. Had I chosen not to conceal the underside of the deck, all the joists and materials will need to be non-combustible.

These nine pallets of bricks cost about $2,750 or approximately 65 cents per brick.

Cement mixer on the front lawn

Cement mixer on the front lawn

Part of the front lawn has been used by the brickies to mix their cement. The nozzle on my garden hose is totally smudged with cement and my builder has kindly offered to buy me a new one.

Eventually, the red brick walls will be rendered and from a renovation perspective, this is one of the most effective ways to ‘modernize’ an older style red brick facade.

Both Mysaucepan and I dislike the white plantation shutters (yaay! we do agree on certain things!!) because they require swinging space when opened. Out of the fourteen window panels around the house, I have sold 12 panels for $100 each on eBay and there are two remaining panels for sale.

The white window frames are original from the time when this house was built in the late 1960s. They will be replaced with matt charcoal aluminium windows from Trend Windows in Eastern Valley Way, Chatswood.

Wheelbarrow transports bricks from from lawn to the rear

Wheelbarrow transports bricks from from lawn to the rear

The brickies wheelbarrow the bricks from the front lawn and stack them up before they are laid.

Brickie preparing cement for bricklaying

Brickie preparing cement for bricklaying

Today is Friday, 26 August 2016 and it is a beautiful winter day to be laying bricks even if I am not a brickie myself.

Cement mixed in the front lawn is shoved onto wooden planks next to brick piles.

Bricks ready to be laid

Bricks ready to be laid

The walls around the area to the left of the staircase where my builder (in blue shirt) is standing have been demolished. In time, the roof will also be demolished and that area will become a new bedroom and living area. The area where the staircase is currently located will be extended to become the new dining room.

Bricks ready to be laid

Bricks ready to be laid

What was once a garden bed with beautiful agapanthus, lilies, camellias and hydrangeas looks like a complete mess to the dismay of Mysaucepan.

Southeast and southwest brickwall completed

Southeast and southwest brickwall completed

The walls on the eastern and southern boundaries of the deck are completed after three days. Note the concrete has changed colour from a greyish blue to a whitish grey when fully hardened.

New brick wall foundation for elevated deck completed

New brick wall foundation for elevated deck completed

It took two brickies five days to construct this wall and brick piers at a cost of $4,500.

(Note the wall is not completely illustrated in the image above.)

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The Line Is Drawn http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/the-line-is-drawn/ Wed, 14 Sep 2016 05:47:57 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=245 the-line-is-drawn-11-trigalana-place

 

It seems like ages since sale contracts were exchanged on the 4 June 2015 for this property.

A contingency clause in the sale contract is incumbent upon the seller obtaining probate from the trustee for a deceased estate before settlement can occur. After a prolonged delay, we finally settled on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 for a contract that normally takes 42 days to do so.

I went straight into project planning mode after contracts were exchanged in June 2015, engaging my building designer to formalize and submit a DA for the renovation and addition.

BEFORE Excavation – Site Preparation

BEFORE Excavation: The backyard and garden

BEFORE Excavation: The backyard and garden

Initially, I expected approval for the renovations to be obtained via a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) the process of which could take as little as ten days through a private certifier. However, a bushfire report returning a classification of ‘flame zone’ (the highest bushfire alert rating per the NSW Rural Fire Service) means constraints to building design and materials used for the proposed renovation. The CDC process is not permitted due to this rating and a council approval is required via a DA. Project costs will also incur the additional expense which I anticipated at the outset.

Through my experience from building townhouses in Melbourne over the last few years, I have learnt that Council restrictions to building design can often be opportunities in disguise. Obstacles present an opportunity to think creatively and in ways we don’t normally do. I will share my new discoveries in building materials and the design of a “floating corner” that integrates the outdoors with the interior of the house in my next blog post.

Delays on the part of the building designer meant the DA was eventually lodged on 28 January 2016, a lengthy 127 days since settlement on 23 September 2015. Upon lodgement of the DA with Northern Beaches Council, I am told by the council planner that they are currently inundated with a high volume of development applications.

It seems that most home owners are eager to have their DA approved before Christmas and ours were eventually determined on 22 April 2016.

BEFORE Excavation: The backyard and garden

BEFORE Excavation: The backyard and garden

The previous owner maintained quite a few plants and used brick pavers to define garden beds. Though I enjoy gardening, there is ample land in the backyard and I foresaw an opportunity to add value during open inspection back in May 2015 when it was for sale.

“Can we keep this garden bed?” Mysaucepan asks as I finalize renovation plans with the building designer.

“From a real estate investment point of view, no” I reply. “We cannot realize the full potential of this land if we keep this garden bed.”

On the space where the garden bed and paved concrete area are currently located will be an elevated deck and spa pool. The garden will be low maintenance and brick pavers will be replaced with sandstone rocks for a more natural setting.

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

A building permit is required before construction can commence and as I wait for this permit to be issued, I begin my search for a good local builder. Over a few weeks of meeting builders and going through quotations, I believe that I have found the right builder for this proposed renovation.

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

BEFORE Excavation: Plants in garden bed and concrete pavers are removed

View of the backyard and reserve from our kitchen

View of the backyard and reserve from our kitchen

While waiting for the permit to be issued, the builder begins the site preparation by removing the garden bed, a mature yakka, fern and concrete pavers.

I consult a local arborist to see if mature strelitzia nicolai and palm trees next to the house can be relocated elsewhere. The arborist advised that depending on the age and species of a tree, the cost of relocating and replanting can be up to $5,000 and there is no guarantee the tree will even survive in its new location. Based on this advice, I think the decision to use an arborist for replanting is rather obvious.

Unusable corner cleared for new bedroom and bathroom

Unusable corner cleared for new bedroom and bathroom

It is always best to avoid properties where the shape of the land and floorplan are irregular because they are difficult to work with.

Square and rectangular areas will generally yield the highest return in space utilization. By demolishing an external wall, this under-utilized corner of house which is currently a garden bed will be integrated to become a new bedroom with an ensuite.

An excavator preparing trenches for concrete foundation

An excavator preparing trenches for concrete foundation

Application was made to council to allow access for an excavator through the long strip of reserve land at the rear of the property. Within a day, the excavator prepares trenches for the concrete foundation for the extension of the existing house.

Replanting mature palm tree

Replanting mature palm tree

A mature palm next to the house is being removed with an excavator and replanted at the edge of the backyard. I hope this palm will survive and thrive in its new location.

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Words of paradise http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/words-of-paradise/ Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:34:41 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=189 Bird of paradise plant on our front lawn (money plant in foreground)

Bird of paradise plant on our front lawn (flowering money plant in foreground)

“Why don’t you harvest these beautiful bird of paradise and place them in your home?” my friend Molly says as she wanders around my front lawn. Simple as these words may seem whilst rummaging through the day, I feel something is amiss.

(Music to accompany this blog post ~ click on the image above before proceeding)

You see, I just got home on my own after a short trip in Singapore because Mysaucepan is still there with her parents.

But just like any other day, the cockatoos, parakeets and minors are out in force. They are vying for karaoke rights in a street that barely hears anything else apart from the giant gum trees whispering in the wind.

Despite such tranquil surroundings on a beautiful winter day, why does it feel a little different today?

Words of paradise

 Bird of paradise plant

Bird of paradise plant in our garden

Strelitzia reginae otherwise commonly known as bird of paradise is a monocotyledonous flowering plant indigenous to South Africa. Its scientific name commemorates the British queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The species is native to South Africa but naturalized in Mexico, Belize, Bangladesh, Madeira Islands and Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile.

This plant grows to 2 metres tall with large, evergreen leaves arranged in two ranks, making a fan-shaped crown. The flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks.

The hard, beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges is termed the spathe. This is placed perpendicular to the stem, which gives it the appearance of a bird’s head and beak; it makes a durable perch for holding the sunbirds which pollinate the flowers. The flowers, which emerge one at a time from the spathe, consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three purplish-blue or white petals. Two of the blue or white petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary.

When the sunbirds sit to drink the nectar, the petals open to cover their feet in pollen.*

*Source: Wikipedia.org
Birds of paradise plant

Birds of paradise plant from our garden

With the impending renovations to this house, there is a myriad of things I need to get done since obtaining DA approval from council. Like all approvals, it comes with a set of conditions that need to be met even before the first brick is laid.

Structural and hydraulic engineering drawings need to be commissioned and builders’ quotations verified before a construction certificate can even be issued.

Today, the land surveyor’s boundary marking pegs have finally been nailed down in the garden where the proposed extension and additions are to be constructed. And it is all the better if these tasks can be done as soon as possible, rather than later, at competitive prices and without a compromise on quality. Generally, this is how a man thinks, I think.

I do do it sometimes. But perhaps I ought to remind myself to think like a woman every now and then but especially during the course of the renovations. Why? Because I have read about renovation disasters even breaking up marriages.

So, I have made concessions for our new wardrobes to accommodate a lot more space for the woman, rather than the man of the house. The kitchen and bathrooms, when done well, will always pull the heart strings of a woman, let alone add significant value to a house. Ample space that not only stores but displays her favourite stilettos have been allocated. Despite the fact I only take showers, and quick ones too, a free standing bath tub with seductive spaces for tea lights will be installed. I have read countless home decor magazines, online home design websites and thought deeply about stylish yet practical storage for women’s make up and dress accessories in our new ensuite.

Scented candles and tea lights with a calming fragrance, soft bath towels, plush pillows and bed sheets are little touches that transform a house into a home. Sadly though, these wonderful things are often organised by a woman.

Birds of paradise plant

Birds of paradise plant from our garden

Perhaps nothing says it more sincerely than a bouquet of flowers from our own garden greeting her upon return this weekend. It is a simple gesture. So by definition, it should not be something beyond what a man can, or should do. So a few snips with my garden shears, something that was amiss earlier in the day is now sitting beautifully on my coffee table.

And we already know too well, the blasé saying about the woman behind every successful man since men are, by nature, task-oriented and dogmatic while women are generally more emotional. But why is this saying important?

Because it is the sensitivity and tenderness of the fairer sex in this symbiotic partnership that makes our world so beautiful.

 

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Creating something special http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/creating-something-special/ Sun, 22 May 2016 23:44:00 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=157 Creating something special, 11 trigalana place

I am not an interior designer and don’t pretend to be one.

I am an accountant and accountants are generally known to be boring, number-crunching nerds devoid of good aesthetics and creativity, except perhaps, for creative accounting. But I do believe there exist in each of us, however large or small, a sense of appreciation for goodness and beauty that defines who we are. Aesthetically, I find darker colours like charcoal, grey and black exude its mystique when combined with natural textures such as wood and timber motifs.

Beauty is, of course, subjective and it begins with our own perception of what it actually is. In the context of interior design and home decor, I like the notion of minimalist, where less is more and how neutral colours play a role in defining a particular space. Thankfully, Mysaucepan shares this same view so we are on the same page and there is one less argument. But when it comes to choosing colours and textures for say kitchen cabinetry, floor and wall coverings, our opinions differ vastly and this is where the fight, or fun and games if you like, begin. Like most home renovators, the constraint of a budget also determines, and in many instances, limits our choice for materials and home appliances.

Creating something special - floor tiles for 11 trigalana place

I am standing on a 600mm x 1200mm charcoal shade porcelain tile for our kitchen and living areas

Being an accountant, I am ever so conscious to not overcapitalize our proposed renovation. I have my own due diligence methods on how to buy real estate and have completed townhouse developments in Melbourne. But Sydney’s property market is a totally different ball game and I have invested in upgrading my knowledge as a graduate student of “Australia’s renovation queen” Cherie Barber. Subconsciously, I have secretly (not anymore now) adopted her as my mentor and confidant.

Mysaucepan and I generally agree on white ceasarstone kitchen benchtops and she is also proposing a matt white polyurethane finish for the kitchen cabinetry as well. I like the idea of a predominantly white kitchen but cautioned that we are surrounded by nature and greenery. Therefore, I reason that our ceasarstone benchtop would really come alive when juxtaposed against more earthy elements such as a dark slate floor and warm wood paneling.

In my mind, good home aesthetics come from finding unique objects or focal points and connecting these points with a common theme. It might sound easy but given a budget, time and logistical constraints, it is tempting to waver from the theme and just buy it “off the shelf” because it is the easy thing to do.

Creating something special requires patience, time and most importantly, an unwavering determination to find different elements that perpetuate a chosen theme and in our case, black against wood motifs. It took me three weeks to finally track down wall-mounted bathroom vanities in the correct shape, size, colour and finished texture that would complement the benchtop colour, the style of hand basin, taps, towel rails and floor and wall tiles.

And I am determined to do this all over again for every piece of fitting because collectively, they will perpetuate the significance of our theme. It is back-breaking but I know the end result will be worth the effort.

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

Illustration of proposed material (clockwise from top):

  • Blanco maple (white) silestone (sample from Nobby’s Kitchen)
  • Materia 04 Black Crusted (sample from Di Lorenzo tiles)
  • Polytec Ravine Sepia Oak (sample from The Good Guys)
  • Textured wood finish porcelain tile (sample from Royal Tiles)
  • Materia 01 Honed (sample from Di Lorenzo tiles)
  • Centre tile (and my favourite one too!): PGJ RH (sample from Royal Tiles)
  • I am standing on Slate Grey porcelain tile (sample from Royal Tiles)

Useful links from this blog post:

So dear readers, can you share with us your tips on creating something special for a home renovation?

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Welcome to our home http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/welcome-to-our-home/ http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/welcome-to-our-home/#comments Tue, 17 May 2016 13:32:36 +0000 http://www.11trigalanaplace.com/?p=1 Jasmine at 11 trigalana place

As I took the steps leading down to the backyard for the very first time, I sensed a good feeling.

It is a feeling that comes when all you hear is the gentle rustling of giant gum trees and the choir of cockatoos, kookaburras, minors and crickets. And as I would later discover, the shy feral rabbits nibbling away in the garden would soon become the conduits I was so fervently seeking. For they do a better job than me in bringing a smile to her face every morning, cajouling Mysaucepan into this tranquility she finds so foreign compared to city living.

They say one needs to be “in tune” with oneself to feel alive. I know I am in tune with myself when I am surrounded by the greenery of nature … white creamy magnolias and birds of paradise blooming in the sparkling sunshine. I was born in the year of the wood dragon after all, so I am supposed to like these kind of things, aren’t I?

Perhaps it is the fragrance of white jasmine curling its way up the wall next to the red entrance door last spring. Or the backyard we enjoyed so many BBQs last summer. For the very first time, I feel the rays of the autumn sun bursting through these windows onto my back as I pen this post from my bedroom. I love cold weather anyway so perhaps there is little wonder I look forward to winter every year. But this year, the warmth of the winter sun will be radiating through our northern-eastern lounge room every morning. Perhaps it is all of these things and much more that have drawn me to this house.

Much more because I am about to embark on major renovations and additions. I foresee a stressful time, especially for Mysaucepan. It is challenging enough when we have major, and I mean Really. Major. Dog. Fights. over an issue as small as the shape and size of the bathroom tiles for our new ensuite let alone colours. And by colours, I mean different shades of white, turquoise and magenta. I have heard horror stories about home renovations breaking up marriages and why shouldn’t they when we cannot even agree on whether it’s going to be white polyurathane for her or earthy wood panelling for me, blond spotted gum floorboards for her or giant black slate tiles for me.

My dear sister-in-law once told me … “There can only be one captain on the ship and that captain is your brother. He makes all the key decisions for our family.”

For Mysaucepan and I, we could not even agree on where to live in Sydney let alone “dragging me here to the sticks”, as she would call it. How could it be, I say, when we are merely ten minutes from Chatswood? But over the last eight months, as I observe her from a distance pruning the rose bush, agapanthus and hydrangeas on Sunday mornings, I can sense that perhaps she is, albeit slowly, making the transition from seeing this place merely as a house to being our new home. But for whichever tile, colour or texture that we so violently argue and fight over, I know in my heart that I love her dearly.

This new blog will become a journal for our lives over the next few months and beyond.

But unlike our food blog ChopinandMysaucepan, 11 trigalana place will document and share our home renovation trials and tribulations, choice of building materials, our favourite tradies, interior design, gardening and the family lifestyle around the north shore and northern beaches of Sydney. There will be loads of before-and-after pics of our renovations for DIY and home renovation enthusiasts. I know we will most likely throw in the odd home recipe for good measure because Mysaucepan and I are both avid home cooks. We can hardly wait to share our escapes from our new kitchen with all of you!

However, my mission for the next few months is to ensure I get to toast a glass of champagne with you from our brand new backyard deck by Christmas 2016. It’s a tall order considering I have yet to engage a builder let alone decide on the myriad of building materials … colours, shapes, sizes and all with so many suppliers though I am firmly holding an approved Development Application (DA) in my hand.

Please join us in our home renovation journey because it is my hope that Mysaucepan will soon discover the method in my madness and eventually be fully “in tune” with this serenity I call home. Alas, I cannot consider this home unless she see it as her home too. Until such time, I have my work cut out but I know it will be all worthwhile when we finally wipe the dust off our new kitchen benchtop and call this place our home.

Best,

Chopinand

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