And the Beat Goes On……

Four months have passed since I wrote my last post on building our dream house.   Have we been idle?   Hell no!   Things have been moving along and we’ve now got a Total Span garage to show for it!  And we’ve got an irrigation system for the whole property and work has commenced on the outbuilding renovation.

Let me explain.

Right after we had our divine intervention, we were talking to our builder friend and jack of all trades person Pete, Mr. Worlds Fastest Indian, as Bruce likes to call him, cuz he can do EVERYTHING!  He can build, he can plumb, he can do electrics, he can join (do woodwork), he does it all.  We share similar ideologies about sustainability and general worldview, and we consider him a good friend.    So we were telling Pete about our change in plans and he said “GREAT, I want to help you achieve your dreams and I can free up my schedule to work for you.”   To which we said, “GREAT, we so need your help”.

Pete lives in Oamaru, about  4 hours south of Wainui, and has an awesome 1 acre permaculture haven.  We’ve seen Pete’s work and have always admired his inventions and cleverness to make things very cost-consciously.   Pete agreed to come up to Wainui 10 to 14 days a month to start working on projects.   Our top three needs:  get irrigation into all the gardens so we can stop carrying buckets of water around this summer;  remodel the outbuilding (the separate building next to the kitchen) and convert to two bedrooms and a combined full bathroom and laundry room;  and install a better heating system into the house before next winter.    Then remodel the entire kitchen and a host of other small things.   We’re talking about a year+ of work given Pete’s timeframe constraints.  But of the three things one gets from a building project – fast, cheap, good – we will hopefully get cheap and good as we will save money by being involved in the project ourselves, and we will create something beautiful and with personality as Pete is a craftsman.   And we hopefully get to have fun to boot.

Pete’s been here every month for the last three months.  The irrigation system is in and we now have taps and piping to the orchard, side garden, lower paddock garden, and backyard garden.  That’ a lot of irrigation!  It’s all rigged to work on one master timer initially so we can get it going for summer and we can improve upon it over time.   Total cost for materials and labour – about $3,000.

We’ve started work on bedroom #1 in the outbuilding which happened to be the worst of the three rooms.  The floorboards were rotting out, there were no interior walls, and it was a bit dark.    Our goal is to make the room bright, warm, and functional to fit two single beds.

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Bright = add new window.   We just happened to have an old villa-styled window hanging in the garage and voila, window has been installed.

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Warm = insulation.  We’re putting R3 in the ceiling and R2.2 in the walls and floor.  The answer to insulating the floor area was to raise the floor since we could not get under the building to put in under-floor insulation.  Voila – floor has been insulated and raised about 3” and most of the walls and ceiling are done.  We’re using plywood for the walls and floor rather than gib (also known as sheetrock) as Pete thought it would be structurally better as there is some slight curvature in the exterior walls and framing since the building is so old.

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Functional = thinking outside of the box.  The room is only about 10 feet x 6 feet which is too small to comfortably fit two single beds, so to solve this need, we’ve created a loft.  One single bed will fit in the interior room and then there’ll be room in the loft for another single mattress.

We’re still a ways off from completely finishing this room but it will be great when it’s done!

After a very long wait and for what seemed like eternity during our wet and cold winter, the excavator people finally rang up and said they were ready to come work on the foundation for the Total Span garage.  This happened while I was gone in October.  They came and had to scrape out a LOT of soil to get to solid ground from which to put the concrete foundation.

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In November, the concrete people finally came to put in the foundation.  Easy in concept, not so easy in reality as the logistics of getting a concrete truck up our hill is quite tricky.  They could not get a truck to the actual site, so they had to have a pump loaded on a ginormous truck park on the hill about 40’ from the site and pump the concrete over the trees and down to the site.   Boy did that make a lot of noise that morning!

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Next, foundation inspection scheduled and completed without any problem.

Then we waited patiently to have the Total Span crew come and erect the garage which is entirely weather dependent for unique to New Zealand, spring time brings lots of winds and the garage cannot be built in windy conditions.  So we wait and if the weather is right, the boys will come.  I got a call one day when rain was forecasted for the next few days, and they said, “We’re coming.  We can build in the rain.”   And so a crew of 5 and a burly ol’ black lab showed up and in six hours, they had that garage built.


And almost lastly, we next waited for the garage door to be installed, as that’s a separate process, installed by a separate person.   And within a week, at the end of a lovely day, two men came with our garage door firmly tied to their trailer, and they got the door on.

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We have a garage!   To fill with…….. STUFF!     We still have to finish dealing with drainage issues and then get a final inspection and sign off but we’re 95% there.  Total cost = unknown as we have not seen any invoices from the excavator or concrete people.  Garage cost = $10,500 + building permit = $800.

And so, the beat goes on, another day passes, we are getting things done!

PS:  Sorry about the strange formatting of the photos.  I just got my site updated and am still learning how to navigate around it!