Monday, 21 July 2014

Project owner build- a lot can happen in a week

There hasn't been a whole lot of updates lately on our build because there hasn't been a whole lot going on. With the exception of some serious algae growth on the setdown areas for our bathroom and laundry. Yep it's been a long and frustrating few months waiting for things to start back up again.

That was until last week when we got the call at last our structural steel was finally ready! I'm a bit of a internet shopper junkie so I love the excitement of expecting a postal delivery quite a lot but it all pales in comparison to this special delivery. 

Like a super dork I was out there running about and taking photos to capture the momentous occasion. 

And then again a few days later when we were ready to bring our steel frames onto site


I am a little embarrassed about how many photos I have of this from every possible angle, like I said I was feeling excited..


Last Friday this is how it looked out the back


I have never been one to miss a cheesey portrait opportunity...

And today it's looking like this..



We went down the path of prefabricated framing that was built to our specifications and met the engineering requirements so it is pretty much one giant mechano set complete with instructions. 

A bit of Lots of messing around with measurements and levels to make sure everything is square and in the right place and some re-cutting and re-jigging of some parts that didn't quite work but otherwise it's gone together pretty nicely. 

After the pad went down we had the expected panic of the it's too small moment but with the wall frames up you certainly get a better idea of the space and I think it's pretty much perfect for our needs now I can visualise it better with the frames in place.

I think our idea of a modern take on the old skillion roof is coming off pretty well, the high line windows are designed to let lots of natural north facing light in and I think it's going to be quite beautiful. I can't wait to see this once the plaster is up and the windows are in. I found this image on the net last week and felt super excited as this is pretty much how it's all going to look (with different styling) but the overall structure is very similar.


Image via temple and Webster blog HERE.


I am completely amazed at how fast the skeleton has gone up and how hard the hubs has worked to do it.

We are also so very grateful for having some AMAZING family and friends who have given up their free time to help us out. There is no way that the hubs could have done it without them. Not only have we had our awesome dads to help us we have had people we only just met, friends who have up their time off to help, a friend who spent his last days before flying away on a year long trip, a friend who drove forever to get here, another who is a building machine who has been amazing, we even had our building designers hubs help out when they came to take some progress shots (how's that for service?!)

I am really looking forward to having all our helpers over for a big celebration once it's all complete. I'll cook in our new kitchen and we will casually lounge in our new alfresco and admire a job well done

Next jobs to do on the list are 
Blue board (cement fibre cladding) and insulation on the external walls
roofing
pre wire and plumbing

The hubs will be doing the pre-wire as he's a qualified electrician and will be getting help in for the cladding all the other jobs will be contracted out to the specialists.

Coming up in the next few weeks I'll have some updates on our progress, an interview with a very cute owner builder couple and some furniture up cycling make sure you check back!

Dani xo

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The FIFO life

FIFO FIFO it's off to work he goes...


The hubs is away again and it's back to a quieter life at home with the littles.



Sometimes I feel like a bit of a sham saying that we are a FIFO family as I often feel like the hubs is home more than he's away (lately he has been) but then B will get sad and moody her daddy is gone and I realise it's all very real.

For those who have thought about it this is what our lives look like.

Whilst our family is extremely fortunate that the hubs has a family friendly roster which is equal time home and away it comes with its own set of challenges. Extracurricular activities like team sports, classes etc that require weekly attendance in the evenings just can't happen. I have had to learn how to get two young children dressed fed and  around each day alone. I have had to get young children bathed and put to bed alone and I have been up all hours of the night with a crying baby and a toddler to manage the next day alone.....

Yep there has been a lot of alone time for me over the years. 

My dear hubs has felt lonely, he had missed his family, he has had to leave his newborn baby daughters and go back to work on 12 hour days. He has worked covered in flies, in heat over 45 degrees Celsius, bunkered down through cyclones....
and in one particularly terrifying moment, been just a few hundred feet from a pipeline explosion. I am grateful everyday he was far enough away to be unhurt, a few minutes earlier could have been an whole different story.

The gas plant where the hubs works, isolated, red dirt and blue skies. IMG source apachecorp


The girls miss their daddy. Ally is too small to understand what is going on although I know she thinks of him she points out his photo on the wall, picks up the phone and says "daddy" and always gives him the longest hug when he comes home. B on the other hand is well aware of how it works, she knows the drill and will happily tell anyone "my daddy will come home in two weeks". She can be clingy and sometimes struggles with just having one parent around but she is completely crazy about her dad and he is her hero.

Then I get the comments from well meaning friends and sometimes strangers about how FIFO marriages often split up, FIFO men often cheat on their partners, how it can get pretty wild up there.... I really appreciate those comments but I think we will take our chances and stick it out.

Why would we? I have just listed a whole bunch of things that make it hard, lonely sometimes dangerous and emotionally distressing for our children (and ourselves). It's not the whole story, not even close.

The most obvious in peoples mind might be the money - yeah it's great we have been able to buy our own home, we live quite comfortably and don't scrape from week to week but that's not all it is for us. We get a lifestyle where our children get to spend days on end with their daddy all day not just at night when they are tired and grumpy. He gets to take B to gymnastics, we take family trips together mid week out to lunch somewhere fun, we share the job of parenting equally. He knows their routine and is competent and confidant caring for them on his own as I am something that many dads can't make claim too.



As for us, we like missing one another. There is nothing like being apart from your loved ones to remind you why you love them. Our time with each other is not taken for granted as it's limited and needs to be enough for the time we are apart. I have grown more independent and the hubs has learnt he functions better when he doesn't have to juggle a work life balance that comes with a Monday to Friday 9-5 job.

We have time to work on our home, being able to owner build and not have to scrape together weekends and late nights to get jobs done means things can move at a much quicker pace. We both have time alone to pursue our own interests.

Will there ever come a time when the hubs packs it in and comes home for good? Possibly, maybe.... We have always said he will come home when B gets a boyfriend (so he can be at the door with the shotgun). For now however, we are happy and doing exactly what works for our little FIFO family and wouldn't change a thing.

Are you are part of a FIFO family? Do you love it or hate it? Or would you just never consider it? I would love to hear from you

Dani

 x


If you would like to check out some of the awesome resources now available to FIFO workers in Australia, be sure to check out My FIFO Family for list of organisations that are now supporting those working away and their families.



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The anywhere dress

diy girls knit dress

For the longest time when I first began sewing, I had this weird phobia of stretch knits. I somehow thought that it was something that was super hard to work with and required a much more advanced sewing ability. Then one day a few years back I took a stretch knit sewing class and quickly learned it's super easy and now it's probably one of my favorite things to sew with.

I always have my eye out for a good knit pattern now and one of my favorites is the Anywhere dress by Gotopatterns. I bought this one online a few years ago and it has got a good work out in this household. As B is growing like crazy at the moment I have just packed away a big pile of her clothes including some dresses that were more passable as t-shirts and thought she could do with a few new things.

Over the weekend (because I am totally wild) I sewed up these two cuties for B. The first one is just a straight up anywhere dress in a gorgeously silky soft cotton jersey spandex. The fabric in this one is so unbelievably soft and comfortable that despite B not wanting to wear it because it wasn't in "girl colours" she didn't mind keeping it on in the end as it felt nice.

This particular knit is out of stock but you can find alternate colourways at girlcharlee - it's probably the best place I have found for a great range of stretch knits in cool prints. The postage to Australia is a bit of a killer but the knits are cheaper than I have found anywhere else so it kinda balances itself out.

I made a quick little top knot headband to go with it but she decided that it worked better as a belt, and I will have to agree it looks pretty cute.

Somehow B interpreted this dress as something princess Elsa (from the movie frozen) might wear and is gathering her ice powers together to shoot me with ice

B is probably the worlds worst model, while it may look like she is posing to show the back of the dress, she was just licking the fence.. she's a special kind of kid...
Yup that's my kids spit on the fence, like I said she's special..


The second dress is a bit of a basic pattern hack. Knowing that B loves a twirly dress, I cut the main body of the dress down to about a third of the original length and added in a skirt  to make up the remaining two thirds that is made from 2 pieces cut to 2.5 x top width (width) and used the measurement of the remaining 2/3rds of the dress pattern plus an inch for the extra seam (length).

This one was made from a cotton Jersey blend for the printed fabric (also from girlcharlee) and I am only guessing the same goes for the bodice as I was given that piece as a off cut from the hubs grandma so I didn't buy it but it has the same stretch, weight and feel to it.





Some details on the pattern for those who are interested. I really like all the gotopatterns I have bought so far with no exception for the Anywhere dress. The instructions are very clear and of a high quality. They use illustrations rather than photos which is common place in online PDF patterns. I personally prefer illustrations as I often find pattern instructions distracting when they pattern maker uses photos with overly loud fabric choices or fail to use a contrasting thread to make stitching lines clear.

The pattern itself is a beautifully simple one which comes with several different sleeve options and a huge size range from 12 months to 12 years which for me makes it great value as I will be able to continue using it until both girls are much much older.

As for the fit, both versions shown are a 3T on B who turned three in March (she usually wears age 4 shop bought tops). She is really quite tall for her age but also slim so this fits her pretty nicely with some room to grow. I do need to add an extra inch to the sleeves if I make the full sleeve option (they are bunched up in the second dress photo) but I assume that's more because she has long arms than a pattern issue.

I would suggest being careful with your knit fabric choices and the neck seams. I have made the mistake in the past of sewing the neck seam a little too small  with a knit that only had a 30% stretch and had trouble fitting it over B's head. Again I think that's more my dodgy sewing skillz rather than a pattern fault but I thought it's worth mentioning so you might learn from my mistakes.

All in all I really love this pattern. B has at least 6 of these little dresses now plus two I have made as nighties for her plus she really likes wearing them. I have found it is a reasonably quick sew and is a great versatile pattern that can be worn year round. I especially like that it lends to so many opportunities to mix it up. I am thinking the next one I will make her will have ribbing for the arm cuffs and hemline to make it more of a winter sweater style tunic.

So if you have made it this far down reading my ramblings I would totally LOVE it if you left a comment!! Love the fabric? Hate it? Want to learn how to sew knits? Or have you made an anywhere dress yourself?

Thanks for stopping by!

Dani xo

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Project ownerbuild - kitchen planning

modern kitchen inspiration


While we are oh so patiently waiting on our steel fabrication, I have been making slow but steady progress on planning out our laundry bathroom and most importantly kitchen.  Key word here is SLOW

It turns out it is so much easier to sit back looking at photos of beautiful homes and thinking "oh I love that kitchen/bathroom/floor tile! I would definitely have that in my home" to actually making a decision. Un-fun things like practicality and the B word (budget) mean that sometimes my grandiose amazing plans have to be scaled back to something a little more modest.

If you follow me on Facebook (and if you don't you should ;p) I posted the other day about my kitchen dilemmas. Looking at high end expensive kitchens and working your way down IS NOT the right way to go. Unless your cool with disappointment that is.

The hubs Mr DD is a bit of tight a*** when it comes to spending on our kitchen and seems to think that we can get an amazing kitchen with stone benchtops for under 20K (you pretty much can't). This has resulted in a fair few heated arguments discussions lately. Ok- we could go down the Ikea kitchen route and probably keep under the 20k but I am not too crazy about the cabinet door colours and am worried about the longevity.

I think the hubs and I have come to an agreement however that while I plan on spending up a little more on the kitchen, we will look at a more budget option for the laundry. Clearly we both love cooking (and eating) much more than laundry so I think it's a pretty fair compromise.

My plans for the kitchen area is to do pretty much this for the layout, now its just a matter of deciding on the finishing and how I want it all to look.

project owner build, kitchen layout


As we have polished concrete flooring, I really wanted to add in some wood to soften the look. After getting a ballpark for real wood I picked my jaw up of the floor and started looking around at more economical options. Laminex and Polytech have some nice textured wood looks but I don't know if I am completely sold on them yet. Particulaly when I keep cutting out kitchens like these...

modern eclectic kitchen

These are two of the wood look samples from Polytec I have been considering, they are nice and textural and the most authentic wood look I have found so far. Although I haven't given up entirely on my wooden cabinets so plan on keeping up the hunt for something amazing.

wood look cabinet laminate

I have never made it a secret that I am not a fan of the high gloss white kitchen. Yes it does look slick and modern but it's not kind with mucky little people running around so I plan on going for a more understated satin finish which hopefully will not mark up as badly.

The biggest ticket item in the kitchen will certainly be our bench tops. After seeing the new range from Caesarstone I fell madly in love with the Calcutta marble look stone I just couldn't get it out of my head. I have compromised a little here and opted for the Stellastone version which is here. It's still excellent quality but is a newer company on the market and comes in a little cheaper. Then because we can't help ourselves we have opted for 40mm stone over the 20mm. This adds a whole lot more again but in our opinion totally worth it.

Stellastone in White marble Quartz

stellastone white marble, calcutta marble


Just as a side note if you are looking for an great catalog of stylish contemporary kitchens for inspiration for your own kitchen reno the Caesar stone website is amazing.

As for lighting, I am planning on roping Mr DD into installing 2 or 3 big over sized industrial pendants over the island bench. I have seen a big price difference in these from these in Masters for $99 (which don't seem to be listed online anymore) or these in Ikea to these ones from Sokol for $249. I will probably go with the cheaper option and possibly spray in the inside with Rustoleum aged copper (not sure if I can even do that) to make them a little less mass produced looking.

industrial pendant lighting
1. Masters
2. Ikea
3. Sokol
4. Solol

That's about as far as I have got in my planning stages. I am a little torn between glass spash backs, pressed tin or tile right now so I can't even begin to contemplate the colours they might end up. I will probably decide on the spashbacks once we are actually in the extension and the kitchen has been installed and I have angst about it for weeks on end.

We got the call last week that our steel frames are ready for collection so once Mr DD gets back from work in a fortnight we will be back onto the build eeek! **by we I mean the hubs (Mr DD) I however will be hard at work making the teas, toasted sandwiches and keeping the littles under control.

Have you planned out a kitchen recently? If you have any advise for me please feel free to share!

Dani xo

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Project owner build - Stage one

1950's house renovation

As we are doing our renovation as owner builders we naturally have to fit it in around work schedules. You possibly already know Mr DD is a FIFO bloke so is currently away on one of his money earning expeditions and while he is away things are a little quiet round here at the moment. It has worked out well for us though as we have been able to break the build process up into stages. After some fast work taking that sleepout down and getting the site ready for concrete, we are steadily moving towards an actual complete house again.

Once the site works were finished, Mr DD hired a compactor and compacted the crap out of the area where our new concrete slab was to be poured. I am not kidding here when I say he compacted the crap out if it. The ground around shook so much our pictures on the walls went wonky and we had big cracks opening up across the back of the house. Now I may have just written lots of helpful ways to reduce stress here but I failed to follow my own advice and this was a major freak out moment for me.

Maybe you can learn from our experience and NOT take photos every ten minutes of the cracks in the walls to compare if they have gotten any bigger. Ours did and so did the level of crazy freaking out-ed-ness (yes that's a word I invented it).

Poor little B was made to sit on our bed at the front of the house with books and toys for a good few hours and probably will now have a life long fear of the roof collapsing in on her after hearing me ranting "OMG the roof could fall in call someone, call someone, the cracks in the walls are getting bigger.... AHHHH there's DUST!!!!!!"

perth home renovation
So now to stop the walls falling in we have steel bolted to the wall holding it all together EEK

Ok so back to stage one this is what we did..

Ordered a compaction test to certify that the ground was compacted sufficiently. We blitzed this one as Mr DD was very heavy handed with the compactor. You only really need to do this if you are getting a concrete slab, in our case we are opting for polished concrete which we really really don't want to crack hence why Mr DD was super thorough.


Plumbers first fit out. Our plumber came out to site and dug and laid all the pipework for water, wastes and the toilet.

** Our first structural steel arrived on site- The eternal alfresco beams. These needed to be set at the correct angle and due to engineer specifications needed to be set into concrete at a depth of 1mtr. This was done in preparation for the concreters arriving so they could pour the footings

perth home renovation
You can't see in the picture but there is some serious wire string going on to hold the beams in the correct place here, Such a tricky job but the boys did well to get it into place. Also you may notice Mr DD with the leaf blower- he also hates dust and we have the cleanest building site ever.
Concrete form work and footings dug. You can see the formwork and pipes in the above pic.


Concrete pour- This was so exciting to watch the first real tangible part of our new home!


Perth renovation

owner builder home renovation

our renovation project supervisor
Hendrix the disaster dog wondering what I'm doing hanging off the forklift - Anything for a good shot
1950's home renovation
One day I will get a great photo of us both looking at the camera, not doing something weird.

First grind of concrete and protective coat. This was done over two days about a week after the slab was poured. This first grind exposed the aggregate we have in the mix and gave us our first glimpse of what our final floor will look like. Once they had ground the slab they put on a protective coating that the grinder described as a kind of grout glue which has now set.

polished concrete flooring

bluegum, polished concrete flooring
A close up of the polished concrete before it was covered with the grout. The final result will be like this but the concrete will look a little lighter.
Just in case you are interested our concrete polisher is DS grinding, if you would like some info on it please feel free to drop me a line!

Now the slab is just sitting out there, I like to take house guests out there for a "tour" of our new extension. I am having the usual freak out that its all too small, but I know that it always looks small when you just stand there looking at the slab.

With the concrete down and setting nicely the real work of stage two is about to begin eeek! Although we are owner builders and doing most of the work ourselves we have got a few trades coming in to help out so we should get the walls and roof up quite quickly. While Mr DD is on his trip away we are just finalising the steel framing, windows and doors if all goes to plan these should be on site and ready to go up before we know it.

Dani xo




Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Project Owner build - Minimising stress

Well hello there! I'm still here and (mostly) still sane despite all the dust and scary cracks appearing in the walls and ceilings.

If you have ever watched the block or a home renovation show you might have noticed the varying levels of freak outs that people tend to have when building and renovating and if you have renovated yourself you will know first hand exactly what I am talking about.

A broken MrDD after a huge weekend getting Ally's room ready, Block FansvsFaves winners Chantelle and Steve and Josh and Jenna all having meltdown moments IMG credit news.com.au & ninemsn.com.au

I am not the most laid back of people and I tend to wind myself up about small things like dust pretty easily so I am sharing some of my tips on how to reduce the stress that have worked for crazy old me.


  • Allow more time for jobs you are doing yourself than you think you will actually need ESPECIALLY  if its something you have never done before. Our siteworks were ticking along nicely until the bobcat unearthed two massive leach drains that had to be removed meaning we lost a whole day ripping them out, and filling the giant hole they left back in.

  • If you are planning to stay living in your home while you renovate, spend extra time to prepare the house to make it as comfortable and livable while you are doing the build works.


  • Again if you are staying at home, have a big de-clutter and clear out of anything and everything you don't need immediately or can live without for the time being. Put all the stuff you don't need but don't want to get rid of into storage.

  • Keep a close eye on your budget and ensure that the money is being spent in the right places, think of the bigger picture over the finer details that can be completed later on down the track. 

  • Try to maintain at least one room as a "sanctuary" that is clutter and dust free as possible. There might be times when the mess drives you mad so somewhere that looks half reasonable and clean can be a godsend.

  • Where possible set aside time to relax and have fun, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy as they say. If you don't have an urgent deadline make sure you take a breather once and a while. Occupying every waking moment with plaster and a hammer is exhausting.


  • Try and maintain your sense of humor, the phrase if you don't laugh you will cry springs to mind. 

  • Stuff WILL go wrong that's pretty much a promise - just take a deep breath and keep on going. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my photos of the HUGE cracks that have been appearing in our walls and ceilings eeek!! You can also read about our paint fail for Ally's room HERE.

  • Remember to communicate with your partner (if you are part of a couple that is) even on the smallest of things. Discuss your plans and what you have in mind clearly- failure to do so may mean your new colourbond roof is Federation red when you actually wanted Dune...... 
Ok it still looks nice so I am really truly over it now but I can still lament. IMG source colourbond.com


  • Don't forget that you both (pretty much) want the same thing at the end of the day which is a beautiful home, that might mean a compromise and possibly a red roof.

Phew! Have you renovated before?? What would be your tips to minimize stress? Or do you have a horror story? I always love to read your comments so don't be shy!

Dani xo

Monday, 7 April 2014

Edible finger paints


While all the building is going on right now, we are quite restricted in space, this isn't a big problem as we are making it work but on rainy days it is PAINFUL to keep two very active children entertained in such a small space unless of course they find something that is messy and fun that I can also contain. B is mad keen  on painting and general mess making like most three year olds and her little sis Ally is really into everything that B does so finger painting in the kitchen sounded like a super idea.

This is the recipe I like to use as it's quick and made up of stuff that's usually in the pantry HERE. It lasts a while in sealed glass jars and it's got an interesting gel texture that my girls really love (to eat).



It takes quite a while to dry AND go easy on the food dye - If you are planning to take your kids out later maybe don't give them blue but it is super fun and looks all shiny and textural when it has dried.


I toyed with an alternative title for this post of how to turn your kids into blue smurfs but thought it might not be so popular a search in google...

Now I'm off to scrub my rainbow coloured children so I can take them out of the house tomorow.

Dani xo
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...