Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Project owner build- almost lock-up

In my last blog post I talked about our window and door choices. Being owner builders and having this project stretch on for as long as it has, there were times I thought this might never happen but guess what?? They are 99% in! I also happen to think they look kind of amazing.

The house now has all the wiring, plumbing and wall insulation installed ready for internal gyprock. 

The pressure was on a bit with the hubs my little bro and brother in law (who all happen to to be sparkies) as due to the skillion roof there will be no crawl space between the ceiling and roof which means there is no room for error. If we need a PowerPoint moved or an additional light it is wall tearing off business. That means we sorta need to get it right first time round.. Fingers crossed 

Now back to the real point of my post, the progress shots so you have have a snoop.

black framed windows
Looking back to our alfresco area, the original ceiling line on the driveway side has been modified to hide some ugly steel work but also to incorporate some down lighting and extractor rangehood for an outdoor kitchen (we will one day be able to afford). We are planning to replace the rustic concrete pavers and black plastic with recycled brick in the near future.

owner build renovation, perth renovation, home renovation

Doors to the left enter into our dining area and are waiting on some security/fly screens to be fitted hopefully next week.

owner build renovation, perth renovation, home renovation

Looking into our dining area which has a really great view of the yard

home renovation, polished concrete

You may have seen this if you follow my instagram account (only in an artists impression version) this is so exciting for us to see our vision coming into reality. This is the view looking from the new lounge area onto our kitchen and dining.

polished concrete

Standing at the threshold of our old house and looking through to the main living space. Too my left is our new laundry (see below) and to the right is a walk-through powder room into our en-suite bathroom. 

owner build renovation, perth renovation
Sorry about the ugly picture to finish off but I thought it deserved a mention. I am standing at the new laundry/shoppers entrance looking through to our powder room and ensuite (behind the far back wall is our new walk in wardrobe). This is where our old ugly sleep out once stood with the creepy old laundry. I can scarcely believe it is the same place! You have see how it once looked right here...

So that't it for now! I'm quite happy with the progress and how things are moving along. This month we will see our gyprock internal walls go up, the doorway for our walk in robe knocked through, our kitchen get installed and if we keep to schedule those concrete floors may just get polished (no pressure Mr DD).

What do you think? As always if you have any questions for me in regards to trades, processes or recommendations you are welcome to drop me a line via the comments below or if your shy an email!

Dani x 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Project Owner build- windows and doors

One of the biggest questions of the past few weeks has been the door and window frames and what colour to make them. It seems like a relatively minor issue but really when you get down to it the windows and doors are a huge part of this particular project and the way they look will impact the overall style and feel of the space. The pressure is kinda on..

I have had these images floating about the place for a while as different options.

Image credits 1. 2. & 3. via from several years ago (although you can find more images of the gorgeous first house via House-Nerd in a feature post
4. The Design Chaser whom you can also find via Instagram

As well as the image I shared in my last blog post HERE with another example of grey/stainlesss windows.

They really do have a different feel and create totally different looks.

After sleepless nights about it (yeah I know that's a lame thing to lose sleep over) we have decided to go with black frames..

The windows and doors are a pretty big ticket item in the build so we feel like black will really make them a big feature. After spotting Michelle from the Design Chaser's home on Instagram, I was completely sold on black frames (although our style isn't as sophisticated and refined as hers). Our main design ideas for this part of the house is to create a relaxed family space with lots of texture, some bright pops of colour and has a bit of an cool industrial feel to it as well stand to take the rough and tumble that comes with having very active small people.

Initial quotes were based on our architectural drawings followed up by a more specific quote now the frames are up with a measure of the window and door frames and site inspection.

What we weren't expecting was the price difference between the quotes. The first quote through a big company was around $8,000 the second bigger company and third smaller company  were both around the $28,000 mark one including installation the other not. 

My top tips for deciphering the quotes and making a decision are

  • Always ensure you are being quoted on the correct product. If you are not sure ask to be shown a sample and talk to your architect or building designer.
  • Do your own research and decide on what you want and how you expect it to look.
  • Make sure to compare apples with apples. Each quote needs to include install, the same type of windows and doors (or comparative) 
  • Check out local businesses. They may not always be cheaper but there is a convenience factor that comes from your supplier traveling a short distance to you.
  • Ask about and compare warranty and product guarantees. 
  • Get a time frame from them, this can influence your decision if you are trying to keep things moving along or fit to a deadline. 
  • Get them out to your site to take a measure and offer you a more comprehensive quote.

We have opted to go through the local smaller company for several reasons. The first being they quoted us on what we had requested straight up so there was no confusion. They were also able to suggest an alternate product that was of comparable quality but with a saving of 8-10% on the bigger name branding. Finally and quite importantly they were prompt efficient and professional, something that we always look for in considering our trades and suppliers.

We had our window suppliers round this morning to do the final measure now everything is up and they will be back later this week to start installing them so we will see very soon how our decision has worked out (keep your fingers crossed)

In the meantime here is another quick peak of how we are coming along

You can see our lovely makeshift windows along the top wall made from old scraps of pergola roofing, while unique and a big statement, they will be replaced with our new black frames....

The open expanse to the left of this photo is where we will have our stacking doors opening onto the alfresco (our paving is also a temporary measure to keep the dirt down).

Have you designed a new build or renovation? Did you obsess over every detail too? Or are you planning/ dreaming of a build soon and keep collections of images of homes you love? I am sure it's normal but would love to hear it from you!

Dani x

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mad Monday

Do you ever have one of those mornings that just seems to get a bit mad?? I'm sure you have, and what else can you do but take a deep breath, laugh and crack open the red wine.

We are right in the part of our build where we (I ) need to make choices about the fixtures and fittings and although I realistically have had ages to plan for them, I really wasn't aware of the schedule of when they were all needed. I was completely unorganised  this morning our plumber turned up and casually mentioned that he needed our bathroom tapware and mixers today (this is where you picture me doing a panicked screammy face)

This was followed by a rushed dash out the door with the two small fries, in the rain to the nearest Reece plumbing centre where the plumber was also going. The plan here was that we would be putting the tapware on his trade account so we got the trade discount... This was the Reece plumbing centre that happened to NOT have any bathroom tapware....

Back out to the car in the RAIN and a drive across town to the main showroom in Osborne park. It wasn't supposed to be more than a quick trip around the corner so I was completely caught out without any car snacks for the kiddos. Ally was not impressed and screamed most of the way.

Over at Reece I picked out the tapware, shower and mixers I wanted they were gorgeous and was feeling pretty good about it until the shop assistant mentions it's a 7-10 day wait for the products I wanted (and this is where you picture me doing my panicky crying face) 

F....M.....L (pardon my French)

They had an alternative tap and mixer set that fit our needs in stock scattered across a few different stores but I just wasn't feeling it. It was more expensive than the one I wanted and not as pretty so I thought I might chance Masters and have a look what they have in stock.

How to entertain a three year old in the bathroom shop? Give her official shower testing duties of course

A baby screaming car ride later we were back on our side of town at masters looking at the tapware. It wasn't much in terms of the style we are going for (apparently basins with taps from the wall are not popular around these parts) but the good news is that they did have some that I can happily live with and they worked out cheaper than the Reece ones I didn't really like so I'm calling it a semi win. The hubs is also happy I didn't spend up as much as I could have.

In the end the plumber didn't get round to fitting the mixers today


On a more positive note, our roof is on, most of our walls are up AND I got to meet with a lovely interior designer today I was recommended via Maya from House Nerd. Not that I think I struggle to find things l like but sometimes I do struggle to put it all together in a cohesive way as I like so many things and so many different styles. Plus I was completely unsure about how to tile our bathroom and not make it look cheesy or like a boring display home.. 

Jo-Anne is perth based and you can find her HERE... I decided to go with her for after seeing her own beautiful abode and knowing she was a mum of young children she would completely "get it" in terms of practicality and functionality.

I'm excited to see what she comes up with and has already made some great suggestions that have my head buzzing with ideas.

If you skimmed all the stuff I just wrote because it wasn't funny/ good or interesting enough for you in the very least take note of the important (possibly obvious) lesson I have learnt today.....

If you are building or renovating your home,

make sure all the fixtures and fittings are purchased well in advance......

Maybe not before you put a concrete pad or stumps down but the sooner you decide on the fixtures and fittings and you have them in your hot little hands the more likely you are to avoid the situation I endured in the car today.

With another week down and a new one just beginning this is what our build looks like right now...

Doesn't it look cool?!! That window to the left is where our dining room will be and the open area to the right will all be stacking doors onto an alfresco area. The far inside black doorway you can see is the original French doors to the old part of the house.

Oh and the finished house wont be blue in case your wondering that's just the cladding..

Dani x

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
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



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

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