Monday, 21 November 2011

Balcony decking and house history

When I bought my home nine years ago it was really a BIG MESS.
The Draughtsman who came to look at the place prior to drawing up plans for renovations got out of his car and just said "Bloody hell! Get a bulldozer in"!!!!!

It didn't have any of this turquoise weatherboard upstairs, nor lovely wide veranda. Instead, there was a slopy (and sloppy!) roof made from bits of corrugated iron the bloke (who started building this.
In 1967...) had scavenged from the tip.
And bush poles holding up a veranda that was head height - for him, head-bashing height for me - and only about a metre deep.

Holding up the iron roof were a couple of rafters that were each made of two shorter beams just nailed together. So a bit saggy.
And then no ceiling, just silver insulating foil that was orange from the smoke from his pot-belly stove.
That didn't have a chimney...
The room below was 16' x 32', with brick floors. Mostly.
There were some patches of dirt...
Probably for his 11 dogs to dig in...
The rest of the house was 32' wide and 40' long.
It is built of a mixture of mud bricks and rammed earth for the walls. And gaps, The bloke was not very tall, so instead of buying a ladder he left gaps between the tops of the walls and the roof...
There were four small rooms, each 10' square, along the south side (which is the cold side of the house in Australia, like the north side of a house in the Northern Hemisphere) - a laundry, bathroom, junk room, and pantry.

The house is an Alistair Knox design - famous for wonderful mud brick house solar passive designs that were ahead of their time in the 1960s. More information is here and here on this amazing man and his designs.
However - HOWEVER!!!! - the builder of mine was not really a builder. He started, as I said, in 1967 - I found receipts - and in 2002 it was still far from finished! (Not just receipts, but all sorts of stuff - all his bills, wedding TELEGRAMS and cards, piles of newspapers, junk, crap and all sorts of shit. And that was just for starters...)

So I really got a bargain - the Draughtsman was right - it really was a bulldozer renovation. I paid land value for the whole kit and caboodle, so got what I paid for...

We took 10 or 12 tip truck loads of rubbish to the tip, as well as having a huge bonfire, that burnt for 2 weeks. We SHOVELLED dirt out of the place.
S4 used to say "This house has nothing but potential" and "This is the only house where you wipe your feet as you leave".

The floor is red bricks laid directly onto sand. In some places he added builder's plastic down first, in others - zilch!
And in other areas there were large areas of dirt he hadn't got around to bricking.
The floor along the western end is mushy concrete, where he didn't add enough cement to the mix, so it is all flaking and dusty.
The floor in the laundry and junk room we ripped up and laid more bricks.
The bathroom floor was mostly easy - it had proper leveller under the vinyl. But only sand

under the leveller... So that came up, too and we laid bricks there, too.
The pantry floor had a great pit in the centre of it, and a hole to the outside world at the bottom of the wall. And holes in the ceiling. I think his idea was to fill the pit with water (and breed mosquitoes) and use it as a cool room. We filled the pit and the wall hole in. And laid more bricks.
He had a generator (which he took with him) and the front door was piled to the ceiling with blown up appliances.

All of which just needed a replacement fuse. He didn't know about $4 fuses, and went out and spent $$$ on another microwave/toaster/TV/whatever. The wiring was also bits he seemed to have scavenged from the tip. Short lengths of electric wire joined, not with proper little box joiners (cos they cost $$$), but with plumbers tape...

You are all probably crying now, so I wont dwell any more on what was!!!! Now, there is an upstairs with French doors facing South, East and North with little balconies
out of each, over the veranda roof.

Ever since I ran out of money back in 2004, and then got sick in 2005 (so no money AND no energy), nothing much more has been done to the house after the initial reno frenzy.
A few months ago, The Sweetheart and I decked the North and South balconies - the East one was done years ago. And we were so clever and worked so well together and it all is such a lovely feeling to be able to walk out onto the balcony instead of balancing on the joists!The upstairs is 16' x 32' - like the downstairs. It
is now my studio - at the North end, and my bedroom at the South, looking out to thousands of acres of State Forest. I only have 5 acres, but the Forest backs right onto my fence so I may as well have a Million Wild Acres!!!

The top photos are the South balcony, and these ones down here are the North balcony. You can see the roof to the rest of the house is higher than the veranda.
This is because there is also a mezzanine - The Shelf which runs along the south side and east-ish side of the big room. The living area has lovely almost double story space, and has wonderful acoustics. Not to mention a great balcony rail to hang quilts over.  You may be able to just catch a glimpse on the right of the bottom quilt photo of one of the big posts holding up the roof. They came from Victoria Dock in Melbourne and are over 100 years old.

Here is a bit of rock art S4 did - lots of lovely sandstone around here, just waiting to be used. Lots of rock walls in kit form...

And this is some of the lovely wattle that flowers through most of winter. There are four or five different ones around here which start flowering in June and carry on right through to September. Lovely splash of gold amongst the green of winter.


Shirley said...

Looks a fabulous house to me.

Wilma NC said...

I think it is wonderful!!!! And I absolutely LOVE rocks, but I refuse to pay for them, lol. Where we lived in Ohio years ago, the rocks just "grew" out of the ground in the pasture. Then we came to NC and they actually want you to pay for them!! You are so lucky.

Quiltbug said...

I remember when you bought this place. It sounded dreadful. I admire you for your vision of what could be.

Caity said...

I wonder if you could feel my head hitting the desk repeatedly as I read this... I so sympathise with the ongoing (neverending!) fix ups that plague our houses! Mine is not mud brick but was also built but someone with no clue what they were doing and with what we strongly suspect were whatever materials he could nick from the local timberyard... some days it just feel like there is so much to do, its paralysing - and that's without factoring in the illness as well. ARRRRRRRGGGH!!
How lovely to have FINISHED decks, I hope you get to enjoy them a lot!