Thursday, October 4, 2012

Operation Basement Begins...

This poor area of our house has been neglected and in a state of limbo for almost two years. Throughout this time it has mainly been used as a dumping ground storage area for pretty much everything that we couldn't fit upstairs.
Carpet scraps down on the bare concrete...oh dear.
This included everything from unused furniture, building supplies, exercise equipment, out of season clothing, excess bedding, craft supplies, my fabric stash, toys, Christmas decorations and so much more.
This was a built in sink in this "hobby room".
Although it was fantastic having such a large area for storage, we knew that eventually we wanted to make it into a useable space with a spare room and possibly an office area...but there was a problem.
It even had real hot water...until we got the plumber to remove it.
A. Big. Problem.
Not that long after we moved in, we suffered a small leak downstairs which caused a damp patch to the carpet in one of the rooms. Fast forward a few months and there were more leaks and finally, a huge flood throughout the entire downstairs area! The flood occured after my DIY husband decided to "fix" some spouting outside.
Goodbye built in sink and cupboard.
To be fair, what he did "should" have worked theoretically, however something happened and all the rainwater was directed to a place it shouldn't have gone (don't ask me where as I don't know!). Right then and there we decided to rip up all the carpet and there began the long process of identifying the source of the problem and putting in measures to fix it.
Hello study nook in Rosie's new room. Here she is measuring up for a desk.
The first thing we did was get new drainage laid around the outside of the house, to ensure all the water was draining away where it should be. This was a long but essential process and unfortunately our front yard was pretty much destroyed during the process.
One of the only pictures we have of the ivy before it was taken out.
As you can see from all the trees in the foreground, this was taken during a tree felling exercise. :)
 Saddest of all, all the decorative ivy which was growing on the lower level of the house for decades, had to be cut away to access the sides of the house. I was gutted as it was a feature I really loved, and what little street appeal our 1970's house had, was lost. :(
The good news is that the drainage seems to be doing it's job and in the 12 months+ we have had it, no more floods! You would think that would be the end of it...but no.
The previous ower clearly loved nails. Look how many he used!
This downstairs area was converted into two extra bedrooms, a study and bathroom over 25 years ago and although it was done properly, some of the waterproofing measures were nearing the end of their life. This meant that occasionally we had small areas of damp forming in the concrete. Ironically, this always seemed to happen in the summer after heavy rain! We knew that we would have to address this before even thinking of moving on with any projects down here.
This is the largest room downstairs...hopefully a spare room for visitors.
So a few weeks ago we cleared the whole area out (you can't move in our garage at the moment) and Operation Basement was moving forward! Yay! Some of the skirtings were ripped up, ugly built in units were ripped out and the builder has been in to build a false wall for us and repair some of the holes in our roof where we had all our plumbing replaced. Yes, it turns out our house was from the era of faulty Dux Quest Piping.
Rosie is planning to move to her new room down here.
We really had no choice but to replace the piping in the house as there was no point going to the effort of finishing this downstairs area and furnishing it, only to have leaking pipes destroy everything. So as you can see, this has not been an easy and straight forward process and we have certainly learnt a lot during this time about older houses and the hidden costs that can come up when you buy a house of this era and type.
Study or craft area maybe?
We only had a very small renovation budget and most of it has been sucked dry with boring but essential things like drains, pipes and waterproofing. It is so much more exciting to spend renovation $ on great carpet or furnishings, it is painful to spend it on things that can't even be seen, but we will get there in the end. It just means we will have to be a bit more creative in making this space our own and just quietly, I am actually pretty excited about the prospect. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Green Fingers

Green fingers, I totally don't have them!
One of the downsides of an older property is that there is lots of exisiting planting to try and manage. You inherit other people's plants and tree choices and being a minimalist in the garden, my instinct is to clear the lot.

For the most part though, I don't clear the lot...I leave it to grow wild! I would almost rather do anything at all than weed the garden. Yep, not my favourite thing to do, as you can quite plainly see from the photos. :)
Recently I decided to try and tackle some of the weeding in our front yard, so I bought some cute gloves for the kids and I in the hope it would create a bit of of enthusiasm for us all. It worked...for about an hour. After that the kids dropped away and I was left for the next few hours to go it alone.
I'll be honest, it wasn't fun...but a plain dirt garden bed does look a lot better than an overgrown one. I still have so much to do to and am far from being finished with the weeding, but know that I need to keep plodding on or we will never get to the fun part of finishing the garden in the low maintenence look we like. Next time we buy a house we might go for a half site with no gardens! :)

Mr 5 Months

Our little guy has now hit the 5 month mark and is becoming more and more fun as each day passes. We have been super lucky in that he is the most relaxed baby ever and rarely cries.
He is a great little sleeper and is still happily sleeping in his bassinet. We are also still wrapping him for sleep and although he settles really well when wrapped, he has now got to the stage where he won't sleep unless wrapped. When we are out, a very precise set of conditions are called for in order for him to sleep. This means we don't go out too often! Still, it is a small trade off for how settled he is at home. :)
He loves playing now and his exersaucer is a real favourite. He jumps away in there very happily and loves batting the toys and trying to chew them. He is at the stage where everything is going in his mouth...including his fingers and thumb.
Every day with him is a real joy and I am soaking up every minute of being at home with him, that I can. I love being a mum and little Elliot has reminded me how fleeting this baby stage is and how much I need to savour and appreciate it. :)