It’s all about the earthworks…and a few changes to the plans

So the last week, as predicted, has been digger central. The guys have been hard at work clearing, flattening and shaping, and the plot is really starting to take on its final levels.

We’ve been fortunate to have awesome weather over the past week – and it looks set to continue…always useful when massive amounts of earthmoving are on the agenda. We’ve been impressed with the speed at which everything is moving, and are super pleased that the steel supports should be in later this week. The ground is looking good and we can now clearly see the ground levels for the lower storey’s two bedrooms, rumpus and bathroom, as well as the even lower section where the garage will lie.

Queenslander renovation - excavation and site clearing
Land cleared, and shaping well underway

The guys have been dropping massive loads of fill up the back (all the soil and rubble they’ve excavated from the front) to build up our backyard. It’s a pretty big retaining job because part of our brief was to have the backyard flow directly out from the back deck – without the need to walk down any steps. Manipulating the land to make it go against what nature intended was never going to be the easiest (or cheapest) of exercises, but I think it’ll be worth it when we’re able to step directly out from our kitchen and living room on to the back deck, then directly out from there to the garden.

On Thursday last week, it occurred to us it’d also be lovely if the front yard was flattened and raised slightly. It’d mean slightly fewer stairs leading up to the front door and would help with the proportions of the house. It’d also mean that it’ll be easier to create a semi-formal front garden, which is another thing I really wanted to be able to do.

The day after, on the Friday, we were met out on site at 7.30am by Matt (our builder) and Jim (our designer, from Alderley Design) to talk through the options. We feel incredibly fortunate to be working with a team that will go out on a limb for us – and make every effort to ensure the build is a success. Jim went straight back to his office to work up an amended front yard / fence detail, but then called me because things just weren’t really working out. Thankfully I don’t work on Fridays so popped straight to his office to talk through the options, and we arrived at a workable solution that’ll still look good. Matt’s now costing those options up, and I think it’ll make such a massive difference to our house if we go ahead.

Queenslander renovation - updated entry / front fence plans
The updated front elevation with the retained front wall/fence + fabulous entry gable

We did lots of driving around Ascot and Clayfield on the weekend, trying to find examples of fences we like so that Matt can accurately quote. I think what we want is something like this fabulous fence and entry way (we found this on Pinterest), though I’d ideally like the palings recessed so we can plant agapanthus or lavender along the top of the retaining wall. We’ll also have a little gabled cover over our entry to tie in with the main gable on the house.

Lovely Queenslander front entry and fence
Lovely Queenslander front fence / retaining wall (photo credit: Pinterest)

In other news, we also managed to race out to Ormeau and Yatala on Friday to check out the Caesarstone and Smartstone workshops. We’re going for a faux marble bench top because I do love the look of marble but really can’t be bothered with all the faffing / honing / buffing and whatever else it is you have to do with natural stone. I’m still no closer to deciding, really. It’s a conundrum. Our kitchen island bench is about 3m x 1.2m (and it doesn’t have a sink or anything to break it up visually). Given it’ll be such a huge slab it needs to look good…this is one decision I definitely don’t want to botch! At this stage I’m actually (amazingly) leaning towards one of the cheaper options – the Smartstone Carrara. Unfortunately I think I’m probably going to need to pop out to the warehouses again before we make a final call on it – and next time preferably without my two and four-year olds in tow. Thank goodness for iPads and Doc McStuffins…

Queenslander renovation - stone bench top decisions
Stone decisions….

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