Block party

Over the past two weeks, those big piles of blocks that were delivered have fulfilled their destiny and now sit neatly ordered, filled with cement, and ready to hold back vast amounts of dirt.

Queenslander renovation block walls - backyard

The backyard block retaining walls

It really only took the guys just over a week to get all the retaining walls in and filled, and we can now clearly see how the backyard will look (flat – hooray!), and how the sides of the house will sit in relation to where the earth’s been cut.

Queenslander renovation lower level retaining

Lower level retaining

Queenslander renovation retaining walls

Right hand side retaining outside what will be our garage, laundry and storage room

I did have a momentary panic when I saw the block work on the left hand side of the house, where it seemed completely illogical that we hadn’t drawn our plans to place the block work on the boundary, instead bringing it around 30cm in from the fence line. Having it this way will allow us to put some plants in between the top of the block work and the boundary fence, but I’m not entirely sure this was a sensible financial decision. I’d have thought it’d be cheaper to build the wall on the boundary and whack a paling fence on top, but who knows. Anyway, it’s done, it’s a nice block wall, and it’ll be good to have some greenery to soften that side of the house up.

Queenslander renovation block walls

Block walls for our lower level living area and the side (you can see the section on the far left sitting in front of the boundary line). The higher section to the left will be two bedrooms, bathroom and 2nd living area, and the section to the right (which is lower) will be the garage.

The walls were meant to be waterproofed last week (they spray it on), but bucket loads of rain on Wednesday put a halt to that. Unfortunately even with some lovely weather on Thursday and Friday, the walls weren’t able to dry out sufficiently to get the waterproofing sorted – and clearly waterproofing isn’t something you can jump the gun on. 

I think the plan is to get that done this coming week, which will then allow the slab to be poured on Friday and the frame to start early next week – YAY!

Our services were dug in a week ago, and we made some last minute changes immediately before that happened. It occurred to me that the downstairs bathroom vanity was far too small, which meant rejigging the layout to make the shower smaller (less cleaning!) and the vanity around 3x the length of what it was. That’ll only bring it to 1.5m but it’ll be significantly more practical. We kept the bathroom dimensions the same as I can’t be dealing with more contract variation fees right now, but we’ll have to obviously pay extra for the vanity😦

The other conundrum at the moment is the decking. We’d originally had our hearts set on Spotted Gum, for no other reason than I’d read a bunch of forums and Spotted Gum is a) a nice colour and b) a wood that leaches far less than the standard kwila or merbau. Matt, our builder, however has pointed out that Spotted Gum still leaches tannins particularly if the wood batch is young – and his recommendation is Pacific Jarrah. Everything I’ve read about Pacific Jarrah is very positive – including its lack of leaching – but I’m really not sold on the colour. It’s so red, which to me seems quite brash and harsh. Practicality vs aesthetics is such a tough decision. If we wind up having to devote time to scrubbing a tannin-stained driveway due to leaching from the deck above, Spotted Gum will be a decision I’ll probably regret. But I really don’t want reddish hues all through my deck and stairs. I just want a non-leaching brown wood…how does this not exist?!

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