Monday, March 25, 2013

Our $660 diy kitchen (and the kitchen sink)

Ok, I almost chickened out showing this bit, our very brown, country-ish kitchen. These 3 posts were Mr CH's idea, me I can't be bothered with the scrutiny, ha. Built in 1999/2000 in the height of timber cabinetry. Influenced by the tv shows- Better Homes and Gardens and Our House and all the country/crafty magazines at the time.
 It's 13/14 years old now and a makeover is well overdue. This is the kitchen you build when you have hundreds of dollars not thousands of dollars in the kitty.
 Built with a non-existent budget, a very basic u shaped layout, no dishwasher, recycled oven with no range hood (which we still don't need) and no fancy splash backs. The only requirements were - lots of bench space, breakfast bar (which became known as "The Pig Trough" for obvious reasons, 4 kids) corner sink, no overhead cupboards and no stainless/modern anything.

A basic stud frame with MDF sheet shelves, some of the larger sheets were the packing protecting the plywood ceiling sheets and were free so to speak. The MDF was primed and given two coats of gloss white, which has been surprisingly hardy, only one small swell under the sink with a dodgy can of oven cleaner leaking and leaving a ring. Covering with contact or oil-cloth would have been my other choice. You can just see where we chalked out, on the floor.

The timber bench tops  (900mm high) were end matched tongue and groove floorboards ($180) glued onto the MDF sheets with liquid nails which were stained in Jarrah and coated with polyurethane estapol without the hardener added (we were told about that later by a friend) The sides of the cupboards and the pantry were cut from the two extra plywood sheets that we used for the ceiling and were stain varnished.
 (Bunnings has a new lot of laminated timber panel pieces in store, perfect for benchtops with a bullnose edge, available in beech or acacia for $99. They come in lengths 2.2 to 2.4 depending on the wood and are hardier than the Porta panels we used for the Reno cottage kitchen back here)

Picture of the pantry before the floor was varnished and the skirtings added. Don't know what we were thinking making the pantry that small?

The blue boards along the bench top (I know! gross colour) were for a splash back and have been easy to clean with no gunk getting stuck, but then again I'm not a messy cook.

The kitchen doors were added in spurts here and there over the next couple of years and were sprayed with stain varnish. A raw timber door being fitted behind no 2 son. If it wasn't for the cleaning and seeing the junk inside the cupboards, no doors are great.
Had trouble trying not to get this pic blurry (or orange), I keep cook books/files, potatoes/veges, and cast iron pots etc. in these cupboards. I must say, this has been a great kitchen, don't care if it's not schmicko with lots of gadgets, it's got a great working triangle, the bench makes a great buffet with crowds, visitors seem to gravitate here and it sometimes feels like you are hidden in the trees. We keep our everyday plates in the plate rack and I won't be able to get rid of the stools until the cat dies. They belong to her for her circus jumping and you must share the seat with her. The three small open cupboards on the walls were made (mostly) from timber scraps by Mr CH and painted/varnished by me for around $80. Mr CH bought the knife rack as a birthday present for me many years ago. The only thing I have never liked about this kitchen, the unfinished kitchen drawer - another 90% complete job, ha. Think we might need a %100 finished clause in the makeover contract.
Cost for the kitchen cupboards including wood, screws, glue, stain, varnish, handles (el-cheapo) -$660
Cost for the kitchen sink - $554 including plumbing.
The sink was $421 at the time, we thought we were buying Australian made from an Australian company (it came from Canada!). Corner/small sinks 14 years ago were expensive and hard to find in our area (pre Internet searching days) We could now get a similar sink for just over $100.
Mr CH thinks he could build this kitchen today for around $800 as the GST has made some timber and supplies cheaper than when we bought them.
So as if we don't have enough to finish this year (Reno cottage, fence, shed....) Mr CH is thinking a kitchen/dining/sitting room makeover would be good as well! The oven is sometimes rebelious (wearing out) and the benchtops could do with a refinish, so it seems all or nothing. Only problem, I don't want a modern oven, hope I don't have to compromise on that one.
He's talking about subway tiles (too trendy for me, think he might lose that one), white paint (not where you're thinking) and chopping off the bench, I feel ill...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More DIY house extension...

Sorry forgot to follow with this post, better late than never, maybe... We don't have many photos to this stage either. The frames were built by Mr CH and lifted up with the help of our two Dads and braced (with stud and clamps) so Mr CH could nail them in place. The walls are 9.8 foot at the top down to 8.2 foot at the lowest, so we needed help with that bit. The rough-sawn rafters were sanded and stain-varnished to keep a rustic effect. These rafters were attached to the frames and to our $250 (at the time) Tasbeam between the kitchen/dining with angle iron brackets which Mr CH made for the purpose instead of using the usual triple grips. Stronger and not so visible and a lot cheaper. The inspector liked them. The Tasbeam was also stain-varnished and re-wrapped in plastic sheeting and lifted into place using chain blocks by Mr CH alone. The tie down rods (the rods that are supposed to stop your house lifting during a cyclone) were welded to the steel beams underneath and bolted with washers at the top of the frames.
Chain block (endless chain) used for lifting very heavy objects safely.
We used sheets of 12mm grooved plywood for the ceiling which we stain-varnished before hand (all 16 of them +2 for the kitchen cupboards = $1000)  The advantage of using ply was, it also acted as the bracing for the roof. The plywood sheets were nailed to the rafters on one day and covered with a large tarp (borrowed) until the next weekend, the roofing battens were screwed through the ply into the rafters and the sarking/insulation was rolled out and covered with the roofing tin and screwed down. A sigh of relief to finally get a roof on, a huge step after so much rainy weather.

Fibro waiting to be lifted up

The bracing ply was nailed in place and passed inspection.
Three inspections, one for foundation holes, one for framing and bracing (including tie downs) and one at lockup stage. We also needed a plumbing inspection for the sink, however the inspector said he would tell the plumber we were just reconnecting the drain to the previous spot and we didn't get that inspection. Depends how easy going the inspector is.

The extension was never intended to be an slavish copy of the front older part of the house, as it's our turn to modify the old girl. We couldn't access reclaimed or new pine flooring and as the rest of the house had carpet, it didn't matter at the time. The ceiling was the easiest method of self construction, skillion roof line, but the walls were deliberately chosen to mimic the vjs in the old part of the house. These MDF wall sheets had to be specially ordered for us because of the height and amount we needed. We were told at the time, that we were going to a lot of extra expense to match them and that plaster walls would be a better choice. The wood stain was the popular choice at the time (1999 warm country tones) back when you were either minimalist or homely. We both liked exposed rafters rather than covering them up.

We used tongue and groove spotted gum hardwood for the floor, which sat for a while, supposedly acclimatising though kiln dried?

Mr CH machined his own clamps to push the tongue and groove boards tightly together, so he could pre-drill and nail the boards to the joists.The clamps were tightened with the ratchet pictured lying on the floor. The longest, tedious job of all.
The outer walls were temporarily ( !!!) clad in fibro (cheap) until we could afford to clad with treated pine traditional chamferboards, still a work in progress. No insulation, other than the roof, it was not required back in the late 90's. Chamferboards over fibro = good insulation though. In our climate this house rarely gets too hot or too cold, we don't use air-con much and the wood heater is usually our main heating method.

The balcony was constructed using the recycled hardwood rafters, joists and old kitchen floorboards.  Two posts were new. The french doors were from a demo yard. Awnings made by Mr CH.

The old silky oak windows were free from Pappy's shed, we were given 12 but only used 10. They were already, mostly bare timber (a bit dried out) and needed plenty of oil based undercoat to stop the wood drying out even more. Every window was re-puttied and painted three times (1 undercoat 2 topcoats).

Never an idle moment around here, soil from under the house was dug out (bit by bit by hand) and distributed to garden beds and fence lines. You can see a partial soil line on the block wall, this is the low soil end.
And this was the high end.

This end wall had two sets of windows in the plan, we changed our minds and only used one set and no-one noticed and was still approved.
To save money and time, the electrical wiring was run by Mr CH after instruction by our sparky friend. All checked and connected by him, we paid for 4 1/2 hours of labour only, which included the new earth rod. All wiring and switches bought by us as well. We bought them new however at demo yards and opshops you can get them for $1.
  For our overseas readers, Australia is one of the few countries in the world where it is illegal for home owners do do any electrical work on their home other than changing a light bulb. The same control is over plumbing work as well. Which is why Australians have to pay a plumber $60+ dollars an hour to change a tap washer??? Which contributes to our high cost of living.
In the old days ( less than 50 years ago) self- sufficiency was the norm, not just a trendy catch phrase.
 Government control and all that.
(just watched a tv show last night where the Chasers team up with Choice to expose the retail rip offs consumers are constantly exposed to. Disturbingly funny, worth another view here)
Looking towards bed3

Extra studs added to the original wall to nail the VJ panels to, floor finished, our only built in cupboard was lined with 3 ply and MDF shelves. Which were then covered in contact.

This sitting room has never served the sole purpose of an extra living space until recently and has been used as a dining room, storage space and extra bedroom in the past. It is long over due for a makeover. No styled pics here, we still have an extra lounge in here from the painting floorboards job in January, because an older kid swiped the tv. And there is a love/hate relationship with most of our wall art at the moment, hence empty wall nails. At least I moved the "crap stack" from the end of the kitchen bench for a photo, ha.

So our 4 room home extension costs including demolition and rebuild - less than $13 000 (pre GST 1999/2000) and took us 18 months.
  The crazy part - it was %90 constructed with a hand saw, hammer and a few tools borrowed from family and friends! This was before the availability of cheap home handyman power tools, which we now have an abundance of.

Though we did buy a cement mixer for the foundations (not as a jungle gym), which has been handy for family and friends over the years and has been a very good buy.

I'll be back next time with a look at our el-cheapo kitchen (circa 1999/2000) that we built ourselves for a few hundred dollars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Where the DIY life extension

 The back of Home Sweet Home circa 1998
We've been enjoying other bloggy renovators before/progress pics and pulled out our old film photos for a reminisce about our first renovating efforts.  We had a good laugh and groan about our efforts to improve our old house on our frugal budget. Maybe someone might be interested in a few retrospect photos of our first DIY project, the start of our crazy DIY life together you could say? Just don't expect any fancy schmancy after shots, is a house ever really finished? 
We bought this house on a part time job/part time uni student income with three kids.
After scrimping and saving to raise the 20% deposit, the house choices were - humble. Though not the double-gable Queenslander I was hankering for, this one did tick a lot of boxes. Despite only having eight rooms (3 closed in veranda bits), it was highset, nice high tongue and groove ceilings, views, walk to everything we needed, great breezes, good garden soil and a huge back yard for kids and a future shed. It had potential!

During the first nine months here, we decided extending would be the cheapest, easiest (?) option to add more living space. One of the advantages of wooden houses, they are easy to add to.
 So Mr CH thought, "I think I could do this myself". Yes, two people who have never renovated, let alone built anything themselves (grade 10 woodwork included), would undertake the owner-building of half a house!

A few things had to be removed from the backyard first, a brick barbecue and also the wheel rim attached to the five foot deep steel post. Mr CH in his shorty-shorts.

One of the two mango trees had to go, as well as the brick pond between them.

The foundation holes (12) for the steel posts were dug by hand.

So we could pay for steel beams, that had the cleats welded on (by MrCH) in the parent's shed and driven home attached to the side of Volda (the Mazda/Volvo hybrid ute). Picture Fred Flintstone's car with the Dino rib platter on the side.

The kitchen before, a delightful 70's chipboard specimen that malted doors and drawer fronts as the months went by.

The dining room, a very cosy sunny nook but not good with carpet and food.

 Renovating with kids is complicated especially if one is a little monkey. No2 son climbing our "child barrier" 8 months. This is the one that was born with a "six pack" and will probably be the one to carry on the (4th generation) owner builder tradition.

We removed the kitchen cabinets to find 7 layers of old lino and one dead rat. The sink cabinet was moved to the veranda bed 3 which became our temporary?? kitchen for the next 12 months, bucket under the sink and the oven was wired in by our sparky friend  (see floor plan ) Daughter was moved to the study. The kitchen wall cupboard was saved and is now in the laundry. You can just see the top part of the wall facing the dining/veranda end, this was once a full vj wall with just a door which was opened up by a previous owner. In the kitchen, the wall behind the orange counter was once an opening into the lounge. This old house has seen lots of changes.

Materials salvaged included -eight of the nine windows, all joists, all rafters, all beams, all wood floorboards, some of the outside posts, weather/chamferboards, the stove!(which we are still using), the backdoor and the kitchen wall cupboard (and there is still some roofing tin floating around somewhere....)

There are a whole lot of pics missing during these parts, back in days of film cameras, probably no film in the house or the film didn't develop properly, we can't remember. After the enclosed veranda/dining room and kitchen were removed, it rained, really rained, like it has been lately. I remember after the foundation holes were dug and while we were waiting for the council inspector to come and check that the holes were to spec, the holes kept filling with water. Which needed bailing out because the worms would fall in and the smell was putrid and we didn't want the kids to fall in and drown. Some of the holes were deeper than the 900mm required as we planned to excavate a few cubic metres of soil from under the house to get a good head height. 
 Before this stage above, the steel beams with posts attached were suspended  (on trestles) above the holes waiting to be concreted in. The inspector just stuck his tape measure down one hole and briefly glanced at most of the other holes to pass our efforts. So much effort for so little scrutiny.
 The torn walling to one side above, is a bit of plywood that covered what was once a bedroom window closed in (now bathroom). At the top right of the back wall, the blackness is from a small kitchen fire that was uncovered during removal. Some of the beams were burnt and covered over.

The tarps lying everywhere were for when it rained, we would walk out over the beams and hook each corner of the tarps to a nail on the house wall. This would act as a tent wall and stop the rain from flowing inside the block wall and wetting our wood pile under the house, (which became exposed to the elements after the back part of the house was removed).
Yes, our little grubs had a ball (and that is a cloth nappy) We kept the drawbridge for as long as possible so we wouldn't fall in the moat. It was eventually replaced with a trestle plank. They've had more than their "peck of dirt".

If you want to try this yourself, you'll need an owner builders qualification so that your local council will let you build (if your structure is valued at more than $11 000, see BSA website). You will also need a white card which is your workplace, health and safety card for construction. If you want to design your own house instead of using a civil engineer, these manuals give you all the basic structural requirements. Any special requirements outside the basic framing codes will need to be designed by a civil engineer. Google AS 1684 timber framing manual. Google BSA and you will find all the relevant information.

Before, old kitchen/dining (veranda), stairs removed
Upstairs after
New kitchen,dining, sitting room and bed 3,hall cupboard (our only built in), balcony and stairs added
Hope this post is encouragement for those out there, who are thinking of DIY home improvements, rather than DIWT (do it with tradies) Long after the aches wear off, the feeling of achievement driven by sheer determination is totally worth it!
More on the build next time.
Enjoy your week!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rain and veranda windows.

Unfortunately rain and renovating don't mix. While not complaining about finally getting enough rain to break the dry spell, having windows out (and in and out!) has been annoying lately. But how pretty the veranda looks enveloped in a rainy mist. Can't say it's unpleasant working over there on rainy days either.

 Lining the wall with sarking underneath the veranda windows has been started.

The large gaps between the weatherboards are getting filled with a gap-filler and some leftover insulation is also stapled in the wall cavity.
As the veranda is half windows, a bit of insulation here will probably not make much difference, mainly to stop cold winter breezes getting in through the gaps.

The railing to slide the middle window along has been nailed in place on the end side only so far. Will show how, down the track as I forgot to take pics while Mr CH did that.

The front windows are temporarily held in place with the (as yet) unpainted board at the top and a few nails to prevent them moving.

The windows are in fact just wedged back against the slope of the front window sill and will be nailed in place. Which has been enough to hold them in, all these years. Nice and simple and it works.

So looking forward to these windows being installed (for good) on the veranda, will free up lots of space. Still waiting on a final piece of mulberry glass. Seems the glass place is reluctant to order in a sheet for the one small piece we need. Will see how we go.
Mr CH has been fiddling with my html and trying somewhat unsuccessfully to teach me how to. After some new blog improvements (to me) I think I've finally learnt the gist of this linky thing (after 100 copy and pastes) and I think I now know where that rogue line break is. Hopefully it's more reader friendly now.
What the HTML!!!
Have a great weekend!
(still raining here) 
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