A Little House at No. 18

The ins and outs and inbetweens of building a new house in Little Howard St, Fremantle

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I am writing this post from the balcony of our current abode*, watching an unusually quite river, the ships anchored off Gage Roads and the storm clouds try and decide whether or not they want to rain. While our new house won’t have a view anything as spectacular as this, I am still looking forward to a Sunday morning cup of tea on the balcony of our new house. In my mind’s eye I can see the view down Little Howard St to flickers of the ocean beyond and the Norfolk pines standing proud above the buildings. This is all getting a bit sentimental (maybe it’s the tea or maybe it’s Dad’s recent missives** on Colonial grandeur and pith helmets) but it always helps, I think, to keep the end goal in sight.

But what of more recent events? Well since we last wrote progress had slowed somewhat with the Christmas holidays, Greg heading off to work for a two and a half week swing that turned into nearly four (thanks to Cyclone Narelle) and Australia Day. In some ways that  was not such a bad thing – everything had been going so quickly prior to Christmas that Greg and I were struggling to keep up, let alone stay one step ahead.

But once Australia Day was done, we were chomping at the bit to get started again. Greg called Nick the stonemason and arranged for him to start work, closing in the basement, and then called Deltacore to see when we could have the pre-cast concrete planks delivered. The answer was ‘you can have them next Friday or the day before you are due to go back to work’. Well the latter wasn’t a great option so ‘next Friday’ it was. Greg booked it in and then we sat down to work out how much we had to get done to be ready for that day.

The list was long – getting the remaining wall up was just a start, it’s all the ‘little’ jobs that add up like getting the crawl space floor painted and walls rendered, cutting in space for electrical conduit, levelling the top of the walls and preparing bearing strips so that the planks sit level, organising the crane, making sure the delivery truck driver visits site before the day (it’s a narrow street, we’ve had issues before), getting door lintels and posts made up and delivered, making sure there is enough sand and cement on site…. We very nearly baulked at the task – especially as during the week I was acting manager at my work and was only able to help with the bare minimum. But we pressed on and Greg worked like a Trojan to get everything done and ready for Friday. Greg made amazing progress during that week and a bit, coordinating numerous tradies, making sure the equipment and materials we needed were on site plus doing a number of the fiddly little jobs himself.

So now the walls are up and the planks are on†. Greg is back at work so we have another five weeks to plan and organise and get ready for the next push in progress. People often ask us ‘so when will you be finished?’ and we invariably give some vague answer as the truth is that we don’t know. We are just taking it one step at a time and now we are one more step closer to being able to spend Sunday morning on our very own balcony with a pot of tea and the paper, watching the world go by.

P.S. The storm clouds have cleared and the sea breeze is in already – it looks like it will be a perfect day.

*We are currently house sitting for friends in East Fremantle – many thanks B & K!

**Dad has recently been in Myanmar helping the local laboratory set up their equipment to be able to produce snake-antivenom from the yolks of chook eggs (much more efficient than horse blood if you can get it right) and is now travelling (with Mum) through Myanmar and Vietnam. I will say that he is more aware than most of the atrocities caused by colonialists – but you have to admit the British had some great architecture and that there is a certain panache about a pith helmet.

†I think I have waxed lyrical for long enough on this post – stay tuned for another post on the adventures of Friday and the Deltacore Planks!