A Little House at No. 18

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


Time and Space

Time and space, both precious commodities when you are building a house. About thirteen weeks ago our building site was like a jigsaw puzzle. The backyard was still a hole in the ground with a rain water tank in it and we were seriously running out of space.

We fixed the space issue though, with a bobcat and about three trucks worth of dirt (it seemed such a waste when only four months previously we had removed about six truck loads of dirt on site. Having dealt with the lack of space, at least for a little while, we could now turn our attention to time.

The big job for the next few weeks was to lay the concrete topping coat over the deltacore planks. It sounds simple but as always it is so easy to underestimate the time it will take to get all of the ‘little’ jobs done to prepare for the main game. These few days were a hard slog, we were both starting at 5:30 am and working through until about 9:30 am, falling into bed and doing it again the next day. There was more than one emotional breakdown but the good thing about a deadline is that it all has to stop as soon as the deadline arrives.

While all this was going on we also had Nick (the stonemason) building up the walls of the short stay. Once again, the uniqueness of our house design made things interesting. Normally bricklayers would build a wall without interruption and the services (electricity, gas, water) would get ‘chased’ in later by cutting grooves in the walls for pipes and cables. Also, until relatively recently there was no insulation in walls and even now, insulation is usually installed after the wall is built. Not so with our house – those wall cavities are one of pur prized assets holding all of the pipes and cables for services and 25mm of insulation board. This means that all of the design work for running services has to be fully resolved before the walls go up and we were constantly battling to get the insulation, pipes and cables installed so that we didn’t delay Nick or make him waste his time. And this was just the relatively small and simple walls in the short stay!

You would think that after laying a 80-odd m² slab that space would not have been an issue. We soon fixed that. The timber that we had milled about 3 months prior was delivered on 23 April. We managed to fit it all in the storage unit eventually, after 8 hours with the forklift plus a few hours from a team of backpackers the following day.

More recently we have used the backpacker porters again to help us shift a house’s worth of scaffolding and stack it in the back yard, plus had another eight or more pallets of blocks and bricks delivered. The next step is to find somewhere to store the multitude of appliances (fridges, ovens etc) that we have imported from the UK – they arrive in mid July and with the workshop still leaking like a sieve due to a lack of walls, I have absolutely no idea where we are going to put them all!