Photo Finish …. Nearly

Guest Shower & Ensuite


Guest Bath Finished….


… except for tiled grate along back wall…


.. and vent in ceiling



Ensuite shower finished… vent and tiled grate to be fitted


Glass Splashback


…Tiled waste still to be done

Another flyover, with builders rubble and all..

Kitchen cabinetry:

has been finished. Next is to measure  for all the glass splash backs.


in the “Secret Mens Business”… Finished workstation.


The outside painting is underway

Inside Feature Walls


The inside now has light and power after Shawn and Pat, from S & E electrical, had been. He said this is the fun bit. (If everything works as it should). He also implied he is constantly reworking the house in his sleep to make sure everything has been installed as and where it is needed, as there is no roof space to correct something or add a feed which I had forgotten to mention. After the commissioning he reckons that there is now parts of his anatomy that are starting to relax after 12 months of tension and puckering.

Retaining Wall:

Starting to finish

Finished wall


H(er)Q Feature Wall:


But before we start…There always has to be one…


Now you see him …


… Now you don’t 

You Idiot.  😂

Nino made the shelving in his workshop. We then assembled it onsite. It all went together like ten fingers in a beautiful fitting glove.  Fantastic craftsmanship Nino


Finished Result

Jarrah Floor:

Over Warmboard …Finished

The photos seemed to have washed the colour from the painted finishes but the floor looks super

Plank Jarrah Flooring installed over Warmboard Hydronic underfloor heating system.resized2000pIMG_8038

Edging Closer to moving day.

Having a few issues with our thermostats at the moment, but everyone is jumping to help solve the problem. More in the washup.

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Continuing with the Curves

The last week was a continuum of building the two retaining walls. The one on the lower road is 5 blocks high with backing blocks up to third row height. We made the curve of this retaining wall the same radius as the eaves of the house, therefore “Evie” the template was able to be used again.

Each block weighs in at 250kgs and was placed in position using a jib attached to a bobcat.

On the path/road leading up to the “Secret Men’s Business” room, less space was available to manoeuvre the bobcat, and the

wall being only three blocks high at the most, Nino’s Kanga loader did the trick for us. A powerful little machine for tighter spaces. Both retaining walls now nearly finished. Steps are to be included this coming week to complete the walls.

More excitement as Mandurah glass arrived to install the Glass on the walls at the back of the showers. No more shower tiles to clean!  😂 👏

However to get the ensuite one inside to its resting place, the window on the outside wall of the W.I.R had to be taken out so the glass could go straight across the passage into the ensuite. No biggie for a glazier. Here is how we managed…

Safely ensconced, with literally mm to spare on either side through each of the openings we passed. Now for the Plumber on Tuesday to fit off.


Ensuite Shower Recess

Now for the guest’s shower. Less of a problem as it is of a smaller dimension and we were able to take it down the passage and turn it into the  guest’s bathroom without too much of a problem.


Guest shower: Back wall

Brad and “Mandurah Glass will be back for the finishing touches to the balustrade, kitchen, office and Secret Men’ splash backs, and fly screens soon.

Cabinet maker will be onsite Monday to install office furniture and “Secret Men’s Business” desks. Electrician failed to show as expected last week and will now be here this week on Wednesday. (I think)

The end is drawing closer. Even although it is Autumn here and the weather rather kind, I have the heat-pump on and the warmboard working with Heatmiser  thermostats set at low temps to acclimatise the house before insulating the floor underneath. All components seem to be working correctly and together at the moment. I will try and collate all we have learned as we worked our way through this heating install as amateurs, with help from those experienced in the field and post it here at the end.

The more I learned the simpler the system became.

Famous Last Words.



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Beginning the Finishing

Progress From the last Four Weeks:

The Disappearing Warmboard & Pex in… 

The Kitchen/Dining..

resized 2000pIMG_7390

main Living.Warmboard down


..and the Tiled /Wet Areas


Starting to Finish …the Internal Doors

Starting to Finish …the Cabinetry

Starting to finish…. the “Secret Mens Business Room

resized 2000presized 2000pMagpie nest - 178 of 254

Plastic & reo laid ready



“SMB” Flooring down

Starting to Finish… the Balustrade:


.. Fix ..


Starting to finish… the Outside Deck

First the ceiling then the BBQ wall, which will also offer some protection from the prevailing West and N/Westwinds.

Starting to finish …The front retaining wall

With Ash getting some (un)helpful advice from Nino the wall with an “Eavie”curve,( the curve with the same radius as the eaves i.e. a curve with a radius of 41.95m) is well under way resized2000pIMG_7879

Nino has had to retire an old friend today, as the usual switch on his beloved grinder failed to elicited any action, … even after many hits.resized2000pIMG_7855

We are looking forward to the coming weeks as we close in on the final rounds. Although the painter is away for another 3 weeks we have Shaun, (electrician) Keith, (cabinet maker) Brad, (Mandurah Glass) Ty, (plumber) and of course Nino and Ash due to complete their part in the coming weeks.


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Carpentry, Cupboards, Concrete and Tiles

Carpentry plus

Monday January 30th 2017 – February 10th

We we had to fix the whoops 👀 moment (when we penetrated the pex in the passage) with a standard compression fitting used to join domestic water pipes. It was a neat and small diameter barrel fitting that once fitted, easily slotted into the Warmboard grooves with only a very small enlargement required.resized2000pimg_7718

Floorboards taken up to fix the pex


Fix in place

Nino had cut and planed the timber for the door frames in his workshop over the Christmas break and they were now able to be assembled and fixed to the doorways. Ash then plumbed, aligned and squared them so as to take the doorstops and architraves. Our internal doors are still on order.

The skirting boards were also able to be fixed. With a curve no less!!


The first of the skirting boards in place.


Keith Conner from AOK cabinets arrived with all the cabinetry on his trailer ready to be assembled and installed.And so began the wettest couple of February days we have had in a long time. Nino was unable to get home that Friday because of the many road closures between here and his home town of Katanning. Eventually he arrived home on Saturday after taking a circuitous route adding an extra 150km to the journey.


Covered Cabinets

Inside the carcasses are being put together

The room is filling up rapidly, and we have only just begun!resized2000pimg_7761


Now that the backing boards are down over the #Warmboard in the wet areas it was time to apply a bond breaker. Nino chose the usual method here of applying a bituminous paint to the floor.resized2000pimg_7732

The full wall length water grates we were required to have ( as we were installing large 600mm x 600mm tiles) to create a fall to allow any water to get away were an exorbitant price from a large national plumbing outlet, as they said they had to have them made. $10,000 for three grates. 1 x 2.4m, 1 x 2.8m and 1 x 3.4m. Needless to say we did not proceed.

We contacted a local local manufacturer to make them for us. I don’t know the total cost but we have all the bottom trays and total amount so far is $1200. The inserts are to come. However this has delayed us being able to apply the 4 in 1 mud mix screed to the floors to give us a fall, as they could not produce them for ten days. Small price to pay I guess. But it does put the cabinet maker back and all who follow.

The day arrived when we could install the grates with the mud mix.

Then followed the floors. I called on some help from friends who willingly took a day of to help. Welcome to the build Peter and Terry Smith.

We had to bring the dry mix in bucket by bucket, but by 2 o’clock all wet areas were done. Thanks to all.


Ensuite Dry-mix & grate


The floor tiles are now able to be laid once a waterproofing barrier is fixed to where the wall and floor join.

The little powder room is the first to have floor tiles. Surely a pivotal moment in the construction. The #Warmboard is finally covered with the finished flooring. only need to grout the tiles in.  resized2000pimg_7760

After this momentous feat, Nino was to embark on another, and that was to find a route home.!! He only has to make it back next week for us to continue. 🤓









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Working the Interior

First things first

Wednesday 4th & 5th January:

During the Christmas break all the Jarrah timber for our flooring (which had been unpacked and stacked in the garage) was taken inside the house and re-stacked to acclimatise. We intend to start the ufh to help the process

Monday 9th of January 2017

As I said in my last post, the distance between the loops of pex in the downstairs room  was further apart in places than the optimum of 200mm,


From This….

I asked Peter Taylor from Australian Sun Energy to send us more pex to rectify the problem, which he was happy to do. So while Nino and Ash were away I redesigned the piping to give 200mm between loops.

…To This.                       Happier now 😀

I then replaced the three loops of wrong pex we laid upstairs that would be finally covered with either wooden flooring or carpet (it squeaked in the wamboard grooves when walked on)

Replaced this…


With this..

Brings peace of mind.

The heat-pump/buffer tank saga

Before Christmas: Rones Plumbing had been and plumbed the heat-pump and buffer tank up to the house, and connected the pex to the manifolds.resized2000pimg_0939Shaun Collins, from S&E Electrical, had wired in the thermostats and control centre and given power to the heat and circulating pumps.

The system was going, but not working properly, we were having difficulty with alarms triggering shut downs and restarts from the heat pump, and it seemed it was all to do with overheating. I tried the temperature sensor in both ports in the buffer tank, labeled as such, no joy with either. We requested a detailed diagram to plumb the specific products we had been supplied but only generic drawings were available due to every installation being different.

The buffer tank has seven inlet/outlet ports, we needed four. And two places to insert a temperature sensor, we need one.

 Not really knowing what the inside tank configuration safety was the first priority. Below is how the tank was initially plumbed. The inlet from the heat pump and the outlet to the house were plumbed into the ports which had “circulation inlet “and circulation outlet” stickers on the ports.Two other ports had no labels,  a third had “drain”, another had DHW,  and another had two labels, “safety valve inlet” and “cold water inlet”


Initial heat-pump buffer tank plumbing (Wrong)

Didn’t work, called the plumbers back, who obliged without hesitation, and asked them to plumb it my way, so no responsibility on them. Plumbed the supply to the house into the DHW port at the top to get the hottest water into the house. It worked but of course the heat pump was on most of the time as it was continually heating the water coming back from the house and not heating the buffer tank as was the purpose of installing one in the first place. So, didn’t work. To make matters worse all unused ports are capped and locked in with locktite. Not an easy problem to overcome either without damage, as the heads of the caps do not protrude enough past the casing of the buffer tank to put a spanner on, let alone put a lot of pressure on to break the seal.☹️  Another phone hook-up and I think the problem has been solved, it means getting the plumbers back a third time, I will post the results when they are finished.

Back to Work

Monday 16th January

Nino returned to work and started tiling in the wet areas as the cabinet maker was due at the start of February and all floors needed to be in.  Ash was due to return on the Thursday, so a one man operation it was, and walls first. Another pivotal moment in the build, nearly a B-B-Q moment surely!

Ash returns and the attention turns to the Jarrah flooring. No sooner had Ash laid the first couple of boards Nino was testing it out as a dance floor. Verdict… fantastic.

Ash continued over the weekend and had most of it done by Monday.


I was away in Perth on Monday the 24th and received a phone call. They had pierced a loop of Pex. With three boards to go to finish laying the hardwood floor …. Whoops!! We had decided lay the timber floor the same way as the pex in the hallways to alleviate offcuts and realising  it would still be OK aesthetically. The first hallway at the other end of the house no problems, however the final few pieces ….


Cut the water off. Joiners required. We don’t have any. Call the plumber, Call Peter Taylor from Australian Sun Energy. Don’t panic. Sourced some joiners from “Rones Plumbing” and Pete is sending some from South Australia. We will join it all up on Monday, relay the hardwood planks and finish the Jarrah timber floor. It looks fantastic raw and will look better once it is sanded and sealed.

Back to the tiling:  First we put down a backer board over the warmboard in readiness for a 4:1 screed which will enable a fall for water and bed for the 600mm x600mm tiles. Notice the lines indicating where the pex is located under the tile board

Just need to waterproof joins


Nearly Ready For 4:1 Mud Mix & Tiles

A few pics of the house from above tend to give a better view of what we are doing

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Lets see what damage we can do this coming week.

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Bremer Bay -Much Ado About …

The outside

Sunday 20 November 2016 – Sunday 11 December 2016

Its been  a millennium or so since the last update and although the speed of the build and the changes to the physical appearance of the exterior have slowed somewhat we are progressing ever forward. Ash has just had a couple of weeks off to attend to some of his other clients needs and Nino also took the opportunity to take a weeks’ leave and tidy up some loose ends which naturally occur when you are devoting so much time continuously to the one project.

That said the front deck is now almost complete from one end of the house to the other.

I’m the hold up on the unfinished portion of  the Western End. The cladding underneath this bit of unfinished deck (aka: above the Secret Men’s Business door) needs to be done before completing the  deck above, and I have to decide how this is to be finished.


resized2000pimg_0929The entry to the main door  and pantry have been framed and the same Duralife decking has been installed. Eamon Hurley  is the man to ring for orders and quotes.

The finished main Entrance.

We will use leftover  Glass Balustrade channel to frame our entrances with glass (or something else. 😄)

The other two entrances on this south side have also been framed and decked.resized2000pimg_7613resized2000pimg_7612resized2000pimg_7617The pantry


….And the Laundry.

We decided to included a ramp instead of the original stairs after seeing how high the deck was above ground level, that then necessitated a change of framing which was accomplished with little fuss and the usual enthusiasm. ( While I was present anyway!) We figure stainless wire as a balustrade here, so as we can continue it along the retaining wall beside the house.

The service area (Below) has been set out and a cement floor has been laid to house the  heat pump and buffer tank for the Warmboard hydronic heating system, two LPG gas cylinders (for cooking and automatic domestic HWS boost) HWS storage tank and gas booster for the evacuated tube solar HWS system, and two rubbish bins.

Service area

When finished this area will be enclosed with an aluminium strip cladding

The Inside…

Laying the Pex.

To recap: We are having UFH in the downstairs room, this is over a cement slab, and upstairs  UFH is over joists. Warmboard S is used upstairs as it is 28mm thick and is a structural subfloor. Even although downstairs is over a cement slab we could still have used Warmboard R which is a thinner version of the Warmboard S. Why we didn’t do this I can’t remember, perhaps it was the cost but it would have been simpler and probably less confusing for those of us that don’t know anything about UFH.

So we started laying the pex….

As we had not opened any of the pex packages,and thinking all pex we had were the same we started with what was the closest on hand and that was the pex that  came with the consignment of studded or lego looking attaching board for the downstairs install.

resized 2000pIMG_1019

The pex

The board  for attaching the Pex (Downstairs)

 It was a plastic oxygen barrier Cobra-Pex as opposed to what we were to soon find out the Al-CobraPex which came with the Warmboard S consignment and still packed away in the shed.

The two types of Pex supplied

So….of course the first pex to go down was upstairs and into the warmboard grooves.It was a bad mistake.We had three loops of this stuff, designed for downstairs because in the warmboard it squeaks as it rubs on the aluminium when you put pressure on it. I thought it might be OK once the floorboards were set down, but no. And under carpet I would assume not even a chance of it not squeaking. I guess I should have done more research as I will now have to pull up and relay those three loops and replace them with the proper pex. And we have just filled them with water, so the plumber will have to be called back as well. I had assumed too much. I assumed the pex we had been supplied would work with both systems. Fortunately Peter from Australian Sun Energy noticed a photo I had put up on this blog, and contacted me to say that it appeared that the plain pex had been installed in error and not the Alu-pex. I did look in the Warmboard S instruction book and had looked up their approved pex list and could not find the pex we had been supplied. The list in the installation brochure has American brands hence some confusion. I had forgotten that we had been supplied two different types of pex for two different types of installation. It’s called a learning curve.


It also seems the downstairs loops have been laid down with some of the distances between the loops more than the optimum  (I think) of 200mm. Having the room a funny shape probably didn’t help with the layout either.resized2000pimg_7634Maybe I will have to shorten these 2 loops, put them closer and add another as we still have one spare flow and return on the manifold.

I have asked Peter Taylor from Australian Sun Energy/ Warmboard Australia to send me another package of Alu-pex to redo the upstairs. I have two loops of 100m spare, but will need three. I have also asked again for some documentation on the heat pump that powers our heating. We were hoping to get the system heating  before Christmas so as to enable us to acclimatise the Jarrah flooring (now sitting in the garage) over the holiday break. However the electrician has not been in contact so we may now be looking at a setback of a few weeks to our construction time. I hope I am learning!!

On a brighter note: The house is locked up. Mandurah glass put the last of the glass in and a temporary lock on the front door.

Brad also fitted the switch glass in the ensuite

Hiding the Steel

Some random Pics From 2016

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I think that’s me done for 2016.

A New Year has begun and I guess we will be back at in a weeks time. Hopefully an electrician will ring before then and I will get my anticipated head start with conditioning the floorboards, if not we will continue as before and approach each challenge as a new experience and enjoy the ride.

A safe, happy and prosperous coming year to all.



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Bremer Bay – And So It Goes

Staying Outside...

Saturday 19th November 2016

Although it’s been three weeks since my last post here, and we continued to build as quietly and methodically as ever. No rushing, as the house continues to consume timber, time and technical know-how.

We have one day above 20º c and this guy has to break out the shorts.resized2000pimg_7563

Eat your heart out Brad Pitt

The corten steel cladding on the downstairs room has been finished for most of this time and has started to weather rather gracefully. The effort in cutting and placing those extra (million I’m sure) trimmers every 300mm up the stud walls to fix corten to, and create the curve has definitely paid off. Well done Boys. I tried a panoramic shot with my iPhone … it nearly worked.


3 Weeks in…Weathering Corten

The glass balustrade that will be fitted around the deck sits in a heavy C channel of aluminium. Brad had the channel curved to the radius of the eaves (as the eaves and the deck are both 1 metre wider than the radius of the floor plan of the house ) and was side fixed to the facia of the deck structure.

Fixing the balustrade channel

The deck posts were then cemented in place.

Whoops?  👀 

The job may have started a bit sooner but the cement mixer and associated tools were waylaid a bit as Nino tried out his 4×4.(Again). However a bobcat, a snatch-strap and 20 minutes and it was all go again.

Posts are in, and  the Channel is fixed and ready.

The decking will be installed running the same way as the joists so another lot of trimmers have to be installed to carry it. The C channel has been fixed 28mm above the facia as the decking boards are 23mm there will be a 5 mm lip of the channel above the deck level.


We have decided to go with an engineered board, and the one we have chosen is “Duralife” supplied by “Perth Decking Company”. They did the calculations to supply us with the right amount of decking boards from the information we supplied, put packs of 6.1m & 4.8m boards together which we then had freighted down. Once Nino and Ash had a system of measure & cut with the least amount of wastage it was all go.

The Main Deck:

The main deck is 6m by 7.2m, so to minimise offcuts the deck was set out with a couple of breaker boards in the pattern which gave us a near perfect fit if we used all 6.1m lengths.

We also have little biting insects at various times of the day, not to mention the flies (all the time) and so as to make maximum use of the deck and have the door open as much as we can, we put fly screen under our decking boards and we will install a motorised screen that will drop from the facia onto the top of the glass balustrade to fully enclose the deck. That’s the plan anyway!

Screen going under..

Meanwhile Inside:

Tristan and Clay have been fixing and flushing gyprock, maybe another week and Nino and Ash will be back inside to start  finishing rooms. Floors, tiles, paint, doors, architraves, lights, cupboards, plumbing, stairs, Warmboard……….you get the idea.

Off to start harvesting tomorrow so change venue and job for me for a while, I’m sure the builders will be pleased with no camera onsite and me, out from under their feet for a few weeks. I will still sneak back and take a few pics of their work early in the mornings to keep them honest and working.

Love the deck gentlemen.


Thank you.







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Bremer Bay – Of Corten, Gyprock & Windows

Corten Cladding:

Monday 24th October 2016

Then time has finally arrived when we are able to free the corten steel from it’s packaging and begin the exterior cladding of the downstairs “Secret Men’s Business”.

We were instructed to talk to Matt (who came and measured the walls before pressing and cutting the cladding to size) before we started. Doing so cleared up a few queries Nino had and also resulted in a new flashing being sent to seal the join between the Fibre-Cement cladding boards above, and the corten steel.

The profile we had the corten pressed to is as below


The exterior was broken into 5 natural sections. Each section was defined by a window or a door as a boundary. So the first section was from the start of the wall to the beginning of the door, the second was from the other side of the door to the point of the house/end of the wall, and so on.


Section 1: To the door

The shadow line created by the profile needed to remain equal along the entire wall. But as the length of each section was different, and each section was to be made up of whole panels, the width of the panel was changed slightly for each section.


Section 2:  From door to point

i.e.section 1:  290mm, and for section 2:   295mm.  And while you could not pick the difference between the different panel widths you would have been able to if the shadow line was increased to make up for the greater section length. As I said, SIMPLE.


Installing the point

The panels are like a stainless steel colour if kept out of all weather, and start the rusting process as soon as they are exposed

Nino and Ash had to take careful note of which panels were for which section, and keep meticulous coursing measurements as they progressed so that the panels fitted exactly into the section they were cut for. Of course they did, and of course the result is absolutely magnificent. I realise it will not be to everyones taste but it is us they are trying to please, and I am absolutely pleased. After taking some time off to help install the last of the  windows  (Oh yes, and go fishing!! but no pics this time as no fish of consequence were caught.) Ash and Nino are now three quarters of the way through the process, and with a good system of installation in hand, it will not be long into next week before another part of our project is ticked off.

In last week’s entry it was intimated that Nino was a a wee bit shorter than what he thought he was. He was upset to read this and challenged us. Not to upset him further we didn’t tell him that Santa Clause wasn’t real either, but we did relent and told him that if he didn’t believe us he could measure himself against the yardstick. (Which Ash had made previously) We then apologized profusely and said of course he was right as always,  and that he indeed was over 2m tall. The smile was worth it! 😇


A Giant of a Man

Brad arrived from Mandurah on Thursday with most of the remaining glass to be fitted. He also had onboard the front door that he made to our Specs. and the bottom rail for the decking balustrade, some of which which he had to get curved…… of course.

The aluminium bottom rail has a 50mm channel into which we hope to put free-standing glass panels, so that no curved handrail is necessary. It will be fixed to the facia of the walkway and smaller front decks, the length of each pane of the glass  that slots into the channel will be 800mm wide,  so as to sit within the curve.

The big glass windows for both end rooms were fitted, with all hands required to lift and place the 130kg pieces into place from inside out. They were double glazed and butt jointed, so Brad had a task to cut the angle  so as the join was a perfect fit.


Nailed it!

The other end

Last of the butt joints

The front door has been placed & waiting for glassresized2000pimg_1634

As an aside I am impressed with the level of workmanship and detail that Nino and Ash have gone to, to make this place a bit special for us. I’m also sure it shows the pride they have in their finished work.

As an example, note the amount of work involved here to notch out each of these boards as they meet in the corner. Very neat, very tidy, great craftsmanship. So easy to have done it differently, …  and a lot quicker.resized2000pimg_1604

Gyprock continues to be fixed inside, the rooms become more defined and the house is beginning to taking on character.

Next week should see the finish of the Corten, and the final pieces of cladding fixed in the entry void and around the louvres above the bifold doors, now that they are installed and are a defining edge to fix to.

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