Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grilling Tonight!

Well, almost.

A scene of high excitement at the Cardboard Box today. Phil the Appliance Guy was here with his fabricated stainless steel pieces and installed the warming drawer, cooler drawer, towel holder and trash drawer. All we need now is the tap and the sink cover. (And I think we also need the power to be switched on, but presumably that's a minor thing - and, of course, the charcoal grill requires no power.)

The two stones in the back yard that had been replaced because of scratching were replaced again. The first substitutes had been completely wrong. The new ones are completely right.

The landscapers were hard at it digging holes for the plants, and even managed to get a dozen into the ground. Their technique is clearly to dig a hole the right size for every plant, and then to go round again actually planting.

Today's big check: $20,000 for the landscaper for progress payment #2.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Creeping Forward

Site Supervisor II was here today to change out the door handle set on Little Starlet's exterior door, so that's another small thing ticked off the list. While he was here, he also spent half an hour crawling around under the house trying to identify the strange knocking sound that has been keeping us awake at night for the past few weeks. (We tried turning off the attic fans and the water circulating pump, but neither of them changed anything.) SS2 was pleased to announce that he had found six places where the pipes were knocking against other pipes or the framing, so he tied them in and put some insulation (aka paper from our recycling) around them to keep them quiet. Maybe we don't have a troll under the house after all. (That was his alternative theory.)

In the landscaping project, the men spent some time today digging more holes and smoothing the soil. They will allegedly begin planting the plants tomorrow, only a week after they arrived on site. We are missing a few items. They will apparently be delivered "soon".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pots Poised for Planting

And the big question is, when will any of these darn plants actually get planted?

Smooth, smooth, dig

The landscapers have been hard at it all week, but we can't see a lot of progress. They have been digging many holes and filling them back in again. They have also been adding soil, smoothing soil, digging hole, smoothing soil, digging hole, smoothing soil.... A lot of soil smoothing.

The plants arrived during the week, but are still sitting around the garden in pots. We seem to be missing some stuff, like two of the mandarin orange trees from the side fence and the olive tree for the front yard.

The Landscape Designer was here on Thursday and claimed that the outdoor kitchen was to be finished on Friday, but all that happened on Friday was that another hole was drilled in the counter top to enable an electrical wire to run from the rotisserie to the outlet under the counter. Warming drawer, cooler drawer, towel drawer and trash can still to be installed. Faucet on the sink, still to be installed. Cover for the sink, still to be created.

Hubby is on the verge of a massive wobbly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The End Truly in Sight

Around the house there is very little left to do.

Site Supervisor II finally confirmed - with the help of the Velux rep - that the remaining problem with our kitchen skylight is a bad blind, so a new one is on order. The door screens for the french windows are supposedly arriving tomorrow and will be installed on Monday. The three missing exterior lights came yesterday and should also be installed on Monday. SS2 owes us a bit of caulking in the kitchen around the sliding door threshold. We are also owed a few bits of touch up painting inside the house, nothing much.

Outside, the exterior paint job is looking good, and minimal touch ups are required. The painter said he'd return when the landscaping was complete, so that he can touch up anywhere the landscapers have spoiled. He also needs to come back to patch and paint the front door where the hardware changed.

The landscapers are working hard on the garden. Yet more dirt has been delivered. The guys move it around in wheelbarrows, it looks like hard work. The big excitement of yesterday was the delivery of a very large quantity of plants. They are currently sitting on the area that will become our lawn. Hopefully they will be planted in the near future. Just their arrival in pots has really perked up the garden.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Crack is Back

Alas, the crack in the bath has returned. Our Architect and I were pottering around the house admiring the near completion of it all, and sadly spotted that the orange web was back in the bottom of the bath. We speculated whether the man from Kohler had simply scrubbed the bottom of the tub down and removed the orange, rather than actually trying to fix anything.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sealed in a Plastic Bubble

The painters are doing the outside of the house, at last. Interestingly, they do not use paintbrushes or rollers; they use spray guns. First of all they covered every window and door with plastic, and used the spray gun to paint all the woodwork white (eaves, gutters, downspouts, window frames, doors and door frames. Then yesterday they spent a while covering all the openings with plastic so that today they can spray the walls. It was pretty horrible in the house last night, with every potential ventilation opening covered in plastic film.

We also had a slightly comical moment yesterday afternoon when it appeared that there was no longer any way to get out of the house. This was solved by bursting through one of the garage doors.

In other news yesterday, Site Supervisor II was here for an hour with the Velux representative, and they got both openable skylights in the kitchen to work, and they also got five out of the six blinds to function correctly. It seems that our sixth blind is "bad" (even though it is brand new) and the Velux man has ordered a replacement to be sent directly to us rather than through the local dealer. SS2 says he is literally dreaming about our skylights; and I told him that he is now, of course, on an Arthurian-style Quest to get them fixed.

We're Growing Flags

The landscapers spent yesterday finishing up the irrigation (I think). As Hubby says, the men are there all day, working hard, and at the end of the day the garden looks exactly as it did at the start of the day.

We do seem to have sprouted a lot of flags, though.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BBQ Fiasco

Today was the day when the outdoor kitchen was supposed to be finished. What a fiasco. First of all the grill installers didn't turn up this morning - they claimed to have been given the wrong address. When they finally did turn up, they unpacked all the equipment and discovered that none of it fitted into the holes waiting for it in the frame of the outdoor kitchen. The holes cut in the counter top were not big enough.

The gal in the Landscape Designer's office tried to get the counter top guy out, but he was not to be found. After the BBQ installers had hung out for an hour, they prepared to go home, leaving all the equipment out on the patio. At that moment the counter top guy arrived. He had started to cut the counter top as I left for an event elsewhere.

Returning home, I see that the two grills are positioned in their spaces on the counter top - but there is a big gap behind them, about two inches wide, which means that the unit is not water tight and generally looks rubbish. Did I mention that this counter top - honed limestone - cost us over $8,000? Unless there is some magic fix, they've ruined it. Also some of the stone cladding fell off the wall.

The BBQ installers were pretty sour and unpleasant. They also tried to install the fridge but couldn't because they said it was impossible to reach the feet under the fridge when it was in place. The space in the base of the kitchen unit is apparently insufficient for the installation to happen. The BBQ installers also said that they wouldn't be installing the other pieces of equipment we bought from their store - at immense expense - because "we only install into wood studs, not concrete, so someone else will have to do this."

All in all, a total fiasco, and Hubby is on the verge of firing everyone. (Which of course would be madness, given the late stage of the project, but I understand his frustration.)

When we embarked on the landscaping, we were assured that it would all be done by the end of May. How wrong that was.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bath tub problem solved

The tub refinisher came from Kohler today and did a spectacular job touching up the enamel. It turned out to be a much easier job than any of us had anticipated, and the tub looks like new. Phew.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ring the Bells! Shout the Joyous News from the Roof Tops!

Today is a red letter day: The house passed its final inspection.

That doesn't actually mean that everything is finished, but it means that the City is happy that the work has complied with the building code, that all the major systems (electrics, plumbing, roof, drainage etc) are in place correctly, and that the house won't blow away in a strong wind. Or something like that.

SS2 is clearly delighted. He only has a couple of little things to do, like make our garden gate self-closing (because of the pool - that's part of the building code. I guess that even though we have a safety cover there are the moments when the pool is open. At least they aren't making us build a fence around it).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Here's a photo of Hubby struggling to cope with the doorless food cabinet. Yes, he's eating junk food.

Welcome to week 32.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Useful Feature in a Gun Happy Country

Hubby opened the delicate conversation around pergolas today. Turns out that the Landscape Designer has many designs already drawn up and ready to go, with a bit of appropriate scaling. She is also suggesting using Lexan to make a water resistant roof. We had no idea what this is, so we looked it up on Wikipedia. Turns out that it is the material used to make bullet proof windows. Well, that's a relief.


Locks, Paints, and Chips

The painters are hard at it outside, finishing the primer coat on the exterior. They are also peeling off all the plastic window coverings that SS2 had carefully left on to protect the glass for the painting phase... Well, I guess they know what they're doing!

One of the guys from Jim's Bunch changed our door hardware yesterday, leaving us with yet more keys; so I got the locksmith in last night and had all the locks changed.

This morning the cabinet makers returned to the house and took away the doors from the tall food cabinet in the kitchen. The back was covered with holes and marker pen from the failed attempts to install the door shelving, and we had requested that they remake the doors. Now all my junk food is on show. I joked to SS2 that I'll have to buy a load of fruit to stack in front of it to hide our shame.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Men Everywhere

I have some work to do, but can't do it because the painters are in the office, touching up the ceiling. The painters are also working on the exterior.

There is also a man changing out the door hardware on the front door. Alas, as always, there is a problem with the product - or should that be, we were fooled by yet another DIY effort performed by the previous owners. Turns out that they sawed off part of the handle mechanism to make the hardware fit. The guy from Jim's Bunch that is trying to install the replacement is now wondering what to do, and waiting for Site Supervisor II to appear from his other site.

In the back yard, men are digging trenches for the irrigation and lighting conduits. They were here on Saturday morning at 7:30am, digging just outside our window. Hubby lay there half awake asking weakly, "Is that really workers out there?"

In the front yard last week we had our new gate installed. It cost $1,600 and is the wrong color. As Little Starlet helpfully demonstrated, you can scrape the paint coating off with your finger nail. I pointed this out to the Landscape Designer, and she is going to chase up the metal guys to get this put right.

Last week I also ordered shades and drapes for the guest bedroom and family room. A painfully large sum of money, but at least we're not paying all in one go.

We have guests arriving next weekend, so we've been gently "encouraging" the construction crew to get a move on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where's the shotgun?

Strange knocking in the house on Saturday evening. Strange knocking on Sunday morning. Diagnosis? There is a woodpecker hammering away at the wooden shingles on our roof.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Contrasts in the Garden

Rotovated and new soil to the right. Old hard-as-concrete soil to the left.

Today's Menu of Action

Several things happened today:

- The hardscape people cleared out their stuff. The outdoor kitchen is still not finished, pending a solution to "the paper towel holder doesn't fit."
- The counter top people arrived and left again without doing anything to the outdoor kitchen.
- The landscaping crew continued to rotovate the back yard. In fact they were using something that looked like a spade attached to a jack hammer. It took them all morning to do the majority of the ground.
- A very large pile of soil arrived, and the landscaping crew started to distribute it by wheelbarrow.
- The painters arrived and started to do the undercoat on the bedroom/bathroom extension exterior.
- The dry wall guys came back to fix the ceiling in the office, guest bathroom and hallway where the plaster had shrunk away from the metal beading, causing the plaster to crack.
- Site Supervisor II covered up the kitchen skylights with black plastic, at my request. It was so hot in the kitchen that you could have fried an egg on the floor.
- SS2 also thinks he has found a solution to the tub problem.

Tomorrow we have the first site meeting for several weeks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Family Room Takes Shape

Pictures here of our new Viesso sectional sofa in stone colored "Infinity Suede", our new funky coffee table which has two rotating adjustable surfaces, and the family room's TV cabinet with TV in place and books on the shelves. I spent many happy hours last week reorganizing the books. The family room now contains "classics" plus collections of books by authors which seem to be very popular with Hubby. (Regular paperbacks have been relegated to the guest bedroom, while fancy hardbacks are on show in the living room. History and feminism have a book case all to themselves in the living room too.)

Now all I need to do is buy a lot of exciting cushions!

Revenge of the Killer Squirrel

Well, it might not be squirrel damage, but we're not sure we can explain what the problem is otherwise. Our previously functioning solar power heating for the pool has sprung a leak - a big leak, in fact. The new pool maintenance service sent me an email saying that they'd put the solar on, then turned it off as "water was pouring off the roof". They said we'd need a new panel to replace one that was damaged.

We are always skeptical when things suddenly go wrong. So we turned on the solar and, darn it, water poured off the roof. Here's a photo of Deep Thought experiencing our impromptu roof shower.

This didn't stop us having friends over for lunch on Sunday. Seven children and one brave adult went swimming in our low-80sF water. Reports are good, though Deep Thought said she couldn't really tell that the plaster was much smoother than the old kind. However, since none of the kids got out with "raspberries" on the bottom of their toes, I guess this was a successful experiment.