In which we leave our current house and move to Ponsonby while our house is readied for a roof.
Thank you very much to Tamsin James for a great guest post last week. I'm back now with progress to report.
Things have very suddenly become real. Last weekend we shifted out of our 100-year-old Balmoral villa. The shift was an epic struggle like the one that looms between Westeros and the White Walkers. There were trucks, hired muscle, a lifting thing that was like a cross between a forklift and a Segway, kind deeds by strangers and friends, a trip to Mangere, and stupidity like dropping a trailer back at 1.30am. Gemma claimed that advanced pregnancy meant she couldn't lift anything heavier than her head. If she was making it up, it worked. Well played.
I broke the record for most black sludge removed from an oven that hadn't been cleaned since the introduction of GST. How much do you have to clean a house when you move out? The list of chattels didn't include "3mm of dust and grime" so we erred on the side of "to within an inch of its life" and cleaned everywhere - Spray n' Wipe on the skirting boards, Jif inside the cupboards and drawers, soapy water on the shelves and behind the fridge. We cleaned places that hadn't seen light for generations. I found three infantrymen of the British Colonial Regiment who'd been in hiding and didn't realise the Maori Wars had ended.
What's the consensus on cleaning before you move? Anyone got horror stories of moving into dirty places?
The Bridges were too busy grinning like idiots to realise all their s**t had been burgled from behind them.
Because of mounting payments to the contractor to build our new house, we are forced to do a double move. Selling now and renting cheaply for three or four months saves us ending up with a mortgage of about 1.1 million New Zealand semolians. Moving twice is like battling a Dothraki warrior, then battling another one before your wounds are healed, but I don't see how people afford to do it any other way. Now for a brief time until the next build invoice comes in we have a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank!
When we finally got in the Nissan Cefiro to drive away for the last time from my home of 15 years (and Gemma's of 6) I am not ashamed to say that exhaustion and years of memories combined to give me a brief tearful moment in the car. Gemma comforted me by telling me not to be such a pussy. Patrick, the fine and friendly man who bought our house, chose that moment to run back out to ask a question about the fridge. Answering it, I realised he was looking at me funny, backing away and jabbering that he'd call me later. I realised with shame that my face was absolutely wet. In our society, unless the All Blacks have just lost a World Cup semifinal, you should never see a stranger's tears. I broke that rule. Now I can never return to Balmoral.
So now we live in Ponsonby and consequently for three or four months I will be a complete wanker. I haven't really got time for this blog anymore, what with all the tapas and bubbles at Ponsonby Central. I don't know how to explain it but being within earshot of the idiots vomiting their chocatinis into the potted yukkas outside Wank Bar at 2am, I just feel like a better class of douchebag.
The build is getting extremely real too. When last we left it I had made an epic video about the last of the structural steel being lifted into place in the pouring rain against the clock. If you haven't seen it, watch it here.
The top floor after the major beams had been placed.
Since then Deek, Sam and Andy have been working hard to prepare for the roof to be attached. First they bolted and nailed all the rafters into place both between and inside the steel.
Then they spent thousands of nails supporting each rafter with joist hangers.
Around the world these little bad boys are universally hated by builders for the sheer tedium they create.
Andy completed all the steelwork - which included making a frame for the awning over the front door.
He made the steel supports for a bay window in the bedroom.
Deek told me that inadequately strengthened bay windows sag and the resulting gaps are a major cause of leaks. Hence the steel supports in the above picture.
Andy then welded on the supports for the eaves, guttering and sliding glass doors all around the edges of the roof.
Sam works along front eaves. Look, a metal thing.
This line of tags supports the sliding doors onto the deck.
He also finished all the welds that until then had just been temporarily spot-welded, and painted all the exposed welds to make this beautiful blue steelwork.
This week I haven't been on site. Andy has finished his part of the build for now, and Sam and Deek have a few more tasks to complete before the roofing iron can be laid on. I watched as they made a shopping list for the materials they were short of.
If you go into ITM with a shopping list just written on a piece of paper, they laugh you out of the place with jibes like "Did you remember the lanolin facewipes?" and "Where's your pushchair, Doris?" This is the minimum size and weight of notepaper a self-respecting builder can get away with.
First Sam and Deek will have to complete all the framing around the edges so that they can get an accurate measure of the exact dimensions of roof needed.
Then they take these rolls of steel band.
And they attach them to the rafters in this configuration, laid out by the engineer.
The lines forming Xs across the rectangular spaces are where the steel tape goes to cross-brace the whole structure and provide the final support to make it completely rigid.
Then they will tension these steel bands with these fittings
Until, as Deek said, you can "play them like guitar strings". No Stairway!
With all the structure now in place, for the first time we can get an idea of the full shape of the place, and after calling the place the "section" for the first few months, then the "site" for the last few, we're now starting to call it the "house" - exciting. Here's upstairs.
Looking from the back of the section west across the deck with the kitchen inside to the left and what will be a small lawn out of shot to the right.
Here's the house from the street.
And finally, here is the view across the ridgeline. We will never see this once the house is finished unless we come home drunk without our keys and attempt to climb in a window from the roof - but who would do that?
In order to predict the hour of the Summer Solstice, the ridge of the roof has been set out on ancient ley lines, pointing to sacred Maungawhau.
With luck, sometime in the next week the roof will be installed. Then it will be time for the roof shout. But ever since that TV ad where that goggle-eyed loon pops his head up and repeatedly yells "roof shout", I haven't been able to stand that whole concept.
If he shows up I will pop him one. It'll be like the bloody Red Wedding all over again.
As always, thanks for reading.
I remain your humble,
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