Real life reno': Location, location

IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY: Adam's son Tasman, his wife Rebekah and their wee newborn Jeanie.
IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY: Adam's son Tasman, his wife Rebekah and their wee newborn Jeanie.

Fog puffs up the windscreen of our midnight blue sedan as we race down Vanguard Street in the icy, pre-dawn of last Friday morning.

It's 6.20am and Rebekah's waters have just broken on the front passenger seat.

The speedo clicks over 100km/h. She screams.

NO GIRLS ALLOWED: While building takes place around them, Adam and Tasman have staked out a 'boys area' in the lounge.
NO GIRLS ALLOWED: While building takes place around them, Adam and Tasman have staked out a 'boys area' in the lounge.

"Slow down you fool! You're going to kill us before we reach the hospital."

Then a contraction kicks in. She screams again.

"The baby's coming! We're not going to make it. Speed up, Speed up!.

And so, after keeping us all on edge for over 10 days past her due date, baby Jeanie Lyn decided the time was now! And raced into this world at 6.50am - about 50 minutes after we woke, and less than 25 minutes after we burst through the hospital doors.

She arrived so fast in fact that she has me rethinking the golden rule of real estate.

Location, location, location.

Hospitals, schools, services...mother-in-law!

For the past year, I've been trying to decide if living next door to Rebecca's mother, Sherryn, is actually a good thing or not.

I reckon most blokes would shudder at the thought.  All those extra unexpected pop-ins and requests for help with small chores ("Can you just give me a hand for five minutes to start the lawn mower....while you're here do you mind washing the windows, chopping three cords of wood and teaching me how to send a txt message").

To be fair, it was actually Sherryn who put us onto this place before Brian and Bev listed it with a real estate agent so I suppose she gets some credit for that. It's also handy living so close when we run a business together (Window Trends). Plus she has Sky Sports and cooks the best Sunday roast chook this side of China.

But it was that icy Friday morning that really sold me on the idea.  According to the original birthing plan, we were to call Sherryn when the action started.  She would then calmly walk over to ours and babysit Tasman, while we drove to the hospital at sensible pace with a well-demisted windscreen and a waterproof seat cover.

But Jeanie came so fast, there wasn't time for Sherryn and her dodgy hip to make it up her driveway, so instead I bundled Tas up in his blanket, jumped the fence and dropped him lovingly on the couch before speeding off to the hospital.

Given the way things turned out, I don't' know what we would've done with Tasman, or the things he would've seen, if we weren't living so close.  So, with that in mind, forgive me fellas (just think of all the rugby you can watch after you finish chopping the wood), but I'm going to declare that living next door to the mother-in-law is definitely a positive.  It won't add any value to your property and you might not appreciate it until there's an emergency, but living close to family is invaluable asset on a number of levels.

But that's enough compliments for the old duck.

View some more baby photos on our Facebook page

Revising timelines

My first column outlined our original plan to have the renovation finished before the baby arrived.

Obviously, with a builder yet to lift a tool on site, we've missed that target by some margin. 

And the news didn't get any better this week when our builder, who we've been waiting for since May, phoned to say he'd lost two key staff and will no longer be able to fit our job in. Gutted. 

If I could do a Cher and turn back time, I would've involved the builder at the very early planning stages so they could've worked around us and been waiting to go as soon as the consents came out of Council. 

I'm fast learning that stuff happens in the building game that you have no control over - but as with everything, the more organised you are, the better prepared you are to deal with the setbacks. We thought we were organised. We were wrong.

We now go back to square one.  It looks like we may have a new builder lined up, a very good builder too if reputations are anything to go by, but we are looking at at least another five week wait before work can begin.

And this leads to our other dilemma - where do we all sleep while the renovations are going on?  It was fine (awkward at times, but fine) sharing the only current bedroom with the boy and dog but that isn't going to work with a newborn. 

In an ideal world, we would move out into rental accommodation and move back into a fully completed house.  But the cheapest I could find was $400 per week and with the project expected to run about four months once work begins - that is a luxury we just couldn't afford. 

We contemplated moving in with the mother-in-law, had generous offers to bunk in with Rebekah's brother and cousin, narrowly missed out on some plum house-sitting gigs, even considered buying a caravan. But in the end we've decided to stay.

No-one wants to live in a building zone but as unappealing as it sounds, it turned out to be our best option. 

We are going to live on the top floor and box off the stairwell until the three bedrooms and bathrooms are complete and then move downstairs while the living areas are done on the top floor. 

This is the best of both worlds. 

It gives the builders unimpeded access to their work zones and it means we won't be tracking through dust.  There will still be some noise issues to deal with and it may run us into extra costs to get tradesman to work in stages, but we figure that will be cheaper than other options and we'll still get privacy and the comfort of sleeping in our own beds - well sort of.

To accommodate the new family dynamics, Tasman and I will be camping out in the lounge.  Rebekah and Jeanie get the bedroom while we have re-arranged the furniture and established a new boys-only zone. 

Tas gets to sleep in a tent. Mum and baby get peace. And I get the dog (the other night she got her head into the compost heap and then snugged into my neck with a soggy, old-soup-smelling beard).  But hey, it's only for four months.....