-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Thursday, May 29, 2008

detailed plans for new house (almost)

Today the almost-finished house plans arrived from Eric. I say almost, as there's still a chance they might need tweaking depending on the structural engineers report. (Which as yet we've not commissioned, as holding off to hear about the planning permit and also to get some alternative quotes).

These plans are designed to be of sufficient detail to be suitable for applying for a building permit. As much as he could, Eric has kept descriptions generic, to allow us flexibility in deciding on the precise brand / style of finish.

The best thing about this set of the plans is that it's got detailed measurements, so we can at last seriously cracking on working out things like the design of the kitchen.

I've uploaded a couple of the pages to Flickr as below, but if you're curious, the full set of plans (all 17 pages worth) is here.

Ground floor - main house:
2nd floor floorplan

Second floor - main house:
1st floor floorplan

Library wing:
library wing floorplan

inspiration from Kent & Sussex

We recently spent a few days in Kent and Sussex, visiting gardens and old houses. The weather wasn't brilliant but we were lucky most of the time - grey skies but seldom rain.

As usual, we were on the lookout for ideas we can copy at Amherst. Here's our favourites:

At Derek Jarman's garden in Dungeness we found a form of gravel garden - actually shingle - that I like. I've seen gravel gardens before but I've not liked them: this one was different though: no fences and surrounded by proper sized pebbles rather than itty-bitty stones that crunch when you walk. Given how hard it will be to maintain grass where we are, this is a godsend.
dungeness - 11.jpg

At Walmer Castle we discovered a lovely shade of blue paint that worked surprisingly well even in a sometimes dark corridor:

A cool concept for a lookout bench at Scotney Castle:
scotney castle - 6.jpg

Wonderful circular steps designed by Lutyens at Great Dixter:
great dixter - 67.jpg

Raised planting troughs at Sissinghurst.... Actually I'd come across these on a past visit but seeing them again reminded me. Of course hers are all proper stone and weigh a ton but you can get fake plastic ones that look very realistic - I have to remember to get a bunch before we leave, as Mum says she's not seen them in Australia.
sissinghurst (1st visit) - 53.jpg

Also at Sissinghurst, the lovely plant gazebo from her famous white garden:

And finally, also from Sissinghurst, the herb garden. I'd love to lay our herb garden out this way in the square between the two houses (albeit without the tall hedge). I especially like the camomile bench that you can see at about 13 secs in:

At last! a name

We started thinking about what to call the house(s) over three years ago and have at last come up with something we both like.

Until recently we were leaning towards "Cricklewood Farm" - in homage to where we live in London. But it never felt quite right, not to mention would be forever subject to japes about The Goodies (who I just discovered even wrote a song about it).

So, on our recent driving trip in Kent and Sussex we brainstormed other names and came up with the idea of "Ridgeview". It seemed apt as we're on a ridge and we have a view... but of course when we came to look for URL's it - and numerous variants, Ridgeviewhouse and so forth - were already taken.

Then we had a brainwave and came up with an alternative that I liked every more:


... and miracle of miracles, www.ridgefieldshouse.com was available!!

(We might get the .com.au version too if I can ever get my head round the trademark registration process).

Who knows, we might end up changing it if we come up with something better in the next few years, but right now I'm just so happy we have something to fall back on that we both like. :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ebay win: mosaic floor tiles

My idea is to make either one big or a couple of normal sized "doormats" out of these. I don't know exactly where yet but I like the colours and pattern, so it seemed too good a bargain to pass up - especially since they were just down the road from Mum's.

tiles arranged

From the description:
"Victorian Mosaic Floor Tiles suitable for a patio. They came from the patio of an old terrace house in Prahran, Melbourne. The larger dark tiles measure 115mm square. Of these tiles I have 134 good, 63 with very small chips and 36 with bigger chips plus some broken tiles. The smaller sandstone colour tiles are 40mm square and there are 270 of these. There are also 31 triangle shape tiles of these smaller ones - the full tile has been cut in half. A very few of the above tiles have small amounts of mortar on them that would have to be chipped off"

tiles piled

Saturday, May 17, 2008

rocks, windmills and wine

Julian and Leah from Dunach went walking recently not far from our place and very kindly sent us a link to see the photos. This one made me especially "homesick" (??can I call it that if I haven't lived there yet??) We have lots of rocks like this on our place - although unfortunately they're not organised into neat heaps yet. :-)

(original photo via JKexpress2007 on Picasa)

They also filled us in on some local news: there are some wonderful windmills being installed at Waubra and also the winery up the road from us has at last got new owners. It's been relaunched: it used to be called Scotts Hill Vineyard, now it is Romantic Vineyard and they've added holiday accommodation and a restaurant. I'm so happy we'll have this on our doorstep and can't wait to visit. :-)

Thanks a lot for the update guys...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hot water system

We had to decide on the hot water system type for the new house, so Eric could factor it into the plans. He laid out two basic options, of which we decided to go with Option 1 - not least because we don't have mains gas connection:

Option 1:
"One that I have used successfully in projects like yours is a hybrid of solar, wood fire and electric with a tank concealed in the roof space. The electric element rarely gets used. We used this arrangement at our old bush block where we didn't have mains electricity, so the electric element was never connected. The system works well in summer (solar) and winter (wood fire). There are occasional warm overcast days (about ten per year, from my experience) when the fire is not on and the and clouds prevent solar heating. The seperate concealed tanks don't seem to come with gas boosters, only electric. You need a plumber who is familiar with these systems to make sure it works properly"

Option 2:
"A common arrangement these days is a solar 'pre-heater' with an LPG instant gas heater. The system comprises of a tank and solar panels mounted on the roof. Water circulates through the panels heating the water in the tank when there is sunshine. From the tank, the water passes through a 'instant' LPG heater before going to the tap. If the water is already hot (summer) the LPG heater doesn't come on. If the water is cool or just warm, the LPG heater goes on enough to top it up. These systems are very common and most plumbers could fit them"

Monday, May 05, 2008

revamping the shed

Besides making cheesy videos of house models, this weekend I did some real work too on our London backyard.

Specifically, we finally tackled the shed problem.

The shed was old when we bought the place nearly 10 years ago and we've done nothing to it except stuff it full of junk.

So... On Saturday we cleared it out. By giving stuff away (eg: a drawer full of aquarium equipment), throwing the really badly broken stuff out and taking the remainder "to the allotment" ... we managed to get to a shed that was more than half empty. Incredible.

On Sunday we tackled the junk that had built up outside, around the side & back. Mostly this was old wood and broken garden furniture. Dave salvaged what he could and then burnt the rest. Our decorative chiminea has turned out to be a brilliant incinerator. :-)

Then today, Monday, we wire-brushed the outer walls then I painted it a lovely blue to match the chicken house, and Dave replaced the broken glass and put on new roof felt. Now it looks like a brand new shed, I'm really pleased.

Here's the side view where you can truly appreciate the roofing:
side view of painted shed

This is what it looks like from the back step:

the house model has landed

So I gave you a sneak preview of this a while back, but this week the real thing arrived!

It's had pride of place on the kitchen table but finally this weekend I got round to taking photos. Here's a montage of them complete with cheesy music. Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

permits are underway...

Thank goodness, it's all looking positive on the planning permit front so far.

From Dad's email (May 2):

"Hi, I have returned from Maryborough and have good news: Norm looked over the whole application documentation, and I spoke to him about the plan you sent locating everything. As well I mentioned the height of the place due to 12 ceilings. He said he was involved in a place in England several years ago so he knows what you are talking about when you wish to have the higher ceilings... Norm and Jeff (the soil tester) both commented that it will be a great home when finished and an asset in that quiet neighborhood".

We still have to get a couple more things to Norm for the planning permit process, but it's all underway.

Friday, May 02, 2008

soil test update

We're still waiting for the full set of test results, but we've heard about the Foundation test.

From Dad's email (May 1st):
"He said he has done one of the tests, the foundations, and the news is good, an M classification for the footings. He has to complete the capability tests, as these require time for dispersal of water from holes before he can submit his samples"

I had a little hunt online and found a booklet thanks to Soil Test Australia which defines the different classifications. It turns out M = average. :-)

UPDATE: the full report has arrived.