Saturday, 12 April 2008

12 - The Move - Day 3

The real day 3 was rained out. On the next day, the mover men returned to put the roof up and temporarily tack the tin sheets on. They put them on properly after the house has been lowered down on to the permanent stumps because there is usually a bit of movement in that process.

Just after the roof was finished it poured rain. Here is a picture of the finished for now product taken the next morning.

The house is very high at the moment as there needs to be room underneath for the stumpers to get their hole digger things in. We would like the house to end up nearly a metre lower than it is in this picture. The stumpers are due to come in the next week or so.

11 - The Move - Day 2

On the start of Day 2 the first half waited patiently for its opposite.

The larger second half arrived about 830 am.

Obviously this second piece's placement is a lock trickier than the first. If they go too far down the slope and past the first piece then lots is lost. The truck is way too heavy to move back up the hill at all while the house is still on the back. Fortunately the trailer is amazing. It moves every which way as it lines the pieces up together. This whole process really impressed me. I watched on both days in awe of the speed, skill and ease with which 5 guys worked on the house. I had never seen a house being delivered before and I couldn't believe they got the thing exactly where we wanted it. Unbelievable. .

10 - The Move - Day 1

The movers started to prepare the house on Thursday the 3rd of April. By the Friday afternoon it was cut in half, roof collapsed, on trailers and ready to travel. It then stayed put like this for the weekend. We traveled up to visit friends and check it out.

Just before 8am the next Monday the first half of the house arrived.

The truck had some difffculty getting back out again. My neighbour had to help with both his tractor and digger. It only just worked.

We got to know the first half overnight.

Friday, 11 April 2008

9 - The Hold Up

Before too long it dawned upon us that April would be arriving soon ready to move a house and we still had not received the go ahead from the council. We had a call from them enquiring about the waste treatment report accompanying our application. In the report we had stated that we would like a waterless composting toilet and a grey water system similar to a normal septic system. This was fine. They just wanted to see the spot where the septic application area (trenches) was going. Since the report was prepared we have had over 820mm of rain falling in just 2 months. All of sudden we discovered a spring right where the application areas was to be. The council man noticed this swallowing his boots as I pointed out the area in question. He said we would need to choose another area. The report would need an amendment done by the mob who prepared it. Fine. I rang the guy and he came back out to choose another spot.

We decided we would pump the grey water over to the existing application area we use now for the shed. We were happy with this because it will be cheaper and not close to the house. He went back to write the report and send it on both to the council and us at the same time. We politely stressed the need for a little haste with all this. We should have dropped the politely because he didn’t apply the haste. He sat on the report for two weeks despite two reminders. This made it impossible for us to receive a formal approval from the council before our deadline. We were starting to worry. The planning consultant we commissioned to smooth this kind of thing over was no help. Not sure what we paid him for now, perhaps the ink in his pen as he filled out our application.

We were concerned for a few reasons. Firstly the movers were booked in for the second week of April. They are very busy people. If we did not take this booking we would have to wait about another month. They required council approval to start work on the house a few days before the move. Secondly we thought the house had to be moved from the block by early April or, as you may remember dear reader, we would be hit with a further $10 000.

Turns out we didn’t need to worry. We had layers of cushioning step up under pressure. Firstly the house now did not have to be off the block until the end of the year. Developers are slow like that. We rang the council and discovered that they had the required amended report and everything was set to go. It would take a few weeks to be formally approved but they pretty much gave us verbal approval. We passed this on to the movers. That was good enough for them. Full steam ahead, no…full noxious carbon monoxide ahead, no…behind. Either way, let’s go.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

8 - The Preparation

Once the development application was done and the major contracts with the removers and the stumpers sewn up, we had about two months to wait and prepare. The house was vacated a lot sooner than we were told it would be. We were under the impression it wouldn’t be until a few weeks before the move in April. It wasn’t. The house had been emptied of people and things just before Christmas, which means we could do things there, like take the photos you see around these words.

Asbestos Removal
The first thing to do was to have the asbestos fibre sheeted ceilings throughout the house removed. The Tweed Shire Council will not allow any asbestos product to enter its boundaries. Fair enough. We got a couple of quotes. They were between $2500 and $3000 - licensed asbestos people charge big money. We went with the cheapest. Because the asbestos sheets were mostly on the inside of the house, their removal would hopefully not leave the impression that the place was being taken apart or something. We were a little concerned about leaving the house unattended for 4-5 months in the city. We feared looters or squatters or arsonists or historians or wood fanciers or claw foot bath fanciers or nice deck fanciers or pretty much everyone else in the world would somehow notice the house was empty and strike.

The ceilings have a lot of decorative wood attached to them in different patterns for each room. We asked for this to be kept if possible as some of it may be able to be used for the same purpose afterwards.

The job was done. However, in our desire to go with the cheapest quote, we failed to notice that ‘nail removal’ was not mentioned. As a result they weren’t. The other company had stated they would remove them, but the one we went with did not. So in many areas there is a ten cent shape worth of asbestos sheeting surrounding the nails. We will have to bear this in mind when working on the house later. The total cost was $2750. Substantial - though not too bad.

All the wood was left in piles in the room it was removed from. There was a lot of it and some of it had split. If we do not use it for the ceilings then I’m sure it will be used for something else one day.

The Removal of Part of the Front Verandah
In New South Wales they have a rule which stipulates that houses traveling on trucks can be no wider than five and half metres. In Queensland it’s eight metres. Damn. The cut for our house will look the best if it is done under the skirting board along the edge of the lounge/dining room. This leaves about one and half metres of left hand side front verandah sticking out over the NSW width limit. Damn. We thought that perhaps the removers could dog leg the cut a bit to incorporate the verandah better. They weren’t prepared to. Damn. In the contract with them it states that the one and half metres would be cut off and left behind. Hoover Dam.

The verandah section in question here is a little tricky. It has its own piece of peeked roofing perpendicular to the main entrance peek.

We first thought we would need to hire someone to take the section apart and then travel two hours down here later on to put it back together. Finding someone to do this in the current busy building climate would turn out to be near impossible. After ringing a few people, we decided the person taking it apart does not have to be the same person who puts it back together again. It is not that complicated. We could take it apart, hire a truck, move it in bits, store it until after the house is all put back together and then get someone to work on it, or maybe I'll give it a crack.

A friend of mine in Brisbane, who does a bit of cabinet making and has a lot of tools and things, agreed to help pull the section apart. He would charge me for his time but at a very cheap rate. So I took a few days off work and went to work.

We had to remove a lot more than just one and half metres because we did not want to cut the nice balustrades, or the great silky oak fixed shade louvres, in half. The dismantling was not too bad. The two 200mm by 200mm hard wood posts were very heavy and tested our sheer strength and endurance. We passed but only just. The process introduced me to a new favourite tool, the single handed demolition hammer (insert growl sound here).

In the end the cost for the verandah removal was about $695. Twelve hours of my friend’s help was $300. It was $250 to hire the truck and the rest was eaten up in extra tools and things.


One of the largest issues leading up to the move for us was where exactly to move the house to. Our 15 acre block has lots of undulating hills. Together they sort of make up a basic bowl shape with a dam at the bottom resembling the few spoonfuls of milk left after cereal. The shed we live in now sits on top of the hill that mostly faces south. There is a small part of it that travels down the north from the shed to the boundary. This is where we grow food at the moment. The hill we chose for the house mainly faces east. It runs down from the road and west boundary. This hill was chosen because it feels like the middle of the property, it has great views of Wollumbin (Mt Warning) and it has gullies on either side that add both north and south aspects for growing various things. The hill choice was easy. We would face the back deck towards the east to soak up both the thawing morning sun and the great view. This leaves the living areas of the house facing the north, which is ideal.

We want to surround the house with veggie gardens, fruit trees, chooks and some ornamental trees and shrubs. Because of this we decided to place the house more to the south side of the hill as it opens up the north side to grow more things on.

We figure that one day we may want to build a room under the house. Thinking ahead is rather handy for this because houses are heavy. Before the house arrives we thought we would get my neighbour, who owns diggers and things, to cut into the hill a tad. It would just be enough to open up the space under the back deck and maybe one day we could build in a room there. I wasn’t keen on the house looking really high from the ground.

All these considerations proved a little hard to make room for. We got back in the site surveyors so they could peg out ‘solar north’ (about 12 degrees off magnetic) for one side of the house. This gave us a starting point. The pegs suited the sun but not quite the view. We compromised by swinging the house site slightly back towards the south. I read on the home technical manual site (link to the left) that variations in site orientation were alright for passive solar orientation as long these fell within a 15 degree difference. We made sure of this, swinging the house pegs about 10 degrees back.