Home for the holidays?

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So how are we going, time wise?  Originally our deadline was to be finished before Newbie arrived.   All going to plan (and I gather there are far fewer delays due to bad weather or supply issues in obstetrics than in renovations), we should welcome the sproglet in around 3-4 weeks.  Right before Christmas.  So….what do you think our chances are of moving in by that original deadline?

Magic 8-ball says “Outlook Not So Good”.

Think we might need a skip bin or two…

I think this is one of those situations where its quicker to list what has been done, rather than what needs to be done.  For example – we’ve dug a big hole ( where eventually concrete will be poured to support a roof strut that the steelworkers will make soon, which will one day hold up the ceiling so that the big sliding door can go in there once its been manufactured and delivered.)

Hole for dropping structural engineers into.

Old bottles of booze found under the floorboards – presumably left by the original builders. I wonder what our current team are going to leave?

But no, I won’t let this post become a whinge-fest like the last one.  I’m going to look on the bright side!

Our tiler starts next week!  And we even have some tiles for him to work with!

Our tiles are tucked away in a warehouse somewhere, so I couldn’t get photos of them – but rest assured they are going to be as awesome as this.  Almost.  Maybe.

Gib is going up!  We can start to see the shape and size of the rooms!

Pugsley’s new room

Newbie’s room

Just a bit more Gib to go up….

We’ve gotten rid of the hideous 80s style glass balustrade, and replaced it with something a lot simpler and more streamlined (and bonus!  Less cleaning required!)

Well, less cleaning until the toddlers get their hands on some crayons….

Last time I had a baby I was scrubbing the washing machine with a toothbrush, hand-making mobiles out of ribbons and fairywings, and painting a hallway.

This time, the new mortgage has been approved, the joiner has started making the kitchen, the plumber has installed the  heat pipes,  the carpet has been ordered, and I’ve been going paint sample crazy again.  Sorry,  Newbie.  This is as close to nesting as you get.

Is it wierd that I am seriously considering this colour for Newbie’s room?

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In which I bitch about stuff.

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Cinema done got braces!

Buildings need orthodontists too.

Please note that due to budget reasons, organic coffee is no longer served. If you’re lucky, you might get an instant Nescafe.

Scaffolding up today, cladding starts tomorrow!

We’re both feeling a little conflicted about the cladding.  When we first bought the place, Midge was very much “I don’t care what it looks like from the outside, we don’t have to see it”.    Then, as you may recall, he spotted the über-pretty Rodeca, and then we decided we didn’t want to have to paint the place every five years, and then the architect drew up some pictures of the place looking very swank, and then…well, then we found we were spending A LOT OF MONEY on the outside of the building.
But (and I can’t remember if we were actually ever told this, or it was just a hallucination I had as a result of forgetting to breathe because I couldn’t believe how much money we were spending on cladding) I thought was all just going to slot and click together, and be the work of mere hours to install.

Ah, no.    Apparently, the Nu-Wall aluminium in particular needs to be fixed to a very straight, very flat surface.   And unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we don’t have a single straight line in the entire building. So we’ve been told to expect that it will take a team of three specialised contractors 5-10 weeks to put up battens, creating a surface smoother than a very expensive baby’s bum, onto which they can then put the cladding.

Speaking of which, the aluminium arrived the other day.   I was told by Dom that it was lucky I wasn’t around to witness s it – it was very heavy and very awkward, and apparently ladies and babies in utero shouldn’t be exposed to the kind of language that was flying around that day.  (Although if Newbie is at all sensitive to that kind of thing, it’s already going to emerge cussing like a sailor.  Mama’s got a potty mouth, as Midge tells Pugsley.)

pile of very heavy, very expensive, slightly munted metal.

Somewhere in transit, it seems that pretty much every piece got dinged or scratched or bent somehow.  Which, I have to say, surprised/concerned me a little, given we had chosen an anodised finish because it was so durable and scratch/ding resistant.  Apparently that applies more when it is up on a wall, not when it is being bounced round the back of a truck with other piles of heavy metal being dropped on it, and possibly someone throwing bricks at it.    The guys were very onto it, taking photos and only signing for it as “damaged”, so we shouldn’t have to wear the cost if anything needs to be replaced, or if the scaffolding has to be up longer than expected.

And oh my, while I am bitching about costs eloquently expressing my fiscal concerns – scaffolding!  I had been considering sending Pugsley to plumbing school to support us in our retirement, but now I think I’ll get the kidlets into where the real money is!

Shoulda gone with the budget bamboo option…..

So all in all, our decision to clad the place is the one area where we could have cut costs substantially.  Our estimated costs to completion are up significantly from where we started, and we ended up at the bank manager’s office yesterday asking for a fairly hefty increase in our mortgage (more than double what we started with).

Food, glorious food!!!!! Er…..I mean….Please sir, can I have some more?

Was it a bad decision?  No, not at all.  I think.  I hope.   It’s going to look awesome, and be durable and hard-wearing, once people have stopped throwing rocks at it in the back of a truck.  We’ll never have to pay for scaffolding ever again, and painting a place this size could easily cost us $30k every 5-10 years.    It also covers up the evil asbestos cladding so we don’t have to worry about that any more.   And that should stop the phone calls we’ve been getting from an anonymous “concerned neighbour”, about the small area of exposed asbestos cladding on the front of the building.  It’s probably been there for the last 10 years, but she’s been threatening to call the labour department and have our build shut down.  (I think she may have believed the gang-headquarters/childcare centre line we’ve been spinning.  Or, she’s just heard my potty mouth.)

We’ve actually been asked by a lot of people why we don’t just get rid of the asbestos altogether.   People do tend to hear the word and panic, thinking it may be leaching out like a toxic gas into the air.   Turns out, asbestos is actually a pretty stable compound, and is harmless if it’s just left alone.  Once it gets disturbed, usually by water blasting, or removing the sheets, fibres can be released into the air and  breathed in.   It can then take decades for lung disease to develop.  We’re pretty familiar with  its nasty side, as Midge lost his dad Cliff a few years ago to lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  What we’ve been told is that if you don’t have to remove it, don’t – it’s perfectly safe when covered up.   If you do need to mess with it, get in professionals who know all the OSH requirements like protective clothing and masks and keeping the area wet to reduce fibres floating around.  We’ve also been told to get the oldest person possible to do the job: developing lung cancer in 40-60 years is less of an issue for a 60-year-old than a 20-year-old!!

So.  In case you were worried that I was just going to complain through an entire post, and then end it with a discussion on a deadly disease –

you can haz some cute.

On building a spine.

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So people who know me (particularly one tall guy who actually lives with me) might not believe this, but I have a hard time with being assertive and demanding.  Unless cookies are involved.  Then, hells to the yes with the “Gimme Cookies!!!!”  However, when it comes to making sure I get what I want, especially from a person who appears to have vastly more knowledge about whatever item it is that I want?    Well.  Let me just reference today’s haircut.

What I asked for….

What I got….

And of course, I smiled politely and said “Oooh yes, that’s lovely, thank you so much”, while internally wondering whether I could remedy it myself with a pair of nail scissors and some expensive hair potion that I would go and buy in an effort to make myself feel better about the not so hot haircut I just got.  (I also demanded cookies from the nearest cookie vendor.  Just to prove I could actually assert myself if the situation required).

ANYWAY.

It turns out that when you are building a house, or having one build for you, you are required to assert yourself on a frequent basis.  Often to people who know vastly more about what it is that you are wanting than you do.   And when you’re deemed to be the “Partner With The Most Spare Time” (because with the whole working/toddler rearing/housewife role, my days are pretty much just lounging around the house and drinking wine with other ladies of leisure!)  you’re expected to be the one to make a lot of the phone calls and having meetings where you demand things of tradies.  I’m slowly learning to develop a backbone –  this is really the kind of thing we want done right the first time by the professionals, no room for a home fixit job with nail scissors here.  Plus, we’ve gotten to the stage of the budget where we just can’t afford even the slightest botchup.   So Cookie Monster is getting to run the show for a change, while my naturally passive introvert self cringes in abject horror.  I won’t lie. Its kinda fun!

Luckily none of that is really called for when we’re dealing with the main team on site, who are all genuinely nice guys, as well as being true professionals.   Having said that, I’m hoping the plumber doesn’t see the panic in my eyes whenever he starts talking to me.  I’ve managed to cobble together some basic plumber-ese, so I can sound vaguely knowledgeable when we discuss whatever I think is on the agenda for that day, but that just seems to encourage him that I know what he’s on about.  Next thing I know, he’s acting like I’m a native Plumberese speaker, talking about valves and falls and how the 60mm pipe was running into the 100mm pipe, and mate, they were going to have to dig up an elbow or a stopcock or something.

When someone says “Elbow”, this is what I see. You don’t want to know where my brain goes for “Stopcock”.

So I’m glad that he and the other assorted manly men on site didn’t witness me plummeting into the hole they had dug to locate the spinch or the reducer or whatever they were after.  The only path to access the house was crisscrossed with orange cones and warning signs – but I figured,  how hard could it really be for a balance-challenged heavily pregnant woman carrying a 15kg toddler and wearing sling-back shoes to navigate a 1 foot wide sandy path next to a metre deep hole?

Yes – PARENTS must warn CHILDREN that this is an unsafe area.

Sign should have just read “Idiots Keep Out”.  What most intelligent people would have realised is that a sandy hole has a tendency to cave in when someone steps close to its edge.  The toddler was unimpressed with our sudden descent, and even less impressed with Mama’s frantic efforts to get out of the hole before any of the manly men could see her and try to organise a winch to haul her out.

Note – note the actual hole. I was too busy falling into it/climbing out of it to take pictures.

On another, slightly less embarrassing note – I think we’ve figured out how we are going to keep this place clean!

Call her Cinderella.  I’ll be the pumpkin. 

 

Luckily we already had the rubber duck.

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I can’t quite believe I am about to complain about one of my favourite pastimes ever – shopping.  But shopping for plumbing fixtures isn’t quite as much fun as I thought it was going to be. For starters, the majority of it is done from catalogues, since most shops don’t display everything that is available.  And, in my opinion, catalogues should be reserved for those mailouts that sell orthopaedic footwear, floral skirts with elastic waistbands, and novelty garden ornaments.

Meerkat Solar Ball Light? Well, that’s our ourdoor lighting sorted!

Did you know that there are approximately five hundred million types of kitchen taps out there?  Oh sure – they all look roughly the same.  Especially in a little picture in a catalogue.    But apparently they are all different, and given that I am going to be doing the dishes several thousand times (until I have Pugsley and Newbie trained up to be my domestic minions), it seems like an important kind of thing to get right.

And then there’s the bathroom taps.  And the bath spouts.  And the showers and the mixers.  Did you know that when you plan a bathroom, you even have to choose the plugs?  And the drains????

And apparently plumbers arrive on site expecting you to have all these things decided and organised and specified and a wee book made up with diagrams and measurements and manuals of where everything needs to go.  It turns out that plumbers are rather expensive.  Too expensive to be sitting round our place drinking cups of tea and twiddling their thumbs, Midge tells me.  So the last week has involved late nights, stacks of bathroom catalogues, and arguments over whether we should choose the Cygnet or the Parliament toilet seat.

Three hours with this stack of catalogues and seven near-divorces to choose between two IDENTICAL toilets. I’m not kidding.

But everything seems more dramatic at 11.30pm when your toddler has decided that the hours of 2-4am are party time, and Newbie has declared caffeine off the menu.  In the clear light of day, it’s obvious that unless one of them actually flushes for you and has a self scrubbing function, arguing over their individual merits is a waste of time.  Although I’m sure there is a toilet that has all of that….

It has ambient bowl lighting! And a remote control! Sold!!!!

We have been lucky to have a fantastic friend of Midge’s who works for one of the bathroom fitting companies, who has very patiently fielded about a billion emails from me on should I pay more and get a porcelain enamel bath or is an el cheapo acrylic one good enough (answer: yes, el cheapo is actually a pretty good bet these days as they are less likely to chip and crack and don’t suck all the heat out of your bathwater) and Aaaaaargh, I just can’t choose between these two shower heads, what if I get it wrong and can never wash my hair ever again??? (answer: for God’s sake woman, get a hold of yourself).

But anyway – it’s done.  We’ve chosen.  We may very well have descended into a closing-eyes-and-pointing-at-a-random-spot-on-the-page methodology, but I can toss the bathroom catalogues and move happily on to my next task.

Aaaaaaargh.

Open Sesame.

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Though I talked about how exciting it is to see walls going up, it’s also quite exciting to see some walls coming down –

Before

After! Well….during….

We’re finally starting to see the space for our open plan kitchen, well – opening up.

In the beginning, there was darkness

 Then Dom said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. And a crapload of random wires.

Seriously, what are all those wires for???  Was this place going to be a restaurant, or the local telephone exchange?  Can I tap into these and listen in on the neighbourhood gossip?  I want to be around when it comes time to take them out.  Just so I can hover my wiresnippers over the cables, sweating and muttering,  “The red wire, or the blue wire, the red wire or the blue wire, dammit???”.   ( I’d even attempt a commando roll after making a wincing cut, except trying to do a commando roll when eight months pregnant is likely to leave me cast on my back like a beached whale.  And we’re close enough to the sea that people could get the wrong impression, and I really don’t want DOC to have to go to all the bother of coming out to investigate.)

There is also now a small hole in one of the kitchen walls representing what will be my new window.  I’m very proud of this window.  James and Midge can take the credit for imagining and designing the seven metre glass slider, the full frontal seaview windows, the new and improved bedroom portals….but I alone came up with this little beauty.

Behold the magnificence.

  Oh sure, you scoff at it now.  But one day, that window is going to have glass.  And probably go all the way through the wood on the other side.  Then we’ll see who has the last laugh.

So now, the serious work begins.  Colour decisions.

Will it be turquoise, sea green, teal, blue green, green blue, or aquamarine?

Yes folks, we have to finalise the kitchen designs plans, build it, install it, wire it, light it, leak proof it, tile it, plumb it, and install my precious window….and what keeps me up at night is exactly what shade the cabinets are going to be.

Council says Yes. (Tiler says No.)

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The last few weeks have been kinda full of joyous news.  Like this little gem!

Council says yes!!

Pretty awesome news to finally get everything signed off.  We’d been worried that the Rodeca cladding wasn’t going to get through, but it looks like the manufacturer was able to convince the council that it wasn’t likely to leak, spontaneously combust, litter, or prove to be a bad influence on at risk youth.

Luckily we didn’t  have to prove the same for the future inhabitants of the cinema.

Other things that made us do the happy happy dance?  (Pugsley’s is better than either Midge’s or mine.  Girl got moves!)  We’ve got walls going up, instead of down!

Not sure if we have to leave Midge in it for support….

Midge also appears to be holding this wall up. We may need some more nails somewhere.

It’s joyous in one way to see this, but in another it’s made me realise how tight our timeline is, and how much we’ve still got to organise.  From here, we need to have an electrical and lighting plan drawn up, have all our tiles, bathroom fitting and fixtures picked out, order windows, find more builders, get scaffolding, and even <gulp> start thinking about carpets and paint colours and furniture oh my.   (Oh, and did I mention that there is a BABY coming?  I may not have, because with the toddler, the job, and the cinema, I’ve tended to forget it occasionally myself.  I gave myself a terrible fright in the mirror this morning when I saw the bump.)

We had back to back on-site meetings with the builder, electrician, plumber, heating guru, and tilers this week (which felt a little like speed dating – “Lovely to meet you – how do you feel about the placement of the radiators?  And how many children do you want to have?  <ding> Oh, sorry, time’s up – next!”).

We found out from the supplier on Friday that the feature tiles we had selected for the bathrooms need to be ordered from Italy or Spain or the Outer Hebrides or somewhere, and oops, we had just missed the most recent container so there would be a 10-12 week lead time.   I guess we could change our minds on the tile choices – but oh my, it was such a lovely feeling to know that we had actually made a decision on something.  Plus, I really really loved the tiles we’d picked….

ensuite bathroom tile

Family bathroom and kitchen splashback tile

So we’ll either move in before the place is tiled, or move in a few months later than planned – which I believe is what counts as a first world problem.   And anyway, I’m pretty sure you have to have some kind of delay in your schedule before Kevin McCloud will even consider you for an episode of Grand Designs, so we’ve just ticked off another box there.

We’ve also reached a decision on The Heating (which deserves capitalisation to show respect.  Or fear.  And you better not take Its Name in vain, lest The Heating smite thee).

Leap has proved to be the one of only two companies to not seem intimidated or overwhelmed by the project, to answer our questions like they actually knew what they were talking about, and to give us an option that looked like we would be able to afford our power bill without selling a vital organ every few months.  (And the other company was based in the UK, and we would have had to import the entire system).   Sold.  So it’s radiators heated by a heat pump water heater and solar panels for us.  A bit pricey as an initial outlay, but if the figures are to be believed, we should be running our hot water heating and radiators for a third of the price of a gas system, and less than half the price of electrical.  Yay.  Even my rudimentary financial understanding can figure that one out – less is good.

Little bar on graph means more money for shoes….I mean…..university education…

Dem dry bones.

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Looky looky folks!!

See that?  That would be a dry floor.  Thanks, Drains Bond.  Or alternate universe Midge and Leroy.  Or whoever is the patron saint of people who are really stressed out by waterlogged floors in their new home.   I promise I’ll sacrifice a chicken or something in your honour.  (Well…..I’ll eat some KFC.  That totally counts, right?)

In other “Yay” news this week –  we have verbal approval from the council on everything.  I’m still EVER SO SLIGHTLY not believing that it’s all go until I see it in writing, but architect James seems happy.  I wonder if sacrificing chickens to the council works?  May upgrade my order to a three pack and  Zinger burger, just to be safe.

And this week I popped in to find this –

I hope this flatpack comes with instructions….

That would be 900 linear metres of wood, which should form all our new walls.  (Or, if the leak comes back, we can always build an ark.)  All carried in by hand by some poor hapless apprentice labourer.   The same one who also removed 42 bags of sand from the ceiling cavity.

Sandbags, all ready for the global warming.

I believe we may owe someone some beer.

Just when we’re getting ready to start putting up new walls, we had to tear holes in all our old ones.  Dom found signs of borer in all the upstairs timber.  The damage didn’t appear to be too extensive, but it seemed like a good time to treat it.  I didn’t stick around to watch the treatment, because a)It took about 14 hours to do and b) it involved chemicals with fun names like arsenic and cyanide.  I figure if Newbie shouldn’t be exposed to caffeine or alcohol in utero, I should probably steer clear of anything with a skull and crossbones on the bottle too.

So that should stop the little critters from munching away at our lovely solid timber, and also gives us lots of holes to jam with insulation.  And according to everything I read about efficient home heating, insulation is next to Godliness.  More chicken?

Water, water, everywhere…

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One of our biggest worries so far (apart from the ever looming “How are we going to heat this place without having to get a second mortgage!!!!”) has been water.

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We weren’t sure what to do with this corner anyway. Indoor swimming pool?

Specifically, water mysteriously coming up through the floorboards.  Down onto the floorboards?  Soaking through the sides of the house onto the floorboards?  Possibly entering the floorboards through a wormhole portal from an alternate universe?  Seriously, we couldn’t find there this stuff is coming from.   We first thought it was obviously soaking up through the sand under the floor.  But when we pulled up the boards to look underneath, there was a clear 2 foot gap between the floor and the ground underneath.     Ok, we thought, there is an old bathroom and water heater upstairs.  Maybe it was dripping down from there somewhere.  But when the upstairs plumbing was all disconnected and ripped out – still more water.  And worse, it started creeping up the floorboards towards the back of the house.

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Creeping, creeping….

At this point, I was becoming seriously convinced by the alternative universe theory, and was planning on throwing a message in a bottle through the vortex ( “Dear alternative us.  Please stop flooding our house.  Oh, and has your universe got any ideas about how we can heat this mother?? xoxox” ).

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Future pantry. I suppose we could always grow our own mushrooms.

We really want to keep the original matai floorboards, and it has been pretty discouraging to think that if the water keeps coming, we are going to have to rip it all up to try to solve it, and maybe even replace it with something waterproof.   Not to mention that the water in some places has gotten so bad that the gib has started disintegrating.   Not happy about having to replace some of the only finished walls in the whole building!!!

But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Quite literally, in fact.  After talking to Seek a Leak to see if they thought they could help us pinpoint the source of the water, they suggested we get DrainSpy in.  Agent Drains Bond (Clint) came round with his fancy high tech gear : a  drain camera, very similar in appearance to an endoscope.  An industrial size one.  I’m sure that got used in one of the Bond movies (“For Your Eyes Only”, perhaps?).  No Aston Martin though.  So our drains were given a thorough colonoscopy (light?  tunnel?  you see where I was going there?) and a cleansing.  I even got a souvenier DVD of the procedure.   Turns out that quite a few of the drains were original, miniscule in diameter, and clogged with sand.  I asked him hopefully if he thought that was the cause of the moisture seeping through the floors inside.   “Nah, don’t reckon, mate” he said, in a very un-James Bond way, “But it needed to be done”.  At this point, Clint was looking less like James Bond, and more like Dr No.

But looky here….

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Its a little drier! Really! A bit! And its been raining all week!

So we’re not quite there.  But if all else fails, I’m still going with the idea of an indoors swimming pool.  Although we may have to find somewhere else to put the pantry.

Looks aren’t everything

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We haven’t exactly bought the prettiest house on the block.  When people ask us which building on the street is ours,  we say “The enormous ugly one”.  

Amazingly, this picture represents the new, improved version.  When we bought the place, it was in mid-renovation.  The previous owner was turning it from a cafe/surf shop into an 88 seater restaurant.  While he’d made some fairly major changes to the inside – like installing the bones of a commercial kitchen including a huuuuge ass extractor hood   (which he took with him) and a massive soft serve ice-cream machine (which he left behind – roll on summer!) – there was one thing that was fairly lacking.  In this kind of location – where in a southerly, the Cook Strait has been known to stroll up over the seawall and knock politely on the front door, it helps to have the odd wall or two.  And those walls work best when they are composed of something fairly solid and impenetrable.  The front wall of the property we bought was lacking a little something in the “solid and impenetrable” department.   So weatherproofing the house became our first mission, before the ground floor became an unplanned swimming pool.

Apparently these large sheets of flappy metal are quite awkward to handle in high winds, Midge and Dom tell me.

We had always said that we didn’t care what the place looked like on the outside after all – we were going to be living in it, not looking at it.  So for a while there was even talk of leaving the charmingly rustic corrugated iron and plywood that we had put up to keep the elements out.

But one day we were in the wonderful Jacobsen’s looking at wonderful things, and we saw the most wonderful thing of all – a box full of pretty pretty coloured squares.  I didn’t even have to know what they were, I saw the pretty pretty colours, and wanted it immediately.  Midge and James (our architect) took slightly more time to enquire what the product was, what it was for, how much it cost, and how good it was.

Tabitha helping us choose from the pretty pretty colours.

Turns out the box we were looking at was full of samples of a cladding material called Rodeca.  And besides coming in many pretty pretty colours, this stuff seems to be awesome in all kinds of buildingy architechery weather resistant kind of ways. They build shopping malls and airports and convention centres and sports stadiums out of it.  And I’m sure they’re not just choosing it because of the colours.

Well….fairly sure.

And of course, you can’t have a front wall in a lovely shade of Rodeca, and a side wall of horrible yellowy asbestos cladding or corrugated iron, we grudgingly admitted.   And if we were paying to put something up on the front bit of the house, maybe we should just cover the whole place.  And not having to paint the place would be a big plus.  So we found another awesome buildery architectery weather resistant type thing called Nu-Wall.  Which sadly for me, comes in far fewer pretty pretty colours.  But maybe that is a good thing, so we don’t have to tell people that our place is “The Enormous Clown Building”.

Introducing the cinema by the sea.

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So apparently all the cool kids these days are writing blogs about their renovations and building projects.  And enough people have asked us if we are doing one that we figured it was high time we started.  (I think it’s just that they are getting sick of hearing us talking about cladding options and lighting design and kitchen benches, and this way they can just hold up a hand and say, dude…..I read the blog……).

So, for those of you who haven’t had the joy of listening to us bend your ear about it for hours already, here’s the story – we bought a big old building on a wind-swept beach.  We’re turning it into a home.

Isn’t she beautiful!!!

How big?  500 square metres.  Yes, it’s just going to be a house.  No, we’re not going to run a cafe or a restaurant out of it (although we are trying to spread the word in the neighbourhood that it’s going to be a brothel.  Or a day care.  You know, fear is the best way to get to know your neighbours).

How old? The Seaside Picture Theatre was built in 1909.  So, not old if you live anywhere that was settled before the 18th century.  But to us antipodeans – it’s over 100 years old!  It’s practically biblical!

The Seaside Picture Theatre (on the left) in 1909

What was it before you guys got it?  Originally it was built as a cinema – the second cinema to be built in Wellington.  Apparently it must have done well, because in the 60’s another cinema, the Roxy, applied for a covenant over it  to ensure that no future owner would be able to show movies there.  The Roxy is now owned by Sir Peter Jackson – so basically the Hobbit man won’t let us have friends over to watch DVDs.

It became a tearoom in the 40s, when a tram line ran from the centre of town down to the beach.  It’s been a surf shop and cafe for the last twenty years.  Nearly everyone we’ve talked to bought their first wetsuit/surfboard here.   We’re pretty sure there are now other places to buy those, but I may keep a stash of old grotty wetsuits out the back just in case some desperate surfies come knocking.

So what are you doing to it  Upstairs it’s going to end up having five bedrooms and three bathrooms on two mezzanine floors, connected by a walkway/office above the kitchen.

Downstairs there will be living areas at either end, and a big dining space/open plan kitchen in the two-story high central atrium.  We’ll try to maximise the sea views by having it all open plan downstairs (hence –> mother to heat).  This also enables any resident sproglets to create the ultimate indoor rollerderby track.

(And no, we are not planning on filling all those bedrooms with sproglets.  Pugsley and Newbie (coming to a cinema near you in December)  will do quite nicely for us.  Other bedrooms can be used to house Swedish au-pairs or families of illegal itinerant workers. )

As of the early hours of this morning, our builder is a new daddy (Yay!  Congratulations guys!!!!!) so is off the job for the next few weeks.  The timing has worked out really well, as we’re waiting on council consent for our plans before we can go any further.   Dom has spent the past month or so ripping out the old flat upstairs, and getting the place ready to start the new build.  In the meantime, its been lots of decision making on kitchens and claddings and boilers (oh my).   I’m gradually getting used to writing cheques with bigger numbers on them than my university education.

Pugsley puts the new cladding through some stress testing (or maybe just works on her surfergirl moves?)

Though we’d originally planned to move in and live in the flat, its worked out that we’ll stay where we are in our rental until its all complete.  Hopefully the place it finished before Newbie is done cooking- but we’ve got a lot to do before then!