Majestic 40 at Gardener's Ridge

building a Wisdom Majestic in North Kellyville


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One year on

Well it has been a while since I last posted but here is an update on what has been happening.

In February this year we had our last outstanding PCI and maintenance issue completed. We’ve now been in our home for fifteen months and love it. We’ve been busy bees in this time and completed the landscaping, planned the pool and installed solar power.

Landscaping and Rain Garden
Everything has taken well except for the small Kangeroo Paws. I was so worried about over watering them that I went the wrong way and under watered instead.

 

 

 

The grevillea seem happy and the birds are already visiting to feed on it. Next door’s bamboo seems even happier as it has spread to our side of the fence.

Grevillea:

Grevillea

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Check out the grass. As I’m at home all day I offered to take over grass cutting duties if we bought a petrol mower I could start. Faster than a speeding bullet my husband turned up with this Victa petrol mower with battery start ignition:

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He says it is the best money he’s ever spent! Funnily enough he didn’t criticize my wonkey donkey lines or the fact I managed to scalp one of the pipes on my first attempt. I’m pleased to report that I am getting better with practice. I also now use a Ryobi edger with a lethal looking  blade to get a sharp clean edge, each time I use it I wonder if this will be the time I sever the irrigation pipes.
Rain Garden
The rain garden gets the most interest out of any of my blog posts. As far as I can tell it seems to be functioning well and I managed to catch a photo of it in action during the last torrential downpour of which we’ve had a few recently:

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Pool
Next up is getting the pool. We chose a house design which is long and narrow in order to have the space to put a lap pool down the side at some future point. We’ve just signed a contract with Jade Pools for a 10.5m x 3.2m concrete lap pool and a 2 x 2m spa.
It has been harder than I thought to plan the pool and also to conform to BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) requirements.
NSW BASIX info
NSW BASIX pools and spas
Once we had a plan we pegged it out in situ to see if it worked.

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We even hauled chairs out to sit in the ‘spa’ and see if it felt the right size. I’m sure the neighbours thought we were mad if they saw us doing it.
Then back to the drawing board to tweak it yet again.
The pool company then hit us with all our BASIX requirements as we were > 40000 litres. So now we need to squeeze in another rain tank of approximately 3000 litres and a pool cover. Pool cover no problem but finding space for the tank was a challenge due to the size of our block.

In between all our planning the large property behind us has sold and so we are now considering putting some sort of privacy screening up, probably a pergola of some sort.

I took the opportunity to look at metal artwork for the pool area when I was on a trip to Melbourne recently.

I visited Entanglements:
http://www.entanglements.com.au/

entanglements

and Lump:
http://lump.com.au/

lump

[photo courtesy of Lump]

So my plan is to blog about our pool build over the next few months. I’ll also blog about our solar panels which miraculously survived the massive hail storm but that’s a story for another time…


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Landscaping … The End is Nigh

The end of May saw our landscapers return after a slight hiatus whilst they created a show home garden at Oran Park. The irrigation people also turned up and installed a Hunter X-Core computerised system so it was all systems go.

GR May 2016 036

Meanwhile we bought a Dulux paint sprayer ready to use on the timber side fences when they are done. First up we practiced on the existing back fence where raw timber was exposed after it had settled. Next was the rendered letterbox and retaining wall which still needs a final coat of Dulux Weathershield in Hogs Bristle once all the landscaping is finished.

rendering collage

Rain Garden  

It is hard to believe that the huge pit is now a shallow depression thanks to the retaining wall and more layers of sand, gravel plus a top dressing of loam. I’ve put a lot of effort into making sure we abided by the guidelines but yet managed to have something both functional and interesting. Time will tell how successful I was.

Checklist:

  • Required dimensions from our Instrument 88B:
    • Area = 13.29m2
    • Volume = 1.89 m3
  • Batters: Height= 150mm, Width= 450mm
  • Separate new Outlet Pit as rain garden is now higher than the Inter-Allotment drainage pit
  • Surge pit 150mm lower than the new Outlet Pit
  • Total Depth minimum 800mm comprising of three layers:
    • Bottom layer of gravel minimum 150mm
    • Transition (middle) layer of fine sand minimum 100mm
    • Top layer of loamy sand mix minimum 400mm
  • Planting with at least 50% Carex, Sedge or Melaleuca
  • Mulch of river stone, basalt or sandstone

The layers of the rain garden make it resemble a layered cake:

three layered cake

[image from: zig-zags-over-the-rainbow-cake from www.joann.com]

With the extra layers to raise the height our rain garden now appears more like:

Betty Crocker six layer cake

[image from Betty Crocker:Betty Crocker Rainbow cake]

The garden has been scraped down 100mm, stones, bricks and builders rubbish removed and decent soil spread ready for the lawn of Sir Walter Buffalo turf. The Irrigation system is in with drip feed to the flower beds and pop up sprinkler heads for the lawns. The control box is installed in the garage and weather sensor will be installed once the fence is.

Enough talking here’s some progress photos:

The rain garden taking shape:

Rain Garden planting Collage

I enjoyed choosing the native plants at Plantmark and enjoyed it even more when the landscapers planted them for me 🙂

Rain Garden Planting:

Raingarden Planting Collage

[Plus Anigozanthos Bush Revolution, Ficinia nodosa and Xanthorrhoea glauca]

The 1.5m rear easement has been planted up with a mix of banksia, grevillea and callistemon (bottlebrush) which will eventually form a privacy hedge in case our neighbour’s bamboo hedge disappears. Hopefully these plants will also encourage the birds to visit from nearby Cattai Creek too.

Rear Easement Planting:

Rear Easement Planting Collage

Shaded side path planting of Philodendron:

Side Planting Collage

[standard and Philodendron ‘Gold Bullion’]

Front:

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[Xanthorrhoea johnsonii & Kangaroo Paw]

I’m pleased with how the rain garden and ‘river’ of lucky stones turned out:

 

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[Plenty of opportunities for shots of it in the rain at the moment…]

The last plant was in and I was off back to the UK an hour later, talk about cutting it fine. Fast forward a month and the fencers visited in my absence.

X marks the spot … or not.

Despite both a flag and the landscaper highlighting the irrigation pipe the fencers managed to put a post smack bang through the pipes. That turf is now well and truly watered in…

Fence looks good though and so far has stood up to some high winds.

Now I’m back and the landscapers have returned to edge the rain garden and roll the lawn. The gates are being made as I write and will be installed next week and then that is phase 2 of the landscaping complete.

Front, back and sides:

Not the first cut of the lawn but the finished photos  🙂

Front:

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Back:

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and sides:

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[Austral Heron block retaining wall in ‘Limestone’]

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[Now I have my Hills Hoist in the rain seems never ending…]

Phase 3 will be transforming this 6 metres wide lawn at the side into a lap pool and spa. No time frame on that yet, its not going to be in by the Summer of 2016 but hopefully by the following Summer.

Meanwhile back at the ranch …

Seven months on and PCI, Handover and Maintenance issues are still dragging on but whilst I was away the fire place was fixed and then Hubby painted it. He was tempted to follow our neighbour’s recommendation and paint it burgundy but used the Dulux ‘Gaiety Tan’ we’d previously agreed on.

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Landscaping Phase Two

So Phase One is 99.9% complete.

The renderers came and did an excellent job on the wall and post box. Then just as they finished it began to rain so they had to scramble to cover everything up. That huge orange tarpaulin from the concreting came in very handy!

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Coffs Harbour April 2016 157

We had our quote for Phase Two and that starts this week and then with fingers crossed and a following wind we should have our landscaping finished in a fortnight. I have already been out to look at self propelled key operated petrol mowers for me in anticipation.

However as I think I have only ever mown the lawn once in my life this could prove interesting. I’ve decided that as I am now a lady of leisure I should take over this task from my hubby who is working his socks off. Our 21 year old did do it when we first arrived in Australia but after catching him mowing in thongs I lectured him on safety and the importance of wearing closed shoes against blades, spiders and snakes and he never did it again…

The landscaping being finished also means that I can have a drying area again. So off I went to Masters and came back with an iconic Hills Hoist dryer and it is a monster!

Coffs Harbour April 2016 169

So that’s two Aussie icons a Victa mower and the Hills Hoist. How long until I find my sons eyeing it up for a round of Goon of Fortune?

Goon of Fortune

Speaking of icons we had a short break up to Coffs Harbour last week and came across this Aussie Icon

Coffs Harbour April 2016 039

I’ve added it to my list, so far I’ve seen

Aussie icons 3 Collage

Speaking of Goon of Fortune here’s an icon I’d like to visit:

Stanley-Wine cask icon

Picture courtesy of fivedollartraveller

 


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Phase One Landscaping

Phase One is nearly complete with the concrete side path going in today. I was up for both the sunrise and the concrete truck at 7am. There was no hanging around and the path took shape very quickly.

Prepped road base, reo & formwork:

RHS path formwork collage

 

RHS Path complete Collage

We have gone for a plain charcoal concrete path rather than the uber spray coated fleck we have on the driveway. The difference should not be so noticeable as it will be behind the gate.

I was keen to maybe liven it up with some leaf imprints and the odd gum nut impression as seen at King’s Park Botanical Gardens in Perth but decided plain was easiest in the end.

leaf prints Collage

The LHS double brick retaining wall is in and due to be rendered next week and then that will be phase one complete.

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Our cheapo postbox pole has died a death and the post box now lives on the garden waste bin. After a quick quote from the landscaper they bricked up a permanent one on Friday all ready for the renderer. This entailed me doing a quick tour of the neighbourhood before breakfast to see what everyone else had chosen followed by a trip to Masters and Bunnings to choose the fittings. Notice I didn’t say a quick trip as it took me awhile to choose but I’m pleased with what I came away with in the end.

letterbox Collage

I had already taken delivery of a house sign that will go on the letterbox to the left of the fittings. True to form after browsing the internet I chose the bees knees.

signage

Then after I picked myself off the floor at the price I chose a more modest sign off Groupon. A bit chalk and cheese but I like the overall look it will give.

Blankwall signage

We’ve received our irrigation quote and walked through what we want in phase two of the landscaping. Hopefully that quote will arrive this weekend.

When we were discussing our irrigation requirements I asked for it to be run off our recycled water system. So when he went to test the water pressure he pointed out that I don’t actually have a recycled water meter.

No 7 Willandra Cres recycled water 001

So much for me being observant, I thought I’d covered all the bases at PCI and handover!


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Maintenance Inspection and Landscaping

Fourteen weeks in and Easter is upon us, on Maundy Thursday we had both our Maintenance Inspection and the PCI tradies scheduled to finally complete the outstanding work.

This required a bit of prep to distinguish between the two as little pieces of blue painters tape are still dotted around the house where the site supervisor marked flaws at both our PCI and Handover. So I improvised and bought a roll of green painters tape to highlight the maintenance issues.

Behold a selection of maintenance issues:

Maintenance 2 Collage

The inspection went well and they only refused to replace one scratched kitchen overhead cupboard door as ‘the defect cannot be seen in daylight from 1.5 metres away’. Annoying as it is only visible at night under the LED lights but hey ho they agreed to the rest of the issues raised. I did ask when they would be doing the work and that I hoped they would be faster than the SS and the PCI issues.

Speaking of which the army of tradies didn’t descend en masse but two came and completed a couple of jobs and one more is booked in for after Easter. At this rate the maintenance supervisor will complete his list before the site supervisor.

On to more exciting things – the landscaping has started!

Phase 1 Landscaping:

I was going to blog about this when phase one was finished but Tom in Brisbane wants photos. We aim to please 🙂

We are very pleased with the landscaping so far, they are working hard and setting a cracking pace. It is taking shape before our eyes. The RHS retaining wall in Limestone Austral Heron Block is completed and awaiting the ag pipe for drainage. The rear retaining wall also in Austral Heron Block is nearly completed. The concrete footings are in for the LHS retaining wall and the bricks will be delivered after the Easter weekend with the double brick wall due to be completed by the end of that week. Its all go. The RHS concrete path will then complete phase one.

Proof of the pudding:

Day 1:

Day 1 GR landscape

Rear retaining wall:

We have a 1.5 metre easement for storm water running across the back of our lot which you cannot build on hence the placement of our rear retaining wall. You can however plant on it and I will have a screening bed of Australian native bushes to attract both the birds and insects and to give another level of privacy in front of our neighbour’s bamboo.

Rear Wall Collage

RHS retaining wall:

RHS retaining wall Collage

I am busy planning phase two and hopefully next week we have a meeting to plan the reticulation system we would like to put in.


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13 Week Maintenance Period

 

It’s hard to believe that we have been in our new home for thirteen weeks already. Our maintenance shakedown period has come to an end and we had to supply Wisdom last week with a list of any issues that had arisen.

I’m pleased to say that the list isn’t very long and there isn’t anything major on it. The only clanger seems to be all our ceiling fans are wired incorrectly. The three speeds are set as:

  1. Super fast
  2. Slow
  3. Fast

So now I am armed with two lists of corrections: The original list of outstanding Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) jobs that weren’t completed before handover and now the maintenance issues.

In an ideal world the PCI list would have been completed in the two weeks after PCI and before handover but with the Christmas shutdown looming that didn’t happen. A few of the jobs were done after we moved in and before Christmas then it went quiet in January and picked up a bit before February. It didn’t help that we were back in the UK for the whole of February for my Niece’s wedding 🙂 . A bit of a shock going from a beautiful Aussie Summer to the British Winter but there were bright days.

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Stourhead, Wiltshire

 

All the tradies were supposed to be booked in for our return but so far most are conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps they will be like buses and all come at once.

So what have we been up to in the house?

The driveway and the man cave.

The driveway:

In my last post I wrote about the driveway that was spray coated that day and how happy I was with the end result. In the photos you could see how beautiful and sunny it was. Fast forward a few hours and the rain came pelting down. Unfortunately the sealant hadn’t fully dried in the saw cuts and the rain got under it and blistered it 😦

They had to come back three times to make it good but thankfully in the end it has all been sorted.

The man cave:

Actually it has been hubby that has been hard at work sorting the garage out over the last two weekends. So after a few trips to Masters and Bunnings behold his hard work:

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There is a bit more to do but my car does now fit in the garage. Shall we place bets as to when I reverse into the wheelbarrow or clip the bikes? I did notice that it is the boy’s bikes behind my car and his bike is safely to one side 🙂

What’s next?

The landscaping starts this week!!!

I am so looking forward to it starting and watching it take shape. I am keen to complete the rain garden once the retaining walls are in. The rain garden is looking rather sad at the moment but not for much longer.

UK February 2016 270

For planting inspiration I treated myself to a beautiful book called Birdscaping Australian Gardens

Trouble is I need a bigger garden for all the plants I like the look of 🙂


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Construction Timeline and landscaping

So here we are one month after handover and settling in nicely.

I have updated our Construction Timeline flowchart which you can find at the top of the page or follow this link:

Construction timeline

Tradies are beginning to come back to work and hopefully our outstanding items raised at PCI will be completed soon.

Our driveway has been completed today. We went for the same driveway as they had at the Ambassador show home at The Ponds, saw cut concrete spray painted with a textured colour plus fleck. The concrete driveway was poured and saw cut in December then left to cure. Today they spray painted two coats of charcoal then one coat of grey and one of white fleck and topped it all off with a couple of coats of sealant.

Looking pretty good if I say so myself.

Previously:

Driveway Collage

Today:

1st coat:

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2nd coat:

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2 coats of fleck – bit different to my sprinkles on the epoxy garage floor:

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Sealant:

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Ta da! Finished:

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Meanwhile our thoughts are turning to the landscaping. We want to crack on with this from both an aesthetic point of view and also to protect the slab from water pooling.

We went with a split level house following the slope of the land whilst our neighbours raised their slabs. This means that when it rains heavily the run off tends to pool around our slab as we are lower. We have had rather a lot of rain in the New Year and could see where it was pooling. I ended up nipping out and digging a trench to drain it away in between showers.

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Once the retaining walls and ag pipes are in plus some extra drainage it should no longer be a problem. Hubby has been out with fluoro string marking out different levels in the garden to give us an idea of what it will look like. The landscaping will be done in stages as we have decided to leave the pool until later when we have saved up a bit more to get what we would really like.

So first stages will be:

  1. Side retaining walls, fences and gates plus rear retaining wall.
  2. Raise rear garden then turf it plus finish rain garden.
  3. RHS flower beds & rear hedge planting.
  4. Add pebbles to side of driveway to ease parking (I’m finding it a little tricky parking – as long as I don’t end up in the swathe or knock down the front balcony pillar I’ll be right !)
  5. Fancy letterbox (moved far away from my manoeuvrings on the driveway  🙂 . I’m rather fond on our cheapo temporary one from Bunnings but its not the look I’m after).
  6. Turf front & side
  7. Reticulation

Second Stage:

  1. Pool and pavers
  2. Tier side garden with retaining wall and privacy screen artwork
  3. Create permanent drying area
  4. Plant front flower beds once access for pool is no longer required.

Third stage:

  1. Sit back and enjoy it all  🙂