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Renovation Progress Report: Living Room and Laundry

Well, after the last RPG-heavy post, it’s high time I got back to more practical matters. We have been going heavy on the renovations this weekend gone. As Karl didn’t have to work he spent most of Saturday and Sunday at our place.

The project of focus is still the living room. As our reno budget is close to exhausted, we’re leaving the kitchen/dining room and bedrooms for a little while. I want to get stuck into those after Heather’s visit and Vickie’s birthday in early October (Heather arrives on Vickie’s birthday and flies down to Sydney a couple of days afterward). That reminds me – time I started seeing about some birthday presents for assorted family!

Okay. The living room. I talked about it briefly in a post a few months ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually explained what we’re doing down there and why. There were two main problems with the living room as it was. It’s an extension on the original home, and that’s where the first problem comes in: the extension was built using cinderblock, large concrete bricks that aren’t entirely bad for building houses with (I’m pretty sure they’re what everyone’s building “the Modern Queenslander” with nowadays), but the interior often gets left with just a lick of paint; the overall effect in many modern houses is reminiscent of a prison. As for us, we were getting a bit sick of looking at pink brick all the time. Also, the cinder blocks in part of the back wall were turned on their sides, so the pattern of gaps faced into the room and out into the garden; the interior face of this section was covered by a loosely-fixed sheet of wood ply, to which were attached glass shelves (eep!).

The second problem was the laundry. The good bit about the extension was that the house actually got a laundry. The bad bit is, it wasn’t divided off from the living room. Vickie had an ad hoc separator in the form of some display cabinets (I think the whole setup was called a “bourré” or “burret”, something like that) and after they swelled up when our tenants took a hose to the living room interior before they left (made of chip board, you see) we replaced them with the two big pine bookshelves that I’d taken with me when I moved out of Mum & Dad’s. We always wanted something more permanent there, though. Plus, there’s a shallow hole in the laundry floor where the old water heater used to be (it was replaced with a rooftop solar setup a few months ago).

There are other, lesser problems. The aforementioned hosing off of the living room by our tenants not only damaged the display cabinets, they also left brown hose marks on the ceiling. Our surround sound setup required cables to be run along the walls to the rear speakers. We didn’t have enough plug-points for our various home entertainment appliances, and there was a rather ugly power plug fixture – complete with visible pipe housing – on the rear wall. Finally, we wanted a decent curtain setup.

The first step was the laundry. Karl put in a sturdy wood framework, including a doorway, for a new wall. He also put one in between the master bedroom’s walk-in wardrobe/dressing room and our computer room, replacing the flimsy ply sheeting behind the old chipboard wardrobes. From there, Karl moved to the living room, pulled the ply sheet off the back wall and placed a couple of lengths of the wood he’d used for the laundry frame into the back wall (the cinder blocks that had been turned on their side were set into the wall) and adjusted the position of the power points, then sheeted over the laundry frame and all four living room walls with Villaboard, fastening those sheets going directly onto the cinder block with concrete nails.

All this was done over a period of several weeks. We were hoping to have it knocked over more quickly – Karl actually had a couple of weeks of annual leave that he was using to help renovate our place (plus another week that he wanted to sue to do his own house) – but we were also depending on Vickie’s grandson Rhys to help out, not only because he knows how to make a neat cut in Villaboard with an angle grinder but also because lifting Villaboard is a two-person job and I was at work while Karl had his leave. The problem was that Rhys somehow seemed to find himself better things to do, although he wasn’t working. The annoying thing was that half the time he swore blind he’d be at our place on time as requested, but would switch his mobile off, oversleep and/or already be on his way elsewhere by the time we reached him.

It’s got worse of late; the rare times he makes an appearance are to ask his mother or Vickie or myself (or even Karl) for cash so he can take his girlfriend out. As he pays back on the never-never, we’ve been asking him for favours in return for payment, but he still owes us a few mowings of our lawn. Rhys has also been in no hurry to help either himself or Deena, his mum, move into her new place on the weekend (I pitched in after Saturday’s marathon paint-prep session); when Deena once asked Rhys whether he wanted to move in with her when she found somewhere new, he said he’d move in with her or his best mate, whoever found a place first. At least Deena’s townhouse in Kewarra Beach is very nice. It’s a little odd not having her around after the couple of months she was here; Vickie reckons she misses the company.

Anyway, so we’re overtime and over budget, but things are cracking along again; we’ve put skirting board and new trim over the new walls and spent last weekend cleaning, sanding, silicone-ing gaps, puttying holes and masking windows and doors. On Sunday evening Karl was finally able to crank up the paint sprayer and lay an undercoat down on our walls, and the room is looking much better already! Last night he and I went back over the living room and fixed up any obvious problems that we’d missed, and we should be able to lay a second undercoat down this evening. I will have to get Vickie to photo us in painting getup; although Karl looks like a professional tradesman in his overalls, I’m stuck with tracky-daks, t-shirt and old work shirt with all its buttons missing; add to those the breathing mask, goggles and shower-cap hair protector, and I look especially silly!

We’re still a little worried about those hose marks on the ceiling; Karl did a test-spray onto it on Sunday night but the marks had come through the dried paint pretty clearly by yesterday. Karl reckons oil-based paint will be required. Nonetheless, we finally look on track to have our living room back before Heather gets here! Just in case, and because we’ll need to clear the dust from assorted cuttings, sandings and sprayings, I’m going on annual leave for the first week in October.

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Gees, you guys have been going great guns! I'm impressed. Kudos to Karl, too, for being such a sweetie.

I'm supposed to be doing the basement walls, by brush or roller, I'm not sure which yet. They're concrete and I've got to find something less expensive than ply to put over the graffitti from the previous tenant. I'm thinking "Stucco Pink", just to drive the landlord nuts. *g*

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