Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Marr Fountain - or the Perfect Storm ......

Clouds Looking Ominous
Had a huge storm come over the area earlier today.  If we were living in mid-USA, I would have been really worried as it looked at some times like the perfect precursor to a tornado.  But, here in downtown Allansford; rain, hail, lightning & thunder were the most likely outcomes.

Park Blanketed with Rain
When it did eventually pour down, it was a beauty.  Certainly tested out the drainage system in the Park.  Later investigation showed just how big the main pipes are here - thankfully.

That She Blows! Fountain Glory
We do, however, have one unique feature, but only it would seem during VERY heavy rain.  We have our very own fountain!  There is a small opening in the drain that comes from and under our house, as it leads down to the main storm water drains.  It's on the lower side of the site, actually located where the curbing meets the road, so we don't even have to worry about it causing any damage.  We have named this The Marr Fountain - yeah, I know, neither original nor fancy.  But, that's what it is called.

We love the rain, and even the sound of heavy rain on our tin roof - now we have something else to look forward to.  Such simple souls, we are!  Just as I was typing this, there was a clap of thunder so close and loud that it shook the house.  Amazing!  Fantastic!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Project Done & Dusted ......

I've been busy the last few days - setting up "The Shed" so that it is more user friendly.  Not completed yet, but I have finished the workbench and tool storage facilities.

It's not perfect, but for a bumble-fingured not-so-handy man like myself, I am rather proud of the finished result.  Two work benches in place, and plenty of peg-board "backing" where I can hang all my tools (at least those I retained when we shifted).

Still got some floor space to clear, which will involve getting rid of a few larger items; such as a filing cabinet (the computer desk inside should have enough space for the few items retained that were in the cabinet); an old Winfield "shed" unit (would really like to keep this, but just can't justify the space it takes) and the branch chipper, which, although the most useful garden implement we've had, probably isn't needed here.

As a true Aussie, the irony of the situation is not lost on me, either.  I have made a lot of use of the tools and the workbenches themselves in actually building the feature and now that everything is setup, probably will have far less need for them all into the future - but at least, if and when I do, I should be able to find everything.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Now for the Positives - the Shifting Bouquets .........

And, there are a lot of bouquets (in no special order) to hand out ..................

Maddens Lawyers: at all times kept us well informed and acted promptly and efficiently during both the sale of Ziegler Parade and the purchase of the 'Castle".  Congrats to Heather for her prompt, professional and at all times friendly manner.

Wilson Real Estate: via Lucas Wilson made our sale and purchase very easy - and played a major part in getting a very good price for us on Ziegler.  They can probably improve on their internal communications a bit but this shortcoming had no overall affect on the transactions.

Rod Stephens Builder: a HUGE bouquet.  Rod, his contractors, sub-contractors and staff have all been BRILLIANTExcellent communications, quality product.  With continuing presence of builders on the site as they complete other houses, they are always happy to lend a hand if we find some little problem.  Shelley in the office - what can I say?  If you want someone with great communication and inter-personal skills, steal her away from Rod as soon as you can.

Currans Removalists, Allansford: were excellent.  Delivered boxes as soon as needed, kept us in the loop as S-Day approached.  They were running a little late on shifting morning, but kept in touch via phone to let us know what was happening.  Steve & Jason, who actually did the move were very pleasant, friendly and organised - I think they may have done that sort of thing before.

Rod Andrew, Electrician: was at all times helpful, with excellent work quality.  Didn't even blink or baulk at all the extra points and wiring we were asking for.

Rod Payne, Sound/TV Systems: a little concerned about this Rod (seems to have been a lot of Rods involved) at one stage but discovered he had been quite sick (it was funny dealing with him afterwards because he could barely speak due to an almost complete loss of voice).  Did the extra wiring, etc. for TV, sound system and the projector.

Andrea Bellman, House Cleaning: Andrea and colleague did a final clean-up at Ziegler before handover.  On time, efficient - what more can I say?

Austar: they went from potential brickbat to probably a neutral (rather than bouquet) status.  Had a lot of trouble initially getting them to schedule our installation, but they came through about a week after S-Day.  When things started to roll, they kept us well informed at every point and their installer did a quick and excellent job.

All of the above made our move that much more pleasant and endurable - we thank them for their approach, attention to detail and professionalism.

Shifting - The Brickbats or What Should have gone Better ......

Thought I'd start by detailing where we had problems associated with our recent shift - mainly because there were really only two problem areas.

It took two weeks to get the phone and internet moved.  I suppose some might say we did well, but in fact, it was well planned for.  About three weeks before Shifting Day (S-Day) I approached the Warrnambool Telephone Company (WTC) to ask them to handle things for us.  Why?  There was some doubts about what lines were available into the Park, so I wanted someone who knew about such things to "manage" the disconnection/reconnection of such services.  Three days before S-Day, I revisited them to ask how things were going.  I became a little concerned when they had to get all the details again - fairly obviously, we had 'slipped through' their system unnoticed.  I was assured that things would be okay and they would call the mobile when they had news.  On S-Day+1 I enquired again and was advised that Telstra had acknowledged the order and they were awaiting advice on when it would be scheduled.  Eventually, they got back to me and advised it would be on Wednesday, 10 November: S-Day+14.  Telstra duly arrived on the 10th and completed the work.  I feel that WTC clearly dropped the ball on this one and let us down to the tune of about two weeks.

The other brickbat goes to the ANZ Bank.  Although we were not dealing directly with them, the purchaser of our house in Ziegler Parade was.  ANZ was very tardy when it came to approving the buyers finance (this criticism, to be fair, could probably be levelled at all of the major Banks).  However, in spite of having plenty of warning, they also held up settlement for a number of days.  This meant that technically the new owners could not move into Ziegler Parade as planned, which potentially put them to great inconvenience and potential added costs.  We got around this by providing them with a pre-settlement occupancy agreement which enabled them to move at a more convenient time.  We did not pursue the question of rental for the few days involved, since it was clearly not their fault.

So, I guess all in all, we fared very well when you consider all the possible things that can go wrong when shifting house.

We're in - and almost organised ......

We've been in the new house for just over two weeks now - delay on reporting due to problems getting phone & internet connected (see follow-up messages re the bouquets and brickbats of the shift - mostly bouquets, very few brickbats).

Been fishing once (not even a bite) and hope to get down to the river later today to try again - it's so close and easy, you've gotta love it.

Have updated a number of furniture items to fit in with the new set-up.  Bought a 40inch Sharp Quattron full HD TV, so have discarded the old TV unit in favour of a smaller, less intrusive one.  Built some matching tables and a computer workstation - I am thinking of hiring myself out as an "Allen key" expert having become quite accomplished at putting all this stuff together.  All I know is the whole damn place seems so comfortable, not to mention sparkling new.

Starting to get "The Shed" set up as well.  Built a couple of work benches in there and am in the middle of erecting peg-board to house and display my copious collection of tools.  Need to get the electrician back to put in a couple of power points and light, but that should be pretty straight forward.

Austar, TV antenna, phone and internet are all up and going, so the services side of living is pretty well taken care of.  Still need to hang a few pictures, including Robbie's Olympic relay torch.  Guess I'll just have to find the time between fishing and staring quietly and contentedly from the pergola.  Lots of happy 'sighs' can be heard from the premises.
Phone number and e-mail addresses have not changed.  Our new address is:

L107/125 Jubilee Park Road,
ALLANSFORD, Vic., 3277

 At this stage have to say it's been a huge success and we couldn't be happier.  Plenty to do, not because things HAVE to be done, but simply at our leisure and because we WANT to do them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nearly there .....

No photos of the Villa this time - but a lot of work has been done since the last report; photos wouldn't do it justice,

Painting is all but finished and the carpets are in.  The electrician is back on site to finalise the wiring and installation of appliances, etc.  Nearly all of the internal blinds and drapes are fitted.

Concrete slabs for the driveway, entrance path, pergola and shed are organised, and we have ordered the shed (3m x 2.26m colorbond).  Have organised to have it erected professionally when it arrives.

Final inspection is set for next Friday, 22nd October and we'll be moving in on Wednesday, 27th.   After that it's just a matter of settling in and enjoying the new environment.

Have finalised all the connections/disconnections, etc with the only problem being Austar - they can't seem to get their heads around the fact that we are moving into a caravan park but living in a private house on its own block.  This one may prove to be a bit messy, but we'll get there sooner rather than later I would think.  We don't have to worry about electricity or water connections as they are already connected via the internal networks at the park.

Once we move in it's just a matter of buying a couple of full HD digital TV's and getting all that up and going.  The phones and Internet connections are being handled by the Warrnambool Telephone Company, so they shouldn't present any problems.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thoroughly wired & insulated .....

The Castle is pretty well at lock-up stage now.

Having not built a house in recent times, we were surprised by how thorough the insulating is.  Not counting the double-glazed windows (which were an additional cost extra), the under-floor, walls and ceiling are all fully insulated using the very effective "pink batt" approach.  Everywhere we looked was insulation, so am glad we got all the pre-wiring done, as there won't be much space to run extra wires once plastering (which starts today) is completed.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the most "wired" house that Rod Stephens has built.  There are about 36 double power points; three ceiling fans; three extra sets of down-lights; four data points for computer network connections; two telephone points; external monitor cable from the computer area to the projector; sound cable from the computer to the sound system; video, s-video and HDMI cables to the projector and speaker cabling for the rear speakers in the lounge,  On top of this there are two antennae connection points for T.V.s and two Austar cables, ready for installation of the "dish" at the appropriate time.  This doesn't include the standard power points and lights throughout the house.  Pity we don't have shares in a cable-making Company.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going once, going twice - too late, it's sold .........

We have sold Ziegler Parade - which clears the way for our move in late October.

It's been in the pipeline for a while - we signed contracts about three weeks ago and have been waiting for bank approval for the buyer's loan.  Everyone assured us that there would be no problem, as it wsn't a large loan required, but you always wonder.

Then we had to endure three extensions of time, which began to be a bit worrying.  Evidently, since the Global Meltdown, Banks have been VERY slow in approving loans.  It seems that they need to know everything, right down to the size and colour of your jocks before they approve any loan.

Anyway, that's all behind us now.  Just waiting for Wilson Real Estate to come out and put the "SOLD" stickers on the advertising sign in the front yard. 

We can start packing now, so plenty of work ahead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Progress can make you board stiff ........

Starting to look like a real house, now.  Nearly all windows are in, and most of the external boards have been fitted (unpainted, as yet).  The builders broke one of the main windows (lounge) during installation, but that has been fixed.  We are installing double-glazed windows and only the external pane was broken, so the break didn't cause any breach that would allow the weather in - which was great given the storms and rain we've had over the past few weeks.

Inside, the bath & shower base have been delivered and all internal plumbing appears in place.  The meter box has been cut in, and the electrician should be starting the wiring and placement of lights, power-points and switches this week.  We've provided him with wiring diagrams for the data outlets (3), additional lights (down lights) and the projector/theatre sound system.  We've purchased the ceiling fans for the three bedrooms and the ceiling mount for the projector.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

It's a blue roof, and the windows are a pane .......

Progress continues on the Villa, but still no action on fixing the internal wall and making the space above the lounge window for the air-conditioner.  The latter is a little bit of a worry, as the Supervisor only measured it (at my prompting) today and found that the window was too high to allow for the air-conditioner.  Will leave it in their hands at the moment.

Completion day is now looking like late October, which will be good - the sooner the better.

Nearly all of the roof is now on - darkish blue colourbond (and we're going to have a RED front door, too).  Wall insulation starting to creep around the outside and some of the windows are in - you can start to see how the bay windows in the main bedroom will look.  These will provide a nice view down the Court and should provide a great area to sit and lap up the morning sun.

We don't have to worry about any problems with the cat when we shift.  Unfortunately, Maisie, our little pet of about 14 years died during the week - so she has been buried here with various other past members of our menagerie.

Things are looking promising as far as selling our house in Ziegler Parade, but more on that later (hopefully).  We have just had a building inspector in to check everything out, in preparation for any future sale and the old place came through with flying colours.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thar she blows ......

Had a very pleasant Saturday arvo - drove to Lorne to meet Adrian & Chrissy for lunch.

On the way back we decided to go the Great Ocean Road route, even though it's a lot longer than returning via Colac.  Between Apollo Bay & Marengo (the western end of Apollo Bay) we came upon a traffic jam (actually, the second for the trip - the local Copper was conducting random breath & licence checks just east of the town).  Lots of cars parked on both sides of the road - figured it could only be one thing, so we pulled over too.

Sure enough, there were two whales gambolling just off-shore in the shallow water.  Stopped and watched them for about ten minutes.  Even though they were relatively close to shore, it was difficult to get close-up pictures of them.  Did manage some, two of which are included in this story, but that was the closest we could get, even on maximum zoom.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All boxed in .....

Roof frame is on and the outer "casing" mostly fitted, although the window & door holes have not been fully cut out.  From the sides and back it just looks like a fully enclosed box - but the shots from the front give a better indication.

We did find a couple of problems, though.  The internal wall between the lounge and kitchen/dining had been cut incorrectly and they hadn't allowed sufficient clearance above the lounge window for the air conditioning unit.

Both of these defects will be corrected without any problems, but I guess it's lucky we checked at such an early stage.

One other problem was encountered - but this was Robbie created.  When we went in through the "gap" that is the front door opening, she went through some temporary sheeting that had been laid in place.  Fair, a-over-t she went.  I showed my usual concern - for the house, of course.

Monday, July 05, 2010

It's all One Big Frame-up ........

Work is progressing on the Castle.  In fact, in the last week, things seem to have really taken off.  In the last installment, we just had the pipes laid and they had just started on the flooring.

By this Monday, most of the frame-work is in place and they have started work on the roof frame.  You can really start to get an idea of where everything is going to be - gaps where windows and doors will be fitted, internal wall positions, etc. etc.

Guess I had better contact Rod Stephens and organise when he will be ready for wiring, etc.  We want to get telephone, data-points, TV & Austar plus home theatre and projector cabling and connections all put in place before plastering and such is commenced.  This should prove easier and cheaper than if we wait until after the event to get them done - although I am sure that once we have moved in and lived there for a while, adjustments will need to be made; but we'll cross that hurdle when we come to it.

Really taking shape now - Robbie is almost becoming a believer.

Chloe, Seven years old and loving it .......

Chloe had a great 7th Birthday Party at home on Saturday - the theme for the day was Harry Potter.  Lots of decorations and Lorelle made capes, wands, balloons and take-home parcels for everyone - all in keeping with the theme.

She had many of her school friends there and they all had a ball.  Even some of the parents went away wishing they could have gotten into the spirit of the afternoon.  For whatever reason, Chloe's extended family on the Watts' side decided they weren't able to attend, but this didn't dampen her spirits at all - she was too busy having fun.

There were lots of spells cast, wands waved and general kid's party games to keep everyone interested and happy.  I'm sure she will remember her seventh for some time - well, at least until Ben's 10th or her own next birthday.  The bar has been set pretty high, so we can look forward to these with some anticipation.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hey Robbie Girl; the pipes, the pipes are calling ......

Work continues on the Castle.  Flooring frame-work has been completed and the plumbers have moved in.  Lot's of PVC in evidence as the various pipes are being installed.  Robbie said the pipes leading from the toilet are definitely not big enough for my requirements, but I let that one slide through to the keeper, or pumping station, whichever seems more appropriate.  She didn't think she was effluent enough for such luxuries as extra large pipes.  Gotta do something about that girl's vocabulary.

You will see from the above photo that we even captured a workman on-site - beavering away at getting plumbing things into action.  Hope they know what they're doing as wee (sorry, we) wouldn't want key pipes to fail under pressure.

Also noticed something that was a surprise - should've read the specs better, I guess.   They are also installing under-floor insulation.  Probably a legal requirement these days, but news to us.  Not complaining, mind you as it is a definite plus.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Looks Like Some Walls are Needed ..........

I guess the stumps have been in long enough for the cement to "cure" and harden, so progress on the Mansion has resumed.

Everything looks nice and level and most of the base "battens?" have been added.  Starting to get an idea of the size of the building, although from past experience, we have learned that everything invariably looks "small" during the early stages.  We can clearly see how the building has been divided into halves down the middle (lengthwise).  Technically, the house must be "removable" so even though it is being built on-site, its construction follows normal principles for such a dwelling.

Completion date is now late-November, so we have taken Ziegler Parade off the market for a while as we need to get the moving-out and moving-in events as closely aligned as possible.  Also, there are about six houses on the market in Allansford at the moment, so it might be worth it if we can avoid this glut.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Out of the ground, something is arising.......

The Mansion progresses.  At last, we see some actual building activity taking place.  Looks like we will have a firm "footing" on the ground to support the high-rise, one-story Penthouse once walls, etc. start to be added.  In the meantime, I guess we have to wait for the concrete to set properly before any further advancement is made.  Got me "stumped" as to why things happen this way - but then I'm no builder.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bang, crash on the highway ........

Had in interesting trip home from Warrnambool the other day.

Nearing the Bunnings intersection, where a new speed/red light camera has been installed, I was following a white Commodore station-wagon.   Roads a little wet & greasy, so was keeping "the distance".  Well before the intersection, he braked and started slowing - the way he drove made it obvious that he was concerned by the presence of the camera.  This meant that the distance between us narrowed somewhat, so I baegan slowing.  Then, when he was virtually "on" the intersection, the lights changed to amber - so he braked hard and stopped.  Fortunately, because I was already adjusting my speed, and his reaction was not unexpected, I was able to pull up in time (just!).
However, the same cannot be said for the car behind us - a little Mazda (not sure of model).  Next second, tremendous bang in the rear and we were collected.

At the first available opportunity, we pulled into the side street to inspect the damage and exchange the usual details after such a coming together.  The Mazda was pretty banged up in the front - bonnet bent and twisted, lights & fittings smashed.  Lo & behold, hardly a scratch on our little Rio.  No repairs or panel-beating required.  Have ended up pretty proud of the "little red racer" for withstanding such a hit with no visible damage to be seen.

Makes you think, though.  If the speed camera was NOT there, the accident would almost certainly NOT have happened.   A classic case of a road safety measure being the principle cause of an accident.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Activity on the new Mansion ..........

At last, we have some activity on the construction of the new Marr Mansion.  It's not much, but at least it is a start.  Robbie is finally beginning to believe that it just might happen.

It's just four pegs in the ground at this stage, but they do delineate the boundaries of the block - re-affirming that there certainly will not be much yard to maintain, especially once we get our 3m x 2.4m shed in place.  It does confirm, happily, that it is most unlikely that there will be sufficient space between us and the road behind for any sort of camping activity by visitors.

As things progress, I will keep the blog updated.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Big Job to put the Clock Back an Hour .............

We were looking for something to do on Easter Sunday, so decided to commence photographing the Colac Cemetery (yeah, I know, you just can't get over what an exciting life we have).  On the way, we came across the monthly market at Camperdown - then noticed that the Camperdown Bell Tower was open.

This is an interesting and very economical (only $2 a person) tour to take.  Pay your money (don't buy the "I've Climbed the Tower" sticker (only $1) however until after you've done it - otherwise you'll be cheating).  To get to the top requires climbing a number of very steep stairways, with a number of platforms upon which you can rest on the way up (or down, for that matter - otherwise we'd still be up there wouldn't we?).  On the way there are a number of great stained-glass windows to enjoy.

About half way up you come across the three bells that create the "chimes" every quarter-of-an-hour, plus the hourly count.  We were standing right next to them when the clock struck one - but no running mice to be found.  Fair causes one to soil the old trousers when not expected - here we were fortunate; they hadn't turned the clock back an hour for the end of daylight saving, so at least we didn't have to endure, close-up, a full twelve chimes.

From the bell platform, it's another flight up to where the clock mechanism is housed; and then one more up to the viewing platform at the top, where one gets a great 360 degree view of Camperdown.

After soaking up the panorama, it's just a matter of negotiating the steep stairs all the way to the bottom - when, of course, one can legitimately purchase the aforementioned sticker.  Definately, well worth the $2 admittance fee.

After that, the Cemetery was some what pedestrian - although, we did manage to photograph nearly a 1000 headstones before heading back home.