Monday, 19 May 2008

[PropertyInfo.029] What was your property worth 20 years ago?

We received this mail from local real estate agent Bruce Lyon today with some very attractive information. As shown below, it listed 4 local properties and compared the sold price from 1987, 1997 to 2007.

The first one in Beecroft has the biggest increase in 20 years: from $158K to $1.1M. Wonder what you think about this information but one thing is for sure: if you can hold on long enough, you certainly going to get a huge return on properties!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

[Progress.124] Appliances installed

We have the following appliances installed in the past week. The garage door opener was done in about 30 min.

The oven was even faster. These 2 guys moved it into kitchen, connect the wire, slide it into the cabinet, screw in a few nails, did a few tests, done!

The whole process took less than 15 min. With the little clock, we can now easily tell the time as well.

The plumbers have a much tougher job. One guy was working on the cook top. Lots of small parts to be assembled.

This is what it looks like when done.

The other guy was working on the hot water system, this is the unit when everything connected, just look at how many pipes they have to connect.

I thought they just bent a few pipes and the connection to the gas meter can be easily done, but it was a lot more complicated. First, they remove the meter and carefully seal the pipes by melting the little metal stick into the joint of the pipes.

After the pipes done, surprisingly they removed the whole meter and bring out this little equipment.

They put some water in there and connect it to the pipes, they told me it's for leak testing. If there's any leaking, there will be lots of bubbles in the glass cylinder part. The test passed without any problem.

Finally they install the meter and everything is done, they carefully tested both the cook top and the hot water system. Just have to wait the hot water system to finish heating the water.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

[Progress.123] Timber floor completed - 3

The painful drilling process for those hardwoods downstairs took more than a day to finish. On day 5, while one of the guys was finishing off the flooring boards upstairs and putting all the skirting boards back, the others started the downstairs work.

As shown below, the timber boards were installed in a different direction to the hardwood. They apply the glue on the hardwood first, then nail the board on each of the hardwood.

This one taken from different angle, you can see the cutting machine in the lower corner and all the boards to be installed scattered all over the places.

Another one from different angle looking into the sliding door for alfresco area. I forgot to mention that, same as upstairs, they also have to cut the bottom of all architraves from all downstairs doors as well. For upstairs it's about 20mm and downstairs is about 40mm due to the extra hardwood height.

Late afternoon the front area also completed.

Next morning the work for the front bay windows area started. You might notice the hardwoods are quite clean, that's because I swept and vacuumed the whole area in the previous night.

The other side of the front living area.

After another one and a half days work, the whole ground floor area all completed. Guess what's left? Yes, the stairs...

While they started downstairs, I started cleaning all the glues and dirt upstairs with this bottle of "mineral turpentine". It's a slow and painful process. Yes, I know that this should be their job, but as we all know, only the owner will do a proper cleaning job, so:

  • Price for a bottle of mineral turpentine - $5

  • Daily saving of cleaning cost - $100

  • Enjoying your new timber floor after cleaning- priceless

Some of the glues were so thick and hard to remove, it's very difficult to rub them off with the mineral turpentine. The team then showed me a faster method: by using this little blade, I can scrap off a huge portion of the glue and that indeed saved lots of effort.

The installation of the stairs actually didn't start until a few days later because the boss started another job right away when they finished our ground floor. My understanding is, due to the limited access/space, stairs can only be done by a single person and it's extremely slow. So I think the boss tried to keep his team busy by finishing most of the work in the other job first, then leave the stairs work for both sites last. This way he can keep his team fully occupied.
As shown below, the quality is quite nice (after a few hours of cleaning by us).

So, finally, after 2 weeks of hard work, plus a few days of cleaning, we got all the non-wet area covered in nice and shining timber. This is the front door area.

This is the front bay windows area.

The other side of front living area. Try compare it with the last photo from the previous post when it was full of hardwood and dust, huge difference!

The meals area.

The family/back bay windows area.

Our landscaping also progressed a lot in the past week and I will try to post something soon.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

[Progress.122] Timber floor completed - 2

The team finished the upper living area in the 1st day, and progressed to other rooms in day 2. As shown below, they started working on my daughter's pink room in day 3 and later finished it late in the afternoon.

Our main bedroom also finished in day 3.

By looking at some of the damaged boards they removed (due to cracks or other reasons), you can see how long the nails are and how much glue been applied to the boards.

The rubbish in the garage started to pile up, higher and higher...

While the other side of the garage is filled with timber boards...

The team also started working on ground floor at the same time. It's a lot more trickier than upstairs. First, they put a thick anti-moisture plastic to cover all the concrete slabs.

This is the meal area near the kitchen, also covered with plastic.

They then start bringing in these hard woods.

There were lots of them, evenly placed all over the places.

They then open it up and nicely laid on the plastic, with all hard woods 30cm apart from each other. Looks like the lanes in the swimming pool or racing tracks.

Next they use a drill to drill through the hard wood and into the concrete slabs below. It's not an easy job, as they have to drill about 4 to 5 holes for every piece of hard wood.

This is a closer look, it's even more noisy than the little nailing machine and compressor upstairs. Felt very sorry for the neighbours...

This is the kind of nails they used to hold the hard woods.

Next the most painful part, they have to hammer the nails in one by one...Have a look at how much dust all over the place... I tried to help by cleaning up the area with my vacuum machine. And guess what, after about an hour of vacuuming, my vacuum machine starts making some weired noise, pump out lots of dust and died...

Just look at how many holes they have to drill and then hammer those nails one by one...

Hard woods, drilling noises, dust, it's a horrible scene. And don't forget that these are just for the foundation, they haven't started installing the timber boards yet!

So if any of you interested in entering the building/renovation industry, I won't recommend you to do timber flooring. Unless you can have a easier process/method, this is too much work and too labour intensive!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

[Progress.121] Timber floor completed - 1

Our timber floor was finally completed last week after 2 weeks of hard work. Compared to other activities, the amount of effort involved for timber flooring seems to be a lot more. I will try to cover most of them in a few posts and this is the first one.

Before everything starts, our garage was full with boxes of timber floor boards, more than 150 boxes of them...

When the team arrived, first thing they did is to move lots of boxes upstair as they started with the upper level first, and then they remove all the skirting boards and label every pieces carefully so that they can be correctly put back later.

After the skirting boards been removed they picked up a problem with the floor ---> the floor lipping bug bites again! As shown below, the area I marked in red was previously covered by the skirting board and therefore wasn't properly leveled during the floor sanding process. You can cearly notice the difference by comparing the floor board colour with the area right below it.

They have to use this small handheld grinding machine to cut off the surface a bit to make it more leveled. The area I marked in red in photo below is what it looks like, while the guy is working on the next floor board join area. So my first tip to anyone who plans to do timber flooring is to ask your builder NOT to install any skirting boards, or don't forget the areas under the skirting boards for floor sanding...

After the painful grinding process, they then mark and cut off the bottom part of all the door architraves. This is to save the effort as the floor board can then easily slide under all the architraves, rather then cutting out a matching shape. My second tip for everyone will be: ask your builder to cut off the bottm bit of all architraves if you plan to do timber flooring. This will save lots of time and effort as it's much easier to cut it during installation then afterwards.

They then found another issue: the stairs have a bullnose for every steps. If they leave it as it is, it will be very difficult to properly cover the bull nose with the timber board. So as shown in the area I marked in red below, they decided to cut out the bull nose. My 3rd tip: if you want to cover your stairs in timber, don't ask for bullnose! It's quite painful to remove them afterwards...

After all these painful pre-work, the team found another problem: the walls in the upper living area are not parallel to each other! Which means if they use one wall as reference point, when it reaches the other side, it won't look good. After some discussions, they decided to use the first step of stairs as the reference point and then move towards both sides of the room. In this way, even if the walls are not 100% parallel, the edges can be covered by the skirting boards and it won't be that obvious. So as shown below, after a few careful measurement, we finally have our first board laid on the first step of the stairs in the middle of the upper living area.

After first one, the rest are done a lot quicker, the 2nd one, the 3rd one...

This is how they install the boards (for upstairs only): first they apply some special glue either on the board or directly on the floor.

Then they use a special machine to firmly nail it to the floor board below.

This is what the machine looks like, it's powered by a compressor. Very noisy little monster...

I have this short video to show you how it works. It's quite funny that they have to hit it with a hammer to drive the nails...

After a whole day's hard work, they finally covered most of the upper living area. The machine at the back is the compressor they used to drive that nailing machine.

This one viewed from a different angle. There was dust and glue marks everywhere, definitely need a proper clean up after everything completed...

One of the guys spent lots of time just to cut the bull nose from the stair steps... This is what it looks like early in the afternoon and you can see the cuts.

Late in the afternoon, the bull noses all gone...

Even the last step, which has a round bull nose and it looks a bit weired without it...

We spent some time picking the boards and organised to have all those boards with lots of dark pattern/mark to be used in the wardrobe, and this is one of them...

To be continued...