Monday, November 29, 2010

Wow, sorry it's been a long time between rants. Rodney went to Perth, then I went down with the flu and a post-flu thing, and since then it's been a crushing load of catching up on paid work and working down the list of everything that has been in the too hard basket.

Apologies in particular to those of you have emailed me and not heard back ... I'll get to you soon, I promise.

So here's an update on the house building highs and lows of the last um, err, couple of months. (Embarrassed grimace)

Firstly, though, a comment on somebody else's blog alerted me to the fact that I mightn't ever really made it explicit that our house is actually under construction. In fact, it's almost finished! We were hoping to be in by the end of the year, but that's looking less likely with each passing day. I might even get to post some photos before the build is over.


Benchtops are officially the number one bane of this house. After the polished benchtops debacle, I thought we had settled on Sadlerstone. Didn't love it, didn't hate it, was happy that it is made here in Melbourne. It looked like it was going to be affordable too ... as far as I could tell, the actual materials were going to set us back a bit under

$2,400 - for kitchen and our downstairs vanity.

The big question, however, was stonemasonry costs. And jeeeeezus! Basically, the quotes we got were both over six grand for materials and labour. For reasons that escape me, Sadlerstone were unable to recommend a stonemason who has actually worked with the product. And the stonemasons who quoted us either weren't interested in having a go (and so submitted grossly inflated quotes), or were going to charge us a hefty premium for working with a new product.

I've always heard that tradies charge a lot more when they're working with something new. I guess we've been lucky to be building with PF, who are willing to try something different if it seems to have environmental benefits.

So anyway, six something was more than we could (or would) pay for benchtops, so at the absolutely eleventh hour (kitchen goes in tomorrow), we are again looking for benchtop quotes - this time for plain old engineered stone.

I did look at another laminate-looking product made of bamboo. Seemed very sustainable, but at a price that would have me working an extra day a week for quite few months (and I have a very good hourly rate!). Just in case you have more money than we do, the product in question is here:


I wrote on tiles in my last post way back when. Lee from Fibonnaci dropped me a line and invited me to come have a look at their tiles. Wow, they are beautiful. They've done a really nice job of getting the size of the aggregate right, which is something I don't really feel Sadlerstone have achieved yet. On the down side, they are made in Iran. I have looked everywhere for Australian made tiles. There are practically none, and absolutely none other than Sadlerstone that came close to being pleasing to look at and touch.

We were very, very close to going with Fibonnaci, and then I looked more closely at the tech specs for the EcoTech tiles from Italy and discovered they are actually porcelain tiles incorporating pre-consumer recycled material, rather than cement and new stone. Thus followed a flurry of emails between Australia and Italy as I tried to make sure I wasn't making a decision based on greenwash. In a sense, I kind of have, because the recycled content in the light tiles we have ultimately chosen is only 10% (the dark tiles have 42% recycled content). But I like the fact that they have developed the technology, and are applying it. And they tick all the other right boxes like closed loop water system, so that's good.

So the tiles are on site, and the tiler should be coming any day now. They're pretty gorgeous, and I'm really happy with our choice.


If benchtops have been the bane of this build, then lights have been my own personal nightmare. I have fretted, stressed, tried to ignore them, tried to pass the buck to the lighting designer, all to no avail. Just when I was in despair, and planning to buy practically everything from Ikea or Beacon lighting, we stumbled across Melbourne Lighting and Design in Kilsyth. Bless them and all who work for them! We went there to look at a light fitting I'd found online, and have ended up getting everything we need.

Most of our lighting choices are fairly inconsequential environmentally (which is to say, they are not sustainable but not gratuitous either), but it is worth mentioning that the lighting consultant convinced us to go for compact fluro downlights instead of halogen. They looked great in the shop, and the light was lovely. Fingers crossed they work out!

We are also getting three of the most beautiful hand painted Italian glass shades for above the centre kitchen bench. We've been lacking a core interior design feature - I think these might be it.


Ooops, for some reason my laptop's clock is stuck on 9:10pm. I thought I was writing really quickly, but it turns out it's actually 9:45 and I've been writing for 40 minutes!

Next post, I'll tell you about some beee-you-ti-ful carpet we've found. But you can only buy it if you're really rich. Which we're not! :(


1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Glad to see you back online. I have missed your posts.