Friday November 13, Sunday November 15, Friday December 4, Tuesday December 22
Behind the walls
While the walls and ceiling were still accessible, before the lining went on, both Alan the electrician and also Ian the plumber came to run their wires and pipes. This was the last chance to add taps or power points and light switches – without a whole lot of hassle and lots of holes. It was good to discuss and confirm the location of each service outlet with each tradie – and even add a couple more at their suggestion. That has been one of the valuable exercises in this project – listening to and learning from the professionals.
It always surprises me how many electrical cables there are within a building: cables for both power points and lights and switches. Most of the cables are either drilled through the timber studs or passed over the rafters or between the trusses. Each cable must be kept a minimum distance away from ‘the outside’ to prevent accidental electrocution if someone drives an errant nail.
The crowning achievement of all the work in the lead up to the party in November was the installation of the toilet. This came late in the day on a Sunday, the afternoon sun streaming in and striking the new shiny porcelain. Some items or materials I haven’t minded skimping on (especially if I consider they will add to the overall feel of the project), but for something such as a toilet I was willing to spend a bit extra. Who really wants a ‘second hand’ (is that the correct terminology?) toilet in their house? The toilet I selected is a ‘back to wall’ cistern, meaning there is no gap between the toilet cistern or bowl and the wall = easier to keep clean.
Copper or poly
A favourite discussion topic for plumbers is what type of material is best suited for water pipes – metal (copper) or plastic (poly). There is no definitive answer. Ian the plumber says: in rural locations rats don’t eat copper. That is the general consensus. Does that mean rats do eat copper in urban areas? This isn’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stuff, there’s no radioactive turtles and oversized rats, but vermin have been known to get a taste for plastic and nibble their way through pipes.
Because of the scale of 60k House, and the simplicity of the services layout, Ian advised that copper was only slightly more expensive. For a larger house the price difference between copper and poly would be greater, but generally if you’re building a bigger house you can afford to spend a bit more. Copper does afford peace of mind.
A little to the left
As mentioned previously this project has been about priorities – what is really needed. Good TV reception is one such thing. Before the ceiling went on we got Gary around to install a TV aerial on the roof and run the wire down inside (good suggestion dad). Gary had a tool that recorded the strength of the TV signal received – all the way from Mt Wellington behind Hobart. There are some large trees in front of the house and it was surprising to see how much of a difference it made by moving only a meter or two in one direction or the other, even while up on the roof. Soon a prime signal receiving location was determined: up went the aerial, down came the coaxial cable – squeezed under the ridge capping, through the sisalation, into the ceiling cavity and down the internal wall. I recognise it’s a bit of an oddity that 60k House got a TV aerial before it had an external door, but at least it has good signal for watching the cricket.
A couple of days before Christmas both Alan and Ian returned in the afternoon: Alan livened up a circuit to get three powerpoints active inside while Ian organised running water to the laundry trough and a temporary waste outlet. It wasn’t much, but made a big difference having both power and running water inside, especially in time for Christmas.
Costs: electrical – $1014 (materials – $288, labour – $726); toilet – $319; plumbing – $1700; TV aerial and installation – $240
Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.