Saturday November 12; Tuesday January 3; Wednesday February 8
Under the Milky Way
I moved into 60k House last Easter, right after walking the Overland Track. We spent six nights in the Tassie wilderness, trying to get a wash each day. The thought of showering outside at home, even in cold weather, didn’t faze me. In fact it’s great – I love standing outside under hot water, beneath the stars on a clear night. It doesn’t matter if the air is cold – the water is hot. It’s magic.
Because I didn’t fix the duckboards until the start of January, showering outside was my only option for a long time. I didn’t mind, but thought I should offer my guests an inside option. It turns out they preferred the outside option! I need the trees between the house and the road to grow a bit more before showering during the day.
Stuck in a glass case of emotion
How many people shower in a cubicle, standing in a plastic box with a glass door? Who actually wants to? Sure it might be nice sometimes to catch the steam. Trust me – standing on a timber floor, in a nice big space, or even better – outside on a timber deck under the stars – is way nicer.
The shower is a simple but effective setup. We gave a lot of thought about how we could setup a shower that could work both indoors and outdoors. Another option could have been to have a holder fixed on the door, with a flexible hose that would allow the door to be opened. Neat idea, but I was keen for a rainwater head – so you really know you’re getting wet. I picked up the showerhead off the bargain table at a hardware store. Ian the plumber ‘temporarily’ rigged up a long arm that swivels on the thread. That was 10 months ago. There was some spray coming out at the joint – nothing a bit of duct tape couldn’t fix. But after a while (8 months) I adjusted the tightness and the water doesn’t leak anymore. Ian’s temporary fix might just become a permanent solution.
Originally Ian had installed two taps to control the shower but we couldn’t find a way for them to control both the shower and the bath. The only way this could work was with a diverter, and they only came with a single mixer. I bought the shower diverter from the bargain table at the same time as the showerhead – both were around 50% off. Once I find a bath it will be easy enough to run the pipe beneath the duckboards and up to the bath – simply turn the diverter the other way to fill up the bath.
I found a saw miller on Gumtree who had Huon Pine available – I will write more about this when I post about decking. Huon Pine is a specialty timber endemic to Tasmania – I always wanted 60k House to be distinctly Tasmanian. Highly prized by wooden boat builders and furniture makers, Huon Pine is slow growing, durable, and contains a natural preserving oil with a delightful scent – beautiful. The water-resistant nature of the timber made it a suitable choice for duckboards to the wet area of the bathroom. Duckboards are simply widely spaced floorboards that allow the water to fall through the gaps and drain away beneath. Greg cut the boards in half at his workshop and even went to the trouble of numbering each board so I could match up the boards. It’s the little things.
Even though Huon Pine is water resistant (how cool is water proof timber?) it will age and lose its golden colour if exposed to water for a long time. Despite my best efforts that’s just what has started to happen… Both the builder and an architect mate recommended using wood protector and then oiling the duckboards. I sourced the products from Germany, via Launceston. The agent wasn’t sure how it would perform on Huon Pine, given the oils already present in the timber.
First I gave the boards a quick sand before applying a coat of the wood protector – a natural oil-wax combination. Once they had dried I applied two coats of hard wax oil. It worked a treat – the water just beaded off – for a couple of months… Where the boards get a lot of water they have now started to discolour and grey off. Personally I don’t mind – I’m hoping the celery top decking and eucalyptus weatherboards will do the same – it’s just the Huon Pine looks so nice when it’s golden. I also used the wood protector and oil on the vanity basin and this is holding up really well – maybe because it gets less water, or because the timber was sanded much smoother.
I used the drill press at Greg’s workshop to drill an oversized hole in the aluminium SHS to allow to screw to pass through without binding to the aluminium. I used stainless steel screws to fix from underneath so there aren’t any visible screw heads to stub your toe or catch water. Mark the joiner helped me fix the end boards so the frame was square and fitted the setdown in the floor. After that it was a matter of spacing the boards as best I could, remembering that timber is a natural product and some of the boards were quite bent and bowed. The duckboard floor is split into two panels – so you can lift it up and get access to the drain below. The floor temporarily sits on plastic window packers – I need to devise a better system to connect the legs.
I had been optimistic – naïve – about natural ventilation working for both the kitchen and also the bathroom. Sure I had operable windows in each, but that relied on a breeze at the right time from the right direction. I have since installed a rangehood to the kitchen and an exhaust fan to the bathroom – both ducted to the outside, not just into the ceiling cavity. This required Alan the electrician to come back for a couple of hours to fit a couple of new powerpoints (I also wanted another at the side of my bed). The light in the bathroom was originally in the centre of the room – I decided to fit the exhaust fan there and move the light to be central to the vanity basin. Some of these things – additional power points, light positions, etc – could have been planned better or considered more, but sometimes you need to live in a place for a while before realising what will work best. They haven’t been big jobs to fix but have been worthwhile.
Waste not, want not
The shower curtain rod is N-12 deformed bar/rebar – left over from the concrete slab, lying around. I have also used this for the hanging rail in the bedroom wardrobe. I wanted simple, large metal rings to hold the shower curtain – but couldn’t find any! Instead I used key rings for the shower curtain eyelets. It all contributes towards the rustic, industrial look – in contrast to the refined vanity unit. The rough edge along the bottom of the vanity is the only rough edge in the entire house.
Mirror mirror on the wall
Why have a mirror on the wall when the mirror can be the wall? The mirror also acts as the splashback behind the basin. Unfortunately Greg broke the final piece of cement sheet lining in the corner so we will need to replace it when he comes to finish off. This must sound trivial, but installing the toilet roll holder has made a big difference to helping the bathroom feel finished. Now to finish off the rest of the house – hopefully before Easter.
Costs: duckboards – $240; aluminium bearers – $171; stainless steel screws- $79; vanity basin – $35; vanity timber – $100; wood protector and oil – $122; diverter – $90; shower head – $39; basin mixer – $60; exhaust fan – $58; vent duct and grill – $27; mirror- $160; toilet roll holder – $14; key rings (shower curtain) – $5; shower curtain – $26
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.