New fence

new fence

We've had a shiny new fence installed all around. It's been a few months in the making, getting quotes and agreement from three different sets of neighbours. Finally it's done. We now have a gate on our side passage, and the new fence is quite a bit higher. No more chatting over the fence to the neighbours, unfortunately.

Time to get some passionfruit going. It also means I can get cracking on the rest of the garden beds and plant my apple trees.

Heat, and keeping it in


We finally got our gas point installed last Thursday so we've now got our excellent gas heater. It's the Paloma PG-711FRN which is the one that scored best in the Choice comparison of unflued gas heaters. So far so good -- our house is toast warm.

Weather strip on our front door

To help keep the heat in, I've been weather stripping around the house. All the windows now have a weather strip to stop draughts. This afternoon I attached a strip to the front door. It flaps down when you close the door to block any draughts, and will also keep dust and crap out of our hallway.

Raised garden bed

Last weekend I built and planted out this raised garden bed. It's a bunch of railway sleepers with some very long bolts holding it together. Planted out are broad beans, kale, silverbeet, parsnips, chives, sprouting broccoli and four types of garlic. Yum!

A war of attrition with whitefly

Yellow sticky traps

We've had an infestation of whitefly on our herbs and lettuces. Absolutely smothering them. They've killed off the purslane, and they're retarding growth on all the rest. Little buggers.

I tried the brew described here of garlic, oil and soap. It seemed to work for a couple of days, but then they came back stronger than ever. Now I'm trying these yellow sticky traps. They certainly seem to be catching the bugs, but whether it'll make a dent I'm not sure. Might try combining the two techniques.

These sticky traps are really just glossy yellow cardboard with honey or some kind of sticky sugar syrup on them, so they wouldn't be hard to make. In fact, here's a howto for the project.

Well there's $5,000 saved

We've just saved $5,000 by deciding not to buy ducted heating for our house. Why were we thinking ducted heating? Well it's funny how the mind works, you end up on a path a long way from where you started. I'll step through it.

The house stays pretty cool in Summer, but it's pretty cold in Winter, so we were thinking heating. I've lived in far too many shitty rentals with draughts, no insulation and the only heating option being expensive, inefficient electric. London spoilt us for never being cold when at home.

So I started looking at gas heaters, the unflued portable kind, which come in around or under $1,000. Choice has a review of them and points out that they release CO and NOx, as well as water vapour, and the emissions can be bad for asthmatics (like Holly).

So I stepped up my thinking to a flued gas heater, to go in the fireplace in the lounge room. I didn't want one of these gas fire things that have the look of a real fire but don't actually do much int he way of heat. I want real heat, so I was looking at the nice fan-forced heaters. These start around $3,000 and go all the way up.

Now my parents have a brilliant ducted gas heating system in their house. It's lovely in every room in Winter. Prices for a small house like ours are apparently from $5,000, which was less than double what we were prepared to pay for the flued heating. You see how your mind steps up a notch without realising?

Anyway yesterday the quote came in for the ducted heating. $6270 including GST for a five-star efficient ducted system. We've ended up a long way from the grand or so I was originally thinking of. It forced something of a reality check.

If we spend a grand on a heater (actually should be a bit less) we can spend the rest on double glazing and upgrading our roof insulation. This has major additional benefits of Summer insulation and keeping out aircraft noise. To be completely serious, you only really need heating in a Sydney house for a month or two of the year. Nice to have for perhaps another month. Spending all that money for something used for a quarter of the year isn't sensible.

It's been an interesting journey, and has taught me that when you're looking at things you need to remember where you started. Go back to it and compare with the gold-plated option you're now contemplating.

Bathroom renovation

Gutted bathroom

We're into the second week of being without a bathroom as it gets gutted and re-done. Everything has come out and we're getting there. Gyprock went on yesterday, so tiling and plumbing in the appliances shouldn't be too far away, hopefully.

It's gonna be lovely when it's done, but for now we're imposing on our mates as the house is toilet-less.

Gutters and tanks

Dear lazyweb, we've just got a quote for some Colorbond guttering to replace the rusted-through guttering on our new house. I'm exploring other options, given aluminium and PVC don't rust, and shouldn't be significantly more. There's also guttering systems that keep leaves out and don't require clearing. I'm thinking it might be worth combining this job with installation of water tanks and plumbing in the toilet and washing machine.

Anyone got any suggestions here? Know any good contractors for this kind of work? Have any ballpark figures for the difference in price for different materials?