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  • Writer's pictureStjohn Axbey

Taking the Outside In

In a first, I have included a video to accompany this blog.... please tell me what you think and if you'd like to hear more of my dulcet tones.


In the blog "How Do You Make God Laugh?" published on 14th April this year, I spoke of our covert interstate move to Ferny Creek during the COVID 19 pandemic. I had failed miserably at cooking by breaking the oven and I’d implemented a fitness regime that was perilously close to permanently damaging walls, doors, and ornaments around the house. My partner, meanwhile, had commenced a deforestation programme on the garden that was not only causing conniptions for our tree loving neighbour, but was also threatening to deprive most of the local bird life of a place to fornicate, rest, and ultimately, nest. I had to confess that I had managed - in no uncertain terms - to make God belly roll by simply being far too vocal with my plans.

Well you will be astounded to know that He’s not about to stop laughing at me anytime soon, because I haven’t learnt from my previous mistake. What I am about to do is share with you - vocally and out loud - some of the plans that I have for our new home: in particular I will be concentrating on the external structure and reporting on its condition. Additonally, and in response to the issues, I will be providing a plan of attack on how to not only make the property virtually maintenance free, but to also make the house less vunerable to storm, tempest, fire, pestilence, plague, a psychotic cat and red wine.

Mmmm.... red wine: it's a pain to get out of marble flooring too.

So just before I get stuck into it, I should point out a couple of things: During my career I have beared witness to many building horror stories; predominantly in old buildings with expensive problems hidden under layers of builders bog, lead paint and linoneum.

So it seems to be my fate - or destiny - to have a knack for observing all that is broken or what will go wrong with a building, and all in alarming detail:

'that, is my curse'.

I shouldn’t dwell on what needs doing around our new home as it will likey give me an ulcer, however, I simply cannot help myself, and for the purposes of keeping the blog reasonably short, I'll concentrate only on the external issues and fixes; the inside can wait for another blog, so here goes....

The carport has a lean to it caused by one of its structural posts being completely rotted out. To fix the problem a secondary post has been bolted to the first and stuck into the ground, which is now also rotting out. Although the lean is not by any means Pisano in proportions, it is significant enough to assure that the entire structure will need - at some stage - partially replacing and rebuilding. A little further on there'll be an image of what I have in mind.

All that's required is a gentle nudge... there.

Following closely in the garage's slow and lazy slump towards the ground is the two storey cabin that I thought may be a good office space: turns out to be almost uninhabitable. The lean is most notable once you are inside where you will - without the influence alcohol - have an uncontrollable urge to stumble towards the south western corner of the building. It is also full of huntsmen spiders, has an unhealthy musty smell about it, is too small and will quite possibly need dismantling and rebuilding properly sometime in the future.

Arachnophobes beware!

The exterior cladding of the main house is a vertical cedar that is in reasonable condition, however, some of the panels are warped and cracked and will need replacing, plus for some reason none of the windows that are exposed to the elements have any type of flashing around them to prevent water ingress. I'm not suggetsing that there is a problem with damp, but I have discovered mushrooms growing form the barge boards!!

Just why these small but vital trims are missing beggars belief.

To address these problems it will be wise to replace all of the timber cladding with something that requires less maintainance, such as vertical standing seam Colorbond cladding. Not only will it be maintenance free, but it will also help to make the building more resilient to fire attack - not to mention very sexy to look at.

Super sexy Standing Seam Colorbond cladding - will be a permanent fix against any need for future painting and will help to make the house a little less flammable.

Adding to the sexyness level will be periodic bursts of stone cladding, just to break things up a bit.....

As is and the proposed: A stone and metal mix - what a gorgeous combination!

And then there's the doors. Depsite the fact that this house was built in the 80's, it is quite apparent that the doors have reverted to the seventies, because they have all gone on strike. To avoid causing permanent damage to my back trying to open them, they will all need replacing with new units that will slide with ease and grace.

The rest of the windows in the house will follow over time and every single one of them will be double glazed.

My back will not cope with this..... it's time to retire these

old doors and replace them with double glazed units.

Replacement of the windows and doors, with operable ones, is imminent. Miglas Windows will be used throughout the property - Australian made, from Victorian Ash on the inside and powder coated aluminium on the outside.

Whilst the roof doesn’t leak, time and the elements have taken their toll on its surface and it will, therefore, need replacing preferably with the same Standing Seam cladding as the walls or a trim deck profile. All the gutters will need replacing and will need to incorporate proper fire resistant leaf guard to prevent them from clogging up.

The grandest of all plans involves the lower garden...........

During the clearing of the much overgrown garden, my partner has uncovered extensive terraced rock walls that are clearly part of a structure that this gardern once had. Keen to improve it and make the garden more accessible, there is clearly a need to bring the house and the garden closer together. It would also be nice to be able to enjoy the garden all year round, without having to be physically out in it - my plan is an ambitious one.

Beware of idiots in leather shoes attempting to make low budget videos.

A heavily sloping garden with a ridiculous lawn, ending in a very bushy bottom.

The lowest part of the garden drops rapidly away with a 30% slope that has been grassed over in a series of bermed terraces; beyond the grassed area the property extends by another 50 or so metres into thick bush, that is at the moment, completely unworkable. It's certainly almost impossible to mow and the way I see it, there is no reason to want to venture down there - at that's a shame.

In order to bring the depths of the garden and the house closer together I am proposing a personal dream of mine, a conservatory; a fully glazed, multi split level room, dominated by a large roaring fireplace by Chiminee Philippe, with access to a patio terrace area via a spiral staircase. This terrace will then invite you to decend yet further - via a series of terraced gardens - down into the far the reaches of the garden.

Something like this......

The grandest of schemes - a multi level, glass and stone conservatory - complete with a spiral staircase.

For the observant among you, please ingnore the Ingo Maurer light fitting: it's gorgeous but ridiculously expensive.

And wouldnt it be lovely if the garden meandered on, down into the bush section, to be greeted with this sea of colour.

This is an image of the Enchanted Hydrangea Forest on the Minamisawa Ajisai mountain - in Akiruno City - Japan. It is totally stunning and would be a welcome addition to the garden.

Just a pipe dream maybe? Well, my partner has recently purchased a chainsaw, so I'm quietly confindent that a clearance plan is on the cards.

I'll keep you informed.

I think you'll agree that this is one very good reason to visit the bottom of our garden... don't you think?

So it is with some trepidation that I share these thoughts with you, as I'm sure 'Him upstairs' will be ROFLHAO after reading this.

Stay tuned for yet more plans, where I will look at the inside of the home and how we intend to stamp our mark on it.

Thank you so much for reading!


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