Backyard Reno Problem #6

Jenny dug a hole.

Well, attempted to and failed miserably! If only I were more like Dale. (Sorry international blog readers, inside Aussie joke).

The problem is that Adam and his muscles and hole digging skills went on a work trip all this week. The backyard reno timeline for this week went as follows:

Dig 4m long, 600mm deep trench
Electrician comes to lay electrical cables and install lights and power points in our enormous shed
Concreters pour in-fill concrete slab in shed

Please note that this timeline didn’t magically fall into place. It involved the concreter (who is also the excavator) being a total utter inflexible, arrogant arsehole to me first, and the electrician being a lovely, lovely, flexible, “no worries, I’ll move all my clients and bend over backwards cos I’m nice” kind of person. Such a contrast! But the arrogant arsehole being the person that he is meant the trench digging window was quite small. Thankfully, being the arrogant arsehole that he is, he knocked off work ridiculously early, after finishing only half the excavation (which doesn’t matter cos the half that he did is all that was needed for the trench digging and concrete pouring). So I got to start digging my trench at 2.30pm. Plenty of time, right!?

Oh my god I’m so bad at digging trenches! After half an hour I was dripping with sweat and had barely scratched the surface.

Progress after half an hour

Dad said he would come and rescue me after work (THANK GOD!) but I thought I’d inform the Facebook community of my troubles too. This was probably mostly to give me an excuse to have a break every 10 minutes to see how many likes I had. I put a call out to everyone on Facebook to come over with their shovels and crowbars and help! I got a few friendly rejections and distant advice/sympathy, but best of all, I got another rescuer! My cousin/neighbour (that’s right, I live next door to my cousin – it’s so cool!) came over in his work clothes (as in old clothes, not a suit) bearing a shovel and a smile (which went away soon after the digging started). Dad and Scott got a good rhythm going and were smashing this trench! I kept trying to get involved but kept getting kicked out of the hole. It would take me an hour to do what they would do in a single shovel load!

My Rescuers

All this so the electrician could plonk his cables in.


Thanks so much Dad and Scott! I would never have finished that trench on my own! Think I’ll leave the job of filling it back in to Adam!

Backyard Reno Problem #3

Now for a big problem. This problem cost us almost $3K. We failed the building inspection. The concrete circle you see in the photo below is a one metre deep pier for which our garage will sit on. Directly below this pier is our sewer pipe! How this happened I still don’t know. Adam contacted City West Water and also dial before you dig before the pier was poured. But it happened, so we excepted it and dealt with it.


My uncle is a builder and had put my Dad onto an awesome plumber years ago. It’s nice having tradies you trust! So we gave Barry (BAZZA!) from Wizard Plumbing a call and he solved all our problems. Well, all of problem 2 and 3! He came over within a few days of our phone call with fellow wizard plumber, Adin, and diverted our sewer pipe. Sounds easy? Not so much when you’ve gotta dig a metre deep through solid clay by hand! Adin finished this and the new sewer inspection pipe and vent in two days. He worked bloody hard too. He absolutely powered through that clay. Dad and I were weatherboarding the wall of the shed next door so we all kept each other company. Except Dad and I were in the shade doing comparatively fun work, while Adin was dripping away with his crow bar and his shovel in the full sun on 30 degree days.


Just as he was about to finish, Adin got a call from Barry saying that City West Water may want to test the pipe if they do their inspection. The system is that a half hour window is set where the plumber has to be on site and City West Water have a one in 10 chance of turning up to do the inspection. So everything has to be perfect in case they do turn up, because if it’s not perfect and they turn up they’ll give you a black mark and make your life difficult. At this point, Adin had just laid the pipe and loosely covered it with crushed rock. He then had to cut the pipe to add inspection points JUST IN CASE City West Water wanted to turn up and test it. Which is ridiculous because it’s a brand new PVC pipe! If there was going to be a leak anywhere, it would be in the 130 year old clay pipe that we’d just joined our brand new pipe to! But rules and rules so it had to be done. And of course, they didn’t show for the inspection.

I had heaps more photos of this on my phone, including one of me standing in the trench so you could really see how deep it was but my phone had a problem and needed a factory reset and despite backing everything up I somehow lost my photos. Shattering! 😦 Luckily, Adam had a few snaps too.

Backyard Reno Problem #2

Note that these problems are written in no particular order, just whatever I feel like writing about at the time. This problem is with the sewer inspection pipe.

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This smiling face is the cap of a cast iron sewer inspection pipe. Of course it’s sitting up too high to be flush with the new slab. And of course it’s made out of cast iron because nothing is allowed to be simple in this project. So the whole thing needed replacing with PVC pipe.


And of course, there was no vent for it for some odd reason, so that too needed to be created.

Not a big problem, but still unexpected and therefore noteworthy. And it did delay us because we had to manage the slab design around the inspection pipe (the original design had cross beams) and we had to faff about with council to establish that we did in fact need to keep the inspection pipe. On the plus side, our new sewer inspection cap is nicer looking.

Backyard Reno Problem #1

Several problems have cropped up during the planning and building of this shed. Some are the boring council-being-very-unhelpful-and-making-you-get-SIX(yes, six)-separate-permits-to-build-a-smaller-garage-than-what-was-originally-there-and-despite-every-other-house-in-the-laneway-having-a-double-garage-or-bigger kind of problems, which I won’t bother talking about. I will mention some of the more interesting problems over a series of posts though. So, get ready for some frustration!

I mentioned in a previous post entitled Moving Vegetable Boxes about how we gained a little extra space with our new fence and wall so Adam moved the vegetable boxed back to optimise that space. And he made them PERFECT. Cut to Shed Problem #1: The excavator bumped the front box right off line.

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Not Perfect

Ahh, so annoying! Adam debated whether he could jack it up to fix it, but it needed to be tilted and turned and we didn’t want to risk breaking it. So the best way to fix it was to empty it and realign it again. So, that would mean each box has been emptied and realigned twice in the last month or so! (The first reason for this is explained in the previous vegie box moving post).


Adam’s determined face.

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Better add in an action shot. Sorry that he took his top off. A hot, sweaty, dirty, shirtless Adam is not heaps blog appropriate. That’s why I only put in two photos. And made them big ;).

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Look what sprouted up the other day: A tomato seedling! It survived the soil being shoveled in and out of this box twice and managed to self sow itself right on the very edge of the box! Good work little guy!

Sometimes You Don’t Notice How Beautiful Something Is Until You Have To Paint It


So I haven’t posted anything for ages! Simple reason is that I haven’t done anything in the garden for ages. Other than mowing the lawn and weeding, but who cares about that!? Reason being that our whole backyard is about to change. Yes, it’s happening! The grand shed building! It will look like a building too! If Adam had his way I think he would have a shed in lieu of a backyard. If I had my way we would have a normal sized garden shed. At least we both agree that it has to be neat, clean (therefore sealed and weatherproof) and organised with a shadow board and good storage shelves. But we’ve compromised on a 6×6 metre shed. I call it a shed, but really it’s a garage. We live on a busy street so Adam’s argument is that it would be good to have the option of off street parking via the ridiculously tight, long, cornered laneway at the back of our house. He was very clever and put forward the argument that I wouldn’t want to be crossing the busy road with a baby and a stroller if I couldn’t find a park in front and had to park in the car park we conveniently have across the road. The “safety of our future baby” card would probably have plucked my heart strings if we didn’t get a park right in front of our house 95% of the time and if we would actually have our shed set up to park a car. Our laneway is that narrow that we’d have to park even my little Mazda on an angle just to get in and out of our garage. Which we’d never do cos we need the storage space. Plus we’d have to reverse down the laneway up until the corner, then do a 7 point turn to face the right way to drive out the rest of the laneway onto a one-way street. Not ideal. By the way, we know all this because we set up plastic chairs as markers in the car park across the road to test how we would park our specific cars into various sized garages from our narrow laneway. Someone pulled over to ask us what we were doing.

Long story short, Adam’s obsession with having the ability to park a car on our property led us to agree on a 6×6 metre shed. And now we’re just waiting on the building permit. In the meantime, we are going to do some more painting (for a change). I HATE painting. So much! Adam is really good at going on work trips when we have most of the house to paint in a short period of time before the carpet gets installed. I’ve pretty much painted most of the inside of our house so far, with a few days of much welcomed help from Adam’s dad. I decided after I painted the kitchen and butlers kitchen by myself (keep in mind there was lots of enamel paint required for the butlers kitchen – my most favourite horribly sticky paint to work with) that the bathroom and laundry looked just fine. Especially since we’ll probably knock out some walls and move their location in the next 5-7 years if we can afford it. But just as we decided on new flooring for the laundry, kitchen and bathroom, my perfectionist fiance decided that the laundry and bathroom need painting. Since making that decision, he’s gotten rid of the sliding door in the bathroom which kept getting stuck and our guests would think they were locked in the bathroom for good. We went to an awesome place which has everything old. They had about 50 doors just from the Victorian era to choose from. Since it was a pretty small doorframe, we only had a choice of one out of the 50 that could reasonably be cut down to fit. So we now have a swinging door to the bathroom. It looks great! Adam did an amazing job! Gone are the days when he was useless at handiwork. Growing up around a handy dad and brother, I just thought men knew how to do stuff, and was always baffled that Adam didn’t just know stuff. Apparently it’s not always innate. But it can be learned! And, as I mentioned before, Adam is a perfectionist. So the door is PERFECT. Our new flooring is meant to be installed in less than two weeks. I put it back a month today. It’s just so much easier painting when you don’t have to worry about the floor, and I reckon painting prep will have only just be finished by then. It is lovely that Adam is such a perfectionist. He takes pride in our house and in the work he does to improve it. He would’ve been horrified if he saw my painting prep for the rest of the house!

So the point of this post: since we decided to paint, I’m taking more notice of the details in these rooms that will need painting. And I’ve never really taken the time to look at the beautiful hinges on our laundry cupboard doors. To be fair, I have to stand on tip toes and make a funny face to reach the cupboards. But they are lovely hinges. And these would’ve been put in around the 60s because the laundry is in the extended part of our house. They may be older though because the guy who owned our house then was a builder and he pinched stuff from building sites and added it to our house. Probably why we have an industrial style exhaust fan in our kitchen. Gives our house even more character! (Something it’s oozing with in good and bad ways!).