It can rain like out of buckets, with thick heavy raindrops pelting down like the clouds ripped open. The pouring rain blurs your vision like a waterfall curtain and everything is instantly soaked wet.
All the water from the roof and the terrace flows into the garden.
When our builder’s workers started applying the primer on our interior doors while they were still hanging, I knew this would end badly.
So I decided to save some costs and paint the doors myself. It couldn’t get worse than how it had been done so far.
Of course I knew nothing about painting doors, so I first had to do my research which I’m happy to share:
Good Practices for Painting Interior Doors
1) Lay down the door flat on saw horses
Painting a new interior door is easiest on saw horses:
– Only when the door is removed from the frame can you reach all the edges. Especially new doors need to be sealed everywhere to prevent moisture from entering – that includes the bottom edge.
– Only when the door is lying flat down can you achieve a smooth streak-free paint finish. It is easy to miss drips and runs leaving unsightly paint marks on your door. Plus you’ll avoid any mess on the walls and floors.
If the door is already installed, take it off for painting. Interior doors are hollow and easy to remove from the hinges.
2) Clean the door
Make sure there is no residue or grime on the door that would spoil the paint.
Wipe the door clean with soapy lukewarm water.
3) Sand down the door
If new or old, before painting you need to roughen up the surface.
Use a sanding block for profiled moldings and sandpaper on flat boards to smoothen any irregularities.
Clean up the dust with a vacuum or brush and damp cloth.
4) Fix any holes
Should the door have any holes, cracks or scratches, fill them before applying any primer or paint.
5) Dampen the surface
This trick is meant to help you achieve a smooth paint finish:
Wet the door’s surface slightly with a sponge or cloth.
When applying paint on the damp surface, it’ll take longer to dry, giving you more time to smoothen out any unwanted streaks or tears.
6) Prime the door
New doors need to be primed to ensure good adhesion of the finish coats. Already painted doors need no primer if they’re in good condition.
Apply one coat of primer and let it dry.
Sand down any irregularities.
7) Paint the door
The best way to avoid brush marks is by avoiding using brushes. Only paint the tricky parts like edges and ornamental designs with brushes.
Use a foam roller on all straight surfaces for an even looking finish. You might need to apply an extra coat, if the foam roller spreads the coat too thin.
Apply as many layers of paint as needed for a great finish. If you can still spot some irregularities, give it one more coat. It actually goes quick and will leave you truly happy with the result.
The excitement of excavating something shiny when cleaning up the garden soil from rubble and debris!
I gave this Mother of Pearl button a rinse and it’s gleaming in the sun.
According to Vintage Button Emporium this nacre button is even worth something, like a pound or two. It is the rim that makes it more valuable than just a plain version. Craftsmanship is always worth something.
Interestingly, this button seems to have been fastened with a metal noose, which is still attached to it. So was it part of some sort of uniform maybe?
If you know more about The Broken Palace or the people who lived there and what happened that we’re digging up so many artefacts. please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂
Far from that: The dogs start digging and I start collecting. This is the result of only one of their digging holes. I don’t even know what half of these things are.
The metal bits sit compacted on top of each other. Like parts of a house that has collapsed and been buried.
In a matter of one session of removing all items from the ground that could pose a danger to digging puppy paws, this is what I collect. Besides gazillions of nails and other unidentifiable scrap metal.
What happened to The Broken Palace that once stood here? Are these the remains? How come this never got cleared up? If you know more, kindly get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de
This is the reason why I start excavating when our dogs start digging: Rusty nails.
They are everywhere in the ground of our garden. When the dogs are digging, I have to extract the nails, preferably before the dogs even reach them. Who knows where they come from, but best to get rid of them before they come too close to any soft dog paws.
Only one hole dug by the dogs contains a variety of numerous nails making me wonder how it came to be that The Broken Palace was destroyed.
From masonry nails to tiny screws, from bolts to cut clasp nails to staple fasteners, this is a collection of pretty much every nail type there is. So how did all of these come to be in our ground?
If you know more about The Broken Palace please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂
The more surprising when it’s still intact and traceable: I’m always amazed that it is still possible to excavate entirely intact bottles. After removing the garden soil with a digger back to ground level, hacking at the clay earth to loosen it up, and dogs digging up the rest:
How amazing that this vial didn’t break. And it’s sealed! With something inside! 😮
It is even possible to read the pressed imprint of the manufacturer’s signature: Heynes Mathew Ltd.
Now, there’s something to research! And it comes up with results, even with dates:
Extract from The Cape Town Guide (1897) p139:
“Heynes, Mathew & Co. – This firm so widely know throughout South Africa was established in Cape Town at the beginning of the century. Their operations increased so rapidly that they found it necessary a year or two ago to construct new premises, and these are now amongst the most attractive in Cape Town. Heynes Mathew & Co.’ Building is six stories high, and is situated at the corner of Adderly and Longmarket Streets. The first floor is let to various tenants, but the remainder of the building is devoted to the requirements of their large business. They manufacture numerous specialities for their trade, and are agents also for many remedies which have a world-wide reputation.”
After excavating what appears to be a door knocker, I thought I had dug out a door bell next.
Wondering why you’d want both – maybe the people at The Broken Palace were especially hospitable – I’d better double check.
As I started researching my find I quickly realised things didn’t add up. The mechanism of a push button door bell would look very different:
Instead there are three prongs sticking out at the backside similar to the Australian thee pin plug:
So maybe this is an antique cord plug for lamps or fans like these:
Quite a resemblance:
However, the shape of the three pins is quite different. Some similar looking plugs refer to ‘early’ electric style, so maybe this is what plugs used to look like in South Africa in the early days of electricity?
If you know what this could be, or have references to antiques in South Africa, or remember The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂
Progress in our garden is slow: There’s still so much fixing going on around the house, that our backyard is mostly abused as a storage facility.
So when finally the east wall got done, we had some extra space freed up to move the concrete blocks.
And the rest was left to play:
Like tending to a zen garden, an empty space is quite inviting to be reflective and creative.
The first time the concrete blocks turned into an interactive group seating area:
Now the concrete blocks form a centre piece, as the garden work will continue along the garden wall. They cover quite a bit of ground, which will prevent dust being blown around. And they stretch out like a giant sofa, an outdoor lair, complete with backrest and bird bath. And of course, the braai at the back:
With water restrictions plans for our garden are changing, so let’s see what the next giant lego reshuffle will look like. 🙂
Do we need a bath, isn’t that just a water waster? Should we have the shower in the bath or stand-alone? And if we go for a separate shower cubicle, can we at least have a handshower in the bath tub?
The handshower it is, and thank goodness!
Who would’ve thought we end up with this one handshower as the only water point in the entire house besides the showers, meaning we washed our hands, did our dishes, brushed our teeth, all with this one handshower.
According to The Antique Floor Company:
CGCB is the inscription for the Compagnie Générale de la Céramique du Batiment (commonly shortened to Cerabati), a period ceramic tile producer which were an amalgamation of some of the older companies in Paray-le-Monial, Bourgogne and other usines around France.
As per Mario Baeck‘ doctoral thesis “The Flourishing of Belgian Ornamental Tiles and Tile Panels in the Art Nouveau Period”:
In addition to these floor tile factories there were a few earlier established factories, which made fireproof fireplace tiles, floor quarries and tiles for other forms of heavy use, such as the S.A. de Produits Réfractaires et Céramiques de Baudour and Utzschneider, Jaunez et Cie in Jurbise, established in 1876 by Charles Michelet.
As researched for GR-Atlas all these different factories united under one name in 1921:
En 1921, les différentes usines de la société Utzschneider et Edouard Jaunez deviennent La Compagnie Générale de la céramique de bâtiment ou Cerabati.
It also states that due to difficulties this factory closed in 1985:
Cependant, dans les années 1980, le site connaît des difficultés et l’usine ferme définitivement en 1985.
So this tile could date back as far as 1921, but it is definitely from before 1985. Even if it’s not antique that still makes it vintage.
Was this maybe a tile in the fire place of The Broken Palace? And was it common practice to use imported tiles from Europe?
If you know more about Woodstock’s unique history, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de
“Homeowners can avoid many exterior wood-finishing problems by first treating with a WR or WRP solution to guard against damage to the wood and paint caused by water and by decay and stain fungi (mildew).
WR or WRP treatment of wood is recommended both before painting and also as a natural finish for wood.”
and concludes in their PDF ‘Water Repellents and Water-Repellent Preservatives for Wood’:
“Water-repellent preservatives can be used as natural finishes and can greatly improve the durability and appearance of wood exposed outdoors.
They can also be used as pretreatments prior to the initial painting of wood. The water repellent improves the dimensional stability of the wood, and the preservative improves the mildew resistance of the paint. These properties work in concert to extend the service life of the paint.”
So as long as we’re using water repellent preservatives that are paintable, we can start with the WRP wood treatment, and still apply paint later.
While this still doesn’t answer the question for us, it gets us a step closer! 😛
As the cement is eating through your skin, you only feel the real pain when the outer layer has breached. Now the cement reacts with the water coming out from your wounds. At this point it gets difficult to simply wash off the plaster, as the chemical reaction progresses:
What to consider when building a new wall onto an old wall
1) Foundation: The new wall must sit on the same level foundation as the old wall.
“Where no foundations exist the new wall will not be on solid footings and will sag or crack. A single wall no higher than 1.8 metres requires a 300mm deep x 300mm wide footing, while a double wall, or a wall higher than 1.8 metres should be 600mm deep x 300mm wide.”
“The success of a join in the wall without any cracking still lies in the foundation, however. Any movement of the foundation will result in a crack in the wall. Proper compaction of the new area before digging foundations is important. Alternatively, dig down to solid ground before laying the foundation. There is no short way to do it properly.”
3) Joint: The two walls need a joint between them. There are different types, but basically a joint is a gap between the two building parts.
“Most materials experience small changes in dimensions, due to temperature changes, moisture changes, sometimes long-term chemical changes, and loading. Dimensional changes by themselves do not necessarily cause problems, but if the movement is restrained by contact with another part of the construction which is unaffected, or behaves differently, it can result in cracking or overstressing of some elements, and possibly in structural failure.
The usual way of combating relative movements is to provide control joints, which are capable of opening or closing to a certain extent while continuing to provide the structural and enclosure functions of the element.
Movement of the foundations will also cause relative movement of parts of the construction, and is sometimes compensated by the provision of control joints, but this is a different type of movement and its magnitude is more difficult to predict. This is known as articulated masonry, and can be useful for constructing small buildings on relatively unstable sites.
Control joints are by definition a discontinuity in the wall, and thus they reduce the amount of support given to one part of the wall by the remainder of it, or by the building’s frame. In many cases it will be necessary to use sliding wall-ties to transmit some support across the joints.
The joints also must be sealed to maintain the integrity of weatherproofness, acoustic and fire isolation.”
“Brick is the smallest dimension it will be in its long service life when it leaves the kiln. As it is exposed to moisture from a variety of sources including the air, wet mortar, rain and condensation, it will naturally expand since it is a clay product. Temperature will also cause brick to expand and contract. Consequently, it is important to incorporate expansion joints into brickwork to accommodate this movement. Expansion joints should be located where stresses or cracks are likely to develop in brickwork. Prime candidates for expansion joints include long expanses of walls, corners, offsets, setbacks, and parapets.”
“Slip joints are designed to take movement on a load bearing structure such as corbel/slab and brick interfaces where a low friction sliding interface is required. They ensure that the load transfer is correctly through the centre of the horizontal joint thus eliminating any chance of fretting at the edge due to the rotation of the slab. Live load deflection of the slab by means of settlement of adjacent columns/walls and piers is also diminished. Applied in a continuous length they are ideal for both reinforced and post-tension slabs in car parks, shopping centers, airports, hotels and recording studios.”
“Toothing-in or Toothing-out involves hacking away every other brick in the main building at the point you want to join the extension wall to and then make a seamless connection from the main building with the house extension. For this to be possible, the builder needs to build with the exact brick size and for the bricks to be perfectly aligned with the existing building when constructing the extension.”
“Toothing of the masonry is not permitted in many architectural specifications. Why does toothing provide less strength than raking or stepping back the masonry wall?
Toothing is not as strong because of the difficulty involved in properly filling and compacting the mortar for the full depth of the head and bed joints. Much of the mortar at the tooth portion of the wall must be installed by pointing the joints, and it is difficult to point the mortar in the back portion of the joints. As a result, these tooth joints are often poorly filled, and as a result, create a weak plane within the wall that is susceptible to cracking.
Toothing, however, is sometimes necessary when connecting to an existing wall. If the joint cannot be stepped back, providing a vertical expansion joint at such interfaces may be an alternative to toothing.
When toothing must be done, extreme care must be taken to carefully point these joints to ensure that they are completely packed with mortar for the full depth.”
So when our builder said we’d be moving in by December, and then moved the move-in date to March, and then still did not look like he’s going to make it, we set the deadline to June. And made it very clear that we will be in, if the house is ready or not.
Of course, the house was not ready.
But we moved in anyway.
It was crazy, we literally lived on a construction site.
We had no kitchen and no water taps, no sofas and no space to sit, no cupboards or anywhere to hang clothes, not all the doors making it really very open plan. It was like doing an AfrikaBurn in our own house.
You will hear from anyone that living in the property while it’s busy being renovated / finished is a nightmare. Unfortunately you might have to face it if you want the building work to get done.
Renovating a heritage house in Woodstock comes with lots of surprises. Turns out our garden is full of them too!
Loving urban gardening we can’t wait to grow our own herbs and veggies.
But the ground in our garden is not what the lush grass field might have indicated.
Instead of digging up rich soil, we have to tackle the solid surface with pick axes.
Beneath lies one jaw-dropping curiosity after another:
From dishes and pots and pans, to tools and screws and metal plates, to clothing, in particular shoes, also lots and lots of buttons, to entire intact bottles and lots and lots of glass shards, many many stompies,
to tiles that can be puzzled together from the broken pieces, metal roof sheeting, wooden floors, to entire bricks and even four matching columns,
to old light bulbs, coins from the 1950s, to lots and lots of bones, teeth, hair clips, marbles and other toys,
we’ve probably dug up an entire house by now, together with its contents.
So what happened here?
Neighbours tell me there once stood a house called “The Broken Palace”.
One anecdote goes that, as the naughty boys ran away from the police, they’d take a shortcut into the alleyways behind The Broken Palace. A fishing net would catch the police, as only the boys knew where to slip through.
As we’re uncovering more objects from the depths of our garden, we can only imagine the stories that took place here.
Do you remember The Broken Palace? Does any of the items we found in our garden jog some memories? If so, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂
Of course the lavatory has a door, but other than that everything is freely accessible without any barrier in the way: The wet area is only divided from the main bedroom by a freestanding wall. Basin, bathtub and shower are enclosed in niches, and thus need no doors.
It makes the entire bedroom feel like a hotel suite, where you can just throw your clothes on the easy chair and simply walk into the shower as is. It is an invitation to let loose and enjoy the basics of life, unimpeded, surrounded by ergonomic functionality, everything is a flow.
But of course, in a hotel suite there are hardly ever puppies or children.
With unhindered access in a completely open plan house, and the everlasting attention seeking impulse to follow or find you wherever you go, the only hiding place that remains is, ehem, the toilet.
But then again, who’d ever want to hide away from these cuties anyway. 😉
So yes, thanks to our open plan, me taking a shower means our puppy taking a shower. And tappeditapp her wet footprints are everywhere. 🙂
“One of the primary components in dog urine that affects shrubs and other plants is urea, a type of nitrogen waste that is produced as the body metabolizes protein. Because dogs have a large protein requirement in their diets, a significant amount of urea can be produced by a healthy dog. When a dog pees on your shrubs, the urea in the urine acts as a source of nitrogen for the plant and the surrounding soil.
Nitrogen is an essential element for plant development, and in small amounts the nitrogen provided by dog urine can actually benefit your shrubs.
While shrubs need nitrogen for proper growth and development, too much nitrogen can be detrimental; it can stunt or potentially even kill the shrub.” – Will Dog Pee Kill Shrubs?
How to prevent dog pee from damaging your plants
– Protect your plants
While fencing your garden off is a bit of a harsh way to keep your dog out, raised flower beds are just as effective and have other practical benefits.
– Train your dog not to pee on the grass
“Provide an area in your yard, away from your garden, consisting of sand and soil covered in mulch or pebbles, where your dog can urinate without harming any of your plants or lawn. Plant salt-resistant greenery and grasses near this potty spot, in case it has any accidents. These plants are typically found along the coast and are more urine-resistant than other flora.” – Does Dog Pee Hurt Plants?
– Steer away from (distressed looking) plants and trees
“Of course, a dog’s gotta go when a dog’s gotta go. But when you have the option, steer Fido to a lamppost rather than a tree and a bark covered area rather than a stressed-looking lawn. You can spot stressed trees by bark that is discolored or even peeling off around the base. And trees that are under six inches in diameter or have thin bark are at higher risk.” – Why Does Dog Pee Kill Plants?
– Keep the pH in balance
“For the health of both your dog and your lawn, you should strive to keep your pet’s urine pH right around 6.5, and no higher than 7.
I recommend buying pH strips from your vet or at the local drug store to check your pet’s urine pH at home so you know when it’s in or outside the desired range. In the morning prior to feeding your dog is when you should collect the urine sample. You can either hold the pH tape in the stream of urine while your dog is voiding, or you can catch a urine sample in a container and dip the tape into the sample to check the pH.” – 3 Reasons Your Dog’s Urine Kills Your Grass
How to help your plants recover from dog pee
– Neutralise the soil
“You will need to neutralize the acid fairly quickly or your vegetables will not survive – my father’s trick was to use a few tablespoons of baking soda in a watering can and water the area.” – Is Dog Urine Bad for My Vegetable Garden?
“After your dog urinates on any plants in your yard, douse the area with water from your garden hose. A thorough rinsing of the area within eight hours of urination dilutes the urine enough to prevent damage to the plant, according to VeterinaryPartner.com. Don’t wait more than 12 hours to rinse the plants because this could actually increase the damage to the plant. Provide your dog with plenty of water to drink, which dilutes the urine even before it winds up in your garden.” – Does Dog Pee Hurt Plants?
– Treat dog urine as fertiliser
If you fertilise your lawn, take into account the overfertilisation your dog can provide and avoid fertilising these areas on top of it.
– Consider plants that like dog wee
“Selecting plants that can survive getting drenched in dog urine is a good idea around your property perimeter. Violas, columbine, lilac, ornamental grasses and a host of other plants are virtually urine proof. Make sure the border plants are not poisonous to dogs.” – How to Stop Dogs From Urinating on Plants
“With a little planning, you can easily grow small “turf repair” pots in your back garden. All you need is a small plastic flower pot (3 inch is fine), fill it with some soil, either compost or garden soil, then sow a few grass seeds in the top. Give it a good water and leave it outside somewhere keeping it moist over the next week or so. When your dog has burnt a section of lawn, simply dig out the circle, drop your lawn repair pot grass into the hole and hey presto … fixed! You can set up a number of these pots next to your shed and the grass will sit happily in the pot until needed.” – Dog urine patches killing your lawn?
You know, people say Woodstock is a bad place and anyone who mentions they’re from Woodstock gets this short flicker of pity as a response before everyone chimes in how it’s up and coming… 😛
Being born and bred in Woodstock, I can only say: We’re having nothing but fun!
Here it’s still wild, you can play on the streets, you can hang on the corner, there’s always someone around and people leave their door open, so when you walk down the street you can see everyone’s corridor, like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Things are happening here, every day is different.
But things got very different lately that we’re having a lot of upheaval with the neighbouring plot. All of the sudden all the peace and quiet is gone, and we’re disrupted by building works and general turmoil.
It used to be a peaceful place where my parents had built a shack from all the surrounding materials and because the supply was endless, they added on another room and extended the back and still had space for a nursery. Times were plentiful and we quickly grew in numbers.
So to have all this unsettled just because of some newbie neighbours who think they can make it all better was really upsetting. And while our philosophy is to stay back and let the bad smells pass (the southeaster usually takes care of things), this lot was particular obnoxious in their mission to ‘clean up the place’.
So one evening when we were enjoying just another awesome sunset with a sip of dad’s homebrew, we got an idea: Let’s just run over to the neighbour’s property, break in and poop all over the show!
And we did just that, and even took photos of it and posted them on the internet:
We had such a blast!
At first we were scared that someone might see us. But then we thought: So what if they see us? It’s not like they can catch us!
Once in, we had to find our orientation to figure out the best spot to place our poo. I chose the first corner from the corridor into the main landing. Like you can’t miss it! As I sat there, I let my eyes wander and realised what an awesome place this was:
There was rotten wooden beams and rusty roof sheeting scattered on the floor, perfect hiding places. There were bags of cement at the end, awesome climbing walls! And the best of it: There were holes all over the place, and just in the perfect size for us to squeeze through. Shortcuts only a rat can take!
Thrilled by having accomplished our very dangerous but effective task of showing our disgust with our new neighbours, we ran around the house, checking out every corner and nook.
We sneaked up onto each other and ended up playing hide-and-seek and catch-me-if-you-can. Just as my sister got me and was tickling me senselessly – I was laughing so hard, the metal sheeting started wobbling – we heard something!
We both froze instantaneously, but it was too late: The initial fright had made me jump and brought the metal sheeting off balance: it slipped and crashed on the floor with a bang.
“Eiiii!” we screamed in an eardrum-rupturing high pitch of fright and ran off.
But just a couple of jumps down the line we realised no-one was following us and couldn’t help ourselves but giggling from excitement all the way home.
So yeah, I love Woodstock, things are real here. 🙂
Not all polystyrene sheets are usable for insulation.
For example, if they were made for packaging purposes, they probably don’t have many benefits for insulation.
In addition there can be safety implications: Polystyrene is highly flammable, that’s why it has been treated with flame retardants when manufactured for insulation purposes.
There are two different types used for insulation: EPS and XPS, with XPS being the much more efficient option:
EPS = Expanded Polystyrene Insulation is less dense and cheaper than the other polystyrene insulation. It is also less effective.
The size of the roof overhang depends on the property.
For example: On very tall buildings, there are hardly any benefits of roof overhangs as the surface areas of the walls are so high. But roof overhangs are a great system to protect houses 3 stories and under.
As if counting stairs wasn’t tricky enough, let’s look at how to measure them. 🙂
Definition of stairs
Stairs are a series of steps on a stringer that lead from one level or floor to another.
A step consists of a
– tread, the top surface of a step or stair, and a
– riser, the vertical section between the treads of a staircase.
The stringer is the inclined beam that supports the steps, quasi the backbone of the stairs.
Sometimes the tread overhangs the riser to create more space for feet, this is called nosing.
How to measure stairs
You measure the total rise of a staircase from the bottom of the first floor to the top of the second floor.
Note: Ensure this measurement goes to the top of the second floor, not to the bottom of it. Remember from ‘How to count stairs‘ that the staircase includes the landing, so the last step up onto the landing is the last stair to count. Accordingly the height of the stairs reaches to the top of the last stair, the last tread. It is easy to forget calculating in the last tread as it often continues into the landing and as such is not visually separated as a stair.
The total run is measured from the first riser to the last riser.
This is pretty straightforward and also helps when counting stairs: The number of risers is equal to the number of steps.
As you look at the staircase, each part that goes up vertically is a riser. The first riser starts on the bottom floor and connects to the first tread. The last riser starts on the second-last tread and reaches up to the top landing, which is the last tread.
Note: The nose has no impact on the total run or the tread depth. However, when you’re looking to lay carpet on your stairs, you need to calculate the nosing in.
Living on Table mountain’s slope anywhere in Cape Town probably means your property gets very wet during winter: Not only can it rain like out of buckets, the water masses coming down from the mountain also need to go somewhere.
To avoid damp problems arising every winter, prevention is key: Waterproofing is only half job. – Water needs to be diverted away from your house, and ample ventilation needs to be provided for moisture to evaporate.
In dense city areas, where buildings sit right on their boundary walls, there is not always space for sufficient drainage. Building into the mountain slope can mean having a higher ground level sitting right against your house wall. This is a continuous source of humidity and will cause rising damp.
As a solution the ‘French Drain’ pops up. There’s a lot to learn about French drains, so here a list of some helpful resources:
Thanks to my bad knee I developed a mild form of climacophobia, the fear of climbing stairs.
Any dodgy looking free floating staircase and I immediately freeze, knowing my knee can’t be relied upon to master any slippery slope.
So now that we’re building our own house, we get to define our own staircase, too and I’m wondering: What is the ideal spec for stairs?
I know from our structural engineer the standard spec according to the South African Building Regulations:
Depth: 250mm – the width of treads must be at least 250mm
Height: 200mm – single step risers shouldn’t be more than 200mm
But with only a depth of 25cm, already a shoe size bigger than 6 / 39 doesn’t fit flat on the step. So our plans suggest 300mm deep steps.
I guess I’ll have to be more conscious about climbing stairs and take note of those I prefer most.
What’s your favourite staircase? And what size are those steps?
The South-Easter, Cape Town’s (in)famous wind, hauled this past weekend with rain pouring down like out of buckets, causing our flat to flood. Or, as I try to euphemise it: Adorning our living room wall with a water feature… 😉
A similar sight greeted us on site, where the rain had accumulated in the trenches and wouldn’t drain off thanks to the high amount of clay in the ground.
This somewhat turned our construction site into an adventure play ground or a giant sand castle, including moat and all.
You can see, walking across the trenches over the planks turned into a bit of a tricky but also fun thing to do: 😉
Unfortunately a lot of the original heritage components of our house had been destroyed when some badly designed ‘improvements’ were made to the building over the course of the years.
Luckily however, a lot of the resources at hand had been reused around the house. This came to light, as we stripped various parts of the 100 year old building for renovation, including the old kitchen ceiling beneath the second storey sunroom.
As we want to close up the current opening for the very awkward staircase, we need the same type of timber to complete the original flooring.
Stripping the ceiling revealed those wonderful old oregon pine planks were (ab)used to hold up the rhino board.
As all of the wood is still in good condition, we decided to not replaster the ceiling but leave it exposed. Thus, we can just use the spare floorboards.
I somehow thought that the hard part – that of restoring and sourcing original heritage building components – was over.
But of course, the surprises surprises! never stop: Turns out there’s no foundation!
As the back of the house gets prepared for the new construction, the foundation is excavated. Digging always seems to come with surprises around our 100 year old property: This time we were surprised to find no foundation at all beneath the old bathroom.
Well, maybe not too surprised, this is Woodstock after all. But it means the entire bathroom needs to be demolished.
Somebody seriously just plopped an extra room on the ground. Or, worse even, as the toilet was traditionally outside of the property grounds, we assume they might have just built the bathroom around it. 😉
With the building walls being all shaky – 100 years ago they used clay instead of cement and by now it deteriorated so much, it crumbles under the slightest touch – it wasn’t clear if and how much of the entrance wall we would be able to take out.
The whole idea of moving the entrance forward is based on knocking down the wall to the old living room and turning it into an open office space.
It took the combined efforts of the neighbouring property owners to finally clean up the abandoned plot in between them:
Over the years this abandoned property caused a lot of trouble for the neighbouring houses, as the risen ground level meant damp in the building walls. Plus, any site that is not maintained invites dumping.
Our neighbour put in some effort to clean up the excess earth and build a french drain.
Nevertheless a lot of work needs to be done: The abandoned plot is still not down to ground level. The ground turns out to be so hard, it requires pickaxe and jackhammer. But it needs to be cleaned up, as it will always cause damp in the walls it touches.
Finally, the abandoned plot is down to ground level. It’s possible to see that there used to be a walkway, maybe an old service lane? And we unearthed some sort of previous building’s remains.
Unfortunately the grounds behind the vibracrete wall are still bad, with excess earth burying our house almost half deep, some old building ruins, bricks, rubble and concrete, and lots and lots of rubbish that has been dumped over the years…
At long last, after a century of standing strong, in storms of weather and history, the structure finally gave in.
And it was a gentle touch that did it in the end. A mere tap sent the column flying. Falling off the wall, for the briefest moment suspended in mid-air, gliding like one of the many seabirds that circle these grounds.
Anyway, that’s what I imagine it was like, as unfortunately I missed the moment. 😉
I’m just glad that darn thing fell now, rather than later! 🙂
Renovating our 100 year old house means we need to restore it back to its original heritage look. But what exactly is that?
Especially in a neighbourhood like Cape Town’s Woodstock, a hub of craftsmanship, you see a lot of alterations to the buildings. And, as a traditionally ‘grey’ area, with the mix of cultures every house is unique, adding to the eclectic ‘Woodstock look’, an inspiring variety of styles and colours.
The idea is to move the current entrance forward and open up the first room – the old living room – to turn it into an office.
For security reasons it is easiest to first build the new entrance and, once it is properly lockable, demolish the old entrance.
To get going we needed a new – old doorframe. New, because we couldn’t reuse the old one, and old, because to go with the Woodstock heritage regulations, we have to restore the front facade to its original look.
In order to build up two storeys at the back of the house, we have to level the ground. Over the years the ground level in the back garden has risen and we have to remove all the excess earth. Two truck loads!
Things are getting serious when this digger arrives on site.
And yet again we have suprises, suprises: Looks like there was some kind of foundation at the back of the property before. The digger is having a tough job breaking through rubble and removing it.
It’s like being on a proper construction site with these machines maneuvering around. 🙂
One of those surprises: Turns out we have to open up the side of the building, as someone drove into it and caused serious damage, letting water creep into the brickwork, making it all crumbly and loose. All the old and damp bricks have to be replaced to ensure this wall can be standing another 100 years.
As a European, if I need to find out something I turn to the internet.
In South Africa, if you manage to overcome absurd hurdles such as:
Then you’re faced with a Google search result of: very little. And then half of the information is outdated.
So, internet is often not really an option.
Instead, word of mouth rules.
You got to get up close and personal and hit the streets.
For our victorian house renovations I needed a heritage window. Just another item of my long list of ‘challenges for the day’: Where to get a 100 year old window?
I got on my bicycle and rode down the road, popping into every shop that I thought might stock or know where to get what I need.
I learned a great deal about renovations, wood, heritage, styles. It was like a big puzzle where you first had to uncover the puzzle pieces. With every person I talked to another blank got filled in, somewhat completing a bigger picture.
I also learned that the craftsmanship of working with wood is literally dying out. So even if I do find a window, who is around to restore it?
It was only with a little luck that I got the info I was after:
After a meeting at Tribe Coffee, Jake greeted me with his friendly ‘How are you?’ and I told him about my quest, searching like a detective for a victorian window.
He knew a shop, but not the name of it, so he drew me the map in the picture above.
And indeed it led me to success!
The X marks The Junction Hotel, in which Tique has set up shop. If you like antiques, but like, the real stuff, then this is a place to visit. They had exactly the victorian window we needed, beautifully restored to its original look.
So, get out there and talk to people, you never know where help might come from. 🙂
As we ‘excavated’ 100 year old wallpaper beneath all the layers of plaster and paint, we took a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship of the people who 100 years ago built this house and it’s still standing.
Well, just! With lintels missing above windows and beams stolen off columns, there’s a big portion of good luck involved in keeping this house upright. 🙂