Wednesday 7 January 2015

Finishing Touches

The Christmas/New Year period should have been spent at the beach and lazing around, but there is no rest for the diligent owner builder so our time was divided between the beach and finishing lots of little building tasks, that all together ended up taking a long time.

Quick and easy was the replacement of the rusted handles on the flyscreens of the sliding doors. After less than a year the handles had started showing signs of rust and after a year and a half they were clearly unacceptable. I phoned up my window supplier, Rylock, expecting to have to explain in detail how the flyscreen door pulls had rusted in such a short time, but to my surprise they were really good about it. Rylock explained that their supplier had changes where they sourced the handles though without notifying Rylock and that the quality had changed. Rylock then sent me out new door pulls for all the flyscreen doors, and with a couple of screws the door pulls were replaced. The new ones look great and just as well as they have the company name on them in big letters.

Rusted door handles

New door handles
Another quick job that had been waiting a longtime to be done was installing the vent to the kitchen range hood. I had earlier painted a plastic gravity closing vent in a colour to match the render (I had used this paint to fix up minor blemishes in the joint between the ceiling and walls. I just used 38mm screws to hold the vent in place and screwed them straight into the hemp wall without using a pilot hole. It held tight no worries. But my tip for other screwing into hemp walls is to screw until tight but do not try to over tighten as this may cause the screw to loosen and come out.

Exhaust fan vent installed
The temporary door to the bathroom was replaced by the real one and lockable door handles (although or sliding doors they are really door pulls) were installed on both bathroom doors. The door trims were also added to each of the sliding doors to hide the track system at the top.

Lockable door handle

Trim to cover sliding door track
The remainder of the Colorbond angles were installed to cover any gaps between the walls and the eaves lining. And Colourbons cover strips were added to the mitred corners of the eaves lining.

Corner of eaves lining
Sikaflex Sikasil-C silicon in charcoal colour was used to fill the gaps between the polished concrete and the aluminium frame of the sliding doors. The gaps varied from very little up to about 8mm and varied along the length of the same sliding door, but once filled were hardly noticeable.

The big job for the holidays was cleaning the outside of the windows, something that had not been done since the windows wee installed. Although they had been covered with plastic during the rendering some of the windows and particularly the fly screens were filthy and quite difficult to clean.  Big thanks to my partner and my sister for dedicating part of their holiday to this task.

Next job was sealing the gaps between the windows and the render. In places the render came right up to the window frame but in others there was a substantial gap up to 10mm and over some of the sliding doors even more. I used sandstone coloured Sikaflex Pro polyurethane sealant to fill the gap. Where the gaps were large I pressed foam backing rod into the gaps before applying the sealant. This was a much bigger and more time consuming job than I had expected. It was also pretty messy. I am getting better but there is still room for me to improve my sealant application. Big thanks to my plumber, Len, for putting me onto a produce called Silicone Clean up by Red Back, it did what it says and cleaned up that last little bit of excess silicone that is usually hard to remove.

Putting in the foam backing rod

Sealant around windows
About a week or two before Christmas there had been a week of heavy rain at Culburra. We noticed some unusual black marks on the southern side of a number of walls. the marks were less than 1m off the ground and we assumed that it was dirt splashed up from the gutters overflowing in heavy rain. But when I tried to wash it off it would not wash off and then I noticed some of the same marks on the upper outside wall of the front bedroom this wall is the only section on the house without eaves and although it faces south east at this time of year it does get some sun and gets plenty of ventilation. Could this be mould? I though that the lime in the render would prevent any mould. We are yet to work out what the marks are and what has caused them. It is just a little distressing to have such problems on a house that is not quite finished.

Close up of southern wall of main room

Patch of black marks

Black marks on upper wall section

A few more cracks have also appeared in the render. Interestingly the places the render has cracked do not coincide with areas where there was cracking in the hemp walls or the walls were less well built. The high level cracks are most likely caused by a change in the thickness of the hemp wall. The roof beams were cut down at the eaves so that they were not so thick, but this meant on the inside we could only hemp up to the bottom of the full beams but on the outside we hand to hemp another half a beam higher to reach to bottom of the cut down beams. My belief is that this change is a cause of the cracking and if this is the case the hemp wall must also have cracked to cause the render to crack, but the hemp walls had more than 12 months to dry out before being rendered. Another problem I am trying to find the cause of.

Cracks in render just under eaves
More cracks in render
 On the up side we now have a beautiful house to enjoy. Next project building the shed, using all the left over building materials.

Finished house

With decks to enjoy


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