Reno's at Shamley Green

Dave got busy at the end of his 3 week break when Zac was born and decided to do some renovation work. It's still on-going :) Here are the earlier stages, and below is where I'm up to now:

Click here for "Before Pics" & Stage 1 - Demolish brick fireplace and chimney

Click here for Stage 2 - Remove high slab behind fireplace

Click here for Stage 3 - Pour new slab

Click here for Stage 4 - Install new slow combustion fireplace

Click here for Stage 5 - Install Steel PFC spanning beam

Stage 6 - Under floor heating & Tiling + Skylight

The old concrete slab was all over the shop in terms of smoothness / flatness / slope and levels. My tiler recommended a sand and cement screed bed of 20 to 50mm thick laid over the concrete slab to create a very flat and smooth surface (hopefully also in one plane). When using large tiles (ours are 600 x 600 porcelain tiles) it is hard to get edges aligned and the tile surface in the same plane (the end result aimed for is a single sheet of "glass" with a grid of grout) as there is only so much adjustment you can make with adhesive thickness. Here are the before and after shots:

However, before tiling, I needed to lay some underfloor heating. This is basically a long wire with an earthed shield connected to a thermostat - passing electricity through it creates heat just like a radiant bar heater. After taping the wire to the screed slab, you lay a green fibreglass mesh over the top to protect it during tiling. It is really important to not cut or damage the wire or else you end up with a broken circuit and it won't work. The company provides a small device which attaches to the heater wire and beeps if the circuit is cut, or the resistance changes. We had a close shave when some water was spilled over the cable - there must have been some wear in the outer insulating material allowing the earth shield to discharge into the water and triggering the alarm - but we figured out the problem and kept going. The heater and mat is <3mm thick but the connectors need to be chased into the slab, then the wires run up inside the wall to a thermostat:

Having finished all that, the tiler spent a week laying our tiles and grouting. As Kay was in Japan, I went to the auctions in Sydney and purchased some limestone-imitation porcelain tiles for $15 a square metre, which compared to $160 for the local tile shops limestone / marble tiles was an absolute bargain and saved us thousands (~35 square metres). The tile shops had some porcelain tiles for $60 square metre which didn't look as good, so I highly recommend Laws Auctions :) Unfortunately I couldn't buy the border / feature tiles I wanted from there, so I had to do the rounds of the local tile shops. I needed 30 sheets (300 x 300mm sheets) at $22 each which cost more than the porcelain main tiles, but as some shops wanted to charge $10 a sheet more for exactly the same thing, it was worth the hassle to shop around. When the tiler was grouting the feature tiles some dirty water stained the light beige porcelain tile edges which we are hoping will buff out when the floor polisher comes next week . . . I masked the rest of the feature tiles and overall, it looks pretty good so far:

As I was working for the 3 weeks between arriving back from Japan and Kay arriving back, I organised a builder friend to install our new skylight. It's supposed to be pretty schmick (a top-of-the-range model from Velux) with electric remote control operation and rain sensors to automatically close it when it rains, but the sensors don't work that well IMHO, and there are a few faults I'm not that happy with. Live and learn . . .

Here's the room pretty much as it is now. Still to come include downlights (maybe with remote-controlled dimmers), painting ceiling and walls, re-locating the Home Theatre gear, polishing and sealing the tiles and timber flooring for the hallway (perhaps also with under floor heating - I've found a much cheaper company in Bulgaria selling better heating mats direct) and way way down the track a fish tank in the wall adjoining the study. It'll be great to actually relax in it with new furniture hopefully early next year!

Last Updated: 1st December, 2006 23:45