In / Set me a challenge

There’s an amazing feeling about living in a space you’ve made. It’s funny, we’ve lived in places we’ve worked on before, and yes, technically we didn’t build this house. It is, technically, a renovation.

But there’s not much of the original left. Even what you see in this photo didn’t all survive:


So I feel like I have intimate knowledge of this building. Between us we’ve laid hands on nearly every stud, if not every stud. We’ve fixed, tweaked, repaired, replaced, renewed this building.

And it’s weird. There’s this incredible satisfaction which I can’t really describe. This munging together of pride, exhuberance, enthusiasm, and at times fear. On the one hand, whenever I wake up and look at the ceiling I know that we built it.

I look at walls and know that every inch of that is our work. Yes, we had people help and indeed the final finish on the walls is not ours. It’s definitely more skilled work than we could do with lime. But it’s still a thin skin over our building work.

And I’m proud of what we built. Of its compromises and quirks.

Of course, the fear is whenever something doesn’t work or there’s an odd sound, I’m hit by the pounding “Oh god, what did I/we do wrong?” There was a massive hail/rainstorm a week or so ago, and we were both jolted from sleep by a massive downpour. And my first thought was “oh holy fuck, what’s gone wrong?”

So we’ve been doing some progressy things – we cleared the attic (a big job), took a bunch of stuff to Habitat for Humanity, we bought furniture and assembled it, and much of the kitchen is in. The dishwasher does, actually, fit. Incredibly. There’s just one cabinet to go in and we’ll be done on the installation of cabinets.

So that’s all good.

We do need to come up with a solution for a worktop (they are insanely expensive). And there’s a massive list of things to do.

But one of the highest priority items is also proving to be impossible. Or at least quite challenging. The stuff we’ve chosen to use for the wood finish is called “AFMSafecoat Oil Wax”. It’s lovely. However, despite being Low VOC it still stinks, so we really want to use it outside. Which is all very well, except the current weather forecast is wet +/- a peak of about 7 degrees C.

It can’t be applied below about 20 degrees C.

Now the online version of the specs says below about 15C and I figured I could probably throw enough heat at the garage, despite the vents, to get at least a small zone of it up to a high enough temperature. But… no, even that’s not happening.

Again, we’re bitten by the fact that what we really want to do is have power and light in the garage, and the cheapest way to do that as a DIYer is to throw the boxes in the wall – saving on miles and miles of conduit and fittings (and also it reduces the amount of plastic we’re throwing into the world). So because of that we didn’t put insulation or drywall in the garage. And because of that, we can’t heat it, even with throwing a fan heater in there. Why not? Well, it’s got a huge roof vent running the entire length of the roof.

My original thought was that the main problem would be that the garage is full of shit. Mainly it’s full of the wood that will be the battens on the house. That is occupying a good 1/2 of the floorspace that was dedicated for storage of equipment (table saw, shelves), and that means that I can’t get those things out of the way, so they’re now occupying floorspace that was meant to be working area. Also, because of the enormous pile of rocks outside the garage, Rebecca is parked diagaonally across the garage making working around her difficult. But I’d worked out a resolution of sorts to that problem.

But this whole ‘needs to be at 20 degrees’ thing is a big challenge. My friend’s workshop isn’t heated like that, I can’t think of a space I could use as a workshop that is. So we need a bit of a mull on that one.

I’ve been working on the lighting. We are missing the two kitchen lights because they needed complete renovation. I spent the last few days working on them – using a tap/die set to recut the threads that had been lost when the wire supports broke, which it turns out was not because I’m a numpty, but because they were rusted solid.

I then spent a day wire brushing them and getting them prepped for spraying, then giving them a coat of grey paint.


And finally reassembling them. Then it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t actually have all the bits I’d need. As we had it, the bulbs would hang…right in the centre of what used to be the vents for allowing hot air to escape from the large halogen or possibly arc discharge lights that were used in these.


So I finally hit up the local lighting store. I didn’t have high hopes, they look like a generic lighting supplier, but it turns out they repair lights and have a stock room in the back which has a selection of common parts…at a much lower price than we’ve paid elsewhere. And without shipping :-)

And supporting a local business.

So that was cool.

And then I brought them home and sprayed them, along with the bits from the really crappy lights we got from Beautiful Halo which I sanded the worst of the rust from…


Unfortunately, the new paint reacted with the old paint… but hopefully it will look adequate at the distance it is from us.