Looking better

So the geyser (inside) plumbing is pretty much done. I finally found 90 degree 22mm solder bends at Mica in Diep River. Also bought a Ryobi belt sander for R800. The Bosch is far nicer, but also double the price.

I then went on to Builders Warehouse, their saving grace is that they’re open ’till 1900. Bought a 20L tin of primer (almost R800) and a double handful of 22mm brass compression fittings (R500). With a bit of filler here, a piece of copper pipe there, and so forth, this brings my day’s expenses to R3000. Fun.

So this morning the geyser got itself plumbed, bled, etc. Now for the outside work, which will be compression fittings and polycop pipe.

Frank’s also been busy. OK, so the picture on the right falls under “one step forward, two steps back” — the box was in the wall when I realised that I needed a second wire, because I’m running the main light off 220V and the downlights off 12V, and separate switches is the way to go.

And this was the view coming down Ou Kaapse Weg this morning. This shot taken on my mik&druk out the car window, it was a lot more impressive in real life, lemmetellya.

Cape Town. Gotta love the place.

Cheap^H^H^H^H^HLess expensive brass

This is R226 worth of brass fittings from Muizenberg market. A *lot* cheaper than buying from a hardware store.

And this is the progress I made on Saturday.

I cheated by making the frame on the ground, using No More Nails glue to hold it together (I realised that I would need four hands to build the frame in place on the ceiling). Even then it was tricky to get it tacked into position, one hand to hold the nail, one to hold the hammer, so I had to balance the other side of the frame on my head.

After the market on Sunday, Tanya and I picked some paint for the living room (off white) and Tamsyn’s room (a very light shade of purple). Also got a cheap lantern type lamp fitting for outside the back door. We then went past CTM to pick up some more spot tiles for the dining room / kitchen floor, but they’re still not in stock. While there Tanya found some light green border tiles on special, R5 each (normal price is closer to R25). We bought the lot (5 linear meters).

Sunrise from the top of Ou Kaapse Weg this morning. Cape Town is beautiful in June.

Krankenhaus im Fischwinkel

So I stuffed my back up.


Tall people don’t always have all the fun. The world is not built around (or for) us.

OK, I’m planning to remedy that in my kitchen, but that’s the extent of my control over the world.

Anyway, I leaned over Tanya’s clothes rack exercise bicycle to pick up the camera and… yowch.

Spent the night flat on my back while managing not to snore, which is a feat in itself (Tanya gives me the hairy eyeball and an elbow in the ribs if I dare to snore). 50mg Voltaren and dicloflam are my friends.

But the plumbing will have to wait.

Teaching a new dog (old) tricks

When I got hold of Frank to do the stuff around the house, I went to see a reference to find out just what I could get Frank to do and where I would need to employ someone else. I was assured that Frank could do just about anything, but that I would have to watch him “on the squares” — he has a habit of not squaring things up.

Which brings us to tiling. I was (and still am) sort of worried about Frank’s tiling abilities. So I set him to tiling the bathroom floor, both square meters of it. That came out OK (but then again, it’s hard to stuff two squares of tiles up).

But then it came to the kitchen / dining room / entrance floor. Firstly we (Tanya and I) decided to use spot tiles here and there (which I did not think was going to be a problem) and secondly, after a lot of thought (about Frank’s abilities, specifically) we decided to lay the tiles at 45 degrees to the walls.

I explained this to Frank and could see that he didn’t *quite* get it. So I explained, explained some more, figured that the lights were going on. And they were, except that after day one it’s clear that he didn’t quite get the whole spot tile thing.

So I explained some more. Showed him how to use a 45 degree mitre to draw the cut line. Explained that the spot tile is 110mm wide, so the cut line has to be 55 plus a bit from the tip of the big tile. Drew lines, drew pictures.

And told him which tiles to rip out and redo (two of the four at left, the other two just have to be cut straight).

That’s the problem with not using the professionals. I not only have to understand the job, I have to figure out how to explain the job to Frank so that he understands.

But I think the lights went on this morning, we’ll have to see…


Internet. More important than running water.

I found Lawrence’s Guide to Ordering Home DSL, which is excellent if a little outdated. It works, but I found that there’s a slightly better option.

1. Phoned Telkom around the beginning of April.

2. Technician came out on 19 May, installed the little box the phone plugs into (the house had a phone, of course, but I took advantage of the situation and moved the insulator on my side of the wire to the pole to the garage fascia, ‘cos that’s where the firewall is going to live. (Edit : Inside the garage, not outside on the fascia, of course!)

3. Phoned Telkom on the 20th of May. Oh no, have to wait two days for the line status to reflect on their system.

4. Phoned them again 22nd of May. OK, ADSL, no worries, with free modem, two year contract, no extras, I have an ISP, thankyouverymuch.

5. They phoned 2nd June, modem ready for collection.

6. I contacted Cybersmart, signed up. Saw that they have a new deal where middle-of-the-night bandwidth is 1/3 the normal price, but only if my ADSL is with them. Bugger.

So my modification to Lawrence’s guide is, go with Cybersmart for your ADSL and ISP.

It’s the final kitchen! (Well, more or less…)

I guess I can get someone in to fit the kitchen cupboards but… that’s just… not my style.

So I’m speaking to Lansdowne Boards, they can custom-make stuff, which is what I need, because of my, let’s say, unique requirements.

For example, the zink wash basin counter must be 1m high, but only 520-ish deep. The prep counter must be 1m high too. The stove lives at a standard 900 height. And because of the stove size & location (three dominos, remember), the prep counter must be 400 deep, not the standard 600. But the dishwasher has to go at the end of the prep counter, and that’s 600 deep, so the countertop has to be stepped in some way.

So I made an appointment with the fellow at Lansdowne Boards, to CAD up the kitchen. This costs R399+VAT for the first hour, but it’s worth it if you don’t know what you’re doing, like YT.

And then I spent parts of the weekend pasting little cutout shapes representing kitchen units onto a grid representing the kitchen. Not that there’s much leeway at the moment, I’d already decided (with Colin’s help) on the basic layout, and it was more a case of deciding where the drawers were going than anything else.

So this morning 0800 we sat down and played with his computer, and I came away with these pictures, as well as the set file. Which you can pull into the free-for-evaluation Kitchendraw program to manipulate.

Now we need to decide on the colour and pattern of the kitchen doors, and what the handles look like, and I want to adjust the size of the upper cabinet slightly, and then it’s write-a-cheque time.


Hennie from Fabulous Floors sanded and varnished the floors for Tanya’s activity room (left) and Tamsyn’s room (right). It cost R3363.50 (R155 per square meter).

Master bedroom

I’ve been pretty much ignoring the master bedroom, after I decided on the basic layout. OK, every now and then I’d move the furniture around a bit, and I decided that the shower must not go in the corner where the outside door is (sorry Mike).

When I finally measured the positions of the two windows, the planned wall between the bathroom and bedroom lined up with the one side of the window perfectly. Serendipity.

Tanya wants a shelf around the bed, basically forming the headboard and bedside tables. I found the Nolte-Hewitts Senator range, which received the nod of approval (the basic layout and look, I wasn’t planning to import the stuff from the UK) but then I found a picture on the Fine Home Building website — this is what we want. (I subscribed to the site a while ago, there are many articles there which are well worth a read — if you are going to be spending R100k on a DIY renovation, you should also spend the $40 for online membership).

This picture is from the article Fanciful Built-in Beds. Unfortunately the article shows more detail on the other two beds only, the single picture of this bed is given just to frustrate someone like me, who now has to figure out how the thing goes together. But I’ll work it out…

Edit, 2008-06-22 : This set is available from Tafelberg. Cheep, too. But also… I guess… the right word might be… “tacky”?

Sometimes I think I’m too lazy…

In this specific instance, too lazy to deal with finding and hiring a professional tiler, so I’m getting Frank to do the tiling. Which means that I have to tell him exactly what to do. Which means more work and stress for me, not less.

In order to not cut the tiles next to the window on the right, Frank inserted the thin strip of tiles in the middle. He’s good at thinking outside the box like this sometimes, but I don’t like it. So he’s re-doing it my way.

On the other hand, we had a “professional” tiler at Amperbo. And he didn’t do the job right, in my opinion, either.

And Frank listens to what I tell him to do, whereas the professional dude might not.

See? I can justify anything :-)

The wooden box I built behind the bath, shimmed to be exactly one tile high. This determined the level all the way through — in other words, Frank had to start two tiles lower on the wall in the first picture, making sure that he lined up with the top of the bath to bring the line through onto this box. I think figuring this out took him a whole day.

Tanya and I marked three places where we wanted the spotter tiles. This is not one of them. But it works.

Frank broke the first spotter he tried to fit into this position, so I went off to buy two more spotters this morning, one to replace the broken one and one to replace this one, which will stay. R90 each. !.

Progress update

Problem with writing a blog is that once people know about it, they start nagging if it’s not updated regularly (yes, I’m looking at you, CH). But Mondays are hectic, and so’s the end of the month, and yesterday happened to be both.

This freestanding jacuzzi was advertised in last Thursday’s Cape Ads. It’s just around the corner from where I work, and the price is good (R7500), but I have no idea how I’m going to get it on a trailer. Plans Will Have To Be Made. But the current owner first needs to get an electrician in to disconnect the thing first.

One piece of shutterboard, four blocks of wood, a few screws and a bit of cretestone, and the original doorway is no more. Doing it this way allows me to build a shelf on the other side, behind where the bath is going (you can see it on the left in the second photograph, which is basically our bathroom as it looked last Thursday — they’ve since knocked a few holes in the blue wall for the plumbing).

I had to go back to the place I bought the glass basin from, because I could not figure out how to use the supplied fasteners to fix the thing to the wall. Included in the baggie were two chemical fasteners with capscrews and washers, which must be intended for the two wall brackets. But the two chrome caps don’t fit over the capscrews. Turns out the guys who installed the demo unit had the same problem, because they ended up using fasteners which are not in the kit at all. So sometimes the suppliers of these things don’t know best. I’m planning to ditch the lot and use either rawlbolts or sommer drill a hole all the way through the wall with a piece of threaded rod and acorn nuts.

Hopefully the last brass purchase. R250 at Muizenberg market. I also bought 15m of 22mm polycop for R5 a meter — the guys estimated the length, I saw I was getting a good deal, didn’t ask for change from R80 — turned out to be 17 1/2m in total.

I also had to buy two more mixer taps, one for the bath and one for the shower. Both with diverters, since Tanya wants a hand shower by the bath. and we’re planning to fit two showerheads in the shower, depending on whether you want to wash your hair or not. On the 8th of May I paid R564+VAT for a mixer tap. On the 27th of June (7 weeks later) I paid R780+VAT for the identical tap from the same place. This is a 38% increase! The mind boggles.

Looks like our lime tree is doing well — new flowers. One can but hope.

This was the view driving to work from Bellville side this morning. I had to stop, take a picture, and share.