McKnight & Bray Building Design McKnight & Bray specialises in house designs and commercial projects. Sat, 28 Nov 2020 20:11:33 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 McKnight & Bray Building Design 32 32 Blog 22: Cladding Install Part:1 Sat, 28 Nov 2020 00:23:11 +0000 Blog 22: Cladding Install Part:1 Read More »


When I left you last time, we were pretty chuffed to have a deck and were about to christen it with a BBQ and a few beers. The beers were had, the sausages burnt, and the deck was christened. We have since moved on to our next adventure.

The deck is now old news and is now covered up and being for a smoko area in lieu of my shed workshop. The shed has been filled with cladding, backing foam, and all our belongings since we have moved out of our rental and are living with the in-laws whilst we wait for the build to be complete. The state of my shed bothers me so I am looking forward to tidying and reclaiming it soon.

The final preparations were made early last week ahead of the plasterers and cladders. I caught up with AC installer Darren on Tuesday and confirmed the ceiling vent locations and created a little bit more work for the builders, insisting the vents line up exactly with/or are centred to the lighting. This meant that a lot of ceiling battens had to be cut and moved and apparently this was being a little fussy. I almost conceded on the bedroom vents, however the builders had time to do it as they waited for the cladding.

The eagle landed on Wednesday and I was pleased to hear that Anthony from Artisan facades was confirmed for Thursday morning. Anthony is the cladding guru who has been hired to set out our cladding, assist the builders and compete the more intricate parts.

Thursday was the day we had been waiting for however we were somewhat preoccupied. Building can be a roller coaster and we were thrown a curve ball with our joinery. Scott from Kerang Custom Joinery broke the news to us that he would not be able to fit our job in before he finished up. Scott is selling the business and moving to Mt Isa to be with his family. After being alone for months he has decided to move up for Christmas and will not have time to get to our job. This sent us into a panic as we are just about ready for joinery and knew it would be impossible to find a new cabinet maker at such short notice.

Dale Gitsham, who has been working with Douthat Joinery in Cohuna for years, is buying the business and after a nervous 24 hours we were able to speak to him and confirm that he would be able to take on our job. We caught up with him onsite on Sunday morning and walked through each room and discussed our joinery plan. The priority is the vanities and Kristian would like these installed prior to Christmas. Dale officially takes over 2 weeks before Christmas so this may be a stretch, but we remain hopeful.

So, we weren’t able to enjoy the cladding that was installed on Thursday, but by Friday night we were able to relax and take in the work that had been done.

They started on the simplest of walls, which is the west wall, which has no windows and is now clad in Vestis Aluminum V25 interlocking in pure white. Anthony did the first part of wall with Kristian and Cody, and then left them to do the rest, while he moved on to the garage.

The garage is clad in Vestis Aluminium V25 interlocking in Nebula Midnight in wider panels. As discussed previously, the garage has some intricacies with the flush mounted tilt door.

The panels are all custom widths to suit the wall lengths and openings. Each panel is plastic wrapped and numbered and can come with corresponding foam backing that can be added to the panel before it is installed. We were advised to use the foam backing to make the panels easier to handle and improve impact resistance and thermal performance. Flashings are installed first at the base and top of the wall, then around windows and then the panels go on one by one. The work takes patience and precision, so Kristian is well suited and has picked it up well after the tutorial from Anthony.

V25 Interlocking panels with base flashing on 64mm top hat battens

By the weekend we had one wall complete, half the garage done and half of another. I quizzed Anthony over a few beers on Friday night and determined it was safe to take the plastic wrapping off high sections that were out of the way of construction. I therefore could not help myself and peeled some off the garage panels to reveal the beautiful Nebula Midnight colour. This has a texture and appears different in different light. Metal also expands and contracts in heat and we have one panel that is playing up because it cannot be fixed properly until the garage door can open. This caused me some grief during the week, but I now understand that it is only one panel and can be sorted out.

Anthony returned on Monday and brought up a missing panel that had prevented him from competing the garage. He was a bit miffed to see that some of his measurements missing that were written on the plastic I had pulled down, but I am still glad I did it as it made my Sunday.

Vesis Aluminium 300 wide V25 Interlocking in Nebula Midnight.

The chuff-meter reached record heights this week as sections of our walls were unveiled. The black (Nebula Midnight) is proving to be the star of the show, however, do not discount the white. It does some heavy lifting and then steps aside and lets the black shine. It is a role player who quietly goes about its work with little fuss and is happy for the black to steal the show.

We are loving the Nebula Midnight Snaplock panels on the alfresco area. On Anthony’s recommendation we made these wide 400mm panels with 25mm ribs to make it look like the traditional standing seam, and this move appears to be paying dividends. But perhaps the biggest winner so far is the black interlocking panels on day bed.

Vesis Aluminium 400mm wide/25mm rib Snaplock in Nebula Midnight.

I received a message from the builder warning me to prepare to have my mind blown. I was ready to drop everything and come for a look, but he urged me to be patience and wait for days end. It did not disappoint, and this will prove to be a nice feature.

Vesis Aluminium 200 wide V25 Interlocking in Nebula Midnight.

The cladding is coming in two orders to make it more manageable. I can appreciate this as there was shite everywhere once the first order was unpacked and sorted. Unfortunately, this order will not arrive until later in the week, and they are almost out of panels, so not as much progress expected this week.

Whilst the outside was being transformed Hovenden Plasterworks have been busy inside insulating and hanging plaster sheets. The house is fully insulated (R2.5 in walls, R6.0 in ceiling) and half sheeted. The rooms are taking shape and I have only received one complaint from a child sighting that their room was tiny. Said child soon realized that comments such as this would not be tolerated….

Tiny bedroom with plasterboard

So, a couple of good weeks at the block. A lot of changes and new things to look at each day. Have even changed my morning walking route so that I get to walk past twice, and have put the court to good use with drivebys at every opportunity.

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Blog #21: The Deck. Fri, 13 Nov 2020 22:28:09 +0000 Blog #21: The Deck. Read More »


Hope everyone is refreshed after their week away from the blog. I will keep this one short and sharp as we are moving out of our rental this weekend. I will have plenty of time to write blogs whilst I am homeless.

Two weeks to cover so I will skim over the developments. One realization is that building a house is a mammoth task that we all underestimate. It is not until you see it up close that you get an appreciation for the level of detail and coordination required.

The main items for the first week were the glazing and straightening of the wall frames. Timber stud walls are generally slightly bowed so time is spent either planing them or packing them to get them perfectly straight ready for plasterboard. The red LVL studs were nice and straight so this task was competed quicker than usual.

Whilst the window frames and openable sashes were already in, Maher’s Glassworks were back onsite last Thursday to glaze the fixed panels and install the sliding door panels for our two large stacker door units. They glaze onsite to make the windows easier to handle and install.

The decking also arrived on the Thursday and along with the glazing gave us a nice boost.

Delays are inevitable and we have had a few over the last couple of weeks. I fully understand, as all trades around here are super busy, and suppliers can take some time to fill orders. There will be highs and lows and last week I felt that we were spinning our wheels but not getting far. But rocking up to the site on Thursday, seeing the glazing, and taking the decking out of the pack restored my enthusiasm.

We were back at the site on the weekend and gave it a good clean after a couple weekends away. The site was spotless once again which made us happy, but more importantly made the builders happy. They really appreciate this and ultimately it saves us money. Kristian runs a pretty tight ship and will not let the site get out of control, so a weekend clean up saves their time and makes for a pleasant work environment.

Clean site.

The main items this week have been the installation of the air conditioning system, and the building of our back deck😍.

The ducting finally arrived on Monday and Berry refrigeration were into it. It was a bit tricky to fit all the ducting in our tight roof space, but they got it done. The ducting ranges from 300 to 450mm in diameter and is insulated making it much bigger that you expect, and there is a lot of it – see pic below. Roof space and air conditioning needs to be considered when designing lower profile roofs.

Ducting in roof.
Insulated duct.

The builders set about building our lower deck frame and preparing for the decking boards to be laid. We are using composite decking rather than timber and this is consistent with the low maintenance theme of the house. You can’t beat the look and feel of natural timber, and the composite decking is a lot more expensive, however our deck is on the north side and a lot of it will be exposed, so I wanted something that didn’t require ongoing oiling. We were impressed by the range available and are very happy with our selection.

The set-out of the boards required a lot of thought. They come in 5.4m lengths and cannot not be butt joined because they expand and contract with varying temperature. The main part of our deck is 8m x 6m and then we have a narrow section and a lower section, and some angles. We also wanted to avoid wastage due to the cost of the boards. This all made the set-out complicated and I spent a bit of time modelling the various options. By option 5 we had it sorted and the builders ran with this. Thursday night some boards where down and Jess and I sat on it and enjoyed 2 of the best beers I have every had (in peace without the children). Friday most of the boards on the top section went on and we are looking forward to a mini deck party tonight (Saturday).

3D model of deck set out.

That is all for now, hopefully some significant developments in our next blog…

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Blog #20: Sat, 31 Oct 2020 05:00:07 +0000 Blog #20: Read More »


We reach a milestone today with our 20th blog. Hopefully, I don’t clock up too many more milestones!

Seems like the quiet before the storm, with preparations in place for some major transformations in the coming weeks. Cladding and plaster are scheduled for the week after so this week and next week have been spent preparing for that.

Berry Refrigeration where onsite Monday and they have put in the return air boxes, transitions and most of the pipe work for the air conditioning.

Return Air is a grille or vent that pulls the air from the home and returns it to the unit where it can then either heated or cooled and distributed throughout the house. These need to be located centrally and can be in a wall or in the ceiling. They are not attractive so ideally the location is discreet. In our case we needed 2 and elected to have them in the ceiling, one hidden behind a bulkhead in our drop zone, and the other in the passage down the kids end.

Return Air Box and duct going back to unit.
Return Air Grille to be mounted in ceiling.

My mate Matt from Adelaide has designed the system and is the supplying most of the ducts and fittings. This will arrive this week and then Berry Refrigeration can install the ducting before the plaster goes up. The tricky part with our house has been the limited roof space over the main living area to run the ducting. There has been some concern as to whether we can fit the right size ducting, but after some FaceTime calls and back and forward between Matt and Darren Berry we think we have it sorted.

Matt Wilkinson Plumbing did their rough-in on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A plumbing rough-in means that all water supply and drainpipes have been run through the wall frames and all pipe connections have been made.

Rough in of our shower mixers and handheld shower.

To do this accurately they needed the plumbing fixtures, and these were delivered to site on Tuesday by Swan Hill Dahlsens. Our homework was to confirm heights and locations for all wall mounted fixtures and in our case, it was only the handheld shower and mixers that required some more thinking.

It is common to have a handheld shower head as well an overhead one. This seems a little extravagant, however I was persuaded mainly due to cleaning purposes (as I often clean the shower😉).

We went to the house on Tuesday night and got the handheld showers out of the box and played around with various locations. We found that matt black doesn’t cope well with being dropped on concrete, so we may need to replace one component of the handheld shower, or put that one in the kids bathroom. In the end we elected to have it mounted on the side walls near the mixers.

Our handheld showers
Our shower mixers

I met with Matt Wilkinson on Wednesday and showed him where we wanted them, and discussed septic tanks, gas bottles and hot water – riveting stuff. Looks like we might go a heat pump hot water service rather than solar, after realizing that the solar panels would not be fully hidden due to the required angle that need to be mounted on.

Tuesday we also met with Scott Wishart at Kerang Custom Joinery. Scott is moving north so we are lucky that he can fit us in before he goes. Topics for discussion where:

  • Cupboard/drawer colours – they will be white, but do you know how many shades of white there is?
  • Handles or no handles. We want a minimalist style, so our choice is to either have a slim pull handles or just a recessed lip and no handles. I think the white pull handles might be more minimal than the gap required for the recessed lip.
  • Laminex bench colour for laundry
  • Type of timber for our vanities, day bed, drop zone & study desks.
  • Robe setups.
Example of the pull handles we like.

Not much happened onsite on Thursday and Friday however things were organized, and some timelines set. In preparation for plaster and cladding we look forward to the following this week:

  • fixed windows being glazed and glass sliding door panels being installed
  • Alfresco ceiling going up
  • Decking arriving and boards adjacent to cladding going down.
  • AC ducting going in.
  • Electrical rough in compete.

We had some homework to compete for Matty Coates before he can finish the electrical rough in before he finishes with Laser next week. This included Wall light heights and locations in our bedroom and on the garage, and exhaust fan and pendant light specifications.

As I write this, we are fresh from another visit to Conidi Tiles and Lighting, this time to nail our lighting. A productive meeting too, with all lighting and fans selected. We have kept the lighting simple as we think there will be enough going on, so it doesn’t need to be the hero. The pendant lighting over our meals table and reading wall lights have been the sticking point, but we think we may have this resolved. A bonus was to take the mrs out for lunch and debrief about the state of play.

Surface mounted tube downlight, a theme with our lighting.

And that is a wrap. 20 down…. a few more still to come. I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far. I think we have. I keep reminding myself to be patient and enjoy the process, as the anticipation is normally half the fun.

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Blog #19 Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:39:22 +0000 Blog #19 Read More »


The excitement continues to build at Wilson court as we continue to move in the right direction.

Quicklift doors installed the garage door frame on Tuesday, and we visited the site at lunch time to check it out. I have not seen a tilt door up close in real life so was interesting to see how they work. Quicklift will return once it is clad to commission the door, however we are able to open it manually for now if needed.

Our frame only flush mounted tilt door ready for cladding. it will be a great day when this gets clad.

Once the door was installed Kristian was able to provide the final measurements for the cladding to be ordered. The door install and cladding on and around it is very presise – down to the millimeter. 1000 measurements were provided to Anthony Ryan, who has worked out the cladding setout and will install the cladding on the garage.

There was a late change with the dark colour of our cladding. I came across a pic of a house clad with Graphite Black Vestis aluminium on Instagram on Wednesday night, and this raised some doubt as to whether we had picked the right colour. We had originally picked another colour – Nebula Midnight – based off online research, however we preferred the graphite black once we looked at the samples. Graphite black is a beautiful shade of black however I was concerned maybe it was too dark for us. I studied pics of the cladding on the Metal Cladding Systems website on Wednesday night and concluded that the Nebula Midnight looked better (in our opinion) in the images available, and seemed to show up less imperfections (oil canning).

Oil canning is a moderate buckling of sheet material, particularly common with flat sheet metal surfaces. It is seen as waviness in the flat areas of the metal roof or wall material. This phenomenon will seem very apparent at times and seem to disappear at others due to the angle of the sunlight.

Vestis’ Nebula range has a textured surface that diffuses light. Once installed Nebula panels change and evolve as daylight shifts and light hits the panels at difference angles. The textured surface reduces the visible signs of oil canning, creating smoother, more even looking cladding systems.

Example of a wall clad with Interlocking V25 in Vestis Aluminium Nebula Midnight. Pic courtesy of

We were onsite early Thursday morning, for a site meeting with the electrician, but to also unwrap some more Nebula midnight samples and view them from different distances, angles and in different light. I stuck some on the wall with electrical tape and even asked the passing school kids which ones they liked. They gave the wrong answer, so I quickly dismissed their opinions as I had already made up my mind. I got on the blower to Anthony and discussed oil canning and how he explained how all the metal materials will move and appear differently at different times of the day. He said the graphite black would be fine, but it just comes down to personal taste. It was not too late to change as he only just rang it through, so we switched to Nebula Midnight for all our dark cladding, which is on the garage, internal entry wall, daybed, and alfresco area.

Samples of Nebula Midnight alongside Pure White, our main colour.

I had also spoken to Anthony on Wednesday and he had some questions for me on how I would like to do things, however I was happy to just take his advice and do what he thought would be best. We a grateful to have his expertise on our project.

We had meetings with Matt on Thursday and Friday morning. Thursday was Matt Coates re the electrical, and Friday was Matt Wilkinson re the plumbing. Other Matts involved in the project are Matt Harris (air con) and Matt Webb (plumber). We also have Matt black windows and plumbing fixtures, matt tiles, and I reckon we will have a door Matt. Any other Matt’s are welcome to get involved….

Masterchef judge Matt Preston, another Matt, nothing to do with our project.

Laser electrical have been busy and almost have their rough in complete. We caught up with Matty Coates to review light locations, which they had marked on the slab, and run through a list of various questions. We are very particular about wall and roof penetrations and it has been great to have our tradies onboard to minimize and conceal these. The exhaust for our ensuite for instance could be drawn to the concealed alfresco roof with a large inline fan, or it could be vented out the wall behind, which would be cheaper and easier. We have since decided that a wall vent in the corner would be discreet enough so will save some pennies, which we need to on things that do not really matter.

Locations of downlights marked with tape on slab directly below

Matt is very particular, and we have been impressed with his attention to detail and care he shows to get things just right. Unfortunately for Laser, Matt is finishing up and going out on his own. He aims to have our rough in complete before he goes so, we will not be left in the lurch.

Another productive meeting on Friday morning with plumber Matt. We walked through and discussed our plumbing fixtures and their locations and heights. We have some homework for him, such as vanity heights, handheld shower location, and rainhead style.

A rainhead is a box with an overflow slot located at the end of a box gutter. It acts as an external overflow point to reduce water surges into the stormwater system and aid the flow of water down the downpipe. A box gutter an internal hidden gutter.

Example of a Rainhead

We saved some cash with this meeting when we heeded Matt’s advice and elected for an instant gas hot water unit to service our ensuite, rather than a second solar hot water unit. There is no central location available for our hot water storage tank, so we need 2 systems to avoid a long wait for hot water in our ensuite. Only catch is now we will need a gas bottle which we I’ll hide over at our boundary fence somewhere.

We also decided to omit the skylight over our powder room after discussing the flashing requirements. Decided to save money here and keep the roof clear. We learnt about how sewer vents (stink pipes) work: they provide air to the sewer pipe to allow the liquid to move smoother, similar to how adding straw will allow you to skull a cruiser quicker (so I’m told)….

Whilst onsite Matt measured up the parapet flashings and that will be done ahead of the cladding install. They will also do their rough in this week.

Does not seem like AFL grand final today (Saturday), not sure I’m a fan of the night format. Would be nice to have a BBQ with family and friends this afternoon, but I understand that is an unacceptable risk when there is a rolling average of 0.2 new cases per day in regional Victoria and no active cases in our area for months….

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Blog #18: Windows & Cladding Set-out. Sat, 17 Oct 2020 05:05:39 +0000 Blog #18: Windows & Cladding Set-out. Read More »


Things are getting real. We are edging towards lock up and we could not be happier with how it is coming together. Windows went in this week, and the house is ready for cladding.

The window frames were delivered by Maher’s Glassworks on Monday Morning and the builders got these installed over the next 3 days. The fixed part of the windows came unglazed to make them easier to handle and these will be glazed onsite later. The stacker door frames arrived on Wednesday and all the frames were in and the walls fully battened before Friday.

We ended up with matt black commercial aluminium frames, with double glazed lightbridge low e glass, and a combination of fixed and awning sashes.

Awning sashes wind out form the bottom, and whist they offer limited air flow, they seal well and look nice in long single panels. We originally specified casement windows which are similar but are side hinged, offering better airflow, but they are more expensive and are bulkier when in a commercial frame. With good modern air conditioning we figured the reduced ventilation was not an issue and were more interested in cost and aesthetics.

The windows are energy efficient and offer low U and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) values. U-value is the measure of thermal transmittance, which is the rate of transfer of heat through a structure. The better-insulated a structure is, the lower the U-value will be.

The SHGC is the measure of solar radiation admitted through a window. The lower a window’s SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits.

In our case a low U Value is more important than a low SHGC as all our windows will be shaded in summer, although the low SHGC will be handy on any hot October or March days, when the sun is a bit lower in the sky.

It is amazing how the angle of the sun changes across the year. Less than a month ago the sun was streaming into the window openings and I thought to myself “gee I hope I have got the shading right”. Even though our cad software had told me it will, I still had a moment of doubt. But the sun is barely getting in now and I commented this to Kristian, who was experiencing the same with his recently built solar efficient home.

A lot of our windows are fixed, as you are always limited with the size of openable sashes. In the kitchen meals family area, the stacker doors provide all the ventilation required, so the rest of the windows in this space are fixed.

Window with fixed panel and awning sash
Single awning sash
Fixed window with mullions

On Friday we had a masterclass from Anthony Ryan on metal cladding. Anthony was sent up by Metal Cladding Systems, who supply to Dahlsens Swan Hill, to measure up, work out set out and advise Kristian. There was an awful lot to take in, and I am still yet to debrief – will do this afternoon (Saturday) at 4pm sharp in a shed over a couple refreshments.

The various metal cladding systems are not a budget solution, nor are they a DIY option, and they require either a professional installer or guidance from one. A straight wall without opening is simple enough and can be tackled without a professional, however it gets a bit more complicated when you add windows and doors. Particularly when one of your doors is a flush mount tilt door to be clad with the same cladding….

The garage door frame is ready and will be installed on Tuesday, and another chapter in the saga has been written. To recap, the issue with the garage door up to this point has been the weight, which meant we needed a lightweight aluminium cladding that could be installed on battens rather than plywood. This led us to Nailstrip, which seemed to tick all the boxes.

As I have said previously, you will experience resistance when you want to do something out of the ordinary. Often for good reason, so you need to have an open mind as well as the determination and room in your budget to get it done. As it turns out there is a reason that I have not seen many flush mount garage doors clad with standing seam type cladding on Pinterest: because it is almost impossible. It can be done with a counterweight door that can take more weight but is triple the price.

Straight off the bat Anthony tried to steer us away from using Nailstrip, which is similar to the  standing seam profile, and towards Interlocking V25 which is what the main part of the house will be clad with. We quickly worked out that this part of the build will require his 25 years of experience, and that for it to work a different cladding profile will have to be used. I was happy to take his advice as I do not want anything half-baked and had flirted with the idea of using interlocking V25 here anyway. We can still achieve the contrast we were after by using a different colour. This has also opened the possibility of cladding the internal entry wall in the same material, which I am excited about.

Anthony brought some samples with him, which included the Nailstrip and Interlocking V25 profiles in various materials, such as Colorbond, Matt Colourbond, and Vestis Aluminum, as well as various colours, mainly shades of black and white.

Parker with a sample of Interlocking V25 in Vestis Aluminium Pure White
Macy with a sample of Nailstrip in Vestis Aluminium Black Graphite
Ryder with a sample of Thomas the Tank Engine Trains

Vestis is a highly durable polyester coated aluminium. It comes with a 40-year guarantee and will not fade as much as colobond. We were put onto this for our garage, as it is lighter than colorbond, and have been offered a good deal to upgrade to this everywhere, largely thanks to this blog. After talking to Anthony, we are convinced that the upgrade is worthwhile. Foam backing for the Interlocking panel was also recommended to make the panels easier to install, improve impact resistance as well as add to the thermal performance of the wall.

We are still fond of the Nailstrip profile, so will use this on our alfresco area where it ideally suited because there are no openings.

The colours we have selected are ‘pure white’ for the main part of the house and ‘black graphite’ for the features. See below:

Anthony worked his way around the house measuring each section of wall and between windows and calculated the custom panel widths and flashings required. He will order this now with Metal Cladding Systems, and hopefully it will be delivered later this week, or early the next. Anthony will come back up to clad the garage door, and get Kristian and Cody going. Whilst I was onsite Cody was busy framing up the bulkhead over our kitchen, and Darren Berry was there getting the return air ducts ready for the air conditioning system. I will not bore you with Air conditioning today, think I have unloaded enough on you…. if you got this far I guess you are interested enough in this game we call “building a custom house and sending yourself broke”.

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Blog #17: Appliances and random. Sat, 10 Oct 2020 02:23:54 +0000 Blog #17: Appliances and random. Read More »

A shorter blog this week, not much has happened onsite so not a lot to write about, and we are away for the weekend so not much time to write it.

Our reverse cycle air conditioning unit (22kW Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in case you were wondering) has been mounted in the ceiling and Berry Refrigeration has been onsite working on the install. There was some discussion as to where the outdoor condenser unit should go, with the east side being preferred by the installer for more protection from the weather. We had planned to put it on the west side out of the way and strategically placed between the kids walk in robes to minimise noise. This location will cop the late afternoon sun so the unit will have to work a bit harder, however we still think this is the best location. We have also specified acoustic insulation batts in the western wall to also help reduce the noise. The outdoor unit is big and noisy, so placement of this and other services, such as hot water services need to be carefully considered.

Indoor unit, installed in roof space above our pantry.
Outdoor condenser unit

We are having solar hot water with an electric boost. This will have evacuated tubes on the roof and a storage tank below. We require 2 as our wet areas are spread out and we do not want a long draw when turning hot water taps on. One storage tank will go on the west next to the condenser unit, and the other will on the east side tucked in the corner close to our ensuite. The evacuated tubes will go on the alfresco roof which will be very busy!

Solar hot water with electric boost

Our instruction has been to keep the main roof plane clear of penetrations, so all our exhaust fans will be ducted out either the garage or alfresco roofs, which are both flat and concealed by parapet walls. Up until recently exhaust fans could be just ducted into the roof space, however this can cause condensation and damage so this cannot be done unless the roof is adequately ventilated, and we did not want any wind driven ventilators (Whirly Birds) on our roof .

The alfresco roof will also have to hide our tv antenna and internet receiver… busy little roof!

We ordered our tiles from Conidi Tiles and Lighting. See selections below:

Bathroom & Ensuite floor tiles: 600 x 600 Surface Night Lappato
Bathroom & Ensuite main wall tiles: 800 x 400 Matt White
Bathroom & Ensuite feature wall tiles: 300 x 100 Matt White subway
Splashback feature tiles: Matt White Penny Round

Our windows have been made by Maher’s Glassworks and are loaded on a trailer ready for delivery early Monday morning. These will he installed next week and then the cladding can be measured and ordered.

We have been getting quotes for the plastering and have just accepted the quotation from Hovenden’s Plasterworks. The house should be ready for plaster early November.

We paid the balance on our kitchen appliances during the week. We intended to buy these locally but ended up getting them from Reilly’s in Bendigo. We went there for just a look but were impressed with their range, knowledge, and time they gave us so felt obliged to purchase from them. See list of appliances below:

  • Asko 60cm Craft Pyrolytic Oven, installed under bench below the cook top. A pyrolytic oven features an ‘automatic’ cleaning function that dramatically reduces your oven cleaning time. Pyrolytic cleaning heats the inside of your oven to temperatures upwards of 400°C, reducing grease and food residue to ash. Once the oven returns to a safe temperature and unlocks itself, this ash can be simply wiped away.
  • Asko 60cm Craft Combi Steam Oven. Installed beside the other oven. Steam ovens feature a reservoir that must be filled with water for the oven to work properly. Heat from the oven turns the water into steam. Food cooked in steam retains moisture better than food cooked in a convection oven. Steamed food also tends to retain more vitamins and minerals than food that is boiled. This was perhaps an extravagance, but having 2 ovens is common, and so we figure that the second one could offer something different. We are forever steaming vegetables and feel it will get plenty of use.
  • Smeg 82cm induction cooktop. An induction cooktop uses an electromagnetic field to heat up a pan while leaving the cooking surface cool to the touch and without heating up the kitchen.
  • Asko 86cm integrated range hood. This is concealed in the overhead cupboards above the cooktop.
  • Meile fully integrated dishwasher, installed in our island bench. An integrated dishwasher (also known as a built-in or built-under dishwasher) is designed to match the rest of your kitchen cabinetry. … They often allow for a fitted, custom cupboard door that conceals the dishwasher when the appliance is fully closed.
  • Asko built in dishwasher, installed in the pantry. We had not considered a dishwasher in the pantry and thought that it may be extravagant. But it started to make more sense once we discussed how we would use the pantry. We think the pantry will be used to prepare breakfast, lunches, morning tea, etc, while the kitchen will be used for the evening meal and as more of a social area. Therefore, all cutlery and crockery associated with breakfast and lunch will live in the pantry so it makes sense that they go into a dishwasher in there.

We plan to catch up with Kerang Custom Joinery next week to finalise the finer details of our kitchen. This can be measured up and made once the plaster is up.

We escaped town this weekend, down to Queenscliff/Geelong for some work on Friday and then staying on for our first weekend away in sometime. So, no photos of the house, but not much has changed.

Should be more happening this week onsite and we are really looking forward to the windows going in and the cladding being measured and ordered.

See you here next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

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Blog #16: Roof Finish & Eaves Lining. Sat, 03 Oct 2020 02:59:26 +0000 Blog #16: Roof Finish & Eaves Lining. Read More »


A good week for us at Wilson Court. A lot of electrical work and the finishing touches on the roof.

If I am honest, I had been underwhelmed by my roof. I designed it with one main skillion roof plane and had high expectations of how this would look. We were after simple clean lines with a zinc finish, however it didn’t look as good as anticipated without the flashings and with the guttering issue. To recap I had selected a non-standard half round gutter, however this left the end of the roof sheets exposed due to the low roof pitch and insulation blanket. The gutter was replaced, and the flashings completed on Monday and I was pleased with the finish. Matt Wilkinson plumbing has done a great job and we are happy again with the roof design. Roof flashing by the way is the metal sheet that is installed around the edge of a skillion roof (or around roof features and penetrations) that stops water from getting in and finishes the roof.

Tuesday was also a great night to rock up to the block. A highlight of the build has been visiting the site each night and noticing the progress. Some nights the changes are subtle and then some days you are blown away by how much has been done. I guess building can be like an iceberg – a lot of the work happens below the surface. On Tuesday, the builders had lined much of the eaves and I could not contain my excitement when seeing this (sorry for snapchat spam). On this occasion I was overwhelmed as the finish exceeded expectations.

We are using Versilux, which is a fibre cement product that is installed with an express join (gap between the sheet with a black PVC backing strip). I had worked out the spacings last week, however there was discussion as to whether this was optimal. Fortunately, I was able to model the set out with our CAD software and played around with various options and reviewed the 3D perspectives. I was then comfortable to proceed as planned and was stoked with how it come up.

Amazing how finishing touches to the roof and eaves have made a difference. Cannot wait to see how it looks with the cladding on!

I think the best designs have simple well-proportioned form, and that it is the material selection and colours that set the design off. Here is hoping we have got ours right….

Was also back on the CAD working on our internal elevations to help finalize our wet areas, tile selection, joinery outline, as well as tweaking some electrical. I then sent this out to Conidi Tiles and Lighting, Laser Electrical, Kerang Custom Joinery, and KM Bray Building. As stated previously, this level of detail is generally not required for a residential project, however we have found it very useful to plan out each room.

Laser Electrical had a big week, and it looks like they got most of the house wired. Some suggestions by Matty Coates in relation to sensors, switching and dimmers were taken onboard and adopted. We will get an opportunity to walk through and review all the electrical before the plaster goes on and can make minor adjustments if need be, however, I think we have it pretty right.

The next milestone is lock up, and we just need the windows in and cladding on for this. This may still be a few weeks away as the cladding cannot be ordered until the windows are in so it can be accurately measured to work out the custom panel widths and flashings required. Still plenty of other work to be done so hopefully we continue to enjoy the steady progress we have been seeing.

Hope you are having a great weekend. We have enjoyed catching up with family friends since the relaxation of some of the Covid restrictions (up to 5 at a time from 1 other household of course). We are finding the site to be a good place to meet and can see how we may spend a lot more time at home entertaining once this house is finished and we are back to normal.

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Blog #15. Various part 2 (sorry struggling to think of titles). Sat, 26 Sep 2020 00:01:49 +0000 Blog #15. Various part 2 (sorry struggling to think of titles). Read More »


The heavy rain never arrived so the site remained relatively dry. I felt like Noah preparing for the flood last weekend, helping Kristian put in temporary measures to get the rain from our roof away from the house in the absence of downpipes. These measures stayed in place most of the week and served their purpose with more showers on Friday.

Steady progress this week again. Laser Electrical and Matt Wilkinson plumbing were back onsite, and the builders put in some solid days.

The electricians started their rough in and have placed all the brackets for our power points. We get the opportunity to walk through and confirm we are happy with the locations and heights, which is good as i was a little rushed when putting the electrical plan together. I plan to do this this weekend with Jess, although our weekends are starting to get a bit busier with the easing of Covid restrictions.

The plumbers put the roof sheets and box gutter on over portico and started to flash the side of the main roof. Their rough in will start soon and hopefully they can replace the gutters and get down pipe socks on before the next rain event.

The builders work mainly consisted of preparing the walls for cladding and the eaves for lining. The main walls were battened ready for the interlocking metal cladding and plywood was installed

on the garage and alfresco walls for the Nailstrip Metal cladding. I chose larger 64mm steel top hat battens to create more wall depth to house our stacker doors and improve thermal performance by creating a larger air gap. I was planning on having 15mm foil board (foil backed polystyrene board) as well but decided against after some cost vs benefit analysis. There will also be another layer of wall wrap between the battens and cladding.

We have used a vapour permeable wall wrap that allows allow moisture to escape the inside of the home. This reduces the risk of condensation build-up and mould growth in the timber frame. It also acts as a second protective skin that defends the internal wall from weather-related water damage. During heavy rain, strong winds or hail, water can enter the wall cavity leading to serious unseen damage. So, with 2 layers of this I am satisfied that the walls will perform!

The battens are spaced at 400 mm centres, which will keep the cladding nice and straight. This seems like overkill but was recommended by our specialist cladding installer. Same with the 15mm plywood backing for the Nailstrip cladding, however we want the wall finish to be spot on as I think it will set off an otherwise simple facade.

There is a delay with the windows, so the cladding is still a few weeks away. Lucky there is plenty of other things to build, so it should not hold the show up too much.

On Tuesday we were back at Conidi Tiles and Lighting and this time were much more concise. Jess had done her homework and came with a clear vision for our bathroom tiles. With Tina’s help we were able to select the tiles we would like quoted. Dark grey floor tiles, large white wall tiles with some white subway and penny round tiles for features. Later in the week we watched the Block Ensuite reveals online which was good timing and made us even more comfortable with our direction.

We also looked at lighting again and made some headway there. The ball is now back in our court to confirm tile locations and update my internal elevations for Tina to quote on.

On Friday, another Kristian with a K was onsite, this one from Quicklift Doors in Melbourne. He had a pass escape the ring of steel to come and measure up. Seems a long way to come to measure, but the flush panel tilt door needs to be precise, so they take no risks here. I met him there with the other Kristian and we discussed how the door would work.

Whilst onsite I also discussed the set out of our Versilux eaves lining. Versilux is a fibre cement product what is installed with a 10mm express joint (gap between sheets). We roughly worked out where the joins should be, particularly around the daybed and wide east end eave. I then went back to the office and drew the locations accurately on a plan and sent to Kristian.

Friday was a throwback to winter, so the fire pit was lit at 4pm for knock off beers. I arrived shortly after and stocked the fridge before returning in my work boots to help empty the fridge and acquire my usual Saturday morning headache…..

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Blog #14: Various. Sat, 19 Sep 2020 01:57:49 +0000 Blog #14: Various. Read More »


Chipping away this week. Walls are wrapped, more deck framed, alfresco roof on, ceiling battens on, so still good progress.

We have started the process of selecting tiles and spent Monday afternoon at Conidi Tiles and Lighting in Swan Hill. Our only thoughts had been that we want light bathrooms, so we had a way to go. We looked at a lot of different options and were able to narrow down the choices by a process of elimination. Whilst the obvious selections did not jump out at us, it was quite clear what we didn’t want.

There are so many options:

Material – ceramic, porcelain, glass, stone/marble, etc

Colour – white, off-white, the ivory, or the beige 😉

Shape – square, rectangle, hexagonal, mosaic, subway, etc

Size – 600, 300, 150, 100, etc

Finish – matt, gloss, honed, natural, grip, satin, polished, etc….

Don’t worry, I didn’t know all this, I just googled it!

With any process, the first step is to just start (eat an elephant one bite at a time). On Monday we were very indecisive and made it hard work for Tina (owner of Conidi Tiles). Since then we have been able to browse online (Pinterest, Instagram, etc) with a much better eye for detail and now have a clearer idea of what we want.

Our latest thinking is 600 sq grey tiles on the floor, white 600 x 300 tiles on the walls with smaller white subway or other feature tiles on our ledges and below vanities.

To simplify we decided to concentrate on the bathroom and then we will carry that through to our ensuite and probably our laundry. Also need to pick a splashback tile for our pantry, we will leave that until we nail the bathrooms.

We also looked at lighting whilst we were there, however we were running out of energy. This house stuff can be draining, and you develop decision fatigue after a while. Our lighting is simple, mostly recessed down lights, some tube downlights to light feature walls, some wall lights for night lights and reading, and pendants/feature lights over the kitchen Bench and meals table. These last two items are the biggest choices to make.

After looking at the lighting and meeting our electrician last week, I was armed with enough information to draw up an accurate electrical plan. I worked on this on Wednesday and Thursday and sent it out to get re-quoted. We spent a bit of time on the ceiling layout of our main living space and carefully considered the lighting and air conditioning vent locations.

The biggest highlight/change came after the walls were wrapped, and we enjoyed inspecting this on Wednesday night. The wall wrap helped define the walls and window locations and gave us a better feel for each room. Also enjoyed standing on our deck frame this morning (Saturday) imagining cooking breakfast and enjoying the morning sun that flows into this area. The placement of your alfresco area is paramount, as a designer these are my considerations:

  • locate so as not to block too much winter sun and light to the living area
  • Open to the north and East to get sun in cooler months
  • Protection from prevailing weather that predominantly comes from the south west
  • Protection from the hot afternoon summer sun, so as per above, walls on south and west.

Predominantly alfresco areas will get most of their use summer, however, can be used throughout the year if the above objectives are met.

Access from living areas is also a consideration, however I think the inconvenience of having to walk a bit further is well worth it when weighing up against the benefits of light and winter sun.

Sorry went off on a tangent then.

This week we have the following to look forward to:

  • new gutters and down pipe socks going on. Would have been nice to have these in place now with the rain forecast, hopefully our temporary measures do the job and keep water away from the house. A down pipe sock by the way is a plastic sleeve that is used during construction before the proper down pipes are installed.
  • Roof flashing and capping. Currently the edges of the roof are a bit untidy because of the roof blanket. This will finish the roof off and give us the clean simple look we aimed for.
  • Lower deck may get framed.
  • Walls battened ready for cladding installation consultant to come up and assist with set-out and ordering of the cladding system. This includes custom flashings and panel widths to suit windows. This is booked in for Friday.
  • More ceiling battens.
  • Air conditioner being mounted in ceiling space.

Heavy rain expected today, so more sloshing in puddles to also look forward to.

And that is where we are at as of 11:53am Saturday 19 September 2020. In normal years we would be at the local football grand final, but this is far from a normal year…

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Blog #13: Roofing part 1. Sat, 12 Sep 2020 03:11:24 +0000 Blog #13: Roofing part 1. Read More »


Action packed week at the block. The roof went on and alfresco area was framed to complete one of the most transformational weeks of the build.

Sunday’s at the block has become a ritual for us. The day coincides with our device free day and is spent tidying, exercising, and relaxing. We are very lucky to have another address to spend time at during Covid, and the project has been a great distraction. I have even brought some tools and are embarking on small building projects of my own in the shed – who would have thought?

On Monday the Alfresco deck stumps were concreted in, but most of the action started on Tuesday. Matt Wilkinson plumbing were onsite and started the roof. First, they put the gutters on and then laid most of the garage roof sheets, which is a lower flat roof concealed behind a parapet. They found some damaged sheets so could not finish this but were able to start the main roof and got a few sheets on before knock off. I was happy with the gutters I had selected – flat back “half round” ones rather than the standard quad guttering.

My input on Tuesday was to nominate exact downpipe locations and make a call on the alfresco deck height. We are recessing the sliding door tracks and I had specified the deck level to be the same as the main floor. As is happens the door tracks are slightly lower on the outside, so we decided to lower it to match this.

Matt also wanted to discuss the end they will start laying the sheets from and pointed out that it will look slightly different depending on the way they lay them and the angle you view the roof. It was recommended to start from the east to ensure that no prevailing weather that generally comes from the west can get under the sheets. Learn something every day.

Wednesday was the big day and Matt was onsite at the break of dawn. Matt is a great plumber but is not so good at opening combination locks, as I found him fumbling around with it at 6:30am when I walked past on my walk. I was able to open the lock and saved it from a date with an angle grinder.

Wednesday was full of anticipation and I snuck a look at lunch time before having a proper look after work. They put in a huge day and had all the main roof sheeted. They still had to do the flashings, cappings and down pipes, but were waiting on materials for this, so this has been scheduled for next week.

The alfresco deck bearers and west wall was also framed on Wednesday so there was lot to take in. I arranged to meet Jess there for a drink to celebrate the roof, however I soon grew concerned when I noticed that you could see the end of the roof sheets above the gutter.

Turns out I had outsmarted myself by specifying a different gutter as this combined with the flat roof pitch and insulation blanket meant that the roofing was sitting too high above the gutter. (Blanket by the way is additional insulation that is installed between the roof battens and roof sheets to improve energy efficiency.)

I met with Kristian early Thursday morning and discussed ways to overcome the problem. It could potentially be fixed by tightening the brackets to lift the front, however we decided to replace the gutters with quad guttering that has a higher front after Kristian discussed with Matt.

Lucky Matt is a good sport as he is going to replace a roof sheet over the portico as we could also see the end of the sheet here. My bad, as it was a design error and should have been picked up when reviewing the 3D model. All is well that ends well so I felt much better after we sorted these issues out.

Thursday and Friday the builders almost finished framing the alfresco area. This really changed the back of the house and we are stoked with how this is looking. Wrapt that we shifted it across and now we get a great feel for how this area will be.

We also met with Matty Coates from Laser Electrical on Friday morning and walked through each room discussing power and lighting. Mat had some valuable insight and we will now finalise an electrical plan and start to select our lighting.

Now that the roof is on the electricians and plumbers will do their rough in. The builders will wrap and batten the walls ready for the cladding, however they have some other jobs to attend to after working on our project solidly for several weeks.

That is all for now, I hope you still find all this interesting. Have a great day!

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