McKnight & Bray Building Design McKnight & Bray specialises in house designs and commercial projects. Fri, 07 May 2021 23:08:52 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 McKnight & Bray Building Design 32 32 Blog #32. Fri, 07 May 2021 23:08:50 +0000 Blog #32. Read More »


It has been surreal.

To finally be living in what had been a figure of our imagination for so long.

I will preface this blog with the acknowledgement that we may be looking through rose colour glasses, and that our taste and style will not appeal to everyone. That is the beauty of building a custom home, it is for us, and has been tailored to suit our lives. And I am pleased to report: the house works for us.

It is well and good for things to look pretty, but their also needs to be practicality. The house needs to work for the way you live and can make the mundane day to day tasks that little bit easier.

Certain luxuries are taking some time to get used to, such as having a butler’s pantry with a sink and dishwasher or having a home office (this was the easiest of blogs to produce) and there has been some education required for the kids, for example, on the use of the drop zone, the pantry, and the placement of shoes (in designated baskets). But the house is easy to live in.

Everything has a spot, so we are staying on top and keeping the spaces clutter free.

It is performing thermally. we have hardly needed the ducted reverse cycle air conditioner. The sun streams in during the day and it is amazing how the warmth is retained long after the sun is gone. It feels as though we have slab heating in our main living area and notice the difference from areas that do not see the sun.

The house however is not designed for 28-degree days in May, so we have had the opportunity to test out the cooling mode last Sunday. In summer, the sun is high in the sky and our eaves have been designed to cut this out. This time of year, with the sun lower they allow full sun which on this rare occasion was not welcome.

Was good to play with the new AC, and Air Touch controller, which has all the main rooms as their own zone that can be turned off or the percentage of air adjusted. We have run the heat a couple of early mornings just in the living areas for instance. The big thing I notice (or do not notice) is how quiet the system is. It is silent and sometimes need to check if it is on, which is a big change from the old wall hung split in our old house.

The trades have been back and forth finishing things off and seem to be just part of the furniture now. Most welcome of course and we have still had the excitement and anticipation of new things to see when we arrive home.

Andre has been there painting our garage (including the floor – recommend), front door, alfresco area, and part eaves. He will come back and finish the eaves the once our new footpaths are set.

McKnight Concreting put the rest of our perimeter paths down as well as a concrete apron at our garage. We can now get Rob Farrer and his bob cat back to level the front and in preparation of lawn and tidy up our driveway.

The front of the house has not featured much on the blog. Seems like the house was built from the back, which was largely finished a long time ago. The front (apart from landscaping) has only just been finished this week.

Matt Coates has been back to install our deck lights, and these were a big hit along with the new alfresco speakers. I can now imagine entertaining here and my thoughts have turned to heating for the cooler months.

We are reasonably organized now and feel settled into our new home. We have a lot to do on in the garden, and I imagine that our work here will never be done. More time at home would be nice, but life is busy. I dream of free Sunday’s to just potter…

There has been a range of emotions. Mostly happiness, pride, and gratitude, but there is also guilt, embarrassment and anxiety. Guilty that we get to have a house like this. Embarrassed of how fortunate we are. And anxious about the debt we have got ourselves into. I have tried give an honest account throughout this blog and I would be lying if I said it was all beer and skittles.

But the positive emotions far outweigh the negative and the gratitude is immense. To all those who helped us on our journey, in particular our builders and trades.

It has been amazing to have KM Bray Building build this for us. Kristian is a fine craftsman, a builder of the highest quality, and I am proud to call him my brother and best mate.

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Blog #31: Fri, 23 Apr 2021 21:08:50 +0000 Blog #31: Read More »


We are in!

3 weeks since my last blog and completion perhaps a week or 2 later than I had predicted. I was naive however, after we witnessed the volume of work completed in that space of time. We are therefore grateful for the efforts of our builders and trades to get it done as quickly as they have.

Nevertheless, we were dying to get in.

Cost and time are nearly always underestimated in the building industry. I quoted in blog #1:

A) it will cost more than expected, and

B) it will take longer than expected.

I have still been guilty of underestimating, and we can certainly tick both of those boxes, perhaps the first one more than the second…

The costs crept up on us and was death by 1000 cuts. We could have managed this better but got swept up in the fun of it all. No regrets, money is cheap now, and if we had of realized the result may have been slightly diminished. That is not to say that you cannot achieve a stunning result on a tighter budget, you just need to be more diligent and exercise greater restraint.

More time can be spent prior to signing a contract, specifying absolutely everything to get an accurate contract price, and once under way, getting prices on any variations before pulling the trigger.

We are not completely finished with just some painting, footpaths, and minor details to tick off, but the inside is done, and we delighted with the results. All the thought, research, and deliberations have paid dividends as we finally see all the elements together as one.

Some of the elements were selected a long while ago and have been out of sight and out of mind. Seeing them again is like catching up with an old friend. A smile comes across your face and it was like you were never apart. Luckily, these old friends have not got any fatter or balder….

First up after Easter we had the final measure of our stone bench tops by CR Stone. The install followed on Thursday and was exciting to see the finish. A big, beautiful slab of stone for our island bench (3.2m x 1.2m, the largest available) and matching bench tops throughout the kitchen and pantry. We took a while to decide on our kitchen splashback and are now pleased with our choice to go with stone. Also really like the black under mount sinks with the stone.

To finish off the kitchen benches we have Vic Ash timber slats which match our portico ceiling. The builders fitted these after the stone was installed.

Carpet from Kerang Carpet Court was laid by Kelly Carpet Laying straight after Easter, and I’m told this is a important milestone as it signifies to the trades that the end is near. Dark Triexa carpet which we think fits nicely with the theme of the house.

The carpet finished the bedrooms, so we were able to clean them and start moving clothes and linen into the robes. We were keen to move furniture in too, however our builder would not allow until we got the certificate of occupancy after the final inspection.

We could not resist moving our new table and chairs in early and snuck them in last Sunday after my nephew Ben delivered our custom made 3m x 1.2m recycled timber table on Saturday. Ben and his mate have done a great job and the table was worthy of being the first piece of furniture in the house. We enjoyed our first meals around it, Nanna’s homemade pasties, after the crack team of 70-year-olds were called back in to help clean. By the way, Ben is a carpenter who is making furniture on the side, message me if you are interested.

The AC system was finished by Berry Refrigeration, however had to wait for the electrical to be complete before firing it up. This was not smooth sailing as our wiz bang WiFi controller was faulty and caused Mat Coates Electrical some grief. A new part is being sent so we are running with the standard controller for now which does not have the zoning options.

Electrical Mat and Plumbing Matt both went hammer and tongs and powered through their fit off. And my word what a difference it made.

Mat Coates Electrical came in first and worked through Friday and Saturday to break the back of the electrical fit off. By the following Wednesday, the power was on which was another significant milestone.

I was not prepared for the impact of the lighting. With the days shortening the lights were a welcome addition, however they provide much more than the ability to see. They add another dimension and an ambience that was absent previously.

I was like a kid in a candy store the night after the power come on, running from room to room, and switching every light on multiple times. The dimmers had us confused and required some instruction from Mat.

Our 2 main lights, our kitchen and meals pendants took some time to settle on. We knew what we wanted for our kitchen but found it hard to find, whilst we really had no idea about our meals. We knew what we didn’t want, and I guess that is a start. Tina from Conidi’s Tiles and Lighting came through with the goods on both fronts and we think we have kicked a goal.

We still were not convinced when we ordered the meals pendants, and it was not until we saw them up that we knew they were right.

Matt Wilkinson Plumbing came in and rolled most of their fit off in one day. I caught up with him early that morning and confirmed the basin and tap locations for our vanities. Not a productive morning for me as it was the second trip to the site after I had met Kristian there early to confirm timber slat set out on our kitchen bench.

I was prepared for the impact of the plumbing fixtures, however they still impressed. The interior was looking very white, so needed some contrast which has been delivered with our plumbing fittings and lighting, as well the added texture of our timber and stone features. I thought we would also need more colour and texture with our furniture, wall art and styling, however it feels as though there is already enough going on. I think we will add some furniture, sitting and sleeping on the floor is not ideal, however we do want minimalism and spaces that are not cluttered. Moving in should therefore be relatively pain free and we already have the main items in.

Anyhow, back to the plumbing fixtures. More than content with these, most of which were brought through Dahlsens in Swan hill, with some mixers from Reece in Swan Hill. We found the hardest fixture to pick was our sink mixers in our kitchen, pantry, and laundry. Jess spent a lot of time on these and still was not sure, but now we wonder what the fuss was about as they look right at home in their new environment.

The septic system was also installed by Matt. It is a Ozzi-kleen treatment system supplied by Gary Napier Plumbing. The tank went in a couple of blogs ago, but the disposal trenches were only completed last week by Matt and then commissioned by Gary at the start of this week.

The downpipes have been a saga, apparently Vestis Aluminum downpipes are rare. They are hard to fold because the material is light, so Metal Cladding Systems provided a sample, and we are now waiting on prices. Matt has installed PVC downpipes, which look fine against our white walls, and can be painted to match the walls more. We want the black downpipes in Vestis, as they cannot be matched with Colorbond or painted PVC, however if we had our time again would not have bothered with the white Vestis downpipes. Unfortunately, we have wasted some time and money there.

McKnight Concreting are booked to come back and do the front footpaths and driveway apron. They are under the pump ATM, coping with the rush we had as designers prior to Christmas. We have ha d Rob Farrer back in to lay crushed rock so we can drive into our garage, and he will be back once the footpaths are down to finish the driveway and level the front yard ready for lawn.

The builders have been running around crossing off small items of their list. This list is normally written on a scrap bit of building material and left on site, which I often find to check where we are at. Amazing the attention to detail and I know that if I notice something, I need not worry, as Kristian already has and is all over it.

The builder, and his wife trying to avoid a photo.

Andre Brown had a little holiday just after Easter (how dare he😉) but has been back at it. He sweetened the deal by leaving some homemade cider in our beer fridge. The garage, front door, Alfresco area ceiling, and eaves are still to go, however the rest is done. Big house for one guy, but excellent quality control and we are getting A1 quality. The doors were the last task he competed this week, and the builders re-hung these just on time before the final inspection.

We have had some deliveries from Visual Appeal and Betta Electrical Kerang. The fridge was installed (plumbed) by the plumbers and TVs put up by the electrician.

Dale from Kerang Custom Joinery has been floating around finishing off the joinery and installing a shelf and hanging rail in our laundry. All trades were onsite Thursday running around getting everything ready for the Friday. The blind installer from Kerang Carpet Court was also there, and we have our roll down blinds just in time!

The big day rolled around, and I bounced out of bed. In stark contrast to the days previous as I was sick of the anticipation and just wanted the day to arrive. It was a nervous wait Friday morning, waiting for the call to say we could move it. This was not a forgone conclusion as the builder inspector could have found something that needed to be completed before we moved in. The builder also had to have all the certificates from all the trades and council health inspector (for the septic system) so there was a bit that had to fall into place.

I got the call at 12:27pm with the green light to move in. I knocked off work and met Jess to start the task of moving in. We started in the main area and have the main items in. Beer time crept up on us and we had some family around for a drink. Afterwards I attempted to cook a meal in the new kitchen, but failed miserably, trying to find things and work our new appliances: take away would have been a good option. The kids slept on mattresses and we are in a bit of a shambles, but we are in, and we look forward to a new life here at Wilson Court.

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Blog #30: Sat, 03 Apr 2021 01:22:48 +0000 Blog #30: Read More »


So close, yet so far.

That is the sentiment as the finishing yearn for the elusive completion date.

The house is largely built but there still a long list of outstanding items. Steady progress over the fortnight, however finishing off takes a lot of co-ordination and is not something that can be rushed. The task of building a house should not be underestimated.

Andre has been chipping away and now has the interior fully painted, bar the laundry and garage. White throughout with grey feature walls in the two girls’ bedrooms the only exception. The girls drove this and selected their colours, and I am pleased to say it looks ok. The two boys could not care less about a feature wall.

We caught Andre on site early Good Friday as we were finishing our morning coffee on our deck. He was there to finish off and tidy up ahead of the carpet install this Tuesday. Painting doors, the alfresco ceiling and eaves are the other items on Andre’s list for after the break. We love Andre’s attention to detail and his home brewing skills. He heard that I am fond of craft beer, so left a couple of his pale ales in my shed fridge. These were enjoyed by the river on Good Friday and kicking off with long neck stubbies may have brought me unstuck.

The highlight over the fortnight was the joinery install of the kitchen, pantry, and laundry. There were a couple of adjustments to be made but it all came together at the end of this week. We met with Dale (Kerang Custom Joinery), Kristian (KM Bray Building) and Matt (Matt Coates electrical) onsite on Tuesday morning and went over the joinery, confirmed island bench location, and discussed some recessed deck lights on the edge of our deck. The joinery has been a bit tricky for Dale – taking over the business and working with an old quote and notes, and he has also had an injury to contend with. He has provided good advice and we have adjusted the details along the way. We should have documented these adjustments more thoroughly as we lost track of the joinery specification.

We have done a lot of our selections on the fly, which I do not recommend. Best to document it all at the beginning so you know what you are up for. For example, we received a hefty extras bill for our cladding which we worked through during the fortnight with Dahlsens and Metal Cladding Systems. There was a large discrepancy between the initial estimates and actual costs, however it all checked out when the nuances of our project and upgrades were considered. Dahlsens in Swan Hill were helpful, and we were able to resolve to the satisfaction of all parties. This surprise could have been avoided if we priced the upgrades before pulling the trigger on them.

The kitchen and pantry joinery looks good, and it is now ready for the stone bench tops from CR Stone and some timber slats from our builder. Our kitchen splash back will also be stone, whilst the pantry will be tiled, so this can be done after the stone is in. The laundry splash back tiles went on during the week.

Matt Coates Electrical had been in and has competed a lot of the electrical fit off. Appreciate his efforts, coming in on a Saturday to fit it in with his busy schedule to not hold anyone up. He held off installing the kitchen and meals pendants until we confirmed the island bench location, which we considered shifting slightly to suit the AC vent locations. I am quite particular with things lining up or being spaced evenly (OCD?) and this seemed to amuse Matty.

The only feature lights in at this stage and the tube wall lights in our master and day bed, and surface mounted tube down lights in our entry that will highlight our metal feature wall. Pleased with our selections here.

Maher’s Glassworks were back onsite to install shower screen and mirrors but had to abort the ensuite mirror when they found a scratch. They will be back to install flyscreens to windows and cross off the last of their outstanding items.

The program from here is:


  • paint doors, laundry, & garage
  • Carpet to bedrooms
  • Stone benchtops
  • Finish electrical fit off
  • AC fit off and commission system
  • Plumbing fit off
  • Pantry and powder room tile splash backs.
  • Flyscreens, ensuite mirror
  • Clean.


  • paint eaves and alfresco ceiling.
  • External electrical fit off
  • Paint front door
  • Plumbers to install downpipes Hindsight we could have just gone with painted PVC rather than Vestis aluminium and saved some time and expense.
  • Front footpaths and driveway apron once downpipes are done. Looking forward to driving into our garage!
  • Septic disposal trenches
  • Clean walls
  • Landscaping, which will be the never-ending story.

By the look of that list, we are still a few weeks away. I remind myself to be patient and to enjoy seeing it all come together, but the desire to move in is hard to supress. It will happen, so I should relax. I sit on our daybed as I finish writing this. In peace and quiet and recovering from Good Friday festivities. It is a nice place to sit, and I fight the urge to lie down. I can’t help daydreaming of the house and I growing old together

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Blog #29: Sat, 20 Mar 2021 00:03:49 +0000 Blog #29: Read More »


More paint, more lawn, a septic tank, a portico ceiling, some stone and wood, 2 down pipes, and a partridge in a pear tree. Sorry no partridges and no ornamental pear trees (yet), but we do have a commissioned garage door!

Paint was the big player over the fortnight, and Andre Brown has finished our half of the house (master wing/ main living). The reveal of this was stunning with finished walls and ceilings a welcome relief from the raw unfinished materials and construction mess we had grown used to looking at. The crisp cool whites make the black windows pop, and we cannot wait to see the affect once a splash of colour and texture arrives with the joinery, furniture, and styling.

Andre has now moved onto to the kids end and will repeat the process there. This frees up our end and will allow the kitchen and pantry to go in next week.

Kerang custom joinery had been waiting on some vinyl door fronts which have now arrived and been used to finish our kitchen joinery. We have been lucky with materials, as supply starts to struggle to keep up with demand in the building industry.

Once the kitchen and pantry cabinets are in CR Stone Swan Hill can measure and install the bench tops, so then builder can tile splash backs, and then the plumbers and electricians can install the fixtures and appliances.

CR stone have measured and delivered our powder room vanity top, and Kristian clad the black cabinet below with timber slats that will match our kitchen bench and portico ceiling.

As usual, the carpentry on a custom build does not happen without careful consideration, and I was onsite Thursday to verify Kristian’s precise set-out. This followed lengthy discussion surrounding our timber portico ceiling. Debate was held about the spacing and direction of the slats, and to be sure a small section was done and approved before the green light was given to complete the rest. There was also the finish to select, and we went with a clear water-based finish after reviewing a sample Andre had prepared. Earlier in process there was the type and size of timber to select (Vic Ash 30mm x 20mm) and this followed extensive research and thought about the look we were after. This is just one example of the time and thought that goes into to each element.

More lawn from Advance Turf ( went down last Thursday and we assembled a crack team of 70-year-olds to assist (thanks Mum, Dad, and Dennis). Jess was busy running over dogs (RIP Lucy😞) so was late to the working bee. 100m2 this time, which was quite manageable, all laid and top dressed in an afternoon. I missed the memo that there was still a storm water trench to dig, so we worked side by side with Matt Wilkinson Plumbing who came at short notice to dig and connect the alfresco storm water (sorry Matt!). The lawn has gone gangbusters and has converted the back from a building site to a house.

Matt has also installed our septic tank, an Ozzi-Kleen Wastewater Treatment System from Gary Napier Plumbing. Septic Tank Approval from the council is required at building permit stage so this was revisited it check the requirements for the effluent disposal. Because our block was less than 5000m2,

with no reticulated sewer available, we needed a Land Capability Assessment which was provided by Price Merrett Consulting. Once the wastewater is treated it will be disposed via 4 x 25m long absorption trenches, which are underground slotted drains. We found that we could not comply with the required setbacks so Mark Carter from Price Merrett as able to work out a reduced setback to out dam.

The plumbers also have the Downpipes sorted and the custom Vestis Aluminum pipes should arrive next week. They installed 2 straight down pipes we already had on the garage, along with the rain head for the box gutter. The rain head is quite large, making the Downpipe look too small in proportion, so I have requested to replace this with a larger pipe.

There was some excitement last Friday when Quicklift Garage Doors commissioned the front door. We were eager to see the door operate that night and were impressed with how smooth the door moved. Power is not on, so this needs to be plugged in with a lead to work. The builder was almost as excited as us, as he was sick of operating the 180kg door manually.

Fridays seem to be a busy day at the site, not sure if the tradies read the blog, but perhaps they scramble late in the week to give me something to report? Writing this may just be keeping everyone on their toes? Anyhow Kerang custom joinery were onsite Friday and installed our WIR, some of our study, and the drawer fronts for our daybed.

I am sitting on our deck as I write this, in peace and dreaming of our new life here. I am about to tackle possibly the best chore in the world – mowing our new lawn, on our new mower, in front of our new house. 3.5 minutes of absolute joy. It is my happy place, and the countdown is on until we are here permanently. We have given up on Easter, but have the following weekend pencilled in. I will report back Easter Sunday to let you know where we are at.

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Blog #28: Sat, 06 Mar 2021 02:33:49 +0000 Blog #28: Read More »


Been living in a blogger’s paradise the last 2 weeks, no shortage of content. After the COVID slowdown of the previous fortnight, we have gathered real momentum as we roll towards completion.

The builders have run out of things to do, so have been working elsewhere this week. Our project has been their priority and Kristian and his small team have worked on it almost exclusively. We have had progress all the way through, so we are grateful for this level of service. We have always got on well, however our sibling relationship is seeming stronger than ever: I am nice to him to keep him at our job, and he is nice to me, so I pay him.

Still on the list to do is the tile splash backs in the laundry and pantry, and installation of timber slats on our portico ceiling, kitchen bench, and powder room vanity. They are waiting on the timber and joinery before they can complete these tasks.

The first week they competed the general carpentry (skirting, door furniture, shelving, tiling, etc), lined our bed head ledge, clad our entry feature wall, and built our portico deck. VJ panelling to our ledge, interlocking metal cladding to the entry feature wall to match and carry through from the garage, and composite decking for the portico to match the back deck.

The site was a hive of activity on Friday afternoon. Builders were building the front deck, cabinet makers were installing cabinets, plumbers where plumbing AC drains, concreters were boxing up footpaths, bobcats were leveling, and painters were scoping. I took off the afternoon from work to do some landscaping with my father-in-law Dennis. When the semi rocked up with the instant turf, it was scenes reminiscent of the Block. Dennis commented that he could see the dollar signs racking up. I quipped that he was the only one here not being paid.

The instant turf has transformed the back. We laid 150m2 of Mallee Kikuyu from Advance Turf in Swan Hill which is about 7m wrapping around our deck. Preparation for this included hiring Rob Farrer Bobcat hire to level the back yard and put down a layer of mallee loam. We built our floor level up so we could grade all surrounding surfaces away from the house to assist drainage.

Dennis and I commenced the turf laying, and later gained the help of Jess and the kids once school was out. The laying was pretty pain free and a nice job with instant reward. Thirsty work too, and the beers were that little bit sweeter with lawn as the backdrop rather than dirt, building materials and rollie pollies.

Our day bed and kids’ desk have been installed. Initially we had planned desks in each of the kids’ rooms, however after more thought decided we did not want the kids spending too much time locked away. We therefore opted for a single desk tucked away near the kitchen for them to use for study, but more so as a place to put down schoolbooks and charge devices.

The day bed has had some use already, and some of the kids enjoyed sitting on it watching me slave away top dressing the new grass. I did get some help, fortunately.

McKnight Concreting has been back to pour more of our footpaths, this time around the west side of the house. They cannot do the front until our downpipes are in, and these are proving to be a stumbling block. We have some Vestis Aluminum downpipes to match our walls, and these are in the shed. However, they need to be folded to suit the eave overhang, and this is where we are stuck.

The boy’s bedroom robes are in and we have ordered carpet and blinds. We met with the blind installer, an installer of blinds, not a vision impaired installer, on Saturday morning and ran through our options for our ensuite plantation shutters. It seems a shame to cover up our black window frames so have decided to leave one of our ensuite windows uncovered. I hope no perverts read this blog.

This week the painter Andre Brown has been there and completed a lot of the preparation, as well was giving half the inside of the house a coat. He will compete the work in 2 halves, to limit the time that painter’s tape is on the polished concrete floor. The polished concrete came with instructions to protect it during the last stages of construction, and Andre has been heeding these. He is starting with our end and will have that done first so the kitchen and pantry joinery can go in once he is finished and it is ready.

Have been talking to our electrician Matt Coates about moving some power points and installing some recessed lights on the edge of our deck. Oversights by us and it may prove too difficult to get the deck lights in now. We thought that these may be handy as a safety measure to avoid trips down to our lower deck. Have also done some research on speakers for our alfresco ceiling and have settled on a Sonos sound system that includes 2 speakers, an amp, and a sound bar on our TV. This system can be added to later if desired however will be a good start. Matt will supply and install this as part of his fit off.

Give us two weeks and the painting will be almost done, and we will very close to moving in. that means that I may only have two more blogs to write.

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Blog #27: Fri, 19 Feb 2021 23:35:06 +0000 Blog #27: Read More »


Far from plain sailing this fortnight. An unprecedented COVID shut down slowed our progress, however the limited time available was used efficiently and we have edged closer.

Shortly after I left you last time, Dale (our cabinet maker) installed our drop zone bench seat. This is the same design as our vanities and day bed – messmate timber top with white v-grove vinyl drawers – and we are equally as impressed with it. Dale was planning on installing the day bed and powder room vanity during the week, however unfortunately suffered an injury that has put him out of action. Luckily, he has avoided serious damage and will hopefully be back at it soon. We passed on our best wishes and told him not to stress about our job as his health is much more important. He is waiting on our vinyl doors anyhow so it should not cause much delay.

The builders have been tiling and the bathroom, ensuite and toilet are now fully laid. The bathroom was grouted on Friday and we are happy with the tile selection – see sneak peek below.

They have also been building shelves, hanging doors, and installing skirting and architraves. We are getting really close from a carpentry trade perspective, with just the following to go:

  • Wall tiling to powder room, laundry, & pantry once joinery installed.
  • Little bit of skirting.
  • Install door handles.
  • Entry feature wall.
  • Front portico.

The highlight of the fortnight is our new foot path around our alfresco deck. We got by McKnight Concreting to do this earlier than normal so we could get some grass down soon whilst it will grow. We selected exposed aggregate path so had to decide what stone mix we wanted. We inspected some examples and went for a black and white type mix. The exposed aggregate finish is achieved by removing the outer skin of cement paste to expose the coarse aggregate decorative. The concrete is poured as normal and then a few hours later the outer skin is pressure washed away. The next day they are back to apply a sealant and the job is complete.

Away from the site Jess and I have been making what must be the last of our selections: carpet and blinds. We settled on a charcoal Triexta carpet from Kerang Carpet Court and are awaiting a revised quote for our blinds. The we only have carpet in the bedrooms and felt the charcoal tied in with our bathroom tiles and followed the theme of the house.

Triexta is synthetic and is partially derived from corn sugar (instead of petroleum), making it an environmentally friendly option. Triexta carpets offer the durability and stain resistance found in synthetic fibres, combined with the soft luxurious feeling available from natural wool. It is still a relatively new product so the durability of it has not been proven over time, unlike nylon.

We like Grey roll down blinds, block out in bedrooms and sheer in our living. Sheer blinds allow light to flow into a room while still offering some privacy by concealing detail. Block out blinds, as the name suggests, block out the light and offer total privacy.

In our ensuite we have some tall windows which face the street, so PVC plantation shutters are the go here. More convenient to open and close rather than rolling a blind all the way down each time privacy is required.

Construction budget is a sensitive topic in our camp, so if you are reading this paragraph it has survived the scrutiny of my proof-readers. We have gone into this build with the intent to do it once and do it right. Therefore, all our little choices have added up over the course of the build. I am not allowed to use figures, but it is fair to say we are spending a lot more than we had intended.

The point I would like to make it that it is common to underestimate the cost associated with building, as well as the time it takes. It takes time to not only build, but to design, document, quote, and approve permits. I do not write this to put anyone off, I have loved the process and think we will look back with fond memories, but you need to be prepared. Financially, mentally, and emotionally prepared, as well as having realistic expectations on costs and time.

We have not made many compromises, however, we now must pull our heads in.  We therefore have decided to do away with our timber feature wall in the lounge room. We reasoned that it was not critical and could be done later should we feel the need.

A bit more carpentry over the next week or so and then over to the Andre the painter to do his thing. Some landscaping is also scheduled as we turn for the final straight….

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Blog #26: Floor Polish. Fri, 05 Feb 2021 23:29:26 +0000 Blog #26: Floor Polish. Read More »


Walk in robes, pantry’s, carpet, blinds, paths, turf, and polished concrete. These are the items that have been on our agenda over the last fortnight at Wilson Court.

The first week was a short week with the Australia Day public holiday on Tuesday and an unofficial one on Monday, however there was still some action on site. The wheels were even in motion on the Sunday, and I met with Dale our cabinet maker onsite to walk through our pantry design.

We measured and marked out the cabinetry and found we were short of drawer storage under bench, so we modified our plan by moving the microwave above bench.

I caught Brian Hovenden on site on Monday who was putting the finishing touches on before coming back and wrapping up on Friday.

Tuesday a builder and painter worked onsite, the builder tiling and the painter spraying inside of robes and the garage ceiling. The bathroom floor and wall tiles are now laid and ready for grout.

We utilized the day off by working through joinery details for our kitchen, pantry and walk-in robe and caught up with Dale Gitsham who was having his first day in the Kerang Custom Joinery factory. We had the privilege of being his first customer there and he was pleased to finally be in. Points of discussion were:

  • bench height: initially we elected for a standard 900 bench top, but after further research thought 950mm might be better. We were too late however so have settled for 920mm.
  • Overhead cupboards. These need to be quite wide to fit a concealed range hood, and even wider if having A recessed LED strip light across the back. We therefore had concerns at how far the cupboard stuck out, so spent some time measuring and checking out examples. We were too far along to move it higher, or make the bench below wider, 2 options we should have considering earlier. We ended up minimizing the cupboard width by centring the LED strip and stopping it each side of the range. For the record, our bench width and splash back height are 600mm, which are standard and ideal with a 300mm wide overhead, however ours is more like 370mm.
  • Walk in robe. A lot of thought and measuring went into this. We decided we wanted drawers rather than shelves, which will be much easier to keep tidy and organized. We came to this conclusion after reviewing the state of my current robe shelves. See sketch below of what we come up with.

We are fortunate to have some recent builds in the family, which are that both beautiful homes. We were able to use these as references and spent some time visiting these to check measurements.

We have started to look at carpet and blinds and took home some samples during the week. Looks like the main options are nylon, wool or triexta, which is a new product derived from corn sugar.

For the blinds we will go with roll downs for the majority with plantation shutters in our bathrooms. We will no doubt explore carpet and blinds more thoroughly over the coming weeks.

Mat Coates Electrical was back onsite to cut out the ceiling penetrations for the lighting, which had been marked on the floor so needed to be done before the floor polishers returned. The site was the cleaned up ready to hand over to Tesma Concrete, who were booked in Monday to Thursday on the second week to compete stage 2 of the floor polish.

Marco and co were onsite first thing Monday and started the process of finishing the floor polish. Stage 1 of the slab polish was completed back in July, which was the main grinding of the slab before the wall frames went up. In stage 2 they:

A) clean, apply grout to any holes/cracks, and give another light grind.

B) apply layer after layer of densifier to make it as hard as possible.

C) polish using diamond resin polishing pads to the desired gloss level.

Polished concrete is hard wearing, highly abrasion and stain resistant, and extremely low maintenance. It is not to be confused with A grind and seal finish (Polyurethane coating).If there is any coating on the concrete it is not polished concrete, and will be prone to scratch, discolour, peel, delaminate and wear down in traffic areas.

Initially we thought we wanted a low sheen finish, but after speaking with Marco were sold on the benefits of a higher gloss finish. The level of gloss is achieved by graduating through various grit pads. The higher grit the higher gloss finish. Marco recommends a minimum of 400 grit but encouraged us to consider higher. He did a sample of 400 grit and 1200 grit for us to inspect on Wednesday night, and we were happy to take his advice and go with the latter. They then set about finishing the floor to this level on the Thursday.

I was eager to inspect on Thursday night and was not let down by the finish. It came up a treat and could not be happier. Unfortunately, Jess was away in Melbourne for the day, but got to share the moment with Mila (daughter) who helped take some pics, before Kristian and Dennis (father-in-law) christened it with a beer.

Kristian had been away from the site but has been there first thing and last thing to manually open and close garage door, which is yet to be commissioned. It is a 2-man job, so we have booked in Quicklift doors to commission so it can be opened remotely.

We have been blessed to have a team of trades that are very particular about their craft. They have great attention to detail and seem passionate about what they do. Marco from Tesma Concrete certainly fits into the category and he has been able to deliver a great finished product. He of course can only work with the floor provided, and he was impressed with the quality of the concrete and the workmanship of the concreter – so kudos to Waddy’s Concrete and McKnight Concreting. The 3 parties have combined brilliantly.

McKnight concrete will hopefully be back before the next blog to do the concrete paths, which we have pushed for so that we can get some lawn down while the weather is conducive. Once the paths are down, we will get a bob cat in to level and bring in some loam, then get a pallet of turf to keep some dust of our deck. We will aim to get a sprinkler system in down the track before we get too far with the lawn.

Now the floor is polished some more joinery can be installed, and this may be happening this weekend, as our cabinet maker does not seem to stop!

From here we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Kristian will be back on site for 3 weeks or so tiling, skirting, hanging doors, fitting door furniture, etc, and getting the place ready for paint. The site is then handed over to Andre Brown who will spend the next few weeks painting. Once he is finished Wilkinson Plumbing and Mat Coates Electrical will come in and do their fit off. And Bob’s your uncle, we’re in!

Mightn’t he quite that easy, but by Easter we will be awfully close!

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Blog #25: Sat, 23 Jan 2021 03:45:23 +0000 Blog #25: Read More »


After a short break we are back into it at Wilson Court. Our attention has turned to the inside and the tradies have had a productive 2 weeks.

The builders, or builder for the first week, have mainly been working on the bathrooms. They have waterproofed the floor and walls, installed the screeds for the stepless showers, laid the floor tiles and made a start on the wall tiles.

They have also fitted the front door and door furniture and installed some of the architraves and skirting boards. We are liking the 600mm long oblong pull handle on the front door and have thus decided to do the same on our internal barn doors, which are in the same style.

We had been on cruise control as owners. Early on there was a lot of decisions but during the final weeks of the year we just sat back and watched the exterior come together. Straight up after the break we have been bombarded with a series of demands. What doors do you want, what handles, what skirting, architraves, how do you want your robes, linen cupboard, better finalize your lights, what colour you want your walls, ceilings, blah blah blah….

It is advisable to pick all this stuff at the start and have them listed in a set of specifications. Then you could really sit back and enjoy the ride. We however were slack and did not bother and were afforded some flexibility from Kristian.

Anyhow we got it all picked, and with minimum fuss. You get a bit over all the selecting and grow quite decisive. You need to otherwise you would go mad. I do not like to leave things unresolved, and the sooner you choose the quicker you can move on. That is not to say that we are blasé, we just have a clear vision and know quickly if something is going to fit or not.

Below are some of our recent selections:

Internal hinged doors
Internal sliding doors (barn, robes, cupboards)
Internal hinged door handles
Sliding door handles (apart from front of barn doors)
Skirting & architraves (67 x 12 single beveled)
Meals pendant x 3

The lighting was orders through Conidi Tiles and Lighting, while Kristian got the other items through Cookes Mitre 10 in Cohuna.

The plasterers have all but finished, and most of their time was spent sanding and doing the square set windows. A square set finish is where no architraves are used. This gives the appearance of the plaster wrapping around the studs and finishing against the window frame, which suits our minimalist style. This is more time consuming (read more expensive) so we elected to only do this in our main areas. In the kids wing we have architraves around the windows which means the plasterboard does not have to be finished neatly. It is also more robust and not prone to chip. Hovenden’s plasterworks have done a great job and we are grateful for their input.

Dale Gitsham has built the vanities, daybed, drop zone, desk and has been working on the robes. The bathroom and ensuite vanities were installed on Friday arvo, and that finished the week on a high. These are floating (wall mounted) have a 50mm messmate timber top with white vinyl panel drawers – see pic below. We are wrapped with how this look; however we did get a scare when someone suggested that they were mounted too high for our counter top basins. I had to abort my evening at junior cricket, halfway through my first can, and rush to site to get the basin out of the box and measure heights. Crisis averted when I was relieved to find that the heights work just fine. Top of basin height is normally 900mm, however with a 130mm countertop basin we thought that vanity top would be too low, so we had decided to have to them a little higher.

We met our painter Andre Brown onsite to discuss paint colours. We want white walls and ceilings; however, it is ridiculous how many shades of white there is to choose from. There are warm whites and cool whites, and the latter suited our style. Cool whites have a blue/black base, and translate as sharp, fresh, crisp, and contemporary on the walls. They also neutralise natural sunlight so work well in north facing rooms where sunlight is at its peak. Warmer whites have a yellow/brown base and throw off warmer hues making a room feel cosier and are more suited to traditional style homes.

So, wanting a cool white narrowed the choice somewhat, and we then considered the various options. Andre has painted the robes and kids’ bedrooms with a generic white undercoat and has A3 size samples that we can hold up in each room and decide. I am colour-blind so have left this decision to Jess, who has selected Lexicon half. Andre will now spray the inside of our robes with this colour so we can review and confirm we are happy before he paints the rest. You can use different shades and colours on different rooms; however, we think we will just keep it simple and have all the rooms the same. This may seem boring, but we want to keep things neutral so they do not date, and can get our colour from our furniture, indoor plants, and styling, as well as the natural timber we are using throughout the build.

Furniture is the other aspect we have been working on. It dawned on us that we need to get some things ordered if we want the house to be partially furnished when we move in. Financially we may not be able to have it all right away, however, would like to have our main living area sorted first. Our old furniture is either worn out or outdated, so not much will make it into the new house. We have ordered a couch form Visual Appeal in Kerang, and have my nephew making a dining room table for us. Have also brought our fridge from Betta Home Living Kerang and will continue to eye off other items.

The finish line is in sight, with a March finish date likely. More of the same for the next couple of weeks before the floor polisher comes back, and the electricians and plumbers do there fit off. Exciting times!

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Blog #24: Christmas edition. Thu, 24 Dec 2020 00:57:54 +0000 Blog #24: Christmas edition. Read More »


Merry Christmas from Wilson court. Santa did come, delivering a house to lock up stage, and wrapping up 6 months of construction. The build started just after my birthday in late June and I was pleased with a dirt pad as a birthday gift. The Christmas gift is quite an upgrade, and I cannot wait to see what Easter bunny will bring!

The back of the house is complete, and we are blown away with the finish here. Our house design is like a mullet haircut: business at the front, party at the back. The back has a bit going on, with day beds, alfresco areas, extensive glazing, high walls, and massive eaves, while the front is more reserved. It is not yet complete with the portico deck to be built, the portico ceiling to be lined, the temporary down pipes to be replaced and some plastic to be peeled. I am a details man, and my eye is drawn to the unfinished items, so I find it hard to fully appreciate this elevation at this stage.

Back elevation featuring Daybed, Alfresco, Glazing, high walls and massive eaves
Front elevation featuring flush mount garage door

The last of the external cladding got installed on Wednesday morning. This was the corner panels that get measured last and made to suit the space left. The cladding was not exactly smooth sailing, with some replacement panels required and a lot of separate deliveries out of Melbourne. This is understandable with such an intricate system. Each section of wall has unique custom panels and flashings to suit the wall length, height, and openings. Metal Cladding Systems did very well to get the last panels here in time before Christmas.

East end complete with corner panels

The only design decisions made this fortnight centred around the outdoor kitchen, or the provision for a future one. No room in the budget for it now, however we needed to sort the design to get the electrical, gas and plumbing in the right place. I had hoped to leave these items concealed in the floor and wall until they were required, however the advice was that this would be too difficult, so my beautiful clad wall has some penetrations. This will give me incentive to get the outdoor kitchen in sooner rather than later!

Alfresco wall clad with Nebula Midnight Vestis Aluminum V25 Interlocking panels
Design of our future outdoor kitchen

Hovenden’s Plasterworks have been chipping away and are close to being finished. There is a bit of work in plastering a family size home, a bit more than I realized. Brian, the main man, will be poking along over the Christmas period to get it finished.

Dale Gitsham has not mucked around and has been working on our joinery. He has our vanities, drop zone and daybed built already and I caught up with him again to discuss the kitchen, pantry and laundry.

After the break, the builders will move inside and work on tiling and the fit out. While the house looks close to finished from the outside, there is still a mountain of work to be done before completion. Haven’t got a date set yet but are thinking March sometime.

I hope you have had a great Christmas with your family. The blog will now have a little holiday, but we will see you back here in early 2021.

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Blog #23: Cladding & Plasterboard Part 2: Sat, 12 Dec 2020 01:12:30 +0000 Blog #23: Cladding & Plasterboard Part 2: Read More »


At a nice stage of our build now. It seems that the big decisions have been made, the finer details sorted, and major problems solved, and we are on cruise control, able to sit back and watch the house reveal itself one element at a time. We are not out of the woods yet, but for the time being we are thoroughly enjoying the process and falling head over heels in Love with our house.

We are still not at lockup stage due to some delays with the cladding; however, the build is well advanced with some aspects complete ahead of schedule. We have an alfresco area, and the house is sheeted with plaster, and these items are not required for lockup. The delayed lockup stage is not ideal for the builder, as 35% of the contract price is due at the completion of this stage and the bank will not release the funds until the site is inspected to verify. Therefore, it has been a long time between drinks with the last payment being after the frame stage… building is not all beer and skittles.

Two weeks ago, when you were sipping your coffee and reading the blog, we were busy collecting foam that was scattered all over block. A stack of foam was not secured enough to resist the strong winds overnight, so it was all hands-on deck to clean it up. Luckily, the foam was leftovers and not required for panel backing. Apologies to anyone else in the Neighbourhood that inherited some foam, but no need to return it.

Sunday morning we also met with our new cabinet maker Dale, and he has been very proactive, providing samples, measuring, and ordering materials. We are grateful that he has been able to come onboard at short notice and help us out.

We just about ran out of cladding panels the previous week and were waiting on the second order, so the builders turned their attention to the alfresco area, or what I like to call the ‘Entertainment Mecca’. There were enough panels to clad the parapet wall, and they also laid the decking on the lower deck and lined the ceiling with Hardies Versilux. These were all great developments and gave us plenty to look at each night, and this area is now almost complete.

Hovenden’s plasterworks have been busy finished hanging the plasterboard by the end of the first week, and this week working on stopping. Plastering has two major steps: Hanging which is screwing the sheets to the walls and ceiling and Stopping, which is applying a compound and joining tape along all the joints and screw holes. They will then sand it all for a perfectly smooth and level finish. The plasterboard installed so far has transformed the inside and gives a much better feel for the interior.

We have gone for square set cornice in the living areas and standard coved cornice down the kids end. Square set, or no cornice, suits our minimalist style, however, is more expensive so we elected not to have it everywhere.

The plasterers were particularly impressed with the straightness of the frame, which is a great endorsement of the builder and the red LVL timber used.

The plastic wrapping on the cladding panels had been annoying me so after discussions with the builder we decided to take it off. I started this on Saturday and revealed the Vestis nebula midnight Snaplock panels on the back of our outdoor area. This was rewarding work, and I felt guilty that I had robbed the installer the pleasure of peeling it off and seeing the fruits of their labour. Installing the panels without peeling the plastic is like mowing the lawns without lowering the blades. I felt proud like I had built the wall. I love these panels by the way, but I could write a book on the elements I love in this house. I would have moved on the front of the house, however life got in the way and I did not get back onto it until Monday.

I could not resist calling in on my morning walk to peel more plastic off the garage. This revealed the door and I felt justified for pushing for the non-standard flush mount tilt door. I have had some moments of doubt with it, however, now could not be happier. Well, I could be I suppose – one panel bulges when heated by the sun, but hopefully this can be rectified. Whilst there I also cleaned off the plaster footprints we had left on the deck over the weekend, ready for the builder to cover it up again for the weeks work.

Mila (daughter)and I returned Monday night to remove more plastic. We left some around the front door for protection when they build the portico deck, however peeled the rest. Also loving the pure white panels on the front and east end and love the contrast with the black windows. The contrast is even more striking on the north elevation with the white panels installed between the black of the day bed and alfresco area. This was done later in the week, and I am uplifted as I write this, fresh from a site visit to inspect. Of course, the builders are peeling the plastic as they go how, giving instant gratification to all.

The second order arrived at 10am on Thursday morning, just in time as the builders competed the last of the flashings. Another delay was avoided when Stephen from Dahlsens in Swan Hill delivered the flashings on Sunday after visiting Melbourne with his family. This really did save the day as the builders had run out of things to do and would have had to leave the site for the week. That would not have been good, so Stephen’s gesture was much appreciated by both owner and builder alike. The builder talked of buying him a slab, hope he came through…

Not long to Christmas, and it looks like Santa will deliver a house to lock up stage. Possibly the best present ever and certainly the most expensive. The build is exceeding expectations. I thought my plans and 3D modelling were ok, but they simply did not do it justice. Form & proportions are important, however colour and material selection seal the deal….

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