Archive for the ‘Renovation Rescue’ Category

Bimbadeen Comes to Life

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

It has been a couple of hectic months since my last posting. I have been putting the finishing touches on Bimbadeen. I had forgotten how much stuff you need to fully set up a home. We managed to get get all of our furniture last week. A lot of it was flat pack so I spent a day putting tables, chairs, bedside tables and entertainment units together. Multiple trips to the supermarket to pick up all sorts of odds and ends. The results have been great.

 Front Bedroom      Rear Bedroom

Kitchen       Laundry

In the meantime the garden has started to grow and we are attracting a hoard of local birds.

Back Garden       Bimbadeen Kookaburras

 If you are interested to come and stay with us, here is a brochure that you can download that gives you some details about the facility.

Bimbadeen Disability Friendly Holiday Accommodation


Getting the Garden Going

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Now that we have all of the structural work finished and we are on site, I can start to concentrate on the outdoor site works. This means the garden and surround. I have struck up friendship with Alan from Woodlands Nursery in Merimbula which is walking distance from Bimbadeen. I will be using Alan for advice and to supply all of the plants that we will need for the garden.

We have also put a lot of though into the layout and landscaping of the block. We want to achieve a number of things.

  • Have the entire block accessible by wheel chair.
  • Create a garden that attracts native birds and marsupials.
  • Have a vegetable garden to help with self sufficiency.
  • Retain all of our magnificent views.

Making the gardens accessible by wheel chair was quite a feat for the landscapers. The rear of the block falls away about 3 metres from the back of the house to the boundary. I do think that they have achieved this, check out the terracing in the picture below.

 Back Garden Terracing

All of the pathways are less than a 1 in 14 slope which is in keeping with access standards and we will plant them with a local grass that is very hardy and gives a firm surface to wheel across. You will also be able to touch the plants from wheel chair height.

To attract birds and marsupials (we border onto the bush) we needed to focus on native Australian plants. Using Alan from Woodlands Nursery and a bit of research here are some of the species that we will be putting into the garden.

 Acmena Smithii
Acmena Smithii
These are commonly known in Australia as Lily Pily they have unusual flowers and both bird and marsupial attracting berries. We will plant these on the back border so that the wallabies and kangaroos can get good access.
Callistemon Endevour
Callistemon Endevour
These are commonly referred to as bottle brush plants. The endevour is a brand name for the citrinus strain and has striking red flowers. This will attract the nectar feeding birds.
Callistemon Pallidus (Lemon Bottlebrush)
Callistemon Pallidus
The lemon bottle brush is also planted for the nectar feeding birds. It grows to about 5 metres high but we will keep it trimmed to retain our views.
Grevillea Bonfire  Grevillea Forest Rambler

Grevillea Honey Gem  Grevillea Supberb
Grevilleas are probably the best plants for attracting nectar eating birds. So we have planted a pretty diverse range as you can see from the above photos. These should all grow into a hedge that we will keep at about 1.5-2.0 metres high. We have also used a prostrate version (Grevillea Gaudi Chaudi) for some ground cover in the front yard to avoid planting too much water loving lawn.
Grevillea Gaudi Chaudi
Mesembyanthemum (Pigface)
Pigface Orange Pink Pigface Yellow Pigface

As there are a number of small runoffs we needed a plant that would stabilize the banks. We chose pigface for this purpose as it is an evergreen succulent that has a great show of flowers.
Along the walls we will use Osteospermum which while not an Australian native (I think it comes from South Africa) will drape over the walls and is good in a dry environment.
Piniculatum (Brush Cherry)

Lastly we will plant some Brush Cherries which is an endangered species here in Australia. This will attract the berry eating birds. They have great flowers and rich red berries.

This is the first round of the garden design. We will need to now concentrate on the side areas and some darker areas around the water tank. Then it is on to doing the vegetable garden. Desiree has also just announced that she would like 3 chickens so I guess a chicken coop will also be required.

Moving Day

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Just prior to Christmas the big day came. We made the move. Packers came in to our unit in Sydney and spent 2 days packing about 50 cubic metres of our belongings. We then had to put the logistics around the move. The removal van would leave Sydney about midday and then travel the 700 km’s down the south coast of New South Wales to Merimbula stopping overnight. We would meet up with the truck the next day for the unload.

All went according to plan. We arrived in tact and so did all our belongings. What I did not realise is what 50 cubic metres of stuff looked like. There were boxes and boxes to unpack. Not doing anything by halves we had arranged for relatives to visit from the UK arriving 10 days after our move then it was Christmas when another 5 would arrive. All in all we would have 15 to feed on Xmas day. Not to mention that we needed to supplement the bed situation. At some stage the house would be home to 11 people. No rest for the wicked they say. (I just did not realise how wicked I must have been.)

Well we got through Christmas day with no mishaps, no fights, everyone fed etc etc. The house has come up way better than I thought, and as it had been more than 12 months since the last visit I had almost forgotten the spectacular views.

Now we need to concentrate on getting the last few building jobs completed, the garden done and some furniture for the holiday unit and we are up and operational. I will be posting some more details over the next few days now that I have got the Internet access sorted out.

Disability Hardware from Bradley Australia

Monday, November 24th, 2008

In a previous post I noted that I had become a public toilet expert. This was because Desiree and I spend an inordinate amount of time searching out wheel chair friendly toilets when we are out. I used this time to work out what fittings we needed and where they came from. it was not unusual to see me crawling around the floor looking for brand names and contact details. It was when I was doing this that I came across the name Bradley Australia . Where ever we found a well fitted out loo it always contained some fittings from Bradley Australia . I searched them out and found that they were headquartered in New South Wales and the company had been established by the Newhouse family. They specialised in making stainless steel bathroom fittings for commercial and domestic applications. One of their specialties was to make made to measure grab rails. Exactly what I needed. I managed to get on to the company and they agreed to partner us in our project.

I was amazed at the service that they offered. They said that when we had all of the measurements to hand that they could make up the tailor made grab rails in a matter of days. I thought that this was too good to be true. But it wasn’t. True to their word 3 – 4 days after John Bennett the builder gave them the specs the products arrived on site. We have now installed all of the fittings and they went in without a hitch. Check out some of the photos below.

Bradley Australia fittings in the shower.         Bradley Australia grab rails in shower

You can see in the above photos, the tailor made grab rails, a double toilet roll holder, paper towel holder and a 400 mm stainless steel shower shelf with soap holder. You cannot have too many shelves in the shower.

 Bradley Australia grab rails        Bradley Australia grab rails and Skope heated towel rails

You can see above the Skope heated towel rails and bathroom heater together with the Bradley Australia grab rails, and even a stainless steel soap dispenser. All designed to make living easier for people with disabilities. You also get a good view of the Altro safety flooring .

Getting the Deck Finished

Monday, November 17th, 2008

When we first started the project we put a lot of focus on the outdoor decks. Harry Sprintz our architect joked that we would become a family of deck dwellers. We do spend a lot of time outdoors in the Aussie sun so having a good deck meant a lot to us. We started by specifying a good Australian hardwood as the material of choice. We settled on stringbark gum which is a local eucalypt. This is a very resilient timber. We used a no-nail decking system made here in Australia call Deck-Max . What this system bought to the project was a beautiful smooth nail free surface. In addition it reduces the amount of cupping and warping that can happen during the weathering process. Avoiding this means that the decks will remain smooth and true. Something that is important for wheelchair use. We then left the deck for 8 months to settle in.

Last week was the time to finish off the decks. We chose a suit of products from our friends at Dulux .

The first thing to do was to get the floor sander in to go over all of the surfaces to make the deck true and smooth.

We then used Dulux Intergrain Reviva Wood Cleaner.  Dulux Intergrain Reviva is a high strength cleaner that restores dirty, weathered rust or tannin stained timber.  It should be used to prepare the surface for the application of Dulux Intergrain Ultradeck.

As the decking areas will be used by people with disabilities, it was important to us that the surface was as non slip as possible. Dulux make a product called Intergrain Ultragrip which is an additive for Intergrain Ultradeck . This was the reason that we chose this system. Dulux Intergrain Ultradeck is a durable long lasting water based decking oil for exterior decking. When Intregrain Ultragrip is added to the Ultradeck you achieve a slip resistance assessment of R12.

There is a misconception that the ‘R’ scale runs from R1 to R13, where R1 is the most slippery, and R13 the least slippery. In reality, the R scale runs from R9 to R13, where R9 is the most slippery, and R13 the least slippery. R12 means that the slip angle is between 27 and 35 degrees.

Deck-Max deck ready for sanding         Deck-Max deck coated with Dulux Ultradeck

 Here are some before and after photos. You can clearly see how the deck weathered through the last 8 months. The photo on the right shows the same deck after application of the Dulux Intergrain system .

If you are interested in more information about slip resistance you can download this guide.

Slip Resistance Explained

Too Steep – Retaining Walls to the Rescue

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The last few days has seen some serious progress on the back yard. The yard was a bit of a disaster zone. The back corner of the house is right on the 80 metre mark while the boundary of the back fence falls away to the 77 metre line. This is a 3 metre fall in a distance of 20 metres. In terms of making the yard accessible we can’t have any slope greater than 1 in 14. So our slope is more than twice what is mandated by the access code in Australia.

So the answer was to put in a series of retaining walls in a switchback type arrangement. Boral make a retaining wall system using keystone blocks that can be laid in curves. We have both convex and concave curves in the design.

Boral Keystones laid in a convex curve     Boral Keystones laid in a concave curve

You can clearly see both the concave and the convex curves in the above photographs. We are yet to put on the capping stones to finish off the walls. You can also start to see the switchback arrangement which allows us to reduce the slopes to less than 1 in 14.  The ramp is on the right side in the photo on the right. To do all of this earth moving we have bought in a small bobcat. Otherwise it would take days.

View of the yard from the back deck. Retaining walls taking shape.     Preparing for the Boral Keystones

We are now at the point where we need to make a decision on the grass  species that we are going to use for the lawn areas. The lawn will be on the ramps so the considerations are that it needs to be hard wearing, but also not too spongy. Spongy and wheel chairs do not go together well. The two species to consider were kikuyu and buffalo. Both would have been suitable, but kikuyu forms a harder surface, which is good for wheeling over. So kikuyu it is.

Kitchen Capers – Design Matters

Monday, November 10th, 2008

John Thorpe from Eden Custom Kitchens has been working pretty hard over the last few weeks putting together cabinet carcases. You might remember that we were able to get support from Polytec who agreed to help us with all of the cupboard doors and panel, Hafele supported us with all of the hardware and fitting that were needed to make the kitchens really, really friendly for people with access issues and Marble and Ceramic Corporation were supplying all of the kitchen bench tops which are made of Pietra Grey Honed Limestone which is imported from travertine quarries in Iran.

Here is a photo of the Iranian quarry and the type of limestone that they cut from the landscape. It is called Pietra Grey.

 Iranian Limestone Quarry    Iranian Pietra Grey Limestone

What we need to do is for John from Eden Custom Kitchens to cut a set of templates that we will send to Sydney and have the Pietra Grey Limestone benchtops cut to the exact size. So we will have the kitchen almost fully installed prior to the benchtops going into place. Here is where we are up to in the kitchen cabinet installation.

Kitchen Cabinets 1           Kitchen cabinets 2

 We had saved the stainless steel sinks for the old kitchens. (These were nice Italian jobs with very little wear.) However true to form they will not fit in the spaces that we have available. (Anyone want to buy 2 pre-owned Italian sinks?) As Dorf are one of our partners I went through the Clark website and elected to use their Quatro range which have exactly the sizes that we need. Check out the photo below.

Clark Quatro Sink

Features such as the barely there edge resulted in Quatro being commended for excellence in design by Standards Australia with a DesignMark at the 2004 Australian Design Awards. You would think that a sink is a sink, but apparently not so. What I like about this model is that it has a laser-cut edge which means there is less places for dirt and grime to accumulate.


Always in the Kitchen at Parties

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

There is no doubt that the kitchen is normally the hub of the house. For this reason we spent a lot of time (and money) on ensuring that the kitchens of Bimbadeen were workable by able bodied people and people with disabilities. The general principal that we adopted was that “stuff should come to us, not us go to the stuff”.  This meant that the kitchen design incorporated:

  • Lots of drawers.
  • Pull out wire baskets.
  • Pull out or wheel in pantries.
  • Pull out towel rails.
  • Pull out garbage bins.
  • Even fold out ironing boards.

There was one company that stood out from the rest in providing all of these types of kitchen fittings. The company is Hafele . The origin of the company is Germany and they have a division here in Australia. I must say that I have never seen such a comprehensive range of cabinet making fittings and accessories. The catalogue of fittings available here in Australia is over 1,400 pages thick. They seem to fabricate almost anything that you could think of for making life easier in the kitchen.

Hafele Logo

We have included in the design  fold out ironing boards in both kitchens.

Hafele Ironing Board Diagram       Hafele Ironing Board  Hafele ironing board folded

 All the drawers are steel construction which means that they can survive pretty tough use and also have super smooth runners and gentle close functions.

 Hafele Drawer Construction       Hafele Steel Drawer Photo

 We have installed carousel units in the corners so that stuff at the back can come to the front easily.Even the towel racks and garbage bins will come to you rather than you going to them.

 Hafele Eurocargo bin  Hafele Pull out Towel rails  Hafele Pull Out Wire Baskets

You can download the plans and perspectives of all of the kitchens drawn up by our architect Harry Sprintz by clicking on the links below.

Kitchen Plans Upper Level
Kitchen Plans Upper Level Elevations
Kitchen Plans Ground Level
Kitchen Plans Ground Level Elevations

59 Pallets of Retaining Wall Keystones and Pavers

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

We have been back in contact with our friends at Boral to work out how to do the landscaping in the front and rear yards. As we are on the top of the hill we have a fall away in all directions. This amounts to between 2.5 – 3 metres at its maximum. Obviously this is not an ideal situation for use with a wheel chair.

John Bennett our builder has come up with a pretty clever switchback terrace system.

This will have a couple of benefits

  • The need for fill will be drastically reduced.
  • There will be no slope more than 1 in 14 (This is a Universal Design standard)
  • Soil retention on the sides will be reduced.

Terracing Plan         Switch back terraces

 So to complete this plan we will need 1440 of Boral’s keystone retaining wall blocks, 360 capping stones and 204 square metres of paving. Check out more photos in week 42’s photo gallery .


 Boral Keystone wall              Boral Keystone retaining wall in place


The Keystone Retaining Wall System is a world-wide success story, and since its introduction by Boral into Australia in 1992, hundreds of thousands of square metres have been installed along our highways, roads and transport corridors, and around our sports facilities, buildings, foreshores and open spaces. Boral Keystone retaining wall systems combine proven engineering capabilities with design versatility, cost effectiveness, lasting durability and an attractive dynamic appearance to provide total solutions for retained earth structures.

Internal Doors Installed

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

When we were looking around for internal doors we had a few criteria that they needed to meet.

  • They needed to be solid so that they gave us some sound insulation.
  • We needed to be able to install locks on all doors if required with our own door furniture.
  • The finish on the doors needed to be resilient so it could take the occasional hit from a wheel chair.

We settled on a German product called “Prum” which is distributed in Australia by a company called Euro-Tec Doors .

Designed as a fully pre-fabricated rebated door and door-frame system, Euro-Tec doors are fitted with an all round rubber seal providing increased acoustic properties with anti-slam protection. What attracted us most was the finish that the commercial range use which is  something called CPL. Here is the blurb about CPL form the German website.

 When durability is the order of the day, doors must have plenty of mettle without this being obvious. Whether in a private rented apartment or at business premises – you can rest assured that even the toughest wear and tear will scarcely leave a mark on CPL. And finally, the new CPL surfaces are not just amazingly scratch, knock and tear-resistant, they are also completely dirt-proof and resistant to normal household detergents. In addition to this durability, modern printing methods lend a unique decorative quality to the veneers, which are barely distinguishable from their natural counterparts.

It took John Bennett and the team a couple of installs to get the process down pat but as soon as this was done the doors went in smoothly. Check out the photos below.

Euro-tec Doors being installed       Euro-tec doors going in.

In the right hand photo you can see the clamps in place that are required until the hi-tech adhesive that is used in the installation cures. I reckon that the colour that we chose goes really well with the bamboo flooring.