Thursday, June 10, 2010

Excitements for the Back Yard

A while ago, a young couple bought a post-war cottage in a quiet street. The house had everything they needed, in terms of location, aspect and price, and even a lot of the things they wanted. In particular, there was a lovely big back yard for the woman to garden in and for their future children to play in. And, they thought, the layout made it easy to extend if they wanted to.

It turned out fairly quickly that they did want to extend. While the northerly back yard got plenty of sun, the house had few windows on that side. The big south-facing windows caught the prevailing wind and kept the house cool in summer, but in winter the house merely felt dark and cold. The kitchen had some awkward walls so that the table never quite fit, and the lack of bench space continually frustrated the cook. Then there were the books... and then the kids came...

The house had been built before barbecues became popular, so the back door and yard were utilitarian. The Hill's hoist was only a few metres from the laundry and directly in front of the back door, with a by-now-illegal incinerator adding depth to the view. Shade from westerly sun was provided by two astonishingly ugly and impractical sheds. The aluminium shed was eventually concealed by a wattle tree... that grew much taller than advertised, shading the solar hot water system just as its twin in the front yard grew through the electrical wires. As the carport was a bit awkward for parking, the family started using it as a patio, but they found that westerly sun made it a bit too hot in summer. And the gutters still drained to a silted-up pit in the back yard, creating a boggy patch in the grass.

So we want a modest extension to suit the character of our little austerity cottage, give us additional living space, and provide an attractive frame to a patio and the rest of our garden. In realising it, we also plan to improve the energy use, capture some of our rain water and bring the drainage up to code. Years of planning (and a not inconsiderable sum of money!) have brought us almost to construction, and this is what has been keeping me a bit quiet lately. But now almost all the paperwork is done, and we are waiting for builders to quote.

The new work is marked in green, and the entry and kitchen are losing a few walls to improve flow and to enlarge the kitchen space. This blog will be changing direction a bit as I'm planning to document the building process here, and I'm not sure quite how much gardening I'll be able to do if half the back yard is dug up for drainage... but we'll see. I can't quite see myself giving up gardening; I feel as Gavin does about that!


Jamie said...

Good luck with the renos – I'll keep on reading your blog – but just promise me you'll stay away from those circular saws, Chookie!

Chookie said...

Funny you should mention that -- the hospital staff said my finger looked a lot better than that of the bloke they'd seen a few days earlier. He had indeed been mucking around with a power saw! Ouch!

Rock rose said...

Oh how exciting for you. I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible. You know all those stories about remodeling woes. We even had them building knew but then we chose the builder from hell.