Sunday, September 27, 2009

And it begins...

What a busy weekend we've had!
I've mentioned before that SJ, Bailey and I live in a stone cottage that dates back to the 1890s in a small town in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. We purchased it around eight months ago.

We knew when we bought it that an electrical upgrade would be required: The old ceramic fuse panel in the laundry kind of gave that away. When we finally got an electrician out around four weeks ago it was revealed that some of the wiring in the property could be around sixty years old!

So, not only would the fuse-panel need upgrading, but the entire original section of the house would need to be re-wired.

After a short-lived panic about the work that was going to be involved in re-wiring our property, SJ and I soon realised what a fantastic opportunity this was going to be for us to get motivated and start the "improvements" we've been talking about for the past eight months.

As the electrician will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week coming, SJ and I wasted no time getting to work!

We had decided that we would remove the built-in cupboards in the living room, as they take up a lot of space and make the room feel small and cluttered. We have been unable to fit all our lounge suite in the living room due to this, so on Friday night we got to work and dismantled/removed one of the cupboards.
Whoever installed the cupboards had bolted the frame to the wall and the fireplace to hold it steady so it could support weight (eg for a television). This made it incredibly time-consuming and tricky to pull apart, and on the fireplace side the bolt was so close to the edge that when the frame was removed it took a chunk of stone with it! Not what we were expecting, but luckily no major damage and it should be relatively easy to fix with a bit of plaster and some patience.

We still have the second cupboard on the other side of the fireplace to dissemble, but we have elected to leave that for the time being as it will not be an obstruction to the electrician.

On Saturday SJ, his dad and I started early and got on with chasing the walls. Chasing requires that we cut strips out of the stone where the wires are going to be run by the electrician (see pictures below). To comply with electrical standards, the wiring needs to be put into the wall, pinned securely to the stone and then covered with plaster. An alternative to this method for stone houses is to install gip-rock walls and have the wiring run behind the gip-rock. However, this is a more expensive and time-consuming option, plus it would reduce the overall size of the rooms (which arent all that big to begin with). Besides which, SJ and I are quite fond of the stone walls and like the way they look.

SJ and his dad completed the chasing in a day, and it took a further day to clean all the mess. It was dusty work! But the house is now ready for the electrician to arrive on Tuesday and run the wiring through, and then complete the second-fit on Wednesday. We are privileged to have an electrician friend who is squeezing us in between other work he is doing in town at the moment, so now we are just hoping that Mother Nature behaves herself and doesnt cause any delay through wind, dust and/or thunderstorms.

Having to completely re-wire has been a blessing in disguise, as it has allowed us to choose where we want powerpoints, light switches and fittings, TV antenna points, and fan controls. All existing have been placed where it was convenient at the time for the wiring to be fed through from either the roof or vents and then run down the wall. This means that all the existing points will be removed, and we've been able to chase for additional light switches and powerpoints exactly where we want them.

This has also meant that SJ and I have had to finally decide, once and for all, where we will be placing the furniture in each room. It will still be a tight squeeze for the lounge suite in the living room, but at least we'll be able to place the television in a spot where it is not partially obscured by a fireplace mantel piece.

Once the wiring has been completed, we will finally be able to get on with fixing the plaster work, putting in new ceilings and cornices, flushing the walls and then re-painting the rooms. This is the part I am most looking forward to; I have had the paint colours selected for the past eight months and cannot wait to be rid of the uneven, patchy "peach" colour that currently adorns every room in the house...


  1. Well you have been busy. busy, busy.

    Guess it wouldn't be a good time to visit then? Glad I didn't clean your house just before the work started!


  2. Wow, you really have your work cut out for you!

    But the opportunity to paint it all--what a bonus!

  3. Aaah the fun of old houses which tend not to have sufficient electrical points. We have the same problem. I'm glad you are removing the built in cupboards. When we went house hunting a couple of years ago the was a couple of parameters. Wooden floors, steel ceilings and NO built in cupboards as a lot of the older houses integrity has been totally destroyed with nasty cupboards. Dosn't matter what you do - it just don't look right. We use old fashioned dressers with beveled mirrors which is perfect and the way it should be. I actually ripped out the whole kitchen a couple of years ago and replaced it with an old oregon pine bar counter to which we fitted a stainless steel oven/hob and chemical sink. Looks beautiful. Also ripped out the "modern" bath and replaced it with an renovated ball & claw bath and screeded the floor. Have fun with the renovations, messy at it is!


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