Wednesday, September 17, 2008


i have dealt with 3 builder's since my last post.

builders are draining and they cost too much. this is my opinion. and through no fault of their own, they are not in love with your design the way that you are. they don't hurry themselves because they want to see it built. they don't want it as bad as you do. so i've been sitting around on my hands waiting for prices and responses. but i think we have found one...

second meeting this morning on a cold and rainy site. we located the service points and discussed footings. we discussed how to go about building it and what it is going to cost. and i think we have found the right builder for our situation.

nothing is signed yet and we have to speak to our bank man again, but i think we might be looking at going forward sometime before christmas. which would be brilliant.

next stop is the money man...

Friday, August 8, 2008

jo pickup doors

jo came back to us a few weeks ago with the designs for the painted doors, in the colours that zac and i have selected (unfortunately these do not come up very well...). we have had to think about rationalising the cost of the job, so are only going to paint 2 of the doors - the door from the study to the bathroom, and from the study to the bedroom. this will create a little corner of art, which is a nice consolation. not sure which 2 we will go with...whatever jo suggests will be the go.

interior sketches and pricing progress

i am now bored with this drawn out tender process.

i feel like the house is now in the hands of people who have more important things on their plates and our project is not being shown the love it has recieved up until now. of course, that is only because it is our project and it's the most important thing int he world to us. and we have gone with a big builder who understandably regards our job as a small one.

so to stave off boredom and to reconnect with the project i have been so intimate with up until it went to the builder, i have been sketching the interior spaces to try and get a feel for it and convince myself it's still a good design!

prices are due back end of next week, so until then, here's my scribbles. note the simplified cabinet on the wall in the living room (this one has the cabinetmaker stumped - it's made up of 26 boxes of 4 different sizes in 5 different colours). i've also included the beautiful sofie refer lights that we are intending to use in the dining area and over the breakfast bar.

a view towards the study, without the study. open doors give a view to the wysteria-covered carpoert and the laneway beyond.
living room from the 'front door'. requisite plasma and split-system on the wall above the boxes...
sofie refer's beautiful bulb pendant.
view of the bedroom. those wardrobes are supposed to be yellow/mustard...this blog thing isn't very good with colours. the gap in the wardrobes is the door to the ensuite.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

builder price...

the fellow who is supposed to be pricing our job at the builders is apparently on holiday until no price to celebrate with my birthday tomorrow. hopefully we'll have something mid next week...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

builder response

have just spoken to our prospective builder who has said we will have an initial price in our hands by the end of the week. this is great news. things have been slow of late with the plans being in council and the builder considering whether they will be able to do the work. even if they come back with the wrong price, at least it'll mean i get to do some work (wheeling and dealing or re-drawing), and won't feel so impotent.

the target is $2000/sqm with not a lot of wiggle room at all! can't wait to get into it.

zac and i have just booked a europe trip for feb, so i want to get the house rolling so we have somewhere to move back into!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

building license + builder feedback

after submitting to council for our building license last week, we got some very quick feedback from our planning officer (i'm actually very impressed with the attention paid and the speed applied to the project by the planning dept). it was really just in the form of questions about how the building license drawings differed from our planning approval set (my own drafting errors) but it was good to see they were getting into it.

there was one question about setbacks and overlooking and our ingenious solution to avoid the full height screens the whole way around our roof deck. we have decided to push the balustrade on the north side of the house back to a 7.5m setback, thereby avoiding any kind of screening. it really doesn't mean we can see less of the neighbours' yard, but that's what the codes allow for, so that's how we will play it.

meantime, the builder told e yesterday that despite handing over documents for costing 2 weeks ago, he hasn't had a look at them yet! he's been on holiday in bali! well, i'm having dinner with his boss soon so i plan to lean real hard, talking up the pros and ease of the project and how it can slip easily into their busy schedule.

will let you know as soon as we have any info at all.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


my uncle has told us from the very beginning that he will build our house through his company and by calling in favours. he's coming in this morning to pick up a 'tender set' of drawings. i was at the office until 11pm last night trying to tweak them enough that i wouldn't be embarrassed handing them over...didn't get as far as i wanted, and realised that there are still several unfinalised parts of the interior design, and several selections unselected.

i am hoping he can price it for the most part and hand it back with a list of items remaining to be costed...i don't know the process...this is the first tender i've done!

we are trying to build for $2000/m2 which comes to $186,000 budget. it has no give in it at all. i'm actually just slightly terrified that it's going to blow out a large amount and we will either need to re-specifiy the whole thing, build it ourselves, or redesign it. crap!

will post as soon as we have any information back.

building license submission

it's in.

all the boxes ticked, all conditions met. this is my first building license so i'm hoping that that is all they need from us. that and a whole heap of hard-earned.

at the last minute, after receiving our aluminium quote, we changed all the windows and doors to timber. we are hoping this might save us a bit of money as we can be a bit more clever in the design. aluminium came in at 35k plus, so i'm going to lean on our joinery carpenters to come in a bit better. zac has always wanted timber doors so we might just push ahead with them now anyway. when i figure out how to load plans and drawings well i will post some new elevations.

Monday, June 9, 2008

final engineering!!!

our final, signed copies of our engineering drawings came through yesterday! i have no more excuses - it's time for building license submission and it's time to talk to the builder. crap! it's all gonna become a reality with banks and concrete and early morning site visits very, very soon...i'm hoping they're gonna let me scrawl all the building details on the floor with crayon, cos i'm very much over drafting.

i'll attempt to complete my specification and supply schedule for the builder tonight so i can sit down with him and not look like a complete tool. i'm very scared that i'll forget to add something like a dishwasher and get caught out in 6months time when it's not in the documents and the bank won't give us any more money...which would suck...

as soon as the BL submission is in (this afternoon? if zac can get out in his lunch break to sign the application form) and as soon as the specification is complete, i'll post a list of some of the features and maybe some new interior elevations. fingers crossed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

engineering, take 2

i have sent off the latest drawings today to our engineer, in preparation for our building license submission. they will come back to us with a final design to make our house stand up...which is handy.

so that means building license is looming. i spent the weekend playing silly buggers with internal elevations and lighting design, which doesn't help get us through building license but is fun...i'm going to go draw a section now...

Monday, May 12, 2008


i've been getting back into all the fun of building license drawings this week in an attempt to keep my mind of my impending APE3 exam (the final registration exam in australia to become a full-on architect). i've resolved some issues in section and detailed up a couple of tricky little elements of the house, but i've also been distracting myself further by playing with some unnecessary drawings.

the drawings below show the northern facade as a diagram of how much the side of the house opens up (used to convince zac that he would have a very open house after i denied him his bi-fold doors), and a concept drawing of the facade with jo pickup's designs over-layed.

(does anyone know how to get rid of the poor colour on my images?)

i am not sure if we are going to be able to do the pickup facade, but last week i met with jo to start the design process for our internal doors. she has told me we will have a few things to look at in about 3 weeks time, so as soon as she gives us something i will post.

have also been looking for fans for our whole environmentally-friendly/passive cooling jaunt. i've had it in my head for a while that we will mount 2 fans in the 2 rear corners of the house - bedroom and living - to force air to circulate around and back out the louvres on the front of the house. chad's post at 100khouse inspired me to actually get a move on so i've been speaking to heat australia this morning and they have suggested the fan below.

obviously not all of them at once, though that would make for one sweet in-house sou-wester.
so that's where we are today. zac is out trying to pin down the creeper that will form the majority of our deck screening and i am going back to my books.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


it's in, it's done, it's through! as of 10am today we have conditional planning approval for the apartment house!

apart from the standard bits about cross-overs and what-not, the only condition we have had placed upon our project is a matter of screening the roof deck. this isn't so bad. we can tweak the design a bit to accommodate everyone's concerns and still maintain the spirit and usability of the deck.

i am, however, going to approach our neighbours and discuss it with them also, because i think we can come to a better arrangement than what has been described in the approval. let's hope they get into the spirit of mutually-beneficial design!

so it's through and now i can start blogging again. we have just started getting some prices from windows and doors and screens and what-not, so we are working up an idea of the direction we need to proceed in. as soon as possible i will submit building license drawings and then sit down with our builder to figure out what he needs from me. that'll be exciting. i think we may still be on track for a house by Christmas. fingers crossed...

Friday, March 14, 2008


nothing much to report at the moment. the plans (with several modifications and additions) are in planning and should be up for neighbour comments at the moment. hopefully we won't have any issues. and if all goes well we will having approval in a week's time.

need to get a wriggle on and have my drawings ready for tender. we want to get this done sharpish and try to be in by christmas and summer. zac seems to think that it's not a cool idea to put a blow-up kid's pool on the roof for summer lazing...i seem to think it's a fantastic idea and am planning on also adding truckloads of beach sand for additional summer-fun-ness.

1 week more...fingers crossed.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

the bathroom

the interior of the apartment house has been designed for a while - bar the details and issues that i come across while drawing up the building license set - but i haven't had a chance to post any of them. following on from a post about a bathroom fixture i thought it was necessary to show where it was going to be fitted.

this sketch is the most recent thing i have for the interior of the bathroom/laundry, viewing from about the point of the laundry cabs (check the plan to see how it works):

concrete floors, tiled and painted walls, opening to roof skylight, in-floor grate for the shower drain, sliding door into the bedroom through the cabinetwork, no shower door, just a little screen to stop the majority of water spilling out...i wonder if i can get blue glass for that screen, to match the tiles and cabs...might be a big blue room...will need to colour-coordinate toilet cakes to match...

Friday, February 29, 2008

planning application: take 2

so-armed with levels and survey information i have just completed my second attempt at drawing up a planning application for the house.

a little annoyed that it has taken this long (mostly at myself for trying to subvert the system, a little at the suveyors that drew up the lot 5 years ago and couldn't manage to track down the drawings 4 weeks ago), but that's now by-the-by. this is going in to council on tuesday and it is going through, dammit!

t minus 3months, 3days and counting...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

50khouse / 100khouse

few people know this, but the apartment house started out as the '50k house'. i was and still am damn sure i could build a house for 50 thousand $ - it was small and it was timber but it was only going to cost me 50thou, and it would've been hot. anyway, one thing followed another and all of a sudden the project blew out to the 'apartment house'.

well, a few weeks ago whilst looking for kindred spirits, blog-wise, i stumbled across the 100k house! chad in philadelphia, usa, is building his very own apartment-sized house for 100k (twice as tall, twice as big, twice as costly, and presumably twice as water-proof and comfortable as the old 50k house)...and he is keeping a very up-to-date and detailed blog while he does it. so link on over and take a look. it's a very sexy little building and has some great drawings and images in the albums. and his architects - ISA - are impressive too.

...this blogging thing is fun...


and now we have our survey info! hooray!

therefore i can augment my existing planning application (which have been on hold at council for a month already...the project has at least been given a council reference number, which is exciting, i guess) and submit it to join the rest of the drawings. then wait for approval...or otherwise...they say 3months but i'm hoping there won't be too mcuh deliberation and it might be a bit quicker. we'll see.

in the meantime i will press on with my construction set of drawings in preparation. i'm sure plenty of issues will come up in the meantime. i've already found 2...

floor plan

the floor plan...

there you have it. that's why it's the apartment house. it's small. i mean, it's not that tiny (in fact, my research turned up that you would need to pay over a million $$ to get an apartment 10% smaller and share it with 2 other people at least, in any of the current developments in the area), but it's not big.

the footprint is in the vicinity of 93m2, but the roof deck allows for about 150m2 of outdoor living/entertaining area. 93m2 is more than enough for 2 people to inhabit very comfortably, and the living space alone is bigger than most flats and plenty of new apartments.

so it's open plan living/dining/kitchen, with a couple of moveable kitchen benches to allow for different capacities or scenarios. then there's a small study nook with beautiful northern light from behind. from there it's into the wc/ensuite/laundry with its skylight chimney, massive shower and communal basin. through into the bedroom which is vast and which i'm sure will incorporate a small lounge area when it's done. there's a full wall of cabinets and wardobe that conceals the ensuite and bedroom sliding doors behind. then back through the big slider (the jo pickup door) that also acts as the door for a storage cupboard accessed from the study side. that's the tour. it only takes a moment. as i have more interior sketches i'll post them to see how the inside feels.

the north facade is all sliding glass and operable louvres with a beautiful big eave to keep the joint cool. this glass opens on to the vine-covered carport and the big slab deck and shade tree. around the corner is the access stair to the roof. and down the walk to the mailbox.

the engineer called it 'cute'. i'm going with 'compact'. or 'succinct'. it's going to be beautiful.
*re-posted the floor plan with the revised one for the new planning app.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


sanitary selections - done!

that little hassle is out of the way and we came through under budget...which is nice. i managed to convince zac to let me have the sink i've been dreaming of since day 1 - the vast catalano zero75 from rogerseller!

look at the size of it! like 10 people can brush their teeth in it at once! that's a lot of teeth brushing. you could probably have 10 people flossing there too...not at the same'd have to have some sort of rotation system...

so yeah. big sink. big shower head. presumably standard size toilet. a robe hook.

i'll see if i can track down an interior drawing or sketch so that the full glory of our enormous basin can be basked in.


right. we've got our engineering. our brilliant engineer has banged out 2 pages of sketches and we are done. we've got a big fat slab and a couple of skinny columns.

so that's nice and simple and easy to incorporate into the fact it hasn't changed much from the planning application drawings...which means tender-able drawings can't be far away...lord, i hate drafting...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

jo pickup

i have a theory about mixing architecture with other artistic and design disciplines. it's not very complicated; it goes something like "it's good to mix architecture with other artistic and design disciplines".

there's something subtely, and sometimes overtly cannabalistic about architecture with its constant and ever-distilling practice of 'reference'. let's ignore, for a moment, that this house has a phillip johnson idea at its heart, and, well, let's just ignore it. i like the results that come from design cross-polination - shoes and artists, clothing and product designers, art and architecture. the apartment house is mostly driven by budget and heated compromise, but i believe in the benefits that can be achieved through mixing architecture with just about anything else. to that end, zac and i approached one of our favourite artists/designers - jo pickup - to enhance the house with a couple of integrated pieces.

jo works with ink and textile and screen-print and produces some amazing stuff, so we were very glad to hear she was up for mixing it up with some architecture. at this point there are 2 ideas on the table - the first is pretty straight-foward and entails screen-printing the 3 interior doors to create some huge 'murals' (i'll try and post some sketches of the interior spaces and where these prints would go); the second is to produce a privacy/shading/indicator strip on the glass facade by turning a design into vinyl transfers to be stuck to the glazing. i had to stand up and argue this one on the grounds that yes, it could be done (coincidentally, after the conversation i spotted a similar application on a work by one of my favourite architects, andrew maynard) and that yes, it would look awesome. having won that argument it'll probably be scuttled by the budget, but it's a moral victory...the internal doors, though, are definitely a go. if i can't actually integrate with art, then i'm at least going to allow the house to be a canvas for it.

so jo and zac and i need to sit down and work out what the plan is, and i have to be able to convince the builder that he needs to allow lead time for pretty screen-printing of doors. when jo has an idea of what she is going to do i'll ask her if i can post it.


ok. after a slow start we are well under way. the plans have gone to council for planning approval (nb: if your boss, associates and other learned professionals tell you that you can get away with doing a d.a. without getting a survey...get one anyway), the retro-fitted, survey-enhanced plans will be going to council as well next week, the engineer has started working on my expansive roof slab and we are making selections left right and centre.

so far we have pretty much nailed down appliances, sanitary, lighting, stone for bench-tops and a mature tree for the courtyard. but of course that will all change next week, if not when we see something sexier, then at least when the final quotes come through!

in the meantime i am working up the lighting plans and the cabinets for the kitchen (i keep forgetting to locate a rubbish bin...), and trying to figure out what a 'burnished' concrete floor looks like. if anyone knows where i can see one i'd be most grateful for the information.

on it rolls...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

and the rest...

thought i'd post the rest of jamie's lovely renders...


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the design

so...the overwhelming response to my last post has been something along the lines of "so david, nice site...bit small...but it's not a house". how astute (and kinda rude). so with limited further ado, let's see what the proposed joint looks like. we're a bit past sketch design now, having already submitted for council approval, but it hasn't changed too much from day 1, just grown and matured.

it's 93m2 (perfect for zac and i) with roughly 200m2 useable outdoor space, including a huge roof deck (perfect for open-air dinner parties). the north facade is all operable glazing to allow for efficient heating/cooling/lighting, and the rest of the walls are grey cement block. they in turn, match the floor, which is a polished concrete of some sort, the deck, which is also concrete, and the carport, which is concrete council pavers. concrete is the material of choice this time case you didn't spot that...
in addition to that grey, grey exterior, the house will have some huge 'green screens', for privacy, shading and general sexiness. and a lovely green carport...for porting cars, i guess. the roof has access, up an exterior industrial staircase, to water the plants and sunbathe.
the interior is as yet unclarified, but the gist is that the house is sliced into thirds (3 panels each on the glass facade). the first three, closest to the r.o.w. and the green wall in pic 1, is the huge master bedroom and reading room. the middle is the ensuite/main bathroom (situated at the rear with a chimney-like skylight open to the sky), the small study and the kitchen. the last 3rd is the living and dining free-for-all area. this area can then be opened up to the deck to allow for al fresco something or other...
for those archiphiles out there, the little house is, to some extent, based on phillip johnson's first residence, which i hope bodes well for my future career. look it up, it's beautiful.
so that is that, until the concil tell me i can't have half of it. thanks to jamie for the lovely renders. comments and critiques are always welcome, but i'm pretty sure it's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


the site:

so this is the little bit of earth that zac and i now own. it's a very strange thing to realise that you are in possesion of a bit of 'the earth'. of course there are all kinds of people and regulations that tell you what you can and can't do with it, but still...i know it's a corny sentiment but when i first stood on it i had a sense of responsibility and respect - that this was a piece of ground that i would need to treat well and take care of it...well, like a caretaker... it's a blank slate and i'll try my best to do something worthwhile with it, but after that i have to pass it on to the next person. is that what everyone else thinks when they get land? anyone else? anyway, here are the stats:

241sqm, inner suburban perth, subdivided rear lot (it's an old backyard) with right-of-way access. it's on a hill with a nice landscape-ish slope to it, and has some very close, very character-y neighbours. my favourite part is the dinky path down to the letterbox at the front of the old house. it's a long way to walk to pick up our mail in my y-fronts, but still, it's cute.

so that's the site. i'm looking forward to tearing into it with a bobcat.

apartment house

this is a blog about a small house. a small house that is going to be built on a small block for (hopefully) a small amount of money. it's small like an apartment, hence 'apartment house'. it's also having a bit of a difficult birth at the moment (both this blog and the house itself) - it has taken me two days to get this first post online! i'm going to avoid any further exposition at the moment, in preference for actually getting something recorded.

so that means that THIS is the first post, which means that i am going to have to go backwards to cover events and incidents that have already occured, as well as going forward as new events unfold. don't worry, it'll be just like a david lynch film!

things that i will be coming back to:

- the block
- the sketch design
- the block party

things that happened today which are still too irritating to be recorded in a coherent fashion:

- the submission of planning application

so unfortunately, instead of some grand, clever first post, this is all i've got. don't be too concerned - it will get better (at the very least because there are pretty pictures to attach!).