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New house built from scratch

Becoming a Leader
Becoming a Leader

A comprehensive account of the stages of building a new house, from foundations to completion.





The project


July 2016


The home we are building is about 45km west of Geelong in Victoria. It is approximately 30 squares including an indoor pool. I drew up the plans to scale and then sent them off to be professionally drawn up by an architect.


First the pool hole had to be dug well before much else could be done with construction.


Pool Hole no 1.JPG


These standard clay bricks were used to build up the foundations to the required height for both the house and verandah.


Brick Founds no 1.JPG


We used Mt Gambier limestone blocks for cladding.


Veranda Vents no 1.JPG


We decided early on that we would not have timber verandahs for maintenance reasons. We used 90mm poly pipe at 5m intervals for ventilation under the home.


Bearers #1.jpg


We used LVL bearers that were 6m long and 12.5m long.


Foil Board.jpg


Pool placement.


Pool Placement no 1.JPG


Completed pool prior to framing with my site manager Pipi checking the process as usual.


Pool Concrete Finished no 5.jpg


Pool with framing going up.


Internal view of Pool #2.JPG


Framing in full swing.


Frame South Side.JPG


Then came the trusses, which was the most challenging part of the project so far.


The trusses were 12.5m wide with about 10cm overhang on the top plates. To pick the trusses up, we fastened two 8 inch x 2 inch timbers in the main triangle section of the trusses so as not to compromise the Gang-Nails. We then lifted them up with the trusty front-end loader and sat the truss on the east end of the house. Then we fastened a rope at either end of the trusses and dragged it from the east to west, some 17m, lifting or jumping it over the odd Gang-Nail until it was right up the west end and ready to stand up.


We used a long board to start to lift the truss and took up the slack with two ropes fastened at the centre or top of the truss, one rope pulling east and the other west. Slowly and painstakingly, we loosened one rope and tightened the other rope and mostly we succeeded with each truss. The odd one slipped off the top plate and we had to lower the truss, lift it back up onto the top plate by hand and start the lift again. To get the truss back up on the top plate, we had to completely skew the truss, even though we only had to gain that small amount of 10cm.


Fourteen trusses later and we had them up. Then there were the smaller hip trusses but they seemed rather easy compared to the main trusses.




A cathedral ceiling under the main roof.


Pool Roof #5.JPG


Frame showing all openings.JPG


The Colorbond roof is finally on.


Finished Roof.JPG


The brickwork on the south side is almost finished with only 80 blocks away from completion. Five windows on the east side of the home means lots of cutting. It's easy with a 9" grinder but very dusty. Limestone is great to work with as we're able to fashion it easily.


Back of House with Ramp.JPG


August 2016


Spent the afternoon tidying up the verandah. There's not a lot to report for the inside. We have almost completed all the plastering so that is another major milestone.


We are getting a local professional plasterer to "stop and sand". Not prepared to do it myself as I had both shoulders reconstructed and don't think I'd be doing myself any favours trying to sand an entire home at the age of 60.


I almost fell through one spot in the ceiling while laying insulation in the roof. Lucky a plaster baton and truss stopped me from falling to the floor, but ouch! We have double insulation in the roof, so no visual timbers. I've now used fluorescent spray paint to put pink lines on the insulation over every truss and baton to depict safe walking areas. I've used other colours to show where the down lights, fans and smoke detectors are and I'll have a mud map in the roof for anyone that needs to go up there. Fortunately our electrician installed fluorescent lighting in the roof cavity.


We also installed an attic ladder instead of a standard manhole. It's so easy to walk up a ladder at the right angle and with plenty of room instead of trying to get up into a small hole at an almost vertical angle that's the size of a dog kennel hole.


Of course there's still heaps to do. Almost 40 eave sheets to put up and the sill tiles as well but hopefully we'll have the tiles done within the week. The eave sheets will be a much longer process. We do have a plaster lifter and it is invaluable in taking the "lift and hold above your head" out of the equation.


South side of the home showing the glass brick windows in the indoor pool room, back door, lounge window and the access ramp. We've been mindful during the build to make provision for such access both into the home with minimal height door sills, and also through interior features such as a step-less shower, accessible toilet and 870mm doorways.


South side #2.JPG


It's taken nine years to get to this stage doing all the construction ourselves so we're very proud.


October 2016


All sill tiles were completed, so once again another milestone. It is so easy to tick something off a list but the process of that completion can be detailed and frustrating at times.

The big project being attacked at present is the verandah eave sheets. As we've been going along, I jokingly asked my husband, "Who was the bright spark who thought a 360 degree verandah was a great idea?". Some sheets are easy but then there's the cut-out for verandah poles, not to mention the corners of the verandah. I'm pleased to say we are on the last side with 21 sheets to go.


I pre-primed and top coated all the sheets first so we don't have to paint once they're up. But even with a plaster lifter, the boards are still getting a little scuffed so I'm painting the sheets yet again. I'm only having to cut in close to the edges with a brush and then use the roller to scoot across the scuffs and cover the nails. Looks a treat, all nice and white. This process of touching up means the sheets will have been painted a total of four times, so I have painted 280 single sheets.

Inside still nothing much as we still have some plaster and Villaboard to purchase. In the interim, I have been trying to find a suitable wall and trim colour to match my tiles and am onto my eleventh tin of sample paint. One was too apricot, one too pink, one too grey and a few too nothing. I think I have found the one but I will get our daughter to see what she thinks as she has a good eye for colour and can pick up on the subtle differences in the undertone.


There is an annoying problem though. I didn't know just how important it was to make sure that the rafters were not only straight but exactly at 1200mm spacings. My husband told me to measure and mark when there was terribly rough and uneven ground underfoot. I've obviously not been as accurate as I should have been and now my rafters aren't precisely at 1200mm spacings and that has meant extra little chocks and noggins to be able to secure the sheeting properly. We've been using some 3 x 1.2 inch batons. No one will see my stuff up once the eave sheets are up.


March 2017


My husband and I are getting lots of those fiddly things done such as the plumbing for the vanities. Only seven sheets of plaster left to put up and the plasterer is due to begin stopping and sanding soon and then I'll begin painting. Tiles will follow after that.


The septic tank and trenches are in and the power has been laid as well. We still have a dozen odd eave sheets to put up and have been busy today finishing vents for the rangehood, inline fan for the bathroom and clothes dryer that are all vented out to the verandah.


I've also been under the house and finished bringing the power cable up through the bottom plate to the internal power board.


July 2017

The house is coming along in leaps and bounds this year and we could finish it by early 2018. All outside work is complete.



Painting is all but complete indoors, so fans and downlights are in with just a few pendants still to hook up in the bedrooms. Two rooms are already partly furnished and we have a working toilet. Power is on in most areas with just the pool room, a group of outside lights and the HWS to connect up.


The kitchen should be in situ by the end of September. Finally everything is coming together and we are almost at the end. We have a lot of tiling to do with over 100 square metres of flooring and two bathrooms. The tiling will be going right up to the ceiling. We must first complete the skirting boards with almost all the architraves done.


August 2017


All the plaster and Villaboard is finished, including the pool room. Painting is almost finished in the home – pool room still to go but that's a different type of paint. Final wall choice was Berger Polished Stone half strength and the trim is Dulux White Exchange quarter strength. I went through another four sample pots making it a total of 15 pots before settling on one.

We just completed the main bathroom. Huge job using 600 x 300 wall tiles and making sure we matched the grout lines with 300 x 300 floor tiles. Very tricky but we got it. Still have to finish grouting.


Shower Fitted.JPG


Bathroom Vanity Hung.JPG


#1. Tiling Spa.JPG


Busy tiling the floors now and managed to lay about 150 tiles myself so very pleased with the progress. A few more weeks and we should have all the floor tiling finished and then we start on the second bathroom.


#1. Toilet tiling.JPG


Toilet Handbasin.JPG


All in all, we've had a very busy 10 months with a wonderful hay season so we've got plenty of savings that we can spend on the home now


November 2017

The house is almost finished with two bedrooms decked out. No carpet yet so we've got painted flooring for now but it looks and feels cosy.


Master bed has some furniture but we are still living in the cottage until we get the skirting boards up and painted.


Bed 1 (2).JPG


Bed 1 with some furniture.JPG


Second bedroom.


Bed 2 (2).JPG


Third bedroom.


Bed 3 (2).JPG


Main bathroom is complete including TV cable.


Spa (2).JPG


The ensuite as I call it (it's a small bathroom in our indoor pool room) is complete.


En Suite Hand Basin.JPG


En Suite Shower.JPG


En Suite Toilet.JPG


Kitchen is in. We'll wait until next year for the benchtops. We used varnished green tongue flooring for now. Ovens are in situ and just need connecting. Hot plates should be ready to pick up tomorrow. We've got some safety switches to do once the ovens and hot plates are connected as well as finishing the cornice and painting the bulkheads.


# 9 Kitchen.JPG


Kitchen Sink.JPG


Kitchen Wall Cabinets.JPG






March 2018

We've now moved in. The kitchen is useable with polyurethane flooring as makeshift benches for now. We'll soon cover it with stainless steel. Stone benchtops to come in a few years at a further $7000 cost, so the stainless steel will see us through until then.








Completed office with lovely pure wool carpet.




Master bedroom complete with carpet.






Master bathroom complete with TV to watch a show and relax in the spa.






Accessible toilet complete with hand basin and hand rail.




Laundry with makeshift bench once again using the trusty green tongue flooring. The water-resistant laundry cabinetry alone is over $5000. Dryer yet to be hung on the wall to the right of the towel rail.




Well there you have it, almost done. Finished enough to live in and so proud of our achievements after 11 years.


September 2020


We've been in the home almost two and a half years now. There are still a few unfinished projects such as hanging some doors and door jams. The pool room is no further advanced but we'll get there sometime.


Refurbished Red Gum table with liquid glass top.




Completed laundry with stainless steel benches and splashback.








Our Red Gum island extension.






If I were to change anything about this project it would be the spacing in the office. As a result of the decision to put a doorway where I put it to make the kitchen layout work, I restricted the size of desk I can have in my office. I can't go beyond 140cm and I had no idea how hard it would be to find a desk with the features that I want that is only that wide.


This is my office and on the other side of the built-in robe is our fridge. This combination worked perfectly but not so much for a desk on the other side of the door.


Updated House Plan.jpg

I had also taken 300mm from the adjacent room to accomodate a doorway into the master that wasn't there before. You might say I could put the desk on the wall where the sofa bed is, but I put six power points on the wall specifically for the desk and all that's needed to run a business such as a printer, computer tower, desk lamp, monitor, shredder and heater.


During the frame stage I decided to widen the doorways and take them from 720mm to 770mm. I wanted to make sure a wheelchair could fit through and it did't seem to be a big project, so I did that myself.


A big plus of this project was that money prevented us from going forward too fast. We built our home with the available funds from our farm year to year. It took many years to do it but that gave us a lot of time to go over our drawings and measurements. While I did make changes along the way, they were minor as I wasn't dealing with an on-site builder or crew with a timeframe. It was just me and my husband.


As for the pool, I am pretty excited about getting it finished sometime in the future.


Finding My Feet


I enjoyed going through the photos, I especially liked the use of the Glass Bricks.

Cheers to you , good job.

Home Improvement Guru

Good Afternoon @Baretta11 

Wow! Love it, loved all of it especially your descriptions of the jobas it unfolded!

Quotes that stuck in my head "Only 80 more blocks" when talking about the Easten side of your house lol those look like decent blocks!

The redgum bench is a killer! My eyes popped out when I saw it, beautiful! 

I really like your temp benchtop :smile: How long did you have it and how well did it hold up? (I have a particle board kitchen from the 70's id say and its held up resonably) 

The attic ladder I love and ouch to half going through the plaster! Marking where things are is a good idea. Id like to have an attic ladder for sure (almost installled one and its on the "list" :smile:

Cant wait to see your pool done! Please add to this sting when you do :smile:


I keep scrolling back and fourth through your project, love that kitchen with the draws! 



Becoming a Leader

Thankyou to @Moobersan and yes I love my glass bricks too, still happy I put them in as oposed to a normal window which would then need window coverings to allow for privacy as they are in the two bathrooms and a seperate toilet.

Thankyou too to@Dave-1 for your kind comments.

Yes the blocks are big at approx 620mmx 250mm and weigh about 25kg dry.

I realized now when I was reading over my old post that I said I enlarged the doorways from 720mm to 770mm but they went from the standard 820mm to 870mm, my bad ha-ha

I still have one yellow tongue benchtop in my kitchen but I don't cook on it, it's more a "drop everything here" bench top. I have stainless benchtops now although only one is permanent and the others just cheap pieces we made do with and were better than the yellow tongue as I was planning on stone bench tops eventually but after all this time I like it enough that I'm considering stainless splach backs now too and finally getting the entire kitchen fully fitted out with the stainless., around $10,000to find for that project!!

I did my laundry with the stainless and love it. Only downside is to make them look real nice you have to wipe them with a stainless cleaner which I tend to do if I expect visitors, otherwise I don't worry too much.

Alas the pool room is still unfinished but one day, like your attic ladder ha-ha

It's about $14,000 for a decent heat pump albeit we do plan to do a home solar system with black plastic poly pipe which isn't too expensive and I started preparing the pool shell for a new paint as it was a SH shell and had seen better days and if I do it all myself it's about $2000 for the paint and then there's the coping around the pool to finish but we already have the stone for that and we're putting peble mix between the coping and the pool wall and that's another few thousand and we still have to paint the room so another few thousand there again, so we're talking about $20,000 to get it all finished and that is just not in the budget for now ha-ha

Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @Baretta11 

ahhh Ker -Ching! :smile: It always freaks me out when I add the total cost up. breaking it down to smaller projects makes it easier for my mind to handle. I do like the way you have worked at parts over a bunch of years.

Those blocks.... wooooo didnt expect that weight! You have done well, I did 20 bags of concrete at 25kgs each and thought "I am stuffed" lol

what is a "SH Shell" in regards to your pool? I dont remember coming across the term. 

I use to want stainless for my kitchen but have headed towards a timber bench top over the years. Splashbacks yeah I can see that drawcard to keep them clean. I hate cleaning tiles! 

hahaha to the doors, I did think they were a little narrow and I have made typos liek that a LOT of times!



Becoming a Leader


Breaking down the costs is something we constantly did as we were building but it's easier at that stage. Our Limestone blocks cost us $14,000 at the time and we put the order in for a "lot" of bricks from the same section of excavation. As we could afford a delivery of X amount we would get them and pay for it and so on and the company were really good to us allowing for extended payments and our bricks effectively just sitting there until we could order more.

Oh concrete although such little bags are so heavy and awkward to carry too at 25kg.

I can say I picked up just about each and every block to hand to hubby for the entire build so I was pretty fit back then and not so much now ha-ha

Sorry, SH just means second hand, so our fibreglass pool only cost us $5000 as oposed to $15,000 for a new pool shell.

I think once the home is compete it will be positively beautiful but I'm still happy to go on like it is as we're still having to do things as money permits.

Hubby and I are farmers and bale hay for a living and that happens between Sep-Dec and the repair costs we can incure during a harvest is positively mind blowing at times, so some things just have to wait in turn just like they did when we were building. I know not everyone can do that but we could, did and still do!!

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