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A new adventure – building a house

17th of November 2013, marked 2 years since we sailed through Sydney heads aboard Squander… time certainly flies. A lot has happened in the two years, and I will undoubtedly reveal some highlights in the ensuing blog posts. Amongst many things, my house in Manly got development approval and I have decided to demolish the original shack & owner build a new one – essentially running the job myself… and to record this new "adventure" through regular blog posts.

I can’t guarantee the kind of exotic photos that the previous adventure delivered, but I will do my best to keep my audience in mind, and keep it entertaining and informative. For those of you that followed the previous adventures, you will undoubtedly recognise some old characters and we may even get some guest bloggers involved.

So here goes… it all started in about 1895… when Manly looked like the picture below.Whistler Street Circa 1900

The house is the 2nd or 3rd chimney from the left.

manly 2013
The population density has changed a little in the last 120 years!


The house stood proud until the 21st Of October 2013 when Barry and the boys from Action demolition turned up.

They didn’t muck around and by the end of day 1. it was 1/3 gone.


IMG_0972 IMG_0978 IMG_0983  They were pretty impressive in how they dismantled the house section by section, rather then demolishing it.


Pip & Tom recycling some of the old timber for their love shack in Jervis Bay.
The old bathroom slab comes up.  IMG_0996
8 days after the demolition started, the house is gone

Discovering hidden gems under ground – a buried concrete slab – we thought we had found the original main road?!

The Cocos palms in the middle of the property had to come down, we saved a Bangalow palm and one Cocos Palm.

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Mark was pretty accurate with his chain sawing!


No worries mate, I knew that was going to clear the neighbours house by 8.5 mm.timber
That was close!


Once the site was cleared (4th November 2013), it was time to get started!

The boys from Australian Foundation Systems drilling for oil… and also testing the soil density for the Screw Pile Foundation System.


Because the site is so small and tight (191m2) we have to plan everything aheadand basically start at the back and work forwards.


Tim calling the shots as the stormwater detention pits go in.


With the sewer renewed and the stormwater pits in the ground, it was time to start excavating. I called in the professionals from SJF Paving and landscaping


They sent their best man – Don Simon and his trusty bobcat!   IMG_1075-001
Next door neighbour took the opportunity to do some maintenance to his place too.
Don Simon and Inspector Jose having a smoko break!  IMG_1090
The first truck took away 15 Tonnes of dirt.
Striking Manly Gold, untouched golden sand about half a metre below the old ground level.       IMG_1101
The mountains of dirt kept on piling up!
Don Simon keeping the footpath clean and the rangers happy.
And another 12 Tonnes went to these guys.  IMG_1117
By Sunset I was dead – a 12 hr day of digging, loading and shifting sand – Simon and I finished up by driving a truck each to Killara as someone needed some clean fill – so far 33 Tonnes of dirt gone and another 10 to go!         IMG_1141
Starting to take shape.

IMG_2981 With the excavation mostly done, the electricians hooked up power to the site as Mick took another 3-4 tonnes of dirt away.

IMG_2985 Power is on and temporary power box getting a  final inspection.

Next I had to decipher the engineering drawings and setout the site – With some help from a surveyor and good old Papa G (my dad), we had a solid day with tape measures, levels and lots of pegs and string.

Papa G discovers an old cross whilst digging.

By mid morning we had the boundaries marked….
…and by the end of the day 37 screw piles setout with minimal margin of error – we hope!!
14th November 2013 – the screw piles get delivered – these 4m long piles get driven into the sand and the slab will rest on them.


The srew piers or piles and the screw driver!

Once the guys got started they didn’t muck around.  IMG_1198
The bases are in….
and the extension get attached, before continuing the screwing in.

Welding the extensions on.



with all the screw piles driven in and cut to size, it was time to continue with the plumbing. IMG_1245
Future boss Ollie, supervising proceedings.
Tim showing the young ones how it’s done.

The rain helped stabilise the sand.
The fine art of joining and sealing plumbing pipes that are going to be buried  underground and hopefully will never be accessed again.

Stormwater and sewerage

More Manly gold.

Mick doing a  fine job with the digger

A few final touches and it’s time to backfill all the trenches.

Finishing up the sewerage as Mick starts the trenches for the gas pipes, rain water and potable water pipes.

IMG_1266 IMG_1268
Mountains of sand everywhere!

But we got the job done and everything levelled again.


Then it was Stephen and Gibbo’s turn to dig things up – the lads from REES putting in the power and data conduits. IMG_1277
Luckily, unlike water and other ‘semi liquids’, electricity doesn’t need the assistance of Gravity to make it flow – so the trenches don’t need to be as deep and the pipes don’t need a constant gradient.
Finishing up the last of the electrical work… exactly 1 month after the demolition started!

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By Friday the 22nd of November 2013, we were ready to put down the formwork for the slab. Unfortunately, when I spoke to Matt, my concretor, he told me that he was 3-4 weeks behind schedule!!! what the??! and he wouldn’t be able to start next week as planned or maybe not even the following week… I’m starting to feel like this is the first potential hurdle in getting the ground floor started before Christmas… Crossing my fingers and hoping something happens to keep things moving!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. filski

    Hi Gav
    This RSS feed just popped up in my inbox and I thought you sailed out again, but alas it is a different adventure all together.
    Must say, building a house is interesting though. Each house is different – they are hand made after all.
    Looking forward to the next chapter. BTW got any visualisations of the final house? if not, you know who to call.

  2. Andy P

    Nice work Gav, Good to see you don the steel caps and get onboard team trady.

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