rock wall

August 15, 2012

sent the below letter to council on 23rd july.  have recieved no response yet.  i’m thinking they just haven’t gotten around to it yet (being intimately familiar with how long things can take at govts.)  hopefully i will find time, inclination and good weather in the coming week/s to complete said wall.  wonder what will happen then…  neighbour gave me dagger stares yesterday when i smiled at her.


I refer to your letters dated 18 June 2012 and 26 June 2012 requesting the removal of rock from the road reserve fronting my property at ….

In particular I refer to paragraph two of the 26 June letter and request that Council reconsider the dimensions of the dry stack wall.  My reason for asking this is that I believe a line of rocks measuring not greater than 300mm by 300mm will pose a more significant hazard than a completed wall of approximately 600mm by 600mm.  I am assuming the reason for the rocks being requested to be removed was a perceived hazard, though at no time has the actual hazard ever been explained to me.

A line of rocks being 300mm by 300mm will quickly become obscured by overgrown vegetation.  This will possibly result in a trip or fall should someone walk against a rock.  Why someone would be walking against a rock when it is placed parallel to the roadway and some two or more metres away from the carriageway, thereby leaving substantial space for pedestrians, I do not understand.

A completed wall of approximately 600mm by 600mm will remain visible should long grass grow in front of the wall.  A wall of this size would also provide far more assurance of stopping a vehicle should one mount the kerb and drive towards my front yard, where my young children are often playing.

I would further note that all of the rock on site came from the site, much of it located even closer to the carriageway and in a far more haphazard arrangement.  It has not been imported from elsewhere.  The garden and road reserve in front of No… was considerably overgrown and dangerous when we purchased the property.  We have been labouring, at much time and expense to ourselves, to clear the weed species and make the site safe.  We don’t expect re-imbursement for tidying and maintaining someone else land (Council’s) but we would appreciate not being harassed on the vexatious and spurious complaints from another resident in the street.

Yours sincerely,


preliminary drawings!!

May 31, 2012

woo hoo! very excited to have received the preliminary floor plan from our architect yesterday.  he has done a good job.  given the brief and the constraints of the project i think the house would work very well.  there was some tricky requirements in the brief that he has resolved well.

i’ve sent him some tweaks that i’d like and he’s promised to have a second go and also the elevations back to us soon.  yippee!  ‘course now we just have to figure out how to pay for it.  (all donations gratefully received!)  we had always intended to build in stages, which the design also allows for, so hopefully we can pay in stages too!  if we can do major portions of it ourselves it will of course take longer but considering labour is half the cost of a build we need to save that money.

roughly, i think this is how it might work out:

demolition, excavation and site preparation- not us, piering and slab- not us, walls-us, plumbing and electrical- not us, first floor- us, glazing- maybe us, roof- maybe us, internal plastering- not us, external cladding-us, painting- us, tiling- us, flooring- not sure yet, cabinetry- a mix, window furnishings- us, furnishing and decorating- us.  still unfortunately most of the expensive bits we don’t have the skill or the know-how or the tools, to do.    then; house warming party- everyone!  see you then!

prior to all this of course we need to get council approval.  the only big hurdle i see to that our damn neighbours.  the design is not out of keeping with the locality, or over-sized, or in breach of (many of) the rules for the zone.  but doubtless the dickheads next door will complain, and complain.  i’ll have that fight when we get to it.

what is in the design?  huge kitchen, tick.  two living areas, tick.  five bedrooms, tick.  i want lots of visitors and house guests to fill the place up.  can’t wait….!

selling smiths lane

August 5, 2011

well, we’ve finally agreed now is the time we must sell our erko place.  i’m both excited and saddened.  it’ll be nice to have a far smaller mortgage and pay off some of our debts, and be free to start really getting into building our new house here in oyster bay.

on the other hand, i have very fond memories of erko and some strong emotional attachments to it.  both percy and tally spent their first months of life in that house.  in one way i’m glad our planned home birth with percy didn’t happen because had she actually been born in that house i don’t think i could ever part with it. 

i had in my mind a little (alright, not so little) fantasy that we could keep the place forever and percy and tally could live there while they went to uni.  of course they would have to go to syd uni, uni of tech, syd or unsw but derrr! they would wouldn’t they?  anyways, that fantasy is to be put aside.  i’m sure there are others i can take up!

so, if anyone wants to buy a two bedroom townhouse in erskineville, either to live in or as an investment- we have good tenants in there for two years now- please contact shaun stoker at ray white double bay (surry hills office.)

going to miss that place…

time to begin!

July 28, 2011

time to begin the serious business of getting into our new house.  we moved into the future demolition site (current home) over the october long weekend in 2009.  time to get a wiggle on now, in my opinion.

 some leg work has been completed to date.  possibly most importantly we have decided on the type of house we want to build.  i scoped out some architects and we even had a meeting with one to discuss our desires.  long story short; we can’t afford a bespoke, architect designed house.  so then i trawled the project home websites.  now i’ve always had a dislike of project homes because they are all “cookie-cutter” designs that have no regard to the location they are built in, and generally are built in new subdivisions one after the other, ad nauseum….  macmasions without a tree or a footpath in site.  i did not have much hope.  but lo-and-behold! we did find a design that 1. fits the narrowness of our site, 2. is able to be tweaked about, 3. fits the slope of our site, 4. provides the spaces we want, and 5. might even be affordable.

 (just a little aside- i find it hilarious that after living in erko, where our terrace was 3.7m wide, our block of land now, at 12.9m wide is considered narrow!)

 importantly i think we can also work with the project home architect to change the basic design to something that suits us even more.  i’ve often heard one needs to have a good relationship with ones’ building designer/architect; now i’ll find out for myself.

 our second step was to meet with our local council town planners.  that was a barrel of laughs!  i ought to record my impressions of the meeting for posterity.  maybe I’ll get to it one day…

suffice to say to get what we want we have to bend a few of the council rules.  this is not an unusual situation to be in.  you may recall that i myself earn my living as a town planner.  for a number of years i worked in assessing development applications, funnily enough for two of those years with the very council we are now living on the other side of the fence with.  my point is the rules are bent all the time.  sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot.  we want a little bit of bending, being- remove a tree, vary a side setback, vary a front setback (twice).  in my opinion, professional opinion, not just greedy home owner opinion, the bending is logical, fair and would result in better outcomes for all.  yippee!  or not, in council’s opinion.

 since the meeting with council, over a month ago now, we’ve done nothing.   a little flummoxed and disappointed i think.  council saw no reason for any bending.  hmmmm…

 anyways, time to climb back in the saddle and try a little trot again.  we need four things at present, the first; a favourable arborist’s report that encourages the removal of the tree, the second; a geoscientist’s report that states the site is “fit for purpose”- ie. there is no contamination on the site that would make residential development inappropriate, third; a complete topographical survey of the site, and fourth; a set of plans and an SEE (statement of environmental effects) that shows clearly what we want and makes the case for it.

 we have previously employed an arborist on another matter.  we just have to find a mutually suitable time for him to inspect said tree.  tick- can do.

 we have had a geoscientist visually inspect the site and detail the work and expense in getting a “fit for purpose” report.  the investigation and report could cost up to 10k, it might be less but i’m a pessimist (so i’ve been told!)  again a mutually suitable time for the investigation to be done needs to be found.  tick – can do.

 shortly after purchase we had a boundary survey made of the site.  (no encroachments i was happy to learn.)  we can engage the same company to bulk up the survey to include all the detail necessary.  tick – can do.

 working with the architect i’m sure we can compile plans and the SEE.  to engage him tho we’d have to sign the contract to buy the project home.  i think we’ll do the other steps first and i’ll get started on writing the SEE myself beforehand.  tick – WILL do.

 can you be bored enough to want to hear what variations we want and therefore what I need to address in the SEE?  perhaps.  or perhaps when i’ve finished it i’ll just post it in here.

 keep reading… i intend to regularly update our progress- and there WILL BE progress!