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Back To Basics

Episode 8


I've unified the kitchen and laundry by continuing the same floor covering throughout, but keeping the paint colour simple in the laundry, as it is a small un-windowed space.

It is important to ventilate the laundry, for the dryer. We did consider replacing the existing cabinet with a new piece but as the effect would be minimal it wasn't really worth the extra expense. A good slap of paint and new handles, and it will look as good as new.


Our deck was approximately 800mm from the ground so we did not need a handrail around the deck, but we did need at least one handrail for the steps because we had more than three risers.  Information on handrails will be covered in a future episode.

Steve's decking tips
- For a great finish, make sure your nails are in a straight line and equally spaced. Use a string line, chalk line or straight edge
- Pre drill nail holes to avoid splitting timber
- Leave the nail head proud and finish driving with a nail punch
- Holes for posts should be 350mm x 350mm x 450mm deep
- If the deck requires bracing these dimensions may change

Step rules
- Treads must be at least 280mm deep.
- Risers must be a maximum of 185mm high. 
- Front of tread must overlap the back of tread below by between 15mm to 25mm.  
- There can be no gap more than 100mm between the vertical distance of treads, therefore riser boards will be needed to close any gaps.

Getting started
Working out steps involves a fair bit of calculating and adjustments and can be complicated for the novice. First of all you have to determine where the steps will land and calculate the total rise from there in a level line. Remember that the ground coming away from the deck might not necessarily be level and the slope of the ground will affect the overall height of the steps. Consider:  total run, the tread, total rise and the unit rise.

The total rise for our deck was 800mm max
> Step tread 310mm minimum
Riser 180mm max

So if we start with 180 (max. height for a riser) divided by 800 (height of the deck)  = 4.44 steps, we discover that we need 5 steps. Always round up your calculation. We need 5 risers at 160mm each (800 divided by 5) that way all the steps will be the same.

BBQ steps

With 5 risers we have to make 4 steps. We wanted a tread of 320mm. So 4 steps at 320mm tread each gives a total run of 1280mm

The timbers we used
Stringer - 300 x 50
Treads - new decking (pine) 
Riser boards - new decking (pine)
Under-frames - 100 x 50
Posts - 100 x 75 concreted into the ground.

All timbers were H3, except the posts, which must be H4 or higher because of the contact with the ground.


Getting started
The three most important things in any bathroom are, ventilation, waterproofing, Design. This bathroom is lacking on all of these counts as water has penetrated the framework which is now rotten, there is no extractor fan to help remove moisture and designwise the generous space has not been used to it's full potential.

When planning your bathroom you should carefully consider the fixtures you need and want, their best position, then select the product or materials, maximising your budget without compromising waterproofing qualities. Include adequate ventilation. Don't skimp when selecting your extractor fan by buying an undersized or underpowered one.

Because I have the luxury of space I am going to reinstate the bath we pulled out of the ensuite, as well as replace the shower - in it's original location. Keeping the shower tucked in behind the door means we can make the most of the glorious natural light from our great expanse of windows, letting the bath have the limelight.

The toilet sits in nicely where it is but I will upgrade it with a modern white porcelain one. I'm replacing the vanity with a beautiful square and chunky white wall hung basin and will reallocate some storage in the form of a freestanding Kauri unit, a basket for towels and a wall mounted medicine cabinet with a mirror.

The total cost for all of this is in the vicinity of $6500.00 but I had to shop around to get tiles on sale, cheap but attractive fixtures and saved myself several hundreds by not having to replace the bath.

Generally speaking it takes approximately 10 days to complete a bathroom, which is along time to go without, so we are lucky we have the ensuite.

I'm lining the walls and floor with a range of ceramic tiles, including a mosaic of colour under the window and surrounding the bath, and painting the tongue and groove ceiling with our stone colour.

Our existing bath has great proportions and is quality porcelain on steel. In my opinion it is far superior to the new acrylic options, so we are going to reuse the existing bath. It will save us money as well as the feel-good factor of recycling.

The shower I have selected is an entry-level, frameless glass sexy number, fully tiled.

I'm paying about $500 more for this shower than a standard budget acrylic shower, but will end up with a stunningly modern equivalent. We'll have to tile the floor and walls ourselves but the glass gets professionally installed as part of the cost.


French doors
This is not a DIY job; we recommend you get the professional's in. To fit the French doors I needed to cut a larger opening in the wall where the original door was.

- This wall needed a beam. In this case the beam was two 150 x 50 H1 no. 1 grade timber, nailed together.
- Measured the door and cut opening approximately 15mm wider & 10mm higher than the frame.
- Cut out weatherboards
- Cut studs to length and fit
- Fit beam
- Attached jack studs (these go between beam and top plate)
- Cut nogs as required
- Fit frame in wall, packed, levelled and nailed in place
- On the outside, cut and fit finishing timbers
- I used 100 x 20 H3 machine gauged timber to close the gap between the frame and the weatherboards to both side and top.
- Over the top 100 x 20, I machined a tapered piece of timber as a finish to match the rest of the house then a galvanised flashing over the top of that.
- To the outside of the 100 x 20 a scriber was cut and attached making the outside weather proof.
- I re-plastered the inside wall and re-placed the old architrave which I retained when I removed the French doors.
- I had to fit a new sill, which was damaged when we took the French doors out. The new sill was ready profiled from Placemakers. All I had to do was cut it to length and fit it to the bottom of the frame.
- There was bracing element within the wall, which we removed and replaced with a BR9 unit to the side. For more information on bracing see the gib book on bracing types.

Beside the old kitchen door we had a timber panel bracing element, which we had to take out to fit the French doors. Whenever you remove a bracing element you must replace it with another.

Check out the bracing guide on this site:

The Architect stipulated the new position, which was the wall by the fridge, and we used braceline gib, fixing it off as per manufacturer recommendations. The type was BR9 type (see gib book on bracing elements).

As for what we did; we used brace code BR9 for both walls (see drawings below) and a part for that code is 6kN bracing straps that connect the studs of the braced wall to the joist on the under floor, braceline gib, double studs and plate at the sides and bottom, double nailing with special nails, nailed in a special way. There are loads of different types of bracing which give different bracing units and also it matters where you live, high wind zones and earthquake zones. 


The drawing below would be a load bearing wall, the roof timbers or floor joists are resting directly on the studs below.

To cut out to make a door or window opening you need to support the joists (roof timbers) before you do any work. This is done using acro supports, which you can hire from the hire centre. 

The drawing below shows the wall with the new door opening. The only new materials we needed was a support beam/lintel. The trim studs used were the old studs, which were cut out from the beam below.

An example of a non load-bearing wall. The roof is supported by the inner and outer walls with no load on the wall where the door opening is. 

Non load-bearing

This is the situation we had where we put the French doors in.

Building the new wall by the fridge
This job involves:
Cutting some 100 x 50 H1 timbers to lengths as required
Nailing together
Fixing in place
Fixing gib
Slim line edging to corners
Square stopping or moulding to top
Painting or papering

Step by step
Cut top and bottom timbers first, referred to as 'head' (top) & 'plate' (bottom), to required length.

Lay both bits on the floor on top of each other.

Measure from ceiling to the floor and subtract measurement of the thickness of the two timbers; in this case 2 x 47mm (94mm)  For example: floor to ceiling = 2.4m.  Stud length = 2.4m - t x 2 where t = 47mm.    Therefore stud length required will = 2.306m.

Cut studs (i.e. the upright timbers that go from the plate to the head)

You need one where it joins the wall you are extending and one every 600mm max until the end.

Now you need some nogs. Nogs are the pieces that go between the studs. Lay them parallel to the floor. On a ceiling that's 2.4m high (standard height), it's best to put two rows of nogs, set them at 800mm & 1600mm from the floor.

Note: If you are putting it on a concrete floor use a piece of DPC membrane under the bottom plate. This stops any moisture from rising into the wood. Use raw bolts to fix to position. Check it's upright and parallel to existing walls and fix off.

Fixing the gib

- Cut the gib to size using a sharp Stanley knife.
- Fix using glue and screws or glue & nails
- Fit slim line to corners. Ensure you get them nice and straight, as this is important for a good finished look.
- Plaster the wall to finish. If you want a nice finish get a professional unless you have been practising your technique.

Black mould - Removing moulding materials
Spores are more easily released into the air when mouldy materials dry out; therefore it is necessary to remove mouldy items and clean mouldy surfaces as soon as possible.

When removing or cleaning mouldy materials, it is important to use respiratory protection to protect yourself from inhaling airborne spores.

Protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded, and rubber or other suitable gloves should be worn during the following procedures:

- Discard porous material from which it will be difficult to remove mould completely by cleaning. 
- Bag and discard mouldy items. Enclose adequately and dispose with household rubbish.