Working on the money pit

Now, this COULD mean my butt, which is proving very expensive to shift, but actually for this post it’s my house. We spent the weekend working on the house and garden! Huzzah! As I may have mentioned a few posts ago, we’re replacing the fences, which is a VERY expensive proposition (all for one wretched dog) and in the meantime we have to remove several pest trees in our garden, including several Chinese Elms, and lots of old stumps. So we’ve been in the garden preparing for this week long fest of nature’s destruction.

We cut the monstera leaves off the plant which seems to be overtaking our back fence line, which should hopefully kill the sucker – it would be good to keep but it’s a really annoying plant to contain. Underneath we found a fair bit of building detritus from someone else’s build ON OUR PROPERTY. Don’t you just love that! We really need to get a back hoe in to rip up the entire garden so we can start again.


We pulled up the funny old paving that Harry had laid near the house – all higgledy-piggledy and dangerous. It was difficult to get up the back stairs. Weirdly, he had prepared the site well, with sand and all, but he then laid all the pavers on a SLOPE. Go figure. Well, they’ve been pulled up and stacked neatly. DH spent a fair time tearing up the concrete sleepers surrounding the paved section – nearly did himself an injury there, and now we have rather fewer tripping points up the back stairs.


DH also whippersnipped the yard (killed my Rosemary plant – NOT happy about that) and mowed the lawn. It’s amazing how mowing one’s yard can take it from crazy-cat-lady-hoarder-low-life-old-person state to: Hello! Someone-truly-cares yard. We still have heaps of vegetation  and old fencing lying about but that will go shortly with the purchase of expensive skip hire.

I spent a riotous day scraping paint off our old valance on the front of the house, and sanding back the cleaned palings with my trusty sander. I love that tool. I had bought a heat gun, too, which has been a very wise purchase, as it only took me 5 hours to clean the valance instead of 2 days. Way to go.


I’m about to head outside again once the rain stops to do the next section, as we intend to paint the breezeway, valance and garage door at the front of the house this summer, and I need to get started on the remaining palings. All 50 of them. Yay. We’re painting this section in bright white to see the effect – I like to use Dulux’s 3-in-1 oil primer, which is white, so we’ll get a much better idea of how white looks on our old Queenslander. I quite like painting, but hate the preparation. Actually, the prep work, while it’s a stinker of a job, is really quite good exercise. I hold a kilo weight in my hand for several hours, I scrape hard with my right hand, and I spend an awful amount of time in the squat position, and I can definitely feel my abs working too. Woohoo. I added up the 5 hours of outside work we did on Sunday (didn’t even mention Saturday’s effort) and apparently gardening uses 274 calories per hour. Keep this up and I’ll be able to lift a house.

Actually, I love manual labour – keeps me fit, I usually sleep like the dead and there’s an obvious benefit to the work. I get physical results, and the house benefits too.

Anyway, it’s stopped raining and it’s time for me to get cracking on those palings… An hour later: it rained again. I’ve finished the palings, though. I actually had to stop, because underneath the old peeling paint some of the palings have been coated in what appears to be TAR. It’s too stinky and dangerous a job for me to continue heat-stripping back the palings because I’m not sure what it is, but it smells like tar, so unless we replace ALL the breezeway battens (NOT going to happen – there’s hundreds of the blighters); I’m just going to do a quick scrape and paint over. Not my preference, but I’d rather be safe that sorry. I’m already breathing in lead fumes from the old paint – don’t need inexplicable disease from strange substance too.

IMG_1491IMG_1492These are weird looking hardwood posts. Underneath all the dodgy-brothers paint is this weird, smelly, sticky black stuff. I think it’s tar. I can’t be sure. I looked it up on the interweb and I found a website that writes about tar on fences in the 19th century in the US. Wikipedia says that tar paint is created by combining linseed oil and tar. Now why anyone would paint tar all over a house is beyond me, but perhaps it has something to do with the prevention of termites? Apparently they hate linseed oil. Perhaps they hate tar as well. I certainly do, but it’s provided me with the perfect excuse not to do any more preparation short of scraping and minor sanding.

Now I can’t do anything more outside at all as the rain has finally set in – this could mean disaster for us with our fence plans. December to March is the storm season here in QLD and it can REALLY rain. On the plus side, one of the butcher birds is sitting on the back deck, singing for all it’s worth. Now I know where they got the R2D2 sounds from.

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