One year on….

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One year on!

Snags done! Finally got to spend a night over and test out all the lighting. Only two weeks left and then its time for my folks to move in. Last bit to do is to help them select the furniture! The landscaping’s finally taking root and the atmosphere is alive and kicking! Special thanks to all those involved with the project over the last year. Its been one joyous ride.

All the best amigos.

Enjoy the pics!

Cheers

Alan

 

Time to close and lay down (on) the law(n)

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Week 33

Phew! What a year!

We’ve got the occupancy certificate and I’ve just issued the practical completion certificate.

The lovely ladies are laying down the lawn outside, and inside we’re just having a general tidy up and lock down.

Now I’m ready to take a nice short break, and get to the things an architect hardly ever gets to, like tidying up and sorting out his own house!

A few minor items to be attended to next year, along with the completion of the landscaping, furniture design and handing over the keys!!!!

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas everyone, and be loving and safe in all you do!!!!!

MERRY X-MAS

Cheerio, hi ho hi ho!

Alan

A Pleasurable Approval Process in Progress

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IMG_0075Week 32

I’ve decided to arrive very early on site today, because my curiosity is getting the better of me. Why? Well, the building inspector is booked for today. He’s come to see if everything has been built according to the submitted plans, and ensure all health and safety, electrical and plumbing, and construction aspects of the project have been carried out correctly. Its gonna be a long day, and Mr.Z is going through a grueling examination, and answering all the questions from the inspector, showing him all that needs to be shown and hearing all that needs to be heard.

The results have come in and the inspector is satisfied, but would like to see the staircase handrails and rail at the study sliding window installed before he can sign it off. That’s fine, as the handrails are due to arrive any time soon and can be installed. No problemo! Our kind inspector has said that once these items are installed  we can send him a photo and he will give us the all clear.

Outside and around the house which is soon to be a home, the decking , paving, fences and railings are being installed. All these have been carefully designed and cannot be ignored as the landscaping both hard and soft form an integral part in attaining the overall vision I want to achieve for this piece of architecture. KAD Construction have gone out of their way, at the shortest given notice to get the driveway grass blocks ordered from Cape Town themselves as a favor to me and the client after the landscaper mentioned at the last minute that he would be unable to get them himself this year. Once again Mr Z and Mr J have saved the day. Thanks chaps.

Further to this we’re very much nearing the end of the construction, but with the builders holiday about to start were, letting the snags carry over to next year, but the building has reached a state of what we call “Practical Completion”, means that the building has reached a state whereby it is deemed suitable for the owner to occupy the building. It will also take us into the works completion phase, which is where minor items, such as stiff or loose handles , paint touch ups , geyser temperatures, faulty locks or opening mechanisms etc., are given time to be corrected if necessary. Once all these adjustments and touch ups are done, I can then issue the works and final completion certificates. The amount of money retained by the client as a guarantee, is then released to the builder and the project is complete. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Till next week,

Cheers.

Alan

 

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

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Week 31

Time is ticking , and we’ve just got a about ten working days to go, before reaching practical completion. The place is buzzing with activity. Electricians, decking guys, joiners, painters, waterproofers, landscapers, all running around getting their final bits done. The beautiful  Kiaat timber countertops have finally arrived on site and are going in. I just love the warmth and colour and texture they add to the house. This has always been one of my favorite types of wood. One can’t help but to want to just run your hand over it the whole time. The screeded floor are complete and I just want to lie on them. Even the garage has come out so nicely , I’m wanting to just stand in it aimlessly and let time pass by.

Questions, answers, checks and recommendations id the order of the day, and my brain is running in overdrive. Thankfully this energy-efficient home is keeping me cool.

It’s the final few brush stokes to the painting and the elements are all coming to life.

We’ve just made a quick turn to the handle store select the front door handle and last few outstanding items. I’ve decided to return some of the internal sliding door handles and replace them with something I feel will be more suitable , both in operation and aesthetic. Sometimes these last-minute changes can be a pain, especially when everyone’s under a lot of pressure and stress, but its best to get it right now, rather than having it bug me for the rest of my life for not doing so, and our wonderful and passionate contractors fully understand this notion.

Council is booked for next week friday and we will hopefully give us the occupancy certificate. Pray there be no wobbles, but I can’t foresee us having any problems. It’s always a bit nerve wrecking when they arrive to do their inspections. But we’ve done our bit, and we’ve done it properly and professionally, so I’ll be getting my bottle of champaign ready…., well not quite, I’ll still need to do my snagging process… damn!

Next up for me is to start designing the dining room table, credenza and TV unit, which we can get manufactured early next year while the rest of the furniture selection process takes place.

Cant wait!!!!!!

Till next time. Cheers.

Alan

The Finishing Touches

Week 30

We’re coming close to the end! I’ve just had a quick drive around with the landscaper to go and see what trees I would like to use, and what would suite the environment and house itself. I’ve drawn up a basic draft of where I would like the trees and shrubs to be planted, and where all the cobble borderings and paving should go. The landscaper, Mr. C has just completed the drypack stone walls which will act as retainers and planters next to the side boundary walls. So nice to see the variety  of colours, tones and textures coming together, after much debate, sample viewing and discussions over the last few months. And the final choices of are really working well together.

The Air-conditioning representative has just discussed the various model options and specs and positioning of the AC unit with us, and although I feel the AC unit will hardly be required as a result of the efficient design, we’re putting one in just for good measure at the clients request. Nevertheless, we have opted for a very energy-efficient model from LG.

The beautiful Oggie Oak Floors are in on first floor level, and the pigmented screed installation is underway.The new steel bracket for the staircase sample has been approved by the engineer and I and I’m glad to finally see something that looks like by technical drawing.The stunning Morso Fireplace has been installed in the corner of the main bedroom, and the Bagged brickwork colour which was chosen at the last visit has been applied . In fact I like it so much I almost want to paint the whole town with it, but lets not get carried away now….

The cupboards are in position and eagerly awaiting their counterparts. The light fittings are 95% installed and waiting to get their first dose of electrical current, the custom profiled skirtings are waiting for the floors to be sealed. We’ve just got about three weeks left before I do my final inspection and snag list and the pressure is on. Generally the builder will test and snag the building first and once he is satisfied, I’ll spend two or so days going snagging every wall, floor junction, detail junctions tiling junctions, taps, toilets, roof screws etc. with the “eagle eye” before I issue the practical completion certificate.

The timber decks are underway and I’ve taken a closer look at the decking levels near the main front entrance and will need to look at some alternative proposals to compensate for the inside to outside garden levels, which we’ve just checked and verified. Below shows the little exercise. In fact for every problem there are countless possible solutions in architecture. It’s a matter of chosing the one which suits best; And the final few options are:

Option A

Option B

Option B

Option C

Option C

Option D

Option D

Votes welcome.

Mr. Z has had me  take a look at the gutter samples and we’ve made a suitable profile and colour choice.

Time is ticking and its close to two-thirty now, and Mr J and I need to go to the sanitaryware store to select an alternative drop in wash trough, after having been supplied with the wrong item . Luckily we’ve managed to find a suitable alternative.

Now keep pushing everyone! We’re almost there……

Till next time.

Cheers

Alan

Bathing in light

Week 27/28/29

What a week(s)! Amongst other things like my cat getting knocked by a car, going in and out of veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, overpriced animal surgeons, finally getting the cat home, and  having to feed him for the next two weeks every two hours, preparing a baby room and going through a pregnancy,………, the house is coming along just great. It’s probably clear why there hasn’t been a chance to write the last three weeks. But this is real life people, and with life comes light and light gives life to something like an object which until that point which light strikes it is otherwise lifeless. And this is why good architecture needs to bring objects and light together to create feelings and emotion, and that is where the magic happens. Amongst the fact that there are too many unimaginative , hideous and culture destroying mass developments raping our country by the greed of mindless developers and those in government which allow such developments to be passed, on the other end of the coin a similar thing is happening, except with people who have larger budgets to spend, not realizing that massive budget, does not necessarily mean great architecture or nice house either. In fact Architecture in itself has nothing to do with price or cost, but rather with imagination and a fine skill of creating art that is functional.

Now what was my point I was trying to make….. aah yes. I’m having trouble deciding what colour to paint the fireplace surround, as like I have mentioned above, the right feeling needs to be created. So see the photo with the colour samples painted on the surrounding “box” above: light , medium or dark? Each holds an enormous potential to create a completely different atmosphere, and that’s what kind of decisions need to be taken towards the end of a project. And that’s where we’re at now: lots of important fine-tuning decisions to be made. Tiling positions & set-out points, colour samples, edges, stair connections. The emails keep coming and going. And no stone should be left unturned.

On a another topic: People often don’t understand what it is architects do, or what the difference between and architect and a draughtsperson is, often finding themselves in precarious situations because they got the wrong person for the wrong job.

This is the difference between getting a draughtsperson and an architect: One is trained to produce good readable and understandable drawings; the other is trained to design, produce great drawings, manage projects and make important decisions and apply  building regulations and good specifications, art , history, culture, add value (both monitory and aesthetic) to the project and understand how their designs impact on the lives of those who use the buildings. And that’s only a few differences.

So now why am I writing all this? Well, I just haven’t written in ages and I have a lot to say. If it all too much… there’s the photos to look at. And if you want to read more: Here’s an excerpt from a typical after-site-meeting report to show how things go. Enjoy.

  • Contractor to co-ordinate installation of buzzer gate lock with Electrician, Gate manufacturer, and Alarm/intercom installer.(sketch proposal to be sent to architect)
  • Proposed alarm system drawing and quote to be emailed to architect for approval.
  • There is a small strip of tile in bathroom 1 shower are, above ledge which looks a bit untidy. Contractor to attend to the matter
  • Contractor to send quote for timber pool deck/coping to architect
  • Painting contractor to get paint colour sample right to match current primer colour (warm grayish in appearance)
  • Flooring deposits paid – Screeded Flooring installation booked for installation 5th November.
  • Engineer to re-check and confirm the bracket and structural system of the staircase, as well as compare and inspect  Joiner/Steel Bracket manufacturer’s latest sample. Engineer to compile written report to be sent to all parties concerned.
  • Paint colours for fireplace and kitchen tower plaster trim/surrounds to be chosen only once flooring is installed, as the flooring colour will have an influence on the colour choice.
  • Frameless shower glass door installation method and positions to be checked and confirmed- Architect to get shop drawings for approval of how the frameless glass showers are to be installed and fixed.
  • Balcony planter to be waterproofed and completed before landscaping commences.
  • Stoep roof near outside braai area is leaking. Please check and amend.
  • Concrete parapet wall cappings to be added, as per architects drawings ( contractor to check architects detail drawings). This will help improve the concrete roof waterproofing system too, as well as  allow water to drip beyond the aluminum counter flashings.
  • Height of timber fence near main entrance height and positioning was confirmed on site. (1.8m from highest NGL to top of fence.) positions have been marked on the walls. Entrance gate below canopy to line up with top of timber fence.
  • Storm-water below ground drainage system is been installed (approx. 95% complete)
  • Electrical Contractor to ensure that two light connection points in Bedroom 1 are made (above each mirror cabinet) (check light fittings on site to best position connection points)
  • Lights above living room-  height positions to be adjusted and confirmed at next site meeting.( cables supplied by light supplier are too long.)
  • Contractor to commence with Screed joint cutting as per latest architect drawing issued. Engineer to update and send revised Concrete joints drawing.
  • Light positions above dining room to be repositioned. Architect to issue revised drawing.

Kind regards

Alan

Getting it right

Week 26

Well here I am again , on site, doing my usual checkup. Over the lsat few days I’ve sent some instructions to better the performance of the roof drainage on the verandah roofs. I’ve asked Mr Z to drop the front level of the beam by 50mm to achieve the desired slope as well as made Mr Z note that the roofing guys mys do a double overlap on the roof sheeting, to avoid any potential leaks. Just as with most things in life, double lapping is  better than single lapping, two coats of paint is better than one and a double patty steers burger is better than a single patty burger……….hmmmmmm…..

Getting back to the point of doing things right. I’ve had a look at the waterproofing on the balcony planter, and there seems to be a bit of pooling. This will need to be corrected, especially since a planter is such a critical element to get right within a building. Since the planter will be filled with soil and plants and thus get no wind or evaporation to help it dry out, any water below will need to be able to drain out properly. I’ve thus asked Mr Z to redo the base of the planters so as to get better falls towards the water outlets. Knowing  exactly what type of torch on material to use in a planter is also critical, as the acid from the plants and soil would damage a conventional waterproofing system. But Mr Z has thankfully taken good note of my waterproofing specification and will proceed with extreme care.

We’ve just has a long conversation around the correct and very technical method of doing waterproof flashings around the chimney outlets, and Mr.Z  as always, will get it sorted out. Trying to simply stick on bandage flashing , like so many people mistakenly do, just isn’t gonna happen on this house!

The bridge is looking splendid and its the first time I’ve been able to get up onto the first floor bar and study area. Just loving the feel of the spaces. Coming out just as I imagined!

Looking from the back of the house one can notice how the pitch of the roof is lining up nicely with the natural base slope of the mountain, thus creating a relationship with the building and its surrounds.

The cupboard carcasses are on site, and I’ve spent the last two days searching for a microwave so that the joiner can get the kitchen cupboard carcass done. It all goes hand in hand.

That’s it for now

Cheers!

Alan

 

Origins of symmetry

Week 24

Harmony, symmetry and balance. These key words describe what we’re seeing this week in the images. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical compositions are used to create  balance and harmony throughout the entire structure. This helps to create a picturesque composition which has its roots in classical architecture.

The bridge walkway construction is well under way. A special thanks to Lisa and the team at Tensile Cables (www.tensilecables.co.za), for advising on the stainless steel cable thicknesses and joining elements as well as specially manufacturing my custom designed steel connecting pins.

Thanks to Mr.Z’s superb setting out techniques, the entire structural system of the bridge has come out perfectly. Just one mistake and this beautiful element would have been a total disaster.

We’re all on track and the final tile selections have been made and the interior painting is almost complete. Next up will be the “Oggie” Oak timber floor planks to be laid on the timber structure, as well as the topping to the screeded floors.

The joiner is well under way in the factory, busy producing the cupboards and kitchen units. We should start seeing some of these go in the next few weeks.

It’s all coming together really nicely now. The finishes are really what can make or break a design, so intense scrutiny, accurate building and tidy craftmanship need to be painstakingly applied for now right till the end. But given that, I have full faith in the building team.

Till next time,

Cheers

Alan