Build for all seasonal conditions … or you’ll incur added expense, disappointment and inconvenience.

In every case without exception the devil is in the detail.

It’s usually those little things that make the big differences. The difference between coming first and last in an Olympic race is frequently only 1/poofteenth of a second.

But, luckily, building a new home is not an Olympic sport and thank goodness for that. Unlike swimming 400m in a swimming pool devoid of man eating sharks as quickly as you can, building a home for yourself or a builder building one for someone else almost always has a few unique and usually peculiar complications.

To make the point, let me share with you an amusing personal anecdote. On a project on our family home where we were laying coloured concrete for a 3 car carport on the southern side of our home, as well as a smaller covered area on our northern side,  the concrete company decided to send out 7 cubic meters  of coloured concrete to complete the job in one hit.

For nearly everyone involved, it was a unique catastrophe.

For some reason the lucky driver who snagged such a big pour at a high zone (a goodly distance from the concrete plant) decided not to say on the road inside the property  but ended up in a wet paddock sliding sideways down the hill towards our dam’s spillway with a full load. (To appreciate the intensity of the dilemma, Google how much 7 cubic metres of wet concrete weighs, and then add the weight of the truck).

Whilst he was being rescued by a dedicated rescue truck, that may have been built by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a very delicate operation that only took about five hours, I was left with less coloured concrete available to me than I needed to finish the car port properly. I had to make do because there was not enough colouring left after the 7m2 had been wasted.

Who could have predicted that?

My carport finish was compromised and the covered area on the northern side had to be plain concrete which was later painted, which was NOT what I wanted. Because the two additional loads had to be delivered separately, it cost me more for the job and I ended up with two compromised finishes.

I had to do it that day because I had 5 concreters onsite ready to rock and roll who were paid for two hours work whilst they watched the rescue mission waiting for a new load to arrive. The concrete pump charges by the hour as well.  Now you’ve got me monologing. Grrrrrrrr.

My point is that you cannot anticipate the unexpected. Yes I repaired most of the damage done to the road and the paddock a month later after it was dry enough to fix and almost all of the set concrete on the 4way bucket of my bobcat is barely recognisable. Luckily I had a bobcat and nothing else to do.

Build for all seasonal conditions 1

It’s a great fireside story and now after many years of counselling I no longer have those anger issues with the event and that twitch on my left eye has significantly reduced.

Getting back on task, I suggest that one thing that cannot be recovered from is the effect, from a thermal, comfort and convenience perspective, is not building a home appropriately for its orientation. Both included photos were taken on the same day in mid-April 2019 in Tasmania, even though the year is irrelevant because the sun follows the same path each year, and shows the sun penetrating the living area of an Air BnB we stayed at in Hobart.

Maybe the orientation of the building with such big windows would be of an advantage on those cold and bleak winter days but would you be happy for the sun to have that access during the spring or autumn or, heaven forbid, the summer? Even for short term renters such as ourselves, those retrofitted pull down blinds were not a Godsend but an absolute necessity. Normal curtains would not be suffice.

Only this type of blind could be pulled down to strategically block the sun. On the days that we were in the house through the day, these blinds were pulled all the way down with the lights on.

I am aware that some house blocks on main roads, such as this one, do not afford unbridled orientation options, however, compromises in window placement, size and type would have reduced the issues we experienced and luckily, we don’t have to live there every day.

We don’t have to pay for the excessive air-conditioning in the summer time to bring
the home closer to the sweet spot.  We don’t have to pay for the lights to be almost
continually on for every hour we were in the building day or night

Those beautiful big windows that I suppose were designed to give access to view the Derwent River, now blocked by a courtyard wooden fence, would rarely have delivered what was dreamed because winter would be the only time of the year the blinds would be fully up. Even then, looking directly into the sun, having only to squint to view the majestic Derwent,  is not something I would enjoy doing everyday if at all.

Unexpected problems can occur at any time, even in such mundane events as concrete delivery,  …ooh, is that my twitch back again, but seriously, … seek advice from someone uninvolved in the project with an eye that can logically see what an eye with emotion cannot. Build to suit the climate and conditions all year around, and not for just a few possible days that may occur rarely if ever at all.

John Lynn