The tale of our hovering house

27 February 2017

Turns out the local council (which has to sign off on the foundation plans in order for our house to be founded on something) isn’t very swift.

I mean, we knew this already. Delightfully, we have been gifted with fresh insight into the ponderous speed of the council.

That is, I really really hope they are pondering, and not just having cups of tea. Because we have a slight issue, which is that the house has arrived, but we are not allowed to ‘found’ it on foundations.

Rather than being on foundations, the house is hovering.

It also turns out that the moving guys, while they did prop up the house enough to hover it a most convenient 5 feet off the ground, did not prop up the house well enough to create any semblance of a mildly flat floor.

On the plus side, walking around in the house is like taking a gentle mountain hike, which has to count for something towards our collective fitness levels.

It’s hard to convey in a photo just how mountainous the floor has become.

Mama and papa and I may have had a brief moment (or day) of despair when we walked around our newly adopted house and realised that much of the work (like replacing entire rotten walls and other minor tasks) cannot be undertaken until such time as the house is in fact close to level.

This does make sense to me. Walls, however well-built and straight they may be relative to the current extremely warped position, will of course move and quite possibly create some interesting Picasso-esque lines once the house is ironed out onto some foundations.

However, even though it makes sense, it does trouble me somewhat that I have a limited amount of time to renovate this here orphan house (I haven’t yet mentioned it, but I am leaving on a jet plane on June the 14th, hence the countdown timer), and that we have our hands tied when it comes to doing really helpful things like fixing the roof and replacing those rotten walls and floors.


The laundry floor. Lovely.

Still, papa was not to be dissuaded. He led mama and I on a death-defying mission to LEVERAGE AND PROP OUR HOUSE UP in the saggy bits, using an overgrown crow bar and suspicious looking pieces of scrap timber.

It’s quite disconcerting to have an entire house creaking in pain above your head as you wrestle timber into upright positions under the joists.

As there’s nothing we can do to hasten the pondering of the council, we have reconciled ourselves to undertaking the very simple and easy tasks like scraping sanding glueing filling and painting the 44 window sashes.

Meanwhile, our house will hover.

Mama cleans guttering while the house hovers.

Moving Day (Take 2)

26 February 2017

Houston, the house has landed.

I mean, it truly is here this time.

After the most distressing/confusing night before, my insomnia/dream/house-expectancy exhaustion thankfully gave way to a deep sleep.

Papa knocked on my door at 5am. My bed propelled me up and out, as if I’d pushed some previously masterfully-camouflaged eject button (which has since vanished, unfortunately).

I nearly tripped on my way out into the wet darkness, such was my urgency.

We drove too quickly down the driveway (sorry, neighbours), desperate not to miss the main event: the house coming across the tiny one way bridge and lumbering across papa’s gravel-filled ditch to our house spot.

Bumping down our gravel driveway at an unreasonable speed.

Of course, our response time to the moving guy’s text was so record-breaking that we waited at the end of our driveway for an eternity half hour. Waiting in the dark car, every passing engine was a cruel false alarm. Finally, we heard what was unmistakeably two trucks laden down with a whole lot of aged wood and glass masquerading as a house.

Then we saw lights.

First light! Ah.

Mama and I clung to each other in the cold and uttered small shrieks as we watched the truck lift and tilt OUR HOUSE up and over the sides of the tiny one way bridge.

The big chunk of house makes it over the tiny bridge.

Papa went to his carefully gravel-clogged ditch and ‘guided’ the moving guys across. What he’d filled was not nearly wide enough, but those house-hauling trucks are not easily deterred. They went right through the ditch.

Papa guides the house relocation trucks
Papa guides the house relocation trucks.

Once the house had landed, we had a brief interlude, during which we went back to the main house.

I cooked all our eggs and papa cooked bacon and we fed all the moving guys, while outside, a thick mist descended.

Mama stands in the mist, looking ethereal.

After breakfast and sunrise, I was relieved to find that no passers-by had made off with our house. Papa and I (ok, mostly papa) did the final eyeing up of the house site, and the trucks creaked the house into position.

Papa does the final measure. Slightly nerve-wracking.

Over the next two days, the moving guys swarmed over the house like ants, putting the roof back on (the roof was too tall to fit under powerlines), propping up the house on A-frames and stacks of wood, while I watched from my power-seat, the tractor wheel.

Every time we drove down the driveway, shock! There was a house.

Oh-so-much work to be done.

So, that’s it.

The birthing process is officially over, and now it’s time to raise this little orphan house (hmm problematic metaphors…) to be an upstanding, model 100-year old house citizen.

Now the real fun begins.

Appletree Cottage is home at last.


Moving Day (Take 1)

22 February 2017

The house-delivery night was like one of those strange dreams that you have when you’re going someplace the next day that’s filled with music and marshmallows and waterfalls and puppies and the other Top 6 Creations Ever Created.

Everything’s going well until suddenly your legs get trapped in invisible quicksand and you miss your flight by 5.2 seconds.

Or, you wake up in your dream, all ready to go on your most bestest adventure ever and everyone you’re meant to be going with has vanished – the house is empty. You suddenly realise that A: they have been abducted by the previously perfectly innocent but now mutinous sheep in your paddock; or B: they left without you.

Just like in my real life version of the dream.

Tuesday night. I finally went to sleep, and napped fitfully all night until 5, when my alarm went. I had given mama the absolute strictest instructions to wake me under any circumstances – I did not want to miss the house arriving.

That would be like watching a classic makeover/tranformation scene in the movies, and then somehow gluing your eyelids together just as the person turns around.

Actually, that analogy doesn’t seem dire enough… how about travelling to Siberia to see the annual tiger migration (because there is one, ok), when your dog sled mysteriously breaks down, and everyone else races past with their dog sleds and crouches all hushed on a mountain and watches a river of white tigers (your favourite animal, obviously) while you cry icicles onto your face down in the valley. Does that convey the importance of not missing this moment? I hope so.

So when I *woke* (poor choice of word – it implies that I slept prior) at 5am, and I thought to myself, I had better not go downstairs until I hear my parentals up and about, they need their sleep, and so I kept lying there while the clock kept throwing time away and then it was 5:30am and I text mama to ask if the house was arriving and had she heard anything and then it was 6am, and then the sun rose, and I knew that A: the house had arrived without me being there (the trucks aren’t allowed to drive after 6am) or B: the house had fallen off the truck and spontaneously exploded and was now a wispy pile of ash beside State Highway 1.

I got up, and grabbed my bike and pedalled down the endless driveway while I rehearsed my finest-ever angry speech for my parents who had clearly failed their only duty and arrived at the house spot and saw this.

No house.

Just so it’s crystal clear: there was no house.

I swear mama and papa have never taken longer to get up than they did that morning. I can’t remember what I did to fill the time, but when they finally got up, as always happens after a dream, you realise things aren’t quite so drastic as all that, and actually the house will probably be fine.

First, the house trucks had hit roadworks (not ACTUALLY hit them!) and then one of the engines had trouble, so the guys had fixed it, then there was traffic, and then it was 5:30am and there were too many cars on the road (the height of rudeness! Didn’t the people of the world know not to drive at that ungodly hour?), so the guys parked the trucks in a tiny town on SH1 and said they were going to drive the rest of the way the next night.

Meanwhile, all my indignant anger at mama and papa evaporated instantly when I heard they had barely slept either, decided to get up at 4:30am and wait at the entrance of the driveway to listen for the sound of the engines. They waited for an hour and a half.

Mama, being the very embodiment of an optimistic romantic, said that it had actually been deliciously peaceful and they had seen shooting stars.

Nevertheless, at that point I was glad they hadn’t woken me.

And that is how the house did not arrive.

This post is already ridiculously long, probably because it’s late at night and I haven’t written in a while so I’m just vomiting the strangeness of my mind onto the keyboard. I’m going to have to sleep now and write the honest-to-goodness house arrival story (in a much briefer fashion) in another post.

THE BIG DAY ARRIVES (aka, the house arrives)

21 February 2017

It’s 10:47pm, and right now, the house movers will be loading (how? I’m not sure how one lifts a house…) the cut pieces of our orphan house onto the Arnold Schwarzenegger of trucks.

At an unpredictable yet definitely ungodly hour tomorrow morning, Mama will get a text saying that the house is nearly here. She’s under strict instructions to wake me up.

Tonight, Mama and I folded up the tarps that have been lazing about overtop of the big scar in the earth. Papa drove home tonight and drove straight back down the drive on the big blue tractor to push a bit more dirt around. He says he’ll sleep better now, but I’m not convinced any of us will sleep at all.

What a very caesarean-section-type-of-way to get a new house.

Will the surgery go well?

Tomorrow will tell. (ooh rhyming, love it).