“The Gentle Art of Owner Unbuilding…”

We are finally on the way to building our studio extension on the North side of the house. Hip Hip Hooray…….But first we have to “Whip off the Sunroom” in the immortal words of Michelle from Lateral Drafting who designed the extension.

So following the Owner Builders creed that nothing gets done unless you have a cuppa in the hand, first make a cup of something.

Now with cup in hand stare contemplatively at the job to be done. Drink liquid in cup and then firmly grasp hammer and wrecking bar in hand and start the DEMOLITION !!!

sunroom when we looked at the house

sunroom from outside

sunroom from outside

First fit a door in the hole !!

remove plaster and lath

Get busy with hammer and wrecking bar.

Remove the ceiling lining boards

Remove the sash windows and weatherboards

Firstly down comes the plaster, then the laths. Another cuppa. Lever off the ceiling lining boards and realise that they will be ideal for making the doors to the wardrobes in bedroom 1. Brilliant recycling.      Now to the windows. Prise out the sashes and label them for use later on.


Weatherboards. The only ones left on were on the West side. The others had been taken off earlier to use on the front porch.

Once I had removed everything I could it was time to call in a little help. Enter Andy Dunn the alternate builder we had used on the front porch. Together we took out all the window frames and studs leaving only two corner posts holding up the roof!

Two corner poles and a roof

After lots of denailing and more cups of tea I asked the Council building surveyor to look at the concrete around the sunroom to see if he thought whether there was room for the bearers and joists on top of the concrete. The answer was NO……

So we called in Nat the Bobcat to start removing the concrete.

concrete before removal

Concrete sawing 200mm thick concrete capping

Nat the Bobcat removing concrete

Bobcat in action

first lot of concrete removed

view from the back door feb 2010

When Nat removed the concrete I was sure that enough had been taken. All the raised area outside the Sunroom….. GONE…… the pad in front of that ………… GONE…………. then I measured out the area for the extension includingthe deck and got a shock. Much BIGGER than I imagined. So another phonecall to Nat. He came in and removed all the concrete including that over the sewer line.

A couple of things came to light. One was that there were multiple layers of concrete in parts and in others it was only an inch thick or so. Two that the stormwater pipes were ell and truly broken and had been for years. The water off the roof had been just leaching out under the concrete !!.  Tracking back the stormwater led us to find out that when the Council or whoever they used were putting in the sewer mains that crosses our block they just cut off the stormwater and it just ends in a jumble of smashed pipes on the edge of the sewer main. Fan bloody tastic !!!

A quick conflab with the Council plumbing inspector and he has suggested that a French drain be put in down the bottom of the garden. The plumber does not french drains and wants us to find a point where the stormwater starts up again. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be on the Crown land next door and we don’t want to go there if we can help it.

I am sure that it will sort itself out.

2 thoughts on ““The Gentle Art of Owner Unbuilding…”

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