Sanding, sanding, and more sanding… 10 March 2006

Today was our 5th workday on the house we are building for Juanita, the single mom who will be the new homeowner. She had sick kids on Monday and Tuesday, but has been at the building site for several hours the last two days, working along side us as much as possible when she is not at work.

I have never sanded so much in my life – the prep work on the inside of the house is definitely the most time consuming, and the slowest…. it felt like we would never start painting, and there are *still* holes to be filled! That is partly because of the way we are installing the closet shelves – drilled and screwed through the adjoining wall. These houses have no studs, but have very thick walls (thicker than the outside walls), so things can be nailed or screwed anywhere!

But we did start painting on Wednesday though, and probably 60% of the first coat is now done (but we STILL have lots of holes to fill, sand, prime, and sand again). Today though a small team started on the deck, and we got some of the kitchen cabinets installed. Interestingly, in NZ, it is law that every home must have a 6×6 meter area for ‘recreation’ (den or living room where most people will spend most of their time) on on the side of the house that faces the sun. And most houses I have seen so far are built to actually face the sun, regardless of the orientation of the street – it makes for very interesting house-positions, and driveway positions! And most also seem to have at least one covered or partially-covered porch, just off the recreation area.

One funny aspect of our supervisory crew is that we have a Mike, a Michael, a Mike and a Mike! It is (obviously) a very popular name here… so we have given them additional names, like gold-tooth Mike (the construction site manager, and who used to teach woodworking at HS level), and red-beard Mike (who was the 20th Habitat Manukau homeowner, a grandfather and now working on his drafting certificate). Two other craftsmen on our crew are Titia (“tee’sha”), a young woman master-painter whose family moved here when she was 6 from Holland, and Rob, a young Maori from Hawkes Bay on the north island who is now working on his construction certificate. Kieth is our construction manager – he and his wife emigrated from Yorkshire in 1982… this country is as immigrant-strong as the US!

We are playing hard too, though. Wednesday, we only worked 1/2 day, and headed for a lovely island offshore called Waiheke (“wy’hecky”), 25 km long and home to artists for many years, who came here originally to escape the restrictions of society. We did a “mystery tour” – we 11 divided up into 3 small SUVs and proceeded to follow some clues to find our way around and answer the puzzles for a prize. My team did not win, and it was somewhat frustrating and stressful as non-kiwis to answer the questions, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the windey streets and beautiful vistas of the coast and the ocean on our ‘tour’. And tonight we and many of the local crew headed for a great pub called Cock and Bull to drink local beer and watch rugby. I now have a little better appreciation for the roughest game of football on the planet.

Back to work tomorrow – rest day (and maybe a sail on the bay 🙂 on Sunday.

Best quote of the day: “Don’t forget my knock-up call at 6:30 am!” – name withheld to protect the innocent!