Sit right down and let me tell you a story.

In 2011 we bought a house.

A 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath brick veneer rendered house in suburban Melbourne.

It had been a rental, and the kitchen was one of those cheap flat-pack DIY jobs. So our first task for the extended renovation to make this house “ours” was to update the kitchen. During this work, the contractor found weatherboards behind the plaster of an exterior wall. Huh.

We did not think much about it.

A few months later we installed a split system in the master bedroom because as any Melbournian well tell you, the summer nights can be oppressive. And we like our sleep. Again the contractor found weatherboard behind the brick. Two comments like that piqued our interest.

Time to investigate.

Under each window, tiles sloped for rainwater runoff. One of those tiles on a side window was loose. A gentle tap with a mallet lifted it and we shone a torch into the gap. Lo, weatherboard behind the brick, all the way down.

Surprise!

Surprise!

Some judicious testing at other places around the house and we discovered that at some point in the past, a previous owner had built a brick shell around the weatherboard house. We also suspect that they then rendered the entire house, stucco-style, to hide the mismatch of bricks they used.

How did we collect all the proof of all this? After much discussion, we decided we liked the idea of returning the house to its former weatherboard glory. Thus began a big project.

Removing all the bricks. By hand.

If I would give anyone any advice at this point, I would say: don’t. Hire someone. What they would do in a week, took us months. Sure we were not in a hurry but it was a lot of work, knocking out bricks with hammer and chisel, moving and piling the rubble, and filling the several large skips to take it all away.

The old weatherboards were lead painted, from a time before health and safety was a whole thing, and so we abandoned the idea of sanding and repainting and just decided to rip them all off.

Enter stage left: our friends.

One of these people hides a secret

We started removing the board ourselves then struck upon the idea that it was actually kinda fun, we had friends who loved this sort of DIY stuff, and we could make a day of it. So we hosted a working bee and had a group of friends bring their tools, their safety glasses and gloves, and have at it. We provided food and drink. The house stripped, one possum evicted, one abandoned beehive removed, and the process of properly insulating and wrapping our house begun in preparation for a professional to put on nice new weatherboards.

So what’s the point of all this?

Jump ahead some years and we finally completed a much larger extension, a topic of other posts. And we finally hosted a small get together of friends, in this time of COVID, to celebrate our “new” house.

That was when our friends Kerri Valkova and George Ivanoff presented us with something that brought tears to my eyes with the thoughtfulness: this piece of art. Kerri, without us discovering, collected every old (and often rusty) nail she could find and even some of the rendered brick for good measure. She squirrelled these things away for years, made this lovely piece of art out of them, and presented it to us at our housewarming.

I almost fell over with shock.

It now sits with pride on our sideboard.

This lovely piece of art evokes such warm memories and feelings of love and friendship. It is a lovely reminder of our history with this house as we leap into our future in it.

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