Pre-Wetting your Site


Reason For Pre-Wetting

If you are Building On Clay that is dry there is a risk of Soil Heave.

This is due to expansion of the clay if the moisture level increases with particular risk factors being:

  • Building after a long period of very dry weather when large cracks in the surface are visible.
  • Knock down and rebuild projects where there is a risk that part of the new foundations are on drier land than other parts.
  • Where there are trees, or trees have recently been removed.

To minimise the risk there is often an Engineers requirement to pre-wet the site to stabilise the moisture content.

Pre-Wetting Requirement

A typical requirement is to run sprinklers for 2 hours a day for 8-10 days which should increase the soil moisture to a depth of approx 1m.

Then the fill/construction pad below the slab should be laid within 2-3 days,

You are aiming for the equivalent of 20-25 mm of rainfall a day (20-25L/m2) The intention is on each day to thoroughly wet the top layer of soil and fill all the cracks with water without actually waterlogging the site.

For maximum effect the best time to do the pre-wetting is the late evening to minimise evaporation.

I have hear of builders saying the pre-wetting isn’t needed. Don’t accept this without soil moisture tests that have been accepted by the engineer who made the original requirement.

Effectiveness of Pre-Wetting

Although pre-wetting will minimise the risk of Soil Heave

  • It doesn’t mean that good foundation design can be neglected.
  • Letting the site moisture content stabilise through a winter, after removal of buildings/trees, is likely to be more effective.


See Ground Conditions for more Posts


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Avoiding the Neighbours!

Katskhi Pillar

No this hasn’t been photoshopped . . . . and somebody does actually live in that building which is a restored monastry!

It’s been occupied since 1995 by a religious hermit who wants to be closer to God.

The limestone monolith is called the Katskhi pillar and is located at the village of Katskhi, Georgia.

For moe information check out this Wikipedia Entry


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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Lighting Levels

There are two elements when considering Lighting levels for your new house.

  • Electrical Power (Watts)
  • Amount of Light (Lumens)


incandescent bulbIn the old days with incandescent bulbs it used to be simple, bulbs came in 40, 60 and 100watts and you were allowed up to 25 watts/square metre of floor space.

Now for your new build, in order to limit energy consumption, you are only allowed:

  • Indoors 5 watts /sqm (5W/sqm)
  • Outside 4 watts/sqm (4W/sqm)
  • Garages 3 watts/sqm

This doesn’t mean you have to have a gloomy house. Modern light fittings such as Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFLs) and Light Emiting Diodes (LED) give much more light than Incandescent Bulbs.

The above power consumption figure are for the initial construction. (After handover you can add additional lights)


Probably the best way to think about lighting is to consider what task you are going to do. Then look at how you will provide enough light in that area rather than the whole room.

Here are some suggested light levels for various tasks.

Under 10 lumens/sqm – Outside Security.

10-20 lumens/sqm – Conversation, Eating, Watching Television, General Circulation.

20-50 lumens/sqm – Cooking, Casual Reading, Bathrooms.

50- 100 lumens/sqm – Detailed Craft Work, Study.


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Understanding Display Homes

Display Home

I have compared the Cost of a Display Home with the price for the advertised price of the standard house, so here are what the differences are:

What you won’t get in the Basic House (unless there is a ‘Special Offer‘)

  • Premium Kitchen Cabinets
  • Premium Kitchen Fittings and Appliances
  • Stone Benchtops
  • Glass or Premium Tile splashback.
  • Large Stacker Doors in Family Room
  • Downlights and other lighting upgrades
  • Premium ‘Walk In Robe’ fit out
  • Premium Bathroom Fittings
  • Premium Bathroom Tiles
  • Premium Flooring Options
  • Premium Internal and External Doors and Door Fittings.
  • Air Conditioning
  • Premium Facade Option
  • Premium Bricks
  • Premium Roof Tiles
  • Premium Driveway front path
  • Decking / Barbecue area
  • Landscaping (Including Paths)
  • Pool

Here are some things you probably won’t see but I recommend you think about budgeting for.

  • Extra Power Outlets
  • TV / Satellite Antenna
  • Extra TV/Data Points
  • Extra External Taps
  • Better locks
  • Washing Line
  • Automatic Garage Door Opener


For more advice see the   ‘Guide to Choosing a House


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Great View . . . . But?

Refuge-Gervasutti-Alpine-Hut dining room

How would you like a spectacular view like this from your Dining Table?

Just a few problems getting to that dining table.

Refuge-Gervasutti-Alpine-Hut-2To give you a clue here is the outside view of the ‘House’.

You would need to climb a couple of thousand metres from the nearest valley . . . and need some warm clothing!

This is an Alpine climbers refuge called the Refuge-Gervasutti.

It was built off-site and ‘delivered’ by helicopter.

For more pictures see Refuge-Gervasutti


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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Instantaneous Electric Water Heater

Instantaneous Water Heater
No Gas Supply? . . . . .Well an Instantaneous Electric Water Heater may be an option.

This is our unit which is tucked away in a wardrobe.

The unit provides all our hot water for washing and showers, only heating the water when we need it, and never running out.

The unit is quite cool to the touch even when someone is running a hot shower.

Probably the only downside is that due to the high power consumption when the hot tap is running it needs  3 Phase Power.


For more posts see Plumbing

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Moving In – Bad Weather

photo by

photo by:

Have you thought about bad weather when planning your move?

New house sites are not the cleanest and you don’t want to be treading mud and dirt into your new house.

Even just wet boots can make a mess of your brand new carpets.

So here are some things to think about before you move:


Are all the paths and driveways finished?

If not it might be a good idea to organise to get some gravel, delivered, spread, and compacted before the day. (If you don’t compact it will still easily get picked up on peoples boots)

Even if all the driveways are finished it might be worth giving them a pressure clean the night before, and making sure you have a stiff brush with you for the day of the move.


Getting one of those large floor mats to put at the front door could be a good investment. (Alternatively  for around $50 you could make a mat out of a couple of square metres of outdoor carpet)

After the move you could put the mat in the laundry to intercept mud from the garden.

An extra precaution could be to put cardboard on the floor, in at least the hallway.

With sheets of cardboard tape them together to avoid your removalists catching their feet and tripping.

One good source of large flat sheets of cardboard is flat pack furniture, so it might be worth getting any flat pack furniture delivered in advance of the move.

See Moving House for more removal advice.


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Weird Bank

ing head office
Space Ship?

Star Wars AT-AT Walker?

or Bank Head Office?

Don’t laugh too much, your new home mortgage may be with this Bank!

Well as unlikely as it seems this in the Global Headquarters of my Bank . . . ING.

The building is located in the business district of Zuidas,  part of Amsterdam, Holland.

It was designed by  Roberto Meyer and Jeroen van Schooten and was opened in 2002


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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