Thursday, 28 March 2019

The Residental Possum Trapper - ahh, those issues

Eliminating possums from your suburban property in the middle of a sparkly modern subdivision is anything but simple. You might catch the odd one in a Timms trap but sooner, rather than later, you are going to hit some barriers to progress. You might even fool yourself into thinking you've got them all, or maybe that you can't win so you give up and plant your backyard in boring grass and get a dog to stop the Aussie incursions.

Is that the kiwi way? In my experience that's what many of the residents of my street did, well, the ones that had anything like a garden to be destroyed. Most people's gardens in subdivisions aren't really gardens at all. They are just the same old green sticks marching in a row around the perimeter of sections. Naturally even the Aussie furballs disdain to spend time there, seeking more delectable offerings. Complaints to the developer fell on deaf ears so folks gave up. No-one except me has ever pursued this problem in this very large subdivison.

I worked with Dave the hunter, experimenting with traps and baits and strategies. Together we negotiated past herds of curious cows, stretched our groins to the limit trying to get over wire fences to look for Aussi corpses, checked bait lines, then trap lines. In total we eliminated 16 possums and we hope we've got them all but realistically we know we might have missed some and one day they'll be back to devastate my little paradise so I'll need to stay vigilant and hope Dave will always be there to call on.

Yes, I killed at least five on my property but it took a strong stomach, tons of stress, lots of discipline and determination and, quite importantly, regular guidance from a pest professional. My souvenir that still remains is a dried out corpse behind my back fence (see photos) of one that tried to get away. But I got you, you bastard.

Please understand this: I DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM by putting traps in my garden. The problem has been solved by leaning on the person responsible for the whole desperate drama: getting the property developer who owns the land where the possums lived to get rid of them.

I spoke to the Rolleston Residents Association; they were surprised there were possums but then they'd all lived here for 20+years, not in a swanky new subdivision. They sent my concerns to the district councillors but none of them bothered to contact me. I spoke to an ECan staff member who told me he got only eight complaints about possums per year so urban possums aren't an issue. REALLY??? But then he went on to say we all need to work together to eradicate them as per Predatorfree NZ, and then he contradicted himself by saying public interest is fleeting so public campaigns don't really work. I told him my theory as to why he wasn't getting complaints from residents and it had nothing to do with the number of possums.

Members of my street had complained to the property developer and got nowhere. Somehow they never thought to go further and complain to Ecan, DoC (who do nothing in urban areas even though they are charged with possum eradication) or the Selwyn District Council.

I obtained an appointment with Amy Adams MP for Selwyn. We got on surprisingly well even though I will never be a National Party supporter. She's a country girl who understands a bit about possums but said she learnt a few things from me. She suggested I talk to Selwyn District Council as she felt they had the power to put conditions on approval of subdivisions, maybe to ensure they were pest free before releasing the sections for sale?

I visited the planning department at SDC and they made it clear this is not the case. There are no legal avenues whereby they can put such conditions on a resource consent to a developer. They can't even put a warning note on a PIM to alert would-be section-buyers about possum infestations so there is no warning for folks like me. You buy in good faith but maybe there isn't any of that. Conflict of interest? Probably, since SDC are in very public partnership with the developer.

Amy suggested I put some heat on Eugenie Sage, Minister for Conservation, to allow biotechnology to be developed. What that might mean would include tinkering with genetic modification. Eugenie's Green so she won't have a bar of it. In the meantime NZ's natural heritage is rapidly being eliminated. I don't like the idea of gene technology but after this possum experience I'll accept anything that saves NZ and protects what little biodiversity is left. It's use technology or lose NZ. The choice is clear and we've already lost most of it in recent times. Eugenie doesn't respond to any of my communication channels.

Without support and help from anyone I've run out of steam and paths to tread. Can't say I've had any thank yous from the residents down my street for giving them the opportunity now to have a decent backyard.

Well, at least my garden is growing, that is, except my fruit trees that were so damaged they cannot even grow normal leaves. The leaves are a third the size they should be and there is no growth in tree size. They all are a fraction of the beginner size I bought last year and the shredded leaves are still visible on my roses and camelias. Who cares? No-one, it seems, except Dave, the kind professional hunter who helped me for a time to change traps (most of which did not succeed) select bait flavours ranging from licorice through peanut butter and cinnamon and shared his knowledge, even the distasteful bits, about the secret lives of possums.

Photos include: live and kill traps. the trap line down my street behind my house,one of the offending land parcels where the nasties were based. They cohabit with cows quite well as cows keep the grass short, which the possums prefer, so it's no wonder bovines can get TB from possums.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

The residential possum trapper Part 1

We all know that possums are a nasty predator that needs to be eliminated in New Zealand. It's an introduced pest from Australia and has only major negative effects here on our native flora and fauna https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_brushtail_possum . Most of us know that there's a pest programme called PredatorfreeNZ  https://predatorfreenz.org . It's dependent on volunteers.

It didn't feature much on my radar due to my personal circumstances but I felt it was a good idea to get rid of these pests because I love NZ wildlife and hate what introduced species and colonial stupidity have done to what was a natural paradise.

My perceptions and motivations changed dramatically after I moved into my brand new home and started planting my gardens and orchard in Rolleston. I chose my section based on research and the developer's marketing. Check out their video http://hughesdevelopments.co.nz/casestudies/faringdon/ . It's even more developed since this was filmed. This suburb is developed in official partnership with Selwyn District Council. Looks very urban doesn't it? Good amenities, tidy, modern in one of NZ's fastest growing towns managed by one of NZ's richest district councils. Rates here are over $3000.

Four nights after I had moved into my house my embryonic orchard had been wiped out. No leaves left, branches broken off, bark stripped. Possum attack!  Desperate I contacted Christchurch City Council and Selwyn District Council. Both brushed it off saying it was not their problem since the problem was mine, me being a private homeowner. I was told to hire a private pest controller.

I'm unemployed. Paying someone to get rid of the problem located elsewhere which was creating property damage was not possible. My garden is my hobby and also the only way I have to control some of my food costs and eat more nutritious food than you'll find at any supermarket. When I bought my section I bought a flashy, urban, fibre optic reality that did not include this shit. I rang Environment Canterbury who also said it was not their problem (despite the fact they are responsible for pest eradication). If seems their priorities are on Bank Peninsula or rabbits bothering lifestyle blockers or getting rid of wallabies in South Canterbury.
The Department of Conservation who, as we know, detest pests and tries to get rid of them refused to help as the problem was not on DOC land. Whose land was it that was the source of the problem?

It's owned by the developer and another land owner and despite complaints by residents in my street to the developer, long before I moved in, their complaints went ignored.

ECan gave me the number of a pest controller and so I called Dave but told him I had no money to pay for PredatorfreeNZ work. He very kindly said he'd pop round and check out my place. He was shocked by the devastation and offered to help for free. We set up a Timms trap at the corner of my section, erected a ramp from the top of the fence to the trap, added a bait trail and chose the licorce-flavoured bait. It was scary stuff. I live alone and I was entering 'new territory'.

I went to bed every night knowing there would be something scary to deal with later. Would it be a cadaver facing me the next morning or, worse, no cadaver at all? And all the while the damage continued. They started on my roses, then my camelias, then my lilacs. For the first two nights there was only damage. Then I heard the trap go off and knew I'd have to get rid of a body and re-arm the trap myself. I looked out my bedroom curtains. Was that a dark lump next to the trap? I had to wait for light to be sure. When I regarded the corpse something clicked in me. I stopped being a blindly loving animal lover. All I felt was anger, disgust and temporary relief that this one would no longer be destroying my home. It was me or them but the effects on my sleeping and mental health were very negative and I did not buy into this when I bought a section in Faringdon.

On one occasion a beast put up a fight inside the trap and I had to go out in my pyjamas and gumboots at 3.30am to make sure it died, one way or the other, because to lose one is really awful, knowing you have to go through it all over again just to get the same possum.

Possums get trap shy and bait shy. It is complicated to get rid of them when you are not allowed to put poison down, not allowed to shoot them. People with children would be loathe to even put traps down. I had to persist.

We put a trap right outside my bedroom window because we noticed possum paw prints all up and down one of my pergola posts.

One night I heard a bizarre noise outside my bedroom window. Half asleep I could not identify it- I imagined I was in Alaska, snowed into a cabin, alone, with a grizzly bear prowling outside, trying to get in to get me. Those of you who have heard possums calling each other will understand exactly how scary it could me on your own in a house at night with that going on above you. I forced myself out of bed to look outside.

God, there was a horrid beast on top of my pergola. I willed it to come down. It wandered to and fro on top of the pergola. Then it decided to slowly make it's way down head first, rubbing it's scent over the post. The trap seemed mildly interesting to it. For ages, it seemed, it put its front paws on top and just looked at it. Put your head in! Put your head in! I telepathed. Suddenly it did. whammo! It died pretty quickly from its airway and the major blood vessel to the brain being squished. Phew. Shaking, I went back to bed thinking that now I could relax and get some sleep.

About an hour later, still keyed up and not quite asleep I heard the trap being dragged across my bedroom patio. Well, what would YOU think? Resurrection? Defective trap? What did I need to deal with now? Peering through my curtains I saw another possum lurking around the dead one. Shit! I didn't know what to do. It moved across to eat my alyssums. I wished I had a loaded rifle beside the French doors. When I turned on the outside lights it just balefully stared at me. Just two feet away. It was not afraid. I opened the window and screamed at it. It strolled across my backyard and disappeared. I needed more traps. My professional trapping advisor told me he had video proof that possums are into necrophilia. Perhaps I had interrupted a session outside my bedroom. This is not nice, one pane of glass between me and THAT!

We set up three Timms traps but success was limited. We changed the bait on the ramp to peanut butter flavoured.

We then set up a big electric trap. Possum pelts are very dense and thick. The electrodes have to scratch the back skin of a possum in order to make contact and the possum has to put its front and back paws on the plates. Both the bait and the trap were a failure. Some Cinnamon bait was licked up but they found ways not to put both sets of paws on the plates. Electric traps are capable of multiple kills. Once one possum is electrocuted the machine must wait at least two minutes before dropping the body on the ground ready for the next. If it drops immediately the drop acts like a defibrillator and resuscitates the beast which can recover.


The possums were escaping from the Timms traps leaving fur behind. We can't explain this. Maybe they were putting just an arm in. I was running out of options. One night I saw a huge possum with a Timms trap on its head waving it back and forward, too big and powerful to die immediately. On another night I heard the trap go off, saw the possum sitting in the middle of my backyard just staring at me with its horrid eyes. It then waltzed up the ramp and disappeared. Two weeks later we found it dead behind my fence. A huge size. Flat and cooked by 30+ degree temperatures.

Then the possums started eating my house. They have bitten two chucks out of the front beam of my bedroom pergola. There is a vicious claw mark on a rafter. Why? They were marking their territory. I did not feel safe in my new home. I was told not to have any windows open in the middle of this hot summer, even the ones with window stays, because a possum in my house would create huge damage. The possums controlled my life and this is not fair.

No amount of online info or free trap libraries can solve situations like this. Would you have the intestinal fortitude, the emotional strength to deal with this month after month? I didn't feel I did and for the past month all emails and voice messages to the developer (the founder and his marketing manager) went unanswered. Christmas, New Year, lengthy overseas holidays.

What about the other people down your street? I door knocked to ascertain attitudes and the extent of the problem.
Responses ranged across the following:

  • Back garden wiped out, decided not to replant due to possum problem so just lawn and a dog to protect against possums
  • Front garden seriously damaged, preferring to sell up and leave the area (though not just because of possums). Fed up with the subdivision and the developer
  • Mothers worried about the health of their children as there is so much possum excrement on the fences etc. Possums carry diseases such as TB
  • Mounting anger towards the subdivision developer Hughes Developments and SDC for not eradicating these monsters before selling us the sections - they say the developer did not respond to their complaints and does not treat everyone equally when enforcing the covenants.
  • Sorry about your garden Frances but we will not support you if you do anything publicly about this as we don't want you wrecking our property values. 

In Part two I will outline the developer's response, my kill toll, what I'm doing to try to save what's left of the stumps of my fruit trees, the community and political aspects and more on baits and traps and what to do with cadavers.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Building in NZ - Window treatments and other interior design decisions

I had no idea how much I needed to budget for a house lot of window dressings so I asked people
down the street that I met on my walks, what their experiences had been. Many were so strapped for money at that point of the build they had gone super-budget with businesses like the Curtain Studio - ready-made drapes. The custom drapes were much more pricey yet the fabric choices remained limited. I decided to stay away from the usual suppliers and do a lot of the sourcing myself. In the end I got a house lot for a medium price; practical window treatments that are unique.

As part of the build contract my builder had given me a consultation with an interior design company. I already had pretty clear ideas of the sort of things I wanted and didn't want and had already purchased my main curtain material which they could not access. Well done Millers Homeworld for your prompt service in ordering in material from the UK. They made it easy and they kept me in the loop.

It was  useful to test my ideas against those of the design experts. They confirmed my paint colours would work and suggested velvet drapes in the two bedrooms. These are becoming more in vogue and work very well. Different weights and prices are available. I already had my bed linen organised so my colour palette was pretty much predetermined. This was the fun part for me. I would never have left this to the professionals or I might have ended up with black and white like most new-builds.

I thought I would have liked shutters - all the rage - but they were much too expensive for me and they block a good portion of the window space so I chose wood-look blinds. They aren't wood so they are light and supposed to be UV-stabilised but keep in mind that there are size limits. Decide if you want cord or chain operation. I chose chain because cord gets grubby from your hands very quickly. I didn't want metal Venetian blinds as I am after a soft European/French look, keeping in mind my house IS a modern kiwi house with French embellishments.

My lighting consists mostly of French-style chandeliers, taking advantage of a 2.7m stud. Anything shorter than that height means you can't have a decent chandelier.

Don't be afraid to use colour. I wanted a couple of feature wallpaper walls in my house but couldn't afford that so opted for a strong paint colour on one. It really adds style and anchors everything else that tones in. If I came into a better financial situation I could always add wallpaper later.
Some folks are trying the new Italian interior plastering effects. These look great but were too expensive for me. My dollars had to go on a decent hearth for my logfire. My contract stipulated a logfire but said nothing about a hearth so I found myself realising towards the end of the build that I would have an unexpected and not inconsiderable extra expense. Those guys get booked up solid so finding the right tiles and especially a good and available tiler at short notice can be challenging.

The kitchen door was a challenge. How could I aesthetically cover it and still be practical for trips to and from the vegetable garden? A roman blind does the trick, especially in harrow spaces. It also introduced the main patteern into the other end of this large living space.

I'm into recycling things I love from France. My bedsit in Rambouillet was on the ground floor of Louis the XVI's locksmith's house (Monsieur Dablin). Consequently it had an extremely high ceiling and windows. I had found some unlined cheery shot silk orange taffeta curtains at a DIY store the curtains then followed me to my next abode and eventually back to NZ. Possessed of several curtains I used two for the main window in my office and had the third transformed into a roman blind for the narrow window in the room. They look great, even though they had to be shortened for my 2.7m stud. I planted Remember Me rose outside the window to carry the shot colours out into the garden.

One of the advantages of having an interior design business do your window treatments is that they get materials cheaper and this offsets their prices so you end up with a nicely coordinated look for little more. My consultants had a workroom which meant I could easily get cushions custom-made with piping from off cuts of the materials I had bought.

I changed the dining nook into a library by getting joiners in to install shelving and a long window seat where I could read and look out on my roses and lavender. The seat lifts up and supplies great storage. However, I needed my interior design consultant to organise a squab for it. She couldn't find a suitable material so I had to do that. I found I was getting pretty good at finding things that worked together.

Consider the view outside each room. What colours do you want to see in your plantings? Don't forget you might need some photos or artworks for your walls. The budget pressures never seem to stop and in my case, I didn't have enough furniture for a three-bed home so some had to be ordered. I waited for sales, suppressing my impatience at having to wait months in order to get things cheaper.

This was a six-month build. Most things went smoothly but I did have to keep a close eye on things. The worst week of the entire build was waiting for Selwyn District Council inspector to get on with his paperwork after final inspection. I was left in anxious limbo unnecessarily worried about whether I could actually move in, if so, what about the validity of house and contents insurance as many insurers will not insure unless you have your Code of Compliance paperwork. I didn't get that until days after I moved in and after my builder went around to the Council to try to sort out the holdup. In the end we had to await the pleasure of the Council staff.

There only remains to talk about landscaping next post. A significant part of your budget.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Building in New Zealand - the interior fitout

Things get interesting now but messy and often frustrating at this stage. There may be scheduling hold-ups. Be prepared to deal with mistakes being made. Stay focussed and involved so you can identify errors while they can still be rectified. Your house is insulated and the gib stoppers have been busy. Do make sure they haven't gibbed over power points. I had that problem and it took some reminders to get it fixed. There's a device that can be used to identify the hidden metal casing surrounding powerpoints hidden behind gib which minimises the likelihood of them putting holes in the wrong places.
Speaking of holes in the wrong places; my joinery in the laundry ended up covering the only place one could have a light switch. The hole was all ready to go then got covered by  cupboard. They ended up putting a covering over the hole inside the cupboard and putting the light switch outside the laundry. A practical solution.
However there was no hole for my clothes drier to connect to a power point and the hole for the washing machine cord was in a stupid location so another big hole was needed. That didn't get rectified until the very end of the build.

You'll want to check the electrician has done his thing correctly but this will happen after the painters have had at least two weeks exclusive access to your home. They don't like to share with other trades at this stage as they need easy access and will start with the wet areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. In the third week your kitchen will go in and the plumber will be working on site with the painters. Be prepared for touch-ups as other trades knock walls and mark them; skirting boards in particular.

The flooring goes down after the painters have mostly completed things and it's a good idea for the installers to put down cardboard to walk on to protect your new flooring - vinyl planking in my case. Then the builder put down plastic 'paths' to walk on after the carpet had been laid.

The extra joinery I had arranged went in smoothly and without incident leaving me with a tidy and elegant library with a roomy window seat providing good storage for items such as photo albums, sheet music. Some of you might find it good for storing toys. The garage bench and cupboards are great for storing garden chemicals, tools and towels for cleaning up messes.

Make sure you check in with your window treatments supplier at this point to make sure they are on track for installation after your house has been cleaned.

Surprises: the kitchen took several weeks, I don't know if that is normal. The cupboard fronts wrapped in plastic were some of the last things to be installed along with appliances, splashbacks and plumbing. Decide where on the sink(s) you want your tap located. My pantry needed bifold doors as space was limited. These are fiddly for builders to do and require adjustments.


The bathrooms took ages, mostly due to the fact the tilers seemed occupied elsewhere. Tilers are always busy, be prepared to suck it up and hope for the best.

My fit-out was complicated by the fire surround installation. The fire surround is big and a real leap of faith that it will look right in the room. Happily my fabricator Peter did a good job and liased with my builder and tiler as it was chicken and egg as to how to get it installed. I'm certain there was a bit of head-scratching as to how to get it together with space gaps for safety and aesthetics.

Finding the right marble isn't always easy. I managed all that myself to save money because everything extra your builder does gets a 15% margin added PLUS GST on top of all that.

There was no hearth mentioned in my building contract despite the fact there was a log fire, and it was at this time I realised I needed to spend a lot more time and money getting a suitable hearth installed.

 Another reminder that your builder often doesn't put everything you need in the contract, probably so you don't realise the house is going to cost more than you think.

I can attest that there are many traps and you will go over budget and in my case, being unemployed during the build and facing mounting costs made me constantly anxious. The last two weeks were the most anxiety-ridden of the whole build. More on that in future.

The electrican did his best to get the hang length of my chandeliers correct without me to advise but the one in my bedroom was too low. He came back and fixed that while he was installing the outdoor lighting.

As you can see, this is a busy time in the build. You need to keep on top of it all and keep the pressure on your builder. if it looks like things have ground to a halt they probably have so ask the hard questions or your build will go down the pecking order for urgent work on other houses. In my case it was busier than it should have been as the painters hadn't painted the soffits and I had to wait weeks for them to get on with that. The celcrete columns hadn't been started.

More on the exterior and landscaping in a future post. Next post looks at window treatments and extra touches to make your house your home.





Saturday, 24 November 2018

Building in NZ - preplumb and prewire

Your home is starting to look like something you will live in in the not so distant future. This is the start of seeing little of your builder and more of other trades. There are many other trades and it's not just the plumber and electrician and the insulation guys. Suppliers are all specialists and they install their own products. Some are required to produce producer statements and garantees for you to get your Code Compliance at the end of the build.

You might never meet your plumber at this point. Like me you may turn up to a site inspection and the plumbing is just there, but no taps or water cyclinder, no showers, vanities or toilets. This is the PRE stage where basic piping is done but nothing the owner will see to use will be installed at this stage.

However, beware that mistakes aren't made even now. I cannot impress on you too much that the buck stops with you and you need to know your plan and specifications inside and out. Dream it if necessary and even then you might not pick up on mistakes the first time they are visible.

Case in point: on seeing the plumbing for my ensuite I commented that it was going to be impossible for the recessed bathroom cabinet to be installed if the blumbing ran behind it. Oops! Plumber had to come back and put a dog-leg in the piping but the recessed cabinet was going to give more grief in the future (more on that in a future post).

I deliberately eliminated the bath from the original plan as baths use too much water and are not 'sustainable'. Plus, most people I asked never used their baths, except for kids. My house is not designed for families or kids. I would have liked a bigger bathroom and third bedroom but I was limited in what I could do as I had to use a standard plan and could only tweak it and the subdivision developer insisted on a certain size of house (overall, too big for me). Without plenty of money and an architect you can't have what you want. Compromises happen from start to finish but you can still have something you like.

Notice that the window sills and frames are now in, the insulation is in the roof and exterior walls. Cavity sliders are useful but complicated things which take time to install and paint.

You will have a detailed walk-through with your electrician. There will already be a basic plan submitted to the Council for the building consent but it will not have been your choice. You should have already submitted a plan though to your builder for costing because electricians are a cost that is not fixed. Danger! I used a building plan and colour coded every place I needed power points, TV and internet connections, downlights, chandeliers, outdoor lighting.

I hate houses with ceilings full of downlights. Most new homes are like this. I feel assaulted by a wall of light. There's no atmosphere or 'feel'. Lighting should be functional but also emotional so I've got only the basics of downlights in purely functional areas but French-style chandeliers everywhere else. They were an expense not covered by the lighting PC amounts and the cost wasn't insignificant, though I saved on downlight costs. My ceilings will also not be full of holes, more tranquil.

Don't be surprised when your electrician draws all over your framing, making notes for him/herself on what goes where and they MUST take photos or write everything down because during the internal fitout mistakes will probably occur and need to be corrected.

Please do consider outdoor lighting requirements for the future before they pour your slab or at the least NOW. I needed to be certain that cabling would be available under my patios, before they were poured so conduit holes had to be made in my slab and then through the cladding. Even then, the builder made mistakes and blocked up two feeds. Fortunately the electrician was able to find a work-around.

Your log or gas fire will go in now but it won't be fully installed. There can be quite a delay on that.  You will wait quite some time for a garage door too. The telecoms box and the fuse box will be prewired. What a forest! It's rather impressive that what you see at this point will actually become a fully functioning modern home.

You can't take anything for granted. It's YOUR house and the number of mistakes that can be made increases. Next post - the interior fitout which means gibbing and painting etc.





Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Building in NZ - Wrapping your house

This post looks at getting your house to the weatherproof stage. Your framing is up and your roof is on so it's time to start covering it with windows, doors and cladding. You'll discover that your joinery will go in just after the framing  and then therre's the building paper (remarkably thin) and thicker weatherproof stuff that will be put around your windows and under any doors and French doors to keep the weather off the wood. The soffits (eaves) get done too.

Like me you'll probably be very excited to catch your first glimpse of your new front door and door hardware. Have they installed what you ordered? Check.                                                  I discovered there had been a mixup with the layout of the French doors with one side window for the third bedroom. Despite my signing off on the joinery schedule and the notes on it to get the window on the correct side to match the building plans someone had made a cockup ordering it and the builder hadn't even noticed it was not like in the plans and installed it anyway. 
Do not underestimate how easily, and sometimes carelessly, trades get things wrong. Common sense doesn't come into it. There are so many indians involved in a house build that it's hard to know where to pin the blame. I studied the mistake and decided I would just have to live with it. I couldn't face holding up the build so that it could be replaced with the correct layout and in fact no one was offering that as an option. I suspect they were hoping I'd live with it. I gave a big internal sigh and decided I'd just have to get used to the way it was. It does, however, give pause and reminds me that vigilance is necessary and, like giving birth, we must question everything the so-called experts do or say because the buck stops with us, the owner.

After the paper is on gaps are filled with expanding foam and battens are attached to the outside of the house. These are to create a gap between the paper and the aerated concrete panels. I'm using celcrete but there are other brands of this type of cladding. The aerated concrete panels are light and the air gap behind them allows moisture to descend and leave the building.
This stage took forever and it shouldn't have. I also felt the celcrete guys were a bit slap dash leaving huge chunks out of corners and other edges for the plasterer to fill. More expanded foam was evident which, to my eyes, wasn't well applied. I queried it. The next time I saw the building plastic mesh corners had been applied to give shape and a bit of strength and plastered over.
You can see the supports for the pergolas attached to the framing. The plastering dries out and undercoat and two top coats are applied. You just have to trust that two coats really are applied. At this stage the house is weatherproof but the soffits are not yet painted.
The next stage involves the interior and this is where traffic jams and holdups can easily happen with the sub-trades. Next blogpost - the complications of interior fitouts as the excitement tries to mount.