In parallel with all of our design changes, we are also trying to appoint new people to the team, some of whom are struggling with our concepts! One of the many advantages of using CAD drafting systems is that the 3D models that drop out of them can be rendered to produce realistic images. These renders allow us to start seeing the finished product, how the bach fits into the environment, the views from different windows and really start to get a feel for how it all works together. Not just pretty pictures, these renders have also become a useful tool to help explain the form of the structures to new members of the team. Some simply cannot get their head around our 3 walled pavilions – an absolute mind bend!

Not only are we making design changes and expanding our team, we are also trying to get a handle on the reality of the inside spaces and how we can fit them out. This means going back to the beginning, discussing as a family what we want from our bach, how we want to occupy it and what our priorities are.

Firstly, we need to remember that this is a bach! The main purpose is for us to holiday there, so it needs to be low maintenance and we need to be able to lock and leave for lengthy periods of time. The other massive consideration is that Hanmer is in a very high seismic zone (Even higher than Christchurch!) so the materials we select will need to hold up in a strong shake and require little repair.

Making our way through the interiors, our thoughts turn to food and cooking, what do we consider a priority on holiday – the BBQ or the Kitchen? Where will we spend most of our time cooking, indoors or out? Hanmer has such a varied climate throughout the year, we don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen on a spectacular Summers day but on the other hand, do we really want to be boiling potatoes on the BBQ outside in the snow?! How much kitchen space do we really need while we are on holiday?

Again, we look for a creative solution to our kitchen space problem. We don’t require a full-sized kitchen but we still need a decent amount of space to prep food – our bach can sleep up to 20 people on a busy day so there needs to be space to feed them all! By using a portable cooktop, the bench space underneath can be utilized for other purposes when the cooktop isn’t in use. And, being portable, it can be used outside on hot summer days when no one wants to be inside. Once again, we are challenging the way we live and finding solutions to do it in a more compact way without losing functionality.

Decisions are being made, however, I’ve been avoiding an issue that has been niggling in the background since we decided to use pre-fabricated materials; how can we heat a space that is low mass and as such does not retain heat well?

We’ve always enjoyed the ambience of a fire place and feel as though it would fit into the space well – providing we select a smaller fire, a regular sized fire would over heat the small space rendering it unusable. But installing a simple fire isn’t going to fix our heating issues… rather than place the fire on a standard hearth, I want to build a concrete mass which forms a shell that the fire sits in. The surface around the fire will help to store and omit heat – once again using the thermal properties of concrete to our advantage. And by using a ducted heat transfer system we can push the heat into our other spaces, win win!

I see our fireplace as a nice opportunity to build something myself. Believe it or not, I actually used to be a pretty handy guy; could whip up some cabinets in the garage with the best of them… But I haven’t completed any hands-on projects for some time… This fire shell could be my handy-man come back! I have this vision of standing around the BBQ cooking some sausages with a couple of mates, a dozen beers in the chillybin, a wheelbarrow full of mixed cement and a bag of river stones. Each taking turns to toss some stones into the Fire shell’s form work, filling it with concrete and eventually removing the form work to reveal our masterpiece. Handmade quality, a talking piece in our living space and some early bach memories. However, the meticulous side of me just wants to ‘get a man in’, have the shell professionally made, ensure I get the finish and high standard that I want… how disappointed am I going to be if my hand-made attempt doesn’t live up to that standard? … Watch this space…

Published on Friday, February 10th, 2017