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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - December 2011


All I can say is -I hope it will be all worth it-

For the last two weeks we have been trying desperately to get the building permit issued for our shed/house here at Mt Perry. There are about six million documents required (slight exaggeration) and a few extras due to the steel construction. Getting all of these documents in order and correctly presented is like trying to herd cats. Many of the plans and documents were produced by us - but some had to carry the signatures of people like engineers and septic designers. Due to our lack of knowledge and experience,  I fully expected to have issues with the plans that we produced. This was however not the case. The problems were with the documents containing the expensive signatures. I think we had to go back to the certifying engineer no less than 6 times to get small errors corrected. Our building inspector has the patience of a saint and has been great at carefully and concisely explaining what is required.

Well after loosing far more hair than I have to spare - we finally have the building permit!  That is particularly good news as we have paid for the shed and it is due to be delivered at the end of January.

On WideSpan Sheds (the company)

We chose Widespan as the shed supplier for two reasons ... firstly they were one of the cheapest and being a big nationwide company we felt that they were less likely to take the money and run. The second reason was that they were one of the few that seemed to actually understand the wind ratings that we needed the shed to carry. Pre-sales, we also found them to be very responsive and customer focused. This changed dramatically the second that we signed the contract and paid the deposit.

As soon as they had a captive customer the service went to nothing (one of the so called customer service people has clearly undergone training in customer hostility). We were immediately told that the next level of deposit would need to be paid very soon to avoid a massive price rise (nothing mentioned about this pre-sales). Requests to correct issues with the engineering certificate in response to requests from our (first) certifier were met by a long delay and then a "too bad" response. This left us with a certifier that would not accept the certificate and a shed company that would not change it (the proverbial rock and hard place situation). We had no choice but to change certifier.

So having yet to see even a single piece of steel, we are thus far not too impressed with Widespan - lets hope they make up for it when the shed is delivered.

The backyard pool - [Click for a Larger Image]
The backyard pool

We have not seen rain here at Mt Perry for almost a month - our drinking water supplies were getting very low. Never mind we thought, we are heading down to Gympie on the 6th of Dec for a motorhome club chapter meeting - we will get drinking water then. Then, the day before we were due to leave it rained for a solid 24hours. Drinking water issue solved ... but now we don't think the bus will get up the track to get out of here! So here we sit until the track drys out enough for us to get up the hill to the road - that is not looking like happening anytime soon as it is still raining. At least we have lots of drinking water!

Speaking of water - in anticipation of the warm Queensland summer, we have installed a backyard pool. The poor old well had some trouble supplying the 3500 ltrs of water to fill it, but its now full and ready for the warm weather.


Xmas is almost upon us!

Click to see interactive drawing

Click on the image above to view an interactive (rotatable) drawing of our Shouse

Progress on the shouse has been slow but steady. I have been drawing the shed in considerable detail with a free 3D drawing program (Google Sketchup). This has allowed us to see how the kitset fits together. You can click on the image to the right to open a window with a rotatable model of the shouse. This model fails to show the detail of the drawing and I have removed the ground around the building to reduce the size of the model.

The full resolution interactive model is very detailed - the dimensions are correct to the millimeter and full construction details are visible right down to individual brackets and bolts. The detail in the section of the drawing below shows a "haunch bracket" that is part of the main structural frame of the building.

Drawing Detail - [Click for a Larger Image]
Drawing Detail


While the drawing has taken a lot of time to produce, it has been a very useful exercise. It has given us the ability to visualize each component, it has also been a great help in laying out the foundations and slab.

Yesterday we measured out the site and accurately marked out the exact location of shouse and marked the center of each pile (these are part of the foundation that is drilled into the ground to stop the building from blowing away). We have ordered the steel reinforcement and expect it to be delivered on Thursday this week. By luck, one of our neighbors has a bobcat with an auger attachment and he has agreed to drill the 1.2m holes for the foundation piers. We then just have to dig the trenches for the remainder of the foundations.

The shed kit is scheduled for delivery on the 10th of Feb - this gives us plenty of time to get the foundations and slab poured and cured and get ready for the heavy lifting.

I have started writing a "what we have learned" document that is designed to point out pitfalls and issues for anyone who may be thinking about building a shouse. I will publish this when I have enough material completed and then update it as the project teaches us new things.

Traditionally we tend to hide from the Christmas madness, but this year we are joining in. This year we are heading to the Gold Coast to spend a day or two with Tracey's brother and family. We are still getting some quite wet weather up here and last time we planned on taking the bus out for a few days the rain had made the track too slippery to be able to move - best we get up the hill early this time!

To all our readers, friends and family - Tracey and I wish you the very best for the holiday season. We bid you safe motorhoming and we hope to catch up with you in 2012 (if the earth doesn't shift on its axis :-).

Merry Christmas from the Hobohome crew.


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