It’s been six years now since I first got the idea of building the sleepout and I have absolutely no regrets. In that time it’s been put to continuous use, usually for visitor accommodation and/or storage.
Admittedly, it’s not ideal for use all year round. Auckland’s weather has something to do with that as we get a lot of rain and despite the fact that it’s well insulated it does get a bit cold in the winter.
But as anyone in NZ will tell you, Auckland has a serious housing shortage, a problem that’s been growing for some years now, which has caused a real problem with availability and inevitably the cost of housing has gone through the roof.
For me personally, (as some readers of this Blog may know) my life was turned upside down soon after the sleepout was built, when my wife of 27 years passed away following a 3 year battle with breast cancer. Since then I’ve remarried and between my new wife and myself, we have 6 daughters between us, mostly all grown up thankfully, but each one of them has had their difficulties finding (and keeping) a suitable roof over their heads.
Hence the sleepout is getting more use than it’s ever had. So this year I decided to focus on this part of the garden and do what I can to make it more comfortable and more usable. It was always my intention to do something along those lines but now there’s a need to shift it up a gear.
So, the first thing I planned to do was build a deck that goes all the way around the sleepout, in order to create more outdoor living space. Unfortunately, the guidelines on sleepouts prevent me from enlarging the sleepout itself. As you would expect from a keen gardener like me, it was important to ensure it blends in nicely with the garden.
So, the first job was to dig out the area where the deck would go, cutting into the bank sufficiently to create a reasonable space for the deck. That also meant there were 2 Pungas (tree ferns) that needed to be removed which I relocated to other parts of the garden. There were also 3 Lancewoods which were surprisingly easy to relocate. In the picture above one punga has already been removed with one still remaining. The Lancewoods are the 3 skinny trunks on the right of the photo.
I figured getting rid of more of the vegetation from around the sleepout may let more light in which will help keep the sleepout warmer and drier. Besides that, they were simply in the way.
I decided to continue with Keystone for the retaining wall, so after measuring everything out I figured out where I needed to install a couple of timber piles and a beam to support the deck. I was careful to ensure the height was just right so the new decking would be flush level with the old decking. Then I continued framing it up with 150x50mm joists.
Ultimately, the intention was to create some outdoor living space that is also weathertight, so I needed to install some posts and beams to hold up the roofing which would tie it in with existing roofing on the sleepout. This was all bolted to the framing for the deck which could only be done before the retaining wall was properly finished off otherwise I couldn't drill the holes and get the bolts through as the retaining wall butts up tightly to the decking.
I’m pretty sure this will eventually create a nice outdoor space especially from spring to autumn, and that bank will look nice once it’s all planted out. It’s still a work in progress so be sure to check back here for further updates later.