Blogs

 

Diversions whilst Laying Laminate

A varied, and educational, long weekend laying down laminate flooring (one of the Uniclic range from Quick-Step) to help an acquaintance improve his house in London.   The task was to lay about 3 rooms-worth full of Uniclic Laminate (28 packs), and moving a lot of furniture around - the killer reason for needing two people.   My protagonist in laying the laminate, and moving all the furniture, is a detail-of-finish man, and at one stage was whittling away with a multitool for 20 minutes at a piece of laminate to match the outline of a curly 1930s doorpost; a demented boy-scout aiming for "Floor Laying, Advanced".    Inevitably the worst happened. As at Beauvais Cathedral in 1284, the integrity of the structure did not quite measure up to the aspiration of the designer, and there was a sharp crack followed by some of the most creative language expressed in 750 years. It worked second time around.   Having bought a car with the dimensions of a small barge (aka my new Skoda Superb Estate), this was the first opportunity to really test the performance over a long run. An MPG of 59 on the way down to London on a Thursday afternoon / teatime, and 64 mpg on the way back on a clear run,  measured on a tested-and-accurate car-computer, will do for a car that can fit in a couple of coffins, and tow 2 tonnes. It is about 10-20% more economical than my old non-turbocharged Citroen BX from the mid-1990s, and has twice the power.   Whilst on waiting time, I was able to binge-watch on Netflix the documentary The 9 episode 11hr documentary mini-series The  Civil War, by Ken Burns. I never studied this historical period at school, and time to reflect provoked a few new insights for me - a bit of an eye-opener.   I had not absorbed just how contemporaneous is the American Civil War. We (or at least I) think of it is a long time ago, but the war was only 5 years before my own Great-Grandfather was born.   The last Civil War widow -  Maudie Hopkins - only died in 2008. Yes - she was a 19 year-old who married a pensioner during the depression, on what looks like a classic security-for-care type arrangement, but the point stands. Sobering.  

Ferdinand

Ferdinand

 

Scaffolding and things that go bump in the night

Since my last blog post things have been fairly quiet. Our frame manufacturer, Lakeland Timber Frame, have confirm that our frame is in production and we have a date for erection  of mid January. The crane company have visited site to check the narrow access and hairpin bent for themselves, they’ve confirmed that their smallest crane will be able to get onto site, with difficulty!   Ss with a start date agree it was time to get the scaffold up. Originally I’d considered buying my own and selling it on after the build, however that option would have cost me £12,000. The alternative was to hire scaffolding and get it erected at a cost of £5,000. After a lot of careful consideration I’ve gone with a local scaffold company. Looking at the size of the scaffold and the shear amount of scaffolding required, ii think I’ve made the right choice. So far they’ve used six wagon loads of scaffolding kit and it’s taken 9 man days to errect. I recon there’s another 2 days to finish it off.         The other thing I’ve had on my list of things to do,  is get all the very tall Ash trees inspected. This is the sort of thing that tends to be low on my agenda as it’s not really Build related. However it’s just moved up the priority list after a loud thump at 3am yesterday morning.     The tree just missed a plastic oil tank and party constructed outbuilding and the site loo, that’s it under the branches on the right. I couldn’t get far enough back to get the whole tree into shot, I recon it about 120 feet tall (long!). If it had fallen the other way it would have flatten on our residential cabin and us! I’ve got about six more of these and they are all going!   The tree also took out the overhead power lines and at one stage 65 homes were without power for 6 hours whilst the cables were replaced.    

Triassic

Triassic

 

Klover pellet swallower!

Tonight we have moved in to the house, it’s not what my idea of moving in would be there’s stuff everywhere and still no staircase as we await it’s arrival sometime in the next few days, but we have a bed a sofa and a fully functioning kitchen and toilets hopefully I’ll get sorted out before Xmas! The move today had to happen as we spent a sleepless night last night in the caravan with minus whatever degrees and the gas stopped functioning properly, I’m told it doesn’t freeze but stops doing what it’s meant to so the decision was made to just move in. our other problem just now is the pellet stove, that’s a fortnight it’s been on and has used half a ton of pellets, the installer having been very good at the beginning suddenly more or less left us to it in terms of how to operate it most economically and didn’t install the controller saying we’d need to get our spark to put it in and we’ve not been able to pin him down as he’s so busy, I’m hoping @Declan52 is going to read this and come back to me with some advice on operating, we had the stove set at 70 degrees which was what the installer left it at but it just kept on burning up more and more pellets very rarely going off, we decided to lower it to 60 but although this saved on pellets the water wasn’t hot enough for a bath. We haven’t been heating the house to a great heat only 16 degrees with the ufh but tonight we had to up it and turn the radiators on upstairs as there seemed to be cold coming down into the ground floor from the mezz, don’t get me wrong I’m warm enough but I’m worrying about the cost of the pellets as we could end up using a ton a month at this rate! Any advise gratefully received!
 

The Build - Mission accomplished! We're in!!

A busy November saw all the trades coming good, albeit some were cutting it fine for the moving in day – 30th November – However, we have moved in with all the services up and running. Having said that, BT and Openreach have missed the deadlines and as a result we are without any internet, phone line or TV for at least a week! Also the master bedroom built in wardrobes are still be fitted.   The landscapers have finished their work, providing us with a patio area and a driveway area which will see plenty of activity. Look closely and you should see the hedging that has been planted. 330 separate plants in all. This was a planning condition and the hedges are a mixture of Hawthorn, Beech, Holly and Maple. Locally referred to as native hedging. The turf will be laid next Spring.   Our Air Tightness test was conducted by a guy from Perth - a good couple of hours away. We never set out to achieve such low levels because we didn’t want the capital outlay of such a system as well as the infrastructure it requires. Our score was 4.9 which in our eyes is very good.   There are a number of minor jobs which I need to do such as touching up the paint work here and there; re-oiling some wood in places but all that can wait until we have given the whole place a deep clean. The main external jobs outstanding are the erection of the oak framed porch and the downpipes. Both of which should be completed within the next 10 days or so.   Anyway, this was not a self build in the true sense of the words but it was project managed by myself and built using a main contractor and sub contractors after the TF had been erected. I hope you have not only enjoyed reading about our project but have found some useful bits of information within the blogs in order to assist yourselves with your projects, whatever that may be.   Overall my experience has been a good one. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, such as additional unforeseen expenditure and additional expenditure as a result of our mistakes, or due to us changing our minds! Such examples include ordering the wrong door frame - we failed to realise we hadn't ordered a threshold suitable for level access - a mistake that cost us £1k. Changing our minds over the 3 toilets we had ordered. They simply looked lost in their respective environments so 3 new ones were ordered at an additional cost of £850. A failure to get a full grip of the scaffolding cost an additional £1k and a failure to budget correctly for the foundations and dwarf wall for the carport cost an additional £4k. Final facts and figures - Build schedule – 6 months from the day the TF arrived. Cost per sq metre - £1850 – includes everything, and I mean everything - from the scaffolding through to the landscaping and it includes the car port and porch [ still to be erected] but not the land or fees. Only two skips were used throughout the build – everything else was removed by us to the local dump or burnt on site – best investment was a £25 oil drum which we used as an incinerator.   Thanks for reading - Paul.

Redoctober

Redoctober

Just moving the house a few degrees & making holes

So we had planning approved and were feeling good about being able to link up our engineer &  architect to get started on the details....and then.... had a re-think. We started out planning a re-model and changed our minds as the compromises were too many and the costs were getting high so a rebuild (esp with VAT bonus) was making more sense. But, we didn't really go completely back to the drawing board - we should have. Post-planning we had a good look at the plot, house position and neighbour's new house and realised we were losing an opportunity to improve the view, the plot usage and potentially aesthetics. Turning the back of the house ~15 degrees would open up the views and make the house run more parallel to the plot's rectangular shape which will mean a new planning app - based on feedback from the drop in session with the planning dept.   So, to avoid wasting too much time we're now linking up the architect and engineer so they can work together on the modified plans and also on detailed design/structural plan so we can move forward quickly post the next approval (fingers crossed).   But we have made progress of sorts - had the ground investigation holes today. It always seemed a shame to pay for holes and a report when you know (based on the house 7m away) what the ground is. Today proved that the ground is surprise surprise..... compacted sand which the drillers could only get 3.5m deep into despite a lot of machine noises! I'm hoping this bodes well for a concrete raft without needing too serious strip foundations. The trial pits and smaller sampling rig also uncovered the same ground across the site.   Probably not a lot to see happening the rest of this year 🙂         

Adam2

Adam2

 

Cellulose

Winter is coming, the White Walkers are on the way and, in the meantime, grey snow arrived in my house on Friday.    Allow me to explain.  It seems that much of the artificial snow that you see on film sets is, in fact, made from blown cellulose, particularly to cover outdoor areas without damaging flora and fauna.  I now know this after having some cellulose insulation inadvertently blown into the garage on Friday when the insulation found a gap in a board and made its way through.  No big deal, it was spotted early on and most was re-used, but it struck me that, apart from the colour, it looked a lot like freshly fallen snow.     As you can probably guess from all this, the cellulose is being blown into the house at the moment.  Gordon and Keith arrived on Friday morning - a pair of very nice Welsh guys who do all the cellulose blowing for MBC and other passive type house builders, a job that keeps them busy as evidenced by the fact that they've been working on my place all over the weekend and will still be there on Monday morning.   The cellulose delivery arrived ahead of Gordon and Keith as a palletised delivery.  Not surprising, given that there were 570 12kg bags.  That's a lot of cellulose.  At this stage, Gordon can't say whether it will be too little, too much, or Goldilocks cellulose and just right, as it's ordered in by MBC on his behalf.  Here's the delivery with the curtain sides just being opened on the lorry:     One of the pallets toppled off the forklift so the driver and I hauled the bags into the house and stacked them inside and I got a couple of photos of the packaging detail for anyone who's interested.       The process of putting the cellulose in is pretty straightforward.  The bales of compacted cellulose are fed into a machine housed in Gordon's van that fluffs the stuff up.  This then blows it along a tube terminating in the metal tube that goes into a hole that's been cut in the airtight board.    As he goes along and the sections are filled, numbered cork bungs are put into the holes.     The holes are only temporarily sealed with the bungs in case the cellulose settles or takes a little while to work into all the nooks and crannies, but once Gordon's happy that this has been done, the cut out disc of airtight board is put back in place and taped up with airtight tape.   Because the cellulose is blown in under pressure, it will find any gaps or holes and do a good impression of fake snow.  The leakage in the photo above came into the garage via a loose board right at the top, above the cassette of the twin wall, after it forced the gap open.  It looked like loads - the entire floor was covered, there was a fair bit on the walls and a nice pile below the leaky board.  it looks like more, but this is barely about 1 bagful.     The guys have worked their way around the house, downstairs and up, getting the bulk of the cellulose in and leaving the fiddly bits over to Monday morning when they should be finishing up.    One job that absolutely had to be done ahead of the cellulose going in was a bit of first fix work for the brise soleil.  The brise soleil is a set of vertically arranged horizontal timber fins.  The timber fins are fixed to a steel framework that, in turn, is fixed to the face of the building, around the opening for the window in front of the stairs.  There are 6 fixing plates, 3 each side, and these need something behind the board of the frame for the coach screws to bit into and spread the load once they penetrate the frame.  Reasonably straightforward, unless the cellulose has already filled those cavities.    So come Friday morning, my all-round handyman and builder, Drew, was in cutting holes into the building to pack out the fixing points with some sturdy pieces of timber.  Everything was taped back up again and ready for the cellulose and, in a couple of weeks, the steel frame for the brise soleil.   Also in on Friday were the flat roof guys, finishing the final part of the garage roof.  This is the last part of the flat roof work and I'm glad that it's all finished.  I have to admit that I completely underestimated the amount of work involved on the flat roof side of things, not least the parapets that were fiddly.  As a result, I've spent a lot more on getting this done than I had estimated before my quote came in and it also edged up with the amount of carpentry work that had to be put in ready to receive the membrane.  However, I haven't busted my contingency on it and costs are still comfortable.   Here's a photo of the finished garage roof.     Skipping back to the beginning of the week, I had my garage door installed on Monday and I'm very pleased with it.  I find it hard to get excited by a garage door, but in so far as it functions well and looks quite nice, I'm pleased.  The door is made by Ryterna and I dealt with Joe at Dorset Garage Doors Ltd, just up the road from the house in the next village.  He is a really nice guy to deal with and his team were very nice, too, so I'd be happy to recommend them.  They also offer Hormann doors, but the Ryterna came in at about £1k cheaper, so that was the one for me!  Joe reckons the major difference is that the mechanism on the Hormann door is slightly smoother.  Personally, I'm not at all fussed if the mechanism on my door makes a little more noise for the sake of £1k.  The door itself is a sectional one and the exterior is powder coated in the ubiquitous RAL 7016 to match the windows.     We've had a bit of a tidy up on site this week, as well.  It was badly in need of it and I knew that I'd need the space in front of the house for the cellulose coming in and, once that's done, all the other deliveries for the internal workings of the house.  There's plenty more tidying to be done, but we'll wait for the rain to stop for that.   Speaking of rain, it was awful weather here last week, as it was for much of the country, and the storms lashed Dorset.  I'm still getting some water ingress via the windows, but it's not the fault of the windows.  I understand water ingress much better now having gone through so many different forms of it during the build.  The current one is because the south southwest face of the building gets the brunt of the weather and the cladding isn't on yet.  As a result, the blue paper membrane is saturated and the water seeps in around the edge of the window frame and the window opening and comes into the building.  It's not a vast amount and will dry out quickly enough and I'm not stressing over it as my upstairs slate cladding starts going on Monday.  My only concern here is that I need some first fix done for the motorised external roller blind that I'm having on the upstairs south window (this is the one with the worst of the water ingress) and my supplier was caught out by this.  I've been telling him for a couple of months that his stuff needed to go on as first fix and before the cladding, but he decided that this wasn't the case and put things off.  When he finally came down to measure up, he agreed that it did need to be done as first fix, but I don't think he will have his order from the factory before that wall is ready to be clad.  I may have to do a bit of juggling, but it's really annoying when people don't listen to what you're saying because they think they know better, without even having looked properly.    So tomorrow sees the site getting really busy again.  The (pitched) roofers are back in to do the vertical slate cladding.  The slate is the same stuff that's on the roof and will be riveted in.  The only part of the upper storey that doesn't have the slate is the surrounding of the brise soleil window, which will be the Tier cladding.  Also in is Nick and team who will be working on first fix for all the systems going in.  Drew will be helping out with boarding and general carpentry work that needs doing so that equipment can be properly position up in the loft space and elsewhere, and I daresay the alarm system guy may be along at some point, too.   My groundworker, Keith, is due in at some point next week and we're aiming to get Paul's pond dug out.  This will be an ideal test to see just how well that clay of ours holds water with the winter rains coming in and it will, hopefully, confirm our thoughts that we don't need to line it.  Judging by the moat around the house right now, we're feeling reasonably confident.   More to follow next week.

vivienz

vivienz

Blockwork

Our blockwork started three weeks ago. This was always going to be weather dependent and it was mixed for the first two weeks in November but since then we have had a really good weather window where its been calm, sunny and not too cold which allowed the remaining work to be completed.     Our brickie was fitted a temporary gutter which could be taken off when required.   This gable end is where the prevailing wind comes down off the mountains, we have shelter belt here but its nice to know that we now have a solid concrete wall.       Next on the list is fitting the concrete windows cills which should be next week. The sections that don't have blockwork will be fitted with the remaining Siberian larch cladding in early December.

Thedreamer

Thedreamer

 

Underfloor heating problem

So the guy from Greenflame came on Tuesday and set up the pellet stove and thermal store leaving us to get it feeding the underfloor heating, that’s two days ago and still no heat, the stove gets up to 70degrees which it is set at and this should suffice for all the heat and hot water, it then cuts back and ticks over, the problem is the hot water is not getting to the manifold, the flow pipe is hot but everything else is cold, many wasted hours have now been spent with no results- help!
 

Testing, testing

Yesterday was air tightness test day and MBC's final day on site getting everything prepped for the final test and then finishing off a few details.  For those not so familiar with this kind of thing, a few details of the process follow.   Our house isn't a passive house as it hasn't been designed with that in mind - it was the design first and then build to passive standards, so no accreditation or anything like that.  That said, I wanted a low energy house and hence the choice of the passive system offered by MBC.  Part of this system is that as well as the building and foundation being highly insulated, it also leaks very little air, as this is one of the major sources of heat loss in buildings and houses.  The leakiness of a house is measured in terms of the number of times the volume of air contained by the building passes out of all the various gaps in one hour.  As mentioned on this forum elsewhere, a modern well-built house without any special air tight measures would probably change its volume of air between 3 and 5 times per hour.  The final part of MBC's construction method is to tape over anywhere there is likely to be a gap and make the building as air tight as possible; the target is to have 0.6 or less air changes per hour.   One exterior door into the house is chosen as the point of measurement and this is where all the kit goes.  Note that the air tight test is testing the quality of MBC's work and whilst it will highlight gaps elsewhere, it's not MBC's remit to correct leaks caused by others, only themselves.  The point of measurement for my house is the door between the garage and the utility room, where the FD30 rated door was recently installed.  The door is sealed up with a membrane that's supported and held in place by an adjustable frame:       The hands are those of Steve, of Melin Consultants, who carry out most of MBC's air tests.  This is the frame/shield being put in place in the doorway.  I really did try and get a photo without builder's/air tester's bum, but to no avail.  Those with delicate sensibilities should look away now and skip the next photo.     After the frame, the fan is put into the hole in the shield, drawn tight and any gaps between the frame and door frame are temporarily sealed up.     The rate of air flow into and out of the building is altered by both the speed of the fan and the number of vents that are opened up on the fan.  The building is de-pressurised first, then re-pressurised and the readings taken.  Because of environmental factors such as wind, this is done 10 times to get a data set and the average is taken for the final result.  When this test was done yesterday, it was a windy day with the wind coming from the north east, the direction that the garage door faces.   As the test progressed, it became clear that the house is well sealed and so it needed a smaller fan.  The red shield was swapped over and the smaller fan put in place.     The rest of the readings were taken and we got our final reading.  Darren and his MBC crew aced it - with a target of 0.6 ac/h it came in at 0.25.  Brilliant.  Darren is a calm chap under all sorts of pressures but the air test was about the only time I've seen him display (slight) signs of nerves.  He was equally understated in his satisfaction with the result even though it turns out that this is one of the lowest numbers they've had in 7 years.  Well done, Darren and crew.   If you're wondering what all that foam is doing on the floor, that's left over from Nick doing the foul wastes over the weekend and foaming them in before putting air tight tape around them to make sure he didn't do anything detrimental to the air test result.   We have a few very minor leaks, mostly gaps between the panels in the windows that have several sections.  No surprise and these are due to be siliconed once we've finished most of the pretty stuff.  There is also a bit of air flow through the keyholes but I've been advised that a good coating of vaseline on the key and in and out of the lock a few times should seal it up well enough.  I daresay that would seal most things.  The gaps were temporarily sealed up with a bit of low tack plastic for the air test, so the result assumes this has been done.   All the battens are in now and the downstairs was finished off yesterday, and concrete was put into the remaining recess that had been formed for the lift and slide doors to get a level threshold.       I am, of course, delighted with the air tight result and really pleased for MBC as well, as they have worked really hard and whenever there has been a problem, come up with solutions.  I know that others have had varied experiences but for my own, I have found MBC to be a pleasure to work with right from the start.  At the design stage, David worked his socks off liaising with my architect to get all the details right and to work out how to build the design using their system, and this has been the case with any third parties I've asked them to speak with directly.  The communication from Trish has been great - I've always know what was going to happen and when and been kept informed when timings have had to change.  The guys on the ground have worked like machines; I'm astonished at how hard they work, to be frank, and throughout the whole time I've never heard any rows or arguments.  That's not to say that there haven't been any, but if there have, they didn't take place in front of me.  For me, this has been a really good experience.   What next?  There's still plenty to do but the next main contractor is Nick from Total Energy Systems who is largely doing all of the internal systems, plumbing and wiring.  He's done a reasonable amount already in terms of the MVHR ducting and manifolds but will kick off in earnest on 3rd December once the cellulose has been blown in upstairs.  The cellulose is arriving on Friday 30th, along with Gordon, who will put it into the walls and ceiling.  All 520 bags of it!  Before then, my Ryterna garage door is due to be installed next week so I'll report back on that.  That's being supplied and installed by Joe from Dorset Garage Doors Ltd, just up the road from me in Lydlinch.   There's a lot of work to be done outside, too, but I'll be thinking through that today and get my plan of action together.  Whatever else happens, Nick is going to get some gentle heat into the slab this week, using a couple of Willis heaters.  It's getting pretty chilly on site now and it will be nice to get the house drying out properly and check that side of things is working properly.   A good week and, hopefully, more to come.

vivienz

vivienz

 

The Banks press Pause

Disappointing week. I've been waiting three months on a decision by the bank about splitting the property folio and allowing me to sell the old house but keep the side garden to build on. They are concerned if I don't sell the house they are taking a risk as the LTV would then exceeds the Central Bank limits. The reduced property value post split plus the fact I've only a year paid down on the mortgage plays into this. I thought they would hold the side garden as security but it doesn't work like that.... I've been talking to a few banks and my solicitor about options but the clearest to date is either to split the property at time of sale or wait a year, pay down the mortgage to get it below the 80% LTV threshold (depending on the valuation), then in a year ask the same question.  I'm all ready to go to tender - have builders lined up and the tender package written but without the bank's approval I can't proceed.  I'll wait to see if any other options emerge but getting access to the garden has been an issue from the start. I tried to buy directly off the previous owner but the banks didn't play ball, and now again I'm hitting institutions that we bailed out calling ME a risk! Anyway, rant over. Turns out nothing is simple. I can only ask the questions, the replies sometimes confound me!  Let's see where we are in 12 months......

mike2016

mike2016

 

And the build goes on.

Having got all my water issues out into the last post, it's time to move on to happier things and talk about other progress.  Actually, that's a little unfair because there is a lot of work in all the flat roof stuff, far more than the pitched roof, and aside from the wet stuff it's going well.   At the end of the penultimate post, the solar PV panels were just going on and the pitched roof was also still a work in progress.  The building was still a shell with no power and plenty of work left for MBC to do, and outside was largely untouched apart from the buried mains cable that was terminating in the garage, into the meter moved by the meter fairies.   Let's start at the top and work our way down.  The solar panels are all in now and all the slates around them are done.  All the velux windows are in and the ridges were done last week.  We have a dry ridge system.  I had to ask what this was and was told 'that means there's no gunk underneath the ridge tiles'.  So technical that even I could understand it!  Here's the stuff that they line it with. When they roll it out, it has a corrugated wave shape to it and each side is sticky - one for the roof ridge surface, the other for the ridge tiles.     This is Mike, one of the roofers, bringing the final tiles right up to the ridge before putting the dry ridge stuff over it.     And here's a view of the ridge tiles in situ, fixed to the sticky stuff and clipped together.     We have 3 ridge lines on the roof, all meeting somewhere over the north east bedroom.  A plate of good old school lead was shaped to cover the meeting point of the 3 ridges, creating a neat flashing for the centre.  Here's Terence welding the lead to create the flaps going down each gully.     Here's Terence putting it into position on the roof:   And here's a close-up of the same thing.  You can see the fixing for the dry ridge system unrolled next to it.     Staying with jobs going on outside, there were some groundworks that week, too.  I needed to get the electricity supply cable trench back-filled and whilst we had the plant on site I decided to get a few other jobs done.  The Openreach guys turned up that week and the old redundant BT cable was removed, so that old electricity pole is all clear now.  My neighbour has already bagsied it, so there's no problem with disposal.  One of the groundworks jobs was to open up the ground between the garage and the lane.  I'm not getting the driveway done quite yet but I did need to get it clear because my sunamps will live in the garage and it will be a lot easier to get them forklifted straight into the garage from the lane rather than trying to drag them all through the house.  Keith got onto it, clearing around the side of the garage a little, too.  There is an area of concrete there that used to have a shed on top of it.  For the time being, I'm keeping that there as it's nice to have a surface that isn't clay.     And then this is the view from the lane up to the garage.  This is, in fact, where the pedestrian entrance to the old bungalow was, hence the gate that is still there.  Once we've got rid of the scaffolding, we can clear the remaining few feet of the entrance and make the proper driveway.  Keith will be doing most of the work on this, but I need to get someone with a ticket to do the dropped kerb between the lane and the verge.  It's outrageously expensive for what it is - just for the 6m stretch of opening and 2m back, tarmac surface, that will be the princely sum of £1,200 plus £285 for the licence from the council.  And that's the cheapest quote out of 3!!!!  I will be continuing the tarmac for the driveway, and also around to the side of the garage so that there's hardstanding for a couple of vehicles next to it.     And Keith's final job for that week whilst the plant was still on hire was to scrape the grass from what will be Paul's pond.  I marked out the original perimeter and he took out the line for this but then I did that typically female thing and told him it was no good and I wanted it to be bigger.  Naturally, he obliged.     Not that we had much doubt, but for the sake of interest, Keith dug out a small trial pit within the pond perimeter, about 1m deep.  It has filled up nicely with the subsequent rain and shows no sign of draining any time soon.  I may have cursed our clay for its giving the need for piles, but we certainly won't need a pond liner.   That's most of the outdoor stuff for the time being, so let's step inside and see what MBC have been up to this week as they've starting on the prep work prior to the airtight test.  This is scheduled for next Tuesday, 20th November.   The velux windows have all been boxed out and they've been drawing the airtight membrane up around the web joists forming the roof/ceiling.     This will be the main/shared bathroom and it's only natural light source is the velux.  It's rather nice to think I can lay in the bath looking at the stars.  Assuming it's not raining.  The green tubes on the far wall are for the MVHR.     A close up of some of the MVHR tubes to show the careful taping around them where they come through the membrane.     This is the main bedroom that has been battened out now.  I've wedged some bits of timber under the membrane that's underneath the window to dry out the water that came in at the weekend after the tanked balcony incident.  All the battens have been screwed on, much to the chagrin of Darren.  It's probably not so necessary somewhere like a bedroom, but in bathrooms and the like where the weight of tiles and mirrors can be considerable, I wanted the peace of mind that the battens weren't going to move for anything and so requested screws rather than nails.     This is the north east bedroom, below where the three ridges meet.  The guy putting up the plasterboard will be cursing me here.     Heading downstairs, the insulation changes a bit here.  Instead of being all blown cellulose held behind the membrane, there is celotex in certain places.  This is beneath the parapets and the balconies and it's been used here because less depth is required than for the cellulose, allowing the ceiling to be level throughout the ground floor.  If blown cellulose had been used, the entire outer edge of the ground floor rooms would have had a step down to allow for this.   That's pretty much it for now, but the next lot of work has been scheduled.  The vertical slate cladding is booked in to start on 3rd December and this is being done by my roofers as it seemed logical given that they're using the same materials as on the roof.  I'm nagging and cajoling them to see if they will do the stone board cladding on the stairwell walls as well; they may say no eventually, but I'm working on it as that will be pretty much all the stuff at height done other than rainwater goods.  It would also protect the south west corner of the building nicely, as that's the direction for the prevailing weather.   I'm aiming to get some more groundworks done in early December; at some point I need to get the sewage treatment system set in and also the rainwater storage tank.  There is, of course, the rest of the pond to be dug out and that will need some muckaway.  I'd rather get it done this side of the winter as we can then let it fill up with rainwater and see how it settles.   Internally, Nick is on site later this week to sort out the soil and waste pipes and do a bit of stuff with the MVHR.  Once MBC have completed their air test next week, we can really go at it with first fix, so I need to make decisions on external electrics.  On order is the big brise soleil for the floor to roof window in front of the stairwell.  The plans for this look great but I'm waiting on a production date at the moment as the framework is a first fix item.  The wooden fins can go on any time after that.  Similarly, I have a guy coming to measure up for the external motorised roller blinds for the other large south facing windows.  As long as sufficient clearance is left with the cladding, these don't need to be installed as part of first fix so we're not so reliant on a production date for these.  They have a lead time of 3 to 4 weeks.   There's plenty that I've omitted, I'm sure, but it will all follow in due course.  It will be great to get past the air test and make some good progress in doors.   No aviation buzz this week, but the hunt was out today.  I stood on the top lift of the scaffolding late this afternoon watching the horses and riders galloping over the distant fields down near the river and could hear the hounds baying and the horn being blown.  I'm not sure what they were hunting but it all seemed very evocative on a late autumn afternoon and really brought home just how rural our place is.

vivienz

vivienz

 

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

So last Tuesday saw us eventually getting the track inspection passed and we were told 5-10 days for connection.This morning I decided to phone to see if they had a date for us and was told 19th November but could be earlier.Half an hour later Scottish Water draw up so I go to see what’s happening, well I was here to make your connection but I won’t be doing it, firstly the hole is full of water- oh really well we did warn you this would happen! Secondly you have to get a chapter 8 - you can then imagine the explosion that happened mostly by me as hubby seems to be able to keep his temper better than me, so he goes back to his van and I go into the caravan to phone them, a lot of good that did me, as far as that department was concerned they’d done their bit and passed it!  I was exasperated where do you go from there,? However mr jobsworth had been phoning his gaffer and came back to tell us if we got road signage etc he would come back and do it, even gave us his phone number to phone him, admitted it was a 10 min job , I was actually pondering giving him a backhander just to do it but considering SW have had over a thousand pounds from us for doing nothing I reconsidered. The signs are ordered and hopefully he will come back by the end of the week to do it. The other problem of the staircase rumbles on, we told the kit company we couldn’t and wouldn’t pay any more for it since it was the architect who made the mistake and he refused to pay. He then came back out and a new plan was put together for a reposition of the staircase with the architect agreeing to pay for extra balustrade since it was no longer beside the wall, he had been going to pay for the cantilever which would have been needed if we’d gone with the first plan. Today I was given the new over cost which is £1100 which I duly sent over to the architect who then back tracks and decides he’ll only pay the amount that the cantilever was going to cost and it was going to be a sidey from a friend of his.Tomorrow someone has to take responsibility or I’m afraid it’s going into the hands of our solicitor.

Christine Walker

Christine Walker

 

Actually, I do care...

....what the weatherman says as things didn't go quite to plan.   It's been a hellishly busy couple of weeks since I last posted and it feels like far longer than 2 weeks, as I'm sure anyone who has had a leaky building will sympathise with.  I was feeling very pleased and relieved 2 weeks ago as everyone was on site and working away and it really did look like I would just sneak in before the weather broke.  Had everyone been where they should have, I would have just made it but the flat roof firm let me down rather badly.  They had been fitting in dribs and drabs of the work when they could over the last couple of months but the bulk of it was always scheduled for the last week of October onwards and I had an email from the head man at the firm confirming that the guys would be on site on 29th October and remain until the work was complete.  Sadly, that wasn't the case and they were on site for one week and then announced that they were off to another job the week after.  I expressed my dissatisfaction and said that if things turned nasty with the weather, I wanted them back because it was pretty clear that there was still a lot to do before water would stop coming in.   The following week, the weather did indeed break, and it chucked it down, much of which came straight down into my building.  I rang the flat roof boss and told him that I needed someone on site the following day (due to be dry) to get back to things as taking them off my job and leaving the building exposed wasn't acceptable, so he said he'd send someone over the following day to see what they could do.  I had thought that they would stay for the day having come all this way but it turned out that they had quite literally just come to see what they could do.  Not actually do it, but see what they could do then go on.  WTF!!!!  So, in the absence of any word from their boss (tried to call, voicemail) I set them to work and said that I expected them to be on site for the rest of that day.  The boss finally rang just after 10am and we had a row - he saying that the other job they were working on was more important than mine and me accusing him of broken promises and wondering how my money was worth less than anyone else's and my building flooding out being unimportant.  Now, I'm not one for stand up rows with anyone.  The best victory is by far the one that you don't have to fight for and certainly not have blazing rows but I'm the kind of person who, when someone says that they will remain until the job is completed, I believe them.  Particularly when all the follow on work from MBC is dependent upon having a dry building to work on and I was not going to have a dry building at the end of this, so I was quite prepared to make some noise over this.    So, 2 weeks later and we seem to be settling down but not before more drama ensued.  In their efforts to shore things up during their day on site, the flat roof guys tanked my east facing balcony.  There were and are a couple of lovely big drainage holes through the parapet wall via which water can freely exit, but for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to put the membrane over these.  WTF!!!! Again!!!!  Thankfully, because MBC were on site, I went over to site on Saturday.  We'd had some major weather and storms the previous day and very heavy rain.  As a result, I had a paddling pool outside my bedroom window that was lapping in under the French doors.  For once, words fail me, they really do.  Armed with bare feet, rolled up trousers and a stanley knife, I negotiated the scaffolding beams and re-opened the exits and rammed a couple of drinks bottles with the ends cut off into the holes to keep them open and drain the water.  Ever seen Niagra Falls?  It was a fine impression.   Here are a couple of photos of the water that came into the lounge area from the parapets.   Depressing.     I vacuumed up all the water from inside the house and put a couple of oil filled radiators in the place to get some sort of drying process started off and it did a bit of good.  Come Monday, words were had with the guys now back on site as it could have been disastrous if I hadn't been there at the weekend and the upstairs would have quickly flooded, and the downstairs more so than it had already.  They're now working on the last of the flat roofing and the gullies behind the parapets and the house is drying out.  MBC have been in and done what they can, which is most of it, but we need to let one side of the parapet dry out some more before they put the celotex up there - we should be good for Tuesday next week which is when Darren will be back and the airtest will be done that day, too.   It's such a pity that the flat roof firm let themselves down so badly on this.  The guys on site are very pleasant and with the obvious exception of the tanked balcony, their work appears to be of a good standard but school boy errors like this aren't good enough.  I have my reservations about the boss of the firm who, given his experience in the industry and construction in general, really should know better than to tell someone one thing and do another completely, especially when there is follow on work booked on the strength of their given timescales and bad weather hasn't adversely affected things.  To then try and shout a customer down for asking for what was offered in the first place is also incredibly unprofessional.  I will need some follow on work done on the balconies to put another surface on which will allow me to put decking down but I'm reasonably sure that I will go elsewhere for that.    This is the east balcony, with two bedrooms leading onto it.  The rumpled up stuff at the end is the polythene covering the garage roof.     And here's the work in progress of the parapet gullies being lined with membrane.  The guys got on okay with this one but I gave some feedback to the architect about the same construction on the north face of the house.  This was because when the guys came to line it, they were significantly slowed up because the width of the gully was too narrow to get a fixing tool into to attach the OSB upstands to.  Looking pretty is all well and good, but only if you can actually build it.  They managed, but probably lost about half a day because of this.     Moving on from the flat roof but still on the subject of water, I'm still getting water ingress from under my windows as well and, if anything, more than I previously thought as it's affecting 3 windows not just the original one.  For all that it's distressing seeing water coming in through the building because of my roofing difficulties, in many ways it's not all bad because it has highlighted the poor seals under the windows that I wouldn't have otherwise spotted and had the opportunity to get put right before the building is complete and kitted out.  That would have been a horror story.  I do realise that the building isn't going to be fully watertight until the cladding goes on, but the issue is that the water ingress of the windows is from underneath, not around the sides or top and so there is something defective about the way they have been sealed on their bases and this needs to be addressed.  I have a team due on Thursday so I shall be interested to see how they deal with this as it needs to be fixed before next Tuesday at the latest.   One thing I have learned over this last week is how useful a wet vacuum cleaner is to have around the place.  Mine is 30 years old but still giving great service - it worked very hard last weekend.   This is the south bedroom window, but the picture on all the other multiple pane windows upstairs is similar.     Here endeth my watery post.  I feel a little glum looking back at these photos, I suppose because it's all still so fresh in my memory and there is something really horrible about seeing water on the inside of the building.  However, all is now in hand until the next crisis and I'm off to do another post on all the good stuff that's happened over the last 2 weeks.  

vivienz

vivienz

 

We have rooflights! (and some tricky joinery to do)

Today our roof lights were installed.  We are pleased with the finished product and how they fit.  The blue sky and sunshine helps of course. Almost helped take the edge off the unexpected contract lift costs (£1380 in the end, but we have managed to avoid the additional VAT and we got him to lift some roof trusses off the scaffolding which saved a job). Their man on site today admitted that it had taken a long time to get to this point.  Not wrong! The photos will hopefully do them justice.       Already they make such a difference to the light inside the house.       And the feature window (circular on the top, octagonal currently from inside) in the full height entrance hall is really fantastic.     Any thoughts on how to get the internals finished on this octagonal light?  I was wanting to make it circular (and the window company advises this so that we don't get any issues with condensation on the visible frame (which would be covered by the insulation if we did make it circular).  

Weebles

Weebles

Scale : 1 inch to 6 feet

Clearing out a little, I have come across a cache of material from my father's Architecture Course at Sheffield University in the late 1950s. There is also a brochure from the GRP products he was offering around 1983 from one of the original Raleigh Buildings in Nottingham.   Lots of interesting projects - this is one for a "Country House", and I can see the stripped down style of the period, but there are also quarters for a maid. And a lot of illlustrations done in watercolour.    And the scale is - yes - 1 inch to 6 feet. Here are a few pics, which are just auto-colour-balanced. The entry was done in haste so there are a couple of duplicates.                              

Ferdinand

Ferdinand

 

Will they be worth the stress (and the money)?

Our designed house has 5 rooflights.  3 rectangular, 1 small square one in a bathroom and a large circular one above a two storey entrance hall, making it, I guess, the "feature" of the house. Our plot is surrounded by trees on two sides so getting light into rooms is an issue, hence the rooflights.   Here is our rooflight story (part 1)   We got some quotes in from companies and decided on our roof light manufacturer based on price and reasonable service. MBC agreed to make the upstands as part of our contract. The rooflight company quoted for the upstands also. We opted to let MBC do the upstands as they were already paid for effectively. MBC couldn't make the circular upstand so designed an octagonal one.  We thought that would be OK, and that we would get an octagonal rooflight or make a circular finish inside later.   We didn't mention the octagonal upstand to the roof light company.  Not deliberate.  Just didn't think anything of it.  BIG MISTAKE.   MBC put the frame up.  They did the upstands whilst we were on holiday. The upstand finish wasn't great.  Our roofers came on site and said that the finish would need to be better, otherwise the roof membrane wouldn't sit well over the upstands. We decided to sort them out ourselves so didn't approach MBC.  No complaints about MBC on this issue as it was our decision not to ask them.  Hubby had acquired a multi-tool and was keen to use it.   You can see on this image that the edge of the upstand is not vertical as there is a bit of board plus the blue membrane sitting proud of the top edge.     So we ripped the outer board off, cut new bits to size and then planed and sanded for a level smooth finish.      We then filled all the gaps so the roof membrane could fit nicely.     So far so good. Then mid August the roof light people come out for the survey (paid for by us, having at this point put down a 50% deposit of the total expected cost on 26 July).  They like to measure the actual upstands in situ to make sure the rooflights will fit.  Makes sense. Whilst on site, the installation manager notes that the octagonal window will likely be a little more expensive and it will be included on a revised, final quote which adjusts for the as-measured dimensions. He also informs us that the installation fee does not include lifting the rooflights off the lorry, lifting the roof lights on to the roof and that there needs to be additional health and safety such as a roof man anchor set.   We ask him to get the revised quote to us asap as the roofers are back on site to finish roofing over the upstands. Two weeks elapse.  We chase the quote.  The roofers finish.  We chase the quote again. The quote arrives.  The cost of the octagonal rooflight is 100% more than the cost of the circular one.  Mmm, that's a bit more than a "little bit more expensive". We lose sleep.  We speak to the roof light company and say that is unacceptable and what can they do about it.  They suggest adjusting the upstand.  We inform them that this solution would have been easy had they told us 2 days earlier but now our roofers have roofed it over and are off site  so it can't easily be changed.  If only they hadn't taken more than 2 weeks to update their quote..... The roof light company decides that they can come up with a design solution so a circular rooflight will fit on an octagonal upstand. We ask to see it.  Several weeks pass. I chase them.  The lady on the phone is rude. I explain our situation, again. They send the drawing.  We approve them.  No choice now.  We are 50% paid up.  Let's hope this works. We have to pay the remaining 50% for them to even start manufacturing them and get us in the delivery queue. We do that on 10th October. 2-3 weeks lead time apparently. All goes quiet. We chase them. A delivery date is arranged for next week (13th Nov). We contact their contract lift suggestion who visits to quote for the crane needed.  We had been hoping to put these in with our other windows (sharing the crane) at the end of September.  The delays have made it impossible to do that. This comes in at £1350 plus VAT. We are horrified.  Unforeseen costs.     Am trying to be pragmatic but I am hating these rooflights more and more and we haven't even got them yet.   This has been our worst experience so far with a supplier.  Really disappointing.  Couldn't possibly recommend them. And there is rain forecast all weekend so those bloody holes in our roof are going to let more water into our house (the are covered in plastic but it always finds a way in).   Part 2 (next week, after they are fitted) - are they worth it?  (gosh I hope so)  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Roofing a flat roof

Our flat roof guys have been great.  Though they worked very short hours compared to MBC (doesn't everyone).   With a flat roof you apparently need at least 18mm OSB to lay the roof membrane onto.  The standard MBC spec is less than that for a flat roof so we had to stump up some money to upgrade the roof deck to 18mm.   We have three different roof decks.  Here is one roof deck with the roof lights (more on those in a separate post one day).     The upper roof deck     And a view of the lower roof deck and garage     Some lessons learned:   OSB is not weather proof despite assurances from MBC that it would be OK.  It holds out for a short time and then water floods through the joins. It was a pretty sunny summer.  But the downpours were bad. Wish we had plastic sheeted the whole roof. To be fair to MBC, the house is fine (as they said it would be) despite being flooded more than twice.  However, the stress for us, and the clearing up, could have easily been avoided.   We insect meshed all the gaps before the roofers started.     The parapets are edged with this smart design.        We drilled some drainage holes through the parapet walls for the roof drains.  Burned out the drill.  Got that as a wedding gift 18 years ago so him indoors was delighted to upgrade.       This is the membrane going down, on a felt underlayer.     And the finished look (though the front of the garage isn't finished and can't be until the render is done).       Learned from the building inspector that we don't have a high enough upstand on this roof / door combination so it will likely not get included in our warranty. That was news to us and is one of the issues caused by not keeping on our architect.  We have definitely missed stuff like this so could have probably avoided a few problems.       So that's it.  Probably one of the easiest bits of the build so far.  However, we still made some cock ups like not allowing enough space to fit a window into an L shaped corner area. This is the view from above and the window has to sit on the OSB bit.  Unfortunately that bit of roof sticks out a bit far.  We had to trim it on site and the roofer guys are going to come back and fix it another day.......     A big lesson for us has been the ability to fix things on site.  Doesn't stop me losing sleep over them, but I think I am losing less sleep than I was over the "problems".  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Driven to the edge

I am a very strong person, I don’t usually let things get me down, If I think it’s at all possible to do something myself I don’t ask for help, not even from hubby, some of the things I’ve done many a woman wouldn’t even know about never mind know how to do but these last few weeks have broken me. After the major problem with our electricity supply which I managed to sort out I didn’t think it could get any worse but things are all just getting on top of me now to the point where I have cried today. The electricity is now in which should be a good thing but since Scottish Water seem he’ll bent on making life difficult the electricity doesn’t actually help a lot since we need water to get the heating on and this has a knock on effect on painting and floor laying which will now need to wait, every little thing is now annoying me and if anyone asked me if I would recommend self build I’d say a definite NO.however an hour has passed since I started this post and the cry seems to have helped let off steam, we will continue on as there’s no other option!
 

The End Of The Bungalow

We had lived in the 1920s timber framed bungalow for the last ten years, which although small, allowed us to live comfortably enough while doing the self build. After we moved into the new house we had three months to demolish the bungalow, which was a planning condition. We found out that the bungalow was stick built in the 1920s for farm workers as a Home for Heroes after the First World War. The main part consisted of four rooms and was constructed from 4"x2" timber, lined with Chrysotile asbestos boards and the outside clad with feather edge timber. It was built on a small concrete ring beam. In the 1950s the outside cladding was obviously deteriorating so was battened out and expanded metal mesh was added which was then rendered in pebbledash. At the same time a brick built extension housing a bathroom was added at the rear. In the 1980s a porch was added along with a full width rear extension housing a kitchen and bathroom. An oil fired central heating system was also added.                                       We decided to dismantle the bungalow rather than knock it down as the site is small and the bungalow was less than 0.5m from the new house. This meant dismantling the bungalow in 'layers' and disposing of the materials before moving onto the next part. We took out the carpets, wiring and plumbing and disposed of that. We put all the doors and secondary glazing on Freegle and they were soon taken. While we were waiting for quotes for the asbestos removal we took off the pebbledash.               We only realised how poor the state of the bungalow was when we started to dismantle it. The sole plate had rotted completely in places as had the bottom of some of the studs.          We then had the internal asbestos boards removed and at the same time I took the asbestos slates off the roof. I was doing that when we had a very hot spell and the glue melted on the soles of a pair of my trainers and working boots, so they went in the bin. I was glad when that job was finished as were the asbestos removers inside the bungalow. Once the asbestos was gone we took off the sarking boards and feather edge cladding. The sarking boards were in quite good condition and went quickly on Freegle but the feather edge was shot so we cut it up and took it to the local tip.         The rafters on the main part of the bungalow were 4"x2" and long and straight and went on Freegle for making chicken runs and animal houses.           The rafters on the extension were 6"x2" and went to make a pergola. The main frame and studwork was taken by a couple of people for different things.             The flooring went to someone with an old basement who wanted old timber flooring. The chimney breast and plinth wall yielded nearly 1600 bricks which someone took for a garden wall. We got homemade jam and some eggs in return.             The last things to go were several hundred concrete blocks so now we just have a pile of mixed rubble left.             We are wondering whether to crush it on site and use it for the driveway and shed base or have it taken away and buy in some type 1.               We're pleased to have been able to dispose of most of the bungalow in a useful way by recycling the materials. It has also helped us by not having to pay for any of the demolition with the exception of the asbestos removal. It has been interesting stripping back the layers and seeing how it was constructed and altered over the years.    

PeterStarck

PeterStarck

 

I don't care what the weather man says.....

....if the weather man says it's raining!  So goes the old song and me, too, by the end of this week.  The roof itself has been watertight for a couple of weeks now, but there was still significant water ingress from the gulleys hidden behind the parapets formed at the top of the ground floor.  However, my flat roof guys have been back on site this week and are working hard.  Today they were finishing off the long, east facing balcony and also moving onto the south facing parapet; they will continue around the building and should have the main part of the house all finished off if not by Friday, then certainly early next week.  This is a great relief as even though I know that the building would dry out, there is something deeply distressing about seeing puddles of water lying on the slab after rain, despite the main roof being on, so I shall be very happy to have this part of the build completed.  Photos of the gullies and balconies to follow later this week.   Stepping back to last week for a moment, some of the window snag list was ticked off, primarily the shattered panes of glass.  One was in the south facing ground floor lounge area and the other was a unit in the north east bedroom.  Norrsken were back exactly when they said they would be and got the main jobs completed so that things are set for the return of MBC.  The remaining snag list are a few adjustments to the windows, for example where one of the lift and slide windows is too tightly fitted against the seal/brush and the frames rub when it's opened or closed, and then a few cosmetic issues such as shallow dents in the frames.  We've agreed to complete the rest of the list once we're getting into second fix rather than get in the way of all the frame completion and first fix work.   Last week also saw the return of Darren from MBC to fix my wonky wall, for which the solution was low tech but effective.  A sleep deprived but determined Irishman with a very, very large hammer who was prepared to beat the crap out of a steel beam, and that's precisely what he did.  So the problem wasn't so much the wall above the window, but the section that housed the apex steel that sat above the window and that, it's now been decided, has a kink in it.  The wall above the steel section and the one below it are both plumb but the inverted V-section above the window isn't due to the kinked steel inside it.  I'm assured that everything is structurally fine and that there's no danger of anything shifting in a detrimental fashion and after Darren did his stuff the top of the triangular window section is now only 3mm out, where it started at 12mm and more further up.  I can easily live with 3mm and it will easily be lost in the cladding.  There is now a kick on the inside, but Darren will put some packers behind the service battens to make sure that the final internal wall is plumb for boarding out and everything else that comes after.   And so back to this week, where the first few days have all been about activity on the roof.  As already mentioned, the flat roof guys were back on Monday and also back were the solar PV guys.  The solar guys had to start by removing the optimisers from where they'd previously left them on the roof as they are all going into the loft space.  The idea behind this is that the solar panels themselves are highly unlikely to fail but if any of the optimisers do, it will be an expensive job to get to them to make any repairs.  It would involve dismantling part of the roof as well as expensive scaffolding to gain access. Instead, the cables have come through a penetration in the roof and the optimisers will sit in the loft space along side some MVHR equipment, meaning that things are far more accessible in the future.  The inverter will be in the garage and the cable has been run down along the roof, going through the parapet and through the garage ceiling, into the garage where it will live with all the sunamps and other kit.  This is the route it's taking, to the side of the roof window and underneath the membrane that will line the parapet gully and, eventually, the garage roof.       My velux windows arrived last week, which was another relief.  My roofer, Dylan, gave me a call to confirm that they were in and the days that his team would be back.  We'd already agreed that they would be on site on the 30th to co-ordinate and work around with the solar guys and they all worked really co-operatively, as they have done all along.   I'm biased, of course, but I think that my roof is looking really great and the solar panels are pretty smart looking, too.  Here are the panels from the other side of the flat roof over the stairwell.     And a closer view of the trays and panels.   This is the velux window that's over the shared bathroom.  It's very low down coming onto the flat roof, but Terence and the other roofers, Pat and Mike, had already discussed this and decided how to solve the potential issue by using some more membrane and glueing the s*&t out of it all.   This is the same window from inside.  The light from this will be the only natural light source in the bathroom once all the walls are in place, so it's good to see that it floods in from its west facing orientation.     We have another 2 velux windows, one is in the already well-lit south east bedroom, which I'm claiming for my own room to do stuff in, so I'm delighted to have it full of so much light.  You can also see the prep on the balcony with the membrane being put down.     The other roof window is the north east bedroom which will benefit from the additional light given its aspect.   Here's a pic of the guys putting the trays into position on the main south facing roof.  The pole that's in the foreground of the picture is the one that until recently carried the electricity supply cable.  That has now been buried and back-filled today and Openreach will be around on Friday to remove their equipment so I will be able to dispose of the pole in due course.     This is towards the end of the day when most of the panels were on and the slates had been put around them.     There's plenty more work to come this week.  The flat roof team are continuing and the pitched roof team will be back on Friday and possibly early next week to finish everything up there.  My groundworker, Keith, is on site now as well, and we're moving all the shrub and hedge related debris from earlier in the year.  I'm currently thinking that bonfire night seems an appropriate time to light up, so I may have to buy some sparklers for the occasion.  My fire rated door was delivered today from Enfield Speciality Doors and my neighbour, Drew, will be installing that for me.  He works in construction and having seen the tidy work he's done on his own place, he'll be doing a fair bit of internal work for me as well as, possibly, the tier cladding on the outside in due course.   It's worth noting that I paid a premium to Enfield Speciality Doors to jump the queue in their production schedule to make sure that I got the door in time for the return of MBC.  It's the one to go between the utility and garage so it has to be in before MBC return and I was prepared to pay an additional 10% to make sure this would happen.  I was chatting with another BH member recently and it seems that fire rated doors really are tricky things to get hold of, let alone within a reasonable timescale.  If you also want one that's insulated and looks good, be prepared to take a few months over this, assuming you find anything.  I'm fortunate as mine is only between the garage and utility and doesn't need to be pretty.  I may add extra insulation later but, for now, I just needed the fire rated door.   Nick will also be back towards the end of the week to sort out some soil pipes and other bits before MBC hit, then we can really take the brakes off and go at first fix.   Yesterday's buzz of the week was the Hercules.

vivienz

vivienz

 

Leading Up To Moving In

We'll be moving in when the heating oil for the bungalow runs out. There's quite a few finishing off jobs to do upstairs so we'll try to get as much done as we can before we move in. We would like the ensuite ready so that's the first on the list.         It's just a job of fitting the basin towel rail and the shower door. Then sealing the basin, toilet and shower.       Next is the bathroom where there are similar jobs to complete.         We decided when we started the build in 2010 that we would like bamboo flooring upstairs as it was hard wearing, looked good and was a good price. Unfortunately when taking a long time to build, prices can go up quite a bit which is what happened with the bamboo flooring, increasing around 30%. It's still worth it though.       We had to remove the landing banisters to fit the first piece of flooring which was the nosing on the edge of the stairwell.               We fitted oak Mexicano doors upstairs which we finished with Osmo Polyx Oil in clear satin. I made the door linings from softwood and painted them white. All the hardware came from IronmongeryDirect.                 There are two loft/storage areas which we wanted to complete before moving in. One in the main bedroom over the utility room/wet room and the other over the other two bedrooms and accessed from the landing.     We managed to complete the painting and the flooring, which was bamboo in the lower loft and carpet tiles in the upper loft. This was when the heating oil ran out so we moved in with still the loft doors to make and fit and a bedroom and the bathroom door to fit. Not so bad. Once we had settled in we had to start dismantling the bungalow as there was a time limit on it's removal in the planning conditions. The remaining jobs will be finished over the winter when we can't work outside.    

PeterStarck

PeterStarck