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  1. This info relates to a DIY rainwater harvesting system, not a commercial system, and therefore the water must not be drunk! You should be careful using rainwater not to mix it with mains (Potable) Water as it is not suitable to drink and you could poison your house supply! To be clear birds poo on your roof and then it rains. However there are ways to elevate the problem in a DIY system so there is no smell or colour problems but it still cannot be drunk! You should not use the recycled rainwater for cooking, bathing or showering. SHMBO will not allow it to be used for clothes washing either. The main uses are for garden watering and toilets, and some people use it for car washing and some for clothes washing (we do not have enough storage). How much rainwater are you going to use on loos? Rough estimates suggest that you use about 70 litres a day flushing loos for 2 people. That's about 25m3 a year. More people more flushes more water... How much rainwater are you going to use in your garden? Well that's a good question and trying to work that out is basically a waste of your time because when its raining you won't need to water the garden. Is it going to rain when you need it is the impossible question to answer. so we used a pessimistic view. Our calculation about storage volume went like this: The averages on the isle of Wight where we are suggest typically 4 rainy days in each month from April through to September, however the actual events over a year are much more uneven. In 2 months, it was assumed no rain for 6 weeks: So 2 people 70 litres a day for a 6 week drought = about 3000 litres or 3 cubic meters. and Garden 200 litres a day for a 6 week drought = about 4200 litres or 4.2 cubic meters. (This was based on 200 drippers supplying plants (no lawns) 0.5 litres a day each) Total requirement about 8m3 Well, we don't have room to store that amount of rainwater so for us it came down to what we did have room for which was about 4.5 cubic meters. If we had the room I would have gone for 10 cubic meters. So this is what our loo water looks like after 4 years: No smell, no clogging up valves no discolouration. and the garden: Yes we run out of rain water, and have a backup from the mains. Based on the volume of water used and the cost of, our DIY installation, we will not save money doing this for many years, however it will reduce our bills going forward for as long as it works and we prefer to use rainwater on the garden. Good luck M
    2 points
  2. It’s been over a year since we got our completion certification and we’re still mopping up tasks in the garden and generally cleaning up. It occurred to us that some aspects of the discovery process of the build may be off use to others on BuildHub. It’s too hot in here: Thermal modelling limitations. Our thermal modelling done as part of the design stage SAP suggested we had minimal thermal gain problems. However we suspected that thermal gain from our east facing windows would be a problem and indeed it has been. The first action we took was to put on a solar film on the outside of our east facing windows. After some research we opted for Johnson PD75 which claims to reduce thermal gain by 40%. It cost £1,170 so seemed like a good place to start. Well, it may have helped but by mid May it was clear it was not enough and we would need something more. We looked at air conditioning units and decided we would retrofit some. We hadn’t planned on this and the thought of messing up the clean lines of the build and the pristine plaster work did not appeal. Purely by chance it turned out that the false wall in our bathroom built at the request of my wife and much muttering from me (who needs somewhere to put a wine glass while your in the bath) was a saviour. It meant we had a service void from ground floor to second floor in which to route pipes to the internal units. We contacted Mr Harris and he kindly lent us the pump gear required for installation testing, so far so good. We identified the units with the best energy efficiency only to discover you are not allowed to purchase them without having confirmation the installation will be done by a certified F-gas installer. We wanted to do the main parts of the installation ourselves and just have the F-gas engineer do final test and connection. Sounds reasonable but we had a lot of difficulty finding anyone. Mr Harris came to the rescue again and recommended Artech Air who were unbelievably helpful. We ended up with two Midea Blanc units, a 2.5 kW for our bedroom and a 3.5kW for the open plan living area. Result – bliss, and a very reasonable bill for £1,800. In the long term they will add to the comfort of the house all year round. On a slightly different subject MVHR summer bypass. It sounds perfectly reasonable, don’t heat the incoming air form the outgoing air in once a set temperature threshold is reached. The incredible heat of the last month has made us completely rethink it’s use. If the air inside the house is colder than the outside air, then cool the incoming air ie you don’t want to bypass the heat exchange. Also when it very hot between 9:00 and say 20:00 don’t run the MVHV, there is plenty of air in the house and we certainly never felt stuffy. We set the MVHR scheduler to do this for us. Similarly in winter it goes off at 22:00 and back on at 07:00. PV We didn’t put any PV on when we built, the house should need such small inputs it simply didn’t make sense in carbon or cost terms, or so we thought. Two things changed our minds, the air conditioning and we bought an EV. Doing anything more than 4kW is a pain as it involves more certification and silly cost items like Southern Electricities £300 fee for observing testing on equipment that was already certified on the MCS database. Again we had not planned this in so it was a retrofit...grrrr. Very annoying as we were pretty smug about having thought through the whole build. Fortunately our standing seam roof made it as easy as it could be to fit panels and hide all the wires. With the panels added we are still in surplus on the air conditioning units, not cooling for free as we had to pay for the panels and inverter, but no additional utility cost. Bye the way this was done before some nameless psychopath started a war and energy prices rocketed. The house now sits at a very comfortable 23c while not drawing any energy from the grid. We even have enough surplus to charge the EV between 10:00 and 15:00 on sunny days at a very slow 6A. We also opted to put in battery storage which we ordered in February and has only just arrived, it should have been 8.2kWh but in the delay they manufacturer introduced a 9.5kWh version for not a lot of extra money. We’re not up and running with the battery as the manufacturers decided to change the inverter battery connection cables with the new model and there are no cables shipped with the battery. I must confess I found it very hard to see the funny side of this. House wiring We did this ourselves and got it tested and certified, but made no provision for an EV charger, inverter and PV. Fortunately we did put ‘Routabout’ access points into our floor intended to allow access should anything go wrong. We also have loose lay flooring which has made the four times the utility room floor has been up no drama. Providing access to fix and change is something definitely something that should be done early not as an afterthought, when we put the traps in we had no idea how useful they would be. Fixings and fastening Our build is ICF and while it’s great in may ways it does present some interesting challenges when it comes to mounting anything on the walls. The ICF system we used came from JUB and has a very tough vertical nylon strip every 150mm about 30mm from the internal surface. With a course thread screw you can hang things like TV’s but not heavy stuff cupboards. For heavy items it’s a case of drilling into the ICF concrete core 75mm internals and 170mm externally from the ICF surface. This makes for a significant cantilever, internally this is fine you just use big fastenings. Externally the problem is two fold, 1700mm cantilever and you don’t want any thermal bridging, this makes using big fastening as real no no. We ended up using four fastening types: Internally we used cheap and easy to use concrete frame fasteners for heavy stuff. For lighter stuff on plasterboard we used GripIt fastenings which do the job remarkably well. The largest size claims to be able to hold 70kg, but I wouldn’t trust it with anything like that. Externally we use Fischer ‘Thermofix’, expensive and not available in this country. Fischer say they don’t sell enough here to make it worth there while. It seemed lost on them that we were buying from Germany along with every other UK user of the fastening. For light external fixing we used pasta twirls supplied by JUB. Useless for anything heavier than a letter box. DIY cabinets We found we couldn’t always source ready made furniture that was the size we needed. Some friends run a bespoke kitchen business and pointed us a site “wood online” who make up panels to your specification complete with edging. Using a ‘Pocket hole’ jig and these panels allows you to create you own furniture simply and quickly at a fraction of the bespoke cost. We also found some very neat panel clips for panels that need to be removed for access. Garden We finally got round to sorting out the garden. It’s small, just 11m by 5m and like a lot of self builds it had been used as a storage area (dumping ground) during the build. As we’re getting on a bit we wanted to make it low maintenance and low water. Raised beds and a patio area seemed to fit the bill. As the house is a contemporary build and we wanted to the garden to complement the house which is white and two shades of grey. For the patio we have used 600 x 600 porcelain tiles for ease of handling and laying. Getting a patio right is not the easiest of jobs and I was not looking forward to. With the patio base prepared, materials were order, tiles on Tuesday followed three days later by 5000kg of limestone chippings. Of course it just happened to be one of the hottest weeks on record…returned the rapid set tile cement and bought standard set. This still went off at a frightening rate. Trying to get a large are flat and true is not as easy as it sounds even when you’ve done all the preparation. With the first slab set to the correct run-off the other tiles were laid using it as reference. Despite our best efforts to get it right, the first tile was just off and as a result by the tile the 8th tile in the row was reached we were using a significant amount of tile cement, about 10mm deep. The four 20kg bags of cement that should have done the whole job disappeared quickly and another 7 bags were required to complete the job. The hoop and wedge helped keep everything flush and the result is perfectly acceptable. Lesson learnt, do buy the expensive laser measuring and levelling gear at the start of the build, it’ll pay for itself many times over by the time you finish. I’ll know for the next build, however my wife may well threaten divorce if I mention the idea….
    2 points
  3. Results for us as they come forward...(and not what I expected) Our Cool Energy inverTech Air Source Heat Pump CE-iVT9 4.3kW-9.5kW has been on standby only, for the last few weeks, and I have measured the power consumption. It appears to use about 0.1 kWh an hour. That's about 2.25kWh a day in 24 hours. We use a Solic 200 to direct our excess electricity produced by the PV to the hot water immersion. Whilst the Solic way of heat the hot water uses more energy, because it only runs using power we would otherwise give to the grid, its better for the bills to turn the ASHP off all together rather than use it to heat the hot water tank. You would think that with a high COP it would be better to use the ASHP but with the other things on in the home and the car being charged, you can never be sure your not buying all the power. Secondly I think the ASHP runs at a minimum of about 1.5kW when heating the water. The Solic can use any spare power from the PV: 10 to 3000 Watts. We could turn the ASHP off altogether and on only when we need hot water and I have decided this is a bit fiddly so won't do it. Another benefit is the fact that the hot water tank is set to 70C ( the ASHP will only do up to 60 and that is at its least efficient) and this lasts us at least 2 or 3 days before needing to be heated up again! ( We do have a super insulated tank) Days when it could be cloudy and we would have to pay for the power. ( We will turn it up higher in the winter and use it as a thermal store for night time warmth...) And finally I would rather wear out the £50 immersion than the £3180+VAT ASHP! Good luck with your project. M
    1 point
  4. A short blog to show my Mini spilt Air2Air install, in the Windy Roost Static. I looked at installing a wood burning stove, but we have zero trees on site, so when I looked at the costs of twin wall flue, terminals, flashing, creating a heat shield and making the caravan tidy plus the hassle of getting wood / coal, the costs were adding up. A quick question on here - Build hub, some options were suggested and I decided to go with the a cheap Air 2 Air heat pump from Appliances direct. The unit is a Telefunken 12K BTU split unit. cost around £375 but did not included the pipe to connect from indoor to outdoor unit. I got 5M twin insulated copper pipe with the flair nuts from ebay for £56. Our Static has a gas fire - useless, and a chimney breast made from chipboard, the side panel just screws off to access the flue. This was the perfect place for the indoor unit, as it would be a neat install and the rear will allow for the pipes to be hidden, also I could use the hole in the floor to route the pipes/ drain and power for the remote unit. I removed the light fitting, screwed the bracket on the timber, and drilled a 80mm hole, for the pipes / drain and power. Then its a case of posting all the pipes/ drain and power cables through the hole, really straight forward, the indoor unit then just clips into place. The indoor unit comes pre wired with a 13A plug top, and you need to run a 3core and earth cable from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. this is Live, Neutral and a control / switch cable. Next to the chimney is a double plug socket, so I wasn't messing around running new cables, I just drilled an 8mm hole in the side of the chimney breast and used 2M extension lead to plug the unit in. I used some zip ties to secure the extension lead and plug to the pipes (these were put on after the photo below). and that was the internal work complete. zero mess, and no rework / decoration required. The outdoor unit was going to sit directly outside, behind the chimney breast, the ground outside was not level but it is bedrock, so a made a simple frame and made level concrete pad, and cast some hook bolts into the concrete. For initial research I spoke with a Local (ish) refrigeration engineer, and he said he would connect for £120. but was telling me there is nothing to it, and if I was doing everything else then maybe I do it all??? I found an American You tube guide which was helpful on the pipework side. (linked below) Basically, the unit comes pre charged with gas, so you are not filling with gas etc. the main issue is removing the air from the two pipes you install. This is done with a vacuum pump. (some more expensive units come with pipes and they are pre-vacuumed with quick connectors) I found a vacuum pump and gauge set for sale on Vevor for £79 so £41 cheaper than the refrigeration engineer. I bought one, and an adaptor. I'm not suggesting anyone does this without an F - Gas Engineer, but the main issues are leaks, if when you connect the pipes up and they leak you are going to loose the gas, and the unit wont work. To Purge the pipes Step 1 connect your pump to the centre of the two gauges with a hose Step 2 connect a second hose to one of the gauges and the other end to the one way valve on the outdoor unit Step 3 Open the valve on the corresponding gauge from step 2. Step 4 Run the vacuum pump for 15mins to remove the air, and you check the gauge is reading negative. (-30 blue gauge in pic below) Step 5 turn off the pump and wait 15mins, and check the gauge is still negative. (-30) - this proves there is no leaks Step 6 close the valve you opened in step 3. Step 7 Open the 5mm Allen screws on both valves to the gas fill the internal unit. That is disconnect the pump plug the indoor unit in and you ready to go. Notes: I used expanding foam in the hole at the rear of the fire. We have no intentions of using the fire as it is /was rubbish. Also the indoor unit should not be near a source of heat. The total install time was around 4 hours. and total cost £530 More importantly my caravan has warm air. lets see what its like in winter.🤞
    1 point
  5. After following others journeys into the self build world for years, it looks like I'm finally about to embark on my own after several soft starts. The first major work is to realign the driveway and I've opted for paved over other styles and to do most of it myself. I got a driver & digger to take up the concrete driveway and grass and pile it up and hired a grab truck to take it all away. Less than two days later I was left with a barren front garden! Since then I've been figuring out a few details and grading the site to prepare for the required level of MoT. There was some damage done during excavation to be repaired which is underway. The current list of problems are: Get Earth Rod reinstated and connect house ground to it - Electrician Buy another wavin universal gully 110mm as the first was to replace one cracked during digging, this one is to replace the old one which doesn't have a swivel head and its at the wrong angle to the house and will make the paving cuts a lot harder to achieve and look wierd. The new ones let you turn the gully to different angles to run parallel to the house. Buy adjustable connector for linear drainage channel to connect to inlet of universal gully as they are nearly level but not quite. Trace broadband cable from house to a point where I can create an access point and run a pipe from there to my site next door (I tried digging to find it on the other side of the site to only find a gas main where it's not meant to be!). To dig this alternative position out tomorrow and see if it's viable. Decide if I'll keep the loose soil in the original broadband excavation hole or remove and replace with hardcore (I've asked this question under the driveways topic on this site) Hire concrete / kango hammer to remove concrete surround of manhole cover and replace with a recessed unit and gain access to drain on other side of house for linear drainage channel over there - the side of this drain has a mass of concrete beside it for an unknown reason. Dig out holes for more concrete posts to form new front boundary but mind electrical cable heading in same direction Assess how much MoT I'll need to build up 2 x 75mm levels on far side of site which was grass and will take the most vehicular traffic. The old concrete driveway sub base is still there and its nearly at the right level, won't need to do much to it except whack it a few times and it'll be good to go. Risks: We found the water pipe near the far side of the house but I didn't take a photo before covering it back over. Now I can't find it again. The builders dumped a load of concrete beside a drain that I need to plumb a linear drain into and I'm concerned I might hit it. I have to chance breaking that concrete. Concrete fence post holes vs main electrical cable to house Finding broadband line - it's a 1 inch black cable but so are the electrical and gas lines! I'll have to excavate the whole route of the broadband pipe to ensure I'm looking at the right one. There is tape to show which is which eventually but nearer the house they don't bother with this. Marking on pipe aren't clear what it's for either. Site Safety: I've Heras fencing up & warning signs and put a temporary post box and wireless doorbell on it to avoid people coming onto site unnecessarily and twisting an ankle. Dust is a big problem. We had some rain last night which helped. The new side gate is up and the back is secured again. Today I was replacing the cracked drain gulley and nosing around a few builders providers trying to find what I was after. I'm back to work next week so things will slow down. If I can get that broadband junction sorted out tomorrow that would be great, otherwise I might have to try dig more holes again! This is definitely the biggest project I've taken on to date. Bits of civil engineering, drains, electrical, using a digger, compactor, line levels and more skills besides! The head is definitely taking a bit of a beating but I've had some great answers to my questions on this forum which has been a BIG help! At night my brain is going 90 mph though so need to balance things. At least going back to work will be a distraction. I'm past the point of no return but do wonder am I mad and should I have gotten someone else to do this for me!?! But the budget wasn't there and I'm learning a lot. Expect the unexpected. What lurks under the ground level for decades can't be put into words...strange cables with no purpose, concrete and gas lines where they shouldn't be, aching arms and head! Would I go it again? Ask me when it's over! Hopefully my next post will be it completed but until then, good luck with all your summer projects and I am VERY sympathetic to anyone taking on a house, I'm aghast at just a driveway!!
    1 point
  6. My dual roles for the first 10 days of the June / July trip was to get ready for concreting. This breaks down into two slab / raft foundations for the Cabins, 1 slab for the amenity block, and some backfilling of the treatment plant, and while I'm at it, concrete for the Polycarbonate Polly tunnel. another blog to follow. In my opinion, the structural calculations for the slab rafts were well over engineered. the slabs will be ground bearing (rock) foundation and thinner slab, all poured at the same time. The Radon barrier and timber frame will sit on this, with an insulated floating chipboard floor. I know this will give some thermal bridge on the timber frame, but these are camping cabins not the house. Costs said this was the way forward. I'd already exposed the rock for the cabins, so BC could see this, and was happy for me to crack on. I framed the the cabins with 6x2 timber, and levelled this formwork. Then used crush and run to raise the central slab area up, to leave me a 100mm thick slab with thickened foundation perimeter. This perimeter varied due to the level of the rock. I used around 6 ton of MOT in each cabin., then A252 around the base of the foundation and A142 across the slab. At the corners of each slab I ran the WC waste, and also a feed for H&C water, power and internet supplied for the amenity block. The amenity block was a simple 150mm Slab on compacted hardcore. With this prep done, my wife, (the now only breadwinner for the next 8 weeks), was due on site, for a baptism of fire..... To be fair Saturday and Sunday consisted of me and Mandy getting the mesh in place and getting the post support for the extended roof of the cabins dug, tying the mesh, getting the post support brackets ready. and some land clearing/ hole digging for the Poly tunnel. Monday is concrete day..... The plan was simple. the truck would reverse up to each cabin, drop around 5 Cube in the cabin, whilst I'm levelling, then the remainder would go into the amenity block. we would float this, and then when the truck came back pour the second cabin, finish the amenity block, and whilst waiting for the truck to come back get this floated off. the last load would be the treatment plant (this would be using the loader bucket) and leave a little for the poly tunnel.. easy 15cube, no problem.. It didn't work this way, Mandy, who is game for anything, but being an engineer needs to know what she is doing. She has never laid a slab.. didn't matter, because I was going to do it, no problem. she was there as a go for, and edge trowel-er (I must point out, I knew that the surface finish wasn't important, as its being covered with insulation and membrane - but) The wagon turned up around 10, after a 30 min trip to site, the day was damp, with slight rain, not overly hot, the driver would not drive on to the earth next to the cabins. So I had to use the loader. (an old Ford 550) the first half bucket was solid, I could tell by the colour, there was a lot of cement in the mix, I told him to add water, lots of water, but he didn't have "loads" so the best we got as a stiff slump, I loaded as fast as I could, and Mandy was trying her best to rake / shovel this level, and she was doing a great job, but she didn't know what she was doing, and it was hard work. I thought the concrete was wetter than it was. after about and hour we had the concrete out and some in the amenity block, but it was far from level, and starting to go off. I had to use the loader to level some more, than then used my beams to get it flat. This was hard, and the bull float wasn't bringing up a lot of cream..... I asked for a wetter mix for the second drop and asked for 2 hours to get set. I got the slab flat and fairly good, but not great. Whilst Mandy was teaching herself to drive the digger, (she wasn't having round 2 with the rake). Round two was worse, the mix although a little wetter, was setting faster. Mandy put the first few loads into the amenity block and I levelled this, then started on cabin 2, it was a real graft. Again the loader was used to move the setting concrete, there was some concrete left, so this went into the treatment plant pit. With the running around the site, cabin 2 slab was far from finished and I had to resort to putting water on top to help. Not my best day. I get the slab level., but floating was not producing a smooth mirror like finish. We also had to set in the post support into the 4 shuttered blocks. and had around 3/4 of a bucket left in the loader. We rounded the day off with setting the posts in the poly tunnel. We got cleaned up around 18.00. The amenity block and 2 cabins were flat and floated, but not fantastic (hence no photos). the treatment plant had around 1 cube of concrete and the 14 posts were set. 13Cube of concrete, and Mandy politely informed me, she was never concreting again.... Tuesday, we needed to finish off the treatment plant. but couldn't get concrete until late afternoon. The morning we started on the poly tunnel, but decided that we needed more concrete, so created a shutter to link all the posts with a plinth. The 3rd Batch of concrete was the worse, we did about 9 loads with the bucket and it was setting again. we left a full bucket for the poly tunnel, levelled the concrete around the treatment plant. (the driver informed me, that I probably had got more than 2 cube, as there was some in the mixer when he loaded mine, so that explains it going off real quick then. Anyway. we persevered, were still married and talking to each other, and we achieved the goals..... The future house slab pour will need more people, a different concrete company, and a solution that doesn't need my digger, PUMPS are not common this far north, thinking cap on. thanks for reading.
    1 point
  7. Wow, we have finally started, and what a journey. The goal of the last 8 days was to try to make the the stars align. We had planned several meetings / connections deliveries all to happen the 1st week in April, and this was it, lets see what unfolds. Firstly, the plot, being located high up on the East coast in the highlands, which is basically a large un-serviced field has a few logistical issues, the main one being storage, the second distance. We had quotes for containers to be purchased and delivered in the region of 4.5K so alternatives were needed. The initial solution is the back of an Asda delivery waggon, 12ft long, 7ft wide,6ft high, with 3 lockable doors, and racking for the green trays, also a larger roller shutter section. £250 - with working fridge if required - (this may have a second life once were up and running with rare breed pigs🙈). just need to get it from Morecambe 430miles North. Secondly how to get everything to site. We bought an old removals wagon - 7.5Tonne ally box with tail lift. MOT till NOV 515,000KM - 1 careful owner Our hope was for this to get there in 1 piece, and be left on site as storage. the sum of £1200. all in with insurance (which may be cancelled) its has cost us £2K. Talking with my timber supplier, he warned me of impending price rises and possibility of shortages due to the unrest in the UKRAINE. so out of the blue I bought all the timber 450M of 6x2 C24, and 56 off 11mm OSB for the PODS. In addition to this I found a contact selling factory rejects of 120mm PIR insulation. In Scotland the pods need to achieve good U values, so 120mm on roof and in floors was required. Basically this guy buys pallets of insulation that are usually end of production run , or slightly damaged corners etc, and not full sheet sizes. I went to look, as he has had some bitumen coated and fibreglass coated boards. Generally the sheets are all 1200mm wide, min 600 long, most are around half board length, but will need to be trimmed to make them suitable for the warm roof. I did a deal to buy the equivalent of 44 Boards of 120mm some Bitumen coated, some fibreglass for the sum total of £660. This is a massive saving on 'Box Fresh' Now I had a problem, with the insulation tightly packed into the back of the truck and leaving some pockets to slide the timber in I had filled about 2/3rd of the truck, I didn't have room for all the timber or the other stuff I was taking. The revised plan was to cross our fingers and hope the truck will not only get to Scotland , but now return with a view of making another trip. Living accommodation. We found a static caravan, 2 bedroom in V good condition, delivered to site included in the price. The deal was done and he would get the van to site for our arrival on the Thursday, along with the delivery of our other investment an old Ford 550 Backhoe Loader, with buckets and pallet forks. We decided to set off Wednesday evening, with the plan to see where we got before we were too tired, then to sleep in the Wagon / Car. The picture below was us all loaded with 430Miles ahead. Me driving 'Nessie' as Mandy has called her, and Mandy Driving the Car / and trailer. I know we look like 'Travellers' but needs must, what will the new neighbours think when we turn up..... The Journey was horrendous. Setting off at 18.00 the trip was uneventful, with he exception of filling Nessie to the tune of £245 with diesel and not knowing how far these 150 litres will get us. Uneventful until we got to the A9 around Perth, then the snow started. Visibility was poor, and the local truckers seemed oblivious to it. Mandy had a big scare on a dual carriage way where she lost visibility of the edge of the road, and found herself nearly hitting the verge, a stab of the brakes and forgetting about the 16ft trailer saw said trailer try to over take her. Luckily she managed to correct this, and coming to a stop in the dark with snow on the dual carriageway, composed herself and set off again. At 03.30 on Thursday we pulled into a layby just after Inverness. Got our heads down for a couple of extremely cold hours (-4). and set off to the croft, arriving around 8.30.. During the drive we were informed the Static- our accommodation for the week was not going to make it - COVID... I managed to make a few calls and Borrowed a 3 berth Tourer from GOW Plant Hire / Groundworks in Caithness.. What a top bloke.... This is us on site day 1, digger arrived..... The Plot.. So down to it. Day 2 on site Friday. Electricity was to be connected on Wednesday 6th, we needed to dig a 30M Trench and install the cabinet / concrete base. This had to happen. Over to the digger to fire her up.... no go. Quickly the battery went flat. We moved Nessie closer, did a quick 30Mile round trip and bought some jump leads and by lunchtime and still no joy, turning over but not firing..... it was running the day before but they had to jump start as it had been sat in the yard for a few week. Ok looking at the battery it wasn't the correct one, so another 30mile round trip and the owner of a monster battery we tried again. no luck, I phoned a mate mechanic he advised trying spraying cold start into the air intake. ok another trip? , No, he told me to try deodorant as the propellant may well work, one quick spray and the old girl fired immediately. Best smelling digger in the highlands... Now to get to grip with an old backhoe, I've experience with up to 5 tonne 360 machines but never a back hoe, so this took a while to understand how to dig a straight trench next to a fence.. I managed to excavate the connection pit and around 15M of wandering trench by the end of the day. Day 3 Saturday It was cold and no amount of deodorant was working on the digger. The mighty battery was losing power... Time to try Nessie to give a boost, we got the Truck stuck in the mud... FFS. we needed the digger to move the truck, and the truck to help start the digger... This was a testing day, and I know from experience in building game you have days that just fight back, and this day was fighting hard. Mandy set off in search of some supplies and some cold start. By lunch she was back, I had made the shuttering for the cabinet base just needed the digger to get the concrete over to the hole. Cold start didn't work and we both felt deflated... Numerous attempts with planks, stone etc to free the truck were not working. As a last resort as the sun was now out and shining we gave the cold start another go and the digger jumped into life.. Obviously not a morning person... We moved the truck to relative safety of some drier ground with the aid of the digger and concreted in the cabinet. Another 10 M of trench, and we made a start exposing the water main. I noticed the digger was beginning to be sluggish and leaving hydraulic oil pools, when I check the level it was nearly empty. So Parked up the digger, next to the truck, batteries next to each other - just in case. We retired to the un heated caravan, and I went to the Generator to start it, we had a 2KW heater that helped take the chill off, A couple of pulls and the cord snapped😂. the day was going to round 12 like it or not. So tools out and repair underway. Day 4 Sunday. No Hydraulic oil till Monday so left the digger alone, and marked out the position of the pods, and the septic tank, I wanted to do some digging here to confirm the suspicion that the rock level was high, and some breaking out will be required. We hand dug a trial hole for the water main, as we found electricity cables running towards where the trench was going. We hit rock 300mm below ground, so were happy to dig this with the machine on Monday, We also started unloading the insulation and timber from the truck. We sandwiched timber and insulation with visqueen and ratchet straps to create a heavy mass that hopefully wont blow away whist were not there. Day 5 Monday. With Hydraulic oil on board and the shelter of the truck the digger fired first thing, and we were off. Mandy continued un loading insulation. We dug a small trench for the water (we new the main was laid in a blasted trench to a depth of 800mm) we had to breakout our trench with a 110V Breaker to obtain the 600mm depth and hand dig to expose the water main, I left Mandy to this while I dug the septic tank hole, I got to a depth of around 800mm before I hit the rock. This will need pecking out now. We installed a homemade standpipe, and blue pipe, then asked for a track inspection via the online portal. We were given date of 11/12/13April, but we put a note on to say we were on site until the 8th. They responded and the Meeting was set for Wednesday 6th - result. Day 6 Tuesday - the night was very windy and wet. A cold and wet start, We finished off the electrical trench, laid the ducting / draw cord and all was set for connection the next day. Made a start on the pods foundation dig. Day 7 Wednesday - electrical trench was full of water, and the ducting was floating. the heavy rain drains towards the sea, and thus straight into this trench, I was concerned that the Install may be called off. SSE turned up around 10.00 and were not bothered in the slightest. They connected a new length of 95mm Wavecon to the pole and jointed the existing 2 houses and our new supply - 2 core 35mm straight concentric to this 95mm cable. Resin pour joint box, and fitted the 100A cut out in the cabinet. They were done in 2 hours. left me to throw the cable in when the resin had gone off. Scottish water inspected the trench, and this has been signed off and will be added to the works list, hopefully a few weeks. I filled in the cable trench, We managed to rough dig out the pod foundations and found the rock is close to the surface. so the slab foundation will be pretty much mass fill concrete around the perimeter, with some MOT to reduce the thickness to 4" for the slab. This will then have a Radon barrier on top and a floating floor insulation on that, Due to the poor living conditions and more rain and wind we made the decision to leave Thursday morning. Day 8 Thursday, We packed up the caravan and Nessie then dragged the caravan out of the mud with the digger. The trailer was also dragged clear with the digger, but Nessie was so at home she didn't want to leave. I was pushing here through the mud, but she was sinking. Fortunately tour Farmer neighbour saw our plight and came along with his massive tractor and dragged her clear. We left site battered, bruised but happy in the knowledge that no matter what was thrown at us, we had achieved what was required and more to boot. Thanks for reading... its all possible, Mandy made a few videos if you want to see them https://www.facebook.com/The-Windy-Roost-101816829105927, you can follow the progress there as well...
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