Friday, December 28, 2007
This was probably no big surprise with regard to the wall, as the breather membrane is simply stapled to the Pavatherm boards which don't have much hold being a lightly compressed wood fibe board.
The roof membrane was a different matter however, this being fixed down temporarily with 3"x 2" battens nailed every couple of feet. Despite being mechanically trapped by the batten and spiked with nails, this was simply not enough to avoid being torn from beneath the battens to expose the sarking board again, by now drying out and shrinking to reveal the (intended) ventilation gaps between the butt joints. As a result, the inside of the house is soaked again!
I left a message with our joiner to let him know, who dutifully showed up a couple of hours later in the middle of his holidays to fix the damage in the dark just in time before the next downpour!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Yesterday we reached a major milestone with the delivery of the patio doors and main entrance door - the building was made wind and watertight and we now need a key to get in! This means that first-fixes and roughings can continue whatever the weather and the building is drying out nicely inside.
I've been working away from 'home' the last few days which has been frustrating, not least as there are many questions on detail items to deal with. I caught up after a half hour tour round this morning and it's clear that things are really moving on.
First fix electrics and plumbing are nearly all complete, with a few adjustments to make to the underfloor heating in the first floor bathroom and en-suite. Electrics are also nearly there with a few outstanding decisions to make on light switch locations and cooker load (ie. what cooker are we going to install!). The other first fixes remaining are the Heat Recovery Ventilation system ducting, TV/Satellite, phone, DAB (weak signal area for digital radio so need an aerial) and Cat 5 cabling.
Last but not least the slaters are making good progress and the stainless steel chimney for the wood stove looks superb, especially as the installation has been reinforced from the inside thus avoiding the need for external stays which might have spoilt the roofline.
Monday, December 17, 2007
The slating has started and is looking good already. The slates are being double nailed as we're in a very exposed and windy spot. This will help the slates stay in place although does make replacement more tricky should that be necessary in the future. The first fit plumbing is in place and the first fit electrics are in progress. The underfloor heating to the bathrooms is in place but needs adjusting in the ensuite as the installation team haven't taken account of changes since the early plans. There's plenty of activity on site as the final load of pavatherm which arrived on Saturday is being fixed onto the north gable. There is also an artic full of insulation parked on the road incapable of turning...apparently waiting for a smaller lorry to take off the load and deliver onto site.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The other happening this morning relates to the lame hen. Although it had a couple of better days in the past week it has now gone lame in both legs and is incapable of independent movement. So we had to wring its neck. I thought I could do this yesterday when it probably needed to be done but hen started clucking at me and I just couldn't so now that Steve has returned from working away he did the deed this morning. No, we're not eating it. There's no meat to speak of anyway but as we're not sure what's wrong with it it seems the best move....anyone with greater knowledge please advise!
We've got a fox prowling around. I need to repair/replace a bit of wire at the bottom of the gate to the hen pen before we go out this morning. There are fox prints on the top of the nesting box and on the roof of the hen house so we need to be sure to lock up quickly at dusk.I wonder if that explains the dead hares and rabbit the other week although I thought there would be more damage to the prey?
Rural living!......... we're off to Edinburgh today to see Santa, reindeer, lights, ice sculptures etc.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Today in the glorious sunshine the joiners made a start on the south gable. Also the suppliers of the Pavatherm board visited to discuss the product and its installation with the guys on site as well as Steve and I. Last winter when we were looking at specification/design issues for the house (that seems such a long long time ago!!!!!!) we had concern about it being an appropriate material in the wet West of Scotland as the insulation should be fixed dry but we were reassured by architects who had used it on self-builds in Scotland. The AECB also provided contacts through their forum which was beneficial in this sort of decision. The joiner had not used the product before but by the end of a very productive day he rated it very highly and enjoyed working with it.
On other matters the larch cladding arrived this afternoon but the timber frame manufacturer has sent the wrong profile so that will need to be replaced. Hopefully they will do this quickly. Also or architect has sent through revised details for the porch so that can go ahead now.
Slates have also arrived. The electrician and the chimney man are due tomorrow. Bathrooms and the 3 really large fixed and sliding windows are due on Wednesday. Bathrooms should have arrived last week but didn't...more chasing!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The wall design is based on a detail developed for timber frame buildings by the AECB to meet their Silver standard for energy efficiency and we will add detail drawings alongside photos when the insulation is fitted.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Even the joiners finished early yesterday as they were soaked to the skin but this was also around the time that Steve and I realised/believed that some of the roof windows were not in the positions we had expected/designed. We arranged for the architect to visit site this morning....
The main problem was with the vertical position of the two main bedroom windows and the ensuite window, in that when standing up and viewed out from the inside, they are below level of vision! This is made even worse by the fact that the soffits from the top of the window frame are set square to the window (as shown in the photo above), which appeared to be an error that had crept into the final tender drawings. We were keen to resolve this asap as the sarking board is to be fitted next week with slaters booked the week after, and thus the opportunity will soon be lost (forever) to make adjustments.
Discussion on site with joiner and architect largely sorted the problem with an agreed plan to set the three offending windows higher in the roof, and an amended detail on the upper soffits to bring them closer to the horizontal as intended. As an aside, our joiner rightly cautioned this latter detail to ensure that sufficient insulation space is allowed for between soffit and sarking to avoid cold bridging and even condensation.
Rather wierdly in the last week we've found 2 dead hares and a dead rabbit in different places around the steading area but none of them appear to have any injuries.....
Monday, November 26, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The builder has lined up the slaters to do the roof in early December which is terrific news if all goes to plan. The 'hooded man' in the photo is Davie the joiner. Today he and his 2 lads attached all the rafter shoes to the ridge beam. I spent 15 mins at the top of the scaffolding before deciding it was too chilly and retired to the office which is lovely and toasty. It is terrific seeing the room formations and the height of the ground floor rooms.
Our friend Alan finished the wall late last week with the final stretch of coping stones and a rather fab step up to the chicken's enclosure. He found a curved piece of red sandstone from the demolished house and has utilised it in the step.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
Final photos today - 2 days collection of eggs and a piccie of Dora; generally the hens are laying 4 eggs per day which is quite good I think for ex battery hens and for the time of year. We've no idea if some hens are not laying at all but those that are have been using the nesting boxes. At this time of year with the daily reduction in light levels we can expect them to lay fewer eggs but at the moment our hens seem quite consistent.
Monday, October 29, 2007
We had some wild Autumn weather at the weekend so it was a chilly post-frontal breeze as well as getting muddier around the site.
Around lunchtime the first wall was put in place on the wall plate - this being the northwest corner of the house where the guest bedroom is situated. As I was chatting on the phone the rest of that end of the house was put it in place - the wonder and speed of timber frame construction. This second photo was taken around 3.30pm and the house is really taking shape. This view is from the northeast looking at the kitchen on the left, the front door location in the centre of this elevation and then the ground floor bathroom at the right.
Final photo is the view from the window of the guest bedroom. You can see the rain coming over the hills!
Friday, October 26, 2007
The problem is that new homes accont for just 1% of the housing stock annually at the current UK build rate, so what can the majority of the population do to reduce consumption and 'do their bit'? There is a huge amount of information out there and a good starting point is The Energy Savings Trust www.est.org.uk, but it can be a minefield as to what actions/technologies will truly bring genuine savings in energy, carbon and money. Here's a few ideas:
1. Insulation and draft-proofing/airtightness - do this before anything else, especially on the detailed design of a new build or extension. Usually, money spent on this has a much quicker payback than any of the technologies described below. For example, £2k spent on a mini wind turbine buys a huge amount of insulation and will payback much quicker.
2. Rainwater harvesting (for toilet flushing, laundry etc) - unless gravity fed or pump free, this probably isn't worth the cost or effort and will increase your energy consumption. Whilst saving mains supplied potable water which has used energy in its processing and delivery, it is unlikely that the energy used to do that by your water supplier will be less per cubic metre than by using a water harvesting system. Furthermore, if you are on a water meter the energy costs in operating such a system may not even be offset by the saving in water costs.
3. Mini wind turbines (fixed to house) - in most cases probably not worth the bother, but in some cases (rural, wind-swept property with no nearby obstructions) might produce useful power.
4. Mini wind turbines (standalone for farms etc) - worthwhile on windswept, unobstructed sites.
5. Solar panels (hot water) - useful and can provide up to 60% of annual hot water needs. Payback can be less than 10 years, but don't overpay for system (should be ca. £2,500).
6. Solar panels (PV, electricity generating) - expensive and long payback, but very reliable (we have them) and beautifully simple. Most cost effective on building integrated applications. A better choice than roof mounted wind turbines for electricity generation in most cases.
7. Heat pumps - good choice for well insulated rural new builds with underfloor heating not connected to mains gas. Be careful over promises of '75% savings' - they still need electricity to drive the pump!
8. Wood burning stoves - go for it! In the vast field of alternative energy, the joy of watching carbon-neutral fuel being consumed by fire within the highly efficient combustion chamber of a modern wood burner is rivaled only by the gentle rotation of 150ft wind turbine blades! If you use an open fire, three quarters of the energy in the fuel you feed it goes up the chimney; in a woodburner, three quarters stays in the room, not to mention considerably reduced emissions.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We have two caravans both of which are on a concrete area, formerly one of the farm middens (for the English readers that's the place where all the cow muck is piled up!) Our main van has two wee bedrooms, a dining kitchen and a sitting/lounge area as well as a shower room with a sit-up bath tub which is great for the children. The cooking and heating (one gas fire) are by bottled LPG.
The second van is a bit smaller but has been kitted for the washing maching, tumble dryer and lots of clothes rails, our 'walk-in wardrobe'. Initially this van was used as our office and for our nephew who stayed here in the summer. One of the main problems with caravan living is the lack of space but we're lucky enough to have the second van and lots of outbuildings to overspill into.
We don't have a completion date as such but we can easily assume another 4 months to go, it is a nice thought that we're at our halfway point of temporary accommodation but we are now heading towards winter....!!!!