Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
It was one year ago this week that we moved from our old house, a Victorian sandstone place, into the caravan here. As we turned the key in the lock it started raining but we laughed as we set out on this journey of housebuilding. I know there are a few people reading this who are just commencing on that journey so I just want to say its so worth it, although unquestionably hard work, and to keep plugging away as you will get there. One year on and we're unpacking our worldly goods which have mainly been stored in one of the outbuildings here. Thankfully no damage has come to them after 12months+ of storage.
The newell caps are one of the snagging items - the design is excellent being square with a shadow band but unfortunately someone at the manufacturer has used indelible pen to mark the house name/contract number on the top. No-one is actually looking to deal with this so we're going to see if a joiner friend has any ideas. I think sanding it off isn't going to work as the pen has absorbed into the wood. Our on-site joiner tried rubbing it down but I think its one of those small items that we will end up sorting out as no-one else is 'taking ownership'!
These pics are of various internal finishes. There are lots of reflective surfaces, black glass and oak on the hall wardrobe illustrating the light coming through the windows in the dining area. The 'flowers on the wind' stickers coming from the velux window are from Pedlars. Door handles from Carlisle Brass. We bought all our velux blinds online at Bumblebee Blinds who seemed competitive and were certainly efficient.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
May has been such a fabulous month weatherwise and in the past week we've had some gorgeous sunsets. Official sunset time is 10pm but the sky is light much beyond then. I love this time of year especially with this amount of sunshine. We haven't mounted the solar pv yet (time constraints) unfortunately.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
When the render was being cast one area fell off and was redone with the adjacent wall (on this picture to the left) within a couple of days but it is very clear where there is a variation in colour. The product is from K Rend and we've asked the architect to speak with their rep to see how this can be remedied. The wet dash finish is very typical of this area and much of Scotland. Variations between batches of the same colour can be a problem in a number of areas be they render, paint or other finishes but for us its very noticeable on this elevation.
On the snagging list for the window supplier - the paint on the aluminium cills is dropping away at a fair rate. Thankfully the maintenance man from the supplier came here last week, remedied a number of problems and are going to replace the damaged cills. The cause of the problem appears to be unknown so we hope the issue will not return with the new ones.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
We are in! Hurrah. The recent glorious weather has provided the best of starts with the sunshine emphasising how fabulously light this house is right through to late evening. Its not properly dark for many hours in this part of the world as we approach midsummer so the changing light outside is a constant delight.
Lots of building info to convey but the detail will have to wait a few more days, as will photos. Time and attention is devoted to our business and family needs at present. Unpacking is a slow process but we have everything we need. Having lived in a caravan for 9 months it is clear that our lives don't need most of the 'stuff' we have packed away in boxes so there's no urgency in that area. We've been concentrating on making sleeping and eating areas comfortable.
Quick info for today's blog;
1. We are SO pleased with our house. Satisfaction and feel good factor is high.
2. The quality of the architecture and the build is superb.
3. 3 points to resolve for building control i) one step on the patio is of a different height to others, ii) lashing eyes are to be provided for a window cleaner to clean the large first floor bedroom window and iii) on the same window there is ongoing discussion whether an internal barrier/rail needs to be put in front of the window - its a fixed light but the building control officer is considering this point, more later on that
4. Externally we live on a rather rough looking plot - plenty of work in the years ahead.
5. The apple trees are in blossom and look stunning.
6. The poorly hen has recovered completely and the hens are completely free range now that the chances of being run over have diminished. About 5 eggs per day are being produced.
7. The temperature in the house is pretty even despite it being hot outside and the MVHR is at its lowest setting.
8. The slate floor is particularly terrific in terms of appearance.
9. There is some snagging but not much except relating to the windows which have a good number of small issues to resolve. The supplier is currently proving slow to deal with them despite our first contact being around 2 months ago now.
10. Phone line being connected on Friday allegedly.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The electrician has been here all day and has just about finished his remit which is terrific. Steve helped him fit the extractor hood this afternoon while I cleaned the childrens' rooms. A kind friend entertained the offspring for a couple of hours which was a great help indeed, thank you. This evening Steve is fitting the dishwasher while I tackle the last 100 pages of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms for book group tomorrow (well, I've had a lot of other things going on).
Yesterday the valuer from the Valuation Joint Board came to assess the house for Council Tax purposes. Although its not quite finished we'll find out which band we'll be placed in shortly. Last year I met the same guy as we had demolished the old house and were living in a caravan. Caravan living put us into band A which in this district amounts to around £850pa, the concept of which I really struggle with especially as our council has one of the worst Council Tax recovery rates in Scotland.
One of our hens has been fragile of late and we've thought it has a tumour but today it really seems more perky so hopefully it'll recover. Its difficult to say as hens tend to fade fast it they're not well. Bearing in mind these are ex battery hens we still have 8 out of the original 10 and have good egg production. Now that they are less likely to get run over by site traffic we let them roam free outside their pen so giving access to the field and, unfortunately an area where I have planted some bulbs which are now scrached to the surface.
Some of the apple trees are coming into leaf which is encouraging.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The granite worktop was fitted last weekend, just 2 weeks after templating, and we're very pleased with the result. The team were a very pleasant trio from Estonia and Lithuania. The plastic protective wrap on the doors and drawers is coming away on this photo and together with the general high dust and grime levels doesn't inspire but we reckon on using this kitchen this weekend. The caravan hob is just about adequate and the oven ok only for warming stuff. Last summer it took nephew Tommy Boy nearly an hour to part bake/part burn a pizza. We have managed to cook a good selection of food over the past 9 months, we've even entertained a few times, but a real kitchen is now beckoning.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Today the chimney problem was resolved without taking the whole lot apart which was good news and beneficial in terms of time and hassle. The wood burning stove was tested and added to the warmth of the house on a bright sunny day. We decided to have the visible flu painted black so there was the temporary smell of the paint warming up but we think it looks the part. The internal doors and stair timbers are being oiled, some have had two coats already. The gas hob is in place and we'll move the gas bottles to their place by the wood shed in the morning. The local gas supplier is dropping off the switch over valve tomorrow. The wood shed has moved from its makeshift workshop and looks well in its final place; it doesn't look nearly so large in situ as it did on plan but is large enough to hold the solar array and accommodate a huge amount of wood.
That's a bit of a list but essentially this stage of a project becomes a bunch of lists which can remove some of the excitement. To stand and admire the views, breathe the fresh air and absorb the tranquility of the house and its setting doesn't take long and makes it easy to remember how good this is. Nine months of temporary living soon over, caravans for sale anyone?
Monday, April 14, 2008
For the most part the vapour/air membrane is continuous within the building with joints made with tape and silicone which were then mechanically trapped beneath battens or plasterboard.
The exception to this is the loft space where the membrane was simply stapled to the underside of the rafters, between which insulation was previously fitted. This clearly makes the membrane vulnerable to gravity (!) and any air pressure difference between outside and inside the house with the ultimate risk of the membrane pulling away from the rafters - which has started to happen in one place. I have also spotted two un-taped long joints with resulting gaping holes exposing the insulation, and an unsealed soil pipe penetration. These gaps must easily account for at least half of our dinner plate size hole given that the soil vent pipe ducts were open in the bathrooms during the airtightness testing.
The ultimate solution is probably to bring down the membrane from the rafters to the loft floor and place the insulation from between the rafters on top of it, thus creating a 'cold' loft. It goes wihout saying that the penetrations need sorting out also!
Friday, April 11, 2008
The cleared area where the huge dairy shed used to stand was originally going to be gravelled for car parking but we have realised how large this area is and how ridiculously expensive it would be to gravel. We really don't need such a big area just for vehicles so this is where we intend to start creating the raised beds for our veggies. We're going to use the remainder of the reclaimed roof joists from the original house (the 5m x 2m woodshed is utilising a few) to lay out the area and start filling it with last year's matured horse muck. We have presumed linear beds to follow the line of the wall but after seeing this evening's Gardener's World I quite fancy a more interesting layout, be that triangles, diamonds or some other such whimisie.
The on site compost producers...... our friends' horses Danny and Lily.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The slate tiles in the hallway will receive another coat of seal this weekend.
Just a short while left in our temporary home - we moved in here in mid June 07 and we're moving out next week. Its been pretty hard work at times and I can still feel the cold of the week before Christmas but being on site while the house has been built has been fun and essential.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
After a chilly and breezy Friday night, both these readings had dropped by just 1 deg overnight and still no heating. During the day the readings dropped a further 1 deg (tilers in - patio door fully open!) then raised a little towards the late aftenoon/evening as the sun peeped out.
Saturday night was again cold (as snow moved into northern Britain) but temperatures only dropped a couple of degrees in the house overnight, only to rise again during today to as much as 23 deg. in the ground floor and 20 deg. in our bedroom due to solar gain, despite the continuing biting cold wind outside (and leaky patio doors!).
In essence the house was behaving passively, with perhaps the circulation pump (set to continuous within the heat pump unit) helping to spread the heat from solar heated rooms to the rest of the house, an effect which will be helped further by the MVHR unit when switched on.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Today the tilers are here enjoying the peace of the weekend to get on with their work without a dozen other folks hoofing their way over the floor. Its looking good. We can't quite work out when we'll be in..so close but not certain. One of the most inspiring things is the view from the windows. We've had beautiful weather this morning and threatening clouds this afternoon; majestic skies all day.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Outside we've got a local contractor ripping up the concrete which formed the base of the old dairy shed, its an area of approx 28m x 8m and is being carted off to use as hardcore somewhere else. After its bashed down we'll be buying a lorryload of gravel to finish it.
The builder's groundworks crew have dug the trench which will carry the LPG pipe and the elec cable from the woodstore to the house. We are only using LPG for cooking but wanted the bottle away from the house (for visual reasons) and the cable is for the solar PV to connect into the house. The 1.08kw solar PV array will be mounted on the south facing roof of the woodstore and the roof is being constructed to a 36deg pitch to maximise production. The theory is to take your latitude (ours being 56degN) and subtract 20degrees. Work starts on the construction of the woodstore today and is being done by a local joiner using wood we have salvaged from the old house. They are setting up a workshop in one of the barns.
As you can see the staircase is in place and the slate flooring continues (picture of the dining area)
Monday, March 31, 2008
After much delay the American blond oak staircase has arrived but is needing some adaptations by our onsite joiner. The timber is beautiful though and despite the general mess in the house is one of the final landmarks in the building of the house.
The above photo is of the porch area by the front door. We've continued the larch cladding in this area which looks good with the height created by the continuation of the roof line. Jim the electrician is fitting the lights we've bought in the next day or so and this includes one to uplight this area, low energy of course!
Herewith the slate flooring in the family room which attaches to the kitchen/dining. I felt most sorry for the tiler who is trying to lay 82sqm of slate tiles whilst all around are busy with their own trades, typically on Friday this numbered around 12-15 people. At one point he locked the front door so no-one else could come in. The above slating has not been sealed but the bathroom has and the finish looks super. The floor will need resealing every 3-5 years but as this can be done with a mop and bucket it doesn't seem too onerous.