Wednesday 31 August 2011

The builders start

After a summer of faffing we eventually commissioned Neville Francis to do the work on the roof that we got a quote for about five months ago.

So we’ve two builders (I’ve not met them, but Islay speaks highly of them) who are conducting various roof improvements.  The major job was to replace the lead work on the dormers, and judging from the incredibly rotten wood shards littering the lawn, not a moment too soon.  They’ve extended their work to pretty much rebuilding the dormers.  As I write the lead work is done and the windows await the render.

They’ve also done some nice neat leadwork above the porch, and coming up this week (weather permitting) they’ll be repairing slipped tiles, replacing the top courses on the chimney and adding some chimney pots.

It’s surprising how much the house is improved simply by tidying up the dormer windows, and I’m convinced that the inside of the dormer is less damp than it was before.  It’s also satisfying to have some serious work started now.  We’ve booked them in to do the insulation refurbishment in a month or so, and that’s the big and hairy job.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Ground Source of Frustration

Where did the summer go?  Two places I think.  First up a lot of mowing and hacking as I got to grips with how to at least keep the place presentable.

And second, with patchy attempts to get someone to provide us with a credible quote for a ground source heat pump.  We hadn’t planned to look into a heat pump as a new heat source for the house, and had budgeted and expected to simply replace the existing oil-fired boiler with another (much more efficient) one.

But I got my head turned by a discussion with a plumber back in March and then spent a few days looking at various forums and websites.  The result of the research was deciding more serious investigation would be good.  In theory, what’s not to like: cheaper heating, eco-credentials, no more dependence on oil and the lure of a government tariff sometime next year.

Yet, despite all the press you can uncover about such heat pumps, based on the people we spoke to it seems like cutting edge tech that hasn’t got the depth of expertise we were looking for to support it.  So for new, modern, well-insulated houses the various people would have been comfortable, but as soon as we showed them around our creaking, badly insulated properly they got nervous.

We got one good, well-thought through quote from early on, but even then they couldn’t advise us about insulation.  And all the others that Islay dealt with just seemed flakey or unreliable, offering little more than glorified energy efficiency surveys.  The worst one was the guy who got defensive when Islay asked if he’d done any previous installations, before telling her “if anyone else says they’ve done something they’re lying”.

Anyway, with winter around the corner, we set a time limit of the end of last week to try and get something decent from someone, which no-one met, so we’re going to simply replace the oil boiler.

In sympathy the boiler broke down last week, just before the family descended for the weekend.  A £60 hose repair has kept it limping along.