Monday, 6 February 2012

The time of maximum disruption

We’re three weeks in to the build so far and it’s thoroughly messy and chaotic at home.  There are some photos below that show some of the work that’s been done, but what the photos don’t convey well is that pretty much every room is in some sort of turmoil.  Photos also do not show up the relatively light (so far) layer of plaster dust that coats everything in the house.

Anyway, here’s a belated catch up of the works.

The first week saw a frenzy of progress.  In the space of two days floorboard came up, holes started appearing in walls, cables dropped from ceilings and an entirely new water tank appeared.  This was all very exciting.  

We’ve had a pressurised water system fitted, which means that the top floor radiators are likely to see some hot action rather than lukewarm water.  However the pressure has also rendered our rubbish shower unusable.  We are reduced to bathing which is a time-consuming but opulent way of starting the day that gives me time to think about how we could afford to get a new shower.

By the end of the first week we even had a new boiler, and the plumbers managed to install it without us having to forego heating for a night.  They had also disappeared the gravity feed tanks from the roof, Islay was pleased by this as she does not enjoy the presence of dead flies in bathwater.

For the second week they asked us to move out of the under eaves storage lockers, the top floor and the kitchen, a task that consumed most of a weekend.  What surprised me was not how much stuff we had, but how much stuff we had that didn’t need throwing away.  I’ve been good at junking stuff over the last few years and I can’t really justify getting rid of a babywalker when we’ve a second on the way.  The junk now towers over us in the lounge.  Ula also seems to enjoy her temporary bedroom and it is without doubt the warmest room in the house, particularly since the boiler doesn’t waste vast amounts of energy turning the utility room into a sauna.

Despite asking us to move out, they didn’t actually do anything in the vacated spaces for the second week.  Instead Ray, the incredibly tidy and competent electrician carried on routing cables all around the house (“are you sure you want this much data?”.  Yes.) and being charmed by Ula.

But last week, the third week of the build saw a bit more action.  In a frenzy of disruption the kitchen ceiling came down, went up and got skimmed.  All this just to put new lights in.

Also some plasterboard panels came down on the top floor, which made the whole house unbelievably cold.  I think the thermal flow was that the logfire made lovely warm air, which then shot up the stair well and briefly heated the tiles on its way out of the house.  They put new plasterboard in on Friday and it made a substantial difference.

And finally the insulation, the whole drive behind the project, started to go up on Friday.  In a day half of the front of the house got a 50mm layer of Celotex, with battens ready for another 50mm to go up.  I spent Saturday convincing myself that I could feel a difference between insulated and uninsulated walls with my bare hands held on either side of the corner.  

The work swung to us at the weekend, and Islay and cleared the kitchen of plaster dust (took a day) by sugar soaping anything that didn’t move.  On Sunday we painted the ceiling.  Gallingly the paint ran out at the end of the day and two square meters of naked plasterboard still pinkly taunts me.  I bought 20 litres of paint at lunchtime today, so I’ll be busy when I get home tonight.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Living in the boxroom

Our lounge is now full of stuff from the under eaves storage. We are in the time of maximum clutter

Friday, 20 January 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Time to build

Our neighbours did not baulk at our expansive plans for dominating the neighbourhood with an extra 10 cm of insulation and so, despite a brief e-mail exchange with the council over whether our pile qualifies as a “heritage asset”, we got an early Christmas present in the form of approval for the plans and for the building regulations.

And despite radio silence from Neville over Christmas, he told us in early January that he’s ready to go and could the building start on Monday January 16th.  So, it’s all systems go.

I did some preparatory work over Christmas, using Google Docs to draw up floor layouts.  And Islay and I headed to Ridgeons to pick bathroom suites (we’re getting a remote controlled shower, how cool is that?)  So we’re in good shape I think.  We wondered around the house on Saturday with printout and pen in hand debating the location of power sockets and noting down things we wanted changing.

We’ve, as is inevitable with these things, increased the scope already.  We’ve specified LED downlighters on the top floor (with our low ceilings, removing pendant lights is a good idea for the sake of my forehead).  

Overall, I think we’ve been pleased to have appointed Seb the architect, but he made one minor mistake right at the end that has slightly coloured my opinion.  On the final draft of the drawings a small note appeared indicating that beneath the Tri-Iso we needed to ensure we had foil-backed plasterboard (as a vapour control barrier).  Our aging plasterboard is not foil-backed, it’s barely even plasterboard, so this means more work and increased costs.   Not a big oversight, but irksome.

There will surely be a few more creeps in scope before this is out, and I can expect the house to throw up at least one surprise as the various trades start poking around in its innards.

Anyway.  We know we’ve got a couple of months of dust and disruption ahead, but this is very exciting.  It’s taken the best part of a year, but we’re going to start putting together our home.