Posts from April 2008

News Update

Optimism over realism. We'll be in this caravan for a while longer!

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.

Time Out

We're on school holidays here so amongst other things we have had a few walks up our local hill, the Dumpling, and a bit of fun on the tree swing. In between times we have to persuade the children that another trip to B&Q/Ikea/Jewsons etc etc is a worthy activity. Who are we kidding?

Not quite there yet...

The sensibilities of moving in tomorrow aren't really there as progress has been quite slow since our builder went on holiday last week. He's a very good project manager so I think it would all look a little further advanced if he'd been around. We perhaps 'ought' to wait another week but....the jobs fill the time available and Steve and I need to move in. The kitchen is messy but there isn't much left to do there and we could reasonably use it at the weekend after a good clean. The childrens' bedrooms are being carpetted tomorrow so we'll get their furniture in and blinds fitted on Saturday if possible with a view to that being our first night.

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.

Here's the wood shed (the biomass store!) which has been constructed from salvage timber, notably the joists from the original house and an oversupply of sarking board.The roof elevation will be approx 2/3 covered by the solar panels.

Yesterday it felt like so little had changed in the previous week which made the thoughts of moving in later this week less likely, however with a few people on site for much of the day today we have a reasonable chance of moving in to parts of the house at the end of this week.
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?

I've found the dinner plate.....!

Our aitightness test a week ago had me crawling around in the loft at the wekend with a big torch which revealed the achilles heel of our aitightness strategy - penetrations and unsupported joints!
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!

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