Not so much a blog as a weather report! Lots of fog, freezing the air and the ground, weakening the already weak sunshine. Creating a big fat inversion layer above Loch Lomond but allowing the grandeur of the mountains to rise above.

More news next time, we're just catching up with life and activities disrupted by the winter weather and preparing for the next lot. The fire's lit, we're warm and we're getting ready for Christmas. Best wishes.

Up on the Roof

Since last week's blog progress has been slow but steady. The roof is quite involved and various references have been made back to the timber frame manufacturer and the strucural engineer during the course of the week. To an extent it appears to be over-engineered (but I'm only a surveyor!) We employed a structural engineer to undertake much of the design as this was meant to save time with the timber frame manufacturer; I'm not sure this has been achieved and certainly the cost seems to be a good chunk higher. If we did this again we would handle this aspect differently but 'it is what it is'. The gloom of some dreich November days don't help and I'm beginning to hate the small cold caravan bathroom!!

On the plus side - the house is looking fabulous, we love the creation of the structure and its a pleasure to show people around. Our ever professional builder has put 3 additional joiners on site today to help get the roof structure finished. The first delivery of windows arrived last Friday and we bought the majority of the contents of the 3 bathrooms last week. The pavatherm external insulation is late but hopefully on its way, we've been chasing that delivery today. There's always something to do, as well as the day job which pays the bills. Last week we received the first interim certificate and invoice.

The photos were taken on Friday 23rd, illustrating the late Autumn sunshine at 8.30am; good light levels falling on the east elevation of the house (top photo). It was still below freezing as we'd had -4degC that night; but the views are glorious. The piccie above right is of the dining area, with its 3.5m ceiling height and lovely big window and door openings. The photo below is the view from this room to the north/northwest.

Turning Chillier

As Steve's previous blog mentions the first floor is in place and in response to Jane's query on keeping the water out you can see the blue sheeting which is keeping the worst of the rain out. Even so I don't think we're getting as much rain as usual for this time of year .....famous last words?!

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.

Portal frame arrives

Late afternoon yesterday saw the arrival of the prefabricated portal frames along with the brackets and bits to put them together. These are more than a week overdue and their late arrival has meant a temporary stop on site for a few days as nothing further could be done without them beyond the ground floor panels which are now in place .
However, things moved along again today as our main builder/project manager and two joiners started to the erect this steel framework into the gound floor panels. By the end of the day two of the three frames were in place and secured.
So why a portal frame? Well, this 1.5 storey house is very open plan internally with generous internal room heights (2.7m ground floor, 3.5m kitchen/diner, 2.9m first floor) such that the upper floor ceilings follow the roof line almost to the ridge, with a small loft space around 1.5m high. With this internal design it was tricky to use a (more conventional) truss system, so the portal frame is used to provide torsional stiffness to the building and carry a roof ridge beam, against which rafters will be supported for the roof. In effect, this is a contemporary take on a traditional method of roof construction.
In designing the roof we have also avoided the use of roof purlins (horizontal rafter supports) by using timber 'I-beams', each of which will span around 5m from eaves to ridge at a 45 deg. pitch and carry the weight of the slate roof supported only at either end. This not only keeps the internal structure clean and uncluttered, but their 352mm depth will be fully filled with insulation and their thin shear web minimises thermal bridging. The end result is a stiff, clean, super-insulated roof structure.
The down side to this constrcution has been additional labour/time and ultimately cost, but the end result should be worthwhile.

Daily Changes

The two joiners erected much of the ground floor on Monday and Tuesday which has been really exciting. Its terrific to see the rooms take shape and we are really pleased with the size of the window openings, particularly as we spent a long time last winter working through that element of the design. The joiners can't progress further until the steel arrives, this is delayed but due next Wednesday. In the meantime the scaffolders have been taking delivery of their kit and today have erected scaffolding on the west and south elevations. This photo is taken through the caravan window.

By and large we've had good weather since the start of the build, it is very mild at present which makes life comfortable for early mornings in the caravan.....however the past 2 days weather have included a large amount of rain and the area at the back of the house is somewhat muddy. Thankfully the caravans are on a concreted area.

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.

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