Friday 31 January 2020

Measuring up for our triple glazing

We have been anticipating the visit of the glazing measurer for a very long time. We had lots of questions for him and once he saw our house he had lots of questions for us too!
He suggested that we start at the top of the house, which I thought was a bad idea, but at least we could get the worst problems out of the way.

We are missing a few walls, which made measuring up difficult, but what we decided upon is to agree a size and then we would make sure that we build to match it.
The staircase was also a problem, and we have lots to do before any window can go near it.

I am only showing the worst bits here, and lots of the windows are straightforward, but one last photo of the current state of the front bedroom window.

We have about ten weeks to get it all built and ready, and I am confident that we will hit the target.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Empty car parking space

Thinking back to the summer, we ordered 24 pallets of bricks, and only 10 of them fitted on our plot.
The remaining 14 were put on a nearby parking space, and there they sat for a very long time.
Gradually we started having them brought round on a fork lift, and at the start of this week there was only five pallets left in the parking space.
I arranged for two pallets to be put up on to our loading bay on Monday and Trevor has been working really hard and has used all 1,100 bricks.
This afternoon we put two more pallets up, and that just leaves one pallet that is now resting in the front garden.
So the fantastic news is that the parking space is now empty.

Okay, that's not the most exciting photo ever, but we are very pleased.
In total we ordered 13,200 bricks and I think that we will have about 700 left over once we have finished.
Well I hope so anyway.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Final scaffold lift

This morning we had the final scaffold lift and its looking good. It is very high and I don't like it yet, but I was scared of the last lift and then got used to it after a few days, so hopefully I will be alright.

It's more important that Trevor is okay with it as he will be spending much more time up there than me.
Apart from the time when me and Daz fit the roof, but that's not yet so I will try not to think about it.
We had another big delivery today - the coping stones for the top of the parapet.
There are 58 large ones and they are very heavy.
We will need to hoist them to the top and it's another thing that I am not going to think about yet.
At the moment they are sitting on the pavement to the front of our plot and we have had to extend the fencing around them.

Saturday 25 January 2020

New stud wall

Busy day today, and Darren has made a start on the stud wall on the top floor.
We only have one room at the top and one wall is brick, the back wall is almost all glass, and the remaining two are wooden stud walls filled with insulation.

The first four panels are up and are currently a bit unstable, but we have braced them as much as possible and it is not due to be too windy in the next few days.

Friday 24 January 2020

Too many deliveries

I waited all day yesterday for a delivery of 180 breeze blocks and they didn't arrive. When I phoned the builder's merchants just as it was getting dark, they said that they were just about to ring me to say that they weren't coming! - liars!!
Anyway they promised that they would bring them first thing this morning.
I was heading to the site at 7.45am this morning and saw that the other builder's merchants van was pulling out of the end of our road.
Straight away I knew that this spelt trouble, and when I got there he had dropped my plywood sheets right in front of Trevor's cement mixer, and right where the other van would want to put his stabiliser.

Also, the sheets are heavy and difficult to move, so I had wanted them to also be dropped off on the loading bay.
Two minutes later the other van arrived, but the driver was lovely. He put my blocks up, and then carefully balanced the plywood on the top, but with a warning that we might be overloading the loading bay.

Just as he started lifting another driver with a giant van wandered over, and he was trying to deliver to next door but one, but no one was around.
I tried to contact Fred the owner and ended up running backwards and forwards between both drivers, but eventually everything was where it should be.
Daz and I then spent a difficult half hour lifting the plywood.
Straight after I had a tea break, and later Fred called round with a fancy bottle of Chablis as a thank you.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Temporary roof cover

Darren has finished putting the really heavy plywood roof on, the problem now is trying to keep it dry until the roofer arrives.

We have covered it all over with a huge plastic sheet, but when it rains then the water has to go somewhere.
The answer to this issue is a work of genius from Daz.
He has drilled three holes in the roof and attached bendy pipes to it so that the water runs out of the windows.
That's theory anyway, we will know for definite after the next downpour.

We also did a trial run with the last four steel beams, and have bolted them together on the floor.
Two of the beams are angled and will be attached to the top of the goal posts at the back of the house.

Our challenge today was to try to work out exactly how high Trevor needs to build his wall to rest them on. It needs to be accurate so that when we lift the beam up it fits into the holes at the top in the post.
We think that the wall should be around 2480mm high, which is exactly what our architect drew on the plans.
We will know if we are right in a few days time.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Good bricklaying weather

Another late start due to the frost, but by 10am Trevor was in full flow.

I have counted up and we now only need 200 blocks and about 3,000 bricks and then he is done!
There is still a couple of complicated sections left, including two more steels to lift into place, but we are starting to look towards the end of the building phase.

Monday 20 January 2020

Bright orange door

This morning we decided to visit our double glazing company to finalise the colours for the window frames and front door.
After spending at least an hour hour studying their standard colours and not really loving any of them, our salesman then announced that the colour that we had chosen was no longer standard after all but would cost at least another £1,500.
This was obviously very annoying, but then  he suddenly found another colour that we had not yet seen that was a new standard colour.
I think that he should sort his display boards out, but anyway it is a nice dark, warm, greeny, grey shade and we chose it for the frames.
We were still struggling to decide the colour for the front door, but then we went a bit brave and chose bright orange.

It's the one on the bottom right, and the window frames are the top left.
We are really pleased with them and they will certainly brighten up the street.
Speaking of the street, our neighbours are also coming on well with their houses and it's starting to take shape.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Found my suntrap

It was very frosty this morning and we got to the site at just after 8am, which is supposed to be sunrise.
Unfortunately, it takes much longer for the sun to reach our house due to the hill and wood that it has to rise over.

The sun eventually reached us at about 9.45am, and it was so worth waiting for. Within minutes the greenhouse warming up and the frost was starting to melt on the roof.
We ate our sandwiches outdoors on the roof terrace and it was glorious. It reminded me of our skiing days and sun drenched lunches on Alpine mountain tops.

I really should have worn my sunglasses, and the long climb down the ladders to the toilet also reminded me of skiing. Luckily I didn't have to do it while wearing ski boots.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Full height at the front

We have reached the top at the front of the house, although we still need the bricks and coping stones to finish it off.

Look closely at the top and you can just see Darren on the future roof terrace.
I spent almost all day clearing up after Trevor, as there was mortar covering almost every surface inside the house.
At least now though he won't be dropping more mortar from above back on to the newly cleaned surfaces - well I hope not anyway.
Darren spent all day putting the plywood layer of the roof on. It is slow going but progress is being made. Although we had a slow start this morning because there was a frost and everything was white over and frozen together.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Roof terrace

We arrived back on site this morning after the storms of yesterday and overnight.
The only damage was to the middle wooden support for the goalpost. It was nailed to the floor but the wind had ripped the wood off and left the nails in the roof.
Trevor was in a super charged mood, and by lunchtime we had the parapet for our roof terrace.

It only has the inner blocks on so far, but weather permitting Trevor will be starting on the bricks tomorrow.
One unfortunate side effect of the new wall is that when our friend Matt decided to pop by this afternoon he didn't realise that Daz was hard at work putting down the roof and hidden away from sight.
Please come again Matt and I will answer my phone next time!!

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Storm Brendan

Storm Brendan crashed through Graven Hill this afternoon.
Forty mile per hour winds hit the house and I sheltered in the greenhouse in my hard hat waiting for a delivery from the builders merchants.
Trevor was busy bricking in the base of the metal goal posts when suddenly one of the supports for it crashed down on the floor above.
I think that it's okay though, and the wind will start to drop in a couple of hours time.
We can do a full inspection tomorrow, so fingers crossed.

Monday 13 January 2020

Crane day

We spent a worrying night waiting to see how windy it would be this morning. The weather forecast was dodgy, but at 8am it was calm and clear and the crane soon rolled into sight.
The driver and his mate were very friendly and confident that all would go smoothly, so I started to calm down a bit.
The first steel was quickly in the air, and dropped gently on to the front of the house.

Next it was on to the difficult bit, and we had three steels put down on to road so that we could bolt them together to make a goal post shape. It was then lifted and headed to the back of the house. 

There was only a few millimetres to spare on each side as it was lowered in between the brickwork. 

It took a bit of time to get it in to exactly the right place, but then suddenly it was in and every single bolt fitted perfectly. It was completely square and a fantastic build by our steel fabricator, Phil from Cokwick. 

Now at last it is up and we can sleep better and carry on with the rest of the work. 

Just got to hope that Storm Brenda is gentle with us in the next couple of days. 

Sunday 12 January 2020

Preparing for the crane

I forgot to mention a little drama that happened yesterday.
It was a windy day and I was up on the top floor taping floor joints, when suddenly a huge gust of wind charged over the roof.
The whole top row of breeze blocks that Trevor laid on Friday toppled over and tumbled on to the floor below.
I was amazed at the time, and today I went around tidying it all up. One block that fell off the top of the wall has made a hole in the floor and others have made dents.
I am sure that we can repair it and Trevor had told us a few times that breeze blocks are a bit unstable until they are fully dry, and tied in to the brickwork. He will have to rebuild it, but the forecast is for gales on Tuesday.
Today was very busy as we are preparing for the arrival of a crane tomorrow. We think that we are as ready as we can be, and thank you to Susan and Paul for helping us to disentangle one of our steel beams from the middle of our scaffolding.
We also made some progress with the plywood roofing project and Daz has set up a mini workshop on site.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Living room floor down

We are having a living room on the top floor with big windows facing the garden.
Today we put the floor down, and it was so much easier than when we did the bedrooms.
It's a bit late now, but we have got the hang of it, and with a bit of teamwork it only took about three hours.

The rest of the floor will be a roof terrace and space for solar panels. Very soon we will have the fun of putting down some very heavy plywood. But before we can do that Darren needs to cut it up into lots of strange angles, so it could get a bit stressy.

Friday 10 January 2020

Drone photos

Graven Hill company have sent their drone up to take more photos of the site.

We are the house on the right and I was hoping to see us beavering away on the roof, but unfortunately we must have been taking a tea break.

Here we are again, on the left this time and it was the windy day last week when we hung the tarpaulin off the scaffolding.

Another lovely view of the swale with our house just our of view.

Thursday 9 January 2020

More floor joists

Yet again we are making hard work of the joists. It takes a lot of time and we have not yet started putting the flooring on top.

Trevor is charging on ahead with the blockwork for the parapet, but fortunately we are heading towards the weekend and then we will have a couple of days to try and catch up.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Steels up

A couple of milestones to report for today. Firstly Trevor has bricked up to the top of the staircase, something that seemed almost impossible way back in August.



Also, and with Trevor doing the majority of the lifting, we managed to get the steel above the upstairs landing, and it's friend that joins into it in place.

Fantastic progress and if you look really closely at the steel beam, you can see the holes that Darren drilled into it.
These only took about three hours to make, plus two visits to Toolstation by me to get replacement drill bits.
He has got the technique off pat now, but unfortunately I don't think that any more drilling is required.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Very useful hoist

The hoist has proved to be an invaluable addition to our scaffolding. It out did itself today helping to get our eight metre joists up on to the roof.

Daz and I carried the joists out on to the street and then attached one end to the hoist. Daz was at the top of the scaffolding and I was at the bottom and once it started rising I pushed it towards the house until it was resting on the top.
Daz then started pulling and I pushed until it was high enough to balance on the top.
The first time we tried it looked pretty dangerous and both Trevor and our lovely next door neighbour rushed to try to help.
It all worked out well in the end, although we did wait until the Health and Safety inspector had left the area before we finished the job.

Not too many joists left now, but before we can get them up we need a steel beam down the middle of the house.

Monday 6 January 2020


I have learned a new word recently - furrings.
Darren is actually making the furrings and I am staying well clear because they look extremely complicated.

Above is a close up view, and basically they are angled bits of wood that go on the roof joists and funnel rain water in the direction of the drain pipe.
Because we are having a flat roof then there is lots of angles and patterns involved and Daz was so engrossed in the project today that he worked right through his lunch break.

Trevor was busy laying lots of blocks and I spent the day shopping, ordering materials, tidying up and making tea - so a very productive day for everyone.