Friday 28 February 2020

Early bath

Very cold and wet day today, but it wasn't windy so it was almost a pleasure to fit the last of the insulation and batons on to the top floor room.

We are now watertight on about two thirds of the house, but the roof on this floor is still open.

Never mind, it shouldn't be for too much longer.
We have finished work for the day and we are soaking wet and my hands are freezing. We are going to have the weekend off, and leave our poor house to cope with Storm Jorge on its own.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Siberian Ballet

Today we took the afternoon off and had a trip to Oxford with Susan.
We went to a matinee by the Siberian National Ballet who were performing Swan Lake.
We were on the front row in the centre and exactly behind the conductor. We were so close that we could have almost turned the pages of his music for him.
The downside of this was that he was right in the way of our view of the stage, so we had to keep peering around him and missed a lot of the action from the middle of the stage. The upside was that the sound was fantastic and we could see every note that the orchestra played.

Sorry, we weren't allowed to take photos during the performance, but here is my artist's impression.
Afterwards we hit the cocktail bar and Susan found the most fantastic drink called a Baby Zombie, with a flaming sugar cube on the top.

Two for the price of one, so we couldn't resist.

Finally, a quick stop at Sainsburys for some munchies to eat on the train home.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Progress on the top floor

The top floor is coming along nicely, and here are three time lapse photos.

This is just plain plywood covering.

This is our insulation, which was a bit difficult to put up in the wind.

This photo shows our breathable membrane that we fixed on top of the insulation with wooden batons.
What a nightmare that was with the wind trying to rip the membrane off the wall and me fighting to hold it on while Darren screwed the batons in to place.
It was really cold too, and for the final layer I was up on top of the roof holding everything down, while Darren was on the top of the ladder.
Three hours later I am still trying to get warm.

Monday 24 February 2020

Strike a pose

We worked hard over the weekend in atrocious weather, although that is just expected now.
Daz set me the task of fixing a waterproof membrane around the roof terrace and then cutting batons and nail gunning them on.

It took a while to get used to the power tools, in particular the nail gun which was very loud and heavy.
I have picked up a little injury, I don't know if it's a common one, but I am calling it Nail Gunners Thumb. It's just a bit of a bruise and cut, but maybe it's down to bad technique.
The chop saw was also a worrying experience, but fortunately no injuries there, particularly as they could potentially mean that I could never play the piano again!

Saturday 22 February 2020

More aerial photos

Every month the Graven Hill company send a drone up to capture progress on the site. We always get excited waiting to see if our house is in any of the photos, and this time we have three great shots.
Our house is the one at the end of the arrow.

This is our little street and two more plots have their foundations in place, with only one gap left now.

In this photo it shows the large warehouses that still belong to the MOD. These are due to be knocked down in the next couple of months and houses built in their place.

View in the other direction showing more of the estate.

Friday 21 February 2020

First guests on the terrace

Darren's family were our first visitors to the new terrace.
I would have liked it to be a nice experience and everyone did smile for the photos, but we only managed to stay up there for about five minutes.

We soon decamped to the fantastic local garden centre where it was warm, dry and they do excellent food.

Thursday 20 February 2020

Roofing project

It turns out that we have four rooves (is that the right word?) on our house.
The first is the terrace that the roofers started work on earlier this week.
The second one is the first floor balcony that seemed incredibly complicated on the architect's plans. However, Darren has today sorted it out and the roofers will cover it tomorrow.

The third is the area above the stairs and he has started to get this one ready.

The final one is the roof of the upstairs living room and it is fair to say that it still needs a bit of work.

At least its not raining at the moment.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Looking forward to relaxing on the terrace

It's day two of the terrace roof fit out. It has rained a couple of times today, but it is now heading for being watertight.

Here I am imagining what it will be like to enjoy a glass of wine on a hot summer evening.

Darren is working on the balcony as we can't work on the top roof because we will get in the the way of the workers.

Had a bit of disappointing news today when the double glazing guy called to say that even though we have signed all of the paperwork and spent hours checking all of the sizes, their computer has changed it's mind and they can't make our large kitchen window. 
As that was one of the main reasons that we went with them then we might have to cancel the whole order and start again with a different company. 

Monday 17 February 2020

Up on the roof

We survived Storm Dennis over the weekend and after it had passed by we took all of the weather protection off the roof.
Disappointingly, a hailstorm appeared out of nowhere only two hours later and soaked the whole roof through.
Happily, the wind then blew strongly all night and it was almost dry when I arrived at the plot this morning.

Take a moment to study the above photo and you can see that the roof is sloping at complicated angles. This is so that the rain water goes directly to the downpipes and doesn't hang around on top.
The cheerful roofers started work just after 8am and they quickly drilled three holes through the brickwork for the downpipes.

They have also put down a load of insulation and built an upstand all around the edge.

They haven't had time to get the final waterproof layer on yet, so fingers crossed once again that it doesn't rain tonight and they should get in on tomorrow.

Friday 14 February 2020

Two wooden walls

Although all of our brick walls were finished yesterday, we have two wooden stud walls on the top floor that Darren is building.
They are coming on well and growing quickly.

We finished work early today because it is Valentines day and we are going to London for a meal, a show, an overnight stay and then a parkrun tomorrow morning. Should be lovely.
Before we left we wrapped the new room up tightly yet another storm is heading our way. This time it's called Dennis and I hope that he is a bit kinder than Ciara was last weekend.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Trevor's final day

It all looks very different on site this afternoon, and that is because there is a huge Trevor shaped hole.
The ancient concrete mixer that had pride of place in the front garden has gone. Just before lunchtime Trevor loaded it up on to his van, along with his aged wheelbarrow and yellow buckets full of precious tools and then headed off into the sunset.

There was no radio two blaring out this afternoon, but what he left behind is a beautiful shell that we just need to turn in to a home.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

A day of finals

The build is taking on an end of term feel at the moment as we are really near to the end of the building phase.
This photo is a historic photo showing the last 18 bricks out of 13,000 being hoisted up in the Lidl bags.

Darren and I managed to lift the last of the dreaded extra thick and heavy plywood sheets on to the last roof. (He is standing on it.)

The last of the big coping stones was laid by Trevor.

Sorry but the picture doesn't quite match the caption,I was too keen and took the photo about two hours too early.
Also we have finished with the Young Men and it was quite a stress, but we managed to attach them to the hoist and drop them gently down to ground level.
It's just me and the two remaining maturish men now.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Coping stones

Very windy day today, and we spent most of it on the the terrace with Trevor putting on the coping stones.
Trevor did the most work, he mixed the mortar, laid it out, lifted the coping stones, made sure that they were level and straight, then pointed them up to finish.

Darren was next and he moved the coping stones over to Trevors workbench, helped Trevor lift them up and carefully placed each one in the right position.
I helped Darren move the stones and then put a little piece of insulation on the work bench to stop the stone getting damaged, and then moved it out of Trevor and Darren's way as they lifted the stone.
Not sure that I really earned my keep today, but somebody had to do it.

Ps, we are very pleased with them and they really finish off the edge.

Monday 10 February 2020

Storm of the century

Apparently Storm Ciara is being called the storm of the century, and it certainly felt like it yesterday, and today now that I think about it.
We went to check on the house on Sunday morning and the wind was blowing like crazy. It had ripped off the waterproofing from the top floor and lifted a few of the scaffold boards. The plastic floor covering took a battering and a lot of water got into the house.
The wind had also tried its hardest to knock over the fencing, even though we had hammered metal bars into the base. I stood in the garden and pushed as hard as I could, while Darren was on the other side trying to get each panel upright before we braced them with bricks and more metal rebar.
Today was also extremely windy, but at the moment everything is still standing.
We did get quite a lot done today, and I used two brightly coloured Lidl 'bags for life' on the hoist to lift bricks up to the top floor.
Trevor was very amused by this, but I bet that he is taking notes and will be using this trick on his next build!
Sorry that the pictures are a bit boring, but it was not the day for photography.

Friday 7 February 2020

The last few inches

Here are Darren and Trevor discussing how to build the last few inches of our house. The tape measure was out and the chat went on and on, but without a firm conclusion.

Hopefully it will all come together on Monday.
We also had a tour of our next door neighbours house, and it is absolutely stunning. It is completely different to ours and has a few huge rooms, rather than lots of smaller rooms like ours.

Thursday 6 February 2020

Top floor living room

Today we put the joists up on the top floor room. It looks really big and we have an idea to put a bar in the corner next to the future doors to the terrace.

Oops, must try not to get too far ahead of ourselves but we had some good news today.
As long as we are ready, the roofers can come next Wednesday to put in the terrace roof.

Wednesday 5 February 2020

The last steels are up

This morning Darren and Trevor moved the Young Men underneath where the last steels needed to be lifted, and we all set about getting them into place.
Trevor hoisted his end up immediately, and then popped along to help me and Daz with ours.
If I am being very honest, I don't actually think that I helped in any way and that I just held on to the steel, but didn't really lift it.
After that I spent most of my time trying to get out of their way, but I have did hold the bolts and push them through the holes while Darren and Trevor held the steels up in the right place.

We also realised that we had miscalculated the finished height of the top floor, so unfortunately a couple of my recent blogs are now wrong.
They should have been 'Second to last scaffold lift' and 'Second to last pallet of bricks'.
Oh well, it's only about an extra six inches.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Last 1,000 bricks

Today I finished loading the last 1,000 bricks up on to the top floor. Unfortunately I put 150 of them on to what turned out to be a cantilevered bit of scaffolding. Trevor seemed very concerned and I moved them again pretty quickly, but he told me not to stand on the same boards as the bricks in case it gave way.
Quite worrying I think, but anyway it's sorted now.
Darren has been busy and had built a sticking out bit at the front of the house across the middle of this picture.

Trevor is working on the top corner of the house...

... and a load of insulation for the roof has arrived and completely filled our future utility room.