Wednesday 29 April 2020

Little jobs today

We have a few small jobs today.
After lots of rain, Darren has fitted temporary windows to the staircase as water was being blown into the house.

We also built the tower right to the top of the staircase and Darren bravely climbed it to put in some extra battens that couldn't be done until the scaffolding was taken down.

I did a lot of tidying up and then started to dig a channel for an unexpected extra drainpipe.

Quite a lot still to do. I also planted a little sweetcorn plot in the front garden.

They were originally destined for Darren's mum's allotment, but are stuck with us instead.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

It's all gone

At long, long last the scaffolding has come down and we can see what we have built.

This is the back view. Top one is the architect's impression, bottom left is my painting in the style of 'The Simpsons', and the third is what it looks like today.
Unfortunately no sun, or windows so not quite comparing apples with apples.
It does look a bit amazing though.

The front needs a bit more work, but we have never seen the overall shape before.

Inside it is a lot lighter than before and very wide view from the kitchen.

Monday 27 April 2020

Scaffolding coming down

Our scaffolders arrived today and have started to take the scaffolding down.
It's so exciting to see the house gradually emerge.

They are back tomorrow to finish off and then we will really be able to see what we have built.

Friday 24 April 2020

Front door and cladding

I have started a painting production line on the first floor and am painting the cladding in umbra grey, ral number 7022. This is very specific, because the window frames are that colour and we want it to match.

The front of the house currently looks like this.....

and it will all need to be filled in.
Darren is working on the door surround at the moment, and we have the first tester pieces for the angle by the front door.

Zoom the photo in on the bottom left hand corner of the big hole.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Gardening facts

With all of this lovely weather I have started watering the garden every morning.
Today I got a bit carried away and carefully watered the solar powered dandelion that my sister gave me for Christmas. I am sure that it will grow nicely and be much bigger next year.

I have been drawing plans for the garden and noticed that the grass, path and pergola look like a turtle, so I went upstairs to see if I had drawn it right. It's all that I can see now, and I am thinking of drawing a giant eye to put on the roof of the pergola.

Finally, an early doors photo of the terrace. The plants are a bit small, but it's starting to look nice.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Outside of the staircase nearly finished

Over the past few days Darren mainly, but also with a little help from me, has worked on the outside of the staircase.
It has a breeze block interior, but then various layers have to be built up on the outside.
Firstly a 100 mm wide timber frame that is filled with 100 mm wide solid insulation.

On top of that goes large sheets of 60 mm wide insulation.

Then on top of that, as you can see in the same picture is a breathable membrane that comes in a big roll.
After that timber battens are screwed through on to the timber frame to make a seven metre tall sandwich.

That's all that we can do for the time being, but as I said a week ago, the scaffolding is coming down next week. Unfortunately I was wrong then, but hopefully it will actually be removed next Monday or Tuesday.
If it doesn't go soon I will lose my patience and start taking it down myself.
The final bit of the sandwich is a topping, so probably I should describe it more like a pizza instead of a sandwich.
Anyway, we are still keen to go with timber, and after receiving a giant quote a week ago, I have managed to get for about half the price, so we may be back on track.

Friday 17 April 2020

Does everyone hate insulation

Spent the day cutting up insulation and what a horrible thing it is. A few months ago we bought some of the fluffy kind that smelt of fish, and that was the worst ever. We have some of it inside the wall on the stairs and it still smells even now .
The stuff I was using wasn't as bad as that, but the first lot was 150mm, or six inches thick, that took loads of cutting. My saw kept bending so I never ended up with straight edges, so there was lots of sawing of edges before I could eventually jam it in.

Next was the fluffy stuff (non fishy fortunately), that I pushed into various cavities around the site. This is the one with the little fibres that get everywhere, so I had on a face mask and goggles that kept steaming up.
Finally I started cutting up 100mm, or 4 inch sheets that were much easier to handle. All was going well and I was quite enjoying filling in the outside of the staircase.

Then I got a bit over confident in my own abilities and decided to cut two pieces at the same time so as not to waste any of the sheet.
Obviously, neither of them fitted, so I did a bit of talking to myself, and then packed up for the day.
Will try again tomorrow when my brain has had a bit of a rest.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Exterior of the staircase

Darren has now started the outside of the staircase and is putting in the wooden framework.

He is working around the scaffolding, but it should be taken down next week.
We were thinking of cladding it in western red cedar so that it is the same as the back of the house, but the wood needs to be fire proofed and the first quote that we have is totally ridiculous. Will have to get some more quotes, and if they are still the same, then we will need to put our thinking caps back on.
I have whitewashed the greenhouse because it was getting very hot in all of this lovely sunshine.
Unfortunately as soon as I finished it the sun went in, but it seems to be working. It sort of feels like being in the middle of a cloud, which is nice, and it is supposed to stop the plants getting scorched.

Sunday 12 April 2020

My new bird house

So in the middle of the night last night, Darren woke up, found an online plan of how to make a bird house and emailed it to me.
This is because we are concerned about the wagtail, as he seems keen on moving in to our house, which although I like him a lot is not a good idea.
I woke up, found the instructions.....

..... took an offcut of wood and marked out the sizes on it.  Took it upstairs to Darren's workshop where he cut the wood up on his chop saw.
He then used his nail gun to put it together, then fixed it to the side of the pergola.

Yet for some reason, like the bench yesterday, I think that I have made it and that belongs to me. Strange, but I really do.

Saturday 11 April 2020

The staircase is up

Just looked back over my blog and Darren started the staircase last Sunday. Six days have passed since then, and now the final section is complete.

This is the top floor, so we can now get back up on to the terrace.
It wasn't only making a staircase, but putting in the two landings on the existing steels, building a central stud wall and working out all of the calculations so that we have enough head height on each floor. That involved extending the landing on each floor, and by different amounts. Phew!

Yesterday, Darren mentioned that it would be nice to have a bench near the greenhouse so that we could enjoy the view of the garden. Today I decided to make one from raw ingredients.
Lying around the plot I found a piece of steel, offcuts of scaffold boards, and a couple of spare bits of wood from a neighbour.
I drew a plan in my little book, measured the wood and headed for Darren's chop saw. I cut a few pieces and then Darren took over and did the rest.
I then spent a couple of hours sanding my wood before Darren glued and clamped some of it together.
I then did a bit more sanding and yet again, Darren helped out and bolted the top on.
So, it was sort of my project, and very pleased with the result.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Staircase and garden updates

The garden is about as finished as I can make it at the moment, so I am very pleased.

I can't do any more until the scaffolding is down, and hopefully that won't take too long. Also we might need a big machine to set up the windows, so we have to keep our distance from the house.
I am counting, and have now seen five worms in the garden, and the cheeky pied wagtail visits every day now. He is very keen on the house and has flown through most of the rooms and out of the other side of the house.
Darren is making progress on the stairs and it is beginning to take shape. They are only temporary stairs, but it will give us the knowledge that we need when we are able to order the permanent stairs, and we definitely need them in the meantime.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Found a worm

Hallelujah, I found a worm in the garden today.

Here it is, and I hope that it is still okay after I accidentally dug it up. The soil is very heavy clay and we bought loads of topsoil, but it is still hard to dig and not great for plants.
I bought a few worms by mistake with me from Nottingham in various plant pots, but haven't seen them since I left them to it last year.
We were only looking online a couple of days ago and thinking of buying some worms, but the Internet said that you need to improve the soil first, and that 'if you build it, they will come'.  Well here it is, and I hope that he has lots of friends.
I have also planted out our rhubarb plant and the six strawberry plants are now enjoying pride of place in the sunniest border.

In other news, today is our 22nd wedding anniversary, so we are having fizzy wine and ice cream for tea.

Monday 6 April 2020

A quarter of the staircase

I left Darren to his own devices this morning and when I went to see what he was up to he had made a staircase!

It looks enormous in this picture, and the treads are very luxurious and wide, but it only goes up to the first landing, and you have to duck very low to avoid banging your head.

From there you take a little ladder to the first floor, see to the left of the photo, and from then it's the usual ladder up to the top floor.
He is now putting up a stud wall on the first floor before extending the staircase.

I am still working on the garden and went up to the top to check on the birds eye view.

Ps, saw my first bird exploring the garden this afternoon. It was a beautiful black and white wagtail, I think. Anyway, it stayed quite a while examining the whole area, so hopefully he will bring some friends back with him next time.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Staircase and garden progress

We have had a busy few days, so busy inffact that I forgot to take any photos.
To put this right I have tried a bit harder today.
First up is my project - the garden. The greenhouse is filling up with seedlings, lots of which were destined for Darren's mum's allotment, but unfortunately they might not get there this year.

We have peas, sweetcorn, courgettes, pumpkins and tomatoes. Also lots of annuals for our garden, and we now have two lemon trees and two miniature orange trees too.
Outside, I have been planting lots of things and building up the soil in raised beds around the pergola.

Not finished yet, but coming along nicely.

By far the most important thing is that Darren is starting to sort out the staircase. It's very complicated with lots of angles and heights because it's two stories high, has four sets of stairs and two landings.

Look closely and you can see his feet on the platform.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Finally finished with the scaffolding

The cladding is up and has two coats of varnish, so at long last we have finished with the scaffolding. Hopefully it will be taken away next week and then we can really see what the house will look like.
Today we walked up the bank to the top of Graven Hill and this is the view.

Darren put the finishing touches to the back of the house so now we have cladding above the future kitchen window.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

First coat of preservation oil

I put the first coat on to the back window cladding today and it has certainly given it some zing!

On this panel I started at the bottom and have varnished about half way up. Hope you can see the difference.
It took all morning, but here is the result.

Side view and you can also see how lots of the bricks are starting to turn white.