Sunday 31 May 2020

Day two of painting

Our staircase is fairly close to the boundary fence, so the wooden cladding has to be fire protected. We have spent £400 on five pots of fire retardant paint and I have the job of painting it on.
We have 26 square metres of cladding and I have split it in to four identical sized pieces and I am painting one section each day for four days. 
Four of the pots are the same, so I am using one pot per day of primer and then two coats of the fire retardent paint from the big pot. 

It sounds really boring just writing it, and it's certainly boring to do, but only two more days to go.
It will be worth it when it's done. 

Friday 29 May 2020

Stud walling

Darren has spent the last couple of days putting up stud walls on the first floor. It is amazing how the whole layout is coming together and we can see how big the rooms are going to be. 

Sorry, possibly they all look a bit samey, but I recognise each room. 

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Yet more insulation

I don't know why I thought a few weeks ago that we had finished putting in insulation, because the whole of the ground floor has a layer 120mm thick.
I have spent the last couple of days getting reacquainted with it, and have now finished two of the three rooms. 
This is the before.... 

and this is the after.... 

The difference is that the floor is quite a bit higher and currently very shiny. 
Great news - the plumber is starting the first fix next week and then the floor screeders are coming the week after that to put down the underfloor heating and then the concrete screed on top. 
Also, the electrician is coming round tomorrow to sort out the electric first fix. 

Monday 25 May 2020


Today I tried to turn the free bath into a pond.

It took me ages to dig through the scaffold mat of tamped down stones and then through the clay underneath. Eventually I had made a deep enough hole and we put the bath in it.
I levelled it and then started to fill it with water.

Once it was full it looked just like a bath buried in the garden, and not yet a pond.
We had a bit of turf left over from the last project so I experimented with putting it round the edge.

It looked okay so I have put it all the way round and I hope that the grass will grow over the edge.
I am going to eventually put in a lot more plants, but for the time being my lovely metal stork will keep an eye on it.

I brought some oxygenating weed back from my tiny pond at home, so that is in the water now. If it goes well then in a couple of weeks time I will be able to bring my goldfish, Hilda and Mary to their new larger home.

Saturday 23 May 2020

New grass

I have made a real mistake today because I didn't take a before photo, so no one can imagine what it started off as.
However, I got a great present of five metres of grass from S and P and have used it in the garden.
I have laid it in the little area next to the greenhouse and am really pleased with the look. The walls are only temporary and will go on later.

I was also going to dig in the new pond but it was very windy, and a bank holiday Saturday, so we took most of the day off.

We have picked up a couple of plugs from Screwfix so at least it shouldn't leak when we do start it.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Bits and bobs

I don't think that many local people know that the tip is open, so I have now been four times in three days and totally cleared up the out of control rubbish dump that used to be a garage.

I have also completely cleared the house of all stocks of wood and insulation and it is in the garage in easy view forffuture use. Let's see how long it lasts before it starts to get tatty again.
Darren has started on the stud walls....

..... and we also managed to find time to pick up a free bath from a house near Oxford. It is currently resting on the top of a flower bed and the plan is that it is going to become a fish pond.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Big tidy up

We have spent the last couple of days tidying up inside the house. We have even had the hoover out because no more dust can blow in.
Even more amazing, the council tip had reopened and I have taken a pack car load of stuff, although the garage still looks like a bomb has hit it, although a slightly tidier one than yesterday.
This morning I got out the tape measure and marked out the layout of the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Darren is going to start putting up the stud walls tomorrow.
Isn't it typical that we worked outside all winter, and as soon as the lovely weather starts we are inside looking out at it!

Sunday 17 May 2020

Ten tonnes of topsoil moved

It has taken four days, about three hours each day, but the ten tonnes of topsoil are now in the back garden.
We can now walk up to the front door and see it in all its glory.

Darren spent a lot of time today finishing off the very top of the cladding, and that involved us moving the scaffold tower backwards and forwards many times.
Meanwhile I have found a home for all of the soil and put up some temporary little walls to keep it in place.

I am planning on building a pond in the semi circle shape in this photo...

.... but at the moment it is going to have to be a soil storage area.
However, starting from tomorrow our focus will be on the inside of the house.

Saturday 16 May 2020

More cladding at the front

We are carrying on with the frontiof the house from project. Today we put the cladding on the first floor.
It needs both of us to fit each layer of wood as it needs to be level, so Darren started off on the tower while I had a stepladder. When that was too low we split the tower into two that sat next to each other.
Eventually that got too low so we built the tower to its full height with Darren on the top of that while I leaned out of the windows to finish it off.

Almost at the top now and we have to work out how to finish the top two rows. Should they go all the way across above the windows, or should we build up a plank all of the way around the windows and board above them. There is a third plan but I can't remember what that was.

We can't finish it off because we don't know yet if the windows have to be replaced, but we have a meeting with the window company next week to sort it out.

Thursday 14 May 2020

Our front door matches the big digger

Great excitement today as all of our doors and windows are installed. Not certain that it is going to stay that way as we haven't resolved the building regulations issues yet, but now is not the time to dwell on that.
The front door is very orange, and I really love it.

You can't miss it, and it matches the big digger machines that are working on the plot behind ours.
I think that it might glow in the dark, which will be very handy.
I have also whitewashed the wood on the top floor and moved quite a bit of the soil mountain in the front garden.

Wednesday 13 May 2020

New flower bed

Very hard work today as I had to clear the new top soil away from the front door. It is lovely and almost fluffy dark brown soil, and so much better than the stuff that we got last time.

After a couple of hours I had the makings of a new flower bed, so took a bit of a breather from the digging and planted a few plants on to it.
By the end of the day I was really tired, but had started two new flower beds and hopefully this one will have a Japanese theme.

Not so many empty spaces now, and luckily there is still a lot of soil left to move.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

View from the front door

I ordered ten tonnes of topsoil a few days ago and it arrived today. It was a whole lorry full and he reversed up to the front garden and tipped it in.

I put down a tarpaulin, but unfortunately the driver over shot a bit.

He also commented that it was a lot of soil, and I have to agree.
Just got to wheelbarrow it all round to the back garden.
I spent most of the day whitewashing the cladding on the top floor. When we built it we thought that we would wait for the wood to age to a silvery grey, but we have since decided that if it was whitewashed it would blend in more with the bricks and disappear.
It is half finished and I think that it is working.

Monday 11 May 2020

More windows

Fantastic photo of the house today with more windows installed.

We stayed away all day to give the fitters room to work, and we tried to finalise our electric plans.
There are problems with some of the windows in the bedrooms because they have the wrong opening heights and do not meet building regulations.
Unbelievably two are too high and one is too low! As soon as I saw them I was worried that they looked high so looked up the regulations on line.
I have been in touch with the company because they are Fensa registered and it should be their responsibility to ensure compliance.
I think that the only way this can be sorted is for the windows to be replaced, but I am worried that this is going to turn into a battle.
Who knew that all first floor windows have to have an opening window that opens at a height of not less than 800 mm and not more than 1,100.
Certainly not me until yesterday, but I expected that the window company would know the rules. I didn't expect them to quote, build and then fit illegal windows!
Oh dear, I need to calm down and carry on.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Fitting downpipes in the rain

We have never fitted downpipes before and Darren ordered all of the pieces online.
He carefully read all of the instructions and set to work.
We started by erecting the tower, and things were looking good.
Then the weather began to get blustery, before turning into a bit of a gale, but fortunately we were on the sheltered side of the house.
The first downpipe took a while as Darren honed his technique, and then we moved the tower ready to do the second one.

It was then that it started to rain, and got heavier very quickly.
Handily we could check that there were no leaks as the cold rainwater was channeled down the pipe. However, it got more and more unpleasant.
Happily and dryly, I watched from the greenhouse as Darren put in the bottom piece as a torrent of water flowed down while he wrestled it all into place.
Suddenly all was calm and the water went straight down into the new drainage system.
I lifted up the manhole cover to check it was okay, and all of the water was zooming through it on its way off our plot.
Yet another learning experience, and I don't know if we were lucky or unlucky to choose the only rainy day for ages for this task.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Drains again

Nearly finished the drains today.

Darren has joined in the fun and together, but mostly him, we took out the old pipe fitting. Then we put in a new one that changed the angle so that we could run a pipe in a straight line along the wall, and then put in a new end section in front of where I am sitting.
Once it was all in, we got out the hose pipe and ran water through it to check that it was watertight.

It was all fine, so I have started filling the trench back in.
Another weird skill that we have learned.

Friday 8 May 2020


Seven window fitters turned up today and brought all of our windows and doors with them in five vans.
Their first, and main task was to get each window in to the correct room. The only window that was really very heavy was the big one in the kitchen, and that weighed about 300 kilograms.
They bought a special machine of the kind seen on Grand Designs and wheeled it round to the back of the house.

We kept out of the way, but I did walk around the back after a couple of hours to see how they were getting on.

They have fitted all of the most difficult bits, although unfortunately one window on the top floor is cracked, so they need to send a replacement.
The back looks amazing, and the surprising thing is that looks almost like a mirror.

They are back on Monday to carry on with the rest of the house.

Thursday 7 May 2020

Ground working

If anyone reading this is thinking of changing jobs, then I really do not recommend ground work.
Maybe if I had a ride on digger it would be more fun, but with a little spade, trowel and bucket then it is just very hard work.
Also, digging right next to a large wall and into heavy clay probably doesn't help either.
Enough moaning though, because I think that I have finally finished.

It doesn't look it in the photo, but it is quite deep and with a couple of inches of water at the bottom.
We are leaving it to dry out a bit before we put the pipe in place and then bury it all again.
Tomorrow we are having a day off as the window fitters will be on site and this is how the front looks today.

I can't wait to see what will happen tomorrow.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Window update and action stations

The window company rang yesterday and politely asked me if it would be convenient for their surveyor to call round today to check our measurements. She apologised for the short notice, and it was a very exciting development.
At 1.15pm today Darren put the final board in place so that the window spaces were all finished.

Half an hour later the surveyor arrived and went around the house carefully measuring each opening.
Tension rose, but each one was carefully ticked off and eventually he announced that they were all good.
What a result for Darren who has spent ages sorting it out, and for me who had to try to make sense of the checklist that they sent us.
Unbelievably, the surveyor then said that the company would be sending three or four teams of fitters this Friday. He also said that 'hopefully they would smash most of the windows in by the end of the day'. A very worrying turn of phrase indeed.
The house is a complete mess with insulation, wood, paint, tools and rubbish everywhere, so after a celebratory cup of coffee I gave up on my job of digging a new drain and got on with a spring clean.

Sunday 3 May 2020


Today I have been working outside, and have added a sunflower patch and a couple of pumpkins to the front garden.

It's not looking great yet, but give it a bit of time.
All of these plants were destined for Darren's mum's allotment, but as I said before, that isn't happening this year.
The tomatoes, peas and aubergines are also growing well,

although I ended up with too many, so gave lots away to our neighbours.
I have also been inspired to add some of my own, so have bought chilli plants, garlic, lettuce and pots of basil and coriander from Tescos that I have put into bigger pots.

Out in the garden I spent most of the day improving the side next to the staircase. Last year we dug out the clay soil for a big pond. This year I have decided to put the pond in a different place, so today I moved most of the clay back.

This is a strange photo that doesn't show what I have done, and I am surprised that I took it. Here is one from the opposite angle.

I also spent quite a bit of time digging a hole around one of the drainpipes, because we have to add another one and we need to know how to fit them together.