Tuesday 30 June 2020

Next stage of the electric project

Our electric connection is gradually making its way inside the house, and it took another step today. Last week it was disconnected at the box in the front garden and a wire was put in to the box on the exterior house wall.
Today a guy arrived to take the meter out of the garden box and put it in the new box. We still don't have any electricity again yet, because the next step is for our electrician to connect the meter box up with a wire that I think goes to the fuse board in the garage. That's due to happen tomorrow, so I can almost smell  coffee in the house again soon.
I spent another day fighting with the itchy insulation, but I have now finished the ground floor, although I don't think that the bath is staying in the living room.

I only needed to do the wall on the top floor so that was a big relief.


Darren has almost finished the plasterboarding in the en suite so the room is starting to take shape, although this photo doesn't make it very clear. 

Sunday 28 June 2020

More insulation

At least twice before I thought that I was coming to the end of the insulation process, but yet again I am very wrong. 
This new job is a big one, and quite unpleasant, as all of the ceilings need a layer of fluffy insulation. This is acoustic insulation which should reduce the sounds passing between different floors and rooms. 

Unfortunately, this is the type that is really itchy, full of dust that makes you cough and gets in your eyes. 
I have just got started with it, and have finished the bathroom and most of the en suite. I am getting the technique now though, so should be quicker from tomorrow. 

Darren is working on the bathrooms too, ready for the plumber to come back in a few days time. 
He is putting up cementboard in the showers and boxing in pipes, and the rooms are starting to take shape. 
We are also starting to put plasterboard on the ceiling, which is quite a task. 


Saturday 27 June 2020

No electricity

It might have sounded as if we had electricity in my blog yesterday, but the celebrations were actually because the electric cable had been moved from the garden where we had a meter, to the outside of the house. 
We have to wait for at least another four days before we get a newmmeter and then electricity working back inside the house. 
We knew all about this timetable in advance, so it was disappointing soon after they had left when Darren leaned out of the window waving his electric saw about because he was surprised that it no longer worked. 
I am also disappointed that the kettle doesn't work, but at least I was expecting it. 
Another person who was surprised yesterday was the gas fitter who walked all over my sweetcorn and sunflower patch in the front garden. 

I don't think that he is used to flowers on a building site and tried his best to avoid them, but he just kept forgetting and stomped on a couple of them. 
It couldn't be helped though, and all was forgiven because he did a good job. 
The plants in the greenhouse are doing well and I have green tomatoes, 

flowers on my aubergines, although I have no idea what to do with them and 

small chilli plants. 

They look quite big in this photo, but I have actually just zoomed in. 

Friday 26 June 2020

Success with the gas and electricity

Brilliant news today, the gas and electricity men were all happy with the holes that I had dug, so we are all connected up.
In fact the electric guy was amazed that I was the groundworker, and said that the hole was 'perfect'!!
I was so pleased with him that I gave him one of my favourite chocolate biscuits with his coffee.
Not such good news though for the water duct. 
I had dug this out too, and at about 300 mm underground the ducting levelled off, so I stopped digging, because that was where it could be connected. However, the plumber thought that wasn't deep enough underground. I checked this out with the original ground workers who laid the ducting last year, and they said that it would soon go deeper, and I just needed to dig a bit further on.

Well, I dug and dug and it still stayed at 300 mm underground. So I then decided to dig a hole near to the house to see how deep it was there, but I couldn't find the duct (see hole at bottom of the photo). So I resumed digging my trench towards the house. 
After about another hour, and getting tired and fed up, I stopped for coffee. 
Back to work a bit later, and I decided to try again with the exploratory hole near the house, and within 10 seconds I found the duct!!
How annoying is that. I had dug about a quarter of an inch too far to the right, but anyway, it was still only at 300 mm when it should be 750 mm. 
Not sure what to do about this at the moment, but at least I don't need to go to the gym for a very long time.

Quick fish update, they have settled in very happily, eat a lot and swim out to see me every time I walk past. 

Thursday 25 June 2020

Digging holes

Top tip for today, no matter how hot it gets, don't wear shorts and then crawl around in the mud digging holes. You will end up with very dirty knees and look like a 12 year old boy who has fallen over playing football. Sorry no photo of this as I am too embarrassed. 
However, I am very proud to present photos of some of the holes that I have been digging over the last few days. 

Actually, I wasn't in the best of moods at this moment, and I didn't actually dig all of this hole, but I did have to link it up with a big hole the other side. 

This is one of the holes that I did dig, and it is so that a gas supply can be connected up and then taken to a box at the side of the house. It is then linked up with another hole that I dug there too. 
There is another quite deep hole for the electricity supply and yet another for the water. 

The exciting thing is that the company are due to come tomorrow to connect the gas and electricity, and I hope that they will be happy with the holes. 
Last week after the Great Downpour, the gas hole was almost filled with dirty water and there are thunderstorms forecast overnight, so I hope that they miss us out this time. 
In case you are wondering, I tied a long piece of string to a bucket and emptied it out by hand a couple of days ago.
Meanwhile, Darren, who does all of the difficult and technical tasks, has bought a fantastic machine gun style screw gun and has put in the first of many hundreds of pieces of plasterboard. 

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Visit from Grand Designs

No, not at our plot but at our very near neighbours. We knew that Kevin McCloud was coming and I spent the whole day scanning the street and nonchalantly popping out in to our front garden just in case he was passing at that exact moment.
Unfortunately we missed him completely although we did see lots of his crew and cameramen.
Our scaffolder, who we are now on quite friendly terms with, did turn up and spent the afternoon topless while putting up the scaffolding on the site, so he might well be on the programme once it is ready.
Thank you to Paul for this rather distant shot of what I believe to be Kevin McCloud on another plot. 

I think that's him on the second from the right. 
Today I bought a load of porcelain floor tiles and am using them to build new flood defences for the garden after last week's flood. 
I have dug down just in front of the new fence and buried two thirds of the tile into the clay. It's hot and hard work, and I haven't done much yet, but I need to go all the way around as thunderstorms are due in a few days time. 

Hopefully you can just see the tiles, and see the dreadful state of the grass that is covered in clay from last week. 
Darren has also put the panels back on the fence, and it is now looking pretty nice. 

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, we also ordered the kitchen, got the garage measured up for a door, and are setting up for a potential fight with the window company. 

Monday 22 June 2020

Staircase cladding

We got to the house today and saw that the cladding that Darren put up a few days ago was covered in white streaky lines. 
We were really surprised and I decided to wipe it off with water, but it only made it a lot worse. 
In a panic I telephoned the company who sold us the £400 fire retardent paint, who said that we should have painted the varnish on before we let it get wet, and there was now nothing that we could do.
Oh no. 
However, when I went back outside a while later, it all seemed to have dried and was looking much better. We then spent time experimenting with wiping it gently with water, sanding the damaged bit which definitely didn't work, and finally varnishing an area to see what happened. 

Unbelievably, once we had varnished it, then most of the damage disappeared and it still looked good when we left tonight. 

Hopefully it will still look good tomorrow and I will give it another coat. 
From now on Darren will put up more cladding and then I will varnish it straight away, and we do have a heatwave coming up, so hopefully we can get to the top before it rains again. 
Also, our next door neighbour spent a lot of time today levelling the fence, and Darren is going to put back the panels. 

Sunday 21 June 2020

Final stud wall

I spent another day trying to make the house as airtight as possible with my silver tape, while Darren started putting up the stud wall on the ground floor for the downstairs toilet and store room. 

Not very glamorous, but every day counts. 

Saturday 20 June 2020

Silver foil day

Yesterday we finished putting the endless tubes together for the MVHR machine, and today Darren switched it on to test it.
Touch wood, it all seems to work nicely and all of the vents in thehhouse either suck or blow as planned. 

There are two huge tubes that lead to the outside and one was blowing out a gale, and the other was sucking like a hoover.
I then spent the morning covering the tubes with insulation, and I would like to see any air try and escape through it now. 

I then spent the afternoon taping silver foil around the edges of the windows to make them air tight.
Darren spent the day putting up the cladding on the staircase, and you can see one of the vents from the outside. 

Ps, I can imagine what you are thinking, and yes, it is a massive monster. 

Friday 19 June 2020

Too much rain

A few days ago we set up our water butts in bright sunshine and hoped for a bit of rain to get things started.

It was then a case of being careful what we wished for, because the heavens opened when my sister and brother in law visited.
At first it was just a few huge raindrops and was quite exciting. It quickly got faster and we went outside to check on the downpipes. 

It was pouring straight into the first barrel and within a few minutes it was full, and then the water started flowing through the joining piece into the second barrel. Soon Darren found a problem because the water was flowing in more quickly than it could fit through the pipe, so it all started overflowing. 
I then looked at the back garden and flood water was pouring in under the new fence and soaking the garden. 
Fortunately the inundation went around the fish pond so they didn't all float away, but the garden is looking very sorry for itself at the moment. 
On the bright side, all of the water butts are full although I won't be needing them for a while.
I also need to build up the flood defences which were taken down when we got the fence. 

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Drama with the fence

So last week the fencers, who it turns out are not actually fencers, finished the fence. (They are bricklayers who are doing fencing because they aren't busy at the moment.) 
From our garden it looked very nice, definitely exactly down the boundary line, if a little uneven. 
However, from our next door neighbours side it looked terrible.

I didn't even get around to taking a photo when it was all intact, but after a meeting between us and the neighbour, it has already been taken apart. 
The fencers turned up just as we were taking it down, so I had a bit of an argument with them and they went off in a huff. 
They also did some good work and levelled the space around our back door which is great, and built us a small retaining wall which is not so good. Unfortunately there are no weep holes in the wall, so I have dug out all of the soil behind the wall and Darren has drilled weep holes for me.

I have back filled it with gravel, put in some weed proof membrane to stop the soil getting through and then put in a few plants. 
All very frustrating, but it will be good when we have finished it for the second time.
I should have sent this yesterday but didn't get round to it, and I now have a bit of a jam of stories piling up. 
To get a quick one briefly out of the way, for those of you interested in our fish, they seem happy and are exploring their new territory.


Friday 12 June 2020

Mostly off site this week

On Tuesday we drove up to Yorkshire to visit a kitchen shop and saw some lovely kitchen units. Provided that the price is right, then we will probably buy them.
On Wednesday we hired a van and brought a van load of bathroom fixtures that we bought in a sale last year, and that have filled our living room at home ever since. 
We also brought our goldfish, called Hilda and Mary in the van in a plastic tank. 
Today we  went to a marble worktop shop and really like this one. 

We find out the price on Monday, so fingers crossed. 
We also decided that Hilda and Mary needed a bit of new company in the bath, so we bought them some new friends. 

Here they are arriving in style. 

These are Darren's favourites. 

Here they are settling in and exploring. Within five minutes Hilda and Mary were joining in and I hope that they will be one big happy family. 

Monday 8 June 2020

Underfloor heating and concrete screeding

Another very exciting day today as we were having the underfloor heating and concrete screeding installed.
We had prepared well and the whole of the ground floor was completely empty when the fitters arrived. 
Within a couple of hours the underfloor heating pipes were laid and we took loads of photos to ensure that we know exactly where they are so that hopefully we don't put any nails in them in the next few weeks. 

Shortly afterwards the concrete lorry arrived and then the screed was pumped in. We were amazed how liquid it was, like a very runny soup. 
Within half an hour it was all in and it then levelled itself out. 

Less than five hours after they arrived, the two fitters had gone again. The only slight problem is that they didn't tell us to open the windows to let the humidity out until they had finished. And once they had finished we couldn't get back in to the house, so they are having to stay shut. 
We can't walk on it for a couple of days, so have some plans to keep us busy away from the plot. 

Sunday 7 June 2020

Octopus attack

Oh no, a giant octopus is trying to drag Darren away. 

Actually no, this is the 'after' view following a few hectic and stressful days trying to tame the MVHR machine. In case you don't remember, that's the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery machine that we have been installing. 
The idea of the game was to attach 16 pipes to a very small space that will eventually be under the stairs, and each pipe goes to different rooms around the house. 
We don't have 16 rooms so some have two pipes, some to blow air in, and some to suck it out.

This is before we got it under control, and the picture below is the very full box. 

Well, thanks heavens that's done, although an inspector does have to come round and commission it, but hopefully it will be okay. 
We also had a delivery today of three giant barrels that were originally used to transport olive oil from Greece. 

They were very reasonably priced and we are going to turn them into a big rainwater collection system for the garden. Note the diverter on the downpipe. We need to raise the barrels up on a platform to be nearer to it, and put in taps. 

Friday 5 June 2020

Finished fence



It may be only a small difference, but it is feels so much better and more like a garden, rather than a patch of earth in the middle of a field. 
Hopefully we will be getting the side fence erected too in the next week or two. 
I have also finished the fire retardant painting at last - hurrah - so I am ready to start a new project tomorrow. 
Darren is getting on with the MVHR machine and we now have a big box on the wall with loads of pipes sticking out of it. Photo tomorrow. 

Thursday 4 June 2020

New fence

The first fix plumbing is now completed and we have a list of tasks to do before their next visit on the 6th July.
The fencers were also here today and they quickly dug the holes for the fence posts. 

They put a string line across the whole of the back boundary and it turns out that we have a few inches less of garden than I thought. I have trimmed the leaves of this plant on one side as it definitely spanned the boundary. I just hope that it forgives me. 

They got the fence posts in the holes and the concrete is going to dry overnight, before they put the leaves on it tomorrow. I can't wait for us to get a bit of shade, although the sun has not put in an appearance for the last couple of days.

This is a photo of our neighbour up on his roof. He is looking a bit like the Milk Tray Man and is dressed all in black with a safety harness, just ready to abseil down the side of his house. 

Wednesday 3 June 2020

First fix plumbing

We are well and truly inside of the house now, and today we left the house in the capable hands of Mike and Sam for the first fix plumbing. We dashed down to the builders merchants' three times today as they drilled holes all over the place and put in loads of pipes. 
As I didn't take any photos of them, then I thought that today would be a good day for a garden update.
Everywhere is very dry, and the bath/pond has turned an interesting shade of green. 

Note that I have tried to disguise the shape with white pebbles, but it is definitely a work in progress. Ditto the bricks which will eventually be turned into a wall. 
The fruit and veg are coming along well and we have been eating a few strawberries, and Darren has been drinking mint tea. The peas have pods on them, the tomatoes have baby tomatoes on them and the garlic is sprouting nicely. 

I have also brought some daisies back from our garden in Nottingham and planted them in the lawn.