A record of our adventures between Pipit and her successor...
It's hard to believe it's March already, but progress on the house continues apace. The timber cladding has been finished and so the scaffolding could be dropped, allowing the 'big reveal' of our new home.
The time-lapse video shows some of the cladding being installed and the scaffolding being removed, albeit many of the images are obscured by the vans. You'll also see we had a dusting of snow!
Temporary access ramp to first floor
The posts for the outer edge of the decking concreted into the gabion baskets
The decking will extend from the three sets of bi-fold doors onto the first terrace of the garden and extend around part of the southern elevation giving far reaching views to the east. I can see that southern side will be a lovely place to sit with morning coffee and watch the sunrise when the weather's warm enough, but in cooler weather, we'll get equally spectacular views from the east kitchen window and the corner of glass in the lounge.
As we're having an 'American style' fridge freezer, designing the details of the partial wall in the kitchen, which was always intended to hide the back of the fridge from the rest of the first floor, proved tricky, but we think we've come up with an ideal solution. So that the builders could put in the studwork for it, the measurements are to the last mm and careful measurement and planning on our part was required to take into account the cabinets that will be to one side of it, plus all the plasterboard and skim, UFH floor makeup and floor tiling and allowing the minimum air gap at the sides and top. We didn't want the wall to be full height as it would have obscured the feature trusses when looking out from the kitchen.
The carefully measured and built fridge walls
Work inside has seen the remaining insulation and plasterboard fitted and impressively smoothly finished plastering.
The curved 'Alice' wall leading into the hall
The consumer unit in one of the two 'plant' cupboards in the hall
Pipe feeds into one of the 'plant' cupboards
Although two of the three cupboards in the hall will contain mainly 'plant', i.e.the UFH manifolds, consumer unit, hot water tank and associated plumbing, we won't be short of storage space for coat and shoe racks etc. as each cupboard is over 1.5m wide.
There's also been more work outside with the power supply & meter moved to its permanent position, sewer & drainage including rainwater soakaway dug and installed, as well as the ducting for the BT connection. At present, we'll be going with a fixed landline and broadband but we may, and have made provision for, have a WISP (wireless internet) connection once Wildanet extend their line-of-sight network.
The Celotex has been laid on the ground floor and this week, the UFH pipes have been installed with the screed due to be poured early next week.
Flow & return pipes for the air-source heat pump
The builders had scraped off a thin layer of turf to clear the weeds in what will be our vegetable garden so, as the forecast for this weekend was looking grim (lashing with rain and winds over 50mph as I write this), we spent some time on site on Wednesday afternoon to lay down some Terram to stop any more weeds growing until we can build the raised beds and lay gravel paths between them.
We might not get the beds made in time to grow any summer crops but we should certainly have it ready to get some autumn and winter veg in.
Plenty of space for 4 raised beds to grow a variety of veg, some fruit bushes and even some rhubarb, just need some soil and horse manure, although I think I'd prefer custard with mine...
There's a great greenhouse at the top of the garden, so we can get some plugs of plants going, just need to replace one shattered pane of glass - a victim of an errant stone from earlier brushcutting. The shed at the top of the garden can also be revived with a new roof, felt, a good clean out and a fresh coat of paint.
We'll also be putting up a new shed at the bottom of the plot next to the 'not-garage' slab, so they'll be plenty of storage.
It still seems a bit surreal to think that in a couple of months, we could be moving into our new home. It's also odd that the rooms all seem bigger now that the walls are boarded and plastered. When we worked with our architect, Ben White, we thought we would have to compromise space downstairs in the bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate our plans for the first floor, but all the rooms seem larger than we envisioned.
Did we time our 5-year sailing sojourn right? After B-Day (or bidet if you prefer...) as we understand it you will not be able to spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period in the EU - so we would have to have returned to the UK for 3 months before we even got to our winter billet in Brittany. Also, if your UK VAT-paid yacht is not in an EU port on bidet, it will lose its EU VAT-paid status, meaning that after 180 days in the EU you will have to pay the VAT on the purchase price - again... The way round this is to leave the EU on day 179 and return - that means we would have had to sail straight to Montenegro, bypassing much of Brittany, Spain, Gibraltar, the Balearics, Sardinia & Sicily that we so enjoyed. The irony is that whilst we were in Greece they very nearly left the EU... Chateauneuf du Pape!