October Update

Ok, so I know it’s November, but only just, so forgive me!

In the last couple of weeks we have seen the SIP’s panels installed, extra insulation has gone in, battening has begun and the sandblasting of the oak frame should be finished by tomorrow. Oh and we planted 1,000 bluebell bulbs in the woods and sowed 20,000 bluebell seeds.

What we should have been told is that the sandblasting should have started BEFORE the Kingspan insulation was put in as the pressure from the sandblasting tore through the insulation when tested. We ended up having to pay a day’s labour to cover and protect the Kingspan from the sandblasting. A cost we hadn’t factored in. We live and learn!

We also learnt that we needed to have photographic evidence of us planting the bluebells as in years to come, if we ever need to remove any, we can prove that they were put there by us and were not naturally part of the woodland as they are a protected plant. The hoops you have to jump through……

We’ve also had a few issues with the ventilation recovery system and the air source heat pump installation. The fitter for the MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery) arrived a day early completely unexpected and we weren’t ready. So, a bit of a wasted day on his part but his early arrival did throw up some challenges in that his ducting was struggling to fit through the floors and walls to get to where they needed to be.
This is the part of the self-build process that isn’t so enjoyable as all of a sudden you have to become a problem solver in an area in which you nothing about. Lots of blame was banded around with no-one wanting to take responsibility but that really doesn’t solve the problem. After much head-scratching, removal of flooring, joists and general hacking about and hammering we seemed to be heading in the right direction.

The sandblasting put a stop to anything else being able to be done on site. The noise alone is enough to go right through you and is reminiscent of a dentists drill (only MUCH louder). If that doesn’t get you then the constant cloud of dust and sand certainly will.
The guy doing it is suited up like a deep sea diver from yesteryear complete with sinister looking headgear with a long tube coming from the top. You can almost hear the Darth Vader-like breathing when the ringing in your ears finally stops.
That said, our floor has taken on the look and feel of a Caribbean beach minus the tropical heat and steel drums of course!
Tomorrow he is due to finish and the cleanup operation will begin.
We’re hoping that the floor will be the next thing to go down as we can then progress. The Air source heat pump has been promised us for next Monday and the week after that we are hoping to begin the glazing.

Finally was able to put the order in for the kitchen this week along with the utility room and an office suite for one of the bedrooms.
Staircase was measured up last week and the AGA will arrive on 1st December.
After a couple of slow weeks where not much has changed in the appearance of the house, i’m really hoping that is all about to change and we can pick up the pace.Kingspan Insulation

MVHR ducting

Before and after

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Plumbing pipes 1st fix

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Sipping it up

Another eventful week on site. In just 5 days, the guys from Glosfords have almost covered the timer frame with SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels). In true Grand Designs fashion, a miscommunication of measurements held us up by a week. It’s had a substantial knock-on effect and several adaptations have had to be made.
Unfortunately this meant that we missed out on last weeks great weather and the guys have been working in pouring rain all week.
Just as the Portaloo finally arrived at 2.30pm on Friday afternoon, the builders had just left site and were on their way home for the weekend.
This however, gave us a real opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the house and walk from room to room. It was a really enlightening time as we could really see for the first time how the room spaces were going to work. We were even able to make a change to the first floor layout and save us some money in the process.
As we stood in one of the rather cosy ensuites we had an epiphany and thought ‘to heck with it – let’s get rid of the tiny ensuite, use the main bathroom as such with a jack and jill door.
We’ve also had a re-think as to the positions of various kitchen cupboards and wardrobes as we really don’t want to hide the gorgeous oak detailing from Carpenter Oak.
We so want to be in by Christmas Ave but no-one is sharing our optimism…

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You Raise Me Up!

As promised, at 8am on a lovely sunny Monday morning, our oak frame arrived on the back of a lorry looking like some huge Jenga puzzle.
It was swiftly and methodically unloaded and even this step seemed to have been calculated so that the pieces were in the right place for when they were needed.
Work soon got underway and it wasn’t long before the first piece of the jigsaw was carefully manoeuvred into place. All the while, drawings were being checked and double checked and the crane was prepped to bring in the next piece.
One thing that stood out from the very beginning was the air of calm that the team from Carpenter Oak had about them. There was no running around the site, throwing things, puzzled faces, head scratching or tea brewing. It was straight on with the job. It’s funny because we are three days in now and we haven’t heard a single swear word uttered. Not that we are prudish in ANY way but it’s actually really relaxing to be on site around them.
They make their own lunch on site and a veritable feast it is too with the usual site fayre of pork pies, bacon baps and sausage rolls being ditched in favour of camembert, apple and pear chutney and I even saw lettuce today!
When it is time for a brew (which they take infrequently), out comes the cafetiere and fresh coffee. I’m sure if I asked them for an Ice Vented Caramel Machiato, they would probably be able to make me one!
These aren’t just any old carpenters – these are Carpenter Oak carpenters!

Typically, i’ve been struck down with a nasty chest infection since they’ve been on site and I had hoped to be busying myself with clearing some of the grounds and so on but feeling pretty rough, i’ve been limited to just watching.
I’m almost glad – i would have missed a lot of what’s gone on this week and I wouldn’t want to have missed that for anything. Once the SIP’s panels arrive, the frame won’t be able to be seen in all its glory like this again.

I’ve been wandering around the site looking like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’m mesmerised. I love it’s purity, it’s lines and angles and it’s organicity. The fact that it is truly handmade and held together not by steel bolts and screws, but by simple oak pegs is what does it for me.

Right, here’s a few photos. Back to site tomorrow.

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In the frame

Things have gone quiet on site as the builders have finished the groundworks and we are now awaiting the oak frame to be delivered to site. We’re expecting that on 22nd September and we’ve been sent some great photos by Carpenter Oak of our frame currently being worked on in their workshop in Totnes, Devon.
There have been lots of questions to answer just lately in order for everything to come together on site such as crane access, scaffold designs & the location of the nearest A&E Dept!
We’re sending the order through for the Air Source Heat Pump and Ventilation Recovery system today and have placed the order for the wood burner.
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So progress is great and so far we are still on budget. We have had a couple of nasty surprises with unexpected additional invoices but we have made a few savings in other areas and hope that we can continue to negotiate with other suppliers in order for us to re-coup our extra outgoings.

Thankfully, the weather really has been on our side whilst the groundworks were completed and the forecast is also looking fairly positive.

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Shopping

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With 1 bathroom and 3 ensuites to design and shop for my eyes are getting a little crossed!
So much choice and a blank canvas is almost as difficult as little choice and tight constraints.

So for now I have written my shopping lists excluding showers as I’m not sure what sizes I need yet.
Tile shopping has also been interesting with so much choice too.

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Day 2: Things are happening quickly

It’s only the second day of having builders on site and we arrived at lunchtime today to find that most of the footings had been dug and concrete was on it’s way to be poured.
It’s great to see such momentum in the project and it’s really starting to hit home that we are actually building a house. Plans are great to look at and getting planning permission was a real high but nothing quite makes it feel more real than seeing it rising from the ground up.
We go through stages of ‘wow, it looks really big’ to ‘ooh, it looks a bit smaller than we imagined’. I’m certain that this feeling will continue as we go through the various stages of the build.
Seeing the oak frame arrive on site will probably make us think it’s huge again then the arrival of the SIP’s panels will probably box things in and make us think it’s too small again.
I stood in certain parts of the ‘house’ today and looked at the view from the ‘rooms’.
That was quite a weird feeling, as I stood at the kitchen sink looking out into the trees then retiring to the lounge and having the beautiful view into our own private woodland.
I can’t wait!

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We’ve broken ground

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It finally happened today – we have eventually broken ground and the build has officially begun.
We’re really excited and have been on site all day today watching in awe.

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