Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hello all, it's taken me a while to get round to doing this blog post but here it is!

With the caravan out of the way, we were able to construct the soakaway where all the rainwater will drain to:

Dismantling the shed from its old location:

And putting it back together again in its final spot:

The fence separating the driveway from the garden:

Step to the front door, with steel shoe cast in ready to receive the canopy post:

Grading the levels back using the mini digger to create the driveway:

A layer of Type 1:

Followed by a layer of gravel and compacted.

Framing out for the decking:

And the finished article. Timber posts have since been added around the edges to stop you falling off the side!

Structure for the canopy:

Tiling and rainwater goods to the canopy:

Turfing the garden!

The juliet balcony has been fixed on:

Air tightness test - this is a requirement to meet building regulations standards. We booked a company to come and do the test, they fix a large fan into the doorway which sucks air out of the house to measure how draughty it is. We had a target rate of 6.5 (the higher the number the more draughty the house...) but the test revealed we had achieved a rate of 2.8! Chuffed with that as it means we have done a good job at the interfaces where floors and roof meet the walls.

Ramp for disability access as required by building regs:

Dropped kerb installed (we paid a company to come and do this) and the stonework finished either side of the entrance.

We have now received the building regulations completion certificate and the certificate of the 10 year warranty. Mission accomplished!
Hope you enjoyed reading the blog!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Goodbye static caravan

An early start on December 10th to get the caravan taken away. Having sold it on ebay the week before to a guy wanting to do his own selfbuild, it was time for the caravan to get collected.
We had to do a bit of work to replace a buckled wheel with a new one, but other than that the caravan was in pretty good nick and we pulled it as far out of the plot as possible using the Landrover with no trouble.

The truck arrived about 9, as we were hoping to get the caravan loaded up and gone before the traffic got too heavy.

And we're left with space for a garden - we'll work on this in the spring. Right now the priority is to enjoy Christmas at The Laurels. Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Week 36 - We're in!

The last week we've had a flooring fitter in to carpet upstairs and lay the engineered oak floor downstairs. We would never consider laying carpet ourselves as you just can't achieve the same finish as a professional. We've never had much luck with carpet fitters before and always been slightly dissapointed, we certainly wanted someone who was going to look after our freshly glossed skirting! We found a guy called Spike by recommendation, he's good at carpet fitting and laying wood flooring so we just let him get on with both which has saved me having to do the wood ourselves and freed us up to keep going with the long list of little jobs that need finishing off.

The bathroom is functional now but we still have to find time to scrub the grout residue off the tiles and only half the room has sealant around the edges, definitly not enough hours in the evenings for all of these little jobs.

We spent quite a while looking at different wood flooring and in the end settled for just an ordinary Tongue and Groove board that was suitable for glueing down to the concrete. It's suprisingly difficult to find anything other than the 'click' system flooring now which needs to be floated on a felt underlay/membrane. You end up with a slight bounce if you use that stuff and it doesn't work so well with the underfloor heating, our glued down floor is really firm and seems to transmit the heat well.

Iona has been taking a well earned rest on our newly aquired sofas and we've been generally basking in the warmth and comfort of our amazing new house - it's beyond our expectations and living in the static caravan for 6 months has definitely made us more appreciative of the creature comforts.

We're by no means finished, there's a long list of things to snag inside and a few quite large tasks to complete outside, but the pressure feels like it's off and we can afford to take a little more time to relax now rather than work flat out all the time. As such blog entries may be a little more sparodic from now on.

Major tasks left are:
  • Sell caravan and remove from site
  • Dig soak aways and lay the rainwater drainage
  • Move shed into rear garden
  • Grade the driveway back from the road, lay 16tons of hardcore and 10tons of gravel
  • Build the canopy porch over the front door
  • Build the decking to the rear of the house
  • Stone walling, fencing, turfing, pathways and flower beds
If anyone fancies popping in for a visit please get in touch, we're more than happy to show off the fruits of our labours!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Weeks 34 and 35 - A deadline looms

About 8 weeks ago we set ourselves the vague dealine of being in by end of October..... The carpets and Oak flooring are going to be laid this week so we've pretty much done it, no more decorating or messy work allowed inside after that, although there will be a snagging list to work our way through of course. We aim to move in on Friday the 4th, all being well.

We've been working extremely hard for the last two weeks getting lots of jobs done. Kai finished the kitchen, only the door handles need to be put on the cupboards now. We're over the moon with how the kitchen has turned out, it's a dream kitchen we thought we would only see in glossy magazines, and everything is laid out just as we want it so it should be a joy to cook in!

The boiler has been boxed into its own wall cupboard so that it blends in nicely with the rest of the kitchen units. It needed a bit of jiggery pokery with a filler strip as it stands a little pround from the other wall units but looks s good now. Kai covered and plastered in the pipes in the wall to get our seemless splashback with no horrible boxing, just needs a lick of paint now.
The patch on the ceiling is a repair to a section we had to cut out in a hurry to locate a water leak that the gas man left us as a gift! Sloppy soldering had left the joint dry which withstood pressure testing when cold but when the pipe heated up it sprung a leak! The water damage was minimal but still annoying, if you want something doing properly, do it yourself...
 Having grouted the travertine tiles, the floor looks fantastic. Skirting is on in the kitchen and just waiting for glossing and final colour on the walls (when we can decide what colour!)

Kai hung the glazed door to the kitchen, while I faffed about with preparing the stair ballustrading for the mind-numbing task of glossing...


Yet more glossing.

The sink for the wc in position. This will have a cupboard built underneath to hide the underfloor heating manifold and controls.


Kai's pleased with his efforts at plastering the side of the stair, a bit wobbly at first after nearly 2 years without touching a float but he's achieved a good finish that you can't tell apart from the professionally done wall opposite. It definitely reaffirmed that he doesn't like plastering, and it was money well spent to get someone in to do the majority of the work.  Just one more coat of gloss to go on the stair ballustrade...

Seeing as the weather's turned cold, we thought it's probably worth getting round to insulating the loft. Better to keep all that heat in than pump it all out the roof. 300mm of glass fibre insulation should do the trick. We're still getting to grips with the heating system, the undefloor heating seems to work really well and just gives off a gentle, constant heat throught the day, hopefully all this insulatuion will pay off and keep the bills down.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Weeks 32 and 33 - Kitchen, painting, joinery

Well another busy two weeks! We have cranked up the pace a bit and are generally putting in several hours an evening as well as working long hours on the weekends. All in aid of trying to get the house ready to move in by the end of October. We're still not yet sure if we'll manage it, but it's no big deal if we're in a couple of weeks after that. We may have to start wearing more jumpers while we're in the caravan though since the temperature has dropped a bit!

Thanks to Nans and Rob for coming and helping for a day, we managed to get a lot more painting done. Feels like the painting is never ending, but I'm getting there gradually. All the rooms have had a base coat, and the bedrooms have all now had a finish coat.


Kai managed to get all the radiators fixed onto the walls today, and he also did the skirting boards and architrave for the three bedrooms. I suppose I'd better start glossing soon, lots of calking and filling to do first though!


Kai spent most of last weekend tiling the kitchen floor, and did a fanstastic job of it. We're really glad we chose the Travertine tiles which are quite expensive but they look superb. And Colin's tile saw cut through them like butter, couldn't have done the job without it.


The range cooker, fridge freezer and cooker hood were delivered last week so the kitchen is starting to look more complete. The range cooker won't be put in place until the gas man has sorted out the gas pipe for it, and the floor tiles have been grouted and sealed. We're really looking forward to our first dinner using the range cooker!


We've gone for integrated appliances because the overall look of the kitchen will be more stunning.


Kai got the first section of worktop fitted in place. We've gone for a square edged laminate work top. We did consider using higher spec acrylic composite worktops which look like granite, but they cost about five times as much as laminate worktop and in the end they look quite similar!

For the splashback we sourced a sheet of stainless steel 2.5m x 1.25m x 0.9mm thick directly from Aalco wholesalers. Cost around £120, which is great considering you normally pay about £80 for a tiny 600mm x 600mm sheet. It's really tough stuff to cut, eats through cutting disks on the grinder and if you try and drill it with normal drills it just makes loads of heat, so we had to crack out the special Cobalt tipped drills normally kept sharp for really tough stuff!

Oh, and Kai managed to find time to install the shower enclosure! Can't wait till the boiler is commissioned and we can try out the new shower! The grouting is coming along bit by bit and once done we can get sealant on all the edges and corners.


Wales and West utilities finally got the gas line connected to the main, only took about 8 weeks in the end. To our dismay they turned up at 8am on a Sunday and started sawing up the road with big petrol saws and using a jack hammer on the digger; I'm very grateful we have such tolerant neighbours and I promise this is the last time we're going to have the road dug up......

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Week 31 - More painting, bathroom and kitchen

Yet another busy week has flown by. I gave the remaining bedroom a base coat which just leaves the hall and landing to be painted - a mammoth task I'm not looking forward to!

The kitchen units were delivered on Friday so I spent some time putting together the large corner units. Most of the other units come ready-assembled and are much higher quality than you'd get from B&Q.


Kai did a great job of tiling the bathroom and getting the suite and shower plumbed in, the shower controls are all embedded in the stud wall which makes it look really neat and stylish. We're really pleased with the way everything looks, we find it hard to imagine what the finished product might look like so it's always a bonus when it turns out good! We will grout the tiles this week and get the shower screen installed and with a dob of paint we will have the first room pretty much finished.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Week 30 - Boiler, electrics and tiling underway

This week we had lots of goodies to play with, and had a number of different jobs to be getting on with. Kai got the underfloor heating manifold assembled and connected it up to the pipes in the floor. We pressure tested the system for a 24 hour period and it looks like we are leak-free.

 A huge thanks to Colin and June for coming to help this weekend - Colin for his pipe-bending expertise and June for her interior design advice.
The pipes to the boiler are now all in their place, with a hole cored ready for the flue.

The boiler is now in position. Just a few minor details need sorting before we can commission it - a gas supply would help but Wales and West Utilities are being a bit slow, having forgotten to bring the traffic lights last time they tried to dig up the road...

Using Colin's tile cutting machine (thanks very much for letting us borrow this amazing piece of kit!) Kai has got off to a great start with tiling the bathroom. Once it is completely tiled then we can install the rest of the bathroom suite.

We are using a shower waterproofing kit, which basically involves painting a sort of barrier liquid over the shower area. This means we'll have two waterproof layers (tiles and the barrier) to stop leaks happening.

Our electrician has also been beavering away getting sockets wired up. A few more days' work from him and we should be lit up like a Christmas tree