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

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Week 29 - Plastering complete, starting second fix

The plasterer finished off  the rest of the house by Wednesday, a total of 5 days for him to do the whole house on his own - pretty impressive and we're very happy with the standard of his work. We can't stop running our hands over the walls they are that smooth! Overall plastering has worked out a lot cheaper than we expected, definitely worth getting someone in to do it.


With plastering completed we are officially onto second fix, which meant we could go and buy lots of goodies! Outgoings have been pretty tame recently so our bank manager must have had a shock when we went and ordered the heating system, kitchen, bathrooms, electrics and tiles all in the space of a few days. Should give me plenty to be getting on with.


This weekend I made a start on the bathroom. I'm quite paranoid about leaking bathrooms now after seeing (and usually having to fix) plenty of failures, so I'm making sure there is a double waterproof barrier as you would find in a wet room. The first barrier is achieved with a waterproof membrane, a wet room would use a much more sophisticated membrane but just ordinary DPM left over from the floor slab will do for us just fine. Over this is laid WBP (Weather and Boil Proof) ply wich doesn't fall apart when it get's wet, unlike normal plywood. We will tile directly onto this which forms our second waterproof barrier.

The shower tray has been bonded into place, I'm pretty sure you would have to lift the floor if you wanted to take the shower out now. The waste has been connected up and sealed with silicone to be doubly sure.


The bath has been framed out with sturdy 3" x 2". I hate the flimsy feet supplied with baths and would rather build something more suitable for the weight of a grown man plus 50kg of water! The more rigid everything is the less likely you will get movement causing leaks. We're quite pleased with the small boxing around the waste to the toilet, generally the bathroom has very simple clean lines thanks to the plumbing under the floor. The toilet and bath are all plumbed in now and ready to go but we won't switch everything on until we have tiled.


Iona has started spraying the whole house with her new spray system. It seems quite a bit quicker than using rollers and brushes but it certainly isn't a miracle worker, there is a lot of prep needed and it still makes a fair mess. Were thinking it's OK while the house is empty but it might not be as useful for applying the final colour.

This is just a couple of coats to white everything out so we have a good base to start from. It looks really striking and will be a shame to have to add colour on top of it.

We took the opportunity to cut the holes for the downlights before painting while you could still see the joint lines between the plasterboards and could use them to help show you where the joists are within the ceiling void. As it happened, our recorded positions of the wires above were perfect and we didn't have any problems pulling them through.


I couldn't resist adding ballustrades and the handrail to the stairs at the end of the day, still a little work to finesse it but it looks great so far. Just need to decide what we want on the tops of the newel posts, something simple I think.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Week 28 - Plastering and drainage

Kai and I both took time off work this week to get all the digging done for the new permanent service connection.


First off was a trench dug perpendicular to the road for the gas connection. The gas pipe is normally laid straight in the trench but where you are in close proximity to other services like ours it's advisable to lay a conduit, which is what we've done. This also allows us to backfill now rather than leave the trench open for 2 weeks which is when the gas company has booked us in for. The conduit is 63mm perforated conduit and they said it must be yellow. The electricity cable laid in April crosses the new trench, so this required some careful digging to uncover. We've taken the opportunity to lay some black conduit  alongside the gas and left an access pit as we backfilled so we can pull through the new cable when the connection gets swapped over to the permanent meter box on the side of the house in a week.

Next up was some careful trenching around the back of the house. There was virutally no room to manoeuver with the tail of the digger swinging uncomfortably close to the house. We dug the trench 750mm deep all the way to the front of the drive for the MDPE water supply pipe to be laid within a bed of sand. We then backfilled the trench to different levels sloping upwards from the drain connection point and compacted it to ensure no settlement will occur. Some careful levelling with the dumpy level got our falls bang on the 1:80 and 1:40 required.

The deeper drains along the side of the house have 420mm diameter manholes where the waste pipes exit the building. At the rear we have smaller 320mm diameter inspection chambers. You require manholes at every intersection and change of direction of the pipe - seems excessive at first but if anyone has ever tried to clear drains of blockages then you will appreciate the access.

We air pressure tested the drains - not a single leak, and passed the building inspection without a hitch. 2.5tons of pea gravel ensured everything was bedded in nicely. It's unbelievable how much you need, it just seems to go nowhere!

The digger made light work of closing all the trenches where it could get access, and at the end of four days and many rain showers all we have to show are 4 new manhole covers, a site which looks like it's been ploughed and a grand less in our pockets!


While we were busy making a mess outside our plasterer, Troy, was busy inside making our walls look beautiful. He's only done a couple of days so far and managed three complete rooms which look superb. He's working on his own so although he's pretty quick he's going to take most of this week to finish. Time isn't important for this bit, we want his quality to remain good so he can take as long as he needs.


The plaster is a 3mm skim, so it only takes a couple of days to go pink at which point we can get some paint on it. We're waiting for delivery of a semi-professional spray paint system which will make light work of getting a couple of coats on the wall. That will be the priority while there's nothing in the house - just mask off the windows and doors and everything else can get sprayed white!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Week 27 - Ready for plastering

Well it's been a week of hard graft - working through the evenings until it's too dark to work any more - but it's all paid off because the whole house is now ready to be plastered. The plasterers will come in to do their bit on Wednesday and Thursday. It's nice to see the place looking so tidy, and we're really looking forward to seeing the finished walls and ceilings.

Below, Kai finishing off the awkward bits on the stairs and in the under-stairs wc...

 The main bedroom finished:

Front bedroom: The window boards are set in place now so the plasterers can finish right up to them, they look superb and really finish the window reveals off.

Landing and small bedroom:

Space for wc: The ceiling under the sairs was a real pain, the plasterboard has to follow the profile of the understide of the stairs as they wind at the top and so it slopes and curves and feels a little like you're standing under a hump back bridge! I'm sure it will be better once plastered although the plasterers are going to curse at the curve.

Kitchen: Its the first time we've had the kitchen space completely clear and it's made us realise how massive the kitchen part of the room is.


 And finally the living room: