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House Building Project

30th Oct

I can't decide whether the week has been successful or not. We have got three jobs finished, two of them very difficult. They are not jobs that look much though, so it still looks like we've got loads to do. On Friday, we finished the roof above the technical room. The tiling was a new one for us and we didn't have any clear instructions. Also, our builders, helpfully left a huge pile of the finishing tiles on the roof, so Neil had to climb up there and pass them down, one by one, first to Andy on a scaffold and then to Josh to take them to the right place. (I was in charge of supervising safety.) Anyway, we got the job done and here are the final pics...

Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof

The next job was to sort out the hole which you might have noticed in the roof. It's actually a small door, primarily for fire safety - it allows firemen to easily access the loft space from the front of the house. It will also be handy for getting more awkward items into storage. Neil had cut the hole last year and it had been filled with a piece of fiberglass and polystyrene. The trouble was, everytime we had any wind, it blew in. Why didn't we finish it before? We weren't at all sure what to do and we were scared, so it was easier to leave it. Anyway, on Friday, we did the easy bit and made a frame to neaten off the edges and yesterday, we worked on the door, taking a bit of each side and checking that it was square and then fitting hinges and finally hanging the door. It was quite difficult but we stayed calm and did a little at a time. Eventually, we finished it. It just needs a handle and catch now.

Door in roof Door in roof Door in roof

One last thing... a few weeks ago, we had the drive asphalted and I don't think I posted any pics, so here they are.

Driveway Driveway
26th Oct

There is one job that we have been really dreading because we knew it would be difficult. The builders were supposed to finish the roof above the technical room door but they basically... didn't. If it was just woodwork, it wouldn't be so bad but it's tin gulleys, tiling, woodwork and all above ladder height. It's one of those jobs that we hadn't a clue where to start and so we've left it and hoped it would go away. This week is half term. All the wasps are dead and it's nice and cool, so we decided to give it a go.

The pictures below show the day's progress, which to be honest, feels rather slow. The first picture shows what we were left with. Then we have the tin corners that had to be made. Nicki did all the measuring for them and worked out what should go where. Neil was the brute force behind the bending. We put the right side piece in place first, then the left one. They had to be joined at the top, in the middle, which was somewhat tricky. Climbing up and down the scaffolding tower and on and off the little roof took a lot of time and effort. Neither of us are that great with heights. Then we started on the front panels. Getting the angles right was very difficult, as was holding them in place and nailing them. Thankfully, Nicki is now quite good with the circular saw and band saw and Neil is strong enough to use a heavy nail gun at arms length. Finally, we started putting the underside roof up but that was when we ran out of daylight. Throughout this whole performance, we have been burning all our excess wood (the stuff that can't be used for indoor firewood) on a big bonfire.

Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof Technical room roof Bonfire
10th Sept

Pelti cornerWe've temporarily given up on the terrace. Neil has spent this week learning how to make the tin corners that go around the top and bottom of the house. It's not technically difficult, so long as you can see maths, but the cutting tool is quite stiff and tricky to use. A friend of a friend came and told us how to do it and then said he would come back the next day to help. Haven't seen him since but his brief evening lesson must've been good because we've got the idea now. Whilst the 'tin bug' was in the air, Neil also started fitting some window sills.

This morning, I went out to help hold wood so that Neil could fit the window trim. Once we got into it, we found that I seemed to have an eye for how to cut around the window sill, so then Josh and I have done a couple more windows ourselves. Andy has been painting the underside of the garage roof but he's stopped now, with neck-ache from looking up all the time. Now I'm going out to continue painting and Neil and Josh have to attach some pieces of plastic trim to the foundations to keep the water from getting between the concrete and the plastic eggbox stuff. We also tried putting up some outdoor coving this morning, but the saw isn't big enough to cut it. The wood is HUGE!

Window trim Window trim
27th August

Terrace paintingStill working on the terrace! We made hardly any progress for two weeks, as Neil was away and I was working. Anyway, in that time, we have made a major decision. Not major in comparison to third world debt, or even European debt, but major for us. We have decided to get the council guys to asphalt our drive. They are in the area at the moment doing roads and cycle paths and in a few weeks, they are doing drives at a reduced rate. We're not really ready yet but today we've done quite a lot of clearing and moving of piles of wood and we think we can make space for them.

Terrace paintingAndy has been a great help with painting today. He has painted half of the terrace roof and some of the pillars. It's a bit disheartening for him because white paint doesn't show as looking that different from the natural wood. He has done a great job though and has promised to finish it this week.

Wood shiftingJosh has also been very helpful today. He has alternated between lifting piles of wood with Neil and I and cutting firewood. I really don't know where we're going to put all the wood. We have had a fire going all day and it hasn't even made a dent. Between us, we moved a huge load of wood from next to the garage and Neil's office. We'll have a path laid there at the same time as they do the drive. For now, it creates more space which is also good.

Here are the rest of today's pics...

Wood cutting More painting Path cleared Wood cutting
30th July

There isn't much to say about the work we've done this week, except that it has been very slow and difficult. We have continued trying to build the roof of the terrace area. The photos below show the work in progress.

Roof frame Corner of roof Neil and Josh doing the work Completed section and Neil studying wood Underside of roof A section that is finished
19th July

Pillar frameNow that Neil is back home for a few weeks and the weather is a little cooler, we have started work on the outside of the house. We decided that the priority is to complete the terrace area because there is a lot of wood still on the plot that is getting wet everytime it rains and is taking up a lot of space. Pillar frameWe have a black folder with lots of plans and drawings that explain how to do the work, so we got it out and studied them carefully. It seemed quite simple. We have to build a frame around each pillar, 60cm apart and then put the planks of finishing wood on top. We got started, cutting the frame pieces to size and attaching them with Neil's new supersized powertool. It was only when we were almost halfway round that we noticed that the underside of the roof hasn't been finished.

Bad scaffoldingAfter much searching, we found the instructions for finishing the underside of the roof. It isn't really complicated but the lengths of wood are very heavy and I am a dead loss up a ladder! So we had to enlist the services of Josh to counterbalance Neil's weight on the seesaw and hold the wood in place. The first piece went up and then had to come down again because it overhung. After that though, apart from some grunting and sighing, we managed to get a couple of lengths up.More frame At this point, I had my first play with Neil's new circular bench saw. I am pretty good with hand tools but I'm nervous of anything motorised. I just expect to amputate a limb or something. It is very easy to use though and I cut the little down pieces that you can see in the picture and passed them up to the fellas for nailing. It was around then that our stomachs started competing with the noise of the saw and we decided food was needed. I'll try to update this as work progresses.