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House Building Project

19th December

It's difficult to sum up the last few weeks. Some days have gone well and progress has looked encouraging and then other days... ugh! We have had some quite major problems, especially with the underfloor heating in Neil's office and the storage room and with the mains water. We've had frozen and then burst pipes, leaving us with no water and some serious defrosting issues. The electricians have been somewhat elusive. It seems possible, via Juha to get emergency sockets installed but in spite of many requests, indoor lights and sockets have not happened yet.

Neil has done amazingly well with putting up ceilings. In fact, if you only look up, the house looks quite good. I'm getting there with the tiling and grouting but it hasn't been easy. Thanks to an amazing American chappy on youtube, I've now got grouting cracked! Today, Josh and I pretty much finished the separate toilet so that tomorrow the plumber can install a loo and perhaps a sink. Even though the toilet will not yet have a door, it will be such a luxury to pee indoors. It's been better since Daisy and Topi moved but even then, it's a pain having to go to another house just to go to the loo!

Here are the latest pictures. They are a bit random, but hopefully they show some progress...

The car now fits in the garage Josh's bedroom with ceiling Pukeutuminen - so close to being finished Tiling in the main bathroom Utility room Hallway and separate toilet
5th December

The pukeutuminen floorThe lack of any entries for two months could indicate one of two things: either we've given up building and so there's nothing to write about OR we've been working so frantically that there hasn't been time to write. I'm sure you're correctly assuming it's the latter.

The pukeutuminen wallAt the moment, we are trying to finish some rooms. We have started tiling the walls and floors and this has been both rewarding and frustrating. The wall tiles have gone well. Each time we go there expecting to see a shattered pile on the floor, we are pleasantly surprised. They have, so far, stayed up and we like the way it's beginning to look. The floor tiles have been more challenging. Most of them have behaved well but a small section in the middle of the utility room didn't stick properly. Then, as we've had to take them up and reprepare the floor, others have been disturbed. It's driving us crazy!

The utility room floorWe have also started putting up the ceiling in Josh's room and hopefully this week, the first sections of laminate flooring will go down. We'd like to get the boys' rooms completely finished and put the doorframes and doors on. That way, they can come and help more often but for shorter stretches of time and when they are tired they can have somewhere to relax. We went to Ikea yesterday and bought cupboards for their rooms. Hopefully in the next week or so, we'll be able to post some more encouraging photos.

If you are a believer in miracles, then this won't seem so stupid... We're hoping to move by the end of this month!!! We've informed our landlord that we will be moving out at the end of December and the intention is that our place will be finished by then. Obviously finished is quite a big word, but I mean finished enough to move in. The thing is, once we can live there, we can work without an hour's travel, so it will be more efficient. Well, the theory is there and some days it looks possible and other days, we realise we are mad. We'll keep you posted!

9th October

Tiled roof on garageTiled roof on garageThe builders have finally put in an appearance and have tiled the garage roof. Yippee! As with the house, there's still a little section that they haven't done. We're beginning to think that is so we won't get rid of them. If they leave little bits of every job, then they have to come back and finish it. Inside the garageHo hum! We shall see!

Andy with his woodstoreToday, both the boys came and helped with the work. Andy wanted to finish a project that he had started last Saturday. He has built a woodstore. We have quite a lot of wood from when we cleared the plot but it's just been sitting on a section of public land, getting wet. Now that we're getting closer to moving in, it would seem sensible to put it in a covered area to dry. After all, if we're about to have the coldest winter for over a hundred years, we will need plenty of firewood.

Andy with his woodstoreAndy with his woodstoreOnce Andy had finished, he and Josh carried a few logs round to Christen it. Then he wanted some pictures. Problem was, Josh and I couldn't stop laughing because it looked like a nativity scene. Josh suggested photoshopping some donkeys in (and perhaps a lobster or two, for Love Actually fans). For once, Andy didn't mind us laughing at him. He was just so proud of his handiwork. To be fair, he did make it pretty much by himself.

Josh paintingWhile Andy was outside putting his technical work skills to the test, Josh painted the porch and hallway. Initially the novelty of the mini-scaffold kept him amused, but after a whole day of painting, he'd had enough. Still, he stuck at it and got the job done. Hopefully, on Monday, Neil will let him use the paint-sprayer, so it'll all be quicker.

Neil plastering the utility roomNicki, wetting and smoothingI spent the morning continuing plastering the joints between the sheets of plasterboard. It is, without doubt, the most boring, tedious job ever! I'm sure people must die doing it and not even realise they've died! In the afternoon though, we paired up and started plastering the brick wall that we built a while ago. Neither of us have ever done it before and although it was tricky at first, we soon got the hang of it and I think we did okay. Neil put the stuff on the wall and spread it out and I followed after him with a water-spray and a smoothing action. I have to say, sad as I may be, that it was quite enjoyable work and if I ever can't teach, I could happily take up plastering. There's something quite satisfying about the smoothness of the wet plaster. Hmmm!

Kitchen and living room
19th September

Yesterday, Neil and I spent the day working on the house. Neil has been in the loft, putting in supports for a huge storage area. I thought it would be dead easy - insulation and then floorboarding - but we need way more insulation here than we used to have in England. So now we've got two floors, one for the insulation and one which can be boarded to make a storage space. I'm not making a lot of sense but here are some pics so you get the idea.

Loft area Loft area Between the floors

I spent the day finishing the plastering in the guest room. Then I put a third coat of paint on Andy's walls. I did take photos of the painted walls but I won't post them. I had a bright spotlight in there and it made the walls look bright pink instead of white. I'll try to get better pics next time. Instead I'll show you a couple of pictures of outside. Look at the roof - vents have appeared this week. They work as part of the air-exchange system. Also the heat exchanger has been fitted in the technical room.

Vents on roof Vents on roof Heat exchanger
11th September

Nothing new to report but here's some more pictures.

Jiayi helping with plastering Nicki plastering Neil and Josh painting the top of the house Neil and Josh painting the top of the house
10th September

I spoke too soon. I had all the best intentions to get the plastering nearly finished while Neil was working in Lapland this week but first Josh had the flu so I had to come home straight after school for him and just as he got better, I started with either the flu or a really bad cold. Now Andy's got it. So sweet sod-tout has happened by way of plastering, this week.

In my absence, either the builders have got bored with all their other projects or they've had an attack of guilt or something and they've been working on our garage. They've started filling in the walls, made the internal area which will eventually be Neil's office and a storage cupboard, and made the roof ready for receiving tiles. Neil hired a scissor-lift for the weekend and today, with the help of Esa (one of our friends), he has put the tiles on the roof.

I did manage to find just over an hour's energy this evening, while the boys were at LIFT-jr, to start the final layer of plastering in Andy's room. The plan is to finish that tomorrow and move onto other rooms too. Also tomorrow, while we have the lift, we need to paint the top half of the house. Today, all the sauna wood was delivered. It's not allowed to get wet, so tomorrow, that all has to be moved inside. I think we may need more hands and already it's looking like we'll be minus Andy. I'm currently torn between frustration that we can't work because of illness and excitement because the garage is looking like a semi-habitable building. Oh, also Neil is hoping to start water-proofing the brick walls so we can start tiling the wet areas. Eeeek! Too much to do! Never mind, here's some pics...

Yeah! A garage! Back of the garage and house Neil and Esa on the roof Neil's office Storage shed
3rd September

It's getting to the point where we're trying to spend every free minute at the house, doing things to keep the project moving. Some days it feels like we're competing with too many other things but I suppose every little helps. Neil has finished building the brick wall. He seems quite negative about it but I think he's done an amazing job! I'm continuing to plaster and paper the joints between the pieces of plasterboard. We're also trying to keep painting the outside but that's getting more and more difficult, as it has rained a fair bit in the last couple of weeks.

Inside the wet area Neil finishing off Inside the wet area

One exciting thing happened earlier this week, akin to witnessing the Lochness monster in terms of the rarity of the event. The builders appeared!!! Not once, but for two days running! They built the frame of the garage, our bedroom walls and then did some obscure little jobs that probably could have waited. Still, it was an emotional moment when they came - I won't say which emotion though!!!

The shell of a garage The shell of a garage
22nd August

Well, in spite of not seeing any sign of our builders, lots of building has happened. I'm getting to the point where I think progress might be faster if we just did the whole thing ourselves! We've been fortunate to have some help from David, one of the guys from church. He's been helping build the brick walls but actually he's so good at it that it's more like us helping him. That has freed me up to continue filling all the screwholes with plaster and join the plasterboard pieces - quite pretty really!

My plaster work The internal brick walls The internal brick walls The internal brick walls The internal brick walls
12th August

We should be really proud of ourselves. We've done so much in the last week - plastered, painted and even started building a brick wall (with help). I think we're both too exhausted to feel good about it though. We're trying to balance work, family and building and some days it happens, others not. The kids are alternately coming down to help out. Andy is pretty good at plastering and Josh's mathematical side has helped with measuring and marking where the brick walls should go. Well, take a look...

Juha and Neil beginning the wall Juha and Neil building Neil seems to be enjoying this! Neil cementing a brick Neil passing bricks to Juha
4th August

Not a lot has happened this week but at the end of last week, the builders tiled most of the roof and started putting plasterboard onto the stud partition walls. They've also put two of the doors on, so it looks more like a house now and less like a building site. Here are some pics of the outside

Outside with tiled roof Outside with tiled roof
24th July

Progress at last! Here are some very exciting internal pictures plus one of the outside.

Utility room Dry room & shower room Our bedroom Living room Josh's room Andy's room Guest room Porch & hallway Halfway painted
21st July
Neil painting Neil painting

Gutted or what?!?! We went down to the plot on Monday ready for the fireplace and chimney to be installed and it just didn't happen. In the words of my youngest son, "Sad face!" The two guys did arrive. I was painting so I broke off and introduced myself and then left them to get on with it. They looked in the various boxes and had one of those conversations where the tone of voice tells that something is wrong (even without understanding any of it). My ears pricked up and I listened for clues as to what was going on. I wondered whether something was missing. Then one of them made a phonecall but a one-sided convo gave me even less clues. Then he asked me to speak to the chap at the other end, who explained that because it was a light fire (light??? It nearly killed us moving it one metre!) it is better fitted after the laminate flooring. So now, it's going in around September time. Grrrrrr! Very sad face!!!

Ah well, we'll continue painting!