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House Building Project

5th June

Spare roomIt's been a while since I wrote anything, partly because we've been busy and partly because it's the end of term and I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to hibernate. Anyway, we have almost finished the inside of the house. Our bedroom is done and so is the vaatehuone (like a wardrobe room). There's still quite a lot of window and door trim and other finishing bits to do but basically, the house is functional. It's a bit like giving birth - I vaguely recollect it being agony at the time but now the work is mainly done, the pain is a distant memory.

Living roomThe next job is to get the outside of the house finished. We've got all the metal work to do. The windows and doors need their sills and there are huge sheets of tin that go round the top and bottom of the house. Then there's painting to finish (although I've become quite used to living in a two-tone house). There's more groundworks to do than I can even contemplate. There's concreting and paving and gardening and... and...

30th April

Preparing living room floorThe last couple of weeks have been focussed on finishing the living room and making it useable. The pain with it, has been the constant moving of piles of wood. It's making the last few jobs quite tricky. It's wood for indoor stuff like trim, coving and ceilings and it cannot be stored outside. Trouble is, inside is running out of spare space now. Anyway, last weekend, we did get the floor finished, as the pictures show. It wasn't too difficult but it didn't feel as if we were achieving much and I felt pretty low. Neil did try to encourage me and kept pointing out how much we had done but it seemed there was still so much to do. Through the week, though, we started wallpapering and that made the room look so much brighter. We haven't gone as quickly as we'd have liked but we have now done enough to start bringing the sofa in. I'd forgotten how heavy it was. We've brought the two-seater in but I think we're going to have to find some more muscle to bring the big one in. I really can't lift anymore! Anyway, here are some more pics...

Living room floor Start of wallpapering Living room One sofa in Living room
17th April

BedroomA few pics to show that we have finally finished our bedroom (apart from trim and doors). It has been more stressful than usual because I've got some kind of bug, giving me a high temperature, headache and generally feeling rubbish. We started flooring on Friday afternoon and evening but had to give up because I was so tired and poorly and the pieces of floor wouldn't do as they were told, which was going to lead to certain doom. So I got up early on Saturday morning and took the laminate by surprise and by the time it remembered it was supposed to be playing up, I was half way across the room.

BedroomWe were supposed to be going to the Rakennus Messut (building fayre) yesterday but the tickets are quite pricy - 12€ each - and it seemed like a lot of money when I felt so rubbish and would probably not be able to keep going for long or benefit from what we saw. Instead, I suggested a shorter trip to a new DIY store called Ojan Rauta. It's near our old place and it has the dream-on advantage of being combined with a boat and skidoo outlet. It's always fun to go and look at the boats and compare prices. Shopping for housey stuff here is a bit frustrating because there isn't one store that is reliably cheaper than the others. BedroomEach one will have the same products and I think they all got together and decided who would sell what at the cheapest price. You have to really shop around for every single item. Well yesterday I found a composter which was only 29€ and some pretty nice wallpaper for our bedroom at 4,50€ per roll. We also considered a boat which was around the 38 000€ mark but decided against it when I only had a couple of euros in my purse.

BedroomCheered up by our purchases, we came home and had quite a busy evening. A lot of the snow has melted now and we have a small river running behind the house. All the logs we cut last autumn were where the river is now. So we wellied up and got most of the logs up to the woodstore. It is now full and we're going to have to think about making another one. Then we wallpapered our bedroom. It got tricky towards the end because we were losing light but we got the job finished and we're happy with it.

9th April

KitchenAnother month ends and another month begins and still we are not finished. We have now finished the kitchen, including the tiling and grouting. The only little thing that we are still waiting for, is a final bracket for the shelf which runs above the long worktop. We have brought several boxes in from the shed and unpacked them, so we now have most of the things we need for everyday cooking and baking. There must be another box somewhere though, because I still haven't found rolling pins or porridge. I have to say, sceptical though I was, that I love the induction hob. It genuinely is just like cooking on gas. The oven is great too and it looks really good now that all the appliances are in and working. Tonight, we had a lovely chicken macaroni bake and it was fabulous! I think it will be a very long time before the novelty of being able to cook wears off!

Bedroom ceilingToday, Esa came round and between the three of us, we put up the ceiling in our bedroom. Neil had already done the painting during the week. Next job will be coving and then we can start putting the floor down in there. From there, it will be a bit of a juggling act as we try to shift stuff around and finish the bedroom and living room. There was a time when all I dreamt of was a shower... then a kitchen... now I can't wait to have a sofa to relax on!

Electrics are still frustrating. We now have a bedroom circuit within the main circuit. So to have any lights, we have to plug them in, in the porch. That lights up the entire house, except for the bedrooms. Then there is a switch by the front door and that operates the bedroom lights. We have two LEDs in the kitchen and a couple in the bathroom, so life is more manageable. When Andy goes to bed, we don't all have to be in the dark. It still feels ridiculous though, that we can't use light switches!

Doing bedroom ceiling Doing bedroom ceiling
29th March

The last few weeks have been slow and frustrating. We had made such great progress and then it all slowed down when we got half way through fitting the kitchen. Part of the problem was that the floor wasn't level. In fact, if we brought some snow inside, the slope is so bad we could have our own ski resort! Getting the units level was difficult. Fitting the wall units was difficult. The dishwasher wasn't what we thought we had ordered, though we have ended up keeping it and it looks fine. More door frames, shouting and tears!!! Anyway, the plumber came yesterday and fitted the dishwasher and sink, so we now have better washing-up facilities. Tomorrow, the electrician is coming to do all kinds of things. The hob and cooker need fitting. We have lots more lights and sockets that need doing. If possible, we would like the lights to be independent of each other. The all on or all off thing is now wearing exceedingly thin! He can fit the sauna stove, though we can't use it until the air exchange is working. If it all goes to plan, we should at least have a completed kitchen and enough light to make a start on our bedroom. Here are the most recent pics of the kitchen...

Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen
10th March

Finished saunaYet more visible progress! The man from Lumilaude came this morning to fit the sauna benches. It looks lovely. I can't wait until the electrician comes and fits the stove. Andy and I have almost finished flooring the kitchen area and we've started sorting out some of the units. They are not fitted yet, but they are less in the way when they are in their right places. Also, visually, it looks like we've achieved something. Later today, we're going to look at tiles for the kitchen and buy some more paint. The kitchen needs a topcoat of paint before we fit the units. I'm really looking forward to getting the fridge and freezer out of the pukeutuminen and into their proper places. Then, once we get a couple more doors in place, we'll have a nice dry room for getting dressed after showers. Anyway, here are some more pics...

Flooring the kitchen Flooring the kitchen Flooring the kitchen Kitchen units Sauna benches
8th March

There's not a lot to tell but we have started work on the kitchen and living room now. The pictures say more than words. We are trying to balance many things here - ceiling, floor, fitting the kitchen, the fire (watch this space) and doors. It would all be much easier if we could completely empty the room. However, it has been wonderful that the boys have helped so much. Josh has helped put ceiling up and as you can see, Andy has primed the floor and will help lay it later. Here are the latest pics...

Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room Work in progress in kitchen & living room
5th March

Neil and Esa sawing woodSaunaToday hopefully marks the start of a week of sustained progress. With it being Saturday, we have had a couple of helpers: Esa helping Neil with the sauna ceiling and Luke helping or teaching the boys to do skirting boards and door & window trim. I've felt like more of a supervisor, not having a role of my own but helping and directing the others as they work. During the week though, I hope to get the tiling in the utility room finished and make some serious progress in the living room and kitchen.

Today, the biggest challenge has been putting the fibre optic cables in the right place in the sauna panels. The electrician hadn't left very specific instructions and it wasn't obvious how it should be done. We were expecting the lights to have little bulby-type heads that would be sunk into the panels but actually only the one over the stove has a cover. The rest are just like fine wires poking through by about a millimetre. In fact, considering all the effort they took, you can barely see them. I guess they will look good though when the electricity is connected and they give gentle atmospheric light to the room.

Sauna Luke and Josh contemplating something All at work
26th February

The photos below could give you the impression that we have stopped building a house and moved onto a spaceship. This isn't the case. This is the somewhat bizarre, behind-the-scenes section of the sauna. First we had to attach horizontal beams... then fill the gaps with fibreglass, which I really hate! Then it all gets covered with Bakofoil or something similar but more expensive. That's where we're up to right now. See...

Sauna Sauna Sauna Sauna
19th February
Bathroom door Virtually finished bathroom Showers

This week marks the most exciting development since we moved in. We have showers!!! The plumber came on Thursday and fitted two showers, the toilet (with soft closing seat and lid) and the sink. This means that we can now live completely independently and no longer need to bug other people when we need a shower. We'll need to think up a new excuse to drink all Daisy's coffee and eat her wonderful baking! :)

Sink Toilet Neil starting work on the sauna

Neil and our friend Esa are now beginning to build the frame for the sauna walls. As well as being useful to have the sauna finished, it will also reduce the huge pile of wood in the middle of the living room floor. Josh and I spent some time this morning getting the living room walls ready for painting. We still have the kitchen walls to do but I'm confident that we can start painting this week. Then Neil can do the ceiling in there and then we can start putting floor down and fit the kitchen. When I say it that quickly, it all sounds very easy. I guess it will realistically take weeks though.

12th February
Bathroom floor tiling Sauna floor and lower walls Tile supplies are going down

Sauna floor After the encouraging progress of last weekend, this weekend seems quite depressing. We have to finish tiling the bottom of the bathroom walls, which is horrible because there isn't space to put the clart on the wall. I have to put it on the back of each tile and then it ends up all over my hands and then I transfer it to every part of my clothing. Eugh! It's gross! This morning, I did the lower wall section in the sauna. We only go two tiles up because the rest will be wood. In spite of it being an unpleasant job, we're moving quite quickly. Living room Hopefully tomorrow, we can finish all the grouting and seal the edges. Then the plumber can come this week and fit a toilet, sink and two showers. I can't wait to shower in my own home! The only trouble is, we still need to fit door frames and the bathroom has three of them. Unlike all the others, where we're screwing into wood, these are onto brick which will mean drilling and that's more scary, especially with the precision needed for door frames. One mm out can be disastrous! In the pictures, I have tried to show a balance between the work that is done and the enormous amount that isn't. That's only because we genuinely are still living in chaos but people keep seeing the photos of finished bits and thinking we're all living in luxury. I only wish!!!

Our bedroom Our bedroom and wardrobe
7th February

What a productive weekend! It took two days but we got the bathroom and sauna floors tiled. Today I cleaned the tiles so that tomorrow I can grout them. Andy wants to learn how to do grouting but he wanted the first time to be on the floor. So, the plan is that tomorrow, I teach him what to do.

The other exciting new thing, is that I suddenly decided to do a burst of wallpapering this evening. There are some pics below. I absolutely, totally love it! Neil loves it! The boys love it! In the midst of all the hard work, sweat, tears and blood, it is just so wonderful to have something work out and look great! Just the encouragement we need.

Wallpaper in hallway Wallpaper in hallway Wallpaper in hallway Wallpaper in hallway
30th January

Utility roomUtility roomI know it's not much but today we did some more tiling in the utility room. It's getting difficult because we had to put the cupboards in first (in order to survive) and now we have to get tiles in some really fiddly spaces. Today was also difficult because I was working with the sun right in my face. It's sort of quite nice, as we haven't seen the sun at all for weeks but it's not helpful when you can't see what you're doing! Anyway, we can now see less of the nasty green kerafiber and more clean white tiles. Even though we're not finished, I think I'll grout them tomorrow and then we can have a work surface back. We're currently trying to cook in a microwave on the floor.

29th January

Woah! Where has the last month gone? Actually, it's probably best that it's gone so quickly. The less time we live like this the better! We moved into the new house on New Year's Eve and hoped we'd spend a couple of weeks finishing everything off. Duh!!! It's taking forever! We still have no bathroom, kitchen or living room. We do have a toilet, heat, some very basic cooking facilities and Internet though, so it's not all bad. At some point, we'll be publishing '101 tasty meals on a George Forman grill'. Here are the latest pics, which show that some things are completely done and others... not!

Andy's bedroom Porch Utility room Bathroom Sauna Bathroom Living room Josh's bedroom Living room

Today, I finished grouting the bathroom walls. Note to self: next time, choose huge tiles! Tomorrow, I hope to do some tiling in the utility room while Neil starts sealing the sauna and bathroom floor. Once the bathroom floor is ready, I can tile and grout it and then we can call the plumber and he'll come and fit the showers, sink and toilet. It will be so wonderful to have a shower! Still, many people around the world don't even have a roof over their head. At least we have that. Our roof even had its snow bars fitted this week, which is very handy as the temperature has gone up today and then snow comes tumbling down off roofs. The snow bars stop that happening with such force. Last time we had a warm day (warm being 1oC) a whole load of snow came down and you wouldn't believe the commotion! Josh thought a house had collapsed and I thought a plane had crashed. Neil was best though, as he almost flew into the loft, thinking OUR house was collapsing. If I'd suspected that, I'd be getting out, NOT trapping myself in the loft, LOL!

28th December

Three days until we move and I don't know what to think! Progress was interrupted yesterday and today, due to Andrew having a sledging accident. In spite of that, a lot has happened. A friend of Daisy and Topi came yesterday and today and helped us to fit the cupboards in the utility room and the pukeutuminen. I eventually managed to tile the porch floor and I was actually half way through grouting it when I got the call to take Andy to hospital. Neil took over and the job looks pretty good, I think.

Today, between us, Neil's brother Ian and a couple of friends, we fitted the cupboards in the porch, put laminate flooring down in another bedroom and fitted door handles and locks to all the external doors. Tomorrow, we are going back after lunch. We thought it would be nice to go for a Chinese as Ian will be going home in the afternoon. Once we get there, we hope to laminate floor the hallway and fit some door frames and doors. The plumber should turn up at some point to connect some indoor water and a flush for the loo. The electricians may or may not appear with light bulbs - goodness only knows! Anyway, here's a few more pics...

Andy's bedroom Neil and Ian fitting sink Another room floored Utility room Utility room
23rd December

Our new toiletI decided the page was getting too long and too full of pictures. It was time to archive some more and start a new page. It's been another rollercoaster few days. We got the toilet tiled so the plumber could fit the toilet on Monday and guess what? He didn't turn up! On Tuesday morning we tried to ring him and he turned up on Wednesday to fit the loo. It would have been quite exciting (in spite of the wait) except that then he told us we couldn't touch it until Thursday night because the sealant had to dry. It's been very, very cold the last 24 hours or so and going outdoors or to Daisy's to the toilet has not been fun. The only consolation is that when we go to Daisy's, she often feeds and coffees us - which is wonderful!

Tuesday evening was particularly exciting! The laminate flooring was delivered and Neil and I spent the evening flooring the boys' bedrooms. We were expecting it to be difficult but it was easier than we expected. It was the most wonderful, amazing feeling to see a room that looked virtually finished! Then on Wednesday, Andy and I put his wardrobe together and Neil and Josh did Josh's. It took almost all day but they were both so happy. Andy kept hugging me and thanking me every few minutes. Soon they can start taking stuff to fill them with.

Andy's wardrobe Josh's wardrobe

Grouted utility roomThis morning, the electricians were supposed to be coming to fit some lights and sockets but as always, nothing went to plan. We got up at the crack of dawn and arrived there just after 7 a.m. with temperatures of -28oC. The electricians were already there but they had no intention of doing anything. They had come to count how many lights we needed so they could order them. It sounds even more stupid when I write it than when they said it but it was true. Eventually, they did agree to come back a couple of hours later and fit some sockets because we are getting really desperate for more places to plug in. We also wanted a socket in the garage to plug the car in but apparently this is not possible because of the cold - it will break the plastic. Why they hadn't thought of that before (like 4 weeks ago when we tried to contact them) I'll never understand! Anyway, after much whinging, they sorted out a temporary socket so at least the car stands a chance of starting now after long work sessions. Meanwhile, I grouted the utility room floor and it looks okay, I think. The only problem was that Neil had to insulate the technical room door to stop the floor freezing (AGAIN!) but because there's no light in there, he had to work with the door open and then the water pipe froze (AGAIN!) leaving me with no water to clean the grout with and smooth the edges. I don't think despair really describes it. I'd have cried, copious amounts of tears, except that it was so cold, they'd have frozen to my face. As it was I was wearing rubber gloves and they froze to my fingers in the 2 minutes it took to fill the bucket (or try to). We're going back later today to continue work. Hope things improve!