Settling in, catching up…

WordPress tells me it’s 58 days since the last post, so this one’s well overdue.

At the end of last year, all efforts were focused on getting ready to host 20 people on Christmas Day.  As anticipated, it was a busy day, but with people dotted about in different rooms it had more of a party feel than any other Christmas we’ve ever had.  Nice to repay the years of hospitality extended to us while we’ve been overseas too.

Christmas 2014

We had plenty of opportunity to host guests too; four overnight stays between Christmas and New Year kept us on our toes (Thanks for coming: Hampshire Archibalds, Churches, Barttelots and Firebraces).  Always good to have an excuse for a country walk…

image

The two-week winter close-down brought some frustrations from a project schedule perspective.  Installation of the oak louvres in the photo above was halted just before Christmas after an issue with the alignment of the front and rear steel supports was identified.  These have now been fixed and all the timber is now in-place.  It’s safe to say we’re more than happy with the end result – it really softens the overall look of the front of the house and makes the render look much less austere.

20150131 Louvres

For the build team, this was one of the more exacting aspects of the project; lots of tiny details and fine adjustments were needed to get everything lined-up perfectly.  Such attention to detail inevitably conspired to extend the implementation timescales…

20141218 Louvre supports   20140130 Hall and undercroft   20150128 Louvre supports

As well as making forward progress, there have been some issues to address.  The self-levelling screed laid in the master and guest bedrooms started cracking underfoot so had to be lifted and relaid.  Unfortunately the same problem has reoccurred and the latest theory is that the 50-year old bitumen underneath the screed is drawing moisture out of it.  So it’s back to the drawing board with the manufacturers to work out what to do next…

20150115 Master screed relay

A production defect with the picture window in the extension meant moisture and dirt had collected on the inside of the two sheets of glass.  The glaziers came out to swap the pane (at 2.3m x 2.5m – it’s pretty big and heavy – lots of huffing and puffing from the 6-strong team!), only for the replacement unit to be scratched from top-to-bottom.  Happily they came along again on Friday and put in another unit.  Fingers crossed it’s third time lucky…

Inside, the house is looking great.  Before we do a full before-and-after set of snaps (Kate Sansom), there are a few remaining boxes to get unpacked and some mirror doors to go up in the bathrooms.  In January, the vinyl flooring went down in the kitchen and utility, making a big difference to the look and comfort of both rooms.  It has quite a slippery surface; this, added to the warmth from the underfloor heating, has made it a big hit with the kids…

20150122 Kitchen floor

Outside, we’ve started to get to grips with the garden.  It turns out the hedge at the front comprises mainly brambles and ivy.  The ivy has slowly strangled everything over the years, leaving lots of structural deadwood.  Take it out, and there’s not much left… but we have had a couple of good bonfires with all the stuff we’ve ripped-out.  We’ll give it this summer, and if it hasn’t regenerated, think about putting in a new hedge next year…

20150201 Garden fire    20150201 Kids in the garden

20150201 Binfire

To cope with the rain, some extra drainage has been required to prevent the undercroft flooding.  To keep costs down, we took-on this one ourselves (with a bit of expert oversight from the build team, of course!) – a good opportunity to get hands dirty…

20150125 Disconnected drain     20150125 Connected drain

 

As things stand, the last big things to happen outside are the balustrade at the front and the deck at the rear.  Good progress was made on both of these last week.

At the front, the dry-fit of the balustrades was completed on Thursday (subzero temperatures and sleet made for perfect conditions!).  To prevent people/cars/dogs falling over the edge of the wall, new steel railings have been designed and are being custom-built at a local steelworkers.  Three sections, each weighing 250Kg, will be lowered into position some time in the next couple of weeks.  The dry-fit (without the full weight of all the railings) was required to make sure everything lined-up before the final adjustments were made.  Holes were also drilled in the retaining wall so each section can be secured more easily on delivery day…

20150205 Balustrade install 1   20150205 Balustrade install 2    20150205 Balustrade install 3   DSC_0597

The next day, we got some snaps from the workshop at Ashdown Steel, where the uprights have been added.  It’s great to see them like this – the key design feature is that there are no horizontal members; instead, each upright is 50mm x 50mm to give it the required strength.  Next week, the steel will be sent for powder-coating – we just have to settle on the final colour now…

20150206 Ashdown Steel Balustrades 1   20150206 Ashdown Steel Balustrades 2

 

At the rear, progress with the deck was beset by a few challenges before Christmas;

  • Firstly the upright steels were too long, so had to go off-site to be shortened…
  • When they came back, a couple of holes were missing that prevented the frame being fastened together securely (after the break, the holes were drilled so that the joists could be laid)…
  • Then there was a delay receiving timber samples…
  • Then the glaziers decided they couldn’t build the glass wall frames according to the design they received last summer…

You can imagine.

20141218 Sundeck steels   20150106 Sundeck joists

Naturally, while we’d prefer it if the view hadn’t been obscured by scaffolding, it did mean we got some different perspectives on the rear of the house.  And the delays have also built the anticipation levels about what the deck will finally look like.

20150203 Terrace E   20150203 Terrace SE

Happily, the timbers started to be laid on Friday and we now have a much better impression of the space we’ll have to enjoy once the weather picks-up…

A quick time lapse of the deck going down.  Admittedly not the most dramatic you’ll ever see but something a bit different…

All in all, we’re really happy with how it’s working out.  We’ll try to post the next update a bit quicker this time…

One Comment

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  1. Hi Kate, it all looks amazing and love the flooring in the kitchen. Miss those country walks in the muddy fields with the dog and the smell of “real” fresh air. 🙂

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