Monthly Archives: September 2013

First fix electrics – almost finished

Written by stephen gale

The first fix electrics were due to be finished last Friday.  It looks as if the electrics will be finished tomorrow (Tuesday).  This is just as well since the plasterers start on Wednesday.  The plasterers will start by boarding and plastering the ceilings before moving onto the walls.

I have no idea how much cable we have used, but it seems like a lot!

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First fix electrics are due to finish tomorrow.  Just as well since the plasterers are due on Wednesday.

First fix electrics are due to finish tomorrow. Just as well since the plasterers are due on Wednesday.

Progress on the extension

Written by stephen gale

Work continues on the blockwork and there are probably 3-4 days left before we reach roof level.

The reclaimed stone that is going to be used for the exterior skin turned up right at the end of the day.  The first job will be to “course out” the stone  – sorting it according to the height of the stone.  Stones of the same height will be used to make up the courses with the larger stones at the bottom and the smaller stones at the top.

This is going to be time-consuming process.  In the meantime, the work will continue on the blockwork.  The other factor here is the weather – it is possible to put up the blockwork in the rain, but not the reclaimed stone (the rain can wash the mortar down the front of the stones).  The weather forecast for the rest of the week is “mixed”.

There are another 3-4 courses of blocks to go before we reach roof height.  The reclaimed stone for the exterior skin arrived this evening - well the first batch anyway.  The exterior wall is going to be a lot slower than the blockwork.

There are another 3-4 courses of blocks to go before we reach roof height. The reclaimed stone for the exterior skin arrived this evening – well the first batch anyway. The exterior wall is going to be a lot slower than the blockwork.

At this rate, we will have a large proportion of the blockwork completed before the end of the week.

At this rate, we will have a large proportion of the blockwork completed before the end of the week.

We can't go any further with the internal wall in the kitchen as the interior wall is made up of re-used stone that we have reclaimed during the demolition. The bi-folding doors are on order.

We can’t go any further with the internal wall in the kitchen as the interior wall is made up of re-used stone that we have reclaimed during the demolition. The bi-folding doors are on order.

70 square metres of reclaimed stone.  This is the first of three loads.  It will be used for the exterior wall on the extension.

70 square metres of reclaimed stone. This is the first of three loads. It will be used for the exterior wall on the extension.

These are one tonne bags that have more than a tonne in them.  No prizes for guessing what happens!

These are one tonne bags that have more than a tonne in them. No prizes for guessing what happens!

Courtyard garden

Written by stephen gale

We have made some good progress on the reclaimed stone wall in the courtyard.  We have being making the best of the recent fine weather – it is October next week and I can’t believe that this good weather is going to last.

There is still a lot to do!

The wall on the right was the product of a Saturday afternoon's work with the father in law.  He coursed out all the stones.

We have spent a bit of time on the wall in the garden this weekend.  It was really only two half days, but we made some good progress.

We have spent a bit of time on the wall in the garden this weekend. It was really only two half days, but we made some good progress.

Waxing the old oak timbers

Written by stephen gale

With the plasterers due to start on Wednesday this week, I am trying to get a protective coat of liquid wax onto the old oak beams.  This means that if anything gets spilt on them, then it should simply wipe off. We sand blasted this oak beams when we cleaned the outside stone, so the timber is very absorbent and anything that gets spilt on them will be soaked up straight away.

I really wanted to keep the light colour of the sand blasted oak, but unfortunately everything that I looked at caused the oak to darken.  In the end, I have opted to use Osomo PolyX.  This seems to get some great reviews and will hopefully protect the timber.  It is expensive though and painting all of the timber is time consuming.  It looks as if the next two days are going to be spent painting!

I am using Osmo Polyx Hardwax oil to treat the oak timbers.  It actually dries out a lighter colour, but it does protect the old timbers from stains (including plaster, water and paint).  Putting a coat of liquid wax on the old oak beams.

This product seems to get rave reviews for protecting wood.  Unfortunately, in our case, it does darken the wood down considerably.  However, having tried a couple of alternative products, I think that whateve product we used would have darkened the wood.  This isn't cheap (around £60 for a 2.5L tin), but it does go a long way.

This product seems to get rave reviews for protecting wood. Unfortunately, in our case, it does darken the wood down considerably. However, having tried a couple of alternative products, I think that whateve product we used would have darkened the wood. This isn’t cheap (around £60 for a 2.5L tin), but it does go a long way.

Reclaimed stone wall – revisited

Written by stephen gale

When I looked at the photographs of yesterday’s work on the reclaimed stone wall, I realised that it wasn’t great – the courses were just to muddled up. 

There was no alternative other than to take it apart and redo it.  The sand and cement that I used to backbed the stones was still soft, so it didn’t take long to take it apart – just a quick tap with a hammer does the trick.  If I hadn’t rebuilt it, it would have bugged me for years.  It seemed a worthwhile investment of an hour or so to rebuilt that part.

The reason for the poorly built wall? A sprained ankle.  I fell over the previous evening coming out of the pub (not because of too much beer, but a pothole in the road – honest!) and sprained my ankle.  The next day I was hobbling around.  This meant that I didn’t stand back and look at the wall frequently enough while I was building it.  I only looked at it at the end of the day and probably only looked at it properly until I photographed it.  Then it was too late.

Looking at today’s photos, I am much happy.  It looks much better – not perfect, but better.

All in all, three days work - including an hour or so to redo half a dozen courses that I wasn't happy with.

All in all, three days work – including an hour or so to redo half a dozen courses that I wasn’t happy with.

Well, I looked at the photographs from yesterday and I really didn't like the part of the wall to camera right.  There was no alternative but to take it down and redo it.  It took an hour to take it down and rebuild it.

Well, I looked at the photographs from yesterday and I really didn’t like the part of the wall to camera right. There was no alternative but to take it down and redo it. It took an hour to take it down and rebuild it.

More blockwork

Written by stephen gale

We are three days in and the blockwork in the new extension is already around shoulder height.  We are expecting the first load of reclaimed stone to arrive on Friday and in the between we have been concentrating on blockwork.  Blocks go up much quicker than stone!

For the past few weeks we have been able to wander around the extension without worrying about the walls.  Now, we can only walk around the extension by using the door openings.  This has taken a little while to get used to!

You can see the land drain in the bottom of the retaining wall as well as the damp proof course on the side of the extension.  The manhole to camera right houses one of the three manifolds for the ground loops for the underfloor heating.

You can see the land drain in the bottom of the retaining wall as well as the damp proof course on the side of the extension. The manhole to camera right houses one of the three manifolds for the ground loops for the underfloor heating.

We are three days in and the blockwork is around shoulder height.  It has already got to a point where we can only walk around the extension by using the door openings.

We are three days in and the blockwork is around shoulder height. It has already got to a point where we can only walk around the extension by using the door openings.

There is a damp proof course (the black plastic) around this part of the building as the ground level outside is above the floor level inside the extension.

There is a damp proof course (the black plastic) around this part of the building as the ground level outside is above the floor level inside the extension.

Light switches

Written by stephen gale

With the first fix well under way, we are looking to finalise much of the sockets and switches that will be used as part of the second fix.

We have decided to use Schneider flat plate screwless switches and sockets throughout the house.  This product range has a full range which includes ethernet sockets, shaver sockets, etc.  These come in a variety of different finishes.  We have decided to used stainless steel with black inserts.  These match the window and door furniture that we have selected to use elsewhere.

The front of the switches and sockets can be removed while the rooms are being painted and simply pushed into place once the paint has dried.

The majority of the light switches will be modified Schneider two button switches.  The switches have been modified to use an RJ45 socket make them easy to connect to the Loxone lighting computer. Each of the buttons has an LED.  These come in a variety of colours.  We have decided to use ones with white LEDs.

This is a two way switch.  It is from the screwless flat plate range from Schneider.  The small circles at the top of each of the button are LEDs.  They come in a variety of colours.  We have decided to use white LEDs.

This is a two way switch. It is from the screwless flat plate range from Schneider. The small circles at the top of each of the button are LEDs. They come in a variety of colours. We have decided to use white LEDs.

The black socket at the top of the switch is an RJ45 socket.  We will use CAT5e cable to connect these switches to the lighting computer (Loxone).

The black socket at the top of the switch is an RJ45 socket. We will use CAT5e cable to connect these switches to the lighting computer (Loxone).

Reclaimed stone wall

Written by stephen gale

I have spent the last couple of days building a reclaimed stone wall in front of the retaining wall in the garden.  This is the first set of stone that we have imported to the site.  Much of the existing stone on site is poor and unfortunately the quality of a wall depends on the quality of the stone used to build it.

The stones are “back bedded” meaning that a small amount of sand and cement is used at the back of the stones to hold them in place.  It also is required to attach the front wall to the retaining wall using the stainless steel ties. 

It has taken a couple of days to complete this part of the wall.  The stones come in large bags and need to be “coursed out” – sorted into groups depending on their height.  The stones are sorted into groups of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9cms.  The larger stones are almost all 15 or 16cms high.  While it takes time to course the stones, it does make building the wall that much quicker – as soon as you know you have enough of one course, you can get on and cement the stones in place.

This is the reclaimed stone wall that has been built in front of the retaining wall in the courtyard garden.

This is the reclaimed stone wall that has been built in front of the retaining wall in the courtyard garden.

The wall is made of reclaimed stone.  We are using two sizes of stones 3 - 3.5 and 6 - 6.5.  The larger stones are used as "jumpers" to break up the courses and make it less uniform.

The wall is made of reclaimed stone. We are using two sizes of stones 3 – 3.5 and 6 – 6.5. The larger stones are used as “jumpers” to break up the courses and make it less uniform.

This shows how the reclaimed stone wall has been tied into the retaining block wall.  The ties are made of stainless steel.

This shows how the reclaimed stone wall has been tied into the retaining block wall. The ties are made of stainless steel.

If it rains over night, the rain may wash some of the cement down the front of the stones.  This would cause marks and can be avoided by covering the newly built wall with a large piece of hessian.

If it rains over night, the rain may wash some of the cement down the front of the stones. This would cause marks and can be avoided by covering the newly built wall with a large piece of hessian.

Blockwork in the new extension

Written by stephen gale

We started putting up the blockwork in the new extension today.  We have placed an order for the reclaimed stone that will be used for the exterior.  It should be delivered (or rather the first consignment) midweek this week. In the meantime, we will continue with the blockwork.

The first task is to bring all of the blockwork walls up to the same level.  This isn’t easy as there are multiple levels in the extension.  Once the walls are all up to the same level, it should go up very quickly.  That is the theory anyway!

It already feels different with a couple of courses of blockwork.  Strangely, it feels bigger with the blockwork down.

We have started on the blockwork for the extension today.  The reclaimed stone for the external walls arrives midweek, until then we will continue work on the blockwork.

We have started on the blockwork for the extension today. The reclaimed stone for the external walls arrives midweek, until then we will continue work on the blockwork.

We have spent most of the day getting all of the walls in the new extension up to the same level.  This means using some bricks on some of the walls.  Once we have all the walls to the same level, it is much quicker to then build the rest of the blockwork.

We have spent most of the day getting all of the walls in the new extension up to the same level. This means using some bricks on some of the walls. Once we have all the walls to the same level, it is much quicker to then build the rest of the blockwork.

First fix electrics start

Written by stephen gale

We have started the first fix electrics today.  This means putting in all the cabling for the power, lights, data and telephone.  Once the walls have been plastered, we will do the second fix which involves fitting all of the switches and sockets.

We need to get the first fix completed before we can start on the plastering.  We are due to finish the first fix electrics this week.  This is just as well since the plasterers start next Monday.  We are pushing ahead with the plastering and electrics in the renovation while the new extension is being built.  Today we started on the power sockets downstairs.

As we are working through the first fix, we are finding that some of the sockets, light and switches aren’t quite in the right place.  We are “ironing out” these issues as we go.  At the end of the first fix, we will be able to update the spreadsheet which list the sockets and switches that we require for the second fix.

We have started on the first fix electrics today.  We should be done by the end of the week.  Which is just as well since the plasterers start next Monday.

We have started on the first fix electrics today. We should be done by the end of the week. Which is just as well since the plasterers start next Monday.