Monthly Archives: January 2014

The kitchen without a kitchen!

Written by stephen gale

Until August last year, there used to be an old barn attached to the cottages here.  With the kitchen due to be installed in about 3 weeks time, we are getting ready for the decorators to start on Monday – once the kitchen is installed, it will be very difficult to get tower scaffold into the kitchen to paint the ceiling.  With the plaster on the walls, it is starting to resemble something habitable.

The balcony into the kitchen is from the upstairs study and marks the transition between old and new. The doorway on the left leads into the hall (where we are just finishing off the plastering).

The balcony into the kitchen is from the upstairs study and marks the transition between old and new. The doorway on the left leads into the hall (where we are just finishing off the plastering).

 

There is a series of tall unit to go into this space.  The canopy slightly overhangs the units as there are lights embedded in the canopy.  There is another light just over the doorway into the utility room.

There is a series of tall unit to go into this space. The canopy slightly overhangs the units as there are lights embedded in the canopy. There is another light just over the doorway into the utility room.

The roof trusses and purlins are all made of oak and built in the old fashioned way to match the rest of the property.

The roof trusses and purlins are all made of oak and built in the old fashioned way to match the rest of the property.

This wall was built using stone that we reclaimed from an internal wall that we demolished in the old cottages.  There will be a bank of work surfaces (including a sink and a hob) to go along here.

This wall was built using stone that we reclaimed from an internal wall that we demolished in the old cottages. There will be a bank of work surfaces (including a sink and a hob) to go along here.

Looking from the kitchen into the lounge

 

Progress on the fire place for the lounge

Written by stephen gale

We have pushed ahead with the fire place in the lounge and, by the end of the day, we are ready to fit the plasterboards on the metal framework.  Even without the plasterboards on, the fireplace is usable.  I can’t wait to see it in action.  We even had a fresh delivery of kiln dried logs yesterday!

This metal work is the same that we have been using to dri-line the solid walls in the older part of the property.  Fortunately, we had some left over.  The framework will be covered in fire line board (a pink coloured board that is more heat resistant than normal plasterboard).

This metal work is the same that we have been using to dri-line the solid walls in the older part of the property. Fortunately, we had some left over. The framework will be covered in fire line board (a pink coloured board that is more heat resistant than normal plasterboard).

Another view inside the chimney breast.  The large stainless pipe at the rear is a 10 inch flue (it has an internal diameter of 8 nches). The two pipes in front of the flue are to vent the heat that might build up inside the chimney breast.  The heat will rise out of these pipes and into the lounge.

Another view inside the chimney breast. The large stainless pipe at the rear is a 10 inch flue (it has an internal diameter of 8 nches). The two pipes in front of the flue are to vent the heat that might build up inside the chimney breast. The heat will rise out of these pipes and into the lounge.

Here's the inside of the chimney breast.  It has been formed using the same metal work that we have used to dri-lining the solid stone walls.  The metal work is then boarded using fire line board - a type of plasterboard that is more heat resistant than "normal" plasterboard.  The control you can see here is for the butterfly (an internal baffle) in the flue that controls the amount of air that exits through the chimney.

Here’s the inside of the chimney breast. It has been formed using the same metal work that we have used to dri-lining the solid stone walls. The metal work is then boarded using fire line board – a type of plasterboard that is more heat resistant than “normal” plasterboard. The control you can see here is for the butterfly (an internal baffle) in the flue that controls the amount of air that exits through the chimney.

The rest of the fire line boards will be put on by the plasterers when then get around to plastering the lounge.  The fire line board will then be plastered in the same way as the rest of the walls.  We should get to plaster the lounge during next week.

The rest of the fire line boards will be put on by the plasterers when then get around to plastering the lounge. The fire line board will then be plastered in the same way as the rest of the walls. We should get to plaster the lounge during next week.

The sign of a good company…..

Written by stephen gale

…is how much time they invest in making sure that you are happy with their service/product after the product/service has been bought.

I am getting increasingly fed up of companies who invest huge (often disproportionate) amounts of time in getting your order.  And then, once you have placed the order, are hardly ever to be seen again.  It is not unusual to get bombarded with phone calls from sales folks in the run up to a sale, however, once the order is placed, they are then difficult to get hold of, or in some cases, never return your calls!  And certainly, never when there is an issue.  That now appears to be someone else’s problem (usually someone you have never heard of in the “delivery team”).

Once they have your money, it seems to be about delivering the service/product at the cheapest cost possible, and any interet in your as a customer, or your satisification with their product or organisaton, goes out the window.

This is hugely disappointing, and IMHO, no way to run a business.  We shouldn’t be treating the sales process as purely a transaction, but should be looking at it in terms of building a realtionship.  In this day and age, as products and services become more similar, it is often only the way that we deal with customers that separates the different companies.  Surely, this is well understood these days.  But alas, it would appear not.

I would love to be able to spot these “sales heavy/ delivery light” organisations upfront.  Then, I could avoid them!  But like many things in life, you don’t find out until it is too late!

Progress on the plasterwork

Written by stephen gale

Bar a couple of small areas, the work on plastering the kitchen is complete.  This is just as well since the decorators start in here next week!

Our attention has turned to finishing off the plastering in the older part of the property, including the double height hallway.  The two largest walls were completed today.

Despite the fact that we had no water on site.  There appears to have been a burst water main locally and our water stopped just before lunch.  We managed by filling up some 5 gallon drums in the village and transporting them back to site on the pickup.

Each of the large walls needs to be completed in one go.  Due to their size, this means having one plasterer work upstairs while the other is working on the lower part of the wall.  This can be tricky at times!

Ian is working on the upper part of the hall way, while Mark is working on the lower part!  It all takes a lot of coffee and lucozade.

Ian is working on the upper part of the hall way, while Mark is working on the lower part! It all takes a lot of coffee and lucozade.

 

Progress on the fireplace

Written by stephen gale

We have made some more progress with the fireplace today.  With the wet weather, we have been looking for indoor activities and finishing off the fireplace was one of our top priorities.

All of the pieces of ashlar that form the fireplace are now in position.  We need to build the chimney breast around the fireplace.  This will be done using the metal framework that we have used elsehwere during dri-lining.  We will then board this with fireboard – a sort of plasterboard that has increased heat resistance.

At the moment, this still ins’t looking like the finished product.

We now have the ashlar stone work in place for the fire place.  There are three stone "boxes" under the fireplace.  Two will be for logs and the third (the one on the far left) has cabling for a TV/HiFi.  I am just not sure that if a TV/HiFi was placed here whether it would melt from the heat from the fireplace!

We now have the ashlar stone work in place for the fire place. There are three stone “boxes” under the fireplace. Two will be for logs and the third (the one on the far left) has cabling for a TV/HiFi. I am just not sure that if a TV/HiFi was placed here whether it would melt from the heat from the fireplace!

Spartherm unit installed

Written by stephen gale

The missing part for the Spartherm unit turned up yesterday and the installation was finished today.

The good news is that the unit looks great.  The bad news is that the flue on the outside looks like something that belongs on a fast food takeaway!

This is hugely disappointing. After all the time and effort that went in to ensure the view of the building from the sunken garden looked great, we now have a large stainless steel flue protruding over the ridge line of the building.  This is not what we had intended.

Apparently, the flue needs to be 3m higher than the top of the fire box. Otherwise, we would have lowered it below the ridge line.  In terms of colour, we could have got a powder coated flue (we only needed the top that sticks out of the roof), but no one told me this when we were sorting this out.  And it is big, the flue is 7 inches across with a large stainless steel “hat” on the top.

We will be looking into alternatives here as this doesn’t look great. Ho hum!

The Spartherm unit is now installed, although the chimney breasy still needs to be formed around it.  The studwork that meets the roof line is there to mask the fact that the flue has a "dog leg" to avoid the large ridge beam.  This is a big flue - 8 inches in diameter.

The Spartherm unit is now installed, although the chimney breasy still needs to be formed around it. The studwork that meets the roof line is there to mask the fact that the flue has a “dog leg” to avoid the large ridge beam. This is a big flue – 8 inches in diameter.

This is the rear elevation of the new extension and shows where the new flue appears through the roof.  This is a lead liner that covers where the chimney meets the roof.  The intention was that the flue would only ever be seen from the rear elevation.

This is the rear elevation of the new extension and shows where the new flue appears through the roof. This is a lead liner that covers where the chimney meets the roof. The intention was that the flue would only ever be seen from the rear elevation.

We were hoping that the new flue would not be seen from the new elevation.  However, this is not the case.  It really isn't in keeping with the rest of the building.

We were hoping that the new flue would not be seen from the new elevation. However, this is not the case. It really isn’t in keeping with the rest of the building.

Mmmmm....this looks as if it would be more at home of the side of a chip shop!  We are going to have to look at some alternatives here.  I think reducing the height might improve it . Or painting it.  Or making the top part smaller.

Mmmmm….this looks as if it would be more at home of the side of a chip shop! We are going to have to look at some alternatives here. I think reducing the height might improve it . Or painting it. Or making the top part smaller.

Skirting boards and architraves

Written by stephen gale

We are just starting on the second fix woodwork.  This means the door linings, doors, skirting boards and architraves (around the windows and door frames) are starting to go in.

As per usual, it is amazing how much material gets swallowed up into the building – there is over 500M of skirting and architrave to be installed.

Originally, we were going to have custom made skirting boards and architrave.  This involves having a metal cutter made so that the wood can be shaped using a spindle moulder.  It costs around £150 for a metal cut for soft wood, however, a tungsten cutter is required for MDF.  MDF is harder and the cutter needs to withstand the heat when cutting.  A cutter for MDF is around £750.  The cost of the timber was only £750 in the first place, so this effectively doubled the cost.  So in the end we opted for a standard chamfered pattern.  In reality, this standard chamfered pattern was not that different to the custom one that the architect had designed. I daresay no one will notice the difference.

500m of skirting boards and architrave.  All made out of MDF and already primed front and back.  We have opted for a standard pattern in an attempt to reduce costs.

500m of skirting boards and architrave. All made out of MDF and already primed front and back. We have opted for a standard pattern in an attempt to reduce costs.

The first of the log stoves installed

Written by stephen gale

Although we are still missing a crucial part for the Spartherm unit, we have taken the time to get the Firebelly stove that we bought a few months ago installed.  It is a FB1 stove in pewter with a matching stove pipe.  Other colours are available.

These stoves are made in Elland (just outside Halifax), so are very local to us.  You will find more information here.

The stove is exceptionally well made and we are really pleased with it.  The glass front provides a great view onto the logs inside.  It burns very cleanly and the glass stays clean while in use, even when the air supply is turned down to slow the burn rate.  It is easy to light and the combustion seems super efficient leaving the minimum of ash.

While we are still missing a crucial part of the Sparthem unit, we have installed the Firebelly stove in the snug.  I am really impressed with this unit - it is easy to light, the glass keeps clean and it pumps out the heat.  It is a big hit with the builders!

While we are still missing a crucial part of the Sparthem unit, we have installed the Firebelly stove in the snug. I am really impressed with this unit – it is easy to light, the glass keeps clean and it pumps out the heat. It is a big hit with the builders!

Why do WiFi access points look awful?

Written by stephen gale

Answer: Because no one in the design process cares what they look like.

Having spent a fortune renovating (including re-wiring) a property, I need to install a couple of WiFi access points to make sure that WiFi is accessible in all parts of the building.

Trouble is they all look awful – most are white/grey plastic boxes with one or more aerials.  They are plenty of examples to choose from, but few, if any, that look half decent.

Their design seems to be a hang-up from corporate offices rather than something than anyone would want on display in their home.  As a result, most of these access points end up getting hidden away in cupboards, under the stairs, or anywhere else that they won’t be seen.  Ironically, these positions don’t really help propagate the signal, they perform better out in the open.

Isn’t it about time that designers had an input into the appearance of the technology that is fast becoming part of our everyday world?

Who would want to stick this on their wall and look at it everyday?  And if that wasn't bad enough, there are some flashing lights on it to make sure that you don't miss it!

Who would want to stick this on their wall and look at it everyday? And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are some flashing lights on it to make sure that you don’t miss it!

OK, so this one looks like a smoke alarm.  It is one method of disguising it, but it isn't exactly attractive.

OK, so this one looks like a smoke alarm. It is one method of disguising it, but it isn’t exactly attractive.

Probably the best we are going to find.  I will strip it apart and spray the outside case so that it matches the wall colour.  It will be a bit like the pottery uplighters that you can paint the same colour as your walls.

Probably the best we are going to find. I will strip it apart and spray the outside case so that it matches the wall colour. It will be a bit like the pottery uplighters that you can paint the same colour as your walls.

Firebox for the lounge

Written by stephen gale

The firebox for the lounge arrived yesterday.  We have a slight problem in that the baffle (butterfly) for the flue seems to be missing.  However, we should be able to get the unit into position and build the stone fireplace around it. There will be some “fine tuning” required, but nothing that the builder can’t deal with. The design of the fireplace is covered here.  However, re-looking at the pictures, we have significantly changed the design – we are now using a firebox with 3 sides of glass rather than 2.  We have also gone for a design that is a little more symmetrical.

We are going to have to wait for the missing flue part before using it, however, we can get on with the job of installing it into the fireplace.

The installers are also going to install the Firebelly stove that we bought a few months ago.  So although the Spartherm unit might not be operational this weekend, the Firebelly should be!

It doesn't look very impressive, does it? But over the next few days the fire place will be built around this Spartherm fire box.  This is an Arte 3RL 100h (if anyone is interested!).  It weighs in at a massive 300kgs!

It doesn’t look very impressive, does it? But over the next few days the fire place will be built around this Spartherm fire box. This is an Arte 3RL 100h (if anyone is interested!). It weighs in at a massive 300kgs!

And here is what the firebox looks like once it is in position!

And here is what the firebox looks like once it is in position!