Saturday, 11 September 2010

Still Pointing In The Right Direction

A quick update.....we're still pointing!

Currently we are up to the dining room return wall back into the sitting room. Although I'm not actually the one wielding the mortar gun, it's going quicker, and better, than we first thought.

The weather is also on our side and we've had pretty good weekends at it so far.

PS - I also have my first pumpkin growing! This, for many reasons, is a very exciting discovery.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The plum tree is a Mirabelle Yellowgage - very sweet and juicy and just ripe for picking at the moment!


Decided we're sciving today, but don't tell anyone.

Going to wear normal clothes AND blow dry my hair! Woo hoo!

All Bricked Up

We did it.

Thursday 26th August marked the day the last brick was stuck on our house.

We're so pleased to have reached such a huge milestone in the build, if absolutely shattered and with aching legs!

Now the pointing begins, and there is a lot of pointing to do. But, we'll get there.

We also had a huge clear up on Friday and the house is now spotless (or as spotless as a building site can be!) and actually looks like a house again.

Electrics and plumbing will now also be completed ready for the next sign off.

Back to the day jobs on Tuesday!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Started on the plot at 7.30am.

Decided that was it for the day at 6.30pm.

Four and a half walls bricked.

Now drinking wine.

Enough said.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Garden Surprises!

We have made two exciting discoveries in the last two days.

First there is a Blackberry bush laden with berries, I have already picked a pound and hope to pick more to make jam with.

We have also found a small tree with what we think are plums, or they could be damsons. I have picked a leaf and some fruit so we can try and identify.

What will we find tomorrow.....?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Photos So Far

Here they are, long awaited photos of our progress so far.

We have about a quarter of the house left to stick bricks on, and then half the house needs to be pointed.

On Friday we discovered that we were 14m of metal base plate short. The is something that Eurobrick supplies as part of the system, so a quick call to them and we will get more delivered tomorrow. This shouldn't hold us up and we're glad we discovered this now rather than next weekend!

Yesterday was spent cutting more bricks to complete the house. 32 bricks from the end, the brick cutter broke (again!) so another one is also being delivered tomorrow.

We have discovered a new European mountain this week, the newly-formed 'Twin Peaks of Polystyrene'. These are all the empties that the bricks have come in. We're getting rid of them next week so will have a garage again.

Right, mustn't get cold, back to it!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Rain Stopped Play

Just a quick note to say that photos are on the way as promised. We only just finished before the rain came down about 3.30pm and I didn't manage to take photos. I will do tomorrow and post them on here.

A good day today on two counts; bricking done to the middle of the dining room doors AND we found a blackberry bush in the garden laden with berries!

More tomorrow if we haven't been washed away by then!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

On Holiday! (Well - ish)

No, this isn't a real photo of where we are!

We now have two weeks off work to concentrate on finishing the bricking and have a jolly good tidy up! Please keep your fingers crossed that the weather is dry, or we could be back to our 'day jobs' by Wednesday! We also want to try and get the windows and doors stained both inside and out.

I think this is only our third or fouth stretch of holiday we have taken since we started just over a year ago so we've not done bad really have we?

If we can get the bricking done, or almost done, then we'll be on to inside work finishing the plumbing and electrics and then it's our next inspection which is pre-plasterboard.

Photos of progress will follow.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sock-et To 'Em!

When the weather has been bad and we can't do any bricking, we have been doing the electrics. We have installed the mains socket ring to the bedroom 3, the study and hallway, the lounge and the main bedroom. This has taken less time than we imagined and Darran has learned a fairly broad range of contortionists skills from scrabbling about in the roof space! That is where he was a few weekends ago when it was really hot!

We're currently doing the lighting circuit, starting in the sitting room. It's going really well. I have the important job of watching the reel of wire as it unrolls to make sure it doesn't all slip off the end and become tangled. Every little helps.

So, all the little bits are coming together.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Connection Complete!

The gas connection proved to be a bit of a saga.

On the first date arranged, the gas men arrived, met with Darran who was on site about what went where etc. and then went back to the mains connection on the roadside to get started. About an hour later, one of the chaps came back up to say that the wrong pipe has been installed from the mains supply to our plot. It wasn't permeable, meaning that if there was a gas leak, it wouldn't be detected and could build up and up and cause an explosion in severe cases. This pipe was put in by the vendors as part of the Conditions of Sale so it was their liability to put this right. Darran called them and explained the situation, to which they denied they had used the wrong pipe, luckily the Gas man was still there and Darran was able to pass the phone over - at which point he conceded!! This meant that they had to dig up the shared driveway and relay the pipe! I won't go in to how many property developers it takes to drive a digger!

A couple of weeks later this was done and we could get on to rearranging the connection.

Connection was eventually arranged for the Friday before the first May Bank Holiday. It was my turn to be Site Agent that day, and luckily they turned up fairly early to get on with it. They brought their long wheel base transit van up tot he plot (this was a mistake, quite why, you'll find out later!) and started fitting the meter box. They couldn't however complete the connection as Shropshire Council would not permit them to put traffic lights out on the road as it was a Friday before a Bank Holiday. Now, this is Wem. This is not a large town, and whilst yes, traffic lights would cause disruption as they would anywhere, but come on - we're hardly central London! So, away they went saying they would write or ring us when they were coming back.

As you will know from other posts, the access to the plot is narrow. And yes, you've guessed it, they got stuck. I said they were brave when they arrived on site with the van. That comment was brushed aside, they had apparently got into tighter properties. OK, three hours later, lets see you try and get out then!? I went down to where they were to find them both puffing fairly heavily on a cigarette with the engine turned off as that burning smell happened to be the clutch. Darran gave the advice that the guttering man had also had problems and that he had to reverse out so that's what they tried next and made it as when I went back about half an hour later, they had gone and there was no sign of any paintwork or dents in either wall.

Then one day, we came home from work, and there was traffic lights outside the entrance to the shared driveway. We had no idea they were coming. They caused a bit of disruption as it meant it was difficult for cars to get around and up to the driveway and parking area. We kept our heads down and in a few days they went, leaving us with a long awaited gas connection!

The best news came a few weeks later when a cheque arrived from the Service Provider compensating us for the fact that gas wasn't available on the date they specified. Good.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Catching Up

It's been a while since we updated the blog and a lot has happened. We have now moved into Halfway House and have settled in. It only took a week to unpack the boxes and put our things out around us. We haven’t unpacked everything as a) I don’t think there would be room and b) with moving again in a (hopefully fairly) short space of time we didn’t see the point, so a lot is still packed and in boxes in the spare room. We can see The Garden House from the back windows so it keeps us motivated!

Darran has been off the last couple of weeks and has made great progress. The plumbing is now completed (just the shower valves to fit) and he has also fitted the manifold to the under floor heating pipes so we no longer have spaghetti to contend with. We have tested the hot and cold water pipes and no leaks!

We now have the raised vegetable beds in, filled and planted.

The main objective continues to be the bricking. Hopefully as we’re now moving into the nicer weather we will be able to get on with it in the evenings. Darran has done some over the last couple of days as the weather has been so nice. He has done the back of the garage and around under the breezeway, ready to point.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

On The Plinth

Yesterday we stuck the blue bricks on top of the plinth around the garage.

That was followed by a trip into town on the hunt for an oven for Halfway House as it doesn't have one. We were unsuccessful with the oven, but did get three soil pipes, a sack truck and the three toilets we wanted as they were on a half price offer and we were also given a further 10% off!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

New (temporary) Home!

I picked up the keys to Halfway House today. Hooray! One step closer to where we're going to be - just got to jump the wall and we'll be home!

(This is the view from our plot into the garden of Halfway House)

We move in the weekend of the 20th/21st March after some cleaning of the kitchen and bathroom. Apparently professional cleaners leave crumbs in kitchen drawers - and if we make a note of it on our inventory, we can leave crumbs when we leave too. I kid you not.

Slightly disappointed that we're going to have to clean (or maybe my standards are too high?) but other than that it's fine. It will make such a difference to a lot of things when we're just round the corner.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Still Soldering On

It's a month to the day since we last did an update. This hasn't been because we have been slacking off, it's just that what we've been doing has been pretty much the same for the last month - plumbing!

The hot and cold water loops are complete on the bedroom wing which is the most complex as it has the bathroom and ensuite. Now over to the living area and kitchen and cloakroom, and then across to the utility room. It has all gone really well and Darran has done a great job considering he hasn't ever done this kind of thing before.

The soldering of the joints has gone to plan. The real proof will be in the pressure test. No fires with the blow torch either, not even small ones (other than a slight charring of the flux brush)!

In other news, we now have electricity in the house which is a big tick. We have an isolator switch in the garage which is connected to the meter and have laid armoured cable (or ****** armoured cable as it was known pretty soon after we realised how difficult it is to do anything with) across the breezeway and into the lobby area to a consumer unit. We can now get on with the electrics when the plumbing has been completed.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Plumbing And A Halfway House

Too cold for bricking, this weekend saw a big leap ahead with the plumbing. The hot water loop is complete and the cold water loop is almost there.

These pipes are currently cut to size, bent to the correct angle and set in place ready to be clipped to the joists and the joints to be soldered.

After weeks of debate about copper v plastic pipe work (and yes, we mean weeks and weeks), copper was decided. It's going well so far, Darran's 'pipe-benders-face' is now easily recognisable, I think the 22mm pipe is harder to bend than first thought.

In other news, we have found a property to rent where the wall at the end of the little courtyard garden is the same wall that surrounds our plot. It is a perfect location. I have dropped the application form off today, so hopefully we'll be successful and be able to take the tenancy from the 1st March which will give us a few weeks to move in while we still have our Oxfordshire place. We'll be so glad to have moved and being so much closer will make such a difference.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Back To Work We Go!

It was back to work for us this weekend after a long Christmas and New Year break. We had intended not to work over Christmas as we both needed a break and to do some research and planning for the next stages. The weather also meant that for a couple of weekends we were stuck due to the snow.

Today we pointed some more brickwork around the garage plinth and took delivery of the copper pipes and fittings to start the plumbing. We also decided where our raised vegetable beds are going to go and will be marking those out tomorrow. I can't wait to get growing!

In other news, we had our defects inspection for the slab and drainage a few weeks ago. A percentage of the total cost of this stage of works was retained until six months after completion of the stage, when another inspection takes place and any mistakes/problems that have crept up are either rectified, or the outstanding balance is reduced accordingly. We have had a problem with the drains, as they are set too close to the slab and we can't get bricks, and sometimes not even the backer panel for the bricks, in behind the drains and the block work. The architects are now contacting the contractor to see whether they want to come and dig up the drains, chop a bit out and reset, or they reduce their balance. Secretly hoping for a bit of both, but I think it will be one or the other!