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Thursday, 31 October 2019

Roof Finished

You learn something new every day or so they say.   Well, today I learnt that it is difficult to take photographs of flat, black roof.  Here, if needed, is proof:

This is the bathroom waste pipe vent, neatly surrounded with lead flashing.  Autumn leaves brighten the scene.

This is where the roof joins the tower wall, evidenced by the the dust from the Stihl saw disc which cut the flashing groove.

One of the two main drain outlets on the roof

A third roof drain goes almost horizontally through the parapet wall.  Hopefully it will never see water as it is the overflow weir.

The existing annex roof is the temporary storage area for ladders, Gordon the Gondola and rain-screen cladding  There is quite a difference in height of the old and new parapets.   We shall have to construct a style over the uneven drop between the parapets.

Today I hitched up the big trailer to the Shogun and went to Iron Octopus Ltd at Baildon to collect the newly made Juliet Balcony which will go across the main bedroom's sliding glass doors.   More on that later.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Drying Out - but Thinking about the Kitchen

This dry spell has been a Godsend.   The roof has been finished in the dry so no rain whatsoever can get in - except of course via the window openings.  Though soon to be glazed I am seeking to use these huge openings in the wall to ventilate the building to dry it out.   The extent of the inundation is illustrated by these two pictures:

 Above is the situation immediately after the Visqueen sheeting was lifted - wetness everywhere.  Thanks to two large window openings being left uncovered overnight the floors were drying visibly by morning but worryingly, water was still dripping from above, hence the buckets:

Clearly, water had puddled in the space between the plywood boards that sandwich the 150mm of insulation in the roof.  I am going to tackle this in two ways:

1.  Each 8ft x 4ft board above the ceiling will get a large hole drilled into it, initially to drain any remaining water and then to enable forced air venting of the roof space.  Old fashioned (i.e. corded) vacuum cleaners on either blow or suck mode should do that trick.
2. Each external door and window space will be covered with green garden mesh*.  This will admit more light but mostly it will massively increase the flow of air through the building, hastening the drying process.   Driving rain may get through and re-wet the immediate floor area but the overall drying effect should outweigh that.

* this is the stuff:

Immensely strong and designed to protect plants from wind and rain after all.   We'll see.

On a more domestic note we went today to Wren kitchens magnificent showroom (only opened in September) in Blackburn this afternoon and got a flavour of how things might look in the kitchen area:

 Clever work-flow from table (dirty dishes) via sink and drainer to dishwasher below.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Dry Roof, Wet House but Wired

The fabric of the house has suffered badly from rain penetration despite the very best of efforts to keep it at bay by laying a 'waterproof' Visqueen membrane immediately the floor and roof were in position.  The weak point was the roof-top Visqueen layer whose sheets overhlapped but whose joint was not taped.

The extent of things was not evident until the floor Visqueen was removed today in the knowledge that no more water could possibly come through the roof.   The OSB boards below were sodden with water: 

That said and despite standing water in parts, the water does not seem to have hardly penetrated the boards at all.

Besides the near completion of the roof top layer the internal wiring is complete - the tails of the wiring seen here awaiting the extension's consumer unit:

Monday, 28 October 2019

Roofers are Here!

Beresford's of Skipton arrived this morning in brilliant sunshine and in next to no time at all the raw materials for the roof were up there on top.

These two masterpieces of lead-work appeared on top of the big boulder and puzzled me for a while.  These will be inverted and the tubes will sit inside the two downspouts of the new roof:

The joiners' work is finished for now.  This final piece was made and fitted today - a diagonal lintel spanning the kitchen opening from the lounge completes the structural wall which supports the roof at that point:

Saturday, 26 October 2019

That Boulder Wall

I have deliberately refrained from posting any pictures of the great boulder wall here as darling daughter Lorna is in Settle this weekend and I wanted to surprise her with it.   And lo she was surprised and delighted, I think.

We had very heavy and continual rain overnight and this morning so the picture looks grim.  Moreover, the wall extends to the right by about as much again.

To the left is a large pile of so far unused round boulders which will continue the structure leftwards as a dry stone wall, to be done by hand by local waller Simon Morphett using the small but still sizeable stones.   That will lean into the slope and give us a base of substantial mass. 

Three rows of horizontal treated timbers will then be fixed in place on the steep slope above, pinned in place by wrought iron water tank bracing rods.  Topsoil, presently off site, will then be poured onto the entire slope and planted from a short list of shrub species renowned for the stability of their roots in providing longer term stability to an otherwise steep and vulnerable slope.

Bear in mind that below that steep clay slope are boulders, every bit as massive as those forming the wall below.

The dark patch left of centre is not a cave - it is topsoil.   The dark patch on the right is the stump of the immense sycamore tree that was there - deliberately left as part of the bank's stability.

The summer house will have a railed balcony on two sides.

Trust me, with shrubs on the steep slopes and Alpines between the boulders, this will be stunning.  In time.

The sun is due tomorrow and for the next three days so I should be able to get a better picture.

And sure enough:
basking in Sunday sunshine is the impressive pile of stones awaiting the dry-stone waller Simon:

and now dry and much more photogenic than before, here are the larger boulders again:

A Trip to Appleby

Lest you should think that life revolves around the extension these days here is yesterday.  FoSCL volunteers in the joinery workshop have been spreading their attentions further northwards and have made five magnificent Midland Railway inspired station name boards for Appleby.   Far too big to fit on a train, and too heavy as well, my big trailer came to the rescue.
Here it is being carefully loaded at Settle.   Then it was a quick dash up the M6.

A dry journey north and they were delivered safely.   Then cups of railway trolley coffee before a torrentially wet run home.

On arrival I was able to park the big trailer inside The Sidings entrance - free of earthworks for the first time in months.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Sunglasses Needed and Sundays in Settle

The extension roof took on the glare of a snowfield today as it became covered with the first 75mm layer of insulation.  Another 75mm layer still to go on top.

Meanwhile the boulder wall grew a bit until a shortage of bedding material, the red sandy stuff in the picture below halted play.  The courses of boulders lessen in size the higher the wall gets:

But there are still loads of boulders to go, already sorted by size:

As a bit of relief for boring stuff about drains, walls and roofs, how about this for a lovely little week-end footnote to the shop opening hours displayed outside Dugdale's shop in Settle:

click to enlarge

I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and it seems to have provided amusement for quite a few judging by the re-Tweets.

It put Pat in mind of a perhaps apocryphal tale of the Queen visiting her then failing sister, Princess Margaret in hospital.  On leaving the Queen met Princess Anne, also visiting.  Anne noticed that HMQ looked rather annoyed so asked if everything was alright.  "No" said the Queen.  "She was listening to The Archers and kept telling me to shush". 



Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Services Connected and Big Boulders on the Move

Another dry day of excellent progress.  The water main was uncovered and the insulated supply pipe to the extension now has water in it,   The great big trench that takes the drains, surface water, mains water and solar panels supply to the grid has now been filled.

Most spectacularly, the huge pile of glacial bounders has been pulled apart and the boulders sorted by shape and size.  Not only that, the bottom row of boulders has begun, starting withe the one huge stone which had called for the bigger digger to be deployed this week,

Here is the huge bounder to the fore of the diminishing boulder pile, dwarfing the rest.

and thanks to some very skilful digger work here it is in situ at the base of what will be an inwards-leaning wall of stone which will provide stability to the bank above.   Digger maestro Jim shows he is an artist with a shovel too:

Meanwhile the northern end of the roof is ready for Beresford's roofers to finish off the roof surface:

This part of the roof slopes slightly to the left where the water collects in a trough which drains into two outlets.   There will also be a weir outlet on the side to ensure that a depth of (heavy) water cannot accumulate should the drain outlets ever block.

A Roof in the Garden

Overnight, another delivery of roof components has appeared in the garden!   Plywood sheets and IKO Enertherm insulation panels.

Bess was unsure about them but was quite determined that nobody would steal them.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Progress on the Roof and Underground

The sun has shone, the site is drying out and terrific progress today.

Moving on from the extraordinarily lucky discovery of a sewer inspection cover at the first scoop of the digger bucket the sewer, water supply and electricity cable trench was quickly dug and populated with those services.   Water will be connected to the mains in the morning and the trench can then be back-filled.

One enormous pipe that we knew must exist somewhere down there was the tank's overflow pipe - probably of cast iron.  Well today it came to light:

That's it lying east-west at the top of the frame.   It was quite low down in today's trench and we have re-buried it decently below the new pipes and wires.

This is the view uphill towards where the dog-leg outside staircase will be

 and downhill to the newly exhumed sewer drain connection via a new, square, inspection chamber which will be in the entrance driveway:

Meanwhile, up on the roof, the plywood deck which will form the base for the roofing membranes was being installed on top of 150mm of insulation panels:

picture taken from the water tank shows the existing annex roof, temporarily storing Gordon the Gondola, wall exterior cladding panels and plywood awaiting laying.

Sewer Serendipity

Jim the digger has been setting about digging and finding the sewer pipe which connects the tower to a known manhole in The Sidings.  A speculative dig on the supposed sewer line came across this piece of exceptional good luck in just the right place below our Sidings entrance:

An existing sewer manhole with a spare inlet just waiting to be used in just the right direction!  The blue spray-paint line shows that direction,   Full marks for anticipation to our original builders Kilburn and Johnson.   Not only had they put the inspection chamber just there, they had protected it with heavy steel tread-plate, here seen set to one side to the right.   The water meter access flap is between my feet.

We are pretty confident of finding the water main within inches.  The above picture shows the blue direction line on perfect alignment with the big boulder beyond the digger where an orange sewer pipe awaits.   So too the mains water pipe.

The sun is shining too.  Happy days.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

A Famous Architectural Visitor

Well, not perhaps famous in the normal sense but a man who, in his field of architecture is one of the best.  His name is Tim Lucas and he is a partner in London firm of architects Price and Myers.

You may have seen him on Grand Designs when his amazing house in Kew, London appeared as the RIBA House of the Year 2015.   Modestly named Kew House, here it is:

Our architect Stuart Green had called upon Tim Lucas for advice when it came to the steelwork on which our extension sits.   Tim likes a challenge and he rose to this one!

Meet Tim:

He is exploring Settle and area with his wife and young daughters at Stuart's invitation and our extension was his very first port of call to see how things were working out.

See for Tim's write up on his firm's website.  Geometrics are his thing and he revels in "structurally and geometrically challenging projects".

Stuart and Tim both worked on the massive sculpture 'Slipstream' in Heathrow'sTerminal 2:

This huge sculpture as 78m long and weighs 77 tonnes.  It must indeed have been 'structurally and geometrically challenging' for  Tim and Stuart's firm Commercial Systems International in Hull who actually made it.

Good to know that we had such talent and experience working on the tricky bits of our comparatively humble extension.  Also good to have such an expert site visit at this stage when the bare bones of the structure could be seen and scrutinised.   We passed.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Very Proud Grandparents - Again

Wayback when, we were able to announce that our fist grandson James had passed his 11 plus examination and had secured a place at the Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham.

That then left us with a long wait to see if #2 grandson Ben would likewise pass his 11 plus (never in any real doubt).  Our week of building progress was crowned at 5pm today with a Face Time call from Ben to tell us that he too had passed!

I am not at all sure about the etiquette of grandparents bragging about such things on their Blogs but hey, I don't care either - so proud am I.   It remains to see if he too will get a place at Dr Challoner's but naturally we hope so.   Filial preference applies so fingers crossed on that.

Absolute credit and acknowledgement must go to Gerrards Cross C of E Primary School for giving both boys a respectful, caring and learning environment

It's in the genes too, of course.

Here is a family favourite picture of me, James and Ben a few years ago, granted:

click to enlarge

A Dry Spell in Prospect?

Heavy overnight rain meant that a lot of water accumulated on the temporary roof and on the floor below, despite the layers of Visqueen protecting them.   That, combined with a promising forecast of a dry spell made progress with the roof's firings and insulation a priority today.  Hopefully this will enable the permanent roof to be done next week.   This is the state of play at lunch time today:

Meanwhile the diggers have been making good progress with the main drains, rainwater drains and the incoming water supply.  Below we see a new manhole which connects to the existing rainwater harvester pipes.   Also see in the centre is the top an enormous boulder, usefully placed where it is by the Ribble Valley Glacier as the start for our bottom row of boulders forming the base of the rockery.   Its sheer size will add stability and reassurance about the embankment above:

Below is the rainwater drain from the extension roof and the black-wrapped land drain from the back of the building.   Water from that source will go to the sewers.   Also seen is THAT boulder again and the bright blue incoming water main, sheathed with grey insulation.

And here is our rockery (bouldery?) heap waiting to be distributed pleasingly and securely onto the embankment:

Aire Valley Glass have drawn up a revised final order for windows for final checking before possible manufacture starting next week.

Window and door sizes have also been crucial on other fronts, not least a Juliet Balcony to span the sliding patio style doors to bedroom 1.   With the splendid help, advice and patience of Ben Green of Iron Octopus Ltd at Baildon who specialise in these balconies we have been been able to order that today.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Progress on Several Fronts

Satisfying progress on several fronts today.
1. We got an even bigger digger on site to cope with the final positioning of massive boulders onto the banking
2. We got rid of the huge pile of topsoil from The Sidings driveway.  Part went onto the top of the embankment by the summer house and the remainder went off site temporarily by lorry to return as infill for the boulder rockery.
3. We dug almost down to bedrock to enable us to get the levels right for laying three important pipes - incoming water, sewage and harvested rainwater.
4. Gordon Beresford of Beresfords of Skipton visited and assessed the roof along with Hopley's Steve Lawson and were able to agree that Hopleys would get the roof ready for Beresfords forthwith.  We could therefore get a finished roof next week, weather being kind to us of course.
5.  Inside, the impressive stud walls were being finalised.
6.  Bob the Building Inspector visited and lo, he was pleased.  He was able to offer sound advice on heating.  We had already decided that it would be all electric but we had been thinking about a three phase water heater capable of heating and filling a bath in quick time.   A sort of 400 volt electric equivalent of a gas combi-boiler.   The more I had read online about these the more doubtful I had become on grounds of cost, reliability and actual functionality.  Few houses have three phase electricity but Bob the BI had experience of these devices.   He agreed with my conclusion.   We shall have a standard unvented insulated immersion heated water tank.   We shall also have standard oil-filled low powered room radiators with thermostats and timers, running from ordinary 13 amp sockets.   Keep it simple.
7.  Pat and I went to The Talbot for a splendid birthday (for me) lunch.

This project has been running for about as long as Brexit, one way and another.   Big difference seems to be that we could have a watertight result by 31st October.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Internal Stud Walls Completed

Some impressively quick joinery work sees all the internal walls and door openings completed which really does enable us to get a feel for the size and shape of the rooms.   Below is the wall which divides bedroom 2 from the lounge area.  Joiner Jamie* is having a rest from the nail gun, having sprained his wrist because of its recoil - hence the bandage.

Below is part of the kitchen area.  The 47mm square uprights screwed to the walls are spaced to coincide with the edges of standard plasterboard sheets and to create space enough for 40mm deep electrical socket boxes.

A fine paved walkway at the back is also done so access around the outside is becoming easier.

First fix electrics should be done next week.  Hopefully we shall have drains and mains water connected tomorrow.

Today our roof insulation arrived!

* Further news on Jamie's arm.  Next day it was in plaster.  He has hairline fractures of radius and ulna - not just a sprained wrist.  The pain was so great he went to Airedale.  I met him next day and sympathised.  He told me it was the first time in his life he had broken any bones.  Hopefully the last too.   He thinks that the nail gun may have hit a knot in the timber and recoiled severely.  Anyway, we wish Jamie a speedy recovery.

Nothing particularly photogenic so here are some pictures of Flying Scotsman during a brief stop at nearby Hellifield Station on the 13th.   No publicity, no crowds, just a delightful spectacle to savour.  The driver was even able to enjoy a demonstration of his disco dancing skills.

Click any pic to enlarge

Talk about big boys' toys!