All talk, no action

We’d hoped to be cracking on with fitting the Quinn Therm this week, but Mick’s mother has been unwell, so he’s been busy making sure she’s okay and I don’t want to start cutting into expensive insulation without supervision, at least not the first time I do it!

That doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting here twiddling my thumbs, I’ve been literally talking the talk today.  Dougie the electrician called to say he thought it would be a really good idea if he, Derek the heating engineer and David the joiner all got together on site with me (and Mick if he’s not at work) to have a meeting about where the heating manifolds are going to go and how we’re going to disguise them.  It’s a very good idea, so I’m doing my utmost to make it happen.  He’s going to be here next week, Derek is flexible for days and times next week and I’m waiting for a reply from David – fingers crossed he can do next week as well, because once I know how far that manifold is going to be coming out from the kitchen wall and how that affects where the kitchen units can go in, then I can finalise the kitchen design and make myself that Howdens appointment.

ERG also rang me to say that Billy had the door situation under control and would give me an update soon and what was the situation with the window sills that were mentioned in the ‘work to be completed’ section of the job sheet?  Well, when the salesman came round to see me, I chose oak window sills, however I’m not sure the surveyor who came round noticed them on the paperwork (he started off by telling me it was only four windows and no door on his list!), as the two guys who did the installation said they weren’t on their job sheet and they hadn’t been given the materials – however, it would have been tricky to fit them without the framing in place.  So I’ve told ERG that I would be equally happy with either option out of (1) I call them when the framing’s done and they come up and do them or (2) they take the cost of materials and labour off the final invoice and I’ll get David to do them – they’re going to think about it and let me know.

This is the bit of the whole project so far that I’m least comfortable with.  Buying a house?  No problem.  Talking to financial institutions?  No problem.  Stripping out a house?  No problem.  Discussing project with tradesmen?  No problem.  Sorting out a problem with some work?  I come over all British and apologetic!  Mick reckons I’m too nice about things like this, but I’ve spent nearly 20 years working in customer or client-facing roles of one kind or another and know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a complaint and, even if the customer’s being nice, it’s not the best part of your working day.  Hopefully we’ll get this resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

New windows

The new windows and door are in and the house is a little warmer and drier for winter 🙂

156 armadale - outside - 39

The bathroom window in particular has made a huge difference to the amount of light in the room.

156 armadale - bathroom - 6

They’ve made a beautiful job of the door – the old, rotten frame has been completely removed and replaced with a new one that matches the dark green of the door.  Unfortunately they’ve sent the wrong lower panel for the door, it should be an Edwardian-style two-panel instead of a plain one, but they assure me they’re looking into it and it will be corrected.

156 armadale - outside - 38

One thing I must remember to do today is change the key that’s hidden down there so that the tradesmen can come and go at their own convenience – at the moment it’s the old door key there, so if David or Dougie turns up and I’m out, they’re stumped.

Hay stops play!

As people who’ve read this blog from the beginning may remember, I didn’t actually buy a house, I bought two croft tenancies which just happen to have a house on them.  This means that I also have 12 acres of fields to look after and since we hit a rare window of settled good weather, all work on the house ground to a halt and I have literally been making hay while the sun shines 🙂

Pete and his crew came and took the scaffolding away and I wrote them a final cheque.  I have spent a smidge under £19,350 for the new roof, , replacement Velux windows, guttering, work on the chimneys and stonework and tanking inside, but we’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the finished article and I think it’s worth every penny.  Yes, we could have patched up the existing roof and it would probably have been fine for a couple more years, but the idea is that we’re setting up this house to last for decades with minimal expenses required, so getting it wind and watertight and damp-proof is important.

156 armadale - outside - 35 156 armadale - outside - 36 156 armadale - outside - 37 156 armadale - outside - 34

I also took myself off to the local mart for a morning and came home with some new tenants for my fields – 12 of these:

lamb4 lamb5 lamb6

They’ve now been introduced to the three pet ewes I took on last October and flock integration seems to be going well .  Here are all 15 of them:

sheep and lambs

But this last week has been all about the hay.  I’ve helped out neighbours on baling day before, but never gone through the whole process of deciding when to cut, turn, etc., so I was fortunate that Ethel’s former partner, John (they were together for 25 years and were engaged but never married), has taken an interest in what’s going on at the house and has been making hay for the best part of his 72 years.  The two fields round the house lay on the ground for a couple of weeks getting rained on, because I called the cut a bit early, but we left it unturned and it’s made okay hay, if a bit lacking in nutrients.  Here’s John baling up the last strip using my bargain £300 baler (Mick and I have learned more about the mechanics of an International B47 square baler in the last month than you can imagine!):

hay making 1

When I saw last week’s heatwave coming in, I called John again and asked him to cut the field on the point:

haymaking 2

Went down each night to check how it was drying, but got distracted by the sunset:

20160816_212412

After a nail-biting day of unexpected fog, which totally soaked it, we got sun and a good drying wind and went for it – we probably lost about 20 bales as it flew off the point and John’s tractor had a small fire, but it was a beautiful day for it and we were still smiling at the end, although when I took the selfie with John I didn’t realise that it would take Mick, me and another neighbour another 6 hours to take all the bales off the field and up to the byres.

armadale bay end of baling

We ended up getting 138 bales off the two fields by the house and a massive 305 bales from the field on the point.  I only need about 100 to get me through winter, so I’ve bartered 80 with the neighbour who helped us bring the hay in for her 4 hours of physical labour plus horse and sheep sitting while we’re on holiday next month and will have some left to sell, which will be my first income from the house!  They’re all stacked in the biggest byre (the barn) and I now need to get the back window boarded up before it rains too hard!

Next week things should get moving again.  ERG are coming on Thursday and Friday to put the new windows and front door in, which means we have to take the plasterboard off around the front door that we’d left because the electricity meter used to be on it, and also put some chipboard down over the loose floorboards upstairs, as I don’t want a window installer going through the living room or kitchen ceiling.  Hopefully Mick and I should make a start on getting the insulation fitted as well, and things will start moving forwards again.

 

The roof’s nearly done

I was working away for a couple of days this week, so it was nice to come home and see progress.  The roof is now very nearly finished – the ridge tiles are on, the guttering has all been hung and the downpipes attached.  There was only a drain for one downpipe on the back, but Pete has advised a roof of this size needs two, so he’s fitted one and when we get Kev in to do the groundworks, we need to ask him to dig us a channel so we can put one in.  They’ve re-harled the track where the old power cable used to run and all that’s left to do is the chimneys, so they’re currently moving the scaffolding around to the gable ends.

156 armadale - outside - 30 156 armadale - outside - 31

I got a call from SSE PD (Power Distribution) while I was away to say that they’d had a cancellation out my way and could fit my job in, if that was acceptable.  More than!  Fortunately Dougie was available to let them in and work alongside them.  The cable in has been completely replaced and we now have about a metre more clearance under it.

156 armadale - outside - 29 156 armadale - landing - 3 156 armadale - landing - 4

David managed to get here for half a day as well and the framing is coming along nicely.  I now know what a dwang is!  (The horizontal brace piece between the vertical studs.)

156 armadale - outside - 32

Dougie nearly gave Mick a heart attack by saying he was sure that 100mm Quinn Therm needed a 50mm air gap rather than a 25mm – we’ve only just got 25mm for where it’s going in the rafters.  So Mick did a bit of Googling, and yes, it does need a 50mm air gap if you’re using tar paper as your roof underlay, but if you have a breathable membrane like ours, 25mm is fine.  Phew.  I think Rembrand would probably have exchanged it for us, but it would have been a hassle!

We’ve also done a nice bit of materials recycling by asking James and Connor to dump the old roof into the big tractor ruts, which were getting on for a foot deep in places.

156 armadale - outside - 33

So what next?  Well, Dougie’s away on holiday, which will hopefully give David a chance to get ahead a bit.  We’re going to start fitting the insulation into the roof today to make some space in the living room.  ERG rang me to say that my windows and doors could be installed on 25th and 26th August, so I’d like to have David around on at least the first day if possible.  Pete’s going to give me the number of a guy called Magnus who has an air-free paint spraying system and who can paint the house for me – whether I can get that done before the windows go in is debatable, but we’ll try!  Kev is hopefully coming over this afternoon to talk groundworks for both here and home – in other words, it’s all getting expensive!  Fortunately the last Barclaycard balance transfer offer has reappeared, so I cleared the card last week and will apply for the transfer on Monday, which gives me another £11,400.  That should finish paying for Pete and Dougie and the windows and Magnus with hopefully a bit left over towards Derek the heating engineer, who I should probably ring to find out what his availability is going to be over the next few weeks!

Kitchen design

Dear Internet, please sense-check my kitchen plan!  Click the link below to open up a PDF of my drawing.

Kitchen scale drawing

The crossed units are the wall units.  Annoyingly, a sheet of A4 was 2cm too small to do it at 1:10, so I had to do it at 1:12 and the morning after my brain is still hurting from the maths!  I thought I had some graph paper as well, but no.  Manuscript paper a-plenty if you want me to write you a tune at any point…

Anyway, if I’ve done anything particularly stupid with the layout, PLEASE let me know – I’ll be getting feedback from my electrician and my joiner as well as, hopefully, Howdens when I get them to price it up for me.  I know the wall units don’t match up with the base units on the sink side, but I love that plate rack so much that I wanted to fit it in somehow.