It’s amazing what you can do in two days

We had David and Dougie for two days last week and they’ve got a lot done 🙂

Dougie has been tunnelling again – we now have holes in the wall and cables for the outside floodlight, the satellite dish and a switch for all the external lights.


Inside, the cable runs are just getting more and more wires in them – this was taken standing in the hall and looking up, so all these are running underneath the landing.  I have to confess, I had absolutely no idea how much wiring was in a modern house until now.


Not to be outdone, David has been working away in the kitchen and spotted a problem – two of the joists weren’t actually resting on anything, they stopped just short of the window!  One quick trip home (fortunately he lives about 6 miles away, which is just round the corner in Highland terms) for a suitable bit of wood and problem solved.


The framing is up in the hallway and around the front door.


And the first of my window seats is taking shape – I LOVE it!  Eventually that wooden fence will be replaced with wire stock fencing, so there’ll be less of an interruption to the view.


And last but by no means least, my wonderful husband has been cracking on with things as well.  The living room ceiling is completely plasterboarded over.


He’s started on the coombes upstairs – if you’re wondering why he’s not gone all the way to the floor, that’s where the tongue and groove panelling is going to be.


He’s also put in recessed dwangs ready for Dougie to attach the socket backs to.


Pete dropped round today.  He’s been trying to get his hands on a beautiful piece of Caithness slab that he’d spotted way out west of here for me to use as a replacement hearthstone, but after weeks of gentle negotiation its owner has decided not to part with it.  Instead he gave me a 2″ x 2″ stone sample to check I was happy with the colour and will get it cut exactly to size at the quarry for me.  The quote for a 75mm-thick piece was over £700, which he choked at a bit, so since it’s a woodburner going on there rather than an open fire (i.e. no direct heat) and the floor’s being raised by the underfloor heating anyway, we’re ordering a 50mm piece and Pete will raise it to the right level – a far more reasonable bill of £350 for that stone and you won’t be able to tell the difference.

David is back tomorrow, I hope, and I must remember to ask him (a) when I need to order the tongue and groove, (b) how much of it I need to order and (c) which supplier he would prefer me to get it from, if any.  Tomorrow he’s hoping to get the window seat in the living room done and perhaps put in the studwork for the internal walls upstairs again.  It’s going to feel quite strange not having it all open up there any more.

Stress-testing the roof

We’ve had a bit of Weather over the past few days.  Not as bad as it can get up here, but winds gusting into the 50+mph range and heavy rain with it.  By Monday morning we had one slate off, one slate lifting and a small puddle in one of the bedrooms.

Pete came over yesterday to investigate.  He’d noticed the slate that came off was loose when he drove past a few days previously and had made a mental note to come and sort it out, but it’s not letting any water in, so it’s not hugely urgent.  The puddle was a bit more of a worry.  Mick, by this time, had spoken to some of his work colleagues who’d said that everything in their garages was soaking with condensation as a result of the unseasonably warm weather, so I put that to Pete as an option, who said it might be, or it might be coming in through the chimney somewhere.  Mick phoned him yesterday night with some more information about what moisture he found where and they came up with a plan of action to get the framing finished ASAP so the heating could go in, dry out the air in the house and then put the insulation back in and see if it happened again.

Except this morning I went down to feed the sheep and found bone-dry walls apart from three very long dribble marks all the way from above the tanking down to the ledge the gable sits on and a small puddle on the ledge.  My theory is that the chimney has a leak somewhere, it’s run down the wall and pooled on the ledge, only spilling over the ledge for the first time when we had some serious rain, but the presence of water behind the insulation has caused condensation to form – i.e. the condensation is a symptom rather than the problem.  I’ve updated Pete and when we get a gap in the weather and he’s free, he’ll go up and inspect the chimney.  Quite a few of the houses around here have some porous stones used in their construction, so if there’s nothing obvious on the stack, it may just be a case of painting it with a clear sealant.

Not much to report

Progress has been slow over the last fortnight.  David hasn’t been able to get to us for the past couple of weeks, but hopefully will manage a couple of days next week, as Dougie now has a reel of shotgun cable, ordered for him by Colin Chessor (who’ll be doing the satellite dish installation in due course) and is going to be running it into the living room and bedrooms next week.

Mick has spent a day down there today and we now have an insulated living room and the living room ceiling is plasterboarded.  By the time I went down to feed the sheep (who moved back to the fields around the house yesterday) it was too dark for photos.

On the finance and admin side, I got round to catching up on entering all my invoices and spends into my spreadsheet – we are now £35,000 into the budget *gulp*.  What I’m pleased about is that the majority of that money, all bar a couple of thousand, has been spent with local companies and tradespeople.  I do try to spend within the local economy where I can.  I’ve also ordered the correct Ordnance Survey map extract needed for the decrofting application, which arrived on Friday and is sitting in a tube on my desk ready for me to break out the colour pencils.  Since it cost me £19, I think the first thing to do is ask Mick to make several copies of it for me to practice on!  (My scanner doesn’t do A3).  Given I was sorting sheep out on the area in front of the house yesterday (we managed to pick up a few extras coming down the village!), I’m only going to apply to decroft the bit of ground the house sits on and a tiny bit behind it for a small garden – as long as I draw the map accurately, it should go through with no problems, as I’m not applying to decroft any areas that would restrict access to the rest of the croft.