Sensible heads on

Apologies for the radio silence, but it’s been a bit quiet on the house front – so quiet that Mick got itchy DIY fingers and we went to look at another project on Friday!  A seriously cute little gatehouse on the edge of an estate in a gorgeous woodland setting.

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At offers over £50,000 it was within budget, but we knew it would need a LOT of work.  The extension would have to come off for starters – that horizontal crack goes most of the way around it.


The layout is tricky as well.  There are only two ways I can see to make this work – one is to knock through from bedroom one to between the kitchen and bathroom (which we found out when we viewed wouldn’t work, because that’s the original external wall and the Listed Buildings people tend to take a dim view of you punching holes in original walls where there previously weren’t any), and the other is to re-do the extension, put a matching one on the other side, make them the bedrooms and turn bedroom one into the kitchen – but then it would look like the Millennium Falcon and you’d be spending a LOT, even if you could get permission to do it.  And I’ve no idea what you’d do with that room that was the kitchen and the entrance hall is almost as big as the lounge and the bedroom – awkward.



The final clincher in our decision not to go for it was when we checked its listing with Historic Scotland.  It was listed back in 1984 with the following description:

Later 19th century, single storey 3-bay gate lodge; coursed rubble, tooled dressings. Projecting canted centre porch in east front with centre door and single windows with lattice pane glazing; chamfered angles; 2 corniced ridge stacks; piended slate roof with deep eaves, gabletted at angles. Gate piers; pair octagonal tooled ashlar gate piers with pyramidal caps linked to similar end piers by low coped quadrants with cast-iron carriage gates.

No mention of an extension, and this doesn’t look very much like lattice pane glazing to me:


Plus part of the roof has been replaced in asbestos cement tiles:


So, given that whoever buys it will almost certainly be applying for planning permission and listed buildings consent to work on it, they’ll become liable for the full costs of reinstating the windows and the roof (I assume they’ll want to take down the extension anyway) if the Listed Buildings Officer feels inclined to enforce the rules.  It’s a beautiful little house, but not one for us.

In matters slightly closer to home, we have progress in the form of the hearthstone arriving on Friday!


That’s the underside of it.  It’s been cut by water jet at 50,000 psi to precision measurements to fit straight into the fireplace over the old stone.  Pete, James and Mick did an amazing job getting it out of the van and into the house, given it weighs (best estimate) about 250-300kg.

What we need now is to get the chimneys sorted so that no more water is coming in – Pete has bumped us up his list now he’s realised that we’re waiting on that.  Once they’re sorted we can finish the plasterboarding and then Derek can put the heating system in and the floor can go down.  Mick has been hard at work today:

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The action shot was taken about 15 minutes before he attempted to fire a screw through his finger and called it a day!  Fortunately it didn’t need stitches…

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.