Post-Christmas progress

WARNING:  lots of pictures ahead!

One of the things I forgot to mention in my last post is that the Highland Council decided to give me a Christmas present of putting me back on 200% council tax as of 25th December.  I’ve sent them an email explaining that the house still isn’t done and attaching scans of the latest bunch of invoices and letting them know they can follow progress on this blog, so hello to the Highland Council council tax department if you’re reading this 🙂

So, what’s been happening in the last fortnight?  The stove arrived:

and Pete and James turned up to put the replacement hearthstone in, very, very carefully!

David’s put all the internal studwork back in, has been panelling like a demon and has also replaced all the rotted/woodworm-y floorboards.

We hit a bit of an issue last Friday.  We were forecast gales on Thursday night, not particularly high – gusting to about 65mph or so.  As I was walking down to feed the sheep on Friday morning I saw an SSE van in the village and a flapping power cable.  ‘Wonder what caused that?’ I thought.  The next field I passed was Ronald’s, who lives in the house diagonally opposite Ethel’s.  There appeared to be a heap of twisted metal in it.  ‘Crumbs, some poor sod’s lost their roof,’ I thought.

Er, yes, that poor sod would be me – the haybarn roof had completely gone!

Talking to the SSE guys, they said it looked like it had come off in one piece, bounced off the power cable between Ethel’s house and Ronald’s with such force that it snapped four cables as a result, knocking out power to that end of the village, and then bounced in Ronald’s field, breaking up on impact.  In the picture of the field, you can just make out a piece of wood stuck vertically in the ground to the left of the telegraph pole.  That had driven in over a foot deep.

Mick came home from work and we cleared out all the wood from the stalled byre, finding the chains for tethering the cattle in the process – there’s a selling point!  “If your children misbehave whilst on holiday, simply tether them in our handy cattle stalls…”

And I really must take this sofa to the tip.  Ethel got it for the front room, but decided it was too big, so it’s been living in a cattle stall ever since.

Anyway, the hay is all safe and sound, the wood is in the roofless hay barn and we’ll get a new roof on it once Mick has decided whether or not he’s going to rebuild the front wall, which is bowing out a bit.  Back to the house.

David, bless him, came over on Saturday to finish the last little bits he needed to get done before the heating team started.  I am LOVING the way the bedroom alcoves have turned out – how’s this for a bedroom with a view?

Derek turned up on Monday with his team and Dougie was on hand to wire up the manifold.  Heating is now going in 🙂

Holes are starting to appear for sockets and switches.

And once the pipework is done for the bathroom, the last bit of plasterboarding can be done.

So it’s just finish the heating, get the floor down, install the kitchen and bathroom, decorate it and make a garden.  Easy-peasy, right??

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…