Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I think we're alone now

Not exactly 'It's a wrap', but a lot of progress in the last few days means we have a functioning kitchen and bathroom (ok, I had to drive to a layby to meet the big yellow Ikea van that was refusing to come down the road to us with the oven). I was so excited to have a bathroom door I had a dance around to the sounds of Lakeland Radio, a guilty pleasure originating in weeks spent with builders in da house.
No tradesmen seem to work until Jan. 5th now, so it's slow DIY till then...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back by popular demand

This is our builder Guy McCollough again - his back anyhow - installing the minute kitchen that has obsessed us for months.
The recipe is:
Ikea cabinets
Spenny solid surface worktop in the New Year
Groovy round Baumatic hob
No visible clutter AT ALL (bets taken now on how likely I can be to keep to that)

Nighty night

The water-tightness of the shack has been tested to the limit in weather of the last few weeks, and recently our first builder Marcel had to return to look at a leak in the roof...
I slithered out onto the mud to take this picture of Adam taking a break the other night.

The exterior of the house has sadly looked the same for months due to all the intricate progress beingon the inside, but I still find it thrilling to see it lit up at night, and realise that we have created this!

As (un)happy as a sanding girl

Our flooring is rather more of a challenge that we anticipated. Lovely as it is, I was in this position for about 22 hours this weekend and that was just the bedroom. The hired belt sander has to sand out the tape that holds the 'mini-parquet' - like oak strips together, plus any imperfections in the level etc, which being a real wood floor, there are a few. Only then can you fine-sand and start the 3 coats of acrylic-based varnish off.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I name this house

I thought that renaming our house officially to The Love Shack would be fairly simple, but it turns out you need to have it approved by the Council before the Royal Mail say yes too and they might deliver the odd letter.
When everyone agrees it means your address is 'official' and you can get your stationery printed.
The origins of The Love Shack as a name are lost in the mists of my memory, but it quickly stuck and even found its way onto the Council's documents, to my amusement. It's written all over the building's components too.

The shack's current name is "Argent Close", which as someone in the Council's Building Control said last week, sounds like a whole row of houses in a mining town, rather than a tiny log cabin in a wood.

Apparently the whole point of the Council's Naming & Numbering Dept. is to clarify things like that. No-one there mentioned - at first - concepts like 'appropriate' - a word much favoured by the Lake District Planning Authority and used fast and loose in any context which requires them to quash stuff they don't like.

So after a pregnant pause from them I received a message back:

"We would like to receive your second choice of house name."
Me - "Why, is there a problem with 'The Love Shack'?"
"We would like to receive your second choice of house name."
Me - "Yes, but why?"
" Something that reflects the local area is usually good. We will then check that there is no duplication before going ahead."
(Duplication, of The Love Shack?!) I then -to them at least - begged that the quirkiness of the house deserved a quirky name. And that it was Christmas.
Privately I raged against the local Taste Police, irate that even the name of your own property was controlled by the Council, was there no end to their attempts to derail us?! Would it have to be called "Fluttering Leaves" or "The Cabin"?!

Then this morning came a quiet email from the Council in my Inbox,
"I have a note on my desk stating that your house name has been accepted".
Not exactly a warm reception but a small triumph for freedom! And no, we're not big fans of the B52s actually.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Local colour

We're lucky to be able to use local timber from the nearby Graythwaite Estate for much of the Love Shack, and now we can also use local-ish paint.
One of the UK's leading eco-paint manufacturers is in Lancashire, Ecos and we used them first when we painted Adam's mum's floor in a delicious yellow floor paint they do. For the Love Shack we are just using their whites so far, and they go on like a dream. My one small gripe is that emulsion only comes in 5 litre pots and we'll have a lot to spare.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The stairs, a financial hernia

The fandango of the 2 staircases in the shack has been elaborate to say the least. It ended with both parties of builders blaming the other for devising the slightly arse-wise solution we actually used. Mind you, now they're in its a nice change from bodily lobbing your way up the change in levels as there was nothing between them. They actually look really good, which is what matters, but when you pay your builders by the hour (as we do) this isn't just an irritation, it's a financial hernia.

The main challenge was that our chosen flooring is like tiny parquet, supplied in small bound 'tiles'. One the tread and riser these have to meet edge to edge, so they were kind of laminated onto the step bits before bevelling and fitting. Of course the joint was very vulnerable as the oak was so thin at that edge, not to mention the inevitable warping of the treads and the occasional human error.
We're using commercial oak flooring usually deployed for heavy duty use in airports and the like - we were able to buy a small quantity because it's also what we're using at Lawson Park, the hillfarm being refurbished by Grizedale Arts, where Adam works. It's supplied by a really helpful small company called Rutherfords Real Wood.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas time, drains and mastic

I'd be lying if I said this was getting any easier, though what do I expect with only 8 working days until we try to move in?
On the plus side the clear, cold weather is merciful compared with the site chaos that comes with rain. Especially when it freezes the ground so hard I don't have to dig trenches for a day or two.
Today I personally moved 450 kg of gravel up the steep hill to line the drainage trench with and then the same again of tiles. I may not be able to walk tomorrow.
And there was noone there to take a photo of me in this heroic endeavour.
When it came to the 150kg stove (more on that later) I gave in and asked Mike and Mark to assist. I then wrestled with the serpent-like 25m flexible drainage pipe until it lay in the first part of the trench. (FYI the drainage solution was spec'ed by a nice guy called Nick from Elemental Solutions a company specialising in 'eco' drainage in tricky places, it's simply a 'leaky' pipe in gravel in a trench attached to the septic tank)
Following that everything else seemed dead easy.

Other progress has included the finishing of the windows with a brown mastic, I don't pretend to know exactly how important this step was. The company doing it have been a bit of a nightmare. Not having encountered the strict contemporary aesthetic of the shack's windows before, here were many sharp intakes of breath and suggestions of champfered oack beading. For a while we had a memo from the architect on the wall saying "Do NOT let the windows people tell you how they will do it".

And skimming, looking lovely and turning the rather chaotic interior into loveliness.