Category Archives: construction

Another big lot of changes

Well a lot has happened again in the last few weeks, in my last post we had just got the plastering finished and were moving towards the finishing stages.

The first thing that happened next was all the pipe work and the conduit goes in for the electrics and plumbing. This is all don in a completly different way than in the UK, pipework is done in a single straight run without any joins, and all the electrics are run through plastic pipes. All this is laid across the floor and up the walls in what looks like total confusion.

So the blue ones are for water and the black ones are for electricity.

All the pipes lead into a central manifold in the utility room.

Once everything is in place then the whole lot is covered in two seperate layers of concrete, first a coarse mix then a thin compacted level layer on which we will put the floor tiles.

With the floor in place other stuff can happen, the doors and the windows were completed some time ago and have been in storeage, with the floor in the carpenters can move around without the fear of damaging any electrics and pipes. So all of a sudden we had floors and windows.

This is looking down from the front door.

This is one of the downstairs bedrooms with the door out to the garden.

This is the upstairs bedroom.

And this is the door to the garden.

Putting the windows in has really made a change to the outside of the house.

This is looking up at the kitchen windows.

I have been very busy on preparation for the next stages which will be tilling the upper floor and getting the wood ready for the ground floor. We are trying to use as much material from the old barn as we possibly can. The way things are working out we will actually recycle the entire building. Before the building was knocked down I removed all of the floor planks and beams that were safe to take out without the building collapsing. The floorboards have been in storage for the last year but now it was getting near the time to start work on them. They looked terrible, nails all over the place, woodworm, rotten patches and smelled pretty foul bearing in mind cows had been shitting all over them for about the last three hundred years.  This is probably not an exaggeration, lots of the nails holding the planks down were medieval handmade iron nails which are probably from around the 1700’s.

So I had to thoroughly jet wash and de-nail them, a process that took about two weeks. They were then transported up the road to the local carpenter who put them through his machines to plane them all down to the same thickness. The results are fantastic.

These are now ready to go down, and work will start on this in the next few days.

More soon. Cheers




Progress, at last

I feel like things are really starting to move now, since my last post, about six weeks ago a lot has happened.I finished all the internal insulation, got all of the electrical conduits and distribution boxes in, put a base coat of cement on all the walls and ceilings and generally prepared everything for the builders to move back in.

They got stuck into the final plastering and as you can see below things are looking pretty good.

This is from the front door.

And this is from the other end of the room.

This is the main bedroom upstairs, with the equipment room to the right and the ensuite to the left.

The steps going downstairs.

This is the second bedroom, which is a large double.

And this is the other bedroom which is two singles.

And the doorways between the two.

And just to finish off, a nice picture from last weeks walk. Tata for now.



Been a while but…….

I have the excuse of being ridiculously busy. The builders handed the house over to me about four weeks ago and it has all been a bit mental since then. In order to keep costs down, certain parts of the project are to be done by me, and the part that I am doing now is all of the internal insulation, cutting in around all the windows and openings, cutting conduit for the electrical systems into the walls and ceilings and plastering all the insulated walls and ceilings ready for a final coat which will be done by the boys when they return in two weeks. Thats a lot of work, which is why I have been a bit slack on the blog front.

Anyway here are some pictures.

The outside looks pretty much the same, but some of the finishing work has been happening, here you can see the new stone sills going in prior to the windows being fitted.

And below you can see the outdoor area is built and the recycled stone sills have been cut and put in to make the door frame for the entrance.

We wanted to keep a very minimalist interior and so went for a very unusual design, the roof has no visible structure, but is held together by two massive steel reinforced beams that run along the top of the walls and are held together by a steel rod with a barrel screw in the middle.

The inside is starting to take shape, this shows the walls with the 10cm insulation panels. The walls have so much insulation in them that if you lean against them they start to warm up and it feels like someone left a hot water bottle there.

The insulation panels have to cover all exposed brickwork that is external, the panels are 1 meter long by half a meter wide and are stuck on using a special adhesive cement, holes are drilled through and plastic expanding bolts are driven through the panelsand into the walls and ceiling.

Doing the walls is not too bad, but the ceilings are a very tricky, balancing on top of a ladder holding a panel in the right place while wielding a massive kango hammer drill and sledge hammer are not good for the back,

The electrics are cut into the walls and insulation which can be seen running down the staircase.

Conduit and switch boxes set into the wall for the 2 way light switches.

The panels have to be cut to shape around the door and window openings.

Once the insulation is all in place, then plastic mesh is fixed over all the surfaces and more adhesive cement is plastered over the top, this gives a suitable surface for final plastering.

So, so far downstairs is nearly finished ready for plastering, we have two weeks to finish the insulation, plaster the surfaces and install all the conduit for the electics for upstairs, which is just about doable. The windows are started next week and in two weeks the builders move back in to do the final plastering and external rendering. At the same time the electricians and plumbers move in to fit the central heating and solar water panels.

Once the electrics and plumbing are in place I move back in to fit out the two bathrooms, kitchen and lay all the floors.

Thats all for now.


I spoke too soon

I was a bit premature with my last blog, turns out there were a couple of things that had to be added. Namely this, which is the safety line anchor point for when someone is working on the roof. This is a new legal requirement for roof design.

Everything is now good to go, and here below is the roof all ready to take the cement which will arrive tomorrow.

Roof construction with bars before cement



Mid December, just before the roof is cast

Been a little while since I posted anything so there has been a lot of progress in the mean time.

Wall construction in wet weather

Conditions deteriorated somewhat after the floor had been cast, but the boys just got on with it. Working in the rain under umbrellas.

Steelwork going in to create the structure of the roof support

The walls went up pretty quickly, and work soon started on forming the roof.

Wooden boards going in to support the casting of cement

Wooden formers were put into place to aid the placing of all the roof beams. Because the house is in an earthquake zone the construction has to be massively strong to resist being shaken apart. One of the main features is a reinforced earth quake ring that sits under the roof, constructed from reinforced steel of a massive size.

Steel beams running the length of the house

Into this ring various elements are added including some of the woodwork.

Wooden inserts set into concrete beams that support the guttering

Wooden formwork supports the central roof beam while side beams are added.

Tiles and steel beams being supported on wooden formers

As the roof structure progresses, the build has to be supported from underneath.

Forest of bracing to hold up the structure of the house before being covered in cement

The interior is going to be very minimalist, but one feature will stand out, it is a massive steel bar that crosses the living room that braces the two sides of the house.

Steel beam which crosses the room half way to brace the sides of the house

With everything nearly in place it is almost time for the final casting of the roof cement.

What the view will look like from the house

The next floor goes in

In a similar process to creating the ground floor slab, wooden formers are used to create the shape of the next pour of concrete. The outer ring of reinforced cement is shaped by many pieces of wood, used in place by a multitude of fixings.


Below the wooden structure shapes the steps which will create the access to the lower level. Steel jigs hold the wooden boards together to stop them from separating under the pressure of the concrete.


With everything in place the cement mixer arrives, this is equiped with a pump and a very long delivery arm so it can reach right across the house.

Lorry with an articulated arm delivering cement.

Like before, first the main beams are filled and worked to make sure there is no air in the structure.


With the beams done, the finishing layer can be applied and the whole structure, all the way from the pergola, to the far end of the house is finished in a single layer.




featured image

Late October

Well the boys are storming along, they are now at the level of the next floor up. The preparation now needs to be done to get ready for the next ring of reinforced steel that goes in at the first floor level. In addition to the top of the wall.



The ground needs to be prepared in order to cast the concrete base for what will become the pergola at the entrance to the house.

And the layout of the house is becoming clearer.






With the slab down the walls can start going up.


A retaining wall is built into the embankment to make sure not of it falls forward, and a drain is added to the bottom so any water that might accumulate can run off.


The wall continues to come up to the height of the retaining wall, from here the foundations are laid that will run underneath the kitchen area.






The first layer of reinforced cement goes in that supports the kitchen area of the house.


The walls are built up around this layer to create a deep reinforced layer on which more block work will be laid. The walls around the rest of the house can now keep going up until the whole area is at one level. Then yet another reinforced ring will go in that goes around the whole house.


We also picked the last of our food from the garden, the pumpkins had turned a nice orange and we fired up the woodstove and roasted them along with the fennel. We got three crops of fennel from each plant over the year and I cut them right down to the top of the root and covered them up to see if they come back to life in the spring.


We also got a lovely crop of walnuts off the trees, although you have to get to them before the wild boar do. I was up late one night and I heard something moving around in the garden and went down to investigate. I started shinning my not very strong tourch around and could vaguely make out some moving shapes. I then realised that it was a group of wild boar, snuffling around under the walnut trees, eating the nuts. They didn’t seem to be very concerned about me and didn’t run off so I made my way back into the house, wild boar are quite a fearsome animal, very strong and heavily built and not something you want to mess with.

It also explained why we never found any edible nuts on the ground, boar have a very sensitive sense of smell and they can tell the difference between good and bad nuts without putting them in their mouths. After that I learned that picking nuts off the ground is a waste of time, if the boar haven’t eaten them then they were not worth trying. The ones we got all came off the lower branches, but next year we will have to get some ladders up there and pick a lot more.


Casting the base

So with everything in place, the next day, nice and early, two massive cement mixers arrive.


The cement is delivered through a pipe which allows control over where it goes, first, the shapes left on top of the foundation base are filled along with the cross beams.


once the recesses are filled then what is left is a flat slab.


Then yet more cement is poured over the whole lot, and this forms the reinforced flat slab on which the house will be constructed.


And above is the finished slab.