The head board is starting to rattle, OOhh EErr

I think it necessary to show you this photo because it is what will become the headboard of the beds we intend to put in the master bedroom.
We have ample room for two 4ft divans to be the main bed with the frames bolted together but the mattresses independent of each other.
This enables us to use two double duvets so eliminates the problem with duvet hogging, enbales one of us to sit up later reading while the other kips without the fear of disturbing them when t you turn the light out and settle down, and because of the independent mattresses we can each have our own preferred firmness/ hardness (stop the giggling and chortling in what is a double entendre heaven) of sleeping arrangement.
With each one being 4 feet wide it also gives us the opportunity to” visit” each other for warm snuggles over morning tea or any other purposes that may arise like doing the crossword together or wathcinga film on the lap top or anyother lap top activities that may (or not) take place.
The idea from MrsB is to replicate a sort of Indian temple doorway effect using these doors we found in an old reclamation yard down near Pont St Aven .
I am asking her to keep a photo diary of the headboard transformation process so we can share it later. 

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Love and peace 
Bentley

And then there was light!!!

The start of the lighting of the house. 

Here we just put up parts of the ceiling to take the lighting (LED’s for the corridors) because there may be more plumbing and the VMC ducting to go in so we didn’t want to do the whole ceiling in one go.
The LED fittings are easy to take out and will be removed when we have the ceilings skimmed. 

Here is the stud work for the ceilings going in 

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And then with the plaster board on. Although this looks on the squint because of the offset ceiling board they are in a straight line. 
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Bad photo here but this is in the corridor portal shining light down on all the features built into the stonework and is set into a piece of elm that forms the ceiling of the portal. You can see it in the photo above looking form the upstairs bog along the corridor 

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And here is another poor photo of a “bit” of ceiling put up on the landing at the top of the stairs purely to take the electrics as we are trying to get consuel and permanent supply before xmas (I can but dream ha ha)

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All the corridor lights are on two way switching so you can start from the bottom of the stairs and turn off the last lounge light and turn on the stairs and half the landing lights. 
The you can turn on the rest of the corridor lights and turn of the stairs and carry on through the house like that until you reach the top of the mezzanine sleeping deck if you happen to be the last one to bed.

You can come out of any bedroom or the bathroom or toilet and have light (all LED’s) to light your way to any part of the house you like, turning off those no longer required as you go. However being LEDs you can leave them on and they wont make much difference to the electricity bill. 

Here is the “what will be” attic space in the master bedroom getting its plaster board and light fittings 

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Here are the wall lights in the office space. 

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Here is the bathroom showing the first fix 

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First fix over the bath

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Then first the central light (IP44) 

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Here you can see the three LEDs that are “in the shower” ceiling they are IP65 

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These two are above the bath and are also IP65

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Electrics going in the lounge.
Here you can see the chestnut fllor of the bedrrom above. We have used 120mm acoustic / thermal insulation with some of the wires under that and then countered with 65 x 40mm chevron to put the plaster board onto and give us enough depth to run the lighting circuits and fit the LEDs themselves. 

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We have installed 11 LEDs in the middle section of the lounge (4m x 4m) on two circuits so we can either have half or all the lights on. 

This is the wiring going in 

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We have already found that when all on it gives a daylight to that part of the room and is proving most useful during dark days. It is a north west facing room and even with the big 4 meter window it will still be dark on some daytime occasions.

At night we have two large lights that hang from the high ceilings either side of the central part and they give a lovely soft relaxing light which will be augmented by lamps if needed

It has to be said they are bit bright for nighttime use this is what they look like in the plasterboard with the beams having been given their first two coats of Tung Oil after being up for 4 years. 

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The price per unit (including the bulbs) for the LEDs comes in at about 25 euros depending on the type and quality of finish. You can buy the cheaper Chinese import stuff but as far as I can work out speaking to people who have installed LEDs recently you get what you pay for. Buy cheap and you will be replacing them before you k now it.

So far we have 27 installed with another 20 going in the kitchen and another 4 or five dotted about and we are very happy with the light they provide and the piddling amount of electric they use..
The bulbs for the outside lights will also be LED. The technology and quality of light produced by LEDs now seems to have taken a great leap forward in the last 5 years or so and although the initial installation cost maybe quite high compared to the normal bulb type lights, I am happy to invest now while I can afford it because due to a massive drop in income on retirement and I want to keep “running” costs as low as possible then.

The design and placement of the lighting is as important as the design and placement of doors, windows and walls when it comes to the overall feeling of the house and the ability for it to function during the day and night. Lights are not only for the nighttime especially in old properties where some original rooms have small windows or northerly aspects. 
We thought it prudent to understand that the house would be different in artificial light and we needed to plan carefully for that to keep the overall feeling one of comfort, warmth and ease of transit around the house. 

Cheers
Bentley

Water inside the house at last Whoop Whoop

After 4 years of a stand pipe at the front of the house we decided it was time to bring the water in so we can get ready to connect up Richard (the thermal store) and it also give us the option of getting a flushing bog working for this winter, because we will have the septic tank in by the end of November.

We thought it would also be good to have a cold water feed to a washing machine and an indoor sink as well. (with spare tap for hose fitting that takes water down to the outside sink by the sheds)

Fortuitously for us, when we bought our latest vehicle (see blog) the people selling it also had a rather interesting sink (disconnected) in their garage which would make a perfect studio/scullery sink. 
I asked if we could buy it and they agreed. 

We ran the mains under the kitchen floor and up next to Richard where we had a three branch manifold with stop valves fitted.

The sink is the only one ‘on’ at the moment as we wait for the septic tank to go in. The ends of the washing machine and toilet hoses have been fitted with a male screw fitting 12mm (half inch) ready to take a flexi hose which I will able to sort out myself once the septic tank is in. 

Here is the temporary manifold as is 

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Eventually coming out of richard will be:- 
A domestic hot water feed to a manifold taking hot water to sinks showers baths.
A domestic cold water feed taking cold water to sinks baths showers, toilets and outside rear tap.
A heating hot water feed taking water to UFH bespoke airing cupboard radiator and any other radiators upstairs that get fitted.

Each feed to sink or toilet or whatever will have its own stop valve at the manifold for ease of isolation.
Each manifold will have two spare outlets for “unforeseen additions” 

Here is the sink it is 1 meter long 45cm wide at the top and 35cm wide at the bottom 

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On here you can see the sink tap and also offset at the end the tap with hose fitting that takes water down to the outdoor sink by the sheds. We set it off on the squint at the end so the hose didn’t get in the way of the sink.
The sink tap also has a push fit hose attachment for thewatering the front garden and also should be just need a hose somewhere sharpish 

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Here you can see the channels cut out of the floor to take all the various pipe work and electrical gains

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New Kitchen Floor

The paving slabs worked a treat, the windows went in well and the terrace drain situation was remedied and all went well and we were well chuffed with progress. 
We then had lots of preparation work to do ahead of laying the concrete slab for kitchen floor. 

First off we buried the mains water pipe that comes in through the kitchen door and goes through to the studio where “Richard” resides (the thermal store is called Richard) 

You can see the black pipe coming up next to him here on the left.

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Once we did that we made sure all the scalpings were near enough level, as can be seen in this photo. The lumpy uneven stuff you can see is actually bits of insulation after we did the kitchen ceiling.

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Then it was a case of laying in the electrics that go to the various points around the kitchen and into the studio room where we have the main junction box for all the lounge lights.
(sorry the photos are a bit blurry) 
They all lead to where the main boards will be in the corner on the left. (although Richard and all the circulating pumps and sensors etc will have its own isolated board) 

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Here you can se the electric and communication gains going off to the studio room

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Here are ones for the plug points cooker point (even though we are not having an electric cooker) extraction fan etc

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Then it was case of getting the sand in to make the surface smooth for the membrane 

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and then packing it down with the whacker plate and checking the levels again using the laser and a stick. 

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Now we are on the morning of the concrete arrival and as I unrolled what I thought was plenty of membrane, it in fact only covered half the floor so a quick improvisation was needed and we doubled up with some thick plastic sheeting. 
We made the join with a sort of fold over pleat thing and some tape to hold it in place while we put the insulation down. 
Not perfect but the clock was running and I didn’t have time to go to town to get another roll of insulation .

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Next came the insulation I had found that saves a lot of height. It is a multi foil type stuff with a foam sandwich and is recommended for sub floor insulation especially where height is an issue. 

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Here is the main gain for Richards fuseboard and the plastic coated 22mm copper pipe for the back boiler on the wood burning range 

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And here it is with the hot and cold for the sink and the electric feeds for the island that will go in later. You can also see the re-enforcing mesh down.

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In this one you can see one of the electric boards and the spaggetti of wires that will be connected in due course

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We finished just ahead of schedule and had a drop of lunch and waited for the cement lorry to arrive which it duly did. 
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Big beasts are they not? 

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Here is my son and I after the initial shout of “Let her roll matey!!!”

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As soon as it started I thought “Hmm that’s a bit dry” however I decided it might just be the first bit down the chute but in another few seconds I realized it was way too dry and am shouting for him to stop the pour. However he had wandered off round the side of the lorry and doesn’t hear me and before he stops there is well over cube in already.

I am doing two things now beginning with S “sweating and swearing”, which I can assure you is not a great combination.

My son and I managed to drag the dry stuff about and then get him to wet down the next bit of the pour but he was being a complete t****r about how much water he was putting in and stopping before he put to much dry stuff in.

Suffice to say it was a struggle to get it spread out and even close to level with a reasonable finish but we did the best we could to make a good job of it.

I was even running over it with the whacker plate for a while to try and level down some of the humps, which proved to be fairly successful and we got it down to a level that at the most is about 15mm out in places. Not perfect but the best of a bad pour.

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To say I was p!ssed off about it (as was MrsB) is an understatement as we both thought it looked like ploughed field and nothing like the lovely level smooth floor we did in the lounge that was nearly twice as big. However it was down and when it dried out in the morning wasn’t quite as bad as we first thought. 
You can see here where the pipes for the sink and electric for the island come up through in the places chosen. I will be building the island when I get home in November. 

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We shuttered off the studio room as we wanted to re-arrange how the floors joined up which we did later by hand an with a gentle slope up to the studio floor. We were not able to get all the floors totally level as it would have meant taking another 30mm off the door height which is already low enough. 
To give a a level we are going to create a mat well by the door. This means we will have 20mm to play with using self leveling screed to bring the rest of the floor to a condition that we can tile onto. 
Just as a word of warning to others is that had I been thinking and measuring more carefully in the beginning I would have made the lounge floor 25mm lower to compensate for the low door in the kitchen but I am not a pro builder and it is fairly easy to put right. It is not as perfect as II would have liked but it is what it is and is fairly easy to remedy. 

It will be next year before I get round to screeding and tiling and in the meantime MrsB has put some jute matting down as a temporary measure to make it a bit more pleasing on the eye for the winter and the gang coming over for Christmas (our first one together in 6 years) 

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Next up some plumbing. 
Cheers
Bentley

Making sense of the Windows

The windows and their story will make more sense when the big windows go in downstairs and I can get photo shot of the house full on from the back with the eyebrow windows showing as well. 
The photos dont always do it justice but in the flesh it makes sense and all the proportions work. 
There is some maths at work such as diameter of the arc of the upper terrace being exactly half of the width of the main terrace which is twice as high as the big downstairs window. It isn’t obvious because it isn’t square but it does seem to please the eye in real life. 
I have no idea where I learnt this sort of stuff but it might be something to do with a documentary I saw on the construction of the pyramids or it could have been working it out once at an old chateau that was having an open day, and me noticing the symmetrical similarity between the facade and the grounds. 
Who knows how we recover bits of stored info we have seen and thought “Hmm I see how they do that, or I get how that works and why my eye is being drawn in a particular direction, or how it just settles easy on the eye, and I will file that in my mind in case it ever comes in handy” 

It all comes back to the absolutely vital and crucial couple of years we spent planning and drawing it out on the mud floors. We were working out where the light would come from and how we would move around in the house and what spaces we wanted to perform what function for us and how the placement of doors and windows is crucial to that functionality.
As we begin to spend more time in the house we are reaping the benefits of the time we took during the design, and also our preparedness to adapt if we realised a better option was open to us.
Love and Peace
Bentley

The Back Windows (well some of them)

So this is what the back windows have looked like since about 2009 when we put the roof on. 
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Fitting actual windows hasn’t been a priority as there has been so much else to do but now we have lots of the insulation in the roof, and the front sealed up, and planning to have christmas in the kitchen this year we thought we should get them sorted .
If you go back a couple of pages you can see that we had the front windows bespoke made in traditional style for the 4 openings there however because of the proposed three pane design for the large back opening downstairs we decided we didn’t need the multi pane small windows, that way we could keep some balance and harmony to how it will look.
I have probably mentioned before that the big window upstairs and the big opening downstairs are in mathematical ratio to each other as are the smaller ones and the eyebrow ones. 
I think this gives a balance that is pleasing and easy on the eye, or at least will be when all finished and fitted and tidied up. 
The “end look” is an important factor when you are designing how the place will be, however you need to balance that with the functionality of the window and its effect on the interior in terms of placement and utility. That might sound a bit airy fairy but it is how we have approached every design phase of the project, with drawings and ideas changing hands until we agreed on a “look” and usability that we felt we could achieve and that suited our requirements for light and space and how we would live in each room. I admit that it is a lot to consider but it is proving to be worth the effort as the project enters the last half.

New window taken apart for a good rubbing down, filling and some extra coats of exterior undercoat.

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Here was the gap they had to fit into

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Just needesd some work with wood filler in some parts and a bit of chisel and rasp action in others 
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And in she goes.
The green stuff is that frog tape seen advertised in UK as a more resilient and better quality masking tape. Seems to do the job very well and here is waiting for the first gloss coat.
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Here are the other openings waiting for their windows

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As a little treat we wondered what it would be like to lie in bed in the Shedroom (which is what we call the big upstairs room which has been built in homage to the sheds we live in and that you can see nestling beneath our oaks and cherries).

Nice view to wake up to (especially for our townie mates) and in the autumn and winter will give views to the distant hills (well distant gentle slopes rather than hills but I am sure you get the drift)

This is the one from lying in bed 
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And this one sat on the end of the bed 

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Here are the bottom two in and a bit of fine tuning with the planer to get the top one to fit going on 

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Shedroom Fitted from the inside

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And from outside

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Downstairs left

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And right 

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What you are looking at here is the window openings when we first made them and just before we put the roof on. You can see the beams that support the Shedroom above

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And here with the roof bits on and its first window box in 

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This is what it looks like with the top window still in undercoat and the downstairs side windows in and glossed and the upstairs wood treated for the first time in 4 years .

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Still have to seal them in properly and put sills on the top one etc but all in all should look alright when painted and the bottom one will mirror the top one except the two side panels will slide open.

It will make more visual sense when the big windows go in downstairs and I can get photo shot of the house full on from the back with the eyebrow windows showing as well. 
The photos dont always do it justice but in the flesh it makes sense and all the proportions work. 
There is some maths at work such as diameter of the arc of the upper terrace being exactly half of the width of the main terrace which is twice as high as the big downstairs window. It isn’t obvious because it isn’t square but it does seem to please the eye in real life. 
I have no idea where I learnt this sort of stuff but it might be something to do with a documentary I saw on the construction of the pyramids or it could have been working it out once at an old chateau that was having an open day, and me noticing the symmetrical similarity between the facade and the grounds. 
Who knows how we recover bits of stored info we have seen and thought “Hmm I see how they do that, or I get how that works and why my eye is being drawn in a particular direction, or how it just settles easy on the eye, and I will file that in my mind in case it ever comes in handy” 

It all comes back to the absolutely vital and crucial couple of years we spent planning and drawing it out on the mud floors. We were working out where the light would come from and how we would move around in the house and what spaces we wanted to perform what function for us and how the placement of doors and windows is crucial to that functionality.
As we begin to spend more time in the house we are reaping the benefits of the time we took during the design, and also our preparedness to adapt if we realised a better option was open to us.
Love and Peace
Bentley

The curved bit of the terrace.

Now some people call it a patio, and some call it a terrace (pronounced the French way of tear-as (the tear as in to rip not to cry) ) and for some reason we have always referred to it as the terrace even though at first I thought it sounded a bit poncy for some reason, however I have become used to it so “terrace” it is and here is the story of the laying of the curved part.

MrsB had manufactured all the slabs (see a few posts ago) so once we had sorted out the “sub sleeper drain scenario” it was time to get on with laying the first part.

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Never having laid anything like this before I just applied some common sense to the job and worked out out the levels with a bit of a slope running the water down towards the drain. After that gravity should sort it out 
We then set up the straight edge guide rails so we could lay a slab then move the straight edge on to check if it was near enough in the right place. 

We used a mix of 6 sand to one cement and put it in dry after soaking the ground underneath.

No doubt a pro could have made the scalpings higher and a more level finish, or might even use a completely different process, but this is how I have seen workmen laying pavement cobbles and pavement slabs before so figured it would work for this. 
We had to remember that this is the back terrace of our rustic cottage dwelling, not the polished marble entrance foyer to the Ritz, that said we didn’t want to bodge it .

(Ha ha :lol: does that sound like me making excuses for why it might be a bit uneven in places?? Ah well we love it. 8) 8) 

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MrsB who had not only made the slabs by hand also selected the slabs shape and colour to be laid and I gently coaxed them into place with some grunts and a rubber mallet .

At the end of the day we went over it with a couple of full watering cans and left nature to do the rest. 

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Whata cracking pair of working boots

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Here is the first bit taken from above and we were already pleased with the result and our decision to have ago at making them ourselves 

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You can start to see the way it is going to pan out with the variety of slab colour and design. 
It is probably not everyone’s cup of tea because some people are bit more” straight lines and right angles” and then again some of us are not, but then again not everyone has to come and drink tea on it.

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Here is how it runs down to level with the top of the step and also level with the stones that disappear into garden level.

Here is a bit more after a soaking 

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And when its dry

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New slabs in manufacture 

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And here is the final pieces just laid in by MrsB this week up to the outdoor fire/oven/bbq that is still under construction. (0The stones are where you would stand to cook.)

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We are well chuffed with the result of the home made slabs. 
We have been now been recommended a product called Lanko241 which we will put on the slabs to seal them and MrsB has also slightly altered her production method, making more use of an old orbital vibrating sander after the initial pour to the moulds in order to release more trapped air bubbles and also using a water proofing compound in the mix. 

The production for the main terrace slabs is already underway and will continue through the winter when its warm enough so that we can get it laid in spring summer next year. 

All that’s left to do for the curved part is to bed in the drain cover and the jobs a good’un.

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Next installment is the windows