The Final Bits

A long time later - so much has happened but the main thing is that we are now in the new house albeit on a temporary occupancy arrangement but it is almost living up to expectations. The odd minor problems will out later in this rambling and if there is some repetition please forgive - read on!

At the tail end of 2007 we had some floors and an anemometer; today we have lots of floors but the anemometer has given in to the local drying breeze and kicked its clogs. I'm looking for a substantial replacement with a useful life of more than 3 years and it probably going to have to come from the US of A.

Why did it take so long? Well there are many reasons largely related to the generic Caithnesian tradesman's sense of urgency and our electrics are a good example. During the course of the build I was in contact with 5 electricians. The first was good but very difficult, and latterly impossible to contact. I found that with the first 4. as soon as they had your phone number your calls all went to voice mail. That is until you used a different phone with a new number. I had a battery of options; the BT line, 2 internet phones and 3 mobiles but eventually they collected the full set and there was no more communication. #5 was quite different. He had the proper certificates. visited when he said he would, always answered the phone and, when the appointed day came to do the test he was delayed for less than a week. Unfortunately the new fangled test kit went wrong at about 85% so the job stopped for 3 weeks until a replacement was rustled up. When the 2nd in charge returned with the apprentice to finish off they couldn't get the replacement kit to work either. Just as well I had managed to borrow the genuine article from a colleague. Now all we needed in order to apply for temporary residency was the certificate but that took another 12weeks - yes 12. That's 15 weeks from the first part of the test and if you take into account the first week's delay it's pretty well a third of a year. No wonder years slip by easily in Caithness.

The most significant job of 2008 was rendering the outside. Because it's on polystyrene relatively few people are prepared to tackle it but I didn't fully appreciate that till the local firms disappeared like the proverbial "snow off a dyke". I did eventually find a firm who seemed to talk sense and supplied the materials - and a fellow self builder was using the same stuff - so, at the beginning of July (on schedule!) we started with Michael as the lead tradesman teaching my joiner how to plaster.The lined grey polystyrene look slowly disappeared to be replaced with a matt grey cement - polymer modified - finish into which was embedded a glassfibre matting - and more polystyrene round the windows. The strange thing for Caithness was that in the month it took we lost about half an hour due to rain. Normally you would lose that per day even during the summer but I was monitoring the rainfall radar and a detailed internet weather forecast so we were able to move works around the building to avoid rain falling directly on fresh render. We literally stood and watched the rain falling a mile away in any direction on many days and there were at least 2 substantial thunderstorms which missed us by a mile as well. The granular top coat is a slightly warm white silicone modified render so sea spray won't affect it. So far it looks great but some mud has splashed on the North wall making it look slightly brown and I haven't summoned up the nerve to powerwash it yet.

The West gables before render


Prep for my workroom wall - you can see the cement high up beginning to dry and the lines in the bricks showing. Lower down the windows have been prepped and the glassfibre mesh is pinned roughly in place ready to be 'floated' into the cement as it's applied. I was allowed to do that bit so it can't be very difficult.

The South wall ready for the cement base coat.

Detail round a window.

The East courtyard building site

with render

and temporary guttering

The North side - sorry about the light but it is Northerly....

And the finished West elevation. Even the guttering is finished.

Then there was the tarmac. Even with compressed hardcore Janet had trouble getting from the car to the front door but, when the tarmac went down! Bliss. Funnily enough it was several weeks behind schedule as well. However, when it happened it was worth it.

The inside was progressing too and gradually the WWIII look typified by this detail of the East living room wall was replaced by the usual IKEA furniture.

The views are as follows. Remember that the building is H shaped with the long bits running East to West.

Firstly the view to the West through the living room windows

and the opposite wall - looks different from the WWIII above.

The kitchen West wall - opposite side of wall above.

the bathroom looking North

and bedrooms 1, 2 3 and 4. 1, 2 and 3 are on the North side of the building and 4 is at the East end.

finally a view or 2 of the hall looking West towards the kitchen and through to the living room.

and a tiled, but not yet plumbed, wet room in bedroom 2. Wet rooms 1, 3 and 4 are similar.

Janets workroom is still a work in progress

#1 grandson refers to this as Grandpa's toys...

and my real toys..

And there's still a tale to be told about the windows. It turned out that we had been supplied with non-toughened glass in all our windows when the ones lower than 850mm should have been toughened. The supplier (name & number available on request) took it on the chin and replaced 12 of the triple glazed modules at their cost. Good windows and thank goodness for customer service.

And then my pride and joy - 5kW generator on an 8m tower on a base with a hydraulic ram to get the whole thing up or down in about a minute. Not bad as the generator bit alone weighs over 300kg.

and the view from a neighbour's house

Why do people complain - you can hardly see it!

The cables are in place and, one day, when I'm not teaching, I'm going to connect it and then try and work out how to get dir of all the excess energy.

All that remains now is to formally check the drainage in the wet rooms and plumb the fittings then fit and commission the heat recovery ventilation. Not much then if you say it quickly.

And finally some views.

Taken at 9pm in June; that's Dunnet head with mist rolling off it. If you look carefully you can see the shape of the cliffs. Have a look at the picture at the top of the first page to compare them.

Then there's the placid version.

and a couple of sunrises - 23rd May @ 02:40


And 23rd May @ 03:12


That's me signing off until I build another house; hope you enjoyed it and, if you want any more you can sing it yourself!