Late 2007

It is Hogmanay 2007 and I haven't had an opprtunity to update the site for over 6 months. In my defence we have become grandparents and Janet was helicoptered South in an emergency which ended in her having a ruptured spleen removed. We also find that once the focus moves indoors there isn't so much visual impact. A room with plasterboard on the walls doesn't look a lot different when the gaps have been taped and filled even if took 10 days work. Skirting board looks good to us but the photo doesn't look a lot different.

As the build progresses the pace seems to slow down or, perhaps more accurately, it takes a very long time to do some of the jobs such as putting up plasterboard. The view below show one bit of a corridoor and that bracing had to stay up for over a day to let the adhesive holding the board to set. Meanwhile I had to navigate this lot several times and managed to knock several bits down as well as landing on the floor mmyself a few times.

One of the rooms after taping and filling. Note the orange helicopter - it comes into its own later.

The wood for the floor was originally delivered to the ground outside bedroom 3 - the hoist on the lorry wasn't working so we were very lucky to be able to borrow a teleporter to get it from the lorry to the ground. Then however it took several hours to 'handball' it through the bedroom window and it was only a couple of weeks later that we had to move it to the room next door. Do you know how many planks it takes to make 2.5 tonnes? The continuous moving of bits from room to room has become a theme at Murkle. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have anything to do.

One of the rooms prepared for the floorboards

and then another room partially laid

The coldest bit of the house is the kitchen/living room part and the roof insulation has proved to be very time consuming.

The above image is looking at one half of the sloping ceiling in the kitchen. To finish insulating the other half and then the horizontal bit at the top was over 2 weeks work not including any plasterboard. The following came as a surprise to me but, the orange helicopter extends to such a height that pretty well all full sheets of plasterboard can be hoisted using it - even at the level in the picture which is approaching 4 metres up. The very highest bits were partial sheets and a bit simpler.

Those who know me will appreciate that, in my book, the garden comes last but, thanks to some help from Dad we managed to get a bit of grass outside Janet's room - now I have to mow it!

Later photographs will show that we have a very active mole who has adopted this green stuff as territory! To level all of this soil and the 10 times the area at the side of and the front of the house we borrowed a harrow (from Brian & Chris - thank you). The harrow towed behind the quad worked brilliantly but we were trying to spread seed at something like 5 grammes per square metre and the weather from mid 2007 on meant that we would have been providing someone about 15 miles East of here with a wildflower meadow. Hopefully Spring 2008 will be a bit better and we might have a colourful flower meadow by next hogmanay.

Remember the trashed caravan? It is still as blustery here as it was and we have lost a couple of slates so here is a sight I have only seen twice since I set it up - a static anemometer!

And that comes as we get planning permission for our wind generator and - about 6 weeks ago - the real generator. Now we have to build the foundations and that will have to wait till the weather is 'Spring like' which, in Caithness, could be August. The generator is a 5kW with a 12m tower but I intend to put up an 8m tower and use small blades. This complies with the planning permission but, using the 5kW has the advantage that its rotation speed is lower and therefore the blade noise is less. Basically it will be under-stressed to give it a chance of surviving more than the first winter. So far the only photo is the complete kit on a rather large trailer - all will be revealed in the next update.

And - another blast from the past - the buzzard returns..

At the butt end of 07 we are still trying to find a render for the outside of the house and someone to apply it. We should have had the job done before mid 07 but the person (small company) who said yes in late 2006 over commited himself and had to pull out with no apparent chance of him doing it in the future. I have tried 2 other companies for the same product and it appears that telephones have become one-way.

More interestingly it has happened with 3 other renders and 3 other companies.

Some of you will know that electrical installation regulations have changed in the last 2 years and there seems to be some confusion about who is a 'competent person' to design, inspect and test an installation. The story is not unlike the render bit above and, because of all the mixed insulation in this house I'm not sure who could fulfill the 3 roles other than a MIEE (now MIET) with an in depth understanding of the derating of the ring mains and their installation. After all, when I asked about whether PVC cable had to be run in conduit if it was passing through polyurethane (it does in polystyrene because of migration of the plasticiser) nobody knew the answer including the cable manufacturers. Have they, the statutory bodies who administer the cable standards and the IEE (IET) who make up the rules been aware of alternate insulations - seems like they are all 10 years behind. So who is competent?

By the end of 2008 we hope to have resolved the render and electrical test problems. Maybe then we can get this project finished and have a holiday!

No promises about the next update but keep looking - we're not finished yet!