Week 44

 

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James and Spencer discussing the roof

The roof is almost finished. Spencer asked me if I was happy with the course of cloaking tiles that will sit between the oak gables below and the roof tiles above. He’s added a layer of Welsh slate secured underneath to prevent the roof from wobbling as the oak settles. They’ll be mortared in when they’re laid next week, and the gap between them and the roof tiles will be filled as well. The carefully installed leadwork finishes the job.

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junction of tiles, slate, cloaking, and lead
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cloaking mockup that will go up and up
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leadwork
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clothed and unclothed

The gutters went up later in the week. They’re powder coated aluminium which will last and last with any luck. Aluminium is made in longer lengths than cast iron which is great for the long runs without dormers–easier to make, easier to coat, and easier to install. Although the guy I spoke to who was working with long sections of it up on the scaffold late on Friday said it was very very cold as a material to handle. Yes, at 2C it would be. They’ve installed around all the fiddly dormers, and the downpipes will go in when the scaffolding is down. In the meantime, they attach giant bags to where the downpipes should be, so that water still collects and stays off the face of the building until the job is complete.

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dormers with burlap hats on
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long runs of guttering on the east side
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pieces cut to length and ready for fitting

 

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guttering installed just in time–this is slushy snow in standstill traffic…lovely!

It’s the middle of a bitter cold spell with snow off and on all week, but none of it sticking, so it’s just disgusting outside with no snow-joy. Phil the plasterer says that they need it to be 5 degrees and rising for plaster to set. Part of their job is to physically stand there and watch it set to even out imperfections, so this is taking rather a while, more like days than hours, it being all in cold and slo-mo.

There are ten individual 2.5 m tall panes of glass in the hallway at the front of the house. If we do decide to go with the fancy automated curtains we’ve got in mind, we’ll need holes drilled and wires for power setup through them. James had the unenviable task of drilling the structural oak as close as he could to the windows given the body of the drill. So faced with this tricky job of messing around with the expensive and carefully engineered oak, he simply bought a new drill bit for the job, lined it up, and with his typical levels of cool, just got on with it. It looks bizarre to see shavings of precious structural oak now adorning the surfaces of the lower beams. I’m glad I wasn’t there to watch.

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cable hole

The back of the house is looking more like a house. Terry is still up the top, round the sides, inside, outside, and up and down ladders all day long cutting bits to go just about everywhere. Meanwhile, Josh is in full voice doing the same. There is more than enough to keep both of them very busy and loads of disco tunes to keep them going.

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back of the house

We welcome Nicola on board this week. She’s the garden design expert and will draw up a plan for the front and the back. This is timely because I had the good fortune to meet James the landscape gardener and Andy with the driveway materials, both to discuss what’s happening outside. So a plan is where we want to start, especially with the hard landscaping and tree-planting as there is a certain level of commitment involved in those pieces, and that will come to fruition in the coming weeks. For once we’re doing something in the important-and-NOT-urgent-box, and not in our usual space of important-and-urgent.

Meanwhile, what colour of driveway would you like? The most cost-effective range is the 6mm aggregate which requires a 16mm base rather than the 10mm aggregate which requires a 22 mm base. Less material means less labour as well as less of the stuff in the first place which equates to less money (hopefully).

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10 mm is too big, 3 mm is to small, so 6 mm is just about right

Another visit to the forge to end the week to have a discussion with Tony about some very minor tweaks to the curlicues.

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look closely for snowflakes falling in Betchworth

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We had a good chat about his current job, how he started his career and what happened to allow him to start working in a place like this 27 years ago. I think he is enjoying working on our project as he seems to be a specialist in odd and interesting metalwork staircases. We’ll go back another time when the fire is on and he’s making our pieces.

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the anvil has seen many years of action
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Tony and Clinton discussing the ups and downs pattern

James is preparing to fill in the brick slip panels soon. He’s given one of them a start, but the specialist epoxy mortar we chose back in Week 31  needs a special gun for application rather than a trowel, so he’s waiting on its delivery before continuing. There is leadwork to fill in beforehand anyway. Meanwhile, Clive has been cutting bricks like there’s no tomorrow.

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Clive’s been cutting bricks and tiles

I hope the view through the building will always be this good. Maybe if it’s good now with bags of plaster, ladders, and light fittings hanging off the ceiling, it will be even better when it’s all tricked out with furniture when you come down to make a cup of tea in the morning.

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