Week 53

I thought I’d skip Week 52, the week celebrating one entire year of this project. Instead, we dragged our pasty selves up North to clear the winter cobwebs for a walking holiday with the family for the Easter Break.

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The first day in Yorkshire was gorgeous: 15 degrees, sunny and beautiful.house 2017.04.18a - 1.jpg

We had the excellent good fortune of walking through Hutton Roof where we stumbled on a farm that had been converted into half stone yard and half car sales lot. We made an effort to find the showroom, and lo and behold it was 10 minutes from our cottage on the way into Kendal. We met Alexis who guided us through the stone she had in stock, and we fell in love with what will become our paving slabs for the patio. Should be nice. So amazing to spend weeks looking and looking for something down South, then finding the perfect stone when you least expect it. We also fell in love with some of the Lakeland slate, and while it’s outrageously expensive for the garden, we might consider it for some other areas in the house. I like the idea of sourcing this stuff from places we’ve been and people we’ve met rather than buying it out of a catalogue. And knowing it’s providence suits the building too–all very Frank Lloyd Wright-ian. I’ve been listening to a few too many design podcasts for my own good recently!

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future patio

The week before we left was hectic with many different trades on site.

Having made the decision to go with the plans on the brick slip panels in the back of the house where they were parallel to each other, we decided it didn’t look as great on the five side panels in the front. Clive and Mike knowingly stopped half way through the second one for us to have a look because they knew dang well that we’d only go and change it.

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brick slips that need changing

Lovely to see the tile hanging again. But the decorative club tiles need to be scooted up a bit and also wrapped around the left side of the building. This should happen in the coming weeks and then the towers can come down to make room for the drive.

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shame to change this as well

Hinges are going on the doors.

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big doors and big template

They’ve set up a nice little shop in the master bedroom with a stand and a template so they can crack through each door quickly. Have a look at the time-lapse for the doors getting lifted up through the hallway one at a time. They get through them ever so quickly!

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We’ve been dithering like fury to get the WC organised, to the frustration of James and Tim who are getting really tired of our start-stop approach. But as usual, simple is always best, the design is less complicated than the original layout, and next time you see this area, it will look less like the electricans’ storage area and more like a downstairs loo.

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future loo

Meanwhile Lee and the gang have been laying out the patio. It’s quite a job to set out the area in two dimensions, but once you consider the levels in the third dimension, steps up to the house to be even with the interior tiles, and then calculate the runoff angle for rainfall, the whole thing becomes a right pickle. Luckily, between Nicola planning beds around the building and Lee planning the runoffs to fall away effectively, the patio shouldn’t have any puddles that cause the tiles to discolour.

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side patio
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first go at painting out the back patio
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herb garden

Having moved the drainpipe away from the structural oak gable in the front of the house, the pipe needed to match the rest of its platoon and cut into the plinth at the foot of the building. With this one already built, James and Josh simply cut it out with an angle grinder. Clearly it needs finishing, but once it’s behind the drainpipe and the box hedge that will sit in front of it, maybe we won’t notice the cut bricks too much in years to come. Our instinct is to do it properly and rebuild the pier, but we’re going to give it a few weeks before we decide to spend the cash for such a drastic measure.

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snip snip

The tilers arrived this week. The first thing they did was see if the building was flat and square. Kevin was pretty impressed, and I suspect even James was a little surprised. He wasn’t actually on the job when the house was laid out–that was Nic, and all credit too him, it’s pretty near as dammit impressively square to a couple of mm. The only problem was a small area where the floors weren’t quite level. To check the floor flatness, Kevin scooted the 3m level over the whole floor and found a small high point between the family room and the kitchen. Lee was on hand for a consult, and before the morning was out, he’d shaved off the required few mm with a horizontal sander (wish I’d been around to take a snap of that), and the floor lined right up.

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centre spot of the whole house

They use these really awesome little wedges to set up the tiles to exactly the right height.

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wedges and separators
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where is the centre tile?

Last was a decision about how to lay the marble tiles. The Portnall stone is super varied in colour and has lots of veining, so we opted for a brick bond throughout. This makes the whole thing a little less uniform, but it wasn’t Kevin’s immediate suggestion. Hope we’ve made the right decision, but we really won’t have a chance to see the floor again until the protection is up.

Tile, seal, grout, seal. And then protected with lots of padding on top so no one mucks in any stones or gear across it and ruins it.

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ditramat under the tiles ready for grouting

I’m looking forward to seeing what has happened while we’ve been away, and I’ll be approaching the build with a renewed enthusiasm.

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