Week 67

Wet on the outside; drying out on the inside.

We tested the fireplace this week with the goal to check the temperature of the surrounding built-out sections of fireproof calcium silicate board. The design we’ve got in mind is to stick a whopping great big TV above the fireplace, but also to ensure it and the electronics serving it don’t melt into goo with the heat. To make it even more complicated, we would like to clad the whole thing in corten steel. Today’s exercise was to sense-check the idea and take some temperature readings with the fire lit.

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fire test

The Rais 900 woodburner is a beast of a thing and extremely well-engineered. Despite having read the instructions and having two of my intrepid expert Scouts along who are excellent at firelighting, it still didn’t quite go as planned. We got the thing lit, but there was no draw up the chimney, so all we achieved is to fill the room with smoke which wasn’t in the game plan. Luckily, there are half a billion fans onsite, so after quickly throwing the smouldering pieces out the window, we borrowed one for half an hour to get some breeze in there and air the room out. I must have been doing something pretty silly with the fire because the stove has been tested and has a HETAS certificate, but rather than do my usual and start fiddling around with it and risk a likely trip to the burns unit, I’ve organised a meeting with the installers who will visit next week and patiently tell me where I’ve gone wrong.

Generally, the weather, or at least the temperature, has been on our side for drying and it looks like the contractor will be able to start remedial work a week ahead of schedule. The environmental guys came in early in the week to take the tenting away and to move the fans around.

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watching walls dry

One of the bits of kit the environmental guys use is a floor-mounted humidity sensor.It records the moisture in the concrete floor, and this is key information to have before we re-lay all the wood on top of it. It looks kind of like a mini Tardis just sitting there, but unlike the other little red-box sensors from last week, this one can’t be accessed remotely. It’s pretty simple but effective: they seal all around the base and simply leave it to record data. This one is in the master dressing area where most of the water damage occurred.

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black box measuring damp in the floor

The walls and ceilings are all discoloured, but it’s dry. Most of the damage can be simply decorated over by using Stain Block and more paint. But sections of ceiling right under the leak will need to be replaced entirely.

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one for the scrap heap

After more than two years of letting nature take over, it was time to give the front garden a serious trim. The beech hedge that we planted in 2001 has almost completely reverted to individual trees, and the rhododendrons in the ditch are now providing homes to wildlife. We cut a LOT back, and it’s a good time of year to get some air in there and let in some light on the hedge so it has time to fill out a little before the winter. I’m probably a bit disproportionately proud of my work here only because it was good, honest and hard–the kind of task that you feel in your back a few days afterwards. And it was a bonus that I also got son #2 out of the house and into the sunlight for a couple of days.

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not bad for a couple of rookies with shears
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at least someone is living here
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no more brambles but found bits of our old cherry tree

Many tiny jobs remain outstanding, mainly choosing fittings like door handles and storage units. Did you know that a letterbox is VAT exempt on a new build? As are toilet roll holders. But wardrobes and carpet aren’t? Odd. Also, in all the paperwork for the house move, I changed our TV licence (god bless the BBC) and noticed that one of the details alongside my address and phone number included whether the TV was colour or black and white. I feel that it’s been a while since these laws have had a serious look-see and need a bit of a revamp.

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where to put the letterbox in the future porch?

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