May 2010

Glazing Over

Following the news of our chosen plasterer's broken wrist, Project Manager Mike Neate decided that he'd step in,
having had considerable experience with lime plaster when he lived in Spain for a number of years.

Feeling his plastering skills were possibly a little rusty, he decided to try rendering
the outside of the garage, and soon got back into his stride.

The mezzanine storage area floor is now complete, with just enough room for Lizzie to
walk under the glulam beam without banging her head.

And opening up yet more electrical wiring opportunities for Mike.

Finally our windows arrived direct from Austria in an enormous lorry, apparently advertising some kind of ski resort.

Having waited an additional and rather frustrating two weeks, on delivery day the windows turned up two hours early,
meaning the specialist installation team hadn't yet arrived, so we had to unload the lorry ourselves.

Cameraman Lee from the BBC 'To Build or Not to Build' programme captured all the grunting and straining.....

....but fortunately no windows or personnel were damaged in the entire operation.

Finally to everybody's relief the cavalry came riding over the metaphorical hill, in the form of the installation team
from the Green Building Store in Yorkshire, headed by foreman Barry (on the right).

Mike gives his take on the morning's events, generally feeling relieved not to have strained anything.

Once on site, Barry and his boys Luke and Jason were quick to get on with the installation, starting with
one of the smaller windows to get into the swing of it......

....rapidly moving on to the largest single window in the entire house......

.......which went in perfectly without a hitch.

Just a quick alignment check from outside.

Because of the huge scale of the job, Mike Neate decided he'd prefer to employ another
plasterer to deal with the ceilings inside the house. Here Graham's preparing one of the bedrooms for plastering,
using a special 'grippy' primer, which the lime render is supposed to stick to.

However, as plasterer Roger discovered, most of it fell off onto the floor, so it all had to be shovelled back up again,
and so as not to waste it, it seemed to make sense to put it on the walls.

It turned out that the best strategy was to fill in any wrinkles, then apply a thin skim coat afterwards.
All part of the learning process, as plastering with lime direct onto concrete is pretty unusual.

Meanwhile the Green Building Store team had pretty well all of the windows in place,
and began installing the airtightness tapes.

This is all part of the strategy to seal up all the leaks, so that the mechanical ventilation system can do its job properly.

The taping of every single window is very important – and our architect Neill Lewis came along to check on progress.

Another part of the airtightness – the membrane which lines the first floor ceiling is taped down to the walls,
and then rendered over to seal it. It's absolutely crucial that we get these details right.

'Tadaa!' – Plasterer Roger amazes Neill and Mike with his successfully-stuck-to-the-ceiling technique.

So here's one of our Optiwin windows, installed in the kitchen. Triple-glazed and with highly efficient seals, they have a
glass specification developed exclusively for this house, to help achieve the 'zero heat' design which we're aiming for.
Superbly engineered with a maintenance-free aluminium exterior, and real wood on the inside, we think they look great too.

With all the windows installed there's now only one way in and out of the house, but eventually Max managed to find it.

There's been more window work going on outside too, as Mike has installed all the glass in the garage, meaning that, as far
as we're concerned, it's 'glazing over' (as per the title of this update – boom boom!!)

Mike's long-standing chum George – also known as Elektra Electrical Services – paid a visit to check how the wiring operation's
progressing. After some tests and a thorough inspection all was pronounced in good order. George will be returning to complete
the critical parts of the installation and test it all thoroughly before the system can be connected to the mains electricity supply.

Through the round window today we can see Simon....

......just installing the very last section of wood wool board on the west elevation.

This is now ready to be lime-rendered in the same style as the garage, after which we'll be able to begin removing the scaffolding.

With the windows installed the house seems to look quite different – a significant step which took less than a week to achieve.
But even with work due to begin on the conservatory shortly, we still can't answer the most commonly asked question:
'When do you expect to move in?'