GALLERY/TIMELINE
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October 2019

Pictures coming soon

September 2019

Pictures coming soon

August 2019

Pictures coming soon

July 2019

Mike and Nick Thomson from Rural Design discuss the progress of the south wall. The heavy concrete blocks, which were causing the steel beam to bow, are being replaced with a timber frame. It's not an ideal solution for a passivhaus as the blocks provide thermal mass, but at this stage in construction there was no alternative

Mike and Nick Thomson from Rural Design discuss the progress of the south wall. The heavy concrete blocks, which were causing the steel beam to bow, are being replaced with a timber frame. It's not an ideal solution for a passivhaus as the blocks provide thermal mass, but at this stage in construction there was no alternative

The north wall with its black waterproof coating is ready for blockwork to begin. The upper floor porch is under construction

The north wall with its black waterproof coating is ready for blockwork to begin. The upper floor porch is under construction

June 2019

The arrival of the roof timbers at the start of June signalled the start of the longed-for process of getting the house water-tight

The arrival of the roof timbers at the start of June signalled the start of the longed-for process of getting the house water-tight

With much of the messy blockwork complete and what remains to be done on hold until the roof timbers are installed, we now embarked on a much-needed process of cleaning, checking and covering the insulation. This is the west window cavity

With much of the messy blockwork complete and what remains to be done on hold until the roof timbers are installed, we now embarked on a much-needed process of cleaning, checking and covering the insulation. This is the west window cavity

Ideally, the insulation would all go in as the wall is built up, and be kept clean throughout, but sometimes it's necessary to add it later - no matter how awkward....

Ideally, the insulation would all go in as the wall is built up, and be kept clean throughout, but sometimes it's necessary to add it later - no matter how awkward....

...and no matter how high up...

...and no matter how high up...

...or how low down - or wet and midgy the weather

...or how low down - or wet and midgy the weather

This is an example of how filthy the insulation can get if not protected - mortar 'snots' and general building dust, plus over-exposure to the elements, could lead to the insulation failing. It all had to be thoroughly vacuumed off, mortar 'snots' removed, gaps filled and in some cases replaced or reinserted correctly

This is an example of how filthy the insulation can get if not protected - mortar 'snots' and general building dust, plus over-exposure to the elements, could lead to the insulation failing. It all had to be thoroughly vacuumed off, mortar 'snots' removed, gaps filled and in some cases replaced or reinserted correctly

Insulated cavity below the west window - cleaned and protected... for now

Insulated cavity below the west window - cleaned and protected... for now

External view, showing the progress made with the mezzanine walls

External view, showing the progress made with the mezzanine walls

Before the roof timbers can be installed a wide strip of airtightness membrane is attached to the steel beam to act as a thermal barrier. As this can't be done in one continuous strip, Mike has to check that all joins and corners are properly taped and sealed

Before the roof timbers can be installed a wide strip of airtightness membrane is attached to the steel beam to act as a thermal barrier. As this can't be done in one continuous strip, Mike has to check that all joins and corners are properly taped and sealed

At evenings and weekends, Mike's work channelling out walls for sockets and switches continues

At evenings and weekends, Mike's work channelling out walls for sockets and switches continues

Mike takes on a new assistant

Mike takes on a new assistant

Roof timber installation begins

Roof timber installation begins

The roof timbers, or I-beams, need to be able to take the weight of the green roof, taking into account the added weight of rainwater at times. The beams are spaced quite close together and, in some cases, two are joined together for extra strength

The roof timbers, or I-beams, need to be able to take the weight of the green roof, taking into account the added weight of rainwater at times. The beams are spaced quite close together and, in some cases, two are joined together for extra strength

Care needs to be taken at tricky corner junctions to make sure the airtight barrier isn't compromised

Care needs to be taken at tricky corner junctions to make sure the airtight barrier isn't compromised

The distance between the beams is carefully measured before fixing into position

The distance between the beams is carefully measured before fixing into position

The main slope of the roof is quite impressive

The main slope of the roof is quite impressive

Looking down from the eastern end of the roof

Looking down from the eastern end of the roof

With the roof timbers on, the large open-plan living space looks immense

With the roof timbers on, the large open-plan living space looks immense

At the apex of the roof, looking down the line of I-beams

At the apex of the roof, looking down the line of I-beams

With the roof timbers in place, Mike gets to working cleaning out the wall cavities and installing the final layers of insulation up to roof level

With the roof timbers in place, Mike gets to working cleaning out the wall cavities and installing the final layers of insulation up to roof level

A fine view of the Cuillins from the apex

A fine view of the Cuillins from the apex

Will Mike's new assistant measure up?

Will Mike's new assistant measure up?

One evening, towards the end of June, a trailer loaded with strange packages arrived....

One evening, towards the end of June, a trailer loaded with strange packages arrived....

... the windows have arrived!

... the windows have arrived!

The inner wall above the south-facing windows was to be built from concrete blocks, but.....

The inner wall above the south-facing windows was to be built from concrete blocks, but.....

...it soon became clear that the blocks were too heavy for the steel support, which was starting to bow and another solution would have to be found....

...it soon became clear that the blocks were too heavy for the steel support, which was starting to bow and another solution would have to be found....

May 2019

In May the brick-layers, Tommy and Steve, get to work on the north and east walls of the house

In May the brick-layers, Tommy and Steve, get to work on the north and east walls of the house

To ensure that the slope of the wall is correct requires a lot of careful measuring...

To ensure that the slope of the wall is correct requires a lot of careful measuring...

...and then a lot of messy angle-grinding.....

...and then a lot of messy angle-grinding.....

...as well as careful placement of the blocks....

...as well as careful placement of the blocks....

...but the end result looks quite impressive

...but the end result looks quite impressive

The house is beginning to look quite interesting from the Scorrybreac Path

The house is beginning to look quite interesting from the Scorrybreac Path

Preparations can now be made to build the internal supporting wall, which separates the main room from the upper floor bedroom and entrance hall and also helps to support the roof timbers. A steel beam is already in place; the strip of black membrane provides a surface that the mortar can bond to

Preparations can now be made to build the internal supporting wall, which separates the main room from the upper floor bedroom and entrance hall and also helps to support the roof timbers. A steel beam is already in place; the strip of black membrane provides a surface that the mortar can bond to

At one end, the central wall connects with the west wall of the house. In a passivhaus, the walls are only considered airtight once they've been plastered internally, so where the blocks meet, the wall is 'parged' with a thin layer of mortar to ensure an airtight seal

At one end, the central wall connects with the west wall of the house. In a passivhaus, the walls are only considered airtight once they've been plastered internally, so where the blocks meet, the wall is 'parged' with a thin layer of mortar to ensure an airtight seal

Before the central wall could be built, an extra length of structural steel had to be inserted, as the original was not long enough. Where it penetrates the wall an airtight membrane was wrapped around the end and then mortared in to prevent thermal bridging

Before the central wall could be built, an extra length of structural steel had to be inserted, as the original was not long enough. Where it penetrates the wall an airtight membrane was wrapped around the end and then mortared in to prevent thermal bridging

The central wall under construction

The central wall under construction

After the block-layers had gone each day, if Mike found any mortar left over, rather than let it go to waste he'd use it up in the lower ground floor rooms. The junction between the walls and the beam and block floor is another potential thermal bridge, so 'parging' around this area contributes to the airtightness detailing

After the block-layers had gone each day, if Mike found any mortar left over, rather than let it go to waste he'd use it up in the lower ground floor rooms. The junction between the walls and the beam and block floor is another potential thermal bridge, so 'parging' around this area contributes to the airtightness detailing

The central supporting wall will be shaped to follow the slope of the roof. It incorporates a steel lintel to support the blocks above the opening where the hall and stairs will be

The central supporting wall will be shaped to follow the slope of the roof. It incorporates a steel lintel to support the blocks above the opening where the hall and stairs will be

A view from the north-west corner: the central dividing wall is on the right; the opening on the left will be the way through to the front porch; in the centre will be the entrance hall and a small toilet; the stairs will be on the right and the way through to the main room

A view from the north-west corner: the central dividing wall is on the right; the opening on the left will be the way through to the front porch; in the centre will be the entrance hall and a small toilet; the stairs will be on the right and the way through to the main room

Standing in the unfinished porch, looking through what will be the entrance hall and on into the main room you can see that you will get a tantalising glimpse of the view as you enter the building

Standing in the unfinished porch, looking through what will be the entrance hall and on into the main room you can see that you will get a tantalising glimpse of the view as you enter the building

The eastern end of the central dividing wall also forms one wall of a storage and services cupboard near the kitchen

The eastern end of the central dividing wall also forms one wall of a storage and services cupboard near the kitchen

The finished dividing wall, sloped to match the external walls

The finished dividing wall, sloped to match the external walls

Work begins on another internal wall. This one separates the stairwell from a short corridor in the upper floor bedroom and en suite

Work begins on another internal wall. This one separates the stairwell from a short corridor in the upper floor bedroom and en suite

This wall will form the 'entertainment' zone of our open-plan living/dining/kitchen space, where the television and hi-fi equipment will be. Now that the wall is finished....

This wall will form the 'entertainment' zone of our open-plan living/dining/kitchen space, where the television and hi-fi equipment will be. Now that the wall is finished....

....Mike can return to his favourite pastime of channelling out the wall for the many sockets that an 'entertainment' zone needs...

....Mike can return to his favourite pastime of channelling out the wall for the many sockets that an 'entertainment' zone needs...

April 2019

With the beam and block floor in place at the start of April, work can begin in earnest on the construction of the upper walls

With the beam and block floor in place at the start of April, work can begin in earnest on the construction of the upper walls

The north wall of the house: the inner leaf is built up first, followed by the outer leaf. Insulation is inserted as it's built. Ideally, the insulation would be protected from mortar 'snots', dirt and dust and the weather - something that we have to be vigilant of throughout the project as it's an important element of a passivhaus

The north wall of the house: the inner leaf is built up first, followed by the outer leaf. Insulation is inserted as it's built. Ideally, the insulation would be protected from mortar 'snots', dirt and dust and the weather - something that we have to be vigilant of throughout the project as it's an important element of a passivhaus

This close-up of the north wall shows the gap left for the upper porch and 'front' door

This close-up of the north wall shows the gap left for the upper porch and 'front' door

Inside, looking west, as the walls go up

Inside, looking west, as the walls go up

The south and west window walls

The south and west window walls

Once the scaffolding has gone, the view we'll have through the south-facing windows will be wonderful

Once the scaffolding has gone, the view we'll have through the south-facing windows will be wonderful

Looking west from the living area - all the views are beautifully framed by the windows

Looking west from the living area - all the views are beautifully framed by the windows

Standing at the north-west corner - almost at it's full height now

Standing at the north-west corner - almost at it's full height now

While the wall building continues up above, Mike takes care of another passivhaus detail down in the utility room - insulating around the MVHR intake and exhaust tubes that he installed back in January

While the wall building continues up above, Mike takes care of another passivhaus detail down in the utility room - insulating around the MVHR intake and exhaust tubes that he installed back in January

Every penetration of the walls in a passivhaus constitutes an air leak or thermal bridge, so the MVHR tubes are packed around with insulation, internally and externally

Every penetration of the walls in a passivhaus constitutes an air leak or thermal bridge, so the MVHR tubes are packed around with insulation, internally and externally

Any gaps too small to fill with insulation are sealed using expanding foam - as can be clearly seen around the services pipe to the left of the MVHR tubes

Any gaps too small to fill with insulation are sealed using expanding foam - as can be clearly seen around the services pipe to the left of the MVHR tubes

The wall-building is moving on swiftly now - here you can see the upper porch under construction

The wall-building is moving on swiftly now - here you can see the upper porch under construction

Mike stands in the eastern end of the upper ground floor, where the kitchen will be. As the walls go up, the unusual shape of the house becomes easier to see

Mike stands in the eastern end of the upper ground floor, where the kitchen will be. As the walls go up, the unusual shape of the house becomes easier to see

The Scorrybreac Path offers a great overview of our progress so far

The Scorrybreac Path offers a great overview of our progress so far

As the electrician on this build, every completed wall means another channelling out job for Mike

As the electrician on this build, every completed wall means another channelling out job for Mike

Sockets channelled out in the west wall

Sockets channelled out in the west wall

With the walls at the western end at roof height, work continues to build up the walls at the eastern end

With the walls at the western end at roof height, work continues to build up the walls at the eastern end

As the roof slopes, the walls at the eastern end are higher and contain a mezzanine floor

As the roof slopes, the walls at the eastern end are higher and contain a mezzanine floor

As the eastern walls are built up, the slope on the steelwork begins to make sense

As the eastern walls are built up, the slope on the steelwork begins to make sense

March 2019

With the walls at the eastern end of the upper ground floor almost complete, preparations can be made for installing the beam and block floor

With the walls at the eastern end of the upper ground floor almost complete, preparations can be made for installing the beam and block floor

Th eastern end of the upper floor sits on the ground, so this section of the floor was poured concrete; the rest of the floor sits above the lower ground rooms, so beam and block construction was chosen. The beams are installed first

Th eastern end of the upper floor sits on the ground, so this section of the floor was poured concrete; the rest of the floor sits above the lower ground rooms, so beam and block construction was chosen. The beams are installed first

Blocks are slotted between the beams to form the completed floor

Blocks are slotted between the beams to form the completed floor

The ends of the floor beams rest on the inner leaf of blockwork, held in place by mortar

The ends of the floor beams rest on the inner leaf of blockwork, held in place by mortar

With the floor now in place, work begins on the west wall of the upper ground floor. The large hole in the centre of the floor is for the stairs down to the lower floor

With the floor now in place, work begins on the west wall of the upper ground floor. The large hole in the centre of the floor is for the stairs down to the lower floor

As the house isn't a perfect rectangle, the beams extend beyond the wall in some places and will need to be cut back

As the house isn't a perfect rectangle, the beams extend beyond the wall in some places and will need to be cut back

With the beam and block floor in place, the lower ground floor rooms are now darker and more enclosed. This will be the utility room

With the beam and block floor in place, the lower ground floor rooms are now darker and more enclosed. This will be the utility room

The utility room only has one small window, but will get some extra natural light through the glass doors of the lower porch (the opening on the right)

The utility room only has one small window, but will get some extra natural light through the glass doors of the lower porch (the opening on the right)

In it's current state, Mike's studio on the lower ground floor is dark, damp and uninviting

In it's current state, Mike's studio on the lower ground floor is dark, damp and uninviting

Dark and uninviting as it is, Mike's onerous task of channelling out the walls for the electrical wiring continues

Dark and uninviting as it is, Mike's onerous task of channelling out the walls for the electrical wiring continues

February 2019

Looking across the kitchen end of the upper ground - the remainder of this floor will be beam and block construction

Looking across the kitchen end of the upper ground - the remainder of this floor will be beam and block construction

Looking across the utility room towards the bedrooms

Looking across the utility room towards the bedrooms

Utility room: MVHR air ducts in position and protected ready for unit to be installed later

Utility room: MVHR air ducts in position and protected ready for unit to be installed later

First indication of the view we'll have from the main living area

First indication of the view we'll have from the main living area

In this detail of one of the windows, the light-coloured insulating blocks can be seen - part of the passivhaus detailing. These are used on the outer walls around all the window/door openings

In this detail of one of the windows, the light-coloured insulating blocks can be seen - part of the passivhaus detailing. These are used on the outer walls around all the window/door openings

The wall cavities are packed with Kingspan insulation, which must be installed properly and kept clean for it to function correctly. One of our jobs throughout the build will be to check the quality of the installation and put it right where necessary

The wall cavities are packed with Kingspan insulation, which must be installed properly and kept clean for it to function correctly. One of our jobs throughout the build will be to check the quality of the installation and put it right where necessary

Mike is the electrician on this project and, as the lower-ground walls are now built, he can start the unpleasant task of channelling out the walls ready for light-switch and socket installation. First, he has to mark the positions...

Mike is the electrician on this project and, as the lower-ground walls are now built, he can start the unpleasant task of channelling out the walls ready for light-switch and socket installation. First, he has to mark the positions...

Having marked the position of the switch or socket he then uses an angle-grinder to define the edges of the area to be channelled out - a noisy and dusty business

Having marked the position of the switch or socket he then uses an angle-grinder to define the edges of the area to be channelled out - a noisy and dusty business

The channelling out is done with a chisel bit attached to a drill - also noisy and tedious....

The channelling out is done with a chisel bit attached to a drill - also noisy and tedious....

Here's a switch he channelled out earlier - it's a pretty neat job...

Here's a switch he channelled out earlier - it's a pretty neat job...

Work has now begun building the walls at the eastern end of the upper ground floor

Work has now begun building the walls at the eastern end of the upper ground floor

Looking down on the site from the Scorrybreac path

Looking down on the site from the Scorrybreac path

December 2018-January 2019

The builders have taken a well-earned break for Christmas, but that doesn't mean all work on site stops. Mike can now start work on installing the ducts for the ventilation system

The builders have taken a well-earned break for Christmas, but that doesn't mean all work on site stops. Mike can now start work on installing the ducts for the ventilation system

The MVHR (ventilation) unit will sit in the utility room, but it has two penetrations to the outside: air intake and exhaust. First, holes must be made in the blockwork

The MVHR (ventilation) unit will sit in the utility room, but it has two penetrations to the outside: air intake and exhaust. First, holes must be made in the blockwork

With the ducts in place they can now be packed around with insulation to prevent them becoming cold bridges

With the ducts in place they can now be packed around with insulation to prevent them becoming cold bridges

Everything must be measured carefully so that the ducts marry up with the holes in the top of the MVHR unit when it's installed

Everything must be measured carefully so that the ducts marry up with the holes in the top of the MVHR unit when it's installed

The ducts will be left covered until the building work is finished. Externally, they will be just below ground level, but will be connected to more ducting which will lead to an air intake tower and  exhaust vent above ground

The ducts will be left covered until the building work is finished. Externally, they will be just below ground level, but will be connected to more ducting which will lead to an air intake tower and exhaust vent above ground

Snow in January contributes to a delay to the builders return after Christmas

Snow in January contributes to a delay to the builders return after Christmas

There are always plenty of side projects to occupy Mike if he's not working on site - such as constructing the wiring for the doorbell

There are always plenty of side projects to occupy Mike if he's not working on site - such as constructing the wiring for the doorbell

November-December 2018

The structural steel sections arrive

The structural steel sections arrive

Scaffolding starts to go up ready for steel installation; upper ground floor foundations prepared

Scaffolding starts to go up ready for steel installation; upper ground floor foundations prepared

A tele handler lifts the largest of the structural steel sections into place

A tele handler lifts the largest of the structural steel sections into place

The steel forms part of the support structure for the roof

The steel forms part of the support structure for the roof

The steel sections also take the weight of the blocks above the large south and west-facing windows

The steel sections also take the weight of the blocks above the large south and west-facing windows

Mike watches the steel installation from what will be the kitchen end of the open-plan living area

Mike watches the steel installation from what will be the kitchen end of the open-plan living area

Viewed from the Scorrybreac Path above, the steel is an impressive sight

Viewed from the Scorrybreac Path above, the steel is an impressive sight

Final prep for the kitchen concrete pour: a steel reinforcement grid sits above a waterproof layer on top of insulation

Final prep for the kitchen concrete pour: a steel reinforcement grid sits above a waterproof layer on top of insulation

Before the concrete is poured, flexible ducting is installed for electrical wiring and drainage for the kitchen sink

Before the concrete is poured, flexible ducting is installed for electrical wiring and drainage for the kitchen sink

Mike surveys the finished floor

Mike surveys the finished floor

Mike stands on top of a pile of concrete beams, which will form the rest of the upper ground floor

Mike stands on top of a pile of concrete beams, which will form the rest of the upper ground floor

As the lower floor starts to take shape, work ceases on site for the Christmas break

As the lower floor starts to take shape, work ceases on site for the Christmas break

Viewed from the north-west corner, the inner block walls are almost complete

Viewed from the north-west corner, the inner block walls are almost complete

A view along what will be the south-facing wall cavity. Metal wall ties are commonly used to 'tie together' the inner and outer block walls, which conduct heat out of the building and cold in. In a passivhaus these are made of a non-conductive material

A view along what will be the south-facing wall cavity. Metal wall ties are commonly used to 'tie together' the inner and outer block walls, which conduct heat out of the building and cold in. In a passivhaus these are made of a non-conductive material

September-November 2018

The lower-ground floor is built partly into the slope of the hill, so an earth-retaining wall must be constructed. The ground is prepared ready for the shuttering

The lower-ground floor is built partly into the slope of the hill, so an earth-retaining wall must be constructed. The ground is prepared ready for the shuttering

Mike in front of the finished wooden shuttering

Mike in front of the finished wooden shuttering

A digger is used to transfer wet concrete from the lorry over to the shuttering

A digger is used to transfer wet concrete from the lorry over to the shuttering

View from above after the concrete has been poured into the shuttering

View from above after the concrete has been poured into the shuttering

The finished wall with the shuttering removed

The finished wall with the shuttering removed

The earth-retaining wall with its black 'tanking' - a waterproof coating. Work has begun on the lower-floor walls

The earth-retaining wall with its black 'tanking' - a waterproof coating. Work has begun on the lower-floor walls

Meanwhile... a large delivery of insulation arrives

Meanwhile... a large delivery of insulation arrives

MVHR system is delivered and stored in former cow byre

MVHR system is delivered and stored in former cow byre

Mike and Roddy install a new sheep-retaining gate and fence

Mike and Roddy install a new sheep-retaining gate and fence

Lower ground floor underfloor insulation is installed

Lower ground floor underfloor insulation is installed

Lower ground underfloor insulation

Lower ground underfloor insulation

A blinding layer sits beneath the underfloor insulation; ducts for electrical supplies, water and waste are in place

A blinding layer sits beneath the underfloor insulation; ducts for electrical supplies, water and waste are in place

A layer of waterproofing material sits on top of the insulation; water and waste pipes are insulated to avoid thermal bridging (one of many ways heat can escape from a building)

A layer of waterproofing material sits on top of the insulation; water and waste pipes are insulated to avoid thermal bridging (one of many ways heat can escape from a building)

It's November now, with fewer daylight hours, so the concrete pour has to continue after dark

It's November now, with fewer daylight hours, so the concrete pour has to continue after dark

A vibrating poker is used to remove air bubbles from the newly poured concrete

A vibrating poker is used to remove air bubbles from the newly poured concrete

The lower ground floor the day after the concrete pour

The lower ground floor the day after the concrete pour

Mike sanding the door to the former cow byre. A useful storage space, it doubles as the site office/tea room

Mike sanding the door to the former cow byre. A useful storage space, it doubles as the site office/tea room

Planting a mixed hedge to provide a natural barrier between old and new properties

Planting a mixed hedge to provide a natural barrier between old and new properties

Painting the repaired cow byre door; neon orange mistake being tamed by a more sedate green

Painting the repaired cow byre door; neon orange mistake being tamed by a more sedate green

July-September 2018

The groundworks begin....

The groundworks begin....

First topsoil layer removed; Mike looking, and feeling, very small at the start of a very big project

First topsoil layer removed; Mike looking, and feeling, very small at the start of a very big project

Topsoil set aside until later - will be used as soil for the green roof

Topsoil set aside until later - will be used as soil for the green roof

Cutting and marking out foundations: lower floor and earth-retaining wall

Cutting and marking out foundations: lower floor and earth-retaining wall

No rotten rock found on site, so the search begins to find some (required as base layer under foundations)

No rotten rock found on site, so the search begins to find some (required as base layer under foundations)

Making the road to the rotten rock supply on the croft

Making the road to the rotten rock supply on the croft

Temporary widened access road created in front of bungalow to accommodate large lorries

Temporary widened access road created in front of bungalow to accommodate large lorries

New car park created for bungalow and site vehicles

New car park created for bungalow and site vehicles

Creating the new driveway

Creating the new driveway

New driveway ready to receive site traffic

New driveway ready to receive site traffic

February 2017-July 2018

Our (on site) home for the duration of the build

Our (on site) home for the duration of the build

Our (on site) home for the duration of the build
The empty site, looking up from the south

The empty site, looking up from the south

The empty site, looking up from the south
Same view, looking up from the south, with artist's impression of the finished house

Same view, looking up from the south, with artist's impression of the finished house

Same view, looking up from the south, with artist's impression of the finished house

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