What’s next

This is how the house now looks from outside (Note the blue sky!)

Next week, apart from more work on the brick cladding, brings 16 tons of sand, 80 bags of plaster and more materials.  These are for the ground-floor screed, then to plaster skim all the internal walls and ceilings.

Things are moving on … Inside

With first-fix done, we could move on to boarding the walls and ceilings.

First, we got Mark to put mineral wool insulation in the ceilings and in the walls of some of the rooms (bathrooms, plant room), to give some acoustic insulation.  Then, while the boarding started, he and his mate Jack put 180mm of mineral wool between the rafters in the roof, and 300mm in the small loft at the very top of the roof.  This was a horrible, dusty, itchy job, but Mark and Jack got on and did it.

Peter (Project Interiors) and his gang took 4 days to cover all the walls and ceilings with plasterboard.  At the end of this, we could see, for the first time really, the shapes of the rooms.

Our bedroom, showing the vaulted ceiling and roof-lights.

The hall and upstairs landing

The dining room and kitchen

The lounge

And, finally, the heap of scrap plasterboard.

Things are moving on…Outside

Weather permitting, now that the roof was loaded, we could start on cladding the outside of the house.  The tops of the gables, and a band under the eaves, are timber clad, the remainder clad in facing bricks.

Timber Cladding

Josh returned to fix the timber cladding (weatherboard) on the upper parts of the house.

The cladding on the gable to our bedroom.

The cladding is in a treated softwood, which looks like cedar but is both cheaper and retains its colour better.  It is fixed with (fiendishly expensive) stainless-steel nails.  Thus far, Josh has used 3,300 nails!

The corner details are important, and have been done very neatly, though no-one will see them close up once the scaffold is gone.

There is still one gable to complete, but the cladding already looks good.


The lower parts of the house are clad in facing brick, in our case, Ibstock Hamsey Mixed Stocks.  These are red, sand-faced machine-made bricks.  The first quote we had was £500/thousand, which caused an intake of breath.  Fortunately, we found a second-grade version of the same brick (ATR, or “As They Rise), at about £300/thousand.  When the house and garage will need about 20,000 bricks, that makes a substantial difference!

Brick deliveries have been difficult.  The original plan, to deliver a full load (about 10,000) of bricks in one go foundered when it proved impossible to get the lorry close enough to the site.  RGB, the builders merchants, have been very helpful, but, even so, craning the bricks a couple of packs at a time over the fence has been a trial.  We hope to clear space at the top of the site, that will make access easier.

The bricklayers have been affected, too, by the appalling weather. They have spent too many days sitting in their car, waiting for the rain to abate.  Fortunately, the last few days have been dry and warm, and they have made great progress.

We now need to order some brick ‘specials’ – cant bricks, with a chamfered corner for the final (soldier) course below the timber cladding.


We can now move on to finalise the design of the fireplace and chimney, which are the next major bits of construction.

First fix

Having got the building watertight, we could move on to “First Fix”, in which all the services (plumbing, electricity, etc) that will be hidden in the walls and floors are installed.

We had four jobs going on here:

  • Plumbing – Ryan Nicholls and Liam, putting in hot and cold water, heated towel rails, and the linking-up-bits of the underfloor heating system
  • Electrics – Tom Jefferies and Matt, putting in the power and lighting wiring, heating controls, and the all-important data and audiovisual wiring
  • Mechanical Ventilation – Rega Vent putting in a system
  • Underfloor heating (on the ground floor) – Mark Allen completing this job.

Ventilation, heating and wiring in the loft

The data cables (one end of all 700m of them – Cat6 cable)

Bathroom plumbing (in the roof room)

Bathroom plumbing in our en-suite

The ventilation plant

Mark installing the UFH pipes in the lounge.  They are laid on top of a 120mm-thick layer of insulation, over the damp-proof membrane, on top of the concrete floor slab, and will be covered by the floor screed.


Once this was complete, we can start on boarding out the walls and ceilings…


Things have moved on – on the building

Since my last post at the beginning of June, Devon has had more wet weather than anyone can remember.  One result of this is that progress on the build has been (much) slower than we had hoped.

The Roof

At the time of the last post, the groundworkers had done (just) enough to permit the scaffolders to do their work, and for the frame to be completed. What we had then was a shell with a nearly-weatherproof roof, covered with felt and battens.  The most significant piece of progress on this front was getting most of the roof tiles on.

Even this seemed to take for ever, as the rain kept the roofers from working, and water dripped into the house through the incomplete roof.  The ridge tiles and some tiles around the (still to be built) chimney remain to be fixed, but the roof is now pretty much watertight, though this did rely on Mark (handyman, UFH installer) taking his life in his hands one wet day to put the ridge tiles temporarily in place.  This seems to have dealt with water leaks around two of the Velux roof windows.

Finishing the Velux windows was a saga in its own right, taking 3 goes to get the right flashings.  They are now fitted, and look good.


The groundworks (still) go on.  Again, the weather didn’t help, but excavation of the space under the garage was next

followed by the construction of still more retaining wall, and the formation of a (nuclear weapons-proof) bunker under the garage base.

Finally, the construction of the simpler retaining walls that bound the driveway, and the steps to the front door.

There are still more groundworks to do, but they will have to wait for the removal of the scaffolding.