Monday, 10 December 2012

Munster Windows

We today we had the pleasure of the Munster fitting team, Jamie Phillips, Dariusz Zawada and Mateusz Trojak. We can only sing their praises, professional, polite, respectful of the site and the team, accurate fitting, tidy… they even took their own packaging and waste away.

There were 11 windows/doors to fit and having travelled 4 hours to get here they arrived around 10am and left us just as it got dark. Being a renovation this was never going to be an easy fit, but they relished ion the challenge and thoughtfully fitted the windows, knowing whether to ask to fit plum or to the reveals showing a good understanding of the difference in  renovating an old building to throwing up a new build.

We are looking forward to having the same team back (please) to do the second stage next year, and possibly to snag some of the minor manufacturing blemishes in the paint finish on a few windows.

We chose Munster as they were recommended by our architect, Squirrel Design and they proved to be cost competitive with a good quality product.

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New openings…

Been blessed with a glorious day for the window fitting for Barn 2 (the first barn we are working on) today so been an early start just finessing the openings ready for Munster to come and slot them in.

After this we are onto plastering, finishing details and second fix…

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Blackmountain Thermalflex trial

We recently took delivery of a load of Black Mountain Thermalflex insulation. After long chats with Andrew Evans we decided to try this instead of our originally planned sheep’s wool. One of the deciding factors for us was its greater resistance to slump and its improved sound absorption. The product is more rigid than wool so holds it shape more easily in the roof and stud walls.

On the application side we found it pretty easy to install, coming in a convenient 380 width for our 400 centres studs.

Cutting was easiest with a serrated knife. It was suggested that an electric carving knife is THE best but we found a good old bread knife pretty good. One thing we did find was that the product was much harsher on the eyes than the wool we had used previously… so our recommendation, WEAR GOGGLES, especially if you are working overhead. We all had red irritable eyes for the first day after we put it in… 

You can download the ThermalFlex tech sheet and get a bit more information on it. We found the company easy to talk to and very responsive to enquiries.  We plan to use them for our rigid board insulating sarking for the roof too.

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Oh yeah, check out John’s curved wall using 2 sheets of flexible 6mm plasterboard layered together…

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Door envy

We asked our friends at Traditional Oak to quote for our internal doors, sadly they were out of our price range for this project but thought people would enjoy seeing what they can do… from a project in big budget Londinium.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Screed sandwich

Due to the height constraints of the building we came up with a somewhat unusual floor makeup. Sound proof dense plasterboard was laid straight on top of the oak beams, followed by 22mm chipboard and then a 40mm screed through which the services run, finished with a top of 18mm chipboard ready to take the carpet.

The result is a structurally solid, acts as a thermal store, and is acoustically isolated.

The studs float on top of the screed at the exact right height. To achieve this we came up with a pegging system. We used a liquid screed from Lidstones the pegs came out and the holes are filled in.

We don’t know if anyone else has come up with such a sandwich construction, most probably, but for us it was the right solution for this build. Another plus was a considerable reduction in the first fix labour, with a combined saving on plumbing (M&M Plumbing) and electrics of a massive £4000 across the whole build. All the cables and pipes are simply clipped to the floor and run into any studs or wall chases; no drilling through beams, feeding cables and pipes, joints or awkward corners.

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Monday, 1 October 2012

The uncomfortable truth

A lot of old buildings, even those given a clean bill of health by a “surveyor” can have horrors in store. I this case no foundations and floor levels excavated under the stone standings were not picked up by a local well respected one.

Whenever we uncover a sight like this one can’t help being filled with a bit of dread. Usually though there is a cost effective, structurally sound, naturally insulated breathable solution if you can think out of the box a bit, (and sometimes there has to be a little concrete in the mix).

We will do some diagrams/cross-sections of our solutions at a later date… until then here’s a bit of an idea.

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See here is Kieran on work trial, getting nicely stuck in.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Damp solutions


Excavate to expose foundations and stop damp penetration through the walls from above floor level. Insulate with natural external cork render.

Big thanks to Dave for his digger work. Accurate fast and friendly.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

I Derender



The first building stripped and ready for pointing with Lime from Mike Wye. Cork insulating render to go over – shame as the stone is really beautiful but it really is the best way to treat these old walls. Oh and yes proof we did have a summer!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

JJF – R.I.P.

Today and far away, whilst this joint was being lovingly crafted by John, there was a change in the order of things, an exchange of energy, a release. I know he would have been proud - Rest in Peace John Joseph. 

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

more wood…

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We just love this wood… big thanks to Russ and Neil.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Got wood

Well for the last week we have been playing with our wood from Traditional Oak

P1070190Neil, founder/owner of Traditional Oak, delivered the oak in person, bright and early on the Monday with a trailer on the back of his Discovery. After all the time with the wet trades of lime mortars and concrete bases it was great to see something with grain. Before Neil had even finished the porridge Vicky made him,  John and Ian (our new apprentice) had started unloading, and the enthusiasm hasn’t waned since.

There is something special working with such beautiful wood… the smell, the textures, and of course the promise of the finished traditional ceiling.

P1070243Traditional Oak were great at every stage of the order and we are now going to use them for much more, including oak farmhouse doors, facias, and possibly even for the timber frame for the extension.

Of course there are always learning points – these are ours…

  • Specify your tolerance on sizing. Sounds obvious but we forgot and a variance of +/- 10mm between beams means that every pad had to be individually levelled rather than running to a standard around the room. If you want to get pads in before hand then you need to specify +/- 2mm or your floor just wont be level enough.
  • Moisture levels. Our oak is great, looks lovely, BUT it seems a bit moist… we would recommend agreeing a moisture level.
  • Sanded finish: if you go for a sanded finish then agree the standard of that too… ours was fine but it was not to a level where we could not bother sanding it further… make sure you have a heavy weight sander ready for tidying it up… it’s tough stuff so you  are going to have to start really coarse before you can even think about 100+ grits.
  • Routing: good router bits pay dividends and keep going where others overheat and lose their edge. The best ones we found were the diamond tip ones from Axminster Tools

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