Thursday, 11 July 2013

Hanging around

Our own custom designed and fabricated traditional sliding barn door system. We managed to resurrect the old back door and with plenty of sanding, love and beeswax we are stoked with the end result. So nice to upcycle original parts of the building.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Scary times

Excavating to establish the extent (or not) of foundations always makes me have a few sleepless nights. The good weather predicted gave us the courage to get on with it and we hope to get everything reinforced and sound before we see rain…


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Renderplas EB12

Sometimes you can spend hours looking for a solution to a complex detail that is going to make a things so easy and elegant. We wanted to create an uplighting LED strip channel in the family bathroom vaulted ceiling. This involved overlapping the plasterboard the problem was how to finish the board edge.

After much searching I found the Renderplas EB12 drylining board stop bead.

Having tried all their stockist i got in touch with the company direct who couldn't have been more helpful. Look forward to posting pics of the solution sometime in the near future.

Monday, 8 July 2013


Not happy with out roof. The structural engineer has advised us that it has to come off and be seriously beefed up if we want to return it to a traditional slate one and get insulation onto it. It is pretty much made of matchsticks and lots of them are rotten!

It’s unplanned things like this that really are the terror of renovating, but on the plus side we can put in a new set of rafters and this should make tying into the new extension much easier.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Laying bare

The scary bit – ripping out all the old covered up walls and ceilings and laying bare the fabric of the building.

In this case there were some nasty surprises – but more of that later!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Oak post

We needed an oak post to make the corner window something special, so i went to Winkleigh Timber and after a scrabble around the yard found the following…

With a bit of sanding and oiling it has made the corner a beautifully organic addition to the eco-extension.

P1090223P1090221 P1090217 P1090213 


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Fire pit

Just a little idea of mine that went against everything our stone mason had been taught… Wanted the border of the fire pit to look like it was breaking through the ground and reaching up… P1090311

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Measure twice…

Well last week we finally started timber framing. It has been lovely to see Mike again. We build 2 passive houses with his company McCartney’s & Co near Padstow a few years ago which were stunning. This job involved a lot more in-situ planning as the frame is having to join onto the existing house and rafters. I am please to say Mike’s calm and pragmatic approach is a pleasure to work with as always and the frame flew up, with the NBT system going on next week.

Here are a few pics to wet the appetites.

P1090003P1090006 P1090029 P1090032P1090034 P1090037

Friday, 19 April 2013

Roof lights

We have just chosen our conservation rooflights and are really excited to say we have secured a deal with The Roof Light Company and are working with their technical team to get a truly flush fit with a warm slate roof by using custom made flashing in code4.


This image shows the roof lights we are going for but we will be dropping them down another 25mm to get a truly flush fit. We loved the way these roof lights look, being both minimal and sympathetic to the original concept.

We will be fitting them in due course so we will post a review of how that goes, and the joys of playing with lead to achieve the flush fit later in the year.

Thanks to the Roof Light Company for being as excited about our project as we are.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

UK Oak Doors

Well we finally got things sorted on the oak door front. I am pleased to say that UK Oak Doors replaced the dodgy door with a glazed version for another room and included some Treatex Hardwax oil for our inconvenience.

So how do we like the doors. We everyone comments on them. Whilst the oak isn’t the most characterful and the grain is a little looser than we would like the build quality and detailing is excellent, particularly the diamond oak screw plugs.

In terms of value for money and construction they are hard to beat. Realistically the only way we could have got a better door would have been by spending a lot more money or making them ourselves from handpicked European Oak.  In terms of pricing, bulk and trade discounts were not available which does make it difficult for resellers/builders but the prices are competitive and i think geared primarily to the consumer. The best bet seemed to be to keep an eye on the website and take advantage of whatever monthly promotions were available.

The important thing is choosing the right door. For open out doors choose the Oak 3 ledge Barn Door as the hinges can go on the un-ledged bead & butt face, and this looks the best. If the hinges are going on the inside on the ledges then you need to order the Oak  Ledge with Optional brace door as the ledges go all the way to the edge of the door and the hinges look “right” that way, (which they don’t on the cottage Door).

The value latch sets are pretty but they aren’t waxed so be prepared for a little bit of wirewool and wax to finish them off and make them more tactile. Again its a value for money product and with a little finishing you can add the extra “je ne sais quoi”.

There is a lot more i could write but it’s late so i think to sum up when i consider all the factors we would happily use UK Oak Doors again. Thanks to Vicky for her efforts in resolving all the issues that arose.

P1080956 P1170877 20130301_102647 P1080725

Thursday, 14 March 2013



We took advantage of the fine dry weather this week and started the landscaping… lots of curved short stone walls are coming in to terrace the levels… and we have been really fortunate to find great stone every time Dave does a little excavation with his digger…

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Variable Oak

We are currently discussing the quality of oak with our chosen door supplier. So far it seems very variable and we have had some problems with both damages that required repairs and poor quality boards. A great shame as the joinery seemed initially very good. The picture shows the huge variation in grain with the door on the right being the sort one would expect (we like that door) and the doors on the left showing “pine like” open grain and stains (3 horizontal stains on one board, second board in, on the far left door). Pretty disappointing but we shall keep you posted on how the company reacts and do a full and fair review once the company has had a chance to respond.

P1080733P1080739 P1080727 P1080724

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Well i finally got down and dirty with the tiles and adhesive, but not before I put down the Durabase CI mat to decouple the tiles from the screed. I wanted to make sure any shrinkage was covered. Its interesting stuff, a kind of rigid waffle that is cut and then stuck to the floor. Allegedly it allows screed floors that aren't fully dry to dry out buy not trapping the moisture, giving a route to pressure adjust and balance.

Well it was cut and stuck, the indentations filled, more adhesive and the tiles laid over. Time will tell if it does its job and if on e still gets as  solid a base. It did add a stage but probably not more than an hour and an extra 30% adhesive.

I also used the LASH tile levelling system. This was the cheapest of the systems and didn't require any tools. As far as i can see the only shortfall of this is the lack of an edge clip which means that there is no additional support to the base on edges and potentially your tiles could run slightly in that direction. In  terms of ease of use though, 10/10.

Meanwhile John is busy on the walls, doors (Eclisse pocket sliders are always a bit tricky when you haven't done one for a while, and the instructions are some of the worst on the market!), and leaks – yes we have one mystery leak on an exposed elevation that is keeping one wall VERY wet. The hunt continues. The new oak doors came too and we will do a post on those separately.

The Apprentices are on the first lime skim coat downstairs and its all starting to look a bit closer to being a habitable room.

Pics to follow soon.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Wonder wall

Our “wonderwall”… from the great father and son team of Dan and Jim Hurles from Kilkhampton. I will get some better photos of this as soon as it’s all finished and tidied. It was a pleasure working with them, no hassles,  just a good job efficiently an d beautifully done.

We asked them top use a more traditional and chunky style to mix in with the front wall. We also chose a herringbone top course to improve stability and resistance to slip. We have found that flat top courses tended to become unsettled with both children and dogs leading to the top course falling off. The herringbone should reduce the likelihood of this.


2012-12-19_14-58-00_138 P1080660

If you need any stone walling done we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them, call Danny on 07900910082

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

More lime

Finally getting onto some finishing details. Today John started the lime plastering skim coat and we are experimenting with the primer. “Officially” one should use a primer from Bayosan to go onto regular plaster but we are doing a bit of atrial as at £100 per 10 litre pack it ain’t a cheap solution. We are trialling our own PVA based concoction which comes in at more like 10p per litre (which looks remarkably similar)… of course time will tell so we may not know for 2 years but that’s the nature of experiments. We will update at some time in the future and in 2 years will know for sure… if it fails dramatically i suspect we will know a lot sooner.

Here’s John  getting into the fiddly detail and making a fine job of highlighting the oak spreader.