So near, and yet so far

A brief reminder of where we are:

four years ago we bought a semi-derelict hotel. Three years ago we opened a lovely new cafe. Five months ago we finished three suites of completely rebuilt of rooms. This week we are working to finish re-roofing a corridor connecting the cafe to the toilets.

Here’s where we started this week…

We only have this little piece left on the main roof to complete but, as you can see below, the weather hasn’t been on our side this week.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

But other things have. I had a meeting with a chap from the Wales grading people who tells us (if we decide to go for grading) we would be 4* guest accommodation, which is good to know.

In between downpours we have been working on the roof. Here you can see Mike has almost boxed himself in to the last corner. If he looks a bit wooden, I can assure you it was cold up there.

Yes, that is a pile of hail you can see

Mike was balancing on his tippy toes to install a piece of downpipe to complete the guttering around two rooms in the old house, before I passed things up to him so he could complete the slates and finish the apron flashing.

Nearly there!

And then today we have a totally 21st Century problem – we have finished the flashing, but I took the photo on my phone, not Mike’s, and mine is not yet set up to send emails. So I hope you will take my word for it that this bit of roof is now watertight in a way it hasn’t been for many a long year, and all we have to do now to complete is the fiddly bit to the right hand side. More of this next time I write, which might be later than usual, she says gnomically…

Mike said he would take me out on the tiles…

…but you’ve probably already guessed he meant the roof.

To recap – much of the roof has been stripped, and we have begun re-slating. We’re pretty proud of the nice clean edge as you look left…

Sorry about the mess – just look at the lovely leading edge!

…but there was still quite a bit to go at this morning.

…and just a wee bit still to go.

Alex and I spent the day re-slating from the bottom edge up whilst Mike had the more exacting job of finishing the top of the tiles and then installing the apron flashing into the rebate and sealing over the top of it.

Mike fixing the lead flashing

We have had some challenging weather whilst doing this roof, but today was really fun. After about 11am we were having to remove layers so as not to overheat, and by 2pm it was almost down to T-shirts, before the sun disappeared behind the mountain tops and the temperature plummeted somewhat.

It’s been a lovely sunny day here…

At the right hand end, I had stopped a few slates short of the valley as the right hand edge will be tricky. You can see below that we have yet to strip the slates from the right hand end because we want to ensure the roof is as water-tight as possible when we go on holiday next week. On the other hand, it shows the kind of roof we removed as well as the sort of task still ahead of us!

I wonder which bit we have been working on..?

So, whilst Mike was busy with Building Control this afternoon, who visited today to check the insulation and have a general chinwag with us, I started the tricky job of butting up to the valley. Here’s hoping anyone who knows about this task can’t pick too many holes in what I have done so far.

Today we started finishing to the valley edge

The next few days will involve us – I hope – finishing the straight part of this roof and then working on interior jobs so that we can be sure we are able to leave for our hols. I wonder what we might end up doing?

Feeling on top of things…

To be strictly accurately, we are feeling on top of things but also rather chilled. Whilst working on the roof today, on what was forecast to be the only dry day this end of the week, there was a sudden sharp hail shower and I am still feeling the effects. Nothing that a hot bath can’t cure…just as soon as I have finished writing this!

I should start by telling you that after we had stripped the roof and pulled out the lead last week, we noticed some of the render was pretty flakey. Having pulled some of the render away, we realised we needed to completely re-render the upstand you can see, to ensure it wouldn’t fail in a week or so and require us to crawl all over the brand new roof!

Fabric on – and ready to re-slate

Brief recap – last week we stripped the roof and re-felted it (with whatever fabric one now uses that isn’t roofing felt) so this week we knew we needed to re-slate, which means we had to work out how to fit the lead. The lead flashing we pulled off at the top was actually very thin aluminium, and the stepped pieces at the edge (really known as soakers) were code 4 lead so could be reused. We chatted, we sought opinions, we consulted the inter-highway, we watched Youtube videos, but finally it was time to actually get started.

Starting at the bottom…

Mike put in a couple of short slates, and then replaced one of the soakers. This took longer than you might think as every angle and permutation had to be checked and re-checked. Once we were clear this was looking correct…

…now we are motoring…

…we added a few more slates and a few more soakers…

…still working well…

…and then a few more…

…but this bit was a bit tricky

…until suddenly we were nearly at the top. Over the soakers we installed the flashing (the top layer of lead) and once that was in place…

…as was this bit!

…Mike had to work out how to fit the lead flashing into the slot on the top wall, which also ran behind the rainwater down pipe which we had hoped we would not have to remove from the wall. In the event, with a bit of huffing and puffing and reaching at improbable angles, we (by which I mean Mike, naturally) managed to push the lead behind the downpipe and secure the lead edge in the slot. Much sealant was then exuded into the slot to ensure it will all be water-tight before moving to the next piece. Once that was in place, we realised we needed to move the scaffolding tower so that we could strip off the next section of roof, ready for us to move onto the next piece of work (in a tidy triangle) on Friday when we hope to reach these heady heights again.

Given today’s hail and the gale force winds earlier this week, here’s hoping the weather is kinder over the next few days and we can continue to progress our roof.

We’re building again!

Happy New Year everybody! I know we have all put the decorations away for the year now, but I just wanted to show you our ‘staircase’ Christmas tree. Each year since we arrived in 2015, we have cut down a ‘weed’ tree (usually Hemlock) from the grounds and used this to fill the space between the banisters. This year, we had run out of Hemlock and hadn’t realised until after we cut down whatever species this tree is, it was considerably heavier than Hemlock. It took three people to get this tree upright, so you might like a last look at it in all its glory, before we get down to business.

…and you are only looking at the top half!

We had a gratifyingly busy Christmas, thanks for asking. The cafe was busier than we had expected; the suites of rooms were really very busy; and all of our children managed to be here for some of the holiday, so we were kept very busy and are now looking forward to having a break later this month.

Carrie, with wrecking bar in hand, naturally!

Now that Jane is back in the cafe, we can return to the building work – or should I say the destruction…? We removed the slates back in December, so now its time to take up the battening and felt, fit the second layer of insulation and then replace the waterproof barrier followed by the battens.

Here you can see Mike tackling the edge of the roof. (Don’t worry about the cable you can see. This is part of the satellite cabling which had been casually slung all around the exterior of the building before we arrived and which we are slowly removing.) As we removed the lead soakers from the side, large chunks of the render fell away as well, so we have a little additional job to complete in due course…

Once the battening and felt had been lifted, we added one layer of insulation to balance on top of the layer we installed before Christmas, from the inside. You can probably see from the droplets on the insulation that it was raining pretty hard whilst we worked – but we must keep going if we are to finish sometime this decade….

Once the insulation was in place, we put in the new roofing membrance followed by the battens, which at least gave us somewhere to kneel. Or at least Mike did. I struggled with the problem that has been reported in Caroline Perez Criado’s brilliant book (Invisible Women) exposing how items like work overalls are made for the data-typical man, not for women. My lovely (men’s) overalls have failed me. I usually wear them with the excess length rolled up at the ankles, but when I added the knee pads, they protected my lower shins admirably!

The light was failing by 4pm, and heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow, so we have replaced the some of the tarpaulins and will be working inside tomorrow – but it does feel good to be back in harness. Here’s hoping the progress continues next week.