Snow and sun and back for more fun!

Before we went on holiday, we had replaced the concrete lintels with wood, and bolted the three beams together for maximum strength. We then popped off for a few days in Cornwall to do nothing whatsoever: it was wonderful!

On our return, we had to re-lay one of the pads supporting one of the beams. This was surprisingly tricky, but is now happily complete. After this was done, we braced the steels together so that they are less inclined to sway around in the very high winds we have been having over the last five weeks or so.

After that, it was back to forging forwards. We returned to cutting and fitting the joists into existing joist hangers…

…and then moved on to putting further joist hangers in place. I think we are both enjoying how putting about 20 short-but-twisted nails into joist hangers means together they can support the weight of the next floor. It feels really important to get them just so! You can see me below sporting my new insulated hat, courtesy of Father Christmas…

…but otherwise in my normal building gear despite the snow – well, it was only the merest dusting, and we must soldier on if we are ever to finish this work…

Happy New Year…and new lintels!

My first post in 2024 – so I’ll start with a quick recap…

We are re-building a 1970s extension to the 1880’s hunting lodge at Plas Penaeldroch. Three old block and slate walls remain and the new front wall will be of timber construction. We are currently putting floor joists in to stiffen the structure, and also to give us somewhere to put a tarpaulin to create some shelter from the gentle refreshing rain that is an almost daily delight at the moment.

We now have two sections almost complete, and only another six sections to complete.

Since I last posted, we have enjoyed Christmas with our children. To be strictly accurate, we held our celebrations on 29th December when all four children and their families were here, and it was delightful to have fun together and enjoy a present exchange or two. We also had a wonderful surprise when we opened a parcel from our Ukrainian friends as these sheepskins will keep us much warmer this winter!! There were many positives over the holiday and also one or two negatives this year. The pipe tail from the kitchen water heater split, showering hot water over a wide area. The boiler packed up, requiring a call out and lots of faffing about to resolve. And whilst we were all waiting for the third thing to go wrong, a supercell thunderstorm arrived. After about 15 minutes of lightening flashes and thunder claps, there was an enormous BANG…

…that encourages us all to get up to try to find what had happened. As we walked from the sitting room, we found shards of glass all over the corridor and stairwell, and noticed that the large window in the stairwell was mostly missing – although intriguingly the unbelievably elegant vase on the windowsill was completely unaffected.

The (thick Victorian) glass fragments were everywhere, and indeed one of the shards cut a deep grove into the handrail on the stairs. Cue a very long session for Pips and me picking up the glass fragments; PIps and Will on the vacuum cleaner; and Mike and Tom replacing the glass with a plywood panel.

We were very lucky that beside the mess and the gouge taken from the handrail, there was minimal other damage, although one painting (see above) that was waiting to be put up on the wall now needs a replacement piece of glass…

…but given how tricky it is to access the window, we count it a big win that no-one was hurt whilst we blocked off the window void…

…although I’m not sure Will and Pips agree with me…

…and the dogs were all giving us the hard stare the next morning (that’s Lola, Morgan, Freddie and Bodhi in case you don’t know them all by heart).

We had guests in for some of the holiday, and had a day off once all the guests had departed, but then it was back to building work. This week, we replaced the concrete lintels over the two ‘wooden’ doorways with wooden lintels, so we are now almost ready to get back to progressing the building.

Next week we will start by adding braces to the steels as they unnerved us slightly by beginning to sway around during the onslaught of storms just before Christmas. We have a cunning plan to stop this…

Into every life a little rain must fall…

…and as we are in north Wales, we receive more than just a little, as a rule. I use the phrase here as a metaphor / simile / whatever this iterary device is called to introduce the wildly disappointing news that we received last week. We had one of our regular visits from Building Control, and Building Control was not entirely happy with a couple of things.

On a minor level, in the wall we had rebuilt, our insulation will need trimming back as it runs too close to the end of the wall. Minor detail. More major: the last two lintels are not suitable – apparently they will form a cold bridge, so after all the effort of getting these fabulously heavy items into place, we need to get them out. Forgive me if I wear my unhappy face for a moment. I know we can fix this – but my goodness those lintels are heavy, getting them safely out and onto the ground will not be simple, and I would much prefer not to have to go and unpick our previous work! I mean one could argue we should have got it right last time, but these are fine judgements and…. let’s not look under that stone too much.

Before we start going backwards, Mike wanted to continue forwards and install some of the floor joists. Below you can see where we have bolted wood to the steels, and then hung joist hangers from the wood, and its all beginning to look even more like a building site.

This is just a closer look at the joists and, in the distance on the left hand side, you can also see one of the lintels that need removing….

The weather forecast for the remainder of this week is wet, so it is likely we will hang up our hammers now until after the festivities are over. In the meantime, we wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and that everything you might be wishing for arrives in the New Year.