Friday, 15 June 2012

Choices, choices.

The Kispert guys finished this week, leaving us with a nicely compacted screed "patio", ready for paving sometime in the next five years, probably.

A new way up to the back of the field. Looking east.
Looking south
Looking west. Pigsty looking a lot taller now!
Meanwhile, out front, Dieter Edinger painted the facade with a range of colours we selected, so we could get a better idea of what they look like in reality. We've three or four brown shades, ranging from red-brown to dark chocolate, and four off-white shades for the plasterwork.

Before the samples
After the samples.
It's harder than I thought to pick colours, as the feel of them changes with the light, but here's some closeups.

Red-brown, with a creamy-yellow filling.
Dark brown mixed with a cherry red, giving a chestnutty tone.
Dark, chocolately Fachwerkbraun
Almost like charred wood, a private mix from Dieter Edinger.
We're leaning towards the Fachwerkbraun (passers-by have also picked this as their favourite), but we have to be careful of the colour of the plasterwork, as too bright, and it's a bit sore on the eyes.

The windows will get new wooden frames to surround them, replacing the ones that were taken off some months ago. Friend and Architect, Uwe, suggested that we do a complete colour concept and provided some suggestions. I'd already been thinking of some aspects I'd liked from seeing other houses and far too much Internet browsing, and quite liked the idea of green surrounds, dark wood, and off-white infills. We selected some colours for the next test, which also has to be cleared with the building protection agency, and have several conceptual drawing provided by the architects. But even so, the very same day, Mr Edinger whipped up some boards with greens, and popped them up on the facade so we can see how they match. Theory being put into practice in the same day.

There's another green, but it's really GREEN.

Actually, the main problem is we have too many choices. We have to pick colours for the wood, for the sandstone (who knew there were many sandstone colours!), for the plasterwork panels, for the plasterwork on the cellar level (we're going for a slightly darker shade than the top half of the building), for the window surrounds and doors and for the fascia boards. Very easy to get something far too busy-looking.

Having been away this week, it was about time I did some manual labour, so a quick job was done this evening truncating part of the barn roof overhang that was literally touching the house. It needed to be cut off to make room for insulation, and the Edinger team may be plaster the wall in question tomorrow morning, so best to get it out of the way. Basically, just cut a triangle off the corner of the roof and add a bracing lath.

 Just need to prepare some wedged laths and it's good for cut tiles to go back on, and then get some new gutters sorted out.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Nose to the grindstone

Or rather, nose to grinding the stone. For three evenings last week, I used an angle grinder to "carefully" shave a few centimetres off the top of the vaulted cellar which lies under the kitchen. Basically, the dome of the top, poking up into the kitchen, meant that we didn't have enough space to lay a proper screed and underfloor heating. We've managed to win several cm in places, and it's fairly even now, with enough room for insulation too. But extremely dirty and painstaking work. These photos are after considerable cleanup.
Cuts in each stone visible.
Nice and even. Well, mostly.
The ceiling got a bit of prep work too, with the old clay plaster being removed and edges ready to receive reinforcement mesh, if needed.
Some months ago
The bedroom ceiling got similar treatment, not to mention the other dirty, painstaking work of removing layers of paint from the main beam (just like I did in the living room) using an angle grinder with a braided wire brush attachment

We did some tests with sand and trass cement mixes to choose new mortar for the pointing of the limestone wall in the living room, so ready to go with that soon.

And meanwhile, the back was being further transformed with the final pipework and drainage complete, and the start of the ground source heatpump being laid, the 65mm PE pipes that will lead to the collector area. I'll return to this area in a later post, as it's looking great now.

Pipes laid to the heat pump collector area

And finally, today we got connected to the sewage system. The former connection ran from the back of the house, but as the waste pipes are inside, the connection was brought out to the front. The local council were not too pleased, as the builders hadn't spoken to them about it (as they should have, according to the contract), and permission is needed before connecting into a mainline sewer. As luck would have it, totally by chance they uncovered an old, disused street drain that was already connected, so by removing the the old concrete shaft, revealing a 200mm PVC pipe in good condition, they simply reused this as a connection, and the officials were happier. Rather embarrassing, as we're next door to the town hall!