Monday, 30 June 2014

Tag der Architektur 2014

Last Saturday was Tag der Architektur, and as part of that, our architects, Architekten Dorbath + Partner, asked if we would mind opening our house (well, building site) to a group as part of a four-site tour in this region. Organised by the regional Chamber of Architects, of which our principal architect, Herr Keller, is Chair for our district, they thought our house would be interesting as it is a work in progress, a protected structure, we're doing most of it ourselves and stuff like the wall heating is still visible.

Though still in the midst of prepping for plastering, we took a few hours out on Saturday morning to really clean out the place, put boards down so people could walk in safety, cordon off some areas and stick "before" photos on the wall. Not to mention setting up a coffee and beer bar!

The bar!
Living room hasn't been so clean in years!
My wife even set up a small display of things we found during the course of the renovation. A US army mess tin knife. Some coins. A bullet. lots of nails and iron mongery, and my favourite, the front page of a Heidelberg newspaper from 1937.

A bit later than planned, we were faced with 20 or 25 people standing in our living room (itself a good structural test!), with Herr Keller giving a nice intro to the history of our project. Then they were let loose!

I have to say, I was a bit nervous about this beforehand, but it was lovely to invite a bunch of clearly interested people in and to get nice comments. Some also had old houses, so there were encouraging words and plenty of questions.
Even the kitchen was looking good.
Herr Keller giving the intro.

In an attempt to offer a bit of Irish hospitality, we also had some of my home brewed beers on offer. Not many had a chance to try, as they were under time pressure to get to the final site, but I was very pleased when one old lady popped back in when she heard there was beer on offer. She explained her deceased husband was a Braumeister, and the last Malster in Mosbach, and that he would have liked my beer. Can't ask for a nicer compliment than that.

And then they were gone.
And speaking of beer, a rather nice surprise was being presented with a pack of one of my favourite beers, Hopfenstopfer Citra Pale ale, as a token of gratitude. The other half of our architect team, Uwe Krück, was clearly also reading my other blog! Hi Uwe! :)

All in all, a nice thing to do, and they're all welcome back any time to see it progress.


We got a nice mention in Tuesday morning's Rhine-Neckar-Zeitung, in a piece about the Tag der Architektur.

And a professional translation thanks to Dörthe, a German in Ireland! :)

"As the trip continued to Mittelschefflenz, Horst Keller from Dorbath & Partners Architects promised us an insight into the inner life of a wall heating in an old farmhouse. Previously divided up into two parts, this house is currently under renovation and will, once completed, become the home of three people. It is being redeveloped by the owners themselves who are investing a huge amount of hard work, loving dedication and effort. We saw foil-protected solid wood ceiling beams, plaster fillings made of a mixture of clay and straw, low ceilings, as well as some changes in style resulting from work carried out by various owners over the years. Keller explained that even in a historical structure like this, it is possible to meet modern quality standards for insulation. He said that the way in which the Masterson family are carrying out the renovations is “exemplary”."

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The heat is still on

The past two weeks have been very busy, in the lead up to a big plastering session. The final pieces of wall heating have been installed, holes are being closed up, dry walling being completed (or sometimes started), mesh being installed in ceilings, cabling relaid as I changed ideas and more. More importantly, a professional plaster has been in installing beading on corners around the window opes and all that. Let's make a quick photo tour.

My favourite room on the second floor got the panels installed  for the wall heating (a nice, easy job) and then the pipes fitted.

At the other side, same level, the bedroom got the same treatment.

And on the third floor, at least one of the two rooms up there is done, as I didn't have time yet to dry line the other room.

In the living room, we finally got the rest of the underflooring down, so it'll be safer to work there.

And as the clay plaster for the ceiling will be sprayed on, we've got some special protective sheets to cover the beams so we don't have to clean them all over again once the plastering is done. Comes with built-in adhesive strips on one side, and then we can but to size to tape up the other side. Though we'll probably need to staple them too, as tape doesn't stick so well on dusty oak beams.

The first floor is ready for plastering, which I simply cannot wait for, as it will make a huge difference to the house. We should be ready to start that in two weeks, as there's sill a lot of preparation work to do. But even having all the beading in place seems to make a difference.

Little covers are installed on most of the sockets now, so they can be plastered over and rediscovered.

The bare timbers in the landings upstairs are being closed off ready to receive wall heating (that's a job for tomorrow night).

And the missing wall between the bedroom and office on the first floor has finally been built after the heating system was hooked up. To add a little spice, I want to install this old window frame given to us by a neighbour. Not just so it looks nice, but also to get a bit more light into the small, north-facing office.

The heat, as I said, is still on, as there is still much to do before plastering can begin in earnest. But it's looking good!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The heat is on.

We've been keeping the pace up the past couple of weeks, trying to keep to our goal of getting the wall plastering started as soon as possible. This of course means any remaining wall heating has to be installed which in turn means all the underconstruction has to be completed before the heating panels can be stuck on. This is now complete in my favourite room on the second floor, as well as starting to close the hole in he ceiling up to the next level.

It actually makes the room feel larger and a little brighter, as the old plaster and wood behind these panels wasn't the most reflective.

Having said that, I thought I'd include myself in a photo for a change, to give some sort of scale. And I'm not a tall man! Nevertheless, despite the low ceiling, it's roomy enough, and definitely cosy.

The past few days have been spent sorting the kitchen out, as it has been neglected for quite a while. The mesh has been nailed to the ceiling to carry new clay plaster.

The gaping hole where the old chimney went has a new beam bolted to the others and laths installed ready to receive plasterboard.

Best of all, we finally closed off the wall behind which the spaghetti of cables and timber frames is hidden. Suddenly the kitchen feels cleaner and bigger.

And staying in the kitchen, the west wall was being prepped for fresh plaster by chopping off any loose stuff and keying the surface. While doing this, the big lumps were coming easily off the remaining chimney, revealing red brick. I hasn't thought his might be red brick, but it makes sense for a chimney.

Thinking this would make a nice feature, i removed all the plaster and then cleaned each brick with a nylon brush attachment on a drill, with quite nice results. All that's left to do is to scratch out some of the old mortar and repoint. I've plenty of experience of that!

Meanwhile, down in the cellar, Sace popped by yesterday and hooked up the wall heating in the bedroom and office (these designations are subject to change!), so now three rooms are running on the heating system Not that we need heating right now!

 We've now a list of tasks that we need to complete in two weeks, if we want to stay on target and start plastering. Apparently our kitchen is coming in August! I doubt it...