Thursday, 30 October 2014

Aerial Photos

We had the opportunity to purchase an aerial photo of our site, I have to say it makes us realise how much outside work we still have to do.

Since this photo was taken the caravan that we lived in for over 2 years has been sold so that cleared that space.
The digger broke down again in the middle of clearing a space for the new delivery of logs and with some drainage to finish off, but thanks to our fantastic mechanic, Tim it's up and running again.
When we get the office finished we can finally empty the storage caravan, which we have to dismantle. So not a lot left to do but the tasks aren't easy ones, especially the ground levelling.
There will be a lot of gardening to do next year and every year after.
This photo is the one taken from Lairg and is much nicer to look at.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Winds and garden levelling!

This was at the beginning of December 2013, we were quite surprised that the wind knocked over the log store as it was full and on it's way down it broke off the 'boot'
Iain has been busy this week moving mounds of soil as the garden all needs levelling, and as it's been nice we bought a small walk in greenhouse.

Iain put a rope over it with wooden stakes into the ground, then put soil over the bottom of the cover.
It was windy today.

Iain has taken it down now before it went flying off down the fields, we'll have to have a rethink on this.

 Iain has moved a lot of soil, I do wonder how we'll make it level?
There isn't much left to do in the house for the completion certificate, just pipe lagging and skirting boards in one bedroom (work room at the moment), although there's quite a bit of decorating, all the doors need varnishing as does the staircase, a lot of door frames, window sills, skirting boards still need the top coat and the kitchen still needs tiling, but all that is cosmetic and not necessary for the completion certificat so it will wait a while longer.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

3 toilets and a certificate

We decided to complete our VAT return for the house because we're not far off completion and money is tight.
One of the requirements for the VAT return is a Temporary Certificate of Habitation.
Iain arranged for the Building Warrant Officer to come and said she would do an inspection based on a Competion Certificate and let us know what we needed to do for both, but while she was here she would like to see a pressure test on the drains.
That was in August and the kitchen drainage passed easily but not the bathroom drains!
Iain has been driven mad by this as he couldn't understand why it wouldn't hold pressure, apparently you put a bung on one end and another on the other then pump air in via a gauge which shouldn't go down!!!!
He ended up disconnecting everything, and I mean everything. The drain from the house to the first manhole was fine, he found a problem with the bath trap in the downstairs bathroom (a 50mm bath trap will only hold 50mm of pressure), the building inspector was duly rung and she advised that she would accept 50mm. Which was fine but the upstairs bathroom had a problem and it was the toilet which wouldn't hold any pressure at all. Iain wrote to the place where we bought it and they sent as a goodwill gesture a replacement pan, which still didn't hold pressure! So then we went to B&Q and bought another toilet and that didn't hold pressure properly although it did hold some.
With having them outside it enabled Iain to see better what was going on, all the toilets could be filled to overflowing and did not loose any water so none of them leaked but air was going somewhere. The replacement pan with the cistern tightened up (the seal wasn't sealing fully enough for an air pressure test) it passed.
So today 2 months later, the building inspector said yes we can have our Temporary Certificate of Habitation. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Weddings, visitors, summer kit and stove

From May to now it has been a very busy time, we went to the USA mostly business but we had a couple of days holiday. While we were there our granddaughter Neave was born, which called for a trip south to visit when we got back to the UK. Then back home to get the house ready for visitors who were coming to Inverness to our youngest son's wedding in July.

Beautiful Neave
David and Amy cutting the cake

Alastair and Jane at John O'Groats
Our beautiful stove and glass hearth

We have had glorious weather and Iain installed the summer kit into the Esse which has made cooking difficult/interesting again. What a summer kit is, is bricks that you install inside the firebox, it makes it smaller and closes off one of the vents but it also makes the cooker hotter and doesn't put as much heat to the boiler, meaning the oven has just been way too hot but we're learning.
All the mouldings are on downstairs, not necessarily fully painted but that can be done over the winter.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Spring update

Work on the house has slowed down partly because we're living in it, partly due to work commitments and we've had flu, Iain has had 'an inner ear imbalance' and I've got sciatica, but we have still made progress and we've had help.
David and Jill came to stay at the end of March and in the week they were here.....
New log store built

Jill splitting logs

Top part nearly full

Iain cutting logs

Jill with the electric cable

David at the other end

We have electric with meter in the meter cupboard and a full log store. We don't need to run the range all day as now the heat store is full it just needs topping up so we light it for cooking and either let it go out or run it for the evening.

Our next visitors called in for coffee and ending up fixing the stairs, they also took us for dinner 2 nights running, thank you David and Annette.

We have all the downstairs doorways painted, half are fitted with the architreve. windowsills are fitted in the kitchen/dining room. We got a bit stuck with the painting as the windows are brown and the manufacturer said a light sand then paint with a water based paint no need for undercoat. That isn't working very well so looks like a lot of sanding so they may stay brown until winter. The skirting board is all cut for the downstairs rooms, but we need to make space in the lounge to paint them before Iain fits them.

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Outside Iain has been working on the drainpipes for the gutters, as well as disconnecting the caravan from the electric/water supply and moving the barn onto the permanant electric supply.

Progress has been made since February and hopefully more will be made over the summer.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Our First Visitors

Our first visitors were coming for a couple of days over half term and work had almost stalled on the house, as wood has taken priority.
The utility room had to have the slate floor laid, so that the washing machine and tumble drier could be moved out of the barn. Then the barn could be cleared ready for the tools currently stored in the guest bedroom. We also decided at the last minute to lay a laminate floor in the lounge as well as the bedroom.

This is what they looked like before.

This was how they looked one week before:

And this is how they look now

It was an amazing accomplishment by Iain who laid the floor in both rooms in a day and a half.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Living in the house

I was thinking it will be so much easier living in the house while we finish it. Well it is but.....
moving stuff from the caravan is now more urgent because with no heating in the caravan it is going damp and musty. The bedroom floor is nearly covered in stuff before long I think we'll have a path to the bed only. I've only seen the breakfast bar surface once and that was before we moved in.
I know it will take time especially as Iain is now frantically cutting wood and trying to keep up with the Esse which still doesn't get hot enough to boil a kettle, but it will boil potatoes and cook a chicken. The range has heated the heatstore we have plenty of hot water, the underfloor heating in the rooms we've turned it on is being turned down as we're too hot, same with the heating in the bedroom.
Having spent 2+ years in a caravan where no matter how high you turn the heating up it never gets warm and your feet are always frozen, it's amazing to be too warm, to take your jumper off and have warm feet.
The sorting of stuff and putting away will come together eventually, and skirting boards, window sills and architreve will get fitted in time. For now we are warm and comfortable.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Moving in to the house

We are still in the process of moving into the house although we are living in the house.
There is a lot of stuff to move from the caravan to the house but as we need it we'll bring it over then.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Iain has just about finished the kitchen, just a small section of plinth to put into place.

The house is mostly finished just a lot of tidying up, the living room walls are still to be painted.
The skirting boards, architreve and window sills have to be painted then fitted.

It is liveable so we will be moving in this week.

The electrician still needs to come and finish the wiring for the heating and Iain still has to dig the trench to put the larger duct in so the electrical supply can be transferred from the caravan to the house, but it doesn't stop us from moving in.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Electric supply update

The supply couldn't be installed because the duct that we've laid for it isn't big enough. It is for single phase but we are having 2 phase.
Iain now has to dig up the duct and put the new bigger duct in, but at least it will be ready for the Electric company as the electrician came yesterday and is putting the consumer unit in and has nearly finished wiring all the lights and sockets too.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


The electrician came last Wednesday and had fitted most of the rooms by Friday. Then yesterday, Monday he didn't arrive. Today he still hasn't arrived but the Electrical supply people have and we have no consumer unit for them to connect to!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


The time came at the weekend to test the plumbing! Iain turned the water on, then off again, fixed the first leak and then turned the water back on.
The second OOPS came when the upstairs toilet was test flushed and promptly emptied through the light holes of the living room. A joint in the waste pipe had come apart when fitting the toilet but second test worked fine.
The last leak was a pipe at the very top of the tank, so 1000 litres of water to empty out before it could be soldered. It took long enough to fill the tank and longer still to empty it.
Iain is now working on getting the chimney up for the Esse cooker/boiler and there are a few steps to go through before we can light it, such as putting the water tank back that he had to move in the roof to be able to get to the chimney in a very tight space.
The electrician arrived today and both bedrooms and the landing now have sockets and lights. Hopefully tomorrow he'll get downstairs done, then it will be back to waiting for the electric company to come and transfer the electric to the house, then panic while we work out how to get power back to the caravan.
Moving into the house will be as soon as we have hot water and power. We already have a working toilet
We also have a new bed coming thanks to Mum and Dad, which is very much appreciated.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Upstairs nearly complete

Both bedrooms and the ensuite bathroom are painted and ready for the electrician. There is a radiator to fit in each bedroom but the pipework is all there.

The living room is still to be painted but it's still full of doors, skirting boards and window sills.

Friday, 26 October 2012


The main bathroom was nearly finished this week but we needed special fixings to fasten the sink to the wall so a trip to Inverness was called for. Iain did have a long list of things he needed for various jobs that he's been waiting for.

The ensuite was just the same needing the special fixings.

When ordering all the bathroom fixtures and fittings I forgot the shower hose, head and rail. Ooops!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Harl and stairs

The builders have finished the 'Harl' which was a new word to me as we would call it render. It looks brilliant and I'm very impressed with our builders Chris and Brian.

Iain has been very busy and has got the staircase installed.
The tapers have finished upstairs. Painting next and we have to ring the electrician to come and do second fix.
Iain is still working on plumbing and bathroom so the next picture maybe of a finished bathroom.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Summer update

We've not had a bad summer in Scotland which is good but our tapers (painters & decorators) have too many outside jobs and will get to us when it's bad weather. We do have enough to do but it may cause more delays as it has already lost us a week.
The house is now fully plasterboarded. The electricians have been and cut the holes for lights and sockets. Downstairs is now fully taped, the kitchen is painted, the downstairs bathroom & airing cupboard are yet to do. The lounge will have to wait until we get it emptied. The stairs, skirting boards, doors with frames, architrive and window sills arrived today so all of that with the kitchen units and worktops the lounge is pretty full.
We went to Inverness and collected the slate for the kitchen floor this week so today Iain has sorted them and sealed half the floor (the Esse cooker is in the kitchen so can only do half at a time). I've been washing them ready for them to be sealed. The slate has to be sealed twice, first to stop the grout soaking into them and then again when finished. So I guess the floor is going to take a while.
After the slate is down Iain can start fitting the kitchen and sort the (complicated) plumbing from the Esse to the tank. While I get on with painting and varnishing.
Our House Martins have all fledged so when the builder comes he'll be able to take the nests down to render. I think we need to put something up to stop them from coming back next year I didn't realise what a mess they make. They nested on the end of the barn last year so hopefully that's where they'll go next year.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

One bedroom plasterboarded.

The rest of the upstairs still to be done.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Taping, Electrics and outside!

The electrician has been and cut the holes for the lights and sockets so we now have wires everywhere.
They also did red chalk lines all over the ceilings. The grey padding in the middle is the insulation cover off the heat store.
This is the heat store it had to be moved so the electricians could get into the cupboard.
This is the cupboard the heatstore is going to be in. We took the opportunity to paint a sealant on the floor while it was out.
This was the first day of taping where they put the tape on and one coat of plaster.
While the decorators were doing the taping and the weather was good. Iain put the dry verge on as well as tidying the ends of the eaves.
This is day 2 where they put a second coat of plaster on. As you can see it is just on the seams and over the nails.

This is the last day where they have done the third coat, sanded it all and sealed it.
Now the 2 rooms can be painted and used as storage for the kitchen units so the decorators can come and tape the kitchen. Then we can start upstairs.
There is still a lot to do but progress has been made.