Friday, 17 December 2010

caravan insulation

It never occured to us that the caravan would have walls that got wet!
We expected the windows to have condensation (they have and it freezes in this weather) and the shower has mould problems. Caravans need ventilation, we've just taped the wall vents up as the wind was blowing the snow through them, we had snowballs on the roof, which then melted and dripped onto whatever was under that vent. Anyway we have thermal linings to all the curtains which keeps us warm and thats the main thing.
We have a cupboard in the main bedroom that we store the suitcases in and the ironing board, washing and anything we can fit in. When we got the suitcase out to go away with we found everything had mould growing on it and the walls of the cupboard (that are external walls) were wet and going mouldy. The wardrobe in that room also has an external wall and that was wet at the bottom.
So we have lined the walls with 2" polystyrene and now we're hoping that works. We've also put the polystyrene under the dog's crate as her bed is damp on the bottom and she's not had an accident!
So if you're going to live in a caravan in the winter, consider the cupboards on external walls, the point that there will be a lot of condensation, there seem to be drafts all over but they are necessary if you tape up all the vents it will be a lot worse.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

update third row

The third row of the heavy blocks is finished!
Now there is the outer 3 rows of smaller blocks to do. Also all the filling in, hardcore, damp proof membrane, rebar then concrete. So just a small amount of work before the kit gets here in January!!!!!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

third row

Just the porch to do the third layer on and that is the blockwork finished.
Just a little waterlogged now!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010


I don't know whether to cheer because it is raining or not! On one hand Iain can do blockwork as the temp is well over 4C and on the other hand the site is a quagmire! We have rivers, ponds, streams and mud lots and lots of mud.
So Iain is out in the rain and wind laying blocks, and tomorrow he'll be laying blocks and hopefully that will be the third layer finished. Then the hardcore can be packed into the middle.

Our mortgage company are happy with the valuation and have told us what our first payment will be and it's nearly enough to pay the kit manufacturer, GM Timber Systems. Just have to sign on the dotted line.

We're not in the caravan this week. Our portaloo supplier couldn't get here to empty the portaloo and even if they had it was frozen. Water pipes freezing, being in 2 feet of snow, having to put on more clothes to go to bed, trying to get out of the drive on foot (not a chance of getting the car down the drive), none of that bothered us, but we cannot manage without a toilet, so we've rented a holiday cottage in 'The Seaboard Villages' and are enjoying central heating, baths, washing machine and walks on the beach, inbetween coming up to site every day.
The portaloo supplier is coming on Tuesday so we'll be back in the caravan, but in the meantime I think I'll have another bath.

Friday, 3 December 2010

snow and more snow

The valuation guy has been and taken a picture of the snow!
He will give his valuation to the Mortgage company and they will offer us our first installment based on that. Hopefully it will be enough to pay the kit manufacturer so that can be delivered in January.
Our foundations aren't finished but with the snow there is nothing we can do. There is always the possiblity that the temperature will rise above 4C for a long enough time so we can finish the foundations.
At least we are not the only builders with the same problem, the Valuer has seen quite a few that had planned on getting the kit up before Christmas and the snow has halted everything. Kind of reassuring really.
The temperature dropped to -10 yesterday so we stayed in and kept warm. It's about -2 today and has snowed a bit this morning so looks like Meg gets her walk this afternoon.

Monday, 29 November 2010

no work today!

We're going to have a big electric bill, but as you can see from the icicles we're retaining some heat cos they're not melting.
Today we went for a walk, the foundations are at a standstill in this snow, it might be possible to do some digging for the drainage but that will wait until tomorrow!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

snow photos

This is when the snow had first started.
This is today!
Iain has started wacking the soil down and is going to add hardcore hopefully later today, so that's the porch started just the rest of the house to go :-)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

It's snowing

It's snowing!
The digger tyre is fixed, Tim (wonderful man) found a used tyre and fixed it on Sunday for £110.
The third row of blockwork is halfway round, but I think the snow and temperatures may hold that up now.
Next is to level the soil inside, run the wacker over it then top with hardcore, run the wacker over that. Then maybe the temperature will be above 4C so that Iain can finish the blockwork and we can lay the concrete.
There is lots of other work to do as well, such as take the top soil off round the site so it's not as muddy (maybe). Dig the hole for the septic tank. All stuff to do in the digger!
Hopefully the mortgage people will understand if the weather delays us!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The digger

The digger is causing problems yet again!
The rear tyre has split, so call out charge to have someone look at it £40. If it's repairable they'll take it away for a week to 10days, so thats not an option, we can't fill in the blockwork with hardcore without the digger. A new tyre is £245 + call out + vat and I haven't asked yet how long that will take, as it would have to be ordered and things don't move quickly up here.

2nd row

That's the second row nearly half way round.
Once the second row is all the way round, we can start to fill in the middles with hardcore and think about ordering the next lot of concrete.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


The channel Iain cut in to drain the water from the trench, but he had to break the ice in it first this morning.
Here's our very muddy site!
The first of the blockwork!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

small update

Iain has got all the way round the trenches now with the first row of blockwork, he's now doing the 2 crosspieces in the middle. He says now the first row is done the rain shouldn't be a problem to laying the blocks. So hopefully the blockwork can get finished so the filling in can start!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Living in Scotland rain was to be expected, but I have to say we expected to have the timber frame up by now. The building warrant took 3 months longer than expected which has been the main delay.
The delay of course has caused mortgage issues, as in it's now been 6 months since we were awarded the mortgage and as we have not completed the foundations they were going to restart the mortgage application from scratch, but they have given us 1 months grace!
So now we are on a deadline to get the foundations finished so a valuer can come and then the first draw down of the mortgage can happen. Only it keeps raining. Iain has had difficulty lining up the blocks as the footings aren't exactly level, thanks to advice from a family member that was solved and he started the blockwork, but we don't know how to work in the rain, with the trenches flooding. Any suggestions would be welcome at this stage!
We also need a porch on the caravan to store the boots and coats, it is very muddy onsite now. We had a nice drive and a gravel path to the caravan but the concrete wagon put great ruts in the drive and so now it's muddy and wet!
At least while it's raining it's not freezing :-)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Saturday, 23 October 2010

photos of trenches

That's the pipe that Iain put in, apparently it's for the toilet!
This is me waiting for Iain to come and help with the tamping of the concrete. This is the trenches full of concrete (not water).

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Footings

What a task doing the concrete in footings is. Our trenches had filled with water due to the inclement weather! It p****d it down for a good 24 hours! I went to Tain and bought a water pump, we put the concrete delivery off until Friday afternoon then we spent Thursday trying to sweep the water to where the pump was, ever tried sweeping water uphill. Also all the breeze blocks and cement were delivered in the rain, while we're trying to empty the water out of the trenches!!!!! I attempted to move the cement to the barn, big mistake, I didn't realise how heavy a bag of cement is. So that job got left for Iain (a lot of jobs get left for Iain)
Friday morning arrives, quite reasonable weather (not raining), I sweep water to the pump again while Iain puts the pipe in (you'll see it on the photos, when published), then we were ready for the concrete.
The concrete arrived at 1:30pm and he could only put it in part of the trenches, so after he'd filled one (small, very small) corner, he filled the digger bucket and Iain drove it to different parts of the trenches while I raked the concrete to the middle, and anywhere else that the digger couldn't get to. Raking concrete reminded me of when I was small and used to make mud pies, but 2 hours of raking concrete definitely does not. We had a small patch to fill in with rocks to stop the concrete going that way and (owning up here big time) I rolled a large rock to the top of the slope and it fell on Iain's hand, he has a large lump on it now that is going black :-(
After that came the tamping, so while Iain was making a suitable tamping tool, (A lump of wood with 2 more bits of wood screwed to it for handles) I raked a higher part to a lower part and in the process of doing this, my iphone fell out of my pocket into the concrete.............It still works but I don't think I'll be able to charge it when the battery dies as the socket bit is full of concrete.
Anyway back to the tamping, I'm just not tall enough to straddle a trench and manhandle a lump of wood trying to bash the concrete (I'm sure we were just doing it to make that pattern you see on concrete), so David had to take over, luckily by this time (5pm) he was just getting up (he works nights).
The footings are in, next is blockwork!
Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

First inspection

Our first inspection happened yesterday and we passed. The trenches are right and we have ordered the concrete for Friday morning.
Today our delivery of 10 tons of sand and 10 of type 2 has arrived in the showers of snow and sleet. The weather has turned just in time for the footings, still it's not unexpected when we got to October we knew we would have to work with bad weather, it is Scotland.
The caravan is quite warm as long as we keep the heaters on low, it gets cold really quickly when they are turned off. I hope this is the case when it gets really cold.

Friday, 15 October 2010


The footings are nearly finished, we have large piles of soil now.
We now have to have the building inspector to come and look at them. Then we can fill them with concrete.
Although the concrete has to have 3 days notice and I would like to get it ordered for next week but we need to know when the inspector is coming first.
We have been to Inverness and hired a small compactor (wacker plate) which is to use on the footings before we fill them with concrete.
We also need to order the blocks, sand, gravel, hardcore for the foundations, it's going to be quite busy onsite for the next couple of weeks, at last.
Photos will be posted more frequently, I hope :-)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Building Warrant

We have been told by the nice man in Golspie that we can (finally) start work on our house. We have a building warrant and on Wednesday we go to Nottingham for our annual Computer Troubleshooters conference.
So Iain will start digging when we get back, and I will start ordering sand, hardcore, cement (although I still need to find out if they can deliver it to here) and all the other stuff that's needed to do foundations.
Hopefully David is going to start the hole for the septic tank while we are away.
Wow at last things can start to happen, it's only taken nearly 5 months from planning permission to today!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


We have our own electric as of yesterday, so we have a freezer, tumble drier, heaters and electric kettle :-)
It's really good having electric, the freezer is on, we bought ice cream at the shop today, a priority for Iain :-)
Mum, David and I are going to Inverness shopping tomorrow and hopefully we won't have to do a major shop for a couple of weeks, just locally for fresh produce.

The building warrant could have been this week but when the architect had answered the questions the officer had he sent them to the wrong council office. Iain arranged with the architect to produce a copy and sent me to pick them up from them, which meant an hour from here to Dingwall then up to Golspie to the council offices, luckily with Mum and Dad visiting this week I had company for the 2 and a half hour round trip.
We should find out Monday if we have a building warrant or not, our building warrant officer isn't based here, he's filling in for someone and is only in Golspie from Monday pm to Wednesday midday!
Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

building warrant

Still no building warrant. We had to wait for the foundation guy to answer a question, which he did on Friday. Iain phoned the council and the Building Warrant person won't be in until Monday afternoon.
Apparently there is another time zone in Scotland, 'Highland time'

Friday, 27 August 2010


After waiting 4 months to get our wayleave from the Lairg Estate Manager, Scottish and Southern Electric can't connect us until the 28th September!!!!!!!

Friday, 20 August 2010


David has dug out the driveway, laid taram matting and then spread the hardcore, so we now have a driveway that delivery people can use.
Iain has finished wiring the barn, installed water to the barn and connected the water tank.
We have a signed wayleave........So now we wait for the electric board to come and dig a trench and get us all connected. Then Iain can turn the barn on, and we can have freezer, tumble drier, an extra fridge and possibly a washing machine.
The nice building warrant man is on holiday for 2 weeks, so there will be no progress on that for at least a fortnight, but we can start sourcing all the building supplies we need for the foundations.
So progress has been made but no building warrant yet!


This was the start of the driveway.

This is the taram matting going down.

The almost finished driveway!!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Building Warrant

We put the building warrant in at the beginning of July, the architect received a letter with queries which he duly answered.
This morning another letter has arrived with a list of queries as the first answers didn't quite answer the building officers questions.
So it'll be another couple of weeks while the information is gathered and sent to him and he reads through it, etc.
In the meantime it is moving towards winter, and we haven't even started the foundations. Also we can't start the digging to install a septic tank, so still no indoor toilet :-(
Still even though we are still on a 200mtr extension cable to the neighbours for electric, we do have our very own water supply.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


We've had family to stay for the last 2 weeks. Our son and fiancee with bump for the first week, they stayed in the caravan and of course had a go with the digger. Then my sister and partner with 3 poodles the second week in their tent.
The major event for the build is that the water is now fully connected, so we have mains water to our caravan. The electric will take a little longer, we've changed the route of the electric as the manager of the estate still hasn't signed the wayleave for Scottish & Southern Electric, so we're going through a neighbours garden and along the road to the gate. We (Iain) will have to run a cable up to the gate to connect to the meter. Iain has the barn all wired ready for when our electric is connected.
We still haven't got our building warrant but we can level the ground ready to dig the foundations. So hopefully won't be long now.
We've been on a couple of nice walks with 4 dogs and visited John O'Groats (twice). So had a nice couple of weeks playing tourist.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

massey ferguson 50H

We bought a Massey Ferguson 50H digger second hand in April ready for the build. It ran out of diesel and being old, Iain had to bleed it, then the battery went flat, thanks to a neighbour's jump leads we got it started again.
Then it had a flat tyre.
Then the ring gear had so many teeth missing it wouldn't start, so it's had a new ring main(apparently this is a ring gear not main:-)) and starter motor.
Now a linkage plate has bent, so the blacksmith is coming tomorrow hopefully.
Only trouble is, Iain has dug a trench across the only way in for the man to clean the portaloo so if we don't get the digger started, it looks like we'll be filling it in by hand.
But it does the job :-)

Monday, 19 July 2010

pictures of the water trench

This is the trench for the water pipe, hopefully Iain will get the pipe laid when the otherside has drained.

pictures of the caravan

This is the caravan insitu. With path and gate. We had it sited so the doors face the croft and barn, and Iain has put a skirt round so it should be warmer in winter!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Our Caravan arriving on site.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

life in a caravan

We've been living on site since the end of May, and life in a static caravan takes some getting used to, especially the portaloo.
We are waiting for our building warrant and until we receive that we can't put the septic tank in, so we have a portaloo. Which seems fine for the summer, but today in North Scotland it's blowing a gale and raining.......
The water is connected, but we're having trouble with the electric. We have a wayleave to put services in across the estate, but the electric board doesn't have a wayleave so that's what we're waiting for. Thanks to our brilliant neighbour we are not without electric totally, just never had a 200 metre extension before.
My feet are cold, it's July and I have cold feet. This does not bode well for winter.
The caravan also steams up, doesn't seem to have enough storage, and with the microwave in the kitchen there's no worktop space.
On the plus side, there's room for our server, suitcases, we can swing a cat in our bedroom. The lounge has plenty of space even with the dog crate.
The campsite in the village has a laundry that I can use, so washing is sorted, even if the rotary clothes line pole bent in the wind!!
So life in a caravan is okay :-)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Its all happening now!

Things go really slow and then all of a sudden......
We were sitting back, letting things take their course, the Survey was completed (and paid for), the kit supplier was chosen and a deposit paid, we now have house drawings and plans, the architect has completed the layout drawings and we have finally make our Planning approval submission last week.

We deicded that we would ideally like to be living a little nearer the site so we could be on hand to set things up and start clearing the site etc.  We had finally managed to arrange to rent a house for 2-3 months when a few days before we were due to move they sold the house.  We had a rethink and as we had already handed our notice in on our current rented home we decided to pull out the stops and try and get the caravan onto site and connected as quickly as possible.

We have now bought a digger (and paid for it). This gets delivered next week and then I will have to start getting the access road built so we can get to the site across the muddy field.

We have asked the water board for a supply, having already been through the technical bit for them to say they had capacity for us.  But still waiting for them to give us a cost and an eta.

We have a quote for the electric connection and we have ordered that (all paid for in full up front of course). But we still don't have an ETA.

We have asked BT to fit a telepohne line to the caravan.  They will charge for our new line of course and when we move that line from the caravan to the house it will be charged as another new line.  We are waiting for them to survey now to decide how the cable is going to be run.

So a lot of money has passed through our hands this last week or so and I am sure that is only the start wth a lot more to come.

So the plan now, from 1st April to 1st May is:
Clean out and secure the barn
Construct the road
Buy the 2 caravans we need (one to live in and one to store our house contents until we need them again)
Site the caravans and connect them to water, electric and telephone (if they are available)
Probably hire a portaloo as we cannot install our septic tank until after we get building warrant approval.

Then we get to move in!
What could go wrong:)

Meanwhile we are also trying to get someone to quote for doingthe connection from our raod onto the public highway.  There is quite an onerous specification issued with the planning permission that we need to meet. Unfortunately I think we will be unable to mee tthe maximum gradient specificed because we are building onna hillside and the ground naturally slopes more thna the specified maximum gradient.  Not sure how we will get around that one (or I can hope I have misinterpreted it), but lets get a contractor sorted who can then suggest what can be done for us to suggest to the authorities.

So, next job is to arrange the site insurance (and pay for it!!)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A couple of pictures

The site from the road.

A late update.

So, long time and no blogging.
Things have been a little hectic but we have been diligently working behind the scenes trying to get things sorted out ready to start building.

First we selected our kit supplier and initially worked on a standard design from them.
Eventually we changed a few things, and then we changed the whole internal layout.
The kit supplier was happy to make these changes with only a little cost impact but it set us thinking we were trying to work within their envelope and it just wasn’t quite what we wanted.
So we have now drawn out our own design and sent that to two more kit suppliers to see what sort of prices they come up with.

We have also been interviewing and selecting an Architect.
We feel that is someone we need onboard to help with the planning application, the building warrant and to hold everything together.
We have selected one of the 3 people we met and he seems amiable and flexible and is going to work on a fixed price for the work we have asked him to do.
He has also given us an hourly rate for anything extra we ask for – fair enough, at least we know where we stand.

We have arranged a Topographical survey of the site and received the drawing today.
That is the one that shows all the site levels so the architect can layout the plot and agree the depth of the septic tank and drains etc.
We also have the details for the road connection which is quite involved.  This will help us get quotes from civil contractors for the road bit.
Of course this is also our first real cost (after the plot) and the first invoice.  Just over £500 if anyone is interested.

Purchase of the plot is progressing and we have more or less agreed everything that needs doing.
We have also applied for water and electric connections but are still waiting the quotes for these.

We were probably being a little presumptive in hoping we would be on site and ready to start in April.
It looks like it will be a little later than that

As we still haven’t decided on the house design so the architect can’t do the drawings for the planning permission.
Planning could take another 2 months, followed by building warrant which could be another 2 months!!
Time marches on as we are already part way into February.

We will do our best to give more frequent updates in the future, promiseJ
Just to whet the appetite are a couple of photos of the bare site and the view we hope to have from the front room window