Sunday, 21 March 2010

First site meeting

Well - the meeting went very well. It was VERY exciting to see the space upstairs with all the walls removed - for the first time we can really see how it will be in terms of space and light (in fact, there'll be several more windows and a skylight, so the light'll be even better). Clare says that 1 man (Darren) getting all that done in a week puts our efforts to shame, but I don't think he has another job - plus he knows what he's doing!

Anyway - some pics:whole space

north south upstairs

south to north upstairs

And Darren's opened up the inside of the south wall, the big gable end of Bulwell stone, and you can see the old leading for the pitched roof from this end of the building. (Well, we're endlessly fascinated by such details, even if you aren't!)

inside south wall
Various big things did come up at the meeting - it transpires that in order to have gas upstairs for our cooker, we'd have to have a vented space under the upstairs floor (what we'd call the first floor, but I know in some countries is the 2nd floor, just to confuse us all). This is obviously counter to the whole enterprise - so we made the decision on the spot not to use gas for cooking. We'll be able to use the crappy electric cooker we have in the rental house to start off, and hope to go the induction hob route in the future (when we're less skint).

So we need to get the gas capped off, and we need to do this asap as it affects the ground floor and the changing of the stairs etc. I spent hours on the phone to Scottish Power (our supplier) and various other people they set me on to - until we managed to work out how to arrange it on-line. At which point it became apparent that a different company have to come and remove the gas METER before the second company can come and take the piping back and cap it off outside. This became apparent at the time we really HAD to just set off for our holiday, so I've left it in the hands of my Mum to sort the meter removal and we'll do the rest on-line. (Though our meter details are in cubic feet not metres which may confuse things!)

We've also got to get the electricity meter moved from just inside the front door to just outside. Ho-hum - about £600, it looks like!

Never mind - I'm typing this from Whistler, Canada, and today we get to ski/snowboard where the Olympics have just been and the Paralympics still are! Can't be bad at all, can it?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

They've Started!

The builders began the destruction and refurb 2 days ago - we are on our way to actually having a house! Lots more changes (well a few to heating etc) which we will update you with soon, once we are completely clear..............
BUT They've started - we are both really excited and a bit nervous!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Actual plans

We realise that we've been telling all about our proposals without showing our plans - which really might help!Throughout, the north end is the roadside, the south end has the steeply sloping garden, the east has the courtyard.

First up, a plan drawing of the existing groundfloor. The south room was the sitting room, the north was the Sindy/Marie Antoinette bedroom.
002 EXISTING - Ground Floor Plan

Secondly, the existing upstairs - similarly, the south room was another sitting area and the north a bedroom, with a bathroom and small study on the east side.
003 EXISTING - First Floor Plan

Next we have Gil's proposals for the ground floor - our bedroom is the south room, the spare room (and cello area!) the north room.
102 PROPOSED - Ground Floor Plan

And here are the proposals for upstairs, with the study/knititng/spinning room to the north (could also be a bedroom) and the stove at the end of the kitchen run by the sliding balcony doors. (the balcony itself being imaginary for some time!)
103 PROPOSED - First Floor Plan-1

Lastly, some impressions of how the upstairs will look once we're in. (Obviously, less tidy, and with more colour!)
106 PROPOSED - Interior perspectives-1

To emphasise the "more colour" - here are a few little pics of the kitchen. As we've said before, we've bought some reconditioned English Rose units from Source Antiques in Bath. These are 1950s kitchen units made by the old Spitfire factories, and now polished and powder-coated to our specifications. Beautiful! (But not subtle).
Double sink unit:dibdin sink1dibdin sink2
Under-worktop trolley: dibdin trolly1dibdin trolly2
And a drinks dresser!: dibdin dresser1dibdin dresser2

Monday, 1 March 2010

Plans and limitations

So - we said we'd reviewed things quite a bit recently, and perhaps it would be interesting to talk about how?

We had always planned to have wet underfloor heating (UFH) downstairs, with a hard flooring in the hall and bathrooms, and maybe engineered wood in the bedrooms. We talked about a woodburning stove upstairs for additional space heating, and heated towel rails in the  bath and shower rooms, running off the same system as the UFH. We'd considered using a back boiler on the stove to heat the water, or having an efficient gas condensing boiler, either way to be solar ready.

Gil (architect) would check out with a PHPP (Passive House Planning (Design) Package) consultant what the expected heating load would be (in other words how much energy in the form of heat we would expect to need), and therefore the type of systems that might be most appropriate. Gil was optimistic that our requirements would be pretty low - aiming for AECB silver standard or better (next one up is passive house)

Tom (builder) had always suggested that radiators could be cheaper than the UFH. We really hated the idea of having these, even to the extent of thinking we'd put in the UFH pipes even if we found that we shouldn't need that much heating, as it would then be available for the future.

Gil came back after our VAT panic with a revised plan. Rather than digging out the floor downstairs and putting in concrete slab, then insulation, then screed with pipes, we could have insulation first then concrete slab with no separate screed and no pipes (advantage: increase the internal mass of the building - that is, the heavy structures inside the insulated envelope - and thus slow the changes of temp within the building). No hot towel rails, go with the stove I found (this wonderful Eccostove) and use that to heat the hot water (with solar in the future and back up electric immersion). We wouldn't need a big accumulator tank, just a 210-300L one. And we could use Lexin infra-red panels for top up if we need additional heating (perhaps in the bathroom - these heat the walls etc, ideal, and need only be on for the time the heat is required).

Lots of other cost reducing ideas were also bandied around: changing the support for the wall insulation and plasterboard from Modified Larson Truss to standard studwork (no real cost change found); change the type of insulation used (similarly no real cost saving); use standard plasterboard rather than Fermacell as planned (saves about £1000). We are yet to get a real breakdown of the plumbing costs (Tom got some from the plumber before, but it was the sort of breakdown that didn't really help us much - things grouped perhaps according to order of work, but eg cylinder and showerheads etc -£X; UFH pipes, boiler etc £Y. In other words, opaque combinations and no costs for single items) to see where we are in terms of the water heating.

Initial calculations from the PHPP guy suggest a heat load of less than 2KW (excluding hot water) which is really encouraging - we should be well within the Silver AECB category of efficiency (which is 70% less CO2 emissions than a similar house renovated in a traditional fashion). We may get slightly better, but Passive House (=Passivhaus) standard is out of our reach - still, this is really excellent news for a renovation of a Victorian building, and in itself requires really detailed and thoughtful design and implementation.

Sadly, we won't be able to afford to have our balcony (more important than that sounds, as it is the direct access from the kitchen/living area to the garden) as we don't have enough money! We hope to save for it and do it a year or two after we move in. Less importantly we'll be living with plain concrete underfoot through all of downstairs for the foreseeable future.

But roll on the start of building, and even more - moving in to our lovely house (and seeing some of our stuff for the first time in what will be 2 and a half years!).