Second fix electrics started today and is already more than half complete. I’m excited to have lots of lights and switches and sockets in the kitchen now. I forgot to buy bulbs!
After the lights went in I started fiddling around with kitchen layout again and moved the fridge for at least the third time. I no longer need to incorporate an enormous American fridge freezer, so I have space for a table at the end if I can find somewhere else to put a normal fridge (represented by a cardboard box for now). Mostly the lights are still in the right place.
The new consumer unit is fitted, and will eventually be inside a nice cupboard with a shelf above. The old one will have to remain until the rest of the house is rewired and the hole in the ceiling above it will make decoration tricky. Fortunately I have a floor to finish before I need to worry too much about that.
We haven’t had much history for a while! I changed my mind about a couple of light locations and pulled the bedroom floorboards up again. This is the floor above the very bendy ancient ceiling in the snug with inch thick straw plaster. The floorboards are up to 9 inches wide, and the beams near the chimney are 7 inches square.
The huge beams have been re-purposed from somewhere and I guess they were installed when the chimney was built. The wiring is passing through handy mortise holes so the beams are on their side now, but previously they must once have been the middle beam in a 2 storey wall. My first best guess was the chimney was added somewhere around the year 1700 based on the thin wide bricks and English bond brickwork, but the joists further into the room are neatly sawn 1.5 inches by 6 inches which would have needed more technology than they had in 1700 so I need to do more research!
Some time later – the magic of electricity! There is a light switch near every door, but I’m so used to having no lights I still stumble through the rooms in darkness.
I bought a bunch of random clearance LED bulbs really cheap from Screwfix and have been experimenting. The light to the right is 2700K and the orange lights in the alcoves are 1800K. I shall experiment some more once the room is decorated.
The kitchen has been moving on over the last month. The plastering has been completed and the walls painted. There is a ‘before’ photo of the kitchen here.
I took a couple of days off to give Rocco a hand laying the floor tiles and am exhausted now. I’m not used to doing work. The tiles are Elon Mexican Saltillo Teracotta from Terra Firma tiles and still need to be sealed with many coats of linseed oil and waxed.
I spent a lot of time going around tile shops but the current styles seemed drab. It is amazing that these hand made tiles were available for cheaper than the normal offerings. They are uneven under foot being hand made – I think flatter tiles might have been better The linseed oil makes the tiles darker:
Of course Mexican tiles are made from the most absorbent material known to man. In the photo the 6th coat of linseed oil is soaking in. The 7th coat is soaking in more slowly so I must be nearly there..
It’s only been a month since the last post and look at the difference! The side of the house we are working on has first fix electrics, the door frames are in and the internal stud walls have been plastered. The external walls have a base coat of lime plaster which is taking a very long time to dry in the cold weather, but hopefully will dry more quickly now the dehumidifier and heater are running.
The snug next to the kitchen is a very old room that has survived largely intact with it’s wattle & daub and it’s inch thick straw plaster. Some damage was exposed when the wood panelling was removed, and some great chunks of cement fell out of the walls. The base coat of lime is drying and the walls have been prepared for a skim coat in lime. I want to paper the ceiling and walls with lining paper so they can be rescued again more easily in the future.
The sole plate in the internal wall of the snug turned out to be underground and therefore rotten. Normally sole plates are a good 15 inches above ground on brick plinths and therefore dry. I put this wall down to lazy Jacobean builders! The wall doesn’t support much any more so we’ll prop the posts up on bricks and remove the sole plate.
Meanwhile upstairs, the bedroom ceiling has been skimmed which neatly hides the artex, the bit that I put my foot through while insulating the loft, and the rotten bit that Rocco replaced with lath and lime.
The floor boards are up near the window because I wasn’t convinced by the Edwardian approach to joist hanging. Modern joist hangers make the floor much less springy. It was also a good opportunity to finish off the plastering around the window – the scratch coat went on 2 years ago.
I’ve not posted for a while as I’ve been very busy with work, but Rocco is working on the kitchen and is doing a fabulous job. It has moved on a lot since the last kitchen post.
I had thought to expose the 17th century oak frame in the kitchen, but the oven will now sit against that wall so we decided to protect the original timber frame with plasterboard. Unblocking the bricked up door to the snug has allowed a lot of light into the dark end of the kitchen.
The internal wall insulation is almost complete. I’ve gone for woodfibre board insulation and lime plaster to keep the external walls breathable. The causes for most of the water ingress should now be fixed, but there is still no damp course so modern materials are out.
The ceiling has been levelled with some new bits of wood sistering the joists, mostly because correcting the slope allows space for the oven extractor duct. None of the walls are vertical because the house is squint, but we’ve gone for straight walls which will be handy when we install a work surface.
We are getting towards the fun bit where little features start to appear. A yorkstone step in the door to the utility room went in this morning. It looks a bit new at the moment but should look suitably old in a couple of hundred years.
We are ready for the first fix electrical work next week (apart from me figuring out all the socket positions). I’ve managed to organise a trip to Sweden next week, but will have a day with the electrician before I leave.
The original sash window in the kitchen had been replaced by a picture window in the 1980s, but the original crooked brick arch remained in place. We decided a sash window would look nicer.
It was quite a job to remove the concrete lintels from above the picture window, We removed them in two halves so half the opening remained supported while we bricked up the other half.
The new window was made by John to match the original Edwardian windows elsewhere in the house and looks lovely. He made another 3 windows for upstairs which we will fit next year when the weather warms up a bit.
The flood put a couple of rooms out of action and has prompted some ‘re-decoration’ over the winter months. The kitchen was already out of action, and the plan is to connect the kitchen to the snug to form some sort of kitchen diner.
The modern waterproof coatings, the bar and the wood panelling have largely been stripped from the snug putting it back roughly where it might have been around the year 1900. My nieces will have great fun with the two doors.
The east wall in the kitchen has been a bother. Following earlier modifications the east side of the house was supported only by a couple of half bricks sitting at a jaunty angle. In the photo the door to the utility room is being rebuilt using proper lintels to replace the pretend lintels made of fence post. Also we’re putting some bricks underneath the lintels this time around.
Things are moving forward at an exciting speed, but there is so much to do it’ll still take years. With the high speed of things I should have another more interesting update next week so don’t go away.
The original kitchen is in a poor state. The causes of damp included a badly leaking gutter, missing flashing, high external ground levels, a rotten window frame, leaky pipes, trouble with an external drain, and waterproof coatings inside and out. I’ve fixed some of those things and the rest are on the to do list.
The modern short term thinking way to fix all of this damp is strip the plaster and replace with tanking plaster rather than fix the thing that caused the problem in the first place. That is what had been done here and it was a pain to remove.
Digging a trench to lower the ground levels outside worked a treat. Unfortunately I didn’t go all the way to the end of the wall because there was a drain in the way. I’ll need to lower the drain before doing much with the kitchen as the wall is still wet at the base around there.
Fixing the damp patch won’t be straightforward. The drains have been botched and will need to be done properly with an inspection chamber. As usual I’ve started off by digging a hole for myself.
The internal wall of the kitchen is the external wall of the original building probably dating from the 17th century. It is still there and remarkably well preserved with the wattle and daub and even a convenient door opening that someone, probably a Georgian judging by the decoration, hacked through.
I have a deadline at the start of next year to complete the building regs for change of use so had better make a start on them. Doing the kitchen first will free up the snug for use as a living room later on.
The kitchen and snug will probably take a few months so it made sense to put some time into building a temporary kitchen. I’ve partitioned off the barn with the iffy roof.
It might be temporary but I think it is an improvement over the current kitchen – it has a radiator, plenty of lights and an extractor fan. The OSB board was surprisingly inexpensive and I might use it to partition other areas of the house as work goes on. The temporary kitchen might make a good temporary office later on so will probably stay in place until I get around to fixing the barn roof.
The temporary sink is in a corridor where there is a water supply and drainage. I used copper pipe because I wanted to learn how to solder, but the pipe will be very temporary as it passes through a door opening where I would like to install a door in the future.
The old oven was disconnected by the gas fitters when we moved in, and has sat in the corner untouched since. Kae has been using a portable hot plate for cooking.
With the new kitchen delayed into next year by roof issues we’ve bought a Rangemaster second hand from eBay.
Kae has cleaned and painted that end of the kitchen and we’ve moved things around in there. Much better. Next year we’ll hopefully have a kitchen with cupboards.
We bought a kitchen on eBay a year ago and yesterday arranged it in the barn to work out how it would fit. Here’s an artist impression of what it might look like when it’s finished. We can use it to help chose colours.
We plan to clear the barn next week to look at the roof spread and start fitting insulation and services prior to installing the kitchen.
Later on there was a change of plan – the kitchen is going to stay in the kitchen and the barn will become an outbuilding.