Welcome to our blog.

This blog will follow the ultimate in home improvement: demolish and rebuild!

This is our starting point: a 1930s bungalow. While not a bad house; it is too small for us with three teenage children so what should we do? A full storey extension versus complete rebuild - ultimately the stronger eco-credentials and more certain finances of a new-build helped to guide our choice.

For a number of years we've been trying to find the right route for us to build an eco-friendly, low energy home. We tried various architects and building companies and have eventually settled with a German prefabricated build. The new house will be nearly to passivhaus standards (but not quite due to budget constraints). In any case, the house will be heavily insulated and airtight.

As a family, we have not built a house before so everything is new and exciting but the risk of making a mess of things is quite high!

This blog aims to outline the day to day steps involved in our build.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Still waiting

Sorry to disappoint readers but we still don't have internet connection or telephone links. Our mobiles only work when you stand next to the windows because the insulation in the walls is so good! I will be back up and running soon. The good news is that the house is still fab and we are slowly rediscovering some order amongst the chaos of moving. Tomorrow the glass will arrive for the splashbacks.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Moving in

Due to an unfortunate delay in establishing connections with the outside world, I've been off-line since our move into the new house. I will give you all a better update when internet connection can be re-established! Meanwhile, the house is fab, everything I expected and more even though it's covered in boxes!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Plumbers and Electricians

With our moving day rushing headlong towards us, everyone is feeling the pressure to get the work finished. Here Bob and Sam are tackling the shower in the family bathroom. They then installed the bath panel.

Meanwhile the electricians connect the LED strip lights to the power supply in the stairs. Wow! It took a long time but it was worth it. Groovy.

The worktop multiplug is also installed by the electricians in the kitchen.
The list of jobs for the electricians seemed to go on for ages but by the end of the day the end was in sight. A few more things and their work will be done.
Unfortunately, the stove installer had a less successful day as the fresh air duct was an unusual diameter and he didn't have a drill the correct size. The stove itself looks fab, I can't wait to see it in action.
The end of the day saw the plumbing finished, except for the washing machine, we'll see the electricians again soon but by then the house may be our home as we are already waist deep in cardboard boxes.
The end is in sight. I hope soon to see the desert in front of the house disappear, although it may not be in time for the removal van.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Plumbing thursday

A day of plumbing....Sam and Bob arrived to do the little jobs that remain, including  the sinks. Here is the new shiny filter tap all ready for action, just waiting for the mains water.
The utility room sink is also plumbed in.
The perplexing problem of the rainwater harvesting tank had us all confused. Here Bob and Justin are considering all the options. Fortunately, after contacting the manufacturer, the solution was found and rainwater was pumped into the system.
Here is the control panel showing that the tank is 100% full.
It's not often we'd want to photograph a loo but this was the moment when the rain water flowed into cisterns for the first time! Hooray!
As Ebi, Sylvie and the children are having a couple of days' well-earned rest, we took the opportunity to dissect out the kitchen, sand it and give it a quick lick of paint. Tomorrow we'll try to find time to do the other sides of the doors.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The end is in sight

 This morning I couldn't help but admire the pergola construction. It now has beautiful looking guttering that matches the rest of the house.
The plumbers came today. Bob and Sam have been busy on another job so we were very pleased to see them. They managed to get the plumbing organised for the inflow and outflow of the sink.

Ebi brought the connectors from Germany with him so the plumbers were able to install the toilets. They also attached the flushing mechanisms. So now we just need water; they are going to be flushed with rainwater from the tank so we just need to switch the harvesting tank pump on and it should work...hopefully we'll see tomorrow.

The day was overwhelmed by the achievement of Ebi and Sylvie. They worked incredibly hard trying to get through the list of things to do so that we can move in next week!
First thing this morning, the front porch had some metal framework attached to it so that the glass could have something stable to sit on.

Then Ebi and Sylvie worked on the skirting boards. They were pre-painted ones which clip onto brackets screwed into the wall.

While I was away starting to organise things for the move, the 'T-bar' treads started to appear. They separate the different flooring areas and neaten all the edges. Finally all evidence of the dodgy screeding job is covered up!

The banister is put in place! Hooray, it looks great and people who visit us won't have the treat of possibly falling down the stairs. The doors are all in place so now there may even be privacy, especially in the bathrooms. A bit of dusting and the whole of upstairs will be just about ready!

The day ends with Ebi putting the final fixings on the glass porch. It all looks amazing. We are getting very excited about moving in. The only problem I can see is that our old furniture will make the house look cluttered. With budget constraints the chic designer gear may have to wait quite some time but keeping our own is also more eco-friendly.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

All hands on deck

Yesterday, the doors to the house were removed and cleaned.
Ebi called for troops as the pergola went under construction. Ebi and Sylvie had prepared the wood in the workshop in Germany and brought it over. Thankfully, Cousin Kumar came to the rescue.

Here the pergola is assembled, and stabilised with the extra pieces of wood. These were then removed once the ends had been bedded in concrete pads.

Today, the bamboo flooring has been finished! Here anything heavy is enlisted to keep it in place while it glues. There really is a feeling that this is rapidly becoming our home.

It's a real family affair as Ebi's family help out again today. They are just as determined as us to see the house finished.
In the effort to get the pergola finished, we enlist the help of Simon and Kumar again. Between them and Ebi with Sylvie, they manage to get the 9 glass panels on the roof. They each weigh 90kg, so its quite some achievement. It looks perfect. The deck will come later. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Busy Friday

Yesterday started with the welcome site of Ebi's trailer full of interesting materials, including glass for the porch roof.
Meanwhile, Neil, Steve and Matt arrived to continue their work. It was a day full of various jobs. These included the installation of the heated towel rails in the bathrooms and the removal of air from the solar thermal panel system.
Half way through the day the flat pack furniture was delivered. There will be lots of fun hours ahead while we understand those instructions!
The day disappeared with lots of small jobs started, including the preparation of the wooden worktops for the kitchen. The worktops were sanded with using a series of grades of sandpaper ready for the first coat of Tung oil. With our house move imminent these are the final stages to get the house ready, even if it's not completely finished when we move in.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Light up Thursday

Today was a busy one for the electricians Neil and Steve. They started by trying to find the conduit for the outside lights...it wasn't quite where they expected so they had to try a different approach. But they were successful.
We then started on the LED lights for the stairs, or rather the connector cables. It wasn't as easy as we'd hoped. It would have been a lot better if we had put the cables in before the staircase was lifted into the house! Instead Neil and I devised a method using tape, plastic ties and cardboard.

It was a long job so Steve and I worked on the cables after lunch.
We managed to get the LED strips in place in the staircase grooves so that they can be connected to the drivers. Each LED strip will light the tread below it.
 Steve started to insulate the sockets that are on the external walls, trying to maintain the high level of airtightness.
Now the LED spots have lamps! It's great to have light, and the room is separated into three zones so we can choose how many lights are put on at one time.
Our feature light now has power too.
The house still looks like it's in a building site with the large pile of sand in front but at least the skip is now gone. I'm hoping to improve the front garden before we move in.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Flat pack wednesday

With a couple of quiet days on site and nothing much to report on the house, we decided to take a quick trip to a certain furniture store, that we all know so well. It was not a good place for me today as I was overwhelmed by my lists. I had lists of lists and then lists of those lists. Fortunately, a cup of coffee helped and we got back on track and I ditched the lists.
Eight trolley loads later our quick trip had become a mammoth expedition that took all day. Thankfully the whole family and three kindly shop assistants helped us to take everything to the home delivery section. I think we would have needed a truck otherwise. Anyway, tomorrow we are back on site and will have to go back to sorting out the kitchen. It was a very welcome day off!

Monday, 9 August 2010

lights, doors and kitchen action

The kitchen has continued to take shape. The sink and the hob cut outs have been done; we still need to oil the worktops though so they aren't in permanently yet. The utility room sink has also been cut out, so now not only do we the kitchen sink, we have two.
The electrics are progressing with light fittings being attached. This is the downstairs bathroom LED mirror light.

The main feature light above the stairs, that I dithered over and eventually bought from a Dutch website, is now in too.
The front door also has an outside light.

The most striking development is the installation of the two glass doors by Ebi before he left. They look great and ensure the house stays light and airy. Another good job, Ebi