Sunday, 6 May 2012

Between Christmas and Easter

It is now over a year since we started the top bathroom. I cant believe how the time has flown. Since Christmas we have had a lot on our plates, with both of us getting back on track workwise.
Chris and Marlon working outside

Outside the drainage has been completed and the sunken patio dug out. Inside skylights have been put into the extension.
In the cellar meters have been moved to the back end and lots of cabling put in so that all TV , internet and phones can be used in many locations around the house.

A staircase has been put down into the basement so we no longer need to climb down using a ladder. We can now start to kit out the utility room. Life is gradually becoming more civilised.

plastering & plumbing

This all happened before Easter, some before Christmas - so a little while back.
We decided to put underfloor heating in all the ground floor rooms, so our lovely old parquet had to come up. We thought we might be able to put it back afterwards, but it just split as it was taken up because it had nails in it.
So insulation down first, then the pipes laid by the plumber, then screed to ensure a material that can retain and radiate heat over a long period of time. This works really well, where there are floorboards and pipes under neath but no screed, very little warmth is produced.Downstairs we now have the boiler room , with boiler and cylinder and all the manifolds, so that there is plenty of space if it needs to be repaired. Pump installed as well, which circulates the hot water, so when you turn a tap on upstairs, there is always hot water coming out almost immediately.

After the floors, we started the plastering. This is the plasterer on stilts up above. All of the basement and ground floor extension had to be done. Below is the media room. Although we wont use it as such for the time being, due to financial considerations, it has had all the wiring done so we can change its use later if we wish.

Meanwhile the new bathroom was being tiled. We got the guy through my builder, but it was a bit of a disaster. Guy spoke no English, he took over 3 weeks,  he made a cock-up of the alcove I wanted in the showers enclosure for washing things, the floor wasn't evenly laid, left the wrong space for the waste pipe, and made holes for the taps too big. 

What a bodge, but because we didn't notice these things till later he got a good write-up on the website, for which I apologise to everyone who uses this building company on the basis of our recommendation. Anyway, walls don't look too bad, but the floor tiles got a bit splashed during plastering, so I am going to have to do a proper clean.
Up on the roof, Chris at last got his way with a satellite dish, apparently the best option for us, although we wont get Sky Sports or Polish TV, so not sure exactly what we will get with it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

the eco bits

Rainwater harvesting - both Chris & I spent hours researching this. I did one of my spreadsheets comparing costs against everything that is included. It can be quite confusing when the packs on offer include different bits. Eventually after attending many eco shows and visiting numerous websites we went for this one, we bought the Ecosure Underground Water Harvesting Tank, which at 2800  litres seemed a reasonable capacity. 
Sorin & George dug a massive hole in the lawn and put in the tank. Over the Christmas hols, it rained. The walls of the pit caved in and the tank floated up. We had been warned! Another pit dug. This time the tank concreted in and filled with water, so now its in there again sitting snugly until the plumber connects everything up.The plan is that this will be connected up to the washing machine, downstairs loo and the garden.
Our plumber however, believes it is a complete waste of money, as in the summer he thinks it will run out very quickly, and we will just have to keep pumping water into the tank which will involve additional energy costs.
I believe if the water in the tank is low, the water should be going direct from the mains. Have to check this out, but the plumber has got the instructions at the mo. if anyone is thinking of setting this up, anglian water do a very clear summary of all the issues that need to be considered on .

The other main eco bit are the photo-voltaic cells on the roof. We put them up whilst we had the scaffolding up. Although we had provisionally agreed an order from Joju a while ago,we had a mad rush when the government decided it would call a halt to the subsidy for homeowners, known as the Feed In Tarriff, as there had been such a surge in the numbers taking this up (which was what it was designed to do. Suddenly it was announced that the FIT would be reduced from 42p per KWH to 21p per KWH. we booked in and managed to get all the necessary documentation to our supplier by the 5th Dec -
deadline was 12th Dec for the higher rate. Phew! 

However, some installers are now taking the matter to court, so for those that didn't quite make it, there is a chance that the decision will be reversed.
The kit we received included an energy monitor which shows what the difference is between what we are generating and what we are using - and when the meter indicates something like 90 W per hr of usage, that does make me feel warm inside. 
To my mind, the panels are not aesthetically pleasing, and they lie rather higher off the roof than I expected, blocking part of the dormer windows. However, the panels that could be integrated into the roof line do not work as efficiently and as the purpose is to reduce our energy costs as much as we can, there was really only one choice to make. I will put up some pictures of it once we have a better view.
Finally a photo of the room where we now cook, eat, watch TV and relax - a bit of a mess isn't it? No Christmas tree and no decorations this year- I expect that also gives us some more eco brownie points.Make up for it next year though, I hope.