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    Archived pages: 90 . Archive date: 2013-12.

  • Title: Home
    Descriptive info: .. www.. therussellhouse.. org.. home of the Sliding House.. The website of Ross Russell and Sally Morris:.. documenting progress on our project to design and build our house in Suffolk in the far east of England.. This is another update to the home page picture.. This one taken with spotlights and a full moon and.. no photo-shopping.. Honest - the moon and the sky really did look that way when I took this one.. Sally apparently has two heads (a result of a five second exposure and some multi-tasking on Sally s part, both watching the TV and cooking dinner).. Note a new page, just added, showing where we are with the wind-turbine installation.. There is not much there yet, but there will be in due course.. This site is for our friends and family and others who have expressed an interest in the project.. Don t expect too much from it - I am as much an amateur at web-site design as I am at house-building.. There are six sections to the site in addition to this home page (although frankly all the interesting and up-to-date stuff is in the Diary section).. But it might be worth a look at the Images and Movies pages for a quick overview.. The.. Diary.. is a (reverse)  ...   the design pahse but before we had built it.. Blind Alleys.. section is a a historical note of designs considered but rejected.. The section on the.. Site.. is a now very much out of date photographic summary of the picturesque plot I bought, before I turned it into a muddy and untidy building site.. It's over there, it's over there.. My building has every convenience.. It's gonna make life easy for me.. It's gonna be easy to get things done.. I will relax alone with my loved ones.. Loved ones, loved ones visit the building,.. take the highway, park and come up and see me,.. I'll be working, working but if you come visit,.. I'll put down what I'm doing, my friends are important to me.. From Talking Heads; first Album, 77.. It s the one before More Songs About Buildings and Food , where you expect to find it!.. Ross Russell, 2010.. Sliding House Suffolk Sliding House England Sliding House Ross Russell Sliding House dRMM Sliding House Grand Designs Award Winner Sliding House YouTube Sliding House Wallpaper Sliding House Video Sliding House Blog Sliding House Photo Sliding House Manser Medal Sliding House World Architecture Festival Sliding House Actuary Sliding House Google.. [sliding house home] [.. ] [.. images.. hi res images.. wind turbine.. ]..

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  • Title: Diary
    Descriptive info: The latest state of play (early January 2009) is as follows.. It is in reverse chronological order - latest news first and earlier stuff later.. I ve moved earlier years to separate pages to save on bandwidth:.. link to those pages here:.. 2008.. ;.. 2007.. 2006.. 2005 and prior years.. January 2010:.. Check out the Lego version of Sliding House:.. here (the video on YouTube):.. http://www.. youtube.. com/watch?v=xWuv-DU5RAA.. or here (the Flickr photo album):.. flickr.. com/photos/buildingsblockd/sets/72157622746033729/.. and there are a few pictures below nicked from the website of deborah higdon from ottowa who built this model and who writes without upper case letters (just like my dad).. November 2009:.. Here are a few more pictures of the house taken in the last month or so.. Since we must surely have finished the awards season for 2009 and probably for ever, here is the latest state of play on recognition for Alex and his team:.. Grand Designs - Best New-Build House of 2009.. See picture of the awards ceremony below.. Grand Designs - Best New Home of 2009.. Royal Institute of British Architects Award 2009 - see picture below.. This one is awarded by regions and we are part of RIBA East.. Royal Institute of British Architects - on the mid-list of the Stirling Prize for the best new building of 2009 (we didn t make the short-list - some bloke called Lord Rogers usurped us).. Royal Institute of British Architects - Manser Medal (for the best housing project in the UK) - shortlisted.. Yellow Pencil Awards - shortlisted under the Environmental Design/ Residential category (and we won a Black Pencil rather than the coveted Yellow Pencil).. The Wood Awards - shortlisted (twice!) but not even a wooden spoon as a prize.. World Architecture Festival 2009 - highly commended in the private house category.. Since only one house won the prize and another two were highly commended this arguably means we were voted one of the three best new houses in 2009 world wide! Or maybe not.. You Tube - up to 638,000 hits on the video - better than the 500 or so (when I last looked on You Tube) for the Stirling Prize winning video for the Maggie s Centre!.. About to be featured in One in a Million on US television (well they had 11 hours of filming which I gather will make a 5 minute slot in their programme).. One of my photographs made the front cover of an internationally recognised architecture magazine - the Plan.. Of course Alex s own images are everywhere and they rather better than mine it has to be said.. A few photos below of some of the coverage we ve had.. August 2009:.. We ve had a few months of entertaining rather than doing much to the house and gardens.. We had a great party late in July for the people who helped to design and build the place.. No pictures here I am afraid (I was too busy serving the champagne and stuff, honest!) but it was good to see a few faces that we d not seen for a long time and who were critical to the success of the project.. So hello to Alex and Joana and Rutger and Dave and Ray and Martin and Gordon and Arthur and William and several more whose names escape me as I write this.. And we ve had enormous help with fruit picking and grass moving from various family members (thanks Sylvia, Kim, Mark, Rebecca, Tanya, Rob, Thomas).. We ve not done so much entertaining at home for a long while, or indeed ever.. The latest project for Ross has been the things that needed scaffolding and needed to be done before winter.. So we now have brush seals in place at the top of each gable wall to keep the heat in under the sliding roof (see the thermographic images below for why this was needed).. And we have solar panels on the roof to keep the batteries that power the roof topped up.. This means we can turn off the mains charging circuits for much of the year.. That probably deserves a photo and here it is (below).. I could have just bought any old solar photovoltaic panel and stuck in on the roof but that would have been too easy.. So instead I searched long and hard for panels that were the same width as the planks in the roof and then made up a plank of ten of them to fit in the slot where one of the roof planks was There are ten panels of 6w peak output at 12v - wired in five batches of two panels so that I get 24 volts as required by each battery bank and five of them - one for the batteries for each of the four motor drive units and one for the batteries that power the control panel.. Lovely job.. The other things we ve done have been less photographable(?) but necessary to comply with building control requirements.. So we have a handrail for the stairs in the main house.. We had (for about a week during which the building control people came to visit) a ballustrade to the stairs in the annex building.. We had a chap come round to do an Energy Efficiency Report - another piece of bureaucracy involving me paying someone who knows less about the energy performance of the the building than I do charging me £100 to write a report that was mainly incorrect and of zero use to us, except that it enabled someone to tick a box to say that we have done it.. We also have very tall fire doors between the glass section and the timber frame section of the house.. The result of all of this is that we had a final inspection from the very nice man from building control and we now have a Completion Certificate.. That is, I think, the final step that enables us to say that the house is finished.. From now on all that we do is therefore maintenance rather than building.. The other thing we have done is got planning permission for a wind-turbine.. This came through late in July 2009 and we are now arranging for the supply and installation of a 15 kilowatt turbine (that is.. nominal peak.. power - both adjectives are important) on a 15 metre tall mast.. This was a major battle.. I had previously consulted each of our near neighbours and they have been very supportive.. I have had long discussions with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust about bats and the need to avoid disturbing their habitat.. I  ...   Columbia, the advertising agency for Aston Martin ( can we photograph our new convertible car outside your convertible house? ); and a whole bunch of others.. Frankly life is too short and I doubt dRMM get much benefit from publicity in Bogota.. We have however been watched by over half a million viewers via You Tube.. It s.. here.. if you want to see it - although actually the one at.. Wallpaper.. is the same thing but in better quality.. March 2009:.. I am making some progress in the bathroom.. This (the first picture below) is however the only view that shows the place looking anywhere near complete - the view the other way shows the panelling finished only up to the top of the doorways and with a big gap where the higher panels should be.. There is also lots of finishing work still to be done around the shower and basin.. But we have a jury panel from RIBA visiting the site in early April to see whether they want to short list us for a RIBA award - and in theory the place should be complete and occupied by then so we will do what we can to achieve that We tick the box for being occupied, but I am not sure we can claim to be complete at this stage.. Late February 2009:.. I ve moved on to some work in the bathroom/terrace now.. I was supposed to have taken delivery of the wall panels, in which case I would have been fitting them these last few days but there has been a hold-up in manufacture.. But I have cleared the bathroom space of all its accumulated clutter.. One thing this has revealed is that the boarding to the floor is not as well secured as it should be and hence creaks as you walk on it.. OK, you say, you just needed to screw the boards down again.. But there were two difficulties.. First the floor has been weatherproofed so any extra fixing had to be through a weatherproof membrane and hence I had to make it weatherproof again afterwards.. And more worryingly there are underfloor heat pipes in there and I did not have a good map of where they all were.. The solutions to the second problem were to use magnets (to find the screws holding the boards to the joists in the floor); engineering drawings (to locate where the joists should have been) and a hired thermal imaging camera to identify the heat from the underfloor heat pipes where they crossed over the joists.. An expensive solution, but less so than the cost of the damage I would have caused had I put a screw through the heat pipes.. Anyway that job is now done and I have the bath and other fittings lined up and ready to be plumbed in next week.. Meantime, I took advantage of the kit I had hired to check where the weak points are in the insulation to the house.. Cue an evening of sweltering heat as the heat pump was cranked up to maximum and supplemented by 6kW of additional back-up heat.. Meanwhile it was just sub-zero outside.. And this is what I found.. The grey and red pictures show where the hot-spots are, caused by weak points in the insulting layer.. Some of these are expected - windows and doors leak heat more than thickly insulated walls, no matter how well they are made - and some were suspected and now proven.. Some such as the large opening window in the glass gable wall I can fix (the frame was never sealed in place with mastic and I have not yet adjusted the electric actuator to close it properly).. Some I will have to live with.. For example look at all that heat leaking out at ground level - directly from the heated ground floor to the concrete upstands on which the timber frame is built.. There is a minimal thermal break between the floor screed and the concrete and it is too late to do anything about it now.. I ll know to get this right next time I build a new house with a sliding roof.. The yellow and red images use a different colour code based on the colour of hot metal - red hot (coldest), then yellow then white hot (hottest).. The striking thing here is that (a) the heat is generally being kept in by the insulated sliding roof structure as planned but (b) until I fit the full set of brush seals, a lot of it then leaks out at each gable end particularly the highest point of the gables which are glowing positively white hot.. I will definitely have to get that part of the structure sorted well before next winter!.. Early February 2009:.. There is not a lot of progress to report, what with Christmas and a holiday in Spain and freelance work intervening.. So there are no new photographs posted here.. What we have done is played host to some journalists and video cameramen.. Alex and dRMM are seeking some publicity by showing off their latest project.. It does seem that the sliding roof has captured the imagination of many in the architectural world.. I ve posted a few links to online architecture and news sites, although I suspect that given that they are news sites, some of the links will stop working after a while and may not be live by the time you try them.. The two page summary on dRMM s own website is here.. The photography (Alex s own, apart from one which you may recognise from this site) is excellent.. The Observer did a write up last Sunday.. Click.. for the online version.. It was written without any prior contact with either me or Alex (presumably based solely on the dRMM press release).. I think that is why it is so general in tone.. And two online architecture magazines have done features,.. de Zeen.. and.. BD online.. The latter has a video of the roof in action.. A Google search will find several dozen others, but they all seem to be ripped off from these two sources.. We had a team of six in from a video production company making a four minute video for the online version of Wallpaper magazine.. This is complete with time-lapse shots from every conceivable angle and interviews with Alex and me.. It is now published.. Did you miss the Sunday Times on 15 February? See the online version.. Continue back in time to 2008.. [.. sliding house home.. ] [Diary] [.. Diary 08.. Diary 07.. Diary 06.. Diary 05..

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  • Title: images
    Descriptive info: Click on each image for a bigger version.. They are about 300 to 400 KB each so may take a while to download and you may need to enable pop-ups in your browser to make this work.. ] [images] [..

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  • Title: hi res images
    Descriptive info: This page gives you access to original high resolution images.. Click each thumbnail for a full size picture.. If you want to reproduce these for any reason then you are free to do so but please credit the source.. Beware: some of these files are close to 4MB so they will more than fill your screen and may take a short while to download.. ] [hi res images] [..

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  • Title: Technical
    Descriptive info: You ll need Windows Media Player or similar to see the moving image(s) below.. And you need to set your Browser settings to permit ActiveX controls (whatever they are).. Turn on the sound so that you can here An der schönen blauen Donau op.. 314 (the Blue Danube Waltz) in  ...   Stanley Kubric and others involved in making 2001 A Space Odyssey , a film for which this music might have been specifically composed (as opposed to being nicked on the basis that it is out of copyright and available for free).. Even then it probably won t work.. ] [Movies] [..

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  • Title: Plans
    Descriptive info: Warning: this page is full of dense graphics and will take forever to download even with a fast connection!.. Above is the ground floor plan as at November 2005 (as submitted for planning approval but for some internal changes).. The red section is the sliding outer cover, shown in this plan in the closed position.. And this one is the first floor layout.. The outer envelope (again shown in red) is shown here in the fully open position.. The drawings above are the elevations from the paddock side of the house (from NW); then from the other side (SE) and then along the axis of the house (SW and NE).. For the main drawings the top one of each is the house in the closed position and bottom one is in the open position.. Not shown here are the more extreme positions.. One  ...   the main buildings.. The layout of some rooms has changed since this was drawn, but the overall layout is similar.. And finally this is the way the scheme sits on the plot.. There may be some fine tuning to ensure that I don t lose some of the trees which are pretty close to the buildings.. Here is the model of the buildings showing the three positions of the roof.. Since it is not otherwise obvious from the pictures, here is the overall shape of the outer envelope.. This structure is 16 metres long and 7.. 5 metres high.. And this is the overall scheme including the space for the swimming pool.. Half of that terrace is an extension of the concrete floor slab on which the house is built and half is just landscaping i.. e.. no foundations needed).. ] [Plans] [..

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  • Title: Blind Alleys
    Descriptive info: Blind Alley:.. now that we have gone firm on a particular design I have collected all of the reject designs into one area.. A page on each one - which s pretty generous given that I am not going to build any of them!.. Try one of these to see the detail:.. Crinkle Crankle.. Origami Roof.. Sliding House.. ] [Blind Alleys] [..

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  • Title: Photographs
    Descriptive info: Photographs.. this will be a photographic summary of progress on the build, from existing site (with existing, soon to be demolished, buildings) to a muddy field and hopefully back to a neat and tidy house and gardens (and grounds).. This part of the site is not yet updated.. In the meantime here is what the current building and plot layout look like and (if you scroll down) what the site looks like at the moment.. Watch this space for more info.. !.. The plan of the garden above shows where the current buildings are.. The outline planning permission is for the existing house to be demolished and rebuilt a little towards the south west - further away from the road and facing to the south west.. The existing barn has permission to be converted to a residential annex but as a refurbishment rather than a rebuild.. My plans would involve demolition of both buildings and replacement of the barn/annex with another building of the same size but further to the south  ...   to avoid being lost under the footprint of the new building.. Unfortunately the right time to transplant tree is in the autumn and certainly before new buds appear in spring - so I may be too late to do this.. The photo below shows the part of the plot to the North, where the current and proposed buildings would lie.. To the left and behind the photographer is the paddock area - which I hope will become a wildflower meadow in due course.. The photo to the right shows the current house.. Below left is the view from the south east - from the open field next door.. Below right is the barn.. Finally, below on the left is the stable building - needs rebuilding, probably as my workshop and wood-turning space if planning permission permits.. But surprisingly it has electricity and water and some foundations which are better than most of the other buildings.. To the bottom right is the outlook over the paddock to the North West.. ] [Site] [..

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  • Title: wind turbine
    Descriptive info: This is the start of a page documenting the installation of our wind turbine.. The same format as the diary pages for Sliding House itself, so in reverse chronological order.. December 2009:.. Yes I know I said reverse chronological order, but it is easier to start with where we are now! I ll fill in the earlier sections a bit later.. Starting with the basics, what we are installing is a Proven 15 kilowatt turbine on a 15 metre tall free standing mast.. It is a three blade turbine of a downwind design - there is no vane to keep it aligned into the wind nor any servo motors to do the same - merely a sail below the blades so that they swing.. away from.. the wind.. It is a grid-connected turbine.. The house will we run on imported mains electricity when there is no wind and we will export any surplus power to the grid when it is howling a gale.. Given the layout of our site the turbine is actually quite close to the house (on the higher ground and hence catching more wind, despite nearby trees) rather than in the middle of our paddock which would have put it directly in the line of sight of our near neighbours as well as being further down a the slope.. The expectation is that it will generate upwards of 15,000 kWh per annum - as much as our entire energy consumption in our all-electric house.. We will export this via a split phase supply with about 7.. 5kW peak output through each phase.. But in reality, during the winter when it is most windy, we will use a fair percentage of the power ourselves.. The pictures shown in various places below show the installation in progress.. We had the foundations laid over the summer (more detail below) including trenching to lay cables from the turbine site to the garage, where all the clever electrical kit will reside.. The turbine was delivered on 2 December and moved in sections to the place where it will stand.. I have then had four half days of work from the contractors to get it assembled and hoisted upright.. The electrical installation will happen later his month and at the same time I expect to have an import/export meter installed to monitor the amount of power we will buy and the amount we will sell to the grid (as well as, for complex reasons, a total generation meter so that we can work out what the gross output from the turbine is and hence what subsidy we will get from the taxpayer for being an eco-pioneer).. It should then be ready to switch on and get generating.. Here are some view from the house and around the site so you can see the context.. They are not great pictures (well it takes time to get the right light and wind conditions) but they ll do for now.. Below: a few pictures of the turbine from around the site.. Apart from our near neighbours (see bottom of this page for what they see) it turns out to be not too intrusive at all.. The pictures below were you can see a turbine at all were taken from bridleways or footpaths nearby - often with me taking care to get a good view from between trees and hedges.. The first shows the view from South of us on a public road: not too much of an eyesore I hope!.. September / October / November 2009:.. Well here is a story.. Having got planning consent and negotiated prices for the turbine and all the kit that goes with it, we should have been all set to go.. But at the last minute, a few problems arose with the electricity supply through which my mains power for the house is supplied and to which we will export surplus power from the turbine.. The first setback is that the necessary three phase supply which I asked for and paid for a couple of years back (when I was building the house) turns out to be nothing of the sort.. It turned out that the connection to the house was only a split- phase supply.. I had one phase for the geothermal heat pump and one for everything else.. Not a good position to be in.. Nevertheless, I thought, I just needed to get the local electricity company EDF to upgrade me to a three phase supply..  ...   from Sizewell B which chucks out over 100,000 times as much power as I will!.. August 2009:.. Well, at last some progress! On 3 August I got my planning consent confirmed in writing.. On 17 August I had the guys on site to dig foundations and fill with concrete.. This took a few days (not least because the clay here had baked hard in the summer) but it took only a few days on site to get a dirty great hole dug and filled with concrete, with the metal base-plate for the mast in place and secured via steel reinforcement grids.. See a few photos below for a quasi time-lapse record of the process.. July 2009:.. Most of my time on the project was spend dealing with bat issues (see.. for the fascinating things I found out!).. But on 22.. nd.. of July I went to the planning meeting to present the application and be ready to answer any questions.. This was a slightly nerve-wracking experience.. I went there all ready to butter them up by explaining how brilliant their decision to give consent for the sliding house itself was, given its subsequent awards, and how the turbine would make us wholly carbon-neutral.. In the end the planning officer did most of the selling for me and it went through without much difficulty at all.. June 2009:.. The local parish council came to visit.. I thought it best to invite them to see the site so that when consulted by the District Council, they would be able to make a realistic assessment of the suitability of the site.. In fact quite a few of them came to visit (a people carrier full) I think they mainly wanted to see the house itself, although we did wander round to where the turbine would be and they asked a few questions.. I had previously spoken to each of the neighbours about this and all were very supportive, although our very near neighbour was obviously concerned about both noise and visual impact.. In the end the site of the turbine got moved so that it is more in our line of sight (from our living room) and less in the line of sight of the neighbour.. April/May 2009:.. My application for planning consent was submitted online on 7 April and followed up with paper copies a day later.. The service standard they have here for small projects like this is that they will determine any application within 8 weeks of a complete application which would have been 9 June.. There then followed a frustratingly inactive period.. I had no response at all from the planning department, despite reminders.. About four weeks after the planning application went in I found out that they had lost the application and done nothing at all.. So I ended up submitting again, and then sending new information as they asked for it.. In mid may they wanted to visit the site to assess what a 15m tower would look like in the end they couldn t find time to do so I filled a large red balloon with helium and let it rise on a carefully measured 15metre string which I took photos of.. I m not sure what they will have got from this given that even on a still day such as the one I chose, a balloon like that catches any breath of wind so it was very soon bobbing on the end of a 15 metre string at about a 45 degree angle! Anyway the results [will be] shown below.. March 2009:.. I ve started the story here, although actually it goes back a bit further including lots of research on whether wind is better than solar (it is for electricity!), what size of turbine to buy, which manufacturer, how suitable the site is etc.. But this is the point at which I sought preliminary views from the planning department on what they would think of an application I made an enquiry online and then at their office and got what I thought at the time was helpful advice (although they made no mention of bat surveys or noise restrictions, which would have been helpful see later comments).. I made up a photo-montage to show the what the turbine might look like from the front of our near neighbours cottage.. I ve shown it below, together with a picture of the actual turbine now it is built.. ] [wind turbine] [.. turbine notes..

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  • Title: Diary 08
    Descriptive info: Diary Archive: 2008.. Late November 2008:.. The living room is pretty much done now.. All the wood cupboards are made and oiled.. The loudspeakers are fitted in the black panels at each end of the rows (Acoustic energy Aelite 2 s if you care, powered by the Quad system that got banned from our living room in London).. The electric lights are in and working (although they are removed from these pictures - there is one table top light at each corner of the room).. And I have a wooden floor laid in Dutch pattern oak timber, laid as a floating floor over the OSB boards.. All we need is some furniture and we ll have another useable room!.. There are no pictures here but we have also finished the master bedroom to the same state - the carpentry is done (doors, archictraves, skirtings and floor) but there is no furniture in it yet.. Since you have to walk through the bathroom/terrace to get to it, and since that space is still in its early stages of work, this is no big loss.. November 2008:.. A few pictures taken at night.. This is an amazingly good way of hiding all the leftover building materials still left on site which would otherwise clutter up the photos.. One by-product of recording this build project is that I have learned a lot about photography and (importantly) how to correct some of the errors and lens distortions in Photoshop.. In these pictures the camera has certainly lied! Note that the verticals appear almost vertical and the straight lines almost straight.. But I ve tried to keep to the spirit of recording the image as it really is so I ve done nothing other than correcting distortions introduced by the lens itself (honest!).. Late September 2008:.. all the new pictures are in the new page - click Time Lapse from the buttons above.. Late August 2008:.. Now that much of the interior is clear of building materials etc, here are a couple of picture of the glasshouse with the red panelled walls inside.. These were taken when my parents visited the site and you can see them and Sally sitting round our brand spanking new dining table.. Early September 2008:.. I ve cleared most of the remaining quartzite tiles from the terrace.. Some of it is actually laid now (along the walkway to the NW of the house) and some is merely moved out of the way so I can actually start to lay it on the rest of the terrace.. For the first time we can see pretty well what this view of the house will be like.. There are two photos below - one from inside and one from outside.. I think this is what architects call bringing the outside inside or vice versa.. Mid-August 2008:.. Here are some more interior pictures.. There is some progress on the kitchen (in the sense that it is no longer covered in dust-sheets and indeed is now in use for the first time) and my carpentry work in the living room has given me the first four out of nine cupboards / balustrades.. July 2008:.. I ve not posted many pictures of the inside of the house so far have I? We ll here are a few just so you can see that this is not like one of the sets for a western movie that is all facade and nothing behind!.. I ve spent time recently trying to make progress on the interior fit-out.. The pictures below show the wall panelling to the downstairs area.. This is now about half done.. What you cannot see is the LED lights in between the panels that provide lighting for the staircase (hidden in the vertical gaps between panels).. But check out the hidden panel next to the stairway that flaps down to reveal the electric consumer unit and other unsightly stuff like the thermostat for the heat pump.. By the way this is three separate views, not one view of massive hallway with staircases on all sides!.. The next two pictures show the shower room, downstairs in the main house.. The tiles are difficult to photograph well since they are a mix of highly reflective (and 85% recycled) glass and slate squares with a high quartz content and hence a lot of sparkle.. These tiles cost a bomb and were a real pain to fix and align.. I m sure they ll also be a real pain to grout, when I get around to that job.. The room is nowhere near as well finished as this photo makes it look - it still needs a door and a ceiling over the shower area and a cupboard under the basin for example.. But you get the idea as to what it will look like when I do finish it.. The last of the three photos shows the new door to the bathroom in the guest annex.. I struggled for a long while to find a door in a metric size and with a walnut finish to match the rest of the woodwork in this building.. For some reason metric sized door have not taken off in this country, despite the fact that they are a good 2 to 3  ...   PVC I m afraid but it has the merit of being a smooth surface with good light reflective properties and with no unsightly joins (thanks to a tongue and grooved system similar to that used in wood panelling).. We have a tree planted in the terrace - a Prunus Serrula Tibeticus or Tibetan Cherry Tree - see second photo below.. It has a lovely glossy brown bark in winter and green foliage in summer and flowers in spring and a good colour in autumn.. Given how much it cost we hope it survives the East Anglian winter.. I have also laid some of the stone terraces outside the house.. Picture 3 shows the walkway leading to the front doors of each building.. The quartzite slabs are laid up to the steel rails and, in due course, we will have matching slabs covering the rainwater gutter on the inside of each rail.. For the moment it is good just to be at the stage where we can walk outside without needing welly boots on! Since taking these photos I have laid a mortar screed to provide the necessary slopes to enable rainwater to drain from the courtyard and from the terrace and have starting laying quartzite slabs there also.. The final picture shows the elaborate means of covering the rainwater gutters.. Since there are no gutters at eaves level, rainwater just runs down each building to the ground level and then into gulleys which direct it to the underground drains.. All of this lot is hidden underneath the quartzite slabs and these slabs need support underneath them as they span the rainwater gulleys, which is what those galvanised steel plates are for.. An awful lot of effort went into doing this given that the whole lot will be hidden when the final slabs are laid.. And here is a picture of the site with the new lining to the sliding roof and with the quartzite tiles covering the vertical surfaces around the outside of the concrete slab.. Early March 2008:.. We now have new entrance gates (I cheated and not only bought them ready made but also had someone fix them for me!) And we have got a bunch of new carpentry done on the main house - skirtings and architraves and the like.. Oh and our crocuses came up - looks lovely!.. February 2008:.. The cladding is now complete on the main house.. Previously it stopped about a metre above ground level, but now we have cladding down to the concrete slab.. The bottom sections are all hinged to that they can be raised like the bonnet of a car to access the wheels and motors etc.. You wouldn t believe how much hassle it was to do this without any visible joins!.. We have second fix electricity in the main house - well downstairs at least.. It means that I can work in the evenings without rigging up halogen lights on tripods.. This includes up-lighters built into the slate tiles downstairs and lights in the dining room (built into the steel beam supporting the glasshouse) and the kitchen (shining down through the perforated plasterboard in the ceiling).. Good work William and Matthew!.. The heat pump is fixed.. It took four visits from the commissioning engineer but we are finally there.. We found the leak (well in fact the whole of one pipe of the ground loop was severed) and put in a loop to bypass that section.. And then we found the areas where the plumbing leaked under pressure and fixed them.. The result is that the house and annex are toasty warm (probably too warm overnight) and our heating bills should fall by 75% as we start using the heat from the ground rather than purely from expensive electricity from Sizewell B.. The lawn is a mess, but I m sure we ll sort it out over the spring and summer.. We also have a nearly complete kitchen.. I have no pictures of this (I forgot!) but we have a new glass splash-back and new glass work-surfaces all lit by LED lights to make it look like John Travolta s dressing room.. John Lewis want to take photos for publication in Good Housekeeping magazine or similar to advertise their service - although frankly if they do not get the last few missing bits sorted within three months of the main installation job, we ll withdraw our goodwill and say no.. The timber arrived on site last week to make skirtings and architraves for the house and cupboards/ballustrades for the upstairs living room.. All of this is lovely European white oak.. There s a few weeks of carpentry work required to knock that lot into shape.. Meantime I ve been working on the fitted furniture for the office/study room upstairs in the annex - making desks and fitted cupboards (lots of birch plywood, laminate and aluminium tread-plate) and getting ready to fit the Walnut floor.. And we have a master bedroom and dressing room that is painted and even has a couple of doors fitted.. Oh and we had some frosty weather, which I think merits a photo, even though at that stage there was nothing visibly new in the house.. Continue back in time to 2007.. ] [Diary 08] [..

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  • Title: Diary 07
    Descriptive info: Diary Archive: 2007.. December 2007:.. I ve not got many new pictures to show, but I thought I d give an update anyway.. We ve finished the internal plastering work for the main house.. All the walls are plaster-boarded and with a skim coat of plaster.. All the ceilings have the expensive Apertura acoustic plasterboard fitted.. Most of it is now waiting for a coat of paint.. Gordon, who did the plastering, mentioned that there were no pictures of his handiwork on the website so one is shown below!.. Sally s kitchen has arrived and is mainly installed.. We are waiting for the glass work-tops to arrive and to be fitted, which will be after Christmas.. See photos below.. Before this was done Ross laid and grouted the quartzite floor to the dining room and kitchen area and we got organised with the laminate panels which will make up the panelled walls to this part of the house.. The laminates are proving to be something of a headache.. In accordance with my unintended trend to take the path of.. most.. resistance we are not buying panels ready made, oh no that would be too easy, we are buying the decorative laminate panels, bonding them to plywood substrate and then sticking the plywood composite panels to the prepared walls.. The only trouble is getting the laminate to glue fully without distortion.. A good few from the first batch were glued in the courtyard where there is lots of space and then brought inside to fit.. That meant bringing them from a cold to warm environment, and since plastic laminate expands by far more than plywood, I ve had a few bubbles developing.. So all my clever plans to minimise wastage by using every last offcut of the laminate boards have gone out of the window!.. The big problem has been getting the heating sorted.. You will recall the the ground loop for the geothermal heat pump was laid over two years ago and pressure tested to ensure it was intact.. Then the foundations and drains were laid over the top of this pipework.. Only recently has the internal underfloor heating and hot water been finished and the heat pump commissioned.. And only at this point did we find that, somewhere in the 360 metres of ground loop there is a sizeable leak.. This means that, for the moment, we cannot finish setting up the heat pump so it can only run on expensive full-price electricity using the back-up heating element.. On the plus side we have identified where the leak is (by connecting up an air compressor and then listening for the hissing and bubbling of escaping air through the clay soil) with and even better we find that it is not buried under the foundations where it would have been wholly inaccessible.. But on the downside it is in the middle of one of our newly laid lawns.. I looks as if someone put a spade through the pipe while fitting the connections from the main drainage to the Klargester sewage treatment plant.. I m waiting for better weather before we dig further to repair the pipe.. Oh, and Ross has nearly finished making his third staircase - this time an oak one for the main house.. I ll show a picture of this when it is complete and lacquered and looking all shiny!.. October 2007:.. A couple more pictures below:.. The first was taken by Dave Avery, the guy who erected the steel frame for the sliding roof.. It turns out that he is a micro-light pilot who flies from Beccles way and has taken a few trips over the site to check out the project.. He s been kind enough to send a few photographs through to me and here is one of them.. This is after we had some landscaping work done - note the newly planted (but still very bare) lawn areas.. The second is a group photograph of the team from dRMM (Alex s architecture practice) who came up for a site visit / works outing last weekend.. It was good to see them all there, especially the two that I have worked directly with.. Alex is on the far right and Joanna is second from left.. So what is new in terms of progress on the build? Well we have completed most of the plastering work downstairs in the main house and much of this is ready for painting.. There is no picture of this - frankly one newly-plastered wall looks very much like another! We have done most of the plumbing work so that the geothermal heat pump can be commissioned and we can have running hot water and heat throughout (but more urgently in the annex where we are spending many of our weekends).. And we now have most of a quartzite floor laid in the main house.. Beyond that, and strictly out of cycle for any serious build, we have done some more work in the garden including planting some 4000 crocus bulbs (laid before the lawns were seeded) and making the raised beds for the vegetable garden ready for planting.. Sally has been very busy looking after the garden and making good use of the crops it provides -we have shelves full of chutney, jam and jellies and even blackcurrant gin.. Not a bad output for what is still after all a building site!.. I.. September 2007:.. We re on holiday shortly so I ve updated the site with a few pictures before we go.. It s been quite a slack period - some work in the garden (to get lawns set-out and seeded while it is still warm enough) and some internal work.. Also most of the cladding is complete on the garage and all of it is done on the annex (the black building).. August 2007:.. New this month:.. Most of the wood cladding is up - enough that we have been able to get rid of the scaffolding.. I still have work to do at the ground  ...   The larch cladding which will cover the sliding roof arrives on site next week.. And you can see several tons of quartzite tiles newly arrived from China and waiting to be laid on the concrete.. The landscaping work started last week also, so pretty soon we ll have lost that pile of spoil and topsoil that has dominated the last few months pictures.. No rain for the last few weeks so we are making hay.. March 2007:.. Well, progress is beginning to get more rapid as the weather improves.. So far what we ve done this month is this:.. We ve done much of the wood cladding on the main buildings - from the first floor upwards including the roofs.. I got some help in for this part of the job - the bad weather put me so far behind that it was getting more costly to do this myself than to get an expert in to do it for me.. I ve left the areas which can be reached without a scaffold until later - it s a job we can do when the weather improves.. Meantime, like a nudist on a cold day at the beach, the house is naked from the waist down.. The scaffold has been removed and for the first time we can see the shape of the buildings without obstruction.. All of Alex s fine work on proportions can be seen.. It looks good!.. Having got shot of the scaffold we have been able to take delivery of the steel structure for the sliding roof.. This went up in four days flat, including fitting the motor drive units and wheels.. This was a big test - there has to be reasonably consistent space between the sliding roof and the buildings underneath - planned to be 50mm throughout, but because of manufacturing tolerances and movement in the structures it actually varies from about 30mm to about 80mm.. But I am very pleased to see it in place and very pleased that it does actually roll as it should, albeit that it takes several people to push it along its rails.. I hope that the electric motors will do the job more easily, although they look far too small do any serious work at all.. You ll see from the picture below that we have also made a start on the timber infill work.. This is to support the boards inside and outside that takes the wood cladding.. the chippies I am working with had a couple of weeks free in their diaries so I have grabbed them and asked that we push ahead at speed.. And finally we have the Klargester sewage plant in place and ready to connect.. I ll be glad to get rid of the smelly temporary toilet on site and connect up our own bathroom to the drains, even if this is done as a short term fix while we do the interior fit out.. The only bad news is that the black annex building leaks - I think when fixing the cladding on the roof I must have put a screw straight through the batten and through the membrane underneath.. I can identify where the leak is, but it does mean that I have to remove many of the roof boards in that area to get at the membrane to repair it, and that means more scaffold.. I will have spent a fortune on the scaffolding by the time I finish - I really should have just bought all the scaffold I needed outright and employed people to put it up (and then sold it on e-bay I suppose!).. February 2007:.. Jobs done this month:.. Most of the first fix of the electrical wiring has been done.. I have a working supply in each building and nearly all of the wiring for lights and sockets etc.. The only outstanding jobs in the first fix relate to kitchen appliances - we need to decide where things go in the kitchen and despite being at this for over a year, we have no final plans yet.. We ve also got the supply changed from single phase to three phase so that the power surge from the heat pump does not dim everyone s lights for miles around.. The concrete slab has been fully tanked to make it waterproof.. This was supposed to be done by painting on two coats of thick bitumen sealant (brand name Aquaseal) but in the end I didn t have a long enough dry spell to enable me to do this fully, so some of the house has a plastic sheet damp proof membrane instead.. I was then able to get 90mm of insulation onto the floor and pour the floor screeds - 90mm of expensive self-levelling cement screed.. The house looks much more finished now that the floor is at the right level.. Pictures shown below.. The first fix of plumbing is also mainly done, including all of the underfloor heat pipes throughout the buildings.. Again there are some small matters to be decided upon before they finish this work, not the least of which is the exact make and model of bath and shower so that we put the drains and taps in the right place.. And I started work on insulating the walls with Celotex panels - an awful job given that cutting each sheet creates lots of irritating dust.. But it does look very pretty with foil backed panels lining the walls!.. January 2007:.. Well, we have at last finished the weatherproofing work, which means I have two buildings which (apart from the fact that one of them is open to the sky where the bathroom will be) means that I am nearly weatherproof.. When it rains the buildings still leak, pending fitting the cover flashings to the skylights and I still get rain in the main house via the bathroom (which will not be sealed until the sliding roof cover is in place).. Continue back in time to 2006.. ] [Diary 07] [..

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