The Building of a house.


24th November 2004. Early days, thinking of where to position the house in the garden.
The blue pole, front right, would be the South-East corner of the house.
What you cannot see is the public sewer that comes under the wall where the ivy is
and over to under the blue pole, plus the private sewer that comes from the
right hand corner of Brookside to the same place. We cannot build on top of them.

14th June 2005 An early job was the moving of the summer house.
We had split the garden with the new fence you can see but the summer house was in the way.
Nick Keenlyside, Director of Sustainable Buildings Ltd who are UK agents for Artichouse,
who we bought the house from, just lives half a mile away and has a Telelever vehicle
and knows how to drive it. He and Tahir made short work of moving the summer house.

24th August 2005 We got Planning Permission to build on the 3rd August 2005.
On the 24th John Young and crew arrived to make the new entrance.
Four cuts with Stihl Saws made a lot of noise and dust, but did the job.

7th October 2005 Sewer diversion is underway since the 5th.
Here the new diverted sewer is about to be connected to the existing public sewer in the foreground.
The Brookside private sewer connects to the diversion at the chamber mid distance.
The new house connection is also to this chamber. The first bit of our new house.
If you look closely you will see the red laser beam aligning spot in the new pipe.

19th October 2005 Groundworks begin. Foundations and footings for the house, foundations and floor for the garage,
plus the Ground Water Heat Pump Pipework which involved much more excavation than these foundations.

21st October 2005 Concrete for foundations. Lots of hard work for the lads. 80 tonnes poured.

26th October 2005 Blocks being delivered. Getting large vehicles down the lane was difficult.

28th October 2005 Blockwork underway. Many of them were broken, see pile on the right.

11th November 2005 Blockwork complete, two course of brickwork that has to be laid to millimetre precision underway.
The Council Planning Department said we had to erect Herus Fencing to protect the trees.

13th December 2005 These are the Ground Water Heat Pipe manifolds. One is at 1.5 metre depth, the other just 1 metre depth.
250 metres of pipework connect to them and are buried in the garden. Very cold water will be pumped through them
to be warmed by the ground water (that is heated by the Sun), that will heat the house. Magic!

13th December 2005 This is Gary treading the pipework into the edge of the trench before back filling.
A really muddy job in the clay. (We had a good 600mm of topsoil before they laid the pipes.)

29th January 2006 The groundworks: foundations, drains, ground water pipework was completed before Christmas 2005.
So we ordered the house from Finland.
It came in two loads. The delivery vehicle could not be unloaded at the building site, it was too big.
We had to plan how to bring half of the house down to the building site from where the coal mine railway crossing was.
So using a plan of the site we made templates at 50th scale of the packages to decide where to place them.

3rd February 2006 Delivery day came. John Young came with an eight ton tele-lever vehicle and sorted it.
The telelever is here unloading the 11 metre roof beams, the half of the house is below.

3rd February 2006 David, with his tractor and trailer, then moved the packages down the lane.

3rd February 2006 This is the big 2 tonne load coming in. It will be pushed into place on rollers
just like the Egyptian Pyramid builders and Stonehenge builders used.

3rd February 2006 The roof beams had to be pushed to the edge. They will be added last.
The crane could not quite reach so we all pushed the beams into place.

3rd February 2006 The last loads are delivered. Two big packs of logs. First to be erected.

3rd February 2006 The end of the first delivery day. All the packages more or less in place.

5th February 2006 Two days later I open up a pack of the pre-cut logs. Each is individually labelled.
There is only exactly one place where it can go.

6th February 2006 Here is John sticking draught proofing tape to the tounges of the logs. And this is just for the garage!

8th February 2006 I like this photograph.
It is Tony and John working as a team. Tony measures, John cuts, Tony fits. The result is perfect.

8th February 2006 The garage is ready for its ridge beam. The cavalry in the form of Nick and Tahir, are called.
Five of us inch the beam up into place.

10th February 2006 Each pair of rafters is joined by two metal plates and 30 nails and fixed to the ridge beams
by two brackets and 16 nails. The rafters are fixed to the walls by 4 brackets and similar quantities of nails.

12th February 2006 Around window and door openings the logs have slots cut and T battens fit in the slots.
This allows the logs to settle down in the early years. Windows/doors are fixed to T battens, not logs.

20th February 2006 The first house logs are laid. Great care taken to position them on the foundations.

21st February 2006 Eleven courses laid in two days.
At the end of the day full length logs are temporarily placed on the top just in case there are strong winds overnight.

23rd February 2006 The roof goes on the garage in atrocious weather.

28th February 2006 By the end of Feruary the logs are up to full height.

28th February 2006 The last log being lifted into place.

28th February 2006 Same day second delivery.

28th February 2006 Same as first delivery,
the packages were telelevered off and spread around to be taken on site in a pre-defined order.

28th February 2006 Once again the bits of telegraph pole were useful.

28th February 2006 The four wheel steering of the telelever was invaluable.
That is a rear view mirror sticking up at the rear.

28th February 2006 The garage was erected first so that the internal wood could be stored in the dry.

2nd March 2006 A laser levelling instrument was used to accurately position the floor joist to 1mm precision.

4th March 2006 Each internal wall upright is nailed to the wall plate by 5 nails driven in by a nail gun.

4th March 2006 Before the uprights are fixed the inside of the logs is covered in a waterproof breathable membrane.

3rd April 2006 A month later the timber frame is complete, roof on and insulation fills the walls.

4th April 2006 The insulation is cut 10mm oversize so to be self supporting when pressed into place.

8th April 2006 The insulation in place, now an airtight plastic layer is fixed over it.
The airtight layer prevents moist humid air in the house getting into the insulation and condensing to make it damp.

8th April 2006 Downstairs is a forest of uprights.

12th April 2006 Windows going in, the outside begins to take its final shape.

12th April 2006 Inside, upstairs the walls are taking shape and we can see the different rooms.

12th April 2006 The hermetic plastic layer is being fixed. We will live in a plastic bag- [with controlled ventilation openings].

19th April 2006 The upstair ceilings have another layer of insulation, polystyrene.

24th April 2006.

26th April 2006 Here is a happy bunny planting plants.

27th April 2006 Electricity is coming in, it has to cross the road ...

27th April 2006 then come to the house.

28th April 2006 The connection is made to a live cable.

28th April 2006 Inside we have water (the blue pipe), and the black electricity cable.

30th April 2006 Electrical first fix begins. Cables running everwhere.

30th April 2006 A rain of wood chippings from holes drilled for cables.

7th May 2006 I am building the wood burning stove plinth.

10th May 2006 This is the stove flue. It costs more than the stove itself.

10th May 2006 Here the flue goes through the first floor and the bedroom ceiling.

15th May 2006 Plumbing first fix underway, more wood chippings to vacuum up.

15th May 2006 We have a letter box, we have an address, Brookside Lodge ixists.

1st June 2006 I needed help with the flue, Paul Cruze of Tyneside Stoves came to the rescue.

13th June 2006 Plastering was a bigger job than I thought. It was very hard work.
There is 4 layers of plasterboard between bedrooms to provide sound proofing and two layers in the ground floor ceiling.
The plasterboard also provides thermal mass, keeping the house warm in winter, cool in summer.

13th June 2006 All the wood had to be treated, both inside and out. It was a vegetable oil base.

15th June 2006 You have got to have respect for these guys,
it is phenominally hard work and to do it well takes great skill.

15th June 2006.

16th June 2006 After the plaster boards are fixed they are taped and skimmed with plaster.
Another muscular hard task and requiring great skill to produce a good job in hot weather in a confined space.

20th June 2006 Meanwhile we are still outside treating the wood, but we can move to a shady spot.

22nd June 2006 They can not plaster two adjacent surfaces but have to plaster opposite surfaces
then next day the adjacent surfaces.
On the right is a finished surface, it is mirror flat.

27th June 2006 The Building Inspector inspects.

30th June 2006 Plasterering finished, we can start on the underfloor heating.First the insulation is laid.
It is Kingspan a rigid insulation that has to be accuratly cut to fit, unlikeRockwool.
But 25mm of Kingspan is as good as 100mm of Rockwool.

5th July 2006 Then the floor joists are cut using a router where the underfloor heating pipes cross them.

5th July 2006 The pipework is laid between the joists.

18th July 2006 We had to have our own telephone post.

20th July 2006 Another Roger, with a LED headlight fits the electricity meter.

25th July 2006 Eventually we have to hire tower scaffolding to reach the highest parts.
It is just too awkward/unsafe from a ladder.

30th July 2006 That is the last bit of the external wood to need treating. We have been at it for almost 7 weeks.

2nd August 2006 We did start to put two coats of emulsion on the plaster
as directed by Bob Mitchell the boss plasterer,
but it was so much hard work we got the professionals in. They sorted it in a few days.

7th August 2006 We now begin the installation of the underfloor heating pipes downstairs.
No easy task because the pipes have to be surrounded by something to conduct the heat from them
to the floor, called a PUG.

10th August 2006 We chose to be environmentally friendy and use Lytag made from power station ash,
it is like small ash peas.

10th August 2006 The big problem was that the Lytag peas got into the slots cut in the floor joists
preventing the pipework from being below the floorboard level.
So the vacuum cleaner sucked out the Lytag, then the underfloor heating pipes were fixed in the slots. After that the Lytag was returned.

15th August 2006 A hermetic seal is taped over the Lytag to the plastic lining the walls.
Bits of gaffer tape are stuck on the plastic to show where nails must not go.

18th August 2006 This is the upstairs underfloor heating manifold, it is twice the size of the downstairs one.

We have turned off the underfloor heating upstairs, it is not needed.
The rooms upstairs are quite warm enough from the downstairs heating.
I said this to the boss of Chelmer Heating before we installed the underfloor pipework, but he insisted it was necessary.
He is wrong, his name can be found at

24th August 2006 Treating the new living room floor with a sunflower oil base treatment.

31st August 2006 This is the entrance hall, bright, light and spacious.

3rd September 2006 The actual stair treads were assemble and glued by the Finns one wintery day.
Tomorrow is the day to install them. These are the landing, stair rails and stair rods.

4th September 2006 Once again the cavalry was called up.

4th September 2006 The stairs were liffted up high to fix the rails and rods, then lowered into place.

6th September 2006 This is a detail of the finished product.

18th September 2006 Two weeks later Graham comes to fit the kitchen.

18th September 2006 End of the day.

22nd September 2006 We got lights.

26th September 2006 We are getting an entrance. The saving and cleaning of all those bricks is now made worthwhile.

26th September 2006 I mowed the new bit of lawn. We both want to get on with gardening.

27th September 2006 2nd plumbing fix underway. Joe is Mick's brother.

15th October 2006 I made a pedestrian gate for the entrance. Although I say it myself, it looks good.

15th October 2006 The offcuts from the 8' x 4' wetwall panels that we used to wall the shower
were used as splash backs to the bath and wash basin. Again QuickGrips were really useful.

21st October 2006 The garage door is installed. It is a roller shutter type, remotely controlled.
So when I leave home I press
a button to open the garage,
a button to open the car doors,
a button to open the tailgate for Unix to get in,
a button to open the gates and drive out of the garage,
a button to close the garage, drive out of the gate,
and a button to close the gate.

Is that silly or what? I just love it.

21st October 2006 This is a close-up of a Corian worktop. Seamless, no cracks to
harbour germs. An upturn at the rear, lip at the front.
The tap behind the mixer tap is Margie's drinking water tap,
she did not want to run the mixer on cold to get a cool drink of water,
after all we are on a water meter now, and she is a Jackson!

21st October 2006 The kitchen is finally finished, Shaker style, Corian worktops,
27 drawers, just 6 shallow cupboards.

23rd October 2006 This is the inside of the Ground Water Heat Pump.
In the middle is the compressor that pumps the cold ground water temperature (11C) gas refrigerant so much
it becomes a 55C liquid that goes through the upper heat exchanger to heat the house hot water to 54C.
The refrigerant then goes through an expansion unit where it becomes a gas at 5C
where it goes to the bottom heat exchanger to cool the water flowing underground to 6C
where it will get heated by the ground water to 11C.
It takes 2KW to drive the pump, you get 10Kw out, 8KW for free from the Sun.

23rd October 2006 Steve is the short one, Paul is the tall one, came to install the Ground Water Heat Pump.
They plumbed and connected as much as they could before moving the heat pump into place.

24th October 2006 Then moved it into place and plumbed it in.
The underground water pipework is well lagged because it is so cold it would drop condensation indoors.

7th November 2006 This is John the Gate with two Estonian students, Heiko and Ainar come to install the gate.

7th November 2006 Here is the finished gate. The metal needs painting.

26th November 2006 QuickGrips to the rescue. I cut the joists and beams and slotted them together,
then raised the whole assemply using 4 QuickGrips to push instead of grip.
Once it was levelled, supports were tailor made to fit.

30th November 2006 Block paving begins.
That is Hans The Dutch Pavior with his three lads. It is a big job, tricky drainage slopes to make.

4th December 2006 This is the Living/Dining room. Margie's selection of colours of fabrics is great.

6th December 2006 Tiling the wetroom. Our last big job. Do it ourselves, couldn't find anyone to do it!

19th December 2006 Here is Margie's head and the log fire, TV, kitchen, and computer. We are truly in.

19th December 2006 A night time photo of the block paving. It cost ten grand.

23rd December 2006 These are our eco-friendly front door steps. Re-cycled railway sleepers

30th December 2006 Things getting done outside. This is the wheeled access to the house.
One part of our planning application was that this was a house for life, that includes someone in a wheelchair.

30th December 2006 We are so eco-friendly, we do not have a tumbler drier,
but a ceiling mounted drying rack in the utility room. Clothes dry overnight.

30th December 2006The wetroom is almost complete. It needs a shower screen between the shower and toilet,
but basically it is there and can be used. Having a second toilet is essential, this is mine.

10th January 2007 More work on the garden.
A major structure is the pergola that creates a second screen between us and our neighbours
as well as creating different spaces in the garden.
It has 23 posts (will be 24), 11 trellace panels and 22 roof trusses.

Margie now has to plant loads and loads of plants. I have done my bit.

12th January 2007 The garage is now cleared out of building things the floor cleaned,
sealed and painted with two coats of FLOORTREAD paint and the car can be garaged.

Although there is still much to do,
getting the car into the garage is like a full-stop on the building of the house