Michael joined us this morning to continue plastering the kitchen walls. Today's target was the east end wall, putting on the top coat with a perfectly smooth mirror finish. While Michael was spraying and polishing, Mark set to work on the sewer pipe plumbing in the cloakroom. The existing pipe has ended up in the wrong spot for the toile, so Mark chiselled out a section of concrete to remove the top pipe junction and expose the end of the pipe coming in from outside.

 

 

Mark finished poo pipe placement for toilet this morning, and put down sand then laid the damp-proof membrane on the floor. It is now ready for insulation and under-floor-heating and lining on the walls...

Giles and Claire came to visit for lunch, after which Mark roped Giles in to help fitting insulation to the cloakroom's stone wall, and battened the back wall ready for plasterboard.

 

 

Ron and Jill are back with us for a few days on the final leg of their holiday touring the UK. No chance of a holiday at GFB however, so Ron helped Mark on a heavy haulage task this evening. We've bought a used kitchen from someone replacing theirs, so we will have a temporary set of appliances, benches and kitchen units. We used the trusty Focus and trailer to collect the first half of it, including the very heavy wall oven and a stack of cupboard units.

Our plan is to build a temporary layout in the kitchen and use it for about a year, so we can chop and change it easily to ensure we have the ideal layout before committing to making the real cabinets.

 

 

Michael and Jody were back on site today, installing door-frame posts in the link. These posts are made from enormous chunks of reclaimed timber and have squared-up the openings for the sets of glass doors.

Ron was also busy building today, breaking out a section of concrete to provide a planting hole for our grape vine. We are planning to have the vine planted just outside the link, then route it through a gap in the stone to the inside where it will enjoy shelter and all-day sunshine through the glass doors and roof.

We finished the day christening the dining room: we clear out most of the building materials and moved the table and chairs in, enabling us to have a fantastic feast with Ron and Jill comprising several tasty courses and more importantly a variety of excellent wines. It was the perfect first-time evening in the dining room, and a great send off for Ron and Jill.

 

 

We had an early start today as we took Ron and Jill to Heathrow for their flight back to NZ. Once we got back home we planted the grape vine in it's newly formed hole, surrounded by plenty of compost. Finally Mark headed out with the Focus and trailer again to collect the second half of the kitchen units.

 

 

 

After numerous delays our new HeatBank was delivered on Friday, so today we unpacked it and did a trial installation into the boiler room to see how well it fits. The HeatBank is essentially an inverted hot water cylinder: it contains 250 litres of water in a closed system of the stainless tank connected directly to the boiler. All this water is heated to 75 degrees and circulates through the tank and boiler, then is also circulated in a lower temperature zone though the under floor heating loops at around 30 degrees. All this water is recirculated, and remains at atmospheric pressure for safety.

Our domestic hot water for washing and drinking comes directly from the cold water mains, through a 180kW heat exchange plate in the HeatBank, ie the stored water at 75 degrees is used to instantly heat the mains water to 65 degrees on demand. This means we have instant, almost inexhaustible hot water for very very long hot showers, and since the entire floor area is connected as a thermal store we end up with a very efficient oil boiler usage cycles.

We think this is a great piece of technology as it gives the best performance and is very energy efficient. Surprisingly it is not in common use, probably because there are very few manufacturers making them and they are seen as very complex and expensive. Still, it does look cool with all the pumps and valves on the outside, like an oversized espresso machine!

 

 

 

 

Michael and Jody were busy on site today fitting the first window frames and continuing framing preparations for the big glass doors. The arrow slit window frames in the lounge went in first: the frames are completely hidden by the stone on the outside and plaster on the inside, so the arrow slit windows will appear to be directly glazed while actually housing insulated double-glazed units. The garage window frame also went in to the north end wall.

Their other big task for the day was to fit framing posts in the opening at the north end of the dining room. Michael demonstrated his acrobatic technique for holding a post in place with one leg whilst standing on the other and using both hands to chisel a cable hole...

 

 

This morning we got cracking fairly early, painting the kitchen ceiling. Sarah worked on the lower half, standing on a trestle and using her new long-handled paint roller while Mark crawled along a scaff plan up in the trusses.

After lunch Graham came to join us so he helped Mark tack more plasterboard in the kitchen, completing the ceiling above the cloakroom and boiler room. Afterwards we lit up another great bonfire and enjoyed a barbecue in the beautiful evening sunshine.

 

 

Today we continued with yet more painting: Mark started in the kitchen ceiling, completing the waterproof undercoat. Sarah started by staining the newly installed door-framing posts with preservative, then we both moved on to the link ceiling. As in the kitchen, Sarah dealt with the bottom half of the ceiling while Mark clambered up into the apex of the roof space.

 

 

Jody was back with his stonemason's hat on today, as he reworked the stone wall above the arrow slit windows in the lounge. Now that the window frames are in situ the final shape of the window edges could be determined, and all finished with our favourite lime mortar pointing.

 

 

Mark had a day at home today, once again painting in the kitchen. After building a somewhat rickety scaffolding arrangement he was able to reach the entirety of the ceiling. By the end of the day there were three coats completed on the south half, and no major paint spills nor any scaff accidents.

 

 

 

As a break from the rigours of painting, we started the day with large sheets of plasterboard, a scalpel, a bench and a tape measure. This enabled us to get the outside of the cloakroom tacked ready for plastering.

After lunch we returned to the inevitable painting task, completing three top coats over the kitchen ceiling.

 

 

 

We set to work in the cloakroom and boiler room today. Sarah was tasked with cutting and fitting celotex insulation in the cloakroom's wood-framed cavity walls. Meanwhile Mark had to scramble in Lester-like fashion to get some plumbing pipes installed in the roof space above the cloakroom. He also made preparations for the huge electrical termination task that will go in service bays above the boiler.

 

 

We woke up once again to early morning sunshine pouring in; this month has been the hottest on record in the UK, as we've enjoyed seemingly endless blue skies and parching sun. By 06:30 the sun was at full strength, giving us a wonderful view from bed looking out across the kitchen slate roof to the dining room stone and thatch dazzling in the sunlight.

 

 

After a very relaxing breakfast in the sunshine-bathed south courtyard, we returned to work in the boiler room. Mark undertook more plumbing modifications, then made a short stand for the HeatBank which Sarah painted. We stopped early in the evening to give ourselves time for a drink in the sun, enjoying the incredible weather and remembering the mad dash exactly one year ago as we moved from the caravan into our current accommodation in the corner of the barns.

Hopefully one year from now we will be in a substantially completed home!

 


june

Green Farm Barn

august