We cleared the dining room of Christmas decorations and the temporary dining table in order to continue building. First job was lighting: we fitted a series of small spotlights in the corners of the ceiling, tucked behind beams and purlins as we did in the lounge.

 

 

Having installed the spotlight fittings, we continued our investigation of different bulb options. The spotlights came with standard 240v 50w halogen bulbs (below left), but they're too hot, direct and energy inefficient to use. We have been testing several low energy options in the lounge, including LED and compact fluorescent bulbs. The LED options aren't ideal: they aren't very bright, not very "white" and ridiculously over-priced at about £25 per bulb. Compact fluorescents look more promising: we've found 7w versions (below centre) that are a warm white, technically 2700k, reasonably small and bright. The slightly bigger option is an 11w version (below right) which is also available in warm white, but the longer body makes it more awkward to use in some fittings. The fluorescents are about £10 each, so much better value than LEDs and due to their long life and low consumption they'll pay for themselves pretty quickly, especially with our rapidly increasing electricity prices.

 

 

Once the lights were in place we got on with finishing details on the ceiling, cleaning off paint spills and plaster mess from the timbers. We also gave the wood another coat of Danish oil, and touched up the paint to leave it all looking crisp and fresh. Unfortunately it's still not all done: there are still some patches in the plaster that need repairing and inevitably more painting and oiling and cleaning.

 

 

 

 

Bedroom 4 got the heat treatment this month: while the room has been habitable for a couple of years, it's been lacking underfloor heating. To rectify that we starting by moving out the furniture, rolled up the temporary carpet and then removed the temporary chipboard flooring. The stone wall had been repointed recently, so there was a big pile of mortar mess lurking under the floorboards which had to been sorted before we could start work.

 

 

The heating plan starts with 60mm Celotex insulation over the concrete slab, then we fitted sheets of steel mesh. 15mm plastic waterpipe is tied to the mesh then the whole lots is stood up on packers and reference battens are fitted around the walls to define the final floor height.

 

 

Given the size of the room we decided we could screed it in two stints over a weekend, so we put a barrier down the centre and started churning sand and cement in the concrete mixer. Every barrow load had to be wheeled through the kitchen, which required a bit of careful planning to avoid any nasty spills.

 

 

By the Sunday afternoon we were getting pretty tired of shovelling, wheeling and spreading, but the results were looking as good as Wales' triumph over England in the rugby!

 

 

 

Finally the last load went in just as it was turning dark outside, so we smoothed out the last section in the doorway and the deed was done. With no further access into the room until the screed dried, we had planned ahead and put the lights, heater and laptop that was showing the rugby all on power circuits whose switches were accessible from the doorway, so the screed could dry in peace.