Work during 2012 has proceeded cautiously following the disclosure that funding for one particular item had been diverted without my authority or knowledge, with the consequent potential for the project being aborted. Despite this, and with the encouragement and support of enthusiastic friends and tradesmen, the decision was taken to proceed with essential works and endeavour hopefully to make the main living area, one bedroom and one bathroom habitable. Whole House Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery, and Solar or Photovoltaic Panels have had to be dispensed with. Jamie Tait and Ally Nudds juggled with the complexities of the Larch Cladding achieving an incredibly regular spacing around the south bay, and spent much time and effort preparing the wall around the west gable windows for rendering, as it has been less than symmetrical in its construction. Mervyn, as an old friend from way back, also helped me greatly in getting the building ready for the arrival of Jimmy McCroary, who rendered the exterior. If, at the end of the day, there is money left over for painting materials I have an offer from one friend to paint the exterior – a mammoth task.Making decisions about the first-fix and the heating system has been difficult, since everyone has been as helpful as can be (special thanks to Stan, and to Ian if you read this). Eventually, I decided that if it involved something that might ever go wrong I was better to use local contractors rather than more distant English firms, and to go for the simplest option rather than complicate matters with multiple heat sources, such as using heat from my multi-fuel stove together with Air Source Heat Pump. The refurbished multi-fuel stove will now have its back-boiler temporarily removed, and be used solely for heat – but with the potential for a “stand alone” heating system if ever the time comes that mains electricity is unreliable (although by that time PhotoVoltaics may be affordable). Fortunately a plumber who had visited site earlier this year was available between other engagements, as was a local (for these parts) electrician who is scheduling Willow Brae in between other work on Morvern. The plumber also has a working relationship with Lochaber Renewables, who will provide the heating system, so I should benefit from their co-operating where their two areas coincide. As the first-fix services are almost complete, it is now time to take delivery of hundreds of sheets of heat insulation material and to squeeze it into every available orifice in the roof and external timber-frame walls, and to line the concrete block walls of the “granny annexe”. Suddenly, a high vaulted ceiling does not seem such a good idea as previously. There will then be acres of plastic sheet to man-handle over it all to make the place air-tight, before affixing plasterboard, and internal woodwork. The floors will also require insulation, UFH pipes and then screeding over before the final floor finish can be laid. Any helpers????
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