AUG 05 The move from demolition to finished foundations (photos below) looks easy doesn't it?




Actually, It wasn't easy. At all. In the slightest.

I found out many things during this time. Principally:

  • NEVER try and get a Structural Engineer in the Highlands of Scotland to do anything other than sit at a desk and not answer a phone or an e mail.
  • Get a builder that will work on a Sunday.
  • Add 30% to every estimate.
  • The date you set for the absolute latest that the job has to be completed should be at least five weeks before it needs to be.
  • Ground that looks completely flat is in fact sloped.
  • If you send anything to a quantity surveyor by post - it never arrives.

SEPT 05 And then there were the 60 metre deep bore holes for the ground source heat pump to be dug and pressure tested. This took 3 days, cost as much as a decent family hatchback and made a LOT of noise.

(Techie bit: skip if you know or are not interested) A quick word on Ground source heating : Outdoor temperatures fluctuate with the changing seasons but underground temperatures don't. Below the earth's surface, temperatures remain relatively constant year-round. A geothermal system, which typically consists of an indoor unit and a buried earth loop, capitalizes on these constant temperatures to provide "free" energy. In winter, fluid circulating through the system's earth loop absorbs stored heat and carries it indoors. The indoor unit compresses the heat to a higher temperature and distributes it throughout the building. In summer, the system reverses, pulling heat from the building, carrying it through the earth loop and depositing it in the cooler earth. Unlike ordinary heating systems, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat; they simply transfer heat to and from the earth to provide a more efficient and environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit's fan, compressor and pump. The system (along with solar panels on the south facing roof) is predicted to reduce heating costs by over £1000 per year on this build and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 4.5 tons. I organised the system through GeoHeat and the underfloor heating system with integrated solar panels through Chelmer Heating


SEPT 05 Back to the story: ...but the problems designing and constructing the foundations and getting bore holes drilled were made to look easy by trying to get 40 tons of wood and two articulated lorries to negotiate the sharp uphill bends on a greasy single tack road that led to the site.

The first lorry failed miserably, so we had to close the road and get a local hero with his fork lift to give the lorry a tow. And it JUST made it up the hill on the third attempt.


Then to offload to the temporary site, before transportation via the fork lift down to the plot. This was a 'square peg/ round hole' exercise which took many hours - many of which were spent scratching heads in the rain.



..and packages had to be split due to the length of the logs and the proximity of trees, and transported to the plot bit by bit...