Next up: The Finnish workers who would construct the log house.


20th SEPT 05 I picked up Jari Koivisto & Aki Hakovirta from Glasgow airport yesterday and the first thing they asked was "Is it big Willage?" I correctly inferred from this that they would need a pub or two. Reluctantly I spent whole evening explaining the comparative benefits of single malt whisky distilleries, in the local bar, with appropriate tastings.

I have to say that I was impressed by how excited they got when they saw plans and logs this morning - and even with what must have been dreadful hangovers (I could testify), they stuck straight into the chain saw at 09.00 without a grimace.

They breed them tough in Finland, I can tell you. All snow and Ice Hockey.

Of course, not only did I have to find the Finns to do the work and translate what they say; But organise flights, transportation, tools (including every form of electric saw known to man), safety kit, B&B accommodation for eight weeks, a car, insurance for the car, payment in cash or money transfer every week, some sort of supervision, a first aid kit, evening meals for eight weeks, 700 bits of scaffolding, fork lift trucks, a 24 hour 'helpline', several varieties of screws never heard of west of the Siegfried line, 110 volt inverters, plus all the roofing, sarking, plywood, battoning and insulation material that were not included in the kit... and then source and supply all the bits that were left off the lorries by mistake... in the most remote corner of the Western Highlands of Scotland.

Piece of cake.


22nd SEPT 05...and so it starts ...............................................................................................................................


...and boy did the rain welcome them all! ...including the wettest week in September in 10 years

(this is the view from the plot looking north by the way):


2nd OCT 05 The second lorry arrived today. Check out the width of the road and the size of the lorry

During the build I am driving an 800 mile round trip every week or so to visit the site. The benefits are that I am driving up to sights like this (shameless insert):

I have found out several more things during this time. Principally:

  • If you order from ScrewFix on a guaranteed next day delivery, it arrives four days later.
  • If you insist that a delivery from Travis Perkins Building Supplies arrives NO EARLIER than two weeks time - it arrives the next day.
  • If you transfer cash by the banking system known as 'fast track international money order' - it doesn't.

To give you an example of just how problematic it can be getting things delivered to the north west Highlands - take this example - one of many. (Bear in mind that I am in England during the following).

13.00 Sunday 23rd October - Lorry full of roofing insulation leaves Leeds, with a crew of two - scheduled to drop a.m. Monday morning. I have provided them with a map and instructions. They sleep in their cab overnight near Inverness. They leave the next morning at 07.00

11.00 Monday 24th October, I get a phone call - "We can't find the site". After some confusion, it turns out they have decided not to read the map I supplied (why would they?) and have gone to a village with the same name 40 miles too far north. They turn round and head south.

Two hours later, I get a phone call. 12 miles down the single track road to the site (about half way) thay are stuck behind a lorry that is lying on its side. They cannot reverse and there is nowhere to turn around. They have no food, no water, no toilets. They wait 5 hours in the rain whilst the lorry is recovered.

Six hours later I get a phone call. They've finally arrived at the site, but the Finnish workers have left to go back to their acommodation. It is dark, windy, raining and there are 103 2 metre x 1 metre insulation boards to unload, and nobody to sign for them...

The delivery team have to spend the next night again in their cab. They start off next morning and arrive back in Leeds late on Tuesday 25th October. One delivery, Two men, three days.

18th October Second floor joists start..


26th October Roof joists start




There is always a moment in that *nasty* TV programme 'Grand Designs' when everything goes pear shaped. Our build went pear shaped today: Monday 31st October at 09.43.

I got a phone call from the Finns to say that the main upright beam (the one that supports the weight at the centre of the cruciform roof) was a metre too short. Doesn't sound too bad does it? It is after all, only a metre.

But, consider this particular pack of cards:

The replacement beam needs to be manufactured and transported by ship from Finland and will take two weeks. And...

The roof can't be built without the beam.

The tilers can't tile without the roof,

The plumbers can't plumb until the tilers have finished,

The electricians can't wire until the plumbers have finished,

The heating company can't get the heating working until the electricians have finished,

The joiners can't put in the walls in until the heating company have finished,

The decorators can't decorate walls until there are... walls.

The roofers, the plumbers, the electricians, the heating company, the joiners, the decorators are all booked and due to arrive on specific dates. This particular feat has taken MONTHS to organise.

Every one of them has to be postponed or cancelled.

The Finns decide it's not worth sticking around waiting for the new beam to arrive, so fly back home.

I've had better days than Monday 31st October and much better 09.43s

It was only after the Finns had left that I was told that a temporary fix could be arranged to hold the roof up until the replacement beam arrived - but too late... the Flying Finns were gone.

Slightly off topic - but this is what today felt like: