8th June2006

The electricians want to wire up the air conditioning system

...but they can't do this because the air conditioning fitters haven't arrived

...but they can't arrive yet because their outdoor condensers must be fitted after the heat pump

...but the heat pump fitters can't fit the pump until the ground source pipe-work is laid

...but the pipe-work can't be laid until the builder digs a trench behind the house in which to lay it

...but the builder can't dig a trench until he knows where to dig it

...but we don't know where to dig it because the plumbers also want to use the trench for drainage soak-away

...but the plumbers can't tell us exactly where it should be dug because their surveyor needs to send the plans

...but he can't send the plans because

...he's gone on holiday.


9th June 2006

Today I got my sixth final reminder from.... you guessed it: the tool hire company to whom I don't owe any money (it's a ritual I am now used to - when they eventually stop invoicing me I think I might feel a little unloved). I have phoned them half a dozen times and written to them on four occasions to tell them that they really need to stop asking for money they are not owed, but their computer seems to have other ideas. Open the pod bay door please Hal.

I also got a bill for £881.25 from the quantity surveyor I used THIRTEEN MONTHS ago.

The chap gave me no information I didn't know, overestimated the cost of the build by £100,000, says he got quotations for the underfloor heating (for which I did all the work), says he researched all the major Scandinavian kit manufacturers (for which I did all the work), and has even decided to charge me for a 45 minute meeting for which he was 40 minutes late.

I love building houses, me

PS - All I need now is an act of God... click here


12th June 2006

First up... re: the above act of God... I've just grabbed this from www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk - It looks like we're building the house on a bloody fault line!

Having just returned from Torridon - east of Java, I have learned that the quake was apparently as loud as the closest crack of thunder you've ever heard - everything shook for a few seconds, then everybody went to the bar to discuss it over large amounts of alcohol. Like they need an earthquake for an excuse!

Anyway... the house is still standing, even after 3.1 on the Richter Scale - thus I am able to post some photos (with the new very wide lens - acquired just for your enjoyment you understand).

Again, apologies to 'dialup' users for the delay.

Under the cruciform roof, part of the open plan upstairs living space.


below, me being far too arty with a photo of the big window


below, the surprise package, bedroom three, the use of which we are reconsidering (as we like it so much).













Finally, the first shot of the finished 'wall of glass' which cost a fortune to manufacture, cost a fortune to transport and cost a fortune to build. But like good film music (which also costs a fortune), you see straight through it.


16th June 2006

The decorator/tiler was supposed to start on Monday (for five weeks) - but his wife has again been taken ill so he has regretfully informed us that he cannot do any work on the job.

This pretty much puts us in the poo.

I just phoned up the company he recommended to replace him and they are "...fully booked until September"

(sinking deeper into the poo)

I am awaiting a call from another company to see if they can help.

I don't think I should have made that joke about moving into a tent.


17th June 2006

I found another company who will tile and paint, and can do so the week after next - the builder turned out on a weekend with two co-workers and a mini JCB to dig the trench - we have another joiner starting on Monday to work on the downstairs 'floating' wooden floor - the kitchen has been built on time and delivery is leaving Cambridge tomorrow for a Monday drop - the cooker, fridge, freezer, microwave, dishwasher, hob & extractor hood have all been dispatched on the day I specified, It's sunny, and England have qualified for the next round of the world cup.

Someone wake me up.


19th June 2006

Some things that are going on that really don't interest me, but seem to be causing the most stress...


20th June 2006

When I said trench, I meant...



21st June 2006

I just found this satellite photo of the loch. (You can see why articulated lorries have a bit of trouble getting to us).


23rd June 2006

I decided early on to have the area between each of the eight roof joists on the 'cathedral ceiling' wood clad. (see below - the bits of the roof in green). A lot of people who build Scandinavian log houses have this throughout the whole house, walls and all, but it would have been just a little too much wood for me... however I thought it would look good on the roof in the open plan area, especially when it's properly lit. It didn't cost much to source the pine from Lapland (it came as part of the kit) but the cost of having it done is a bit scary. I have two joiners working for three weeks just on this task. They are however, doing a millimetre perfect job (see opposite). In a couple of weeks it should be finished, and I hope it will have been worth the effort and expense. I'll post a photo and you can decide for yourself.

This means that from top to bottom the roof reads: Tiles, counter battens, battens, impermeable membrane, sarking boards, joists, insulation, permeable membrane, wood cladding, non flammable varnish. That should keep the rain out.


24th June 2006

I just learnt of a famous old Highland saying.

'When God made time, he made plenty of it.'

This explains a lot.


25th June 2006

While we are talking of how long this project has lasted, I've just found some long lost video footage I shot on the day of the first delivery from Finland (nine months, four days, five hours and six minutes ago).

For those interested I've put a short selection HERE (4 mb wmv).

Taken from the 'main' road (just after we had towed the 40 ton artic up the hill), It shows attempt number five (out of about twelve) to reverse the very big lorry into the very small private road, avoiding the very, very wet peat bog. I have absolutely NO idea what we would have done if this lorry had got stuck. Thunderbird two I guess.

It also shows what a painfully s l o w process unloading was... especially having to break each load up into manageable chunks to travel the last 250 metres down to the plot. There were two such delivery days, each lasting about ten years.

By the way, in the video 'The Bruce' is in the Father Christmas hat (Well that's what it looks like to me) and Andy is the one looking worried.

I'm just cringing behind the camera wondering what the hell I've let myself in for.


29th June 2006

I've come to realise that nearly all the trades working on the house are following this 'blog' so I'd like to take the opportunity to say what a wonderful job they are all doing... especially the ones that still have work to complete.

I've also just completed writing a 300 word rant about 'next day deliveries' (of which I am presently devoid) ... but having read it back, I decided to spare you the pain and reword it thus:


'The Bruce' needs me to take some exec decisions regarding flooring, so I'm up again next week. Now where's that V8?


30th June 2006

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been trying really hard not to go on about the lie that is 'next day delivery' - but having just spent another day confined to barracks for a delivery of stuff for the house that is two days late, I feel have to mention:

When the courier tells me that the driver turned up and I wasn't in (when I was), and when I ask what colour our front door is, the driver says brown (which it isn't)... ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS...

...and then I get an e mail stating:

Our couriers have informed us that they've now been unsuccessful for a second time attempting to deliver your order. They won't attempt a third delivery unless we authorise it.

I think I deserve a bit of a Meldrew moment.

Which I had on the phone.

And I feel much better.


...I have to stay in tomorrow.


3rd July 2006

The company doing the decorating turned up with a load of paint, did half a day and then left. They have now informed us that they will not be returning (ever) because they have got a big job to do on the east coast. They will however, send me a bill.

The next time I get given a commission to write some music, I think I'll write three bars, then refuse to finish it, saying I have more important things to do elsewhere, and invoice the company for the three bars. I'm sure they'd be happy to pay. About as happy as I am in fact.


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