27th Feb 2006

After many hours or research on the 'net, I've just bought:

50 x 13 amp twin switched sockets - 11 x 1 gang 2 way 600w dimmers - 5 x 2 gang 2 way 600w dimmers - 3 x 3 gang 2 way 600w dimmers - 5 x fan isolator switches - 2 x 20 amp DP switches - 4 x 20 amp DP switches + neon - 2 x 13 amp fused DP switches - 3 x 13 amp fused DP switches + neon - 2 x 45 amp DP switches + neon - 10 x satellite sockets - 5 x secondary telephone sockets - 1 x primary telephone socket - 52 mains halogen spotlights with 50w narrow beam bulbs - 15 LV halogen zone three spotlights - 8 uplighters - 10 outdoor LV LED spotlights with outdoor transformer - 4 picture lights - 2 PIR outdoor security lights.

..oh and 205 sheets of bomb blast grade plasterboard to cover the 160 sheets of nuclear grade insulation.

Just as well this house is 'eco friendly'

The 'screeders' finally emerged from the Bermuda Triangle today to inform me that they will start work on Thursday.



28th Feb 2006

10" of snow due today in the North Highlands, so we'll see if anything happens this week. It hardly ever snows on the west coast due to the Gulf Stream, but the lorries travel coast to coast across the middle bit, where it is ... well, like Norway actually.

Meanwhile, I've been asked by a couple of people how much this house is costing to build. So I thought I'd tell you. Some mad people are even considering doing something similar themselves. I suggest seeking immediate professional psychiatric help.

If you insist ... here are some figures (I'm guessing the total cost on some *yet to pay* quotes, and rounding UP).

I'll leave out the cost of the plot - probably a good idea to have one of these, the heating system costs (as I went for the very, very expensive option) also the air conditioning (a luxury - unless you live near midges), kitchen and bathroom fittings (as they are down to personal tastes and budgets) and decoration, carpeting, tiling, soft fittings etc - but bear in mind I am paying for all labour - a very expensive ingredient. If you are good with a hammer and have a couple of years to spare, you'll save a bundle if you D.I.Y.

Approximate costs for the 300 sq metre (floorspace) 5 bedroom log house 2005/6

Foundations (inc. land clearance, landscaping, leveling, aggregate, blockwork, connections to water/power/BT/septic tank etc.)  
Log kit from Finland (inc. windows and doors)  
Roof (inc. construction, tiles, velux, guttering, leadwork etc.)  
Plumbing (exc. all fittings and U/F heating/screed)  
£ 6,000
Construction of kit (inc. chimney etc.)  
Electrics (inc. all light fittings, wiring etc.)  
£ 8,000
Hire of scaffolding, tools, transportation, deliveries (a lot in the Highlands)  
£ 9,000
Insulation (much more than you'd think) and all materials not included in kit  

Professional fees (inc. architects, engineers, warrants, legal fees etc. but ...excluding 'nanny' project management fees)

£ 9,000
Joinery (a LOT on a log house - floors, internal roofs, ceilings, internal walls, balconies, plasterboard, cladding, decking, internal fittings etc.)  


Total (excluding VAT & plot, heating, kitchen, bathrooms, tiling, carpets decoration, telecoms, moving, etc.)



+/- £219,000

Re: VAT - all structural costs are zero rated on new builds, so you can claim tax back on materials (not white goods / carpets / hi fi / sports cars etc). Also: It's probably wise to point out that quotes in the Highlands are about 15% more due to distance and lack of competition - but Scotland is cheaper than England in almost every respect, so they probably cancel each other out.

2nd March 2006

Footprints belonging to the site manager ... but not the plumbers, who should be fitting the under-floor heating. Fair play though, this time at least they have a decent excuse.


4th March 2006

The company doing the screed are nowhere to be seen. Probably lost in a snow drift somewhere near Loch Shiel. If that's the case... I suspect they were looking for the plumbers.

5th March 2006

No Screeders

6th March 2006

No Screeders

7th March 2006

No Screeders

8th March 2006

I've spoken to the site manager who has spoken to the architect who has spoken to the plumber who has spoken to the screeder who has spoken to the 'readymix' company (don't ask) and they say there are keen to get going.

Well that's a relief.

9th March 2006

No Screeders

10th March 2006

Continued from above..... e mail from the M.D. of the plumbers:

"I've just spoken to the director of the screeding company who says he will contact the readymix company tomorrow with a view to getting them to site and will call me in the morning. I'll be in touch as soon as I find out."

I think this reads:

"I've spoken to someone who will speak to someone else tomorrow to try and get someone to arrive on site sometime and someone will call me tomorrow and I'll call you sometime when I know something."


11th March 2006

The screed company finally booked to start today, but it snowed all weekend in Aberdeenshire - and the screeders need 'Readymix' which comes from....



From the BBC website: "This lorry fell victim to the snow on Aberdeenshire's roads."


Given my current run of luck, I actually find myself being surprised that this BBC photo doesn't show a lorry with the word 'Readymix' on the side.



Without wishing to jinx this project (any more than I have), I've been investigating costs for removal companies for 'sometime in summer' - I haven't told them which year.

No matter what you tell these people they are convinced that "one big lorry" is the best way to move. This is after all, what they do. It's only when I show them the photo above (the footprints in the snow) and the photo of the artic being towed up the single track '1 in 3' hill by the fork lift, that they agree that two smaller lorries might be a good plan.

So. Pickfords sent a chap across from Newcastle with a tape measure, a Mondeo, Radio 1 and a clip board, and they then sent me a quote for one big lorry. I'm almost tempted to save money and let them do it that way - but the words NOSE, FACE and CUTTING OFF spring to mind, so I'll have to let them know that they should be charging more and sending more.

Meanwhile the locals (Andy & Jason in shot) labour on:  
...and we have the start of the first internal walls:


12th March 2006

Remember this?

21st Feb 2006 : ...the company who are contracted to do the screed (to cover the underfloor heating). When asked why they were not on site they said "Oh, was it today we were supposed to be there?"


I've just spoken to the plumbers' M.D. The screed co. are apparently "trying really hard" to get there this week.

God only knows what would happen if they were not trying so hard. Global 'Readymix' meltdown no doubt.

The more observant might have noticed that I have again changed the title of the blog (on page 1) to:

13th March 2006

Another week almost gone and, as usual - the trades haven't turned up. I've noticed one thing though. No matter how slow they are at getting the job done, they are veritable Michael Shumachers when it comes to invoicing.

I today received a bill from the roofers (who took four months to do 7 days work and - at a rough guess, in the region of 42.343 seconds to post the bill).

Luckily I have lost all powers of signing my name due to excessive alcohol consumption, so they won't get my money until I have sufficiently recovered.

There really should be some mathematical equation that describes how slow builders are when building, in relation to how quick they are when invoicing, so I got the old books out and I reckon:

This roughly translates as:

H= Highland builders

(s) = several

Infinity over f over 0 = when they get stuff done (it's long term and pretty conceptual)

e = ever seen us on the west coast before?

-st = minus shortcomings

h = hell will freeze over

t = (today - according to the forecast)

dt = don't even think about it - just get the bill out pronto.

14th March 2006

We are kinda' scuppered until the screeders turn up (to cover the underfloor heating system with a concrete). They have promised to be there 'imminently'. (Read four weeks ago).

15th March 2006

No Screeders

16th March 2006

No Screeders

17th March 2006

No Screeders

18th March 2006

No Screeders

19th March 2006

No Screeders

20th March 2006

No Screeders

21st March 2006

No Screeders

22nd March 2006

No Screeders... losing the will to live here... anyone want a house?

23rd March 2006

Just realised it's exactly six months since I collected the Finns from the Airport.

No Screeders by the way ... They have however, sent me a note to say that they will arrive on Saturday...



23rd March 2006 (addendum)

Now here's an interesting thing. (I'll be as brief as I can). I've been on the phone for the past hour.

The Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI - don't you know) are the people that offer up to £4,000 in grants if one installs eco friendly, ground source heat pump heating & hot water systems in Scotland. Save the planet and all that. I thus applied for the grant in August 2005, a month before the installation. I was told that I would hear back within three to four weeks if there was any problem.

You can see where this is headed.

In Jan 2006 (twenty weeks later), I get a request from SCHRI for a copy of the invoice from the drilling company - (fair enough I think), and I supply as requested.

Today I decide that, not having heard from the nice people at SCHRI for a while, I'd make sure they were still on the case.

I spoke to a charming lady who said that 'They haven't got round to my application yet (EIGHT MONTHS!), but that it is near to the top of the pile' and also that 'because I was supposed to wait until the application had been approved before starting the work, I might not get the grant'.

I explain (in my calmest voice) that the house couldn't wait eight months to be erected solely because my application to SCHRI has not yet reached the top of the pile. Indeed, the build happened when it was predicted to happen and that bore holes could not be drilled after the house was constructed because the garage would have to have been demolished and several trees would have had to have been felled so that the lorry could get to the drill site.

(Deep breath)

She informed me (as an aside) that the Scottish Executive had recently 'slashed the amount of funds available for 'green' projects', and that as soon as she knew anything, 'she'd get back to me'.

The words 'moving' and 'goalposts' spring to mind.

£4000 - that's not a lot in the big scheme of things... but then again - it's three weeks for two in the Seychelles.


..................... .................................................