Battling with battens

It’s Christmas Day afternoon, 2016. I’ve just been into the house to close the windows. When I went in this morning to retrieve my camera, it was noticeably colder inside than out, so we opened the windows to let some warmth in! Because the house walls and roof have such fantastic thermal insulation properties they have kept out the strangely mild air that is here following the departure of Friday’s ‘Storm Barbara’.

Today’s lack of noise is also strange. There is a self-imposed ban on working on the house today, there is very little traffic on the main road, there are no trains running alongside us due to engineering works, and the birds have gone to roost for the night. Even our dogs are lying quietly by my feet, having had a mad chase round not long ago.

Because there is no mains gas on site, and to save us having to change gas cylinders over at regular intervals, we have had an underground lpg gas tank installed which will provide fuel for the hob and our boiler, which in turn will provide the heat for our radiators, showers and hot taps. The earth that the tank has displaced is still piled up in 2 large mounds which the dogs have adopted as their playground!

The down side of of this method of heating is that the pipework running around the downstairs ceilings occasionally has to cross over itself. The engineers who installed it were reluctant to set the crossing pipe up into the plywood, so we have had to lower the ceiling height to accommodate the downward bulge within the ceiling void. This entails using bigger battens, but wouldn’t have been much of a problem, except that the architects have cleverly calculated the window sizes such that the surrounding plasterboard will slot snugly against the window frame. Now we have come across the problem that if we lower all of the ceilings, we can’t actually open some of the inward-opening windows!

A combination of this, and the sloping ceilings upstairs, has meant that we have spent a considerable amount of time puzzling over the precise size and location of battens. What should have been a relatively straight-forward part of the build, has been an enormous challenge. But with the help of amazing friends, we have now got most of the interior battens in place, and all of the windows can open.