Six weeks before Christmas, Martin suggested inviting my Mum to stay for the festive season. Getting the house ready enough seemed an impossible task to me. We wrote down all the jobs that would need doing and I estimated that it would take 7 weeks.
However, Martin and Mum were determined that it should happen and Mum’s coach ticket was booked. She arrived on Friday 22nd December and by 10pm we had a bed made up in our guest room, and a flushing toilet and sink with hot and cold water in the downstairs wetroom. We even had doors on those 2 rooms – although they were not painted and had no latches! To ‘lock’ the wetroom door we had one end of a piece of string attached to the edge of the door and we wrapped the other end round the shower control.
By 11pm Martin and I looked at the our mattress which was standing on its side in our upstairs lounge. Our decision was instant and unanimous – flop it down on its side and sleep on it exactly where it landed!
It was a bit like camping but in a warm house rather than a cold, flappy tent. Our elation was such that we contacted our fantastic house building friends from the village and invited them over for midday drinks on Christmas Eve. Plastic cups and crisp packets maybe, but definitely champagne time!
Unfinished but functional wetroom door
Sophisticated door lock!
We’ve passed another couple of milestones. Firstly, we have replaced our ‘doormat’ with another carpet tile because our original one had become completely threadbare due to the number of times we have walked backwards and forwards between the house and the barn saying “I’ll just go and cut this” or “I’ll just go and get a …..”. But, even more exciting, we now change our footwear each time we come inside!
This is primarily because we have laid the vinyl flooring in both the bathroom and the wet room. We have also fitted the ceiling panels in the wet room and been surprised by the large size of the ceiling light that our electrician has installed in such a small room! We think it looks OK though.
We have fitted 2 wall panels in both rooms so that we could add the towel rail radiators. So, the central heating system is now complete, and leak-free! We had hoped that today we could switch it on but, with a light sprinkling of snow on the ground, our heating engineers had other ideas. Instead of commissioning the boiler yesterday, they merely turned up to drop a piece of gas pipe into the trench that we had dug. More phone calls, more delay, more layers of clothing!
Making a template out of brown paper
Telescopic props hold the first ceiling panel in place
Big light, little air vent, tiny wetroom.
Warming the vinyl to soften it.
Trimming the corners
Muddy boots and paws have worn out the original ‘doormat’!
Wet room radiator
A year after we began to build the wooden structure which is gradually transforming into our Wikihouse home, we have been able to step back and admire the fantastic achievements of everyone who has helped us get this far. After the first 2 frenetic weekends, the pace slowed, then slowed some more, ground to a complete standstill, re-started slowly and has now swelled to 2 or 3 days per week once again, with 3 patient friends from the village being our main source of help. On Sunday they successfully scaled the South face and managed a cheery wave as the final piece of oak cladding butted up to the gutter.
There are a few things which we would do differently if we were to turn the clock back, but mostly we are delighted with the house so far. Today we proudly showed off the fantastic inward-opening patio doors to some visitors and discovered that the top edge of the doors are higher than our planned height for the ceiling! I think we might have to use smaller battens at that end of the room! The other end will have to remain as planned because of central heating pipes crossing over each other.
Minor details such as these did not prevent the ladies from the WI enjoying themselves when they joined us for a coffee evening. When their programme of events was printed last November we weren’t sure what stage the house would be at. But fortunately our younger son has been storing some furniture in our largest downstairs room (which will one day be an office and dining room), so we made use of his settees, chairs, rug and coffee tables to entertain 16 members before giving them a guided tour.
Our current task on the inside is to finish routing bright red plastic air ducting around the house to join each room vent to the heat recovery unit. This has involved the emotionally agonising process of cutting hatches in the upstairs floor. In Wikihouses of the future – I am sure there will be many – these could be fully designed in to the original cutting file.
The morning after the WI!
Using a block to tap down the cladding plank
Air ducting through downstairs ceiling
Sitting down on the job
Hole to fit air vent below
What length next?
South side fully clad