08 May 2011

Window sills & migraine

Today the living room window sill, lovingly sculpted from the living MDF (best quality B&Q could offer) into an interesting slightly curved shape. It took ages to get it level and then wedge it in place before hosing super-sticky expanding polystyrene foam underneath it. The foam expands like cumulus clouds and at the edges where liberation is possible it forms sci-fi-esque shapes rather similar to cauliflowers. It sticks like stuff to a blanket (very polite), and by the time it has hardened the sill is solid and immovable. The small piece of support wall at a right angle had a piece of MDF with curved edges that needed to merge into the much larger piece of MDF that is the main sill before the window. Curse the words for being so inadequate to show what has been done. Joining one piece to the other was accomplished with NO-NAILS glue (no doubt a TM has been infringed here - could I care less?) and some cut down chopsticks as joining dowels. The creativity was a delight, until I could not find the white undercoat in the garage. To the store to get, and on the way back a lightning bolt in the head above the left eye - owwwwwww! throb throb and crackle from the lights, any lights, as they scorched into my skull. A bloody migraine!

I have been starting to get these for unexplainable reasons. They seem to happen at almost any time and I have no idea what triggers them. They started over my right eye and upper head. Felt like a bloody great nail was being hammered into the top of my head; double vision and feeling like I was going to throw-up; balance was pretty dodgy as well.

2 hours of dark room and 1000mg of paracetamol later I emerged from the bedroom feeling washed out and very tired.

I took the just bought paint into the garage only to discover three other tins of the same already there! I must have been looking before with my eyes closed! Blind as a bat. OK, OK, I know I needs lots of this stuff and two coats are always needed for a better top-gloss coat anyway, so none will be wasted, but really just how unobservant can I get?

It was necessary to undercoat the MDF sill with at least 1 layer. It must be waterproof when I plaster it tomorrow, or it swells up and looks like Weetabix cereal. (Yet another TM infringed! - caring even less than before).

My reward for such productivity is to finish a mod to a TC and to repair a TC PSU that just arrived. That will be tomorrow as well.

The Homestead advances...

Bricks?

When triple glazing was put in, back in cold cold cold January. Mis-pronounced by my slightly deaf Mother as “crippled glazing?”... sorry a slight diversion...

The process involved serious men with power tools attacking the existing framework of the original windows. These were best quality British timber built to exemplary standards and seemingly to a unique and no doubt odd timber profile. Everything about this house is odd and the windows are a fine example of God moving in a mysterious way... but I digress. Serious power tools to hand the serious men set about the humble and exhausting task of trying to remove the old frames. The ‘process’ for want of a better word, was organised vandalism, involving (and probably in this sequence) breaking the glass and tearing out the moving windows pulling out the hinge screws with malice aforethought (and a big claw hammer), setting-to with a power saw to cut away the frames, window sill included since they were cunningly grafted to the unique and oddly profiled window frames. Attacking the weakened structure with big levers and rather like extracting rotten teeth, tearing the whole lot out by the roots. For ‘roots’ in this instance let us say very large nails, screws, bracing bars, bolts, bits of twisted steel and steel cables. The resultant gaps looked rather like a happy evening of ram-raiding, with plaster missing in chunks, loose bricks wobbling on the edges of the chasm and exposed swathes of cavity wall filled with soft and fluffy artificial snow in the form of puffed-up paper.

This gets me to the subject heading... my house (bungalow - let’s be honest) is built of recycled sawdust! More ‘moving in a mysterious way his wonders to perform’ may have been involved back in 1956, when this place was conceived, and the use of new and ‘radical’ techniques and technology. My house structure is not brick, nor stone, not even breeze-block (made from exciting cinders and cement) not alas concrete on its own but some weird hybrid never-been-seen-before cunning mix of cement and wood fibres (sawdust by any other name). I suppose the wood bulks out the cement, making for less expense in the making, a good way of getting rid of sawdust and possibly even adding a tad of insulation? All I know is they are as hard as hell, eat masonry drill tips for breakfast and cannot be discovered in any builders merchants. My FIL (Father In Law) whose house this was, says they were built locally, probably in Goole and were called something trendy at the time like ‘FIBRON’ or ‘WOODY-BRIX’... mysterious. Maybe they will make the house float come the end of the world?

Just thought I would share...

The cast iron radiators... what a peculiar system... fed by steel pipes on the flow but all the return pipes are buried under the floor and emerge in the boiler house (yet another whole chapter of fun there) in a vast steel 3” pipe. Since I will have to dig up the floor to put down underfloor pipes, it will mean extracting tons of water filled rusting steel in the process.

I can hardly wait.

The slow mind-numbing plod of S**** District Council

The Homestead, bless its not-quite-upright bricks, will be rebuilt in the style of a Grand Design, of sorts. Money is tight, my dreams outstretch what can actually be done... so a compromise of sorts came about. A house with all the rooms I was after would need planning consent. This is known and understood by all; however we are dealing with SDC here. This is a strange and uncertain road. Planning goes through on a whim. Why should my house design have to satisfy the whim of a stranger that will never live within it? It can hardly be seen from the road, it is hidden by trees and lies outside the village boundary. The planning ‘process’ is long-winded, costly and necessitates compromise. I suspect they might go against the alligator pit and the pocket-sized nuclear AGR might make the neighbours do a double take... what is a chap to do?

Apparently, so the clever design guys Andy and Dale suggested, it is possible to create things within permitted building regulations that does not require an entire department picking over my house’s carcass. So the design becomes modest, the alligator pit gets the chop, the AGR moves down the teccy scale to become a ground sourced heat pump and the buildings stay single storey. But no planning permission is needed!

The wiring in the house will be an interesting diversion, at present it’s positively lethal. But that is another tale...