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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Room 1, done.

Ok, few pictures to share.

Extended the kitchen floor right up through the new door, was a bit of a nightmare as none of the walls were straight, but managed in the end.

 Laminate floor went in, we chose compressed fibreboard for underlay as it breathes, unlike the plastic insulation materials you can get, it also conducts less noise than ordinary plastic insulation.
 expansion gaps between boards.
 Half of the floor in..
 Floor in.
 Sticking in the skirting boards.
 Where the kitchen floor and the room floor meet, its a strip with rubbery glue on it, and 4 screws into the concrete below.
 And furniture moved in.
 One wall with large cupboard setup, in front of the new wall.
We had to go out and buy a new TV as the old one wouldn't fit, it was too deep and there was no space to plug anything in behind. 
 And the curtains up too looking out the window.

That's all for now.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Things have been going slow, I've not had much time with my lectures and studying, and the paint took forever to dry.

Pictures speak a thousand words so I'll try and stick to pictures.

First, we've painted everything white as a primer to see how the freshly rendered walls would react to it.
This first layer took almost a week to dry, due to problems with humidity and temperature in the room. (And a granny.. but more on that later)

The plasterboard ceiling got painted three times in total, the walls once. 

We decided on having a dropped ceiling line (apparently its a traditional thing) so the top 15cm of the wall remains white. I carefully went round with masking tape and a measuring tape and taped off 15CM all around the room

Next, the wall paint went on, it's called "Egyptian Gold" or something... Dulux colour.
This took two layers, and also took over a week between coats. 

Once all that was out of the way, I did the "final" screed layer for the floor, all by my self, and as a result the concrete screed was starting to go off (Warm room!) fairly rapidly so I had to rush it a bit.

The concrete floor underneath wasn't level at all, despite all the complicated levelling with pipes and god knows what which took over an hour to do (Not my idea..)
As a result in one place it was 3cm thick, the other only 5mm.
Anyhow, all more or less levelled out, left at like 8:30 at night after granny was chasing us out because she wanted to go to sleep, made a right mess of all the material due to lack of light to see what we were cleaning outside (It was also freezing outside).

Next day I get called by my girlfriend who comes to present pictures and tells me the whole floor is horrible, its squint and has dips and rises it in EVERYWHERE.. I think to myself what the hell... It can't be..

She presents me this picture of her granny holding a piece of wood on the floor

Worried I go to inspect it myself, and the floor isn't quite level, there are some dips that I knew of between the runners (I did it in three stages) which would require scraping back down with a plane, but its soft concrete so its easy to do.
I checked it with the plank and right enough, huge dips and bumps of over a centimeter, I grabbed the spirit level and suddenly the dips and bumps were only 3-4mm, at each point where an old load of screed met a new one. The plank was crooked!!!

We went out and purchased some self levelling screed (Baumit quatro nivello or something) just to level the last edges off.

I cut away all the excess damp proof membrane and bits of perimeter insulation, chipped away all the render that had fallen between the wall and the perimeter insulation, filled up the big gaps with some concrete, left it all to dry for a bit and then started with the self levelling screed.

Fun fact, I looked up the product data sheet on internet in English, and it stated 7.5L water per 25KG.
The instructions on the back in Slovak stated 6L per 25KG...  I figured I better follow the instructions on the pack, and the first batch I made wouldn't flow!!! It just sat there in a big heap, if you floated it around to level it out you would leave streaks in it which wouldn't settle back down, almost like a cake mix.

I managed to somewhat level it out and wasn't impressed.

The next two batches I mixed with more water (7L) and it flowed a lot better, I even managed to fix some of the original mess with the too dry mixture.

Anyhow, so it now looks like this:

Left that to dry for a day, and moved onto the electrics.

fitted all the face plates and connected them up, but they aren't connected to anything upstairs yet, the ring is complete but its not hooked up.

Now, the damp I mentioned earlier...

Basically the new wall's corners and the ceiling where it meets the wall keeps on forming condensation.

It is very hard to explain to a 75 year old how damp and condensation works, especially if you don't speak the same language.

Granny insists on keeping everything shut, with the heating turned up to 25C.

The outside walls are insulated with polystyrene, the kitchen ceiling and 3 out of 4 walls are insulated with polystyrene. Damp can not pass through it.
She doesn't use the extractor fan as its not connected to a flue properly.
We poured almost 2000L of concrete, painted on 25L+ of paint, used around 80KG of render on the walls. All of this contains water, that water (when heated up) evaporates and needs to go somewhere.

Add to that drying clothes, boiling water in the kitchen, doing dishes. All that moisture needs to go somewhere.

It can't go out of the kitchen as its a air tight box. The only place it can get out is into the bathroom, into the hall (Which it won't because the door is ALWAYS shut and has foam around the door to stop air passing through it) or the new room we are working on.

The bathroom has 2 out of 4 walls insulated with polystyrene, leaving it with the option to go through the ceiling, back to the kitchen, or into the new room.

As a result, with the heating turned on in the new room, all this moisture becomes active and wants to go somewhere, it rises up until it meets a place that is cold enough to condensate, which happens to be the only breathable wall in the whole house.

Granny refuses to open the window to let the moisture get out with the heating on, so either the heating is on with window shut (Moisture condensates in cold corners) or the heating is OFF with the window OPEN (Which cools down the floor slab and walls, and the moisture isn't active enough as its too cold.)

It would help if the moisture could escape through the plasterboard ceiling and up and out, but she refused to switch on the heating until I put insulation above the ceiling. Insulation above the ceiling restricts airflow, so the moisture gets trapped in it.

I know I could have prevented this with damp proof membrane but then the moisture would be condensing right above the plasterboard, with nowhere to go, except back down.

It's best to let nature do its thing, that includes warming the damp air up so it becomes active, and then ventilating the room to let it escape.

At the moment it takes around 1 week to warm up and dry out the room.

The moment the heating goes off, the problem started all over again (New coat of paint, new concrete floor etc etc)

We've ordered a dehumidifier that was due to turn up last week but it hasn't yet.

The walls are almost dry again now, and I have finished with watery products in that room, so hopefully now we won't have any more problems with evaporating damp.

Once this room is done, I'll move onto her hallway and then we can continue on the other side of the house, without any of this hindrance of nagging granny wanting to live in a air tight box with the heating turned up to 25C and no way for the moisture generated to escape.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Not updated for a while now.

Maria's Father has levelled all the walls and plastered them, He's also fitted a new door frame to the room, the old one was about 65cm wide, new one is 80cm wide, door is on order but will take 4 weeks to arrive! (Stupid shop..)

I did the Ceiling studwork and with help the plasterboard is up as well now, the room was way to damp for the plaster to go off properly, probably something to do with granny keeping closing the windows and door to "keep the heat in" !!

2nd coat of filling the joints and screw holes I only got round to doing yesterday.

All the electric cables are in and connected to each-other, Just need to tie it into the electricity main at some point once the room has been painted.

I've temporarily tied in the light for now so we can see when we are working.

Upstairs 150mm glass wool is back down again, and all the planks are back on top (Again, Granny complaining about heat being wasted... )

Anyhow, some pics:

 Stud work, on one side it's laying on a metal bracket which has been bolted to the wall, the other side it's on top of the Ytong wall, with some quick brackets to hold it straight whilst I was working.

 Different angle showing the metal hanging off the wood with its own hanging system.

 And same again, you can see the wooden supports hanging off the big roof beams just for extra support (Granny said she won't sleep in the room unless I did that, for fear of it all falling on her head...)
 Plasterboard in..

 First plaster coat filling up gaps.
 All the electric cables pulled through the conduits and down to the room, then joined up, also joined the last 2 boxes near the new wall up to eachother, had to do it slightly different to what I had planned since *someone* completely blocked the exits of the junction boxes with plaster!!!!! Hence the flex stuff, and the pipe running ontop of the ceiling rather than along the wall.
 The "temporary" fix for lights in the box on the left, connected to dodgy aluminium electrics which are both roughly the same colour, but I needed to do something for now.

Box on the right is a top box for a socket down below, with the light switch also going down the same box (Will be on seperate circuit)

All the boxes have a loop right round, so Left side to next box, middle to socket below and right side to next box.

And oooooh, what's that.. Correct colour coding AND earth! Special stuff! And wait.. could it be? It's made of Copper, not Aluminium!
 2nd coat of plaster on the joints.
same again.

That's all for now folks :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Wall's up!

After a fair bit of work, the wall is up. It's pretty fast, but for some reason I had to keep on planing the tops off the bricks to get them straight, and the purpose made tool for spreading the glue tends to leak it all down the sides of the bricks, perhaps I should have ordered a smaller one.

Maria's father has been busy straightening the other three walls in the room and plastering them.

Anyhow, pics:

One evening's work (And my staircase for stepping over the wall :-)

The dark bit is where the wall had a rather deep dip in it, and has been corrected by filling up with plaster.
 Wall up, and the Ytong tool used to recess the pipes into the wall for electric + network + Satellite TV.

The Ytong 70mm drillbit is useless for making recesses for electrical boxes, it just jumps all over the place, perhaps the drill is too fast. Luckily I had a SDS+ 63MM cutting drill for making recesses in concrete/stone/brickwork.

The other wall levelled with mesh fabric and plaster.

 Pipes in and plastered up with Gypsum plaster.
 And another little pipe on the right here, for the Alarm sensor to go eventually.

I've filled in the gap between the old wall and the new wall (the window side) with bricks and mortar.

I've also cut a groove in the top of the brick (picture above) and stuck a  3M long 10mm piece of Rebarb in it, drilled into the outside wall, hammered it home and concreted it into the top of the bricks to offer more support against individual bricks moving once the platform is in.

Still need to fill the gap between the two walls on the pic above.

That's all for now.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

End of destruction (for now..!)

Knocked down the rest of the wall and removed the door frame, and tried to tidy up the edges a bit but gave up soon enough realising it would be easier to tidy up the edges once the new wall is in.

Cut out all the recesses for new electrics, the outside wall was solid rock so it took a fair old while, and got a nice little wheel shaped piece of stone out of it :)
I've used 16mm smooth bore plastic ducting, it's held in place with ordinary gypsum plaster to make sure it will stay INSIDE the wall and not pop out.

Also cut out the hole for the central heating (left) with 53cm distance between the two to fit onto a 60x140cm radiator.
 Same again, other wall, I had lots of fun soldering the copper pipe together with all the fittings, it's great fun!
All ready and insulated to go into the wall.
 Here the pipes are in the wall, and all the little holes have been filled up ready for the wall to be re-plastered.
 Different view, there was a slight issue with the electricity ducting on the right, needed to chisel out some more brick to make it sit futher back, it's a 25mm tube on that section, because it will house both electricity for a socket as well as the light switch.

Annndddd the start of a wall, I did the two corner blocks yesterday and got them levelled out on a mortar bed, and did the rest today, also on a bed of mortar, took a fair old while to get them pretty level and in line with a string, but should be easy going from now on! (With a bit of help of the planer to get started.)

Should really get a bottle of champagne out and celebrate the first straight wall in the house, as well as the first perfect (90 deg) angle wall in the house!

Saturday, 8 October 2011


The new floor is in, took an afternoon of mixing and lots of overcomplicated pipes and bits of styrofoam wedges to get it level, I let Maria's father do the spreading etc, and didn't want to get in his way, so it was done his way.

Personally I would never have done it that way but ho-hum!

The reinforcing was way to low to the ground, as otherwise his pipes would be too high to level it at 8cm height.  But it's all done and dusted now...

The damp proof coursing, and the polystyrene bits to prop up the reinforcing (which subsequently got squashed due to people walking on the mesh, and the wheelbarrow rolling up and down the planks ontop of the mesh.....

Concrete in:

that was two days ago, we started moving bricks from the stack about 300M down the road to another property where he wants to use them for constructing a new garage, a painstaking chore involving a 2 wheel tractor and a little trailer capable of holding 400KG... must have been over 30 trips, luckily I only did 10 or so of them, Maria's parents did the rest, whilst I worked away today.

I needed to remove the old wall in order to tie into the new wall, with the beam above the new opening going to the kitchen.

First, I had to find all the electrics and figure out where in earth they went to...

So painstakingly tapping away at the wall with a hammer to reveal the pipes inside the wall.
Then, figuring out what does what, and disconnecting everything not required, the 3phase is in the top with 4 wires, the 230V is below it, then all the light switches going everywhere, and the new temporary connection I put together to re-connect the kitchen going through the wall to the other side.

Open up a junction box to find this:
It's 4 cables coming into one box, all tangled together, bits of tape separating the terminals which are twisted together and thrown in there...

So, made a hole going up, fed a new cable through, snipped everything in half and removed the pipes from the wall that's coming down, removed all excess light cables and switches, and connected the 3phase and 230V kitchen run back up.

Then, acro-prop time, holding the roof truss beams up and started dismantling the wall.

Need to continue with that tomorrow!