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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Quick Update.

Tried out the new hoover, and ended up with a full hoover in less than 2 minutes, so decided to try and clean as much as I can by hand, It took almost two full days to go all the way round on hands and knees and clean all the edges up, and lift the remainder of the loose stuff away at the edges under the roof, I've re-organised all the stuff that was left in the loft so now most of it is in the rafters resting on planks instead of on the floor.

I recon I must have removed at least another 3-4 wheelbarrow loads of dust by now, using the bottom of another hoover as a canister on wheels to pour the rubbish into, wheeling it around along with me, it's approximately 15-20L a go.

The new vacuum cleaner works a treat! Only downside is the bags, you can only re-use them a handfull of times before the inside of them breaks and the dust coats the filter.. oh and the filters are rather brittle.. you can't give them a decent whack on a solid object to get any dust on it off the filter, as the plasticy foam ring just snaps.. Luckily we bought 5 spare bags and 1 spare filter. The bags aren't cheap though, at nearly €10,- for 5.

Anyhow, hoovering the floor is completed!!! I lifted up the first set of floorboards to have a peek above granny's kitchen, found some more dead dried out mice in there... I need to Insulate it with glass wool to get granny to stop complaining she's cold. I don't actually think its ANY colder in her room than it was before, but she blames it on the lack of "insulation"... probably a "placebo" affect. It is -7 C outside though.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Pictures of de-mud-ised loft.

Some pictures of what it looks like now upstairs...with some Before/After shots. A fair old change! Now the fun can really start.. I need to figure out which walls are supporting and if there's room to remove old walls and replace them with modern materials to save space inside, current walls are around 40cm thick, adding 10 cm to each side will leave a silly size of wall and doorways. At around 70cm thick, if I can get away with removing some of them to replace them with 30cm Ytong blocks I'll be very happy as it's cheaper in the long run.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

No more mud!

Finally "finished" upstairs, the last part really was the worst, it was still hard like it was intended to be all those years ago, so I had to smash it all to bits using a pick axe, it broke up in hard lumps so was very hard to shovel up without the whole lot falling off the shovel as you can only fit 1 or 2 lumps on at a time.

In short, it took about 5 hours longer than I expected it to take, and I set out to finish it all in one go.

Anyhow, all the crap upstairs is GONE!!!! No more mud.. no more hay...

Went out today and got a Karcher WD 3.500 P vacuum cleaner to suck up the remainder of the dust in the corners and on the floorboards, before starting to pull up floorboards and hoovering underneath them too where I plan on having pipes and cables ran, or knocking the ceiling down in some places.

Two pictures:

 A picture of the remainder of the hay/straw crap being thrown out from above granny's room, and the ladder/shute contraption. It's an old wooden ladder with a wonky leg (Use a piece of wood to level it) then the top is a very thin almost cardboard like piece of wood bent into the hatch and nailed in place, then under it is old linoleum, which decided to break halfway through tipping the rubbish out.

I recon the heap was around 4M3 in total, granny managed to shift half of it on her own as she was impatient and wanted to get started early in the morning.. She's 70 something-rather and still active like crazy..
And the part with all the hay raked out, just rubbish in the background and the mud that needs cleared up.

It's all a beautifull wooden floor now, granted its covered in dust, but it's quite nice. Some of the boards have some kind of beetle mark in them, others have been gnawed by rats, which reminds me.. I saw a rat up there yesterday, I was baffled! A little head poked out of a hole in the mud which was still to be removed, it casually scurried along the far away wall, and into another hole in the mud, upon inspection both holes go outside under the roof.. so I need to plug them up.. oh and also found a fresh dead rat in a corner upstairs 5 minutes after seeing the live one!

Anyhow.. no more crap for them to hide in upstairs! I'm very glad it's all done for now.. so now I just need to hoover, and then I can concentrate 110% on the actual renovation instead of tidying up old rubbish. 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Dusty Operations continued!

We've been to meet the heating engineer on Monday and talked about all the different options, we've settled on a combination of Floor heating in some rooms, and wall heating in others.

He came over on Wednesday and viewed the property to see what's what exactly, and we discussed what exactly will go where.

The majority of the pipes will run between the new ceiling and the floorboards in the loft, so I've finally had the go-ahead to clear up the rest of granny's side.

We cleared up most of the remaining junk upstairs on Tuesday, Engineer over on Wednesday, and today I've lifted the last remainder of Hay out, and onto a big heap to hopefully compost over time, and I've cleared above Granny's room now, there's a nice heap of mud outside, tomorrow I'll continue and remove the mud above the kitchen and bathroom and pantry, and then it will be done up there.

I need to try and get a decent hoover to suck up all the dust in the loft, there is a coating of dust everywhere, and it wont ever come out of the loft unless its cleaned up once properly, I also need to remove any dust that's slipped through the gaps between the floorboards, as I'm planning on knocking the ceilings through from the top, and don't really want extra mud-dust going downstairs when I'm working.

So, next step.. Separating granny, and creating a new platform in the loft for the boiler, water pressure vessel and warm water tank to live on.

More pics tomorrow hopefully!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Getting specialists involved!

Had the electrician around yesterday to take a look at the plans I'm proposing, and they all seem fine, and he's happy with what we wish to do, so that's good news. Only downside is we need to re-do all the rest of the wiring around the property, inclusive of Granny's Kitchen and Bathroom as its done to "old" standards (Was just renovated 5 years ago..) which connects the Negative terminal to Earth, it's a spaghetti heap so not easy to simply unhook as none of the cables are correctly colour coded, it was put together using whatever they found.

So that's going to be a fair bit of extra un-planned work!

Also had the first meeting with the Heating engineer who will be in charge of fitting and designing our heating system to suit our needs. (A link to his website:

We are going to opt for Wall heating instead of traditional radiators, it was explained to us that they require less heat than traditional radiators and have a far more positive effect on the thermal comfort inside the house, as well as needing less energy to heat up a room as its only at ~30C rather than ~60C for a normal radiator.

The upstairs area in the loft will probably require a new floor to support all the new hardware, we are also going to require a new pump in the well to get rid of the annoying pulsating water pressure.

He's coming around on Wednesday to take a look at the property and see if there is room for any other improvement.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

All quiet on the (Central) front.

Cleared out the rest of the stuff up to the "thin red line" where "our" side of the building meets granny's side on Monday. Tuesday I arrived to clear up the material that was lying outside, but for some reason Granny had already made a start, and decided to scatter it next to the road in front of her house to "level" it off... It was all dug upside down at the end of 2010 to install a new sewer.. anyhow, this stuff will turn into mud, which is what is there already.. but now with added straw!  
Tidied the rest of the heap up into the garden, and hosed and scrubbed all the concrete down outside to make it "tidy".. (The concrete is knackered.. but that's for another day.)

Anyhow, some pictures of the side where our livingroom/kitchen/bathroom will hopefully be.. up towards the "line" where granny's side starts.. but the planks continue onwards under into her side so I might need to clear it all up yet.. and when I get round to installing Central Heating and Hot Water to her side, I'll need access under the planks on her side anyway.. which means more mess outside... Sometimes people make life difficult.. I'd rather just continue in one go and get it all tidied away.. but c'est la vie..

Anyhow, two pictures:

It's quite a nice wooden floor, considering its been covered in mud for the last 70 odd years.

Also started playing with another program to make drawings, I've been using Google Sketchup and Sweet Home 3D in the past, now I'm using a program called "Archicad" which seems very easy to use.

Still wondering what the next step is in the plan... I need to keep in mind Granny is still living there.. and she hates mess... so the idea is to separate her side first.. but I need to include her in with heating and hot water... as well as a new floor, and a channel under her floor for the Ventilation system, as well as electrics that need to be done.. and she has a silly gas heater on her wall she wants to keep... but worst of all I need to gain access to the top, which is still covered with all the rubbish in the loft.... which I'm not allowed to touch..

Decisions decisions..

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Tidying up mud..

It's started to drizzle outside, and the snow has started to melt, which isn't all that good considering I've just thrown a lot of dust from 3 meters of height and it has spread everywhere, making a thin layer of mud.

Was faced with this when I started early this afternoon:

Approx an hour and a half and 28 Wheelbarrow loads later, at 100L each, this is what was left:
So yesterdays guess as to how much material it was wasn't very far off, at 2.8M3.
That's aproximately half of the total of material I'm planning to remove.
Now upstairs there's this:
 A picture of the Bitumen paper, with nice clean wood underneath.
 A picture of what is still left to be cleared, it doesn't have bitumen paper under it, but just wall paper and old paper bags or something. 
And a picture of the area that has been cleared, with the dividing wall between the livingroom and what will be our bedroom, it appears to be made of bricks, I don't know if its supporting the joists or not, but I need to investigate once the mud is cleared off the top and I can start to lift planks up.

Managed to get the tap working outside and flushed most of the mud away off the concrete but its still a mess, and I'm planning on making more anyhow.

That seems to be it for now.. Muscles are aching, back is all stiff, and I must start studying for both of my exams I need to take sometime this month.

Don't know if I'll continue tomorrow or not, depends how I'm feeling.

Mucky muck!

Managed to clear above the living room, fair bit of shoveling.

The wheelbarrow is a 100L Limex (Bottom right corner)by the way, most excellent as its a comfortable weight to shift around when just full, and it fits through the hatch in the roof to tip, which is brilliant!!! (Only has a few cm to spare..) I need to do some yoga exercises to tip it though... wheelbarrow hits wood, duck down, through hatch, start to lift whilst going through hatch, then stand up and tip.

We've come up with a DIY approach to the "shute" to tip the soil down, It's an old wooden ladder, with at the top an old piece of MDF board, very thin. Then some old vinyl flooring which conveniently folds its edges up to "funnel" the rubbish down, and then finally a bit of carpet :)

I took some pictures but they didn't come out too well. I must have shifted around 2-3M3 in total by now, and the whole area above the living room is clear down to the bitumen paper.

Unfortunately it started to drizzle, and its above freezing, snow is melting, dust forms mud, EVERYWHERE.. Granny's dog has a habit to run towards to material being tipped for some reason... completely covered in dust the poor thing... muddy paws.. and then ran inside the house!

I've been summoned to remove the heap (it must be about 1/2 of the material I am removing) tomorrow, which is a Sunday! She's worried about the "mud" being everywhere... I tried explaining that there's no point as when I do the rest it will all be dirty once more.. C'est la vie.

Well that about sums it up for now.. continue tomorrow, hopefully with some good pictures.

After lots of arguing back and forth, I think I am now NOT removing the mud above granny's side of the house, as well as the straw/hay that's left over, as she thinks she'll get very cold...

I just did some looking up, and the mud used offers a K value of 1.5 which is a U value of 15 at 100mm... The same thickness of  glasswool offers 1.1... And is breathable..  And they still wonder why I am doing it!

It's a bit of a battle trying to get someone aboard with your plans, to create a well insulated, low heating cost house which is comfortable to live in, and constantly being reminded that what is there is "fine" for them, and that 50mm of polystyrene on the outside wall and 100mm of glass wool in the ceiling will be "sufficient" for them. Whilst it can be so much better, for roughly the same amount of work, and very little added extra cost.

Oh well, bring on tomorrow!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Not much to report!

Didn't do anything in the house today, managed to go out to town to buy a new wheelbarrow though, it's nice and light and galvanised. 100L too so plenty of space for stuff, I can't remember the make of it at the moment, But I'll get some pics of it in action up later :)
I think the old wheelbarrow is 80% concrete and 20% rust and weighs more than the actual material you load into it, plus its one of these folded sheet metal ones which leaks out stuff everywhere.

I've been doing some more calculations and looking up materials.
Discovered I'm going to need 11 Pallets of AAC bricks, with 120 bricks per pallet, for approx 195M2
As well as 12 25KG bags of Mortar Glue to stick them together.

Also started some rough calculations for the concrete floor, and I am amazed I can't find any Polyurethane underfloor insulation like we have back in Scotland such as Kingspan, Celotex, Quinntherm etc. 

Some pics from yesterday what I was doing, they were taken during my tea break, and it was rather dusty so they didn't come out too well.

 Random assortment of bottles and glass vessels I've found, as well as three sinks!
 Here's the pile of glass that I've lifted up scattered across the whole loft, yes that is a two-three person "park bench" its piled up on.. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to randomly scatter glass around upstairs rather than making a neat pile or disposing of it.
 Here's the heap of rubbish that has been lifted out from amongst the hay, it must be coming up for 1.5M3, with everything from wood to plastic, polystyrene, paper, broken tiles, cardboard, string etc.
A view towards the front of the house approximately halfway in, with all the straw/hay and rubbish cleared, I started prodding around in the mud layer..
Some of the mud layer removed, most of it came up in hard lumps, but near the walls and edges it was just pure dust.
Not a very good picture, but under this half there are layers of Bitumen paper, which is brilliant as the wood will be perfect underneath it. On the other side there is some form of paper, I think its a combination of whatever they could find, empty cement bags, wallpaper etc.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Material Selection..

Spent some more time contemplating what I'm going to be doing downstairs, the two options I had were these (Yes, I've been having fun drawing on the pc!)

Plasterboard with insulation and damp proof membrane, the wood alone was going to be €1300,-
AAC (Aerated Autoenclaved Concrete) bricks, which is what I'm hoping to settle for.

It will offer a more solid build long term, and does away with the insulation which might end up having damp problems, as well as potential vermin, plus its extremely easy to work with.

I've been doing some calculations to compare both materials, using values obtained via the interweb, which might not be accurate at all, but still give a rough impression.

Situation one, Plasterboard.

Thermal Conductivity (K) mm Thermal Resistance (R)
Plasterboard 0.16 W/mK 12.5 0.078125 M² K/W
Mineral Wool 0.03 W/mK 50 1.666667 M² K/W
Air 0.024 W/mK 20 0.833333 M² K/W
Mortar/Concrete Wall 1.3 W/mK 400 0.307692 M² K/W
Polystyrene 0.03 W/mK 50 1.666667 M² K/W

4.552484 M² K/W

Thermal Transmittance (U) 0.21966 W/M²K

Situation Two, AAC:

Thermal Conductivity (K) mm Thermal Resistance (R)
AAC 0.15 W/mK 50 0.333333 M² K/W
Air 0.024 W/mK 50 2.083333 M² K/W
Mortar/Concrete Wall 1.3 W/mK 400 0.307692 M² K/W
Polystyrene 0.03 W/mK 50 1.666667 M² K/W

4.391026 M² K/W

Thermal Transmittance (U) 0.227737 W/M²K

I think those values are very acceptable for an old building's walls, especially if you compare it against total price.

Oh yes, the polystyrene is for the outside wall, sometime during the summer.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

No horsing around, and some more images :-)

Here's a pic of today's work tidying up the rest of the hay/straw which will be re-used as bedding for the pony's!

It's brilliant if you ask me, the local guy is quite happy to receive the stuff, and is doing us a huge favour at the same time, plus the pony gets to do some work. Please don't get the idea that everyone uses a horse and cart here instead of a car and trailer in Slovakia.
The guy happens to keep horses, and still tries to use them actively wherever he can. :)

Plenty more rubbish in the loft to be tidied up, then its onto the dusty/earth stuff covering the top of all the wooden boards up there... Not particularly looking forward to that, but it needs to be done.

 This is the first load heaped up, looking towards the rear end of the house, I think it's around 6M2.

Looking into the corner above where the livingroom will be hopefully, most of the hay removed but still some left in the foreground.

Looking from the rear of the house towards the front and the little window, most of the hay has been removed, but you can clearly see the layer right at the front.
This is the collection of "random" items found scattered across the whole loft, I need to have a good hunt through it and see what's for the bin (Granny's approval pending off course!)

This is the chimney approximately halfway down the house, I'm hoping to extend the walls downstairs up here, and make a nice little cosy enclosure for the new boiler, hot water storage tank and header tank, as well as the floor heatings mixers.  But time will tell. You can see the heap is fairly large, the distance from the bottom of the "floor" to the wooden cross beams is approximately 1.70M

More pictures tomorrow hopefully, once the dust has settled and I've had a chance to have a dig around up there.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A rather dusty operation..

I've decided to get started (Well I did before Christmas), and get rid of the Hay/Straw insulation in the loft, back at the end of December I made two large heaps and did approximately half of the stuff.

It was approximately 30cm deep in places, with lots of hidden goodies such as bits of metal, broken glass, random shoes, plastic bags, pieces of clothing/fabric and bits of wood as well as other bizarre items.
The whole loft was scattered with old tools and random objects, which I managed to gather together into one corner above the kitchen where I won't be working (hopefully!)

Today I  raked together some more hay, and Granny organised a local man from the village to come with his pony and cart, to see if he wanted it as bedding for the pony. Off course he said yes! I reckon he managed to take away around 5M3 of the stuff, I've raked up the rest above the front rooms and made another nice heap, I reckon around 4M3 again.

Very very dusty stuff... I was wearing my little 3M mask which ended up pitch black on the filter side. 

Much to my amusement I also found a piece of a steering rack, buried underneath the straw,  presumably from a Skoda 100 or something similar.

Tomorrow the man is coming back for the rest of the straw, then the fun can really begin... There is around 1-2 inches of dried mud ontop of the wooden planks which form the loft floor, it's very very hard stuff.
I'm hoping a decent shovel/spade combined with a pick and a hammer will sort it, otherwise there is always an SDS Hammer drill to rattle it loose from the planks.

I've also been researching different insulation properties for building a new internal wall, I'm torn between Aerated Autoenclaved concrete blocks (Such as YTong blocks) or Drywall (Plasterboard) with studwork.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Welcome to the blog!

Right I'm planning on sticking up information and progress about the renovation of my girlfriends grandmothers house, located in a little village approximately 20KM of Kosice,  called Sena, which is in Slovakia.

The project will be "managed"  (Ooh, big words!) and carried out by me, with help of some specialists as well as lots of cups of coffee, and the odd cup of tea (as well as biscuits I hope.)

Stay tuned for updates, I need to go and take the camera for a walk, to show exactly what we are dealing with.