The Self-Build

Photos from the Self-Build

June 2009.  Taking breakfast on the concrete slab.  Those are our highly thermally efficient building blocks from Austria on the right.  In the distance should be the mountain view!  J-P's house is beyond the spoil.

August 2009.  Inside the house.  The ceilings are up - a plasterboard lifter was without a doubt the best thing we hired.  There is only insulation above some of the studio, but by the time the build was completed there was 300mm plus, up there.
This space will eventually be two bedrooms. The window on the right,  with shutters up will be the second spare room, but mostly a study and solar control room!  The further window on the right, with the shutters down will be our bedroom, with the small window for our en-suite bathroom straight ahead.
The wall on the left, the first to go in, has the studio and bathroom behind it.  The concrete floor and red blocks constantly produced dust.  This is how we left the house in August 2009, expecting to be returning for a two week building and skiing holiday over Christmas and New Year.

January 2010.  From outside the house looks finished, which cannot be said for the garden, mostly bare ground and a few weeds.  The two square windows above are the two from the inside picture above, with the small en-suite bathroom window to the right.  The covered terrace is at the far left hand end of this south facing facade.

Inside the studio.  Bed in the distance, sofa right in front, and lovely unadorned blocks.

The house was built on a flat platform created by cutting out the bank.  In the distance the bank is still pretty steep, but in the foreground it has slumped almost up to the garage, just out of shot to the left.  Look at all those boulders!  On top of the bank is the electric fence between us and the field next door, chosen by the builders as the best point to measure from when positioning the house centrally on the plot.

The first room going in, with the second skin of plasterboard flush with the window and hiding the blocks.  We put in 200mm of insulation in the walls.  Eventually the same went under the floors, with a minimum of 300mm in the roof.

... And the first fully enclosed real room!  The black tube on the corner is the conduit for all the cabling.  It was soon dubbed the anaconda as it was wrestled from the roll and up through the walls and under the floors.  Eventually all the cables will be pulled through the conduits.
March.  The finished room.  Well, the floor is down and varnished.  Actual finishing of the walls - taping, jointing, painting - took a few  more years!

February.  Outside the solar panels are up and work has begun on the vegetable plots, marked by the wooden pegs and the piles of stones along the edges.  Beyond is the drive, then a flattish area under which the filter bed from the fosse is buried and then an area of woodland, sadly not ours.  There is a very deep drainage ditch between the woodland and our plot, dry unless we have storms.

Cobble path made form the stones from the vegetable plots.  They were essential to stop us walking heavy clay everywhere, but were dangerously slippery in the wet.  I later broke a toe, sliding on the stones in flip flops!


Bare ground, clearly showing where the water has been running.  The top of the drive just before it turns to the house is on the far right of the photo.  We had just taken delivery of a truck load of horse muck.  I was in business!

A little help from the Invisible Man

March.  The horse manure-filled coffin in which the raspberries were planted.  The buildings are the barns belonging to the farm behind us.

June.  High summer in the studio.  At least we were no longer sleeping in here as well!

August and everything in the garden is now starting to bake.  The cobble path didn't make it this far, but the weeds were very welcome..
Tomatoes ...

... and cabbages.

September.  The dining table stands alone in the room, the first night we entertained.

Getting ready for the kitchen.  Front door at the centre, to the right the corridor to the bedrooms.  The Plan is stuck to the wall at the start of the corridor.  The bathroom is behind this wall, the first we put up and soon to be dismantled and moved!

Organised chaos - the island unit for the kitchen going in.  Note the little white gas fridge on the worktop.

A day off in October, walking up at Gavernie once all the tourists had left.

December.  The fire is installed but will have to be refitted in the spring.  We are not perfectionists, but couldn't live with such a wonky chimney.

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