Saturday, 26 March 2016

Installing a window, and fixing a loo

My elder daughter's plan for part of their stable block (as they don't keep, and don't intend to keep, horses) is to turn a couple of the rooms into a pottery workshop for her husband. Our latest trip to South Wales involved a diversion to Telford to pick up a window frame purchased on Ebay for the princely sum of £5 which was to be installed in one of the stable's end walls to admit some natural light. When the roof (the patching of which was covered in my last post) is eventually re-covered with profile sheeting there will be GRP sections to let light in from above.

Again I took a Land Rover full of tools, in particular saws of all varieties, electric and hand - but the most used star of this show was my Bosch multitool with its small, oscillating blade.  This offers such accurate and reliable cutting that most of the window work and the cutting out of a door opening from one stall to the next were achieved without even changing the blade.

The stable walls are built with timber studs, board lining and tongue and grooved cladding. First I removed the board lining and cut out the cladding to the required size.

Then parts of 2 studs were cut out and a new stud inserted to the left of the window as we look. The frame went in sweetly and was secured to the side studs, with bits of repair needed to the cladding.

I know what you're thinking - the cladding (and, in fact, the studs and the lining) at the bottom of the wall are rubbish.  You're right.  This is why phase three of the work will be to remove the rotten sections and build a sleeper wall of concrete blocks to protect the woodwork in future.  I will probably renew all the cladding on this elevation as it faces the prevailing wind and has taken years of punishment.

The glass for the frame cost six times as much as the frame itself but we still thought the project a bargain.  Son-in-law is pleased with the amount of natural light now available inside.

This job took most of the time available during this visit.  However, plans to rebuild a downstairs bathroom and utility space in the house were radically transformed by the discover that a malfunctioning toilet doesn't, in the event, need to be moved at the cost of massive disruption.  Investigation of the cistern revealed that the water valve had been installed 'out of the box' without adjustment, with the result that only 3 litres of water were available for every (not surprisingly inadequate) flush.  Ten minutes to remove and adjust the valve and bingo! a 6 litres flush doing the job well.  No need to dig up the floor. Hurrah!

Monday, 15 February 2016

A little roofing adventure

We're just back from a few days spent at our older daughter's in the Welsh valleys.  Most of our visits there have the focus of a particular DIY task - this time it was the repair of the roof of their stable block.  No, they don't have horses, but the former owners did, and left a stable block in a pretty tatty condition which is soon to be home to a range of pottery activities. However, part of the felted roof has been leaking so badly that the underlying plywood panel has rotted and fallen away. Ultimately, the objective is to put on a roof of profile steel sheets, but we agreed that a useful interim measure would be the replacement of the rotted timber and some partial re-felting.

This was a job for the Land Rover, as the scaffolding tower was needed for access, so the trailer had to be towed.  The Landie is getting used to carrying lots of my tools, but this time space had to be reserved for younger son's dog, who is staying with us at present. Stock items included nails, screws, battens and two rolls of heavy roofing felt, left over from the days before we gave up on felt on our own stable and took the profile steel route.

Here's the stable block. The main problems centred around the valley between the two roof elevantions, where a small scaffolding tower went up. Some other patches of missing felt were replaced from the ladder.

The best part of four panels (each 8 feet by 4 feet - still manufactured imperial in all dimensions except thickness - 18mm!) had to be knocked out to get rid of the rot.  The most difficult part was working on my knees on the ladder and not falling through the roof.  That would definitely have slowed things down.
We bought the plywood from a local builders' merchant on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday morning I set up the electric circular saw and did most of the cutting up on the roof, having had help to drag the full sheets up from the ground. It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle but generally went well and I soon had the first layers of new felt in place.
This was another job that was hard on the back and the knees, but at least the risk of falling through the roof had receded. I was lucky with the weather, too, as the first rain came as the last battens were going on.
So, will it stand up to the rest of this winter?  We hope so, and intend to have the steel roof on before next winter's storms.