Project Woodlands Update 22/12/17 – Cladding

Jan 02

Project Woodlands Update 22/12/17 – Cladding

I know I haven’t posted in a while but I hadn’t realised until just now just how long it has been; over a year as my last post was back in April 2016.

This is probably because our focus switched to the garden room so nothing has changed on the house until the last few months.

In the summer  we finally decided on which cladding product to go for and the layout of the cladding we wanted. We decided to go for 3 different heights of plank and carefully chose where the joins would fall taking into account  window positions etc. We  calculated how much we needed by putting together a comprehensive plan and cutting list so that the supplier could cut the large sheets into lengths of the 3 different plank heights plus specific heights for window surrounds etc. The cladding was ordered and since its arrival at the end of August we have been cladding both the house and garden room on weekends when time and weather allowed.

The construction of the cladding started with firstly putting a water proof membrane onto the structures (DuPont Tyvek UV Façade). For the house however we installed battens and insulation before putting the membrane over the top.

We then fixed battens in the correct places for the cladding to  be screwed to. In addition a gasket is also used on these battens to provide a seal and further weather protection to the battens.

The cladding  product we have used  is Cembonit Cembrit Patina in Flint and we are very pleased with the results.

I feel the key to a successful install was in the planning and taking time to ensure mistakes aren’t made when measuring and cutting the lengths of cladding and to also ensure that gaps etc are as accurate as possible.

We made our own jigs to make it easy to ensure the gaps were consistently 8mm and that screw holes  for each height of plank were always in the middle and the same distance from the end of a plank. For interim screws we used a straight edge to ensure they are in alignment.


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Project Woodlands Steps and Gabion Wall

Dec 23

Project Woodlands Steps and Gabion Wall

Just before our holiday in June we created shuttering and concreted the levels for our steps up to the house and installed a post box. It was about time we had something more stable than a few concrete blocks acting as steps !

We also decided we would knock down the old front wall and replace it with a gabion wall on our return.

We considered doing it the year before but other things took priority. Whilst we wont be doing the drive just yet until all building works are complete we felt the old wall was so ugly replacing it at this stage would be a way to improve the look of the house  from the street.

After knocking the old wall down we did a trip of shuttering the length and width of the wall with scaffold poles knocked into the ground. This was to provide a concrete base for the wall to sit on and the poles provide structural support to the final wall.

There are 3 gabion baskets  measuring  900mm high by 1500mm  long and 300mm deep  (provided by Gabion1) . These arrive as a flat pack and are easy to construct using the helical wires provided.

Once in place on top of the concrete base you need to add wire supports at intervals to help them keep their shape and not bulge when  you are filling them.

Next we started to place rocks into the baskets to create the wall. We went with Charcoal Basalt Gabion Stone (Mainland Aggregates).

The stones come in varying sizes and in order  to get an even distribution of stone sizes and them fitting together with minimum gaps you have to place each stone by hand which is a time consuming and slow process.

The results however are worth all the effort and we extremelty pleased with what we have achieved.

To finish the wall off I designed a feature panel for the house number to go on and had this made at a local metal workers.

Again I am really very pleased with the finished effect and there is the added benefit of making our house really easy to find for delivery drivers.

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Project Woodlands –  Lounge lighting

Dec 23

Project Woodlands –  Lounge lighting

In June we found out we are expecting our first child so deadlines for making progress on the house  interior has become even more important. The baby is due at the beginning of March so we want to have our master bedroom complete, the bathroom done and ideally the nursery done aswell.

A small but exciting milestone is having lounge lighting. When we moved in the only lighting in the lounge were two horrible wall lights which were disconnected last year.

We have made our own box lighting configuration and with my dads assistance we finally got it installed and working.


The boxes are made of mdf painted white with perspex to soften  the led strip lights within them to give an even spread of light..

We have also got a dimmer attached which is great as it enables us to adjust the lighting from super bright to as dim as you like depending on what you are doing.

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Small things can make the world of difference

Apr 25

Small things can make the world of difference


Fences of the traditional variety are one of my pet hates. I much prefer a more contemporary fence such as these open slat type or gabion fences.

With a fence on our boundary that was only replaced shortly before we bought the house in 2012 and funds tight I decided  to look at painting our existing panels before we put them back.

I had a look around online for options that came in a grey colour but getting hold of samples wasn’t easy or cheap and I didn’t want to waste  money buying a large tin that might not be suitable.

On a trip to Wickes for other materials  I discovered they did sample pots for the Cuprinol Garden Shades range and came away with two to test out; Urban Slate and Silver Birch.

After applying a little of each onto a sample strip of wood I instantly new  the Urban Slate was one to go for. I purchased large tins of the paint and set to work painting the panels doing two coats on each side. It is a time consuming process but I was excited to see the end results.

This weekend we finally completed the panels that had been removed and as you can see here with the panels back in place it has really transformed the fence and it works particularly well against the white and greys we have used for the house finishes.

Painting the fence grey has also brought out the texture of the wood and provides an excellent backdrop to the green of plants, really making them pop.

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March Madness

Apr 06

March Madness

March Madness (06/04/16)

Having gone to the director of the rendering to complain about how our project was being handled, I found he wasn’t much better and didn’t address / answer many of my points raised.  I ended up back dealing with the same person managing the project  but we did eventually get the rendering work completed, the scaffolding down and the rubbish cleared away before the end of March.

We can now finally see the front elevation in all its glory and driving up to it each time feels a little strange,  as though its not our house, I found myself thinking ‘did we really achieve this’.

There is still a lot to do; cladding, interiors, phase 2, driveway and the garden to be done and with the surprise news that I was being made redundant from my job, its certainly not going to be easy or soon before its all finished and we can fully enjoy it.

For now any significant spending has been halted and we are doing jobs ourselves that don’t cost very much.

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Frustrating February

Mar 06

Frustrating February

Frustrating February (06.03.16)

After January ended with the high of the windows being fitted unfortunately February has been full of frustration.

The insulation and render should have begun straight away but the materials weren’t delivered until the 11th. The scaffolding then went up on the 12th and we thought work would begin on the 15th but despite many attempts to speak to my contact at the company doing it, calls weren’t returned and work didn’t get under way and a start date wasn’t provided. Fed up with it all we spoke to the office twice on Monday the 21st and the work men then arrived that day to begin work.  Two days later and the two side elevations were insulated and the base coat of render applied. Then after a visit by the manufacturer’s technical guy on Wednesday it became apparent the front facade couldn’t be done as planned and it needed the whole elevation to be render boarded. The boarding was ordered and arrived on the Friday and it was arranged for the work men to return on the Saturday to board and base coat the front and to do our window box. We discovered our contact had neglected to order any fixings to fit the boards so in the interest of trying to get things resolved quickly I agreed to get the fixings.  We were advised which screws to get which necessitated us visiting three different screw fix stores to get enough screws.  Then on Saturday the installers did a test and discovered the screws didn’t hold into the blocks which meant we had to return to the three branches of Screw Fix he visited the previous day to exchange the screws for different ones.

In addition to this the box surrounding the front window which has been discussed on numerous occasions with the installation company and I had been assured wouldn’t pose a problem hadn’t been thought through properly and the installers recommended that it should be made of wood and then clad in render board, necessitating yet another trip to get materials.

Despite all of the above the workmen completed the boarding and window box and got it base coated on the Saturday. They did a great job and it really did transform the front elevation. It was arranged they would return on the Monday to apply the primer and top coat, and all finally seemed to be coming together.

Having finally had time to absorb what had gone on during the week, I had become a little suspicious of the top coat product we had. The technical guy had been pointed out it shouldn’t be kept outside in freezing temperatures, something it had been doing since delivery on the 11th and I had been told a winter formula render was being used due to the time of year and the weather conditions.

I decided to look into this further to discover the product we had been sent wasn’t the winter formula at all. Armed with this info I called my contact first thing on Monday to discuss this, he said it was too cold to do the top coat today for either products but maintained we had the right product, when I pointed out it should have a different name and be in yellow tubs not white and he said he would look into it and come back to me. Shortly after this the workmen arrived and I informed them of my conversation they then called the guy and the message came back to me he was going to order the correct product and they would return to complete the work later in the week once it had been delivered. The workmen painted on the primer whilst here and left for the day.

Of course my contact didn’t call me back and after anticipating delivery would happen by Wednesday and nothing arrived I called the workmen to tell them it hadn’t arrived yet. I was then told he had heard from my contact and he was saying it is the correct product again.

This was the final straw and we finally felt we had no choice but to contact the company director with a complaint about the way our installation was being managed and gave them 24 hours to respond. I did get an initial response quickly however I was told it was going to be looked at by another director and had to chase again the following day before hearing from him.

The current state of play is that he is going to speak to the person we were dealing with and look into all the issues raised and come back to me tomorrow.

It remains to be seen if he will rectify things quickly so that the rendering can be completed.




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