There are four bank-holidays in May here, and this one fell on a Thursday so of course everyone has taken a long weekend and I'm the only idjit working! So relax and enjoy some housey pics, dear reader, for today is polemic free on the blog. If you don't like house renovation posts, apols.
The old kitchen range and chimney dated from ~1920s as far as I can tell and were past their sell-by date in terms of being the main heat source for winters when -20° here in the high valley is not unusual. However, I took it out with great care, lots of photos and measured sketches and will pack all the bits on a pallet in the barn and shrink wrap. Over a tonne of brick, tile and mortar went in the skip.
Chimney sweeps here also have a quasi-official function in that they must pass working chimneys as fit for use - and the old one was shot. They have an arcane scale of charges for the bi-annual cleaning - if the bottom door is less than 300mm from the floor, for instance, you pay a penalty fee for cleaning. So a new chimney for both the kitchen range / boiler and the big wood stove in the living room. Both logs not pellets - the valley will get cut-off from time to time and one needs to be able to burn the furniture if necessary ... wood is currently 40€ / m3 if you carry whole 'rounds' yourself from the state forests or 60€ / m3 cut into 1m lengths and split.
|The new chimney|
The old shingles came off, we uprated the rafters and re-covered for clay tiles. The house was built in two phases - the first c.1650 - 1700 and the second c.1750-1800 and the roof main structure is a mix of timbers from both periods, mostly high-grown Larch as dense as modern Oak (note for climatologists; timber from the 'little ice age' was much slower growing and dense and outlasts quick growing timber from the current warm period. When we start the next ice age in earnest, there will be a shortage of timber in US, Canada and Europe ...)
Tile battens here are 40mm x 50mm and I got a laugh when I told the tilers that in the UK ours are 19mm x 38mm. But then our roofs don't have to take 2m of snow. The Spenglerers who do the gutters also fully clad the chimneys - mine now need a layer of insulation on top so the external flue stays warm in severe cold. The little steel triangles sticking up are to hold the snow blanket in place to thaw and are rather cutely called schneenasen or snow-noses.
The barn is a 3-decker and the top floor was used to store hay cut from the meadows - which are as steep as they look. I'll be buggered if I am scything 2 acres by hand (Soay sheep are the answer - thanks for that suggestion; there are small herds in Germany) so I've been hard put to think of a use for it; a local chum suggested a small-bore rifle range as you can get 20m from the far end into the hillside. I remember banging-off ping pong balls at 15m at our school range with a rimfire .22 so the idea is attractive.
|Rafters are fully boarded, sheeted, counter-battens run vertically and then finally the H/D battens|
|A roof fit for an Alpine winter - and a new .22 rifle range?|
|Not a trick shot - note trees are vertical. Walking on the meadows is an art I am rapidly learning|
This weekend I'm demolishing the little houses in the old roof. And trying not to drop very substantial 10" x 5" timbers studded with nails onto myself. Ground and first floor ceilings are stone vaults built from the local Dolomit - which looks to be the same hard-as-buggery Permian-Magnesian limestone I once quarried in South Yorkshire for roadstone. It takes diamond bits and lots of patience.
My thermal store has also arrived from the UK; solar thermal panels from Poland, new roof windows from Slovenia and plumbing kit from the local OBI complete the cosmopolitan flavour. The barn-found door stop is a muzzle brake and a small section of gun barrel; I was never a gunner but it's 50mm across the lands and about 54mm across the grooves so possible from some sort of Anti Tank weapon.
My new fave toy is the mini-dumper, which will quite happily carry over 300kg up the steep cart-track to the middle floor of the barn. Believe me, when you get to 57, you really don't want to do a 6m climb with 40kg a time in a wheelbarrow.
|One roof-house almost gone, just the big timbers to lose|
|And another to demolish. New chimney to right, plus purlin offcut; purlins here are glulam 8" x 8" and rafters 4" x 9"|
|My new fave toy in the middle barn|
|New thermal store and muzzle brake doorstop|
Have a great weekend all and remember we have the moral high ground; Brexit will be an act of courage from a valorous and defiant nation, and the Remainian cause based on fear and lies will not withstand.