Meanwhile, back at The Old Manse

Whilst Karen and I were away in New Zealand the re-build of the Old Manse was gathering pace back in Scotland. We had left the property in the capable hands of our builder and a communication link back to the Island through our neighbours, Viv and Andy. I am very grateful to the latter for a number of photos that appear below.

At the end of January, first fix by plumbers and electricians appeared to be complete. Karen had spent much time in front of PowerPoint planning sockets and lights, hopefully it proved straightforward to the contractors who carried out the work. We were complimented that the house made a change from ripping through plasterboard and excavating, leaving them to do ‘proper electrical work’.

More ripping out was completed in early February but the house saw a major addition of steel also. One of the features of the 1816 build was that rafters spanned the walls front to back. It was difficult to see how they were fully supported without the new addition and the bow of the floor is indeed notable on the first floor. This has been cured to a large degree but still remains the characteristic slant of lesser degree. It is an old house after all.

With support in place for the upper floors a top down approach was taken to the framing out. Our builders mantra seems to be insulate, insulate, insulate. Something that is mirrored in the advice of the local authority who encourage spend on this item, if only grants were so easy to access. Anyway February saw the attic rooms take shape and the wall between the bathroom and bedroom re-instated.

My return to the Island was timed just too late to catch the most amazing display of Northern Lights that has been seen here for many a year. I am both thankful to my neighbour Keith and very jealous that I didn’t take the image myself:

Late February and our return also saw the top floor mostly boarded out. Arriving in time to make decisions that took space from the larger bedroom for a better sized bathroom on the top floor and addition of storage. The rooms already have a better feel in terms of space but decisions to expand the size of Velux facing North will have to wait for a future planning application and more funding.

Early March took work down one floor and we got a clear look at the space with virtually no walls. Decisions were taken to use space that was the old bathroom as a dressing room in the new layout as the walls went back up. The downside of exposing more of the build was a realisation that many of the lintels were rotting and in need of replacement. Another hit to the budget, but I’m still planning for a little luxury and have sized the recess for the TV accordingly!

Almost forgot to mention that mid March also heralded the return to caravan living. Yes back to surviving in a tin box with little more than 8 foot * 12 of floorspace (inclusive of double bed). The caravan has acquired a novel feature over the winter; the back window seal appears to be letting water into the double glazed unit (not the interior fortunately) but a very narrow fish tank it has been created.

March also saw the upper and first floors framed, insulated, plasterboarded, taped & filled. We are starting to get a real impression for the space on these floors now with decisions over stove and bathroom coming to the fore of our minds. Our major commitment this month has been the kitchen and with a programmed delivery date that is very real.

Lastly, and bringing things right up to date there has been a swell of contractors here in the last two days. SSE have brought 3-phase power into the Old Manse and this has allowed us to run power and water out to the shepherds hut. A second team have been cutting the channels required for both ducting and waste pipes to give the shepherds hut the services we have been longing for. Still lots to do but the trajectory feels like we are moving forward now.


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