home of the Sliding House

   The website of Ross Russell and Sally Morris:
   documenting progress on our project to design and build our house in Suffolk in the far east of England.

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Diary Archive: 2008

It is in reverse chronological order - latest news first and earlier stuff later.

Late November 2008:   The living room is pretty much done now. All the wood cupboards are made and oiled. The loudspeakers are fitted in the black panels at each end of the rows (Acoustic energy Aelite 2’s if you care, powered by the Quad system that got banned from our living room in London) .  The electric lights are in and working (although they are removed from these pictures - there is one table top light at each corner of the room). And I have a wooden floor laid in Dutch pattern oak timber, laid as a floating floor over the OSB boards.  All we need is some furniture and we’ll have another useable room!

There are no pictures here but we have also finished the master bedroom to the same state - the carpentry is done (doors, archictraves, skirtings and floor) but there is no furniture in it yet.  Since you have to walk through the bathroom/terrace to get to it, and since that space is still in its early stages of work, this is no big loss.

kitchen panelliving room NE

P1000659 copy_edited-2view west from inside02

November 2008:   A few pictures taken at night.  This is an amazingly good way of hiding all the leftover building materials still left on site which would otherwise clutter up the photos. One by-product of recording this build project is that I have learned a lot about photography and (importantly) how to correct some of the errors and lens distortions in Photoshop. In these pictures the camera has certainly lied!  Note that the verticals appear almost vertical and the straight lines almost straight. But I’ve tried to keep to the spirit of recording the image as it really is so I’ve done nothing other than correcting distortions introduced by the lens itself (honest!).       

P1000681 copy_edited-1P1000676 copy2

Late September 2008:   all the new pictures are in the new page - click “Time Lapse” from the buttons above.

Late August 2008: Now that much of the interior is clear of building materials etc, here are a couple of picture of the glasshouse with the red panelled walls inside. These were taken when my parents visited the site and you can see them and Sally sitting round our brand spanking new dining table.

080825 NW glasshouse080825 SE glasshouse

Early September 2008: I’ve cleared most of the remaining quartzite tiles from the terrace.  Some of it is actually laid now (along the walkway to the NW of the house) and some is merely moved out of the way so I can actually start to lay it on the rest of the terrace. For the first time we can see pretty well what this view of the house will be like.  There are two photos below - one from inside and one from outside.  I think this is what architects call “bringing the outside inside” or vice versa.    

view outsideterrace cleared of crates

Mid-August 2008:   Here are some more interior pictures. There is some progress on the kitchen (in the sense that it is no longer covered in dust-sheets and indeed is now in use for the first time) and my carpentry work in the living room has given me the first four out of nine cupboards / balustrades.

080820 kitchen080805 living room

July 2008:  

I’ve not posted many pictures of the inside of the house so far have I?  We’ll here are a few just so you can see that this is not like one of the sets for a western movie that is all facade and nothing behind!

I’ve spent time recently trying to make progress on the interior fit-out.  The pictures below show the wall panelling to the downstairs area.  This is now about half done.  What you cannot see is the LED lights in between the panels that provide lighting for the staircase (hidden in the vertical gaps between panels).  But check out the “hidden” panel next to the stairway that flaps down to reveal the electric consumer unit and other unsightly stuff like the thermostat for the heat pump.

By the way this is three separate views, not one view of massive hallway with staircases on all sides!

stair panels Rred panelling02stair panels L02

The next two pictures show the shower room, downstairs in the main house. The tiles are difficult to photograph well since they are a mix of highly reflective (and 85% recycled) glass and slate squares with a high quartz content and hence a lot of sparkle. These tiles cost a bomb and were a real pain to fix and align. I’m sure they’ll also be a real pain to grout, when I get around to that job.  The room is nowhere near as well finished as this photo makes it look - it still needs a door and a ceiling over the shower area and a cupboard under the basin for example. But you get the idea as to what it will look like when I do finish it.

The last of the three photos shows the new door to the bathroom in the guest annex.  I struggled for a long while to find a door in a metric size and with a walnut finish to match the rest of the woodwork in this building. For some reason metric sized door have not taken off in this country, despite the fact that they are a good 2 to 3 inches taller than the standard UK door and we are a population that is getting taller with every generation.  Anyway, the final solution was to buy a board made up of thin staves of solid timber - intended mainly for kitchen work surfaces and the like - and cut it to size.  It looks lovely (as does Sally in the same photo!).

shower roomshower tiles 2 copyannex bath door copy

And here are some pictures of the upstairs area of the annex building - which is my study/office.  It has had its walnut floor laid for some time, but now has a full set of cupboards and desks.

study 302study 4

Early June 2008:  

A few more pictures below. Having had some good weather in late May, I committed myself to getting the exterior works done in a couple of weeks of concentrated effort working in the sunshine to come.  And then it rained. And rained some more.  But since I had hired a cement mixer and a “whacker plate” to settle the sub-grade under the paving we went for it anyway.  Much of it is done, although we are still far from being finished. Since we are away in Scotland for a week and then I have work that keeps me in London, not much will happen for a few weeks now. But I have got a bunch of jobs to do inside the house and that will be the next task (for which no doubt I will get consistent and unbearable sunshine....)

Anyway, below are pictures of (a) the courtyard leading to the garage; (b) the walkway in front of the house and the newly laid gravel drive beyond it; and (c) the lovely green stripy lawns around the house.

courtyard quartzitedriveway gravellawns 1

And a couple more pictures of the outside works. The first doesn’t look much but this is a levelled area just inside the gateway for use as a place to sit and have breakfast (facing East) or to park the car. It has been seeded and will become a lawn area in due course.  The clever bit is that it is covered with recycled plastic grid through which the grass grows, which makes it structurally strong enough to cope with parked cars and vans without ripping up the grass or churning up the surface into mud. And the second is the terrace outside of the dining room (laid earlier today and still with its plywood spacers to keep the tiles in position). The stones are laid so that the pattern is continuous from inside to out - the theory being that the glass gable wall will just “disappear” and the dining room will look much bigger as a result.  I even went so far as to cut some of the stones in two and lay half inside and half outside.  Its a shame that you cannot see the effect in the pictures. The next job is to cut the concave circular bit out to fit around the tree -  a fun job to do as I found when I did a similar thing for the doormat cut-outs in the Annex building (although I see my see pictures from July 2007 when I did this work do not show this artistry - so you’ll just have to imagine arcs tracing the path of the door as it swings on its hinges, with doormat material on the inside of the curve and quartzite tiles outside)!

grassblockterrace quartzite

Late May 2008:  

A few more pictures below, as an update to progress on site.

We now have a fully fitted and fully functioning kitchen ion the main house - see Sally cleaning the glass work surface in the picture below left. It took John Lewis some five months to from initial visit to fitting the final missing parts. Just as well we were not relying on it as the place to cook our meals! The kitchen does look very nice though.  And next to it is a picture showing the view we’ll get from the kitchen / dining room, looking over the lawn to the pond beyond.

new kitchenspring view garden

Below is a picture update on the external works now underway.

We finally bit the bullet and had all the nylon wrapped panels which covered the inside of the sliding roof ripped out.  Now there is 250 square metres of board covered in such fabric sitting in our garage waiting for us to decide what to do with it. It its place we have simple planking in a gloss white finish (see below far left). It is tacky PVC I’m afraid but it has the merit of being a smooth surface with good light reflective properties and with no unsightly joins (thanks to a tongue and grooved system similar to that used in wood panelling).

We have a tree planted in the terrace - a Prunus Serrula Tibeticus or Tibetan Cherry Tree - see second photo below . It has a lovely glossy brown bark in winter and green foliage in summer and flowers in spring and a good colour in autumn. Given how much it cost we hope it survives the East Anglian winter.

I have also laid some of the stone terraces outside the house. Picture 3 shows the walkway leading to the front doors of each building. The quartzite slabs are laid up to the steel rails and, in due course, we will have matching slabs covering the rainwater gutter on the inside of each rail. For the moment it is good just to be at the stage where we can walk outside without needing welly boots on!  Since taking these photos I have laid a mortar screed to provide the necessary slopes to enable rainwater to drain from the courtyard and from the terrace and have starting laying quartzite slabs there also.  The final picture shows the elaborate means of covering the rainwater gutters.  Since there are no gutters at eaves level, rainwater just runs down each building to the ground level and then into gulleys which direct it to the underground drains. All of this lot is hidden underneath the quartzite slabs and these slabs need support underneath them as they span the rainwater gulleys, which is what those galvanised steel plates are for. An awful lot of effort went into doing this given that the whole lot will be hidden when the final slabs are laid. 

covered terrace02rainwater gutter coversnew treewalkway SE

And here is a picture of the site with the new lining to the sliding roof and with the quartzite tiles covering the vertical surfaces around the outside of the concrete slab.


Early March 2008:  

We now have new entrance gates (I cheated and not only bought them ready made but also had someone fix them for me!) And we have got a bunch of new carpentry done on the main house - skirtings and architraves and the like.

Oh and our crocuses came up - looks lovely!

view thru gates


February 2008:  

The cladding is now complete on the main house.  Previously it stopped about a metre above ground level, but now we have cladding down to the concrete slab. The bottom sections are all hinged to that they can be raised like the bonnet of a car to access the wheels and motors etc.  You wouldn’t believe how much hassle it was to do this without any visible joins!

We have second fix electricity in the main house - well downstairs at least. It means that I can work in the evenings without rigging up halogen lights on tripods. This includes up-lighters built into the slate tiles downstairs and lights in the dining room (built into the steel beam supporting the glasshouse) and the kitchen (shining down through the perforated plasterboard in the ceiling).  Good work William and Matthew!

The heat pump is fixed.  It took four visits from the commissioning engineer but we are finally there. We found the leak (well in fact the whole of one pipe of the ground loop was severed) and put in a loop to bypass that section.  And then we found the areas where the plumbing leaked under pressure and fixed them.  The result is that the house and annex are toasty warm (probably too warm overnight) and our heating bills should fall by 75% as we start using the heat from the ground rather than purely from expensive electricity from Sizewell B. The lawn is a mess, but I’m sure we’ll sort it out over the spring and summer.

We also have a nearly complete kitchen.  I have no pictures of this (I forgot!) but we have a new glass splash-back and new glass work-surfaces all lit by LED lights to make it look like John Travolta’s dressing room.  John Lewis want to take photos for publication in Good Housekeeping magazine or similar to advertise their service - although frankly if they do not get the last few missing bits sorted within three months of the main installation job, we’ll withdraw our goodwill and say no.

The timber arrived on site last week to make skirtings and architraves for the house and cupboards/ballustrades for the upstairs living room.  All of this is lovely European white oak. There’s a few weeks of carpentry work required to knock that lot into shape. Meantime I’ve been working on the fitted furniture for the office/study room upstairs in the annex - making desks and fitted cupboards (lots of birch plywood, laminate and aluminium tread-plate) and getting ready to fit the Walnut floor.  And we have a master bedroom and dressing room that is painted and even has a couple of doors fitted.

Oh and we had some frosty weather, which I think merits a photo, even though at that stage there was nothing visibly new in the house.

080220 frosty 080226 house and crocus field 080226 SE side cladding

Continue back in time to 2007

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