Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Sep 28 2009

Motorised blinds for windows in the log house


blinds-one We have two big sliding glass doors and decided to go for motorised blinds to cover them and two other windows, with a hand held remote for their operation. We scoured the internet for possible suppliers but found that a lot of suppliers were franchises or agents and we wanted to work direct with a company that could supply them for us to fit, as there would be lots of boxing in with Western Red Cedar to conceal them.

blinds-two We found a company on the web called Trade Blinds Direct, who said they installed blinds and could supply us with what we needed and provide any technical help we needed. Well with the usual instruction sheet in 10 different languages for the motor but with mounting brackets totally different to the motor manufacturers drawing, we ended up needing technical help. At this point we got put on to the manufacturers UK agents direct (Somfy) who could not have been more helpful, but over 30 e-mails with Trade Blinds Direct failed to resolve who would provide a replacement motor due to an installation problem with the non standard brackets which wrecked one of the motors.

blinds-three Life’s too short and for just over £100 the helpful people at Somfy UK supplied a replacement motor, but I have to say Trade Blinds Direct are one of the few suppliers we have used that I would not recommend.

Sep 20 2009

Bathroom finished


bathroom-sinks-in-place The main bathroom is finished, with the mirror cupboards above. Lots of fiddly detail work but worth it in the end.

Sep 18 2009

Bathroom Mirror cupboards


bathroom-en-suite-mirror-cupboards1 When planning our house we got a lot of ideas from magazines, TV etc, but this one came from an old family friend who had bathroom cupboards that were sunk into the stud wall and had mirrors as doors. So we made MDF carcasses to fit into the stud wall with flat MDF doors, and faced them with mirrors. The MDF parts were spray painted, glass shelves fitted with stainless steel shelf pegs into holes pre-drilled in the MDF.

bathroom-en-suite-mirror-cupboard-edge-detail Stainless steel beading from our local Travis Perkins builders merchant was used to get a tidy finish against the plastered surround. You can see this in the detail shot here.

We made 4 cupboards, two in each bathroom and I guess we did not get any change from £1000 for the four but they do a nice job and keep the room lines very clean.

Sep 16 2009

Bathroom details in log house


bathroom-i-box-mixer-unit We have two showers, one in the bath for the bathroom and one in the walk in shower for the ensuite. The Hans Groehe mixer units drop into their “I box” whichis sunk in the wall. A good feature is the button on the fatter lower knob which controls the temperature. This has a middle default “upper limit” position to avoid scalding yourself or children.

The upper knob is the on/off control and diverter where required for the bath/shower, or just the on off control in the case of the shower.

Jul 27 2009

Laundry Chute is finished at last on the log house


At last one of our wacky ideas is finished and has been made compliant with the current building regulations.

laundry-chute-five Whilst a laundry chute might seem a simple enough idea, it does in theory provide an excellent route for a fire downstairs to spread into the upper floor.

laundry-chute-six So a fire retarding “flap” was required. We achieved this with 3/4 inch thick oak (made out of two pieces of surplus oak skirting) and then edged it with intumescent strip.

laundry-chute-seven-edge-strip This is a close up of the furry strip which melts and seals the edge for around 30 minutes in the event of extreme heat. It is commonly available from builders merchants in handy little packs of a few strips a couple of feet long.

Jul 25 2009

Western Red Cedar siding on the bath


bathroom-bath-sides Apologies again for lack of action on the blog, but there has been lots going on including finishing the drive to the house, landscaping and fencing etc. Meanwhile, in the house we had some Western Red Cedar log siding left over from the internal wall work.  As it was 11 inches wide, two peices fitted just right to panel the bath sides.

Instead of using the normal internal treatment that came with the original kit from North America, we used three coats of yatch varnish as this will be something of a wet environment.

I thought it gave the bath a bit of a hot tub look to it and matched the inside log faces plus of course Western Red Cedar is great for damp situations, but others in the family thought it looked more like a coffin!

You can just see the short custom made shower screen which works well, folding back to the inside, because if it went outwards, it would drip on the floor and also risk being hit by the opening door.

But one oversite was to not think about handles on the bath. Apparently it is a no no to try to do it retrospectively as you may damage the enamel or invalidate it’s warranty. Does anyone out there know anyone who can do this sort of thing?  We could fit some handles to the tiled walls into the studwork, but we could really do with one on the top of the bath.

Jun 26 2009

Wood Burning Stove for the log house


chimney-lounge-fire At last our wood burning stove has arrived. With a log house there are lots of wood off cuts to be disposed of, so a wood burning stove was a no brainer. Also with underfloor heating, a system to respond to sudden changes in temperature (which underfloor heating is not good at responding to) was required.

This is a HWAM Monet stove, with a “pizza oven” at the top, which made the unit quite tall and createf further installation problems down the line which we will update you on soon! If you want more details on these stoves go to

The unit has thermostatic regulation via a bimetallic strip which controls the airflow (and hence rate of burn).

Jun 24 2009

6 Way lighting switch



Here is our lovely 6 way light switch, with the 6th switch being the control for the lounge uplighters on a dimmer. It is in the middle of the Lounge-Diner-Kitchen area, and we have two way switching in the lounge and kitchen for the lights at each end.

This was a one off special made for us by Hamiltons, and their web site is at

Jun 20 2009

Door Handles and apologies


door-handles-marking-out Apologies for the break in the blog, we have got very close to finishing the house, so time has been sparse for blogging. We have a load of pictures on the camera to download and update you all with about progress with our log house which is creating increasing amounts of interest from many of you.

Here is a small tip but it might save you wasting a door on a kitchen cupboard or similar. When marking the holes for a door handle with two holes, just put the handle alongside after marking out with a rule and pencil to check you have the holes in the right place. It can save considerable embarassment later, especially if you have lots of differing handle sizes in places. We certainly found this useful.

May 26 2009

The saga of the Spanish Doors


sun-door-detail A long, long time ago, we did the rounds of the self build home exhibitions and at one of these, we saw a beautiful carved gold leaf door, with a classic sun motif. It looked stunning but the “antique” style would not suit our largely contemporary theme in the house.

Later, as we drifted towards non standard window sizes (despite the advice of our architect to go for standard sizes to avoid exhorbitant costs – he was right!) during the specification of the log house kit, the doors were left for us to source independently from the main kit. We looked at various European doors, costing upwards of 3,000 Euros, but felt that this was taking up too much of the budget and the doors whilst stylish were a bit mechanical in their look, because they are produced on the door equivalent of an infinately variable production line, variable that is in size (in 3 millimetre steps) in colour, handles etc but not design.

After some scrabbling around on the internet we eventually found the agents for the original carved doors. By now this Irish couple had moved to America and were working with craftsmen in Spain and Italy.

Instead of having one carved door, caution was thrown to the wind and we (OK, I!) decided that all three single external doors would be carved, one with a sun, one with a moon and one with a star. We would have some glaze quarter panels in the moon and star doors to improve light into the kitchen and utility room, which with UK building regs would need to be double glazed. The door locks would be espagnolet three point and just to make sure, we sent the locks to the door makers in Spain so that they could fit them.

sun-door-front Well, 7 months late, after many iterations to the carvings trying to get the look right, the doors arrived. The carvings were the least of the problems. The rustic look of the carvings extended to the construction method of the doors, the fitting of the locks, the warped shape of the doors etc. The method of construction with softwood tongues between iroko “planks” with no rail and stile construction meant the doors would almost certainly continue to warp and bend if used in an external environment where one side is warm and dry and the other side is exposed to the elements.

The agents had been working with the Spanish Artisan for several years, had clearly had similar problems in the past and this was the last straw. They wound up their business and could have left us high and dry. But in a credit to their business ethics they gave us a substantial refund on the doors and we have managed to use them in the house as rather expensive internal doors.

sun-door-back-stiffening To reduce the risk of distortion our builder routered out chanels in the backs of the doors, fitted steel strips and covered them with “rails” which had a similar radius to the logs on the house so that the door looked appropriate to the internal face of the adjacent logs. Time will tell if this bends much.

Of course in a blog this makes one entry, in the real world this whole sorry saga from the doors arrival (seven months late) took a further eight weeks.

We replaced the external function of these doors with some “production line” doors from the nice people who made our aluminium clad windows and doors on the rest of the house, but more of these and what happened to the star and moon doors later.