Archives for the month of: February, 2016

I have been laying the insulation over the spare room and building a framework for boards. It’s been quite fun except for the large number of scratches I’ve got on my baldy head. It looks like I’ve been chewed on by a miffed tiger. Most of the scratches have come from the nails holding the slates into the roof. I’ve got some particularly bad ones from cracking my head on rafters and other large beams.

More than one person has suggested a hard hat, but if I wore one of them, I’d run out of space to move around. You can see it’s fairly cramped as it is. I actually considered using a bike helmet the other day. I’ll see if I remember next time I go up there.

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The photo shows all the stages of the project. The insulation is laid in three layers, two between the joists and one perpendicular to the joists. I’d attached posts to the ceiling joists to hold the framework for the boards above the top layer of insulation. The white sheet is a breathable membrane, which will keep dust and debris out of the insulation.

The first WWOOFers of the year are here and they planted some apple trees today. The two varieties are cider apples: Porter’s Perfection and Stoke Red. Our WWOOFers are American, so they call cider “hard cider” and apple juice “cider.”

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I was slightly pessimistic about getting a spade in the ground as we’ve had a couple of days of frost. We gave it a go and found the ground yielded pretty easily; the bracken blanket kept it at a workable temperature, I think. So off they went, into the orchard extension.

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We’ve grown out of the original west-facing slope and are now on a gentler south-facing slope towards the woodland planting. You can see a couple of the original tree tubes to the top-left of the photo above.

To protect the new plantings from the deer and allow me to form a low goblet shape, the WWOOFers erected wide chicken wire guards instead of using the narrow tree tubes. Once I’ve lopped off the leader I’m going to attempt some grafting. There is a rootstock planted just down the hill from these trees.

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With the roof works almost finished, we’re thinking about insulation. I recently discovered that the spare room/lounge part of the house, which sticks out from the main part of the house, was not insulated at all. This explains why the spare room is noticeably colder than the rest of the house. It’s also the first bit of the roof that’s finished properly, so that’s where we’ll start with the insulation.

I read up on insulating an old house using a Historic England document called Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings: Insulating pitched roofs at ceiling level-cold roofs. A snappy title for a very interesting read if insulation is your new obsession. It was clear that we needed a breathable insulation that wasn’t the existing pink fluff. Enter sheep’s wool.

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There are a few places that make sheep’s wool insulation and we went for CosyWool by Thermafleece, made in Cumbria. We got three pallet loads of it to insulate to 300mm depth, which is the biggest, thickest blanket I will have ever seen.

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To insulate the sloping ceilings at the front and back of the house (where the slope of the roof cuts into the upstairs rooms) we have some wood fibre sheets to apply from the inside. They are 60mm deep, which will give some benefit and still be relatively easy to handle.

The Historic England document has lots of excellent diagrams showing how we’re going to install the insulation.