Saturday 31 January 2015

November/December Progress (or not)!!

Progress on the build during November and December was very slow and the key objective of  sealing the building before the winter was not achieved.

November started well with a visit to the factory where the windows would be produced. With the windows being such a major part of the passive solar design (i.e. a south facing run of 28m by 3m high) it was important to make sure the design would be what was required.

Many of our friends, when we have talked through the house design with them, have commented that in nearly all of the "Grand Designs" television programmes featuring large areas of glassthey had watched it was the fitting of the windows that proved the most problematic element of the build!!

It was reassuring, therefore, to see the the highly professional workshop where our windows would be produced and to see the types of frames that would be used. Given the industrial nature of the house the frames needed to be bold and robust to uphold the feeling of strength and solidity of the build. The window making team had taken the trouble to put together a working example for our inspection.

The window making factory. (Photo courtesy of my wife).

One of my concerns was with the fittings that would be used to open the opening sections of window would again fit with the clean sharp lines of the house design. Unfortunately what was proposed for opening the windows in the three vents that will allow the cool night air to circulate throughout the house was not acceptable. Whilst minor in the great scheme of things it is attention to this level of detail that is important in achieving the result I have in mind.

In order to accurately measure the exact size of the windows prior to manufacturing the frames etc. it is necessary to lay the industrial non-slip floor across the whole house. A meeting involving the flooring contractor, engineer, window maker, building contractor and myself took place at the site to ensure that everyone understood what was involved.

L to r Evripidis (Engineer), Babis (Building Contractor) and Vangalis (Window Maker).

The major points that emerged were that:

    1) Since I had specified from the start that I wanted the channel in which the sliding doors must run was to be flush with the floor this presented a problem in how any water running down the window that collects in this channel was to be drained away. After much discussion and consideration it was concluded that the best solution was to insert drainage pipes wherever the water would collect.

    2) These drainage pipes needed to be sunk into the existing sub-floor before the flooring concrete was laid in order to ensure there was sufficient depth of the flooring finish 5-10cm to prevent cracking. In addition the two ventilation tubes for the cook stove and the masonry stove needed to be sunk lower and moved slightly.

    3) Before the final measurements for the windows could be made a narrow horizontal marble slab needed to be laid for the bottom double track to sit on.

    4) When the flooring is laid it is important that subfloor is dry. Since the same flooring surface is being used throughout including the patio area in front of the windows under the concrete cowl and in the light well and given the approaching winter rains it was necessary to construct a temporary "roof" over the light well.

The temporary roof over light well.

External view of temporary roof over light well.

 I had assumed that integrating the sliding door twin track into the floor to ensure that there was no trip hazard when moving between inside and outside the house at the same floor level was not unusual in industrial type buildings. I was wrong. It seems, and is obvious when one thinks about it, that with the usual surface mounted runner there is sufficient "play" for the windows to be fitted into the frame given also that it is usual to have the outside surface below the in house floor level. When the runner is integrated into floor with the floor level the same inside and outside then no such "play" exists. So another problem to be solved.

Looking eastwards the marble slab in place. Photo courtesy of Babis.

It was not until early/mid December that it was possible to set the marble slab along the entire front aspect of the house in preparation for setting the twin track for the windows in place and subsequently laying the in-situ industrial concrete floor.

Looking westwards along front of house. Note drainage pipe in forground. Photo courtesy of Babis.

Unfortunately the weather then broke with exceptional heavy rainfall for several weeks. At one point the rain caused the main road from Heraklion to the south coast to be closed for a week!

So the flooring and window installation have had to be put on hold until the weather improves.