Sunday, 31 March 2013

Day 55: Santa-Vision

While on Tuesday, 26th March (Day 52), it was too cold to open the roof and bring the chimney up to its final height, we did some preparations. Planks were put on the roof to allow for safely climbing up and down. Later on a level palette will serve as a platform to put bricks and mortar on. Our plan to continue the next day failed, since it was snowing and looked all too grim to work on a roof, even though temperature-wise it would've been ok. In the end, Wednesday afternoon the weather was just brilliant.

The decision was made to bring the chimney up to the maximum height possible inside the roof, without cutting the roof open, on Thursday, 28th March (Day 55). This can be done whatever the weather, and it is becoming increasingly urgent, because any day now the next team might arrive and blow a layer of Ekovilla (paper-based, insulating wool) into the loft. When this happens, the chimney must be as high as possible, so that it can be reached from the outside, since we will not be able to walk in the loft anymore. Once compressed by stepping on, the wool will become useless.

Santa-Vision: this is what Santa will see while descending down our chimney to deliver presents. I don't know how he squeezes himself through such tight places, but I know that we won't be getting any presents in the future with diameters larger than 180 mm!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Day 54c: Bathrooms and Kitchen

This is the last instalment of news from Day 54 (27th March). The toilets and bathroom taps have now been fitted, and thus the small bathroom (above) and the shower room are complete.

In the shower room, there's a sink, the shower and a toilet, which is just visible in the lower-right corner of the photo. Also lights are readily fitted here and also in the sauna.

One of the most important ingredients of a Finnish house is the sauna, and of course that needs a stove ("kiuas"). While we have seen the stove previously, now it's been filled with stones. Now everything is in place for the first proper "löyly," i.e. the throwing of water onto the hot stones and the subsequent filling of the room with steam vapour.

Finally the kitchen is almost complete. Unfortunately there was some communication issue somewhere down the line, and the kitchen has been delivered one cupboard shorter than ordered. This will be fixed in the near future as soon as a new work surface in the correct length has been delivered.

Nonetheless we are happy with how the white kitchen stands out against the dark-brown wall. Making some bold choices with colours always bears some risks, but here (and also with the green-and-white bathroom above) our ideas are spot on – at least for us, the rest is a matter of taste.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Day 54b: Lighting

We have passed equinox on 20th March, and since then we have more light than anyone south of us. We are heading rapidly towards Polar Day. While we have natural light in abundance now, also artificial light has arrived on Day 54 (27th March)! When I arrived in the evening to check on the progress, I was surprised to see that the lights came on on the front porch: motion sensor! Nice touch.

Six standard "UFO"-type basic lamps have been fitted in bathrooms and utility room as well as in the vestibule. However, most lamps we have to provide ourselves, and Finland has a really useful standard: under the ceiling, there are electrical sockets and hooks to connect lamps to, like the one in the photo above. Thus, fitting a lamp is as easy as buying it, adjusting the cable to length, hanging it on the hook, and plugging it in. Job done.

Earlier in the day I spotted this odd lamp hanging from the living room ceiling. Obviously it is meant for either testing if the socket works, or then for providing temporary lighting. Very handy.

Six LED lights are fitted above the living room windows. We saw these lights during another house show in Sodankylä, and we immediately thought that they are just perfect to round off the effect of the large windows.

Safety first: the house came with a standard of only two smoke detectors and upon recommendation from our site supervisor as well as from the building inspector we added four more, one in each bedroom. They are interconnected and go off simultaneously, and they run off mains electricity with battery backup.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Day 54a: Bob The Builder Came to Help!

Today, Bob the Builder arrived to give us a hand with the final touches of Our House. Can you spot him in the photo above? That's his van anyway.

Let's zoom in a bit, to the centre of the windscreen. I'm sure if we have him in the team, nothing can go wrong. Very reassuring!

Today (Day 54, 27th March) the work continued on a lot of small details, and everything is very much coming together now. I shall report more over the next couple of days or so. Above a photo of one of the windows, completely assembled. Wooden strips cover the gaps between window frame and plaster boards, the blinds are released and made functional, and the window handle is installed. The blinds are operated by those round knobs on the left side.

Finally one of the most important pieces of kit was installed today: the sauna stove ("kiuas" in Finnish). The stones are still missing, but we are very much looking forward to throwing the first water onto the hot stones.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Day 52: No Chimney

Today we were supposed to build the chimney through the roof to its final height. However, the morning started at –25°C, but the temperature rose to only –2°C at lunch time. It was a perfect, beautiful, sunny day, but at the height of the roof the wind was so cold that work was not feasible. Thus we did some preparations and installed some planks on the roof to move about safely, and we shall try again tomorrow.

However, today the interior got the finishing touches, which means that all skirting boards were installed, and the remaining corners were tidied up. Also, the windows and doors got their final touches: the wooden strips were put in place, which hide the gaps between door frames and adjacent plaster boards. Also, the blinds where released and tested. Above is a view of two of the living room windows.

Another team from the house company arrived today. One of them will do the plumbing, i.e. place sinks and toilets and install taps, while the other will do all the electrical stuff. Today the latter managed to get all electrical, aerial, and internet sockets installed, and most of the switches. The photo above shows the corner where our TV will be located and where all three types of sockets are present.

Also the thermostats appeared in most rooms, thus we can now control our floor heating in a per-room fashion. Nice.

By the way, I learnt this morning that our houseshow will take place on Thursday, 11th April 2013, between 1700h and 1900h. Then the sales person will be present and anyone can come and have a look.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Day 52: Corners and Edges

On Day 52 (25th March), not much change was visible, but upon closer inspection, it was clear that a lot of tedious work had been completed. The day went into installing strips of wood all around the edge of the ceilings in order to cover the top edge of the plaster board and the gap between that and the panelling of the ceiling. This is brilliant, because the use of this material also means that painting can be done a lot quicker since the corner does not need so much care.

Where two plaster boards meet in a corner usually only a little plaster is needed to smoothen things up if  it's an "inside" corner, like the corner of a room, where the walls have a right angle (90°) between them. However, wherever the corner is sticking out, i.e. where one faces the corner edge-on like in the photo above, it's near to impossible to smoothen the rough edge of the plaster board to an acceptable degree using plaster alone. Therefore also here, two strips of wood covering the corner make things look neat and tidy.

Only one such corner was done today, and I guess the rest will come tomorrow. Also the door frames still need strips of wood covering the gaps between them and the adjacent plaster board.

If the weather forecast for tomorrow holds, and it is not too cold in the afternoon, big things are going to happen: we are planning on opening the roof again and building the chimney up to its final height. Keep fingers crossed, there'll be an interesting update tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Day 51:Furniture Fronts and Bathroom

On Day 51 (21st March), the furniture got its fronts, meaning doors and drawers were installed, and even the kitchen appliances appeared. Above the small bathroom with sink, drawers, and mirror. The camera flash created an interesting pattern on the rear wall.

The utility room is pretty much finished now. The tall empty slot under the ventilation system is reserved for washing machine and tumble dryer. The tall closet contains two big and one small baskets for laundry, which is very handy right next to the washing machines.

The wardrobe in the entrance area now has doors and the final look became apparent. Lots of storage space here.

Finally a huge improvement on the kitchen, compared to the previous day. All doors installed, and cooker, hobs, sink, dishwasher and drawers installed. Also the tiles have now received their white grouting, the extractor fan is installed, and its "exhaust" pipe is hidden behind some neat white box.

Also the wooden strips in the corners between walls and ceiling is now finished in the much of the living room and half of the hallway. It's all coming together rapidly.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Day 50: Kitchen, Wardrobe, and Bathroom Furniture

Big things happened, on 20th March (Day 50), the kitchen furniture went in. The doors are still missing, and the tiles have not received their grouting, but it very much is taking shape. Also, the wooden strip between ceiling and wall is now in place on the left wall in the photo above.

The wardrobe for the entrance area also appeared, which will provide lots of storage for our clothes and coats etc.

Finally, the small bathroom now has its sink installed. The toilets are still missing, but they will probably be installed together with the taps and shower by a plumber, which will come at a later date.

In a month's time we will already live in Our House. Exciting!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Day 49: Sauna, Doors, and Final Paint

On Monday and Tuesday (Days 48 & 49, 18th–19th March) a lot of work happened again. Following up from the arrival of the sauna stove, the sauna benches are now installed. The stove will come later since it needs to be wired in by an electrician.

Also the doors are now installed. The photo above shows the door separating the vestibule from the hallway and the rest of the house. The cable above the door is probably for the door bell. Let's hope it's not going to be a totally horrible sound – we didn't get to choose that!

Also the door to the shower room (above) and the clear-glass door between shower and sauna are now installed.

Finally, the last bit of unpainted space got its finishing: the small bathroom's rear wall is now painted in an intense green ("Lime").

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Day 47: Final Paint for Fireplace

On Day 46 (16th March), it was time for the final coats of paint for the fire place. First the whole thing was painted in an off-white colour ("Damasti"). This had to be applied twice, some three hours apart. The photo above shows the first coat of paint.

Finally, in the evening, the firewall part above the fireplace was painted in the same brown tone as the wall on the other side of the chimney ("Etruski"), and this was repeated by a second coat of brown on Sunday morning (Day 47, 17th March). The photo shows the final product, the fireplace stands out nicely against the contrast of the dark wall.

Since the weather was just brilliant, there was a chance and time to play with the extreme wide-angle GoPro camera. Above is a shot that would be hard to achieve with other cameras, a view that shows all kitchen/living room windows and the terrace door at once.

No, our windows are actually perfectly straight, but when going very close to the window with the GoPro, the extreme wide angle distorts the window frame. A nice view in any case.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

More Stuff Arrived

On 15th March, no work was done at the house, and therefore we do not count this day. However,  more stuff appeared on the yard. The palette above contains a pile of doors and door frames. One of the most important items for the whole project is in the unremarkable small white box on top of the doors, the content of which will be revealed in the next photo.

Yep, it's the sauna heater, or "kiuas" in Finnish. There's also a box of stones to fill the heater with. Yes, we'd also like a bath, but a sauna is a decent start anyway for now.

More essentials were delivered on another palette, two toilets, toilet seats, and sinks. All of these new deliveries will be installed in the near future, starting next week. In between we have some more painting to do in order to finish the fireplace. More about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Day 45b: Floors and Bathroom

Day 45 (14th March) brought some more surprises, which warrant another blog post. The tiled floors have now received their grouting. When we had to decide which tiles, kitchen doors, etc., we wanted, we were totally puzzled when they gave us the choice of various grouting colours. Who would've thought of that? Anyway, we thought it looks most natural if we use the good old plain grey concrete colour, which nicely sets the large floor tiles apart while still being subtle. The only thing missing is the final attachment of the tiles replacing skirting boards, which have not received their grouting yet.

Here's a view at the doorstep between utility and shower room. The shower room has smaller tiles, and an elevated door step has been made of these tiles in order to prevent water from flowing out of the shower room.

Another view of the shower shows that the wall tiles also have their grouting now. Here we chose white grouting, which disappears everywhere except around the brown tiles behind the shower.

Also the laminate in the living room has appeared now, in anticipation of a possible early delivery of the kitchen on Monday. Currently the laminate is in the kitchen only. Unfortunately it's completely covered up by corrugated cardboard for protection, so one can only see a small area where the kitchen furniture will be located. By the way, the upright package contains the sauna benches!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Day 45a: Walls Painted

On Day 45 (14th March), the remaining walls were painted, and thus the final colour combination became apparent. The only thing remaining to be painted is the fireplace, which remains our responsibility. The photo above shows the wall behind the fireplace, which is painted in a nice, chocolaty brown (left: "Etruski", right: "Angora"). The same colour we chose for the wall behind the kitchen. Both kitchen and fireplace will be have the same colour and create a nice contrast against the dark brown.

Our daughter was extremely delighted to see her future room in her dream colours of pink and purple. Also here, white furniture will look fantastic on these background colours (left: "Pioni", right: "Hyasintti").

Fresh, and hopefully never tiring is the office room, with a wall in green. Also the white wall isn't really white, it is just a bit greenish (left: "Wasabi", right: "Seljankukka").

Finally the colours of our bedroom. Here we noticed that the computer screens are really not calibrated well enough to reproduce colours properly. On my screen the wall looks red, but in fact it's a much more brown tone, something like deep rust (left: "Inka", right: "Cashew").

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Day 44: Floors Tiled

On Day 44 (13th March), the floors were tiled, and that meant pretty much "access denied," because the floors inside both doors are tiled. Thus the only access was via the terrace door.

The small bathroom looks great with the tiles and the light-green paint, very fresh. We can't wait to see the rear wall painted. The paint for that we selected to match an old Finnish poster, so we'll need to get that framed soon, too.

The final photo for Day 44 shows the view into the utility room. In the far end there's the lower part of the door to the outside just visible, still covered up with protective cardboard. Off to the left at the far end, i.e. behind the protruding wall, lie the shower room with attached sauna.