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July 2006

The lounge is no different to the rest of the house, in fact probably only second to the kitchen for icing! However, after we moved in the room was perfectly useable once your brain had learned to ignore the plaster.
August 2010

We decided some time ago to put in a wood burning stove, one of the modern built in stoves. The plan is to use this with a system of vents and heat ducts to provide heat to the rest of the house, either to provide all heating needs or more likely to boost the heat when it is particularly cold and the air source heat pump is struggling. I did quite a bit of research and decided on the system we wanted and Karen tracked down the local sales rep and got us an appointment (on my birthday) to see our local reseller, at Gatwick! This is what we had to start with, the ice cave.

September 2010

The company (CPM) arranged to came round to look at the fireplace and give us a quote, so we spent a day ripping out the fireplace so that they could view the area properly. What was I thinking? I was expecting this to be a simple job of removing one hideous plaster covered fake wall to reveal the old fireplace, but this is York Cottage and nothing is ever that simple!

We pulled out the first fireplace to reveal another one, which we had to remove to get back to the original one. Then, so we could see the extent of the chimney breast I cut a hole in the thick artex ceiling, only to find another ceiling (a mock tudor thing) 3 inches above that. So, I cut a hole in that one to find another ceiling 18 inches above that, with a hole where the builder put his foot through when building the extension all those years ago. That means we had three fireplaces, one on top of the other, and three ceilings, one under the other!

CPM came and looked at the chimney but couldn't quite work out how it had been constructed because the whole fireplace has been lined with bricks. They gave some advice and then arranged to come back after I had removed a few more bricks to reveal the structure behind.

So, I spent another day removing the rotten timbers across the front of the opening (you remember, the one that the previous owners had silicone sealed instead of fixing the leak outside!) only to find that the original fireplace wasn't the original at all.

It looks as if there was something else in that area at some point in the past judging by the way the plaster is neatly finished and covered in wallpaper, and the way the huge concrete slab had been cast in place held up by another brick wall. Looking at the old photo of the house it looks like this was originally patio doors.

CPM came back and had a look and have now arranged to come back at the end of the month and remove the internals of the chimney and the slab, so this means we've had to empty the room and set up a temporary lounge in the dining area. While we were doing this it made sense to rip out everything and do the whole room, so while Karen was in Germany for the week I got down to some late evenings.

I started by removing the carpets which revealed a wooden "stage" which was part of the original building before the lounge was added in 1969. This area will eventually become the music room. Once the room was empty I started to remove the ceilings, well the first two ceilings anyway. This wasn't actually too difficult as the first ceiling was easy to pull down and the wood was screwed into the second ceiling.

The second ceiling wasn't too difficult either because the plaster board was laid in top of the fake beams and just stuck in place. The supporting perimeter beams had been packed out using the Times newspaper dated February 1988 which is when I guess the ceiling was put up. With the ceiling(s) now removed the room feels huge.

Of course when I started to pull the away the plasterboard on the walls there were two layers. I also revealed what appears to have been the original door (or maybe only a window) into the room at the centre of the wall where the stairs are now. I cut a new doorway beside that leading to the bottom of the stairs and started to block in the existing arch from the dining area.

Chris and Tony came back to remove the internals of the chimney, far more difficult than expected! The whole internals of the chimney was solid brick which took Tony two days with a kango to break out. He was shattered by the end of it and the skip was half full of bricks. On the third day they broke out the raft lintel.

October 2010

CPM came and fitted the stove while we prepared the rest of the room. They had to remove the brick lining of the fireplace to allow more room for the stove and put in lintals to support the stove and allow for a log store underneath.

We pulled down the useless insulation that had been put there by the equally useless plumber when the extension was built, then re-insulated the floor of our bedroom to hopefully help the underfloor heating to work properly. I built a stud wall to create a music room while Karen prepared the ceiling and walls by removing hundreds of nails. I also started to tidy the electrics.. oh my god, what an unbelievable mess! OK, nobody is to blame for this as it is a result of years of extensions and alterations made to the house, but there were cables leading back and forth between the rafters with lots of connectors along the way, but ultimately leading to nowhere.

CPM finished the installing the stove and building the hotbox in the chimney to capture the heat and the stove was fired up. We installed the first hot air pump and all the ducting to move the heat to the other rooms in the house. We put vents into our bedroom, Luke's bedroom, the landing (the dog loves this) and in the ceiling of the dining room. This was a major job running and insulating the ducts through the eaves, but it works really well. However we are concerned that the pumps are too powerful as the vent into the lounge stops emitting hot air but instead starts to suck air back into the chamber. That is with just one of the pumps running, we have yet to connect the second pump. I wonder if another air inlet needs to be installed but we are waiting for CPM to return and finish the last bits so we will see what they suggest.

At the end of the month I took the half term week off work and we set about getting as much done as possible. We finished the insulation of the floor above and put up plasterboard to hold it in place. All the electrics and cables were put in place including the wires down the cavity wall for the outside lights. All the old wiring was finally removed and we scraped off the last of the plaster icing.

We eventually turned off the oil boiler and removed radiators, now relying entirely on underfloor heating in the bedrooms and the fire for heating the dining room.

Laid the grooved celotex and underfloor heating pipe but did not connect it to the airsource unit because we have to get through the buildings brick wall foundations. The new floating floor was then laid on top of that and finally gives the feeling that we are finally getting the room back.

Ordered a granite hearth, replacement windows and new oak furniture which should all be ready in November.

We discovered that the lintel above the window in the lounge is badly cracked and cannot support the weight of the bedroom so we have to get that replaced before the room can be plastered.

November 2010
There was a huge amount of work done in November.

December 2010

January 2014
We noticed that there is a brown stain on the ceiling which we believe is caused by the bad storms we have had this month, pushing rain up under the bedroom window above which then runs down the celotex. I hope to find that the builders did not seal under our bedroom window so the problem is easily fixed. Unfortunately Karen also noticed that the wood store under the fireplace is very wet and part of the heat box insulation is sodden. No idea how that amount of water is getting in but is a big concern that needs to be investigated and fixed very soon.