Can we move in yet?

Can we move in yet?

We’ve seen so much progress in the last month that it really doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait much longer until Big Sky HQ is finished!

All of our rooms are now almost complete and are just waiting to be painted. We’re doing all the decorating ourselves in between work and managing the project so it’s not the speediest of jobs but we’re making progress. Most of the base coat of fireproof varnish has been applied to the ceilings and we’ve also made a start on the walls in a few places.

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This will be our main bathroom upstairs, love the lino floor and can’t wait for the bathroom to be installed this week! Our plumber Bob, (who’s business is called Royal Flush by the way) has already almost finished the other guest bathroom and all it needs now is a lick of paint. (I’m thinking pink but Jonny’s not so sure it will be manly enough.)

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Our joiners have also finished laying the downstairs floor which is a beautiful engineered oak floor. It has underfloor heating beneath it which is going to be just the thing for a freezing Highland winter.

My light fittings which I bought absolutely ages ago have finally come out of their boxes and look just as shiny and glamorous as I imagined. Can’t wait to turn them on!

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We have stairs! No more wobbly ladder for us. They are fantastic and even more beautiful than I was expecting. They will look even better when not covered in bits of cardboard boxes.

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The kitchen fitters have also made a start but seem to be mostly mucking around in my cabinets. Our kitchen is from Ikea as we just wanted something very simple and Scandinavian that suited the rest of the house. Jonny is assembling it with some assistance from my Dad who is a flatpack veteran, and Rosie, who isn’t much help at all and keeps running away with the spirit level.

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Next week we’re hoping to have the water and electric connected so the team from Black Isle renewables can get our heating system fired up.

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They’ve already installed this shiny beast of a hot water boiler, (More lovely copper pipework) and will return to connect the air source heat pump as soon as the electricity and water are a go.

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I will post again once the water and electricity are on. Hopefully by the end of the coming week… Still so many things to do including our Stonehenge tribute finally becoming a deck!

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Insulation installation!

Insulation installation!

I haven’t posted in a while as its been all about the insulation here at Big Sky HQ for the last couple of weeks. So much so that for a little while I thought we were building a spaceship rather than a house. At least we’ll never be chilly again. I might have to throw away my extensive collection of jumpers, hot water bottles and throw blankets that I’ve accumulated in years of caravan living. We’re making progress though and almost ready for the second fix.

The insulation installation involved a huge amount of cutting and trimming. It all had to be fitted between all the studs and rafters so it was pretty time consuming but our team of joiners and their dedicated labourer Gordon got there in the end.

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Jonny couldn’t wait to try out the new bath… However, much to his disappointment the joiners requested that he keep his clothes on.

Our team have also been working hard to install the beautiful tongue in groove timber ceiling paneling. We could have had a plasterboard ceiling but the timber ceilings are one of the things I love the most about our other Big Sky Lodges so I had to have them in our house too!

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We had Dougie and his diggers back to landscape the garden and driveway and the exterior of the house is pretty much complete. Dougie will return once the decking and access ramp are installed to finish leveling off the front garden.

Everyone loves a digger, even our three wee Highland coos who managed to escape, not once but three times, so they could explore the new garden. After lots of sliding around in the mud we managed to persuade them back in their field. Jonny is now a master fence repairer.

Back inside and we now have rooms! All the plasterboard is up and the tapers are in this week to create a lovely smooth finish on the walls.

The joiners have done a beautiful job and have even made a little Rosie sized window in her room so she has a fun place to play. Next to be completed is the outside decking and Jonny and I have a seriously heavy painting schedule ahead of us. Yippee…

Beams, rafters and Highland grafters.

Beams, rafters and Highland grafters.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been so lucky with the weather that our small team of Joiners have made amazing progress on the house. Once the external log walls were completed it was time to get some floor joists in place and begin work on the internal framing.

The external log walls provide the main weatherproofing and protection for the house but don’t actually hold the entire weight of the roof. The roof is supported by a number of chunky laminated pillars which in turn support a huge ridge beam that effortlessly holds the weight of the rafters, sarking and all the slates which will arrive in a few weeks.

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First the logs are lined with a damp proof breathable membrane and then the load bearing pillars are attached to the logs using sliding brackets which will allow for any settlement in the logs. The settlement occurs in the first few months of the house’s life as the logs dry and lose moisture and also the massive weight of the logs squash them down until they are tightly locked together.

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All the logs are kiln dried in the factory to ensure the minimum level of moisture remains. Our logs are also glue laminated from two pieces of timber with the grain going in opposite directions. This makes the logs incredibly strong and durable and helps prevent any shrinking, twisting or cracking.

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Another handy feature is that every log has two strips of insulation running the full length of each log which is pre-installed in the factory. This provides protection from water and drafts. It’s also much easier than previous designs where you had a giant roll of insulation that you had to stick on as each log was added to the wall. Not easy in windy or rainy weather when it blows away or refuses to stick to the wet timber!

Now that we have some internal framing going on the house is really taking shape. I love that I can look in the back door and see all the way through to the office door.

Next, WINDOWS! No glass yet but there will be soon!

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So we have floor joists, downstairs and upstairs, window openings and rooms (kind of) all we need now is a roof. The trusty forklift, which unloaded the kit a few weeks ago, returned and helped the boys lift the massive, 13 metre long ridge beam high enough so they could shuffle it into position using sheer Highland muscle.

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Now we have a ridge beam to support the whole roof it’s rafter time!

As well as the rafters there’s also the tricky dormer windows to construct. Two at the front for the bedrooms and a long one at the back for my giant bathroom which is now complete. Very excited about the bathroom as it will be pretty big with plenty of room for a huge roll top bath! Which I bought before the house even started and now lives in the shed…

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DSC02788I can’t wait to see the rest of the build come together over the next few weeks. Hopefully the weather stays dry!

An exciting delivery!

An exciting delivery!
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Since I took over Big Sky in 2010 we have been planning some long term improvements to make life and work a bit easier. First up is the new Big Sky HQ which will be a home for us to live in with a fantastic much needed new office. It will be a log home in keeping with the rest of Big Sky lodges and it arrived from Finland last week! It’s been a pretty long process from getting planning permission from the local council to the house arriving at last!

For the last few years we have been living on site in a cosy caravan but now with the arrival of Rosie and the accompanying enormous amounts of baby stuff we are ready for a bigger space.

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The caravan is a lovely place in a sunny woodland dell and was great when there was only two of us but is now bursting at the seams with toys and office stuff. We’ve already worked quite hard to make it a nice place to live, so once the new HQ is finished it will receive a little bit of extra attention and we hope to rent it out as a holiday hideaway so other people can enjoy it as much as we have.

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Once we had planning permission in place and our building warrant was approved it was time to order our house! Working with our sister company Mountain Lodge Homes we chose a design that fitted our style and budget and adapted the layout to suit our needs. The completed house should look something like this!

The house is made by Artichouse, a fantastic log house manufacturer in Finland. It arrives in kit form made up of  interlocking square planed logs which are produced from extremely strong Finnish pine, grown in sustainable forests north of the Arctic Circle. The timber is then shaped into square logs, precisely cut to size and carefully packaged at the Artichouse factory. They then fit each package, like a game of giant jenga, onto a huge lorry which is then driven all the way from Finland to our site on the Black Isle. The whole process, from manufacture to delivery only takes about 6 weeks!

Before the house arrived our builder had to prepare and clear the site and build a foundation for the kit to sit on to ensure it has a strong and stable base. We’ve hired a local joinery company to handle the build and we’ve all loved watching the process. our daughter Rosie is just 20 months and isn’t sure what’s happening but she loves to watch whats going on and have a go on the big diggers!

The next step will be to get the logs sorted according to their location and start building which will begin tomorrow. Once the build gets going it should progress pretty quickly and if all goes according to plan should be wind and water tight in around five weeks. More updates to follow!