' the Woodlouse: Aquarium


Friday, 18 May 2012


A brief walk-through Aquarium Bungalow, during a rare quiet day just after the new VPM (moisture-Vapour Permeable Membrane) had been fitted:

The darn roof is now finally within inches of being finished, or at least as finished as it can be until we start connecting the extension and conservatory roofs to it, once built.  In some ways it would have made much more sense to build those first and then tackle the existing roof, but in other ways it does make sense to do the existing roof first, as the structural changes and new supporting timbers are easier to do without the new roofs in the way, and without the weight of the heavy tiles.  This is an academic discussion in any case; we've done it this way now, largely because of the Bat Plan (see Of Bats and Bureaucracy Part 1 and Of Bats and Bureacracy part 2).

The roof is once again weather-tight, the new roof-windows are in and it's looking good.  We're way behind schedule and getting everything in place before the straw courses in July is going to be a rush, but I'm blindly telling myself it's possible.  I think that's the only way it can happen.  Next up is putting most of the ceilings back to make the loft a dark space once more, and simultaneously the solar thermal and electric panels will go on the back of the roof.  Then the scaffold comes down and the ground works begin.  The exact order of these events is still to be resolved and I'm far too frazzled and hazy to resolve them just now.  I will have to in the next few days though.

It's been a draining month or so with the build and with life in general!  The build is going pretty well really, no major surprises have come along.  The main delay since the start was my impeccable timing with the roof in relation to the weather.  Not having had everything in place to begin roof-work during the driest March on record, we stripped the roof just as the weather broke and turned into the wettest April for 50 years.  There were a lot of days when outside work on the roof just wasn't realistic, and keeping the driving rain out with rubbish plastic sheeting was a losing battle.

Meanwhile Anna's been struggling with various health flare-ups and I haven't been able to help her as much as would have been ideal because I've been trying to keep on top of things with the bungalow, so her recovery is slower as a result.  My dad's health has also been deteriorating and this week he died - mercifully quickly and at home, and during a patch where his sometimes-miserable mood lifted and he seemed really cheerful despite obvious ill-health.  I think that is still sinking in.  Thankfully the roof this week has been in the hands of the experienced roofers who mostly knew what they were doing, so I've been able to get away with brief visits up there to check on things and explain bits of the plans.  Most of the time has been spent with Mum and my two sisters getting to grips with funeral arrangements, and just piecing together Dad's history.  This has been draining but really good to do - some things I knew and some things have been new to me but it's great to fit it all together and just to spend that time on Dad.  We've been laughing a lot too.

Anyway, here're some photos of the "blue-phase":

Parallel battens and counter-battens: these allow greater ventilation of the space between the VPM and the tiles to prevent moisture building up as it "breathes" through the membrane from inside the loft

Roof-windows will go here

The land of many rafters

Aquarium Bungalow

yaay - tiles! See how clean of moss they are.

So she is included in the build I pushed Anna up onto the scaffold while one of the roofers pulled, and she fitted a few tiles.  Note sticks in corner of picture... Anna was very satisfied with her work, as was Gary the Roof.  Needless to say Anna's pain levels were much-increased afterwards but it was worth it.

valley taking shape.  I had dilemmas about least harmful flashing to use and settled for Aluminium.  It does have a high embodied energy but I think it has less overall pollution associated with it than lead (the standard material used) and is certainly much less toxic

Triple glaze roof-windows with thermally insulated flashing

UPDATE 19.5.2012: they finished the roof this morning.  I'll point up the verges later once extension roof is connected.

Lovely bit of leadwork by Gary the Roof, using lead recycled from the chimneys I removed.

Finished front roof :-)

Finished (for now) rear roof, with solatube and rooflights.  I had to get in some new tiles in the end, to replace damaged tiles, those cut to edge the roof-valleys on the front, and the 'bottom-tiles' previously used at the bottom edge of the roof (these couldn't be used as they have closed ends which would have blocked the necessary ventilation above the VPM)

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