No more water through the balcony

Fibreglass sheeting ready to be laid

Today we at long last had the balcony sealed with fibreglass. Last time, we discussed the balcony build-up with all the various layers.

Now we have the first layer of fibreglass laid on top of all that build-up. While this is not the final finish, it seals the balcony and stops the water that has been incessantly dripping into our dining room every time it rains.

We now have a bit more time to think about what balustrade and final finish we’d like to have. Once that is done, we’ll get the final layer laid which also has a non-slip finish and can come in pretty much any colour.

For now, we can just rejoice that we’ve stopped the water.

Fibreglass undercoat finished and ready for balustrading

The right kind of cladding

Cedar cladding started at the front right

This week, the cladding has started going up. We’ve gone with a cedar cladding with modern, sleek lines covering the top half of the front of the house, to add a bit more detail and break up large sections of white render.

If you look closely, you’ll also see that we’ve started lining the inside of the entrance area either side of the glazing. We’re using Stucanet, which is a metal mesh (lath) attached to timber battens. This can then be rendered over in the same way as the block work without having to use any special techniques.

Stucanet stainless steel lath

Using Stucanet means we don’t have to have thick block work which would take up a lot of space in our entrance area.

Building a balcony

All the layers that make up our balcony

We’ve been building our balcony today, and that involves a number of layers of various materials that all come together to make a nice “whole”.

Our timber frame started off with a number of joists supporting an 18mm OSB board. We painted this with bitumen paint to attempt to stop the constant rain drips from the Cornish summer (which mostly worked).

Before building up the layers, we bolted large blocks of timber around the three outside edges of the balcony to provide the border, which will also stop water running off the end of the balcony.

To make sure the water runs off our balcony rather than pooling there, we started the build-up by installing firrings, which are basically timber wedges. The fall isn’t much, but it makes sure that water runs down. The firrings are attached through the bitumen-painted OSB into the joists below.

On top of this, we installed 18mm WBP plywood. This is a waterproof board designed for outside use (we also used this as the base layer of our roof) and this provides the main strength to everything on top of it. Again like the roof, the plywood is topped with breather membrane which stops most water but allows the layers underneath to breathe and stops condensation.

Next up is two layers of insulation. This brings up the level and also stops cold bridging, where cold materials meet warm materials and form condensation in between. The insulation sits in-between and stops this interaction.

Finally, we have 18mm tongue-and-groove OSB layed on top of the insulation, and screwed through it into the plywood below. This is the ideal base to fibreglass onto. The fibreglassing will finally make the balcony waterproof and give us some time to work out our next steps, such as what balustrades we want to have.

We decided to keep the fascias clean by going for a hidden gutter. That means making space inside the balcony itself for the water to run down and off. We cut back the top two layers by about 15cm to create a channel, and then installed a couple of long firrings running from side-to-side, to create a gentle slope to the right-hand side of the balcony. Here, we have a gap in the edge block which leads to the outside edge of the balcony, where a hopper will catch the water.

We’re on track to have all of this covered in fibreglass in the next few weeks, and we’ll post again once it’s done with the result!

Our first bit of rendering

Gable ends rendered and painted

In the last few days, we’ve had the first part of the house rendered – starting with the two gable ends. We then painted each end with three coats of external white paint.

Once we have the next bit of good weather, the scaffolding will come down a level and the first floor will be rendered on the sides and back of the house, while we’ll be cladding the front for a bit of textural interest!

Boarding is very nearly complete

Completed plaster boarding in our hallway void

We’re only a couple of days away from our plaster boarding being completed, and just wanted to share a photo of the boarding that has been done in our hallway void area to show good quality work.

This area is double height, with a roof light at the top and the intersection of a dormer with the main roof, so it’s a fairly complex area with multiple angles. Luckily, we have a skilled plaster boarder in Tony Mugford, and he’s done a great job of navigating those angles and producing a great-looking base ready for plastering.

Layers upon layers

Spreading adhesive before laying the tile backer boards

Whichever room we next go to, there’s always another layer of material that needs to be attached before we get to the fun bits.

This time, we’re in the main bedroom en-suite. This is the only room that will have tiles on the floor, so it’s always best to make sure whatever the tiles are attached to is waterproof.

We decided to have Jackoboard on the walls since it’s the easiest to work with. It’s a foam board sandwiched between thin sections of cement. It works well but we wanted something a bit more solid for the floors, so we went with Hardibacker, which is a solid cement board. It’s a lot heavier than Jackoboard, but ideal for places that will be walked on a lot.

Installation is actually quite easy – the hardest part is cutting the boards. We used a combination of a knife, handsaw and jigsaw to cut lengths and holes for pipes and cables. Other than that, it was a case of mixing up and spreading some adhesive on the ply floor, then laying the boards and fixing them with screws to make sure they’re fully secure.

Once the boards were laid, we taped the joins with Hardibacker mesh tape and adhesive to prepare it for tiling. The backer boards butt up to our inset shower tray, which will create a seamless transition once tiled between the shower and the rest of the bathroom.

Plaster board = rooms taking shape

Our main bedroom after plaster boarding

Having finally finished most of the glazing and the first fix work, we’ve started with the plaster boarding, and a few days in, what a difference it makes!

For one, the rooms are starting to look more like rooms, and they are also a lot darker!

The plan is to start plastering in the next few days while the boarding continues in the rest of the house, so that maybe in a couple of weeks, our house will look a lot more like home.

Tile backer boarding in the en suite bathroom

Additionally, rendering of the outside has started today with the two apexes being done, after which we will paint those sections so the first section of scaffolding can be taken down. Luckily, the roofing is being finished over the next couple of days and we’re also aiming to finish the guttering at the front.

The roof light is (finally) installed!

The roof light glazing and bars in all their (wet) glory

I’ve mentioned our much-awaited roof light a few times before, but this time I can finally say that the glazing has been installed and we’re in the final straight with getting it fully watertight.

To say it’s been an uphill struggle would be an understatement. There will probably be a more detailed blog post later about our trials and tribulations with this glazing, but for now, suffice to say that the companies involved have finally been able to work out together what needs to be done, and in what order, and get those things done.

The final step is for the roofing company to return and finish the aluminium panels either side of the glazing as well as fitting the ridge trims to finish off our roof and stop any water coming in for good.

On the plus side, it looks amazing from inside and I can’t wait for the scaffolding to come down so we see it properly for the first time.