Life at the end of the road

February 14, 2015

Working like ‘Trojan’s’

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:27 pm

Well, yesterday there was no chance of me posting, in fact there was no point in me doing anything as I didn’t get home until 23:00 and the house was in darkness. All apart from the glow around my son’s bedroom door that is, he being a nocturnal teenager and all that. There had been a ‘big push’ on at ‘Sonas’ to get around 10 cubic meters of concrete poured and levelled over the 800m of UFH heating pipes.

Calum and Jay were the first to arrive

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around 9:15 with Lachie and Donald hot their heels off the first ferry.

Pretty soon the prep work was done, the mixer mixing and the barrows rolling.

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With Lachie doing the back breaking job spreading and floating the concrete Donald and Calum ‘lengthened their arms’ on the wheelbarrows. Me I had the ‘wimps job’ of

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‘breaking glass’ for mixing in with the Skye marble chips. Now, not a lot of people know this but you can tell the age of some cars by the markings on their windows.

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Probably not a great deal of interest or even use to most folk these days but when I was in the motor trade 30 years ago it was a good indication if a car had been written off, stolen or generally messed about with. This Discovery glass has a dot over the ‘t’ in toughened which, as the word has nine letters in means it was manufactured in year one of that decade, fascinating innit Smile  Anyway, I quickly came to the conclusion that I really needed far more than a set of Discovery windows and two Fiat ‘drop glasses’ to make my floor sparkle, still I’m sure some of the bits will ‘shine through’.

I have to say that when it came to the hard physical graft I kept out of the way of the ‘experts’, I’m no stranger to hard labour but these boys were like robots and barely stopped. Me, I got tired just watching them and was starting to get a sore back just at the thought of  floating all that concrete.


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They started on the largest and furthest away from the door room, the lounge/kitchen area and never stopped until it was finished some three hours later. Lachie doing levelling with a laser,

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Donald and Calum constantly mixing and barrowing. Me I just kept watching the pressure gauge on the UFH manifold for fear of the pipes getting punctured. I needn’t have worried for they’re extremely durable and it held steady at 4bar, the pressure Billy had set it to on Wednesday.

It was in short perfect weather for the job, warm enough not to freeze, cool enough not to dry out too quickly and crack, and with enough wind and sun to keep the batteries charged. The wind turbine may have been slow in ‘earning its keep’ but it was doing sterling work on Friday keeping a 1.5kW load supported all day and diverting power to the three ‘dump loads’.

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One of the resistors reaching a staggering 409 degrees, so very important that they’re kept away from anything flammable.


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This is the lounge at 14:30, just after they finally stopped for a rest.

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There was no let up even as the sun started to set,

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they just kept going. Calum eventually left after ten hours ‘hard labour’ but that was only because the ‘concrete mystro’ Norman had arrived at 17:00 with the ‘helicopter’ and the expertise to use it.

Unlike this bunch of clowns Smile

By 22:00 the floor was finally laid and i made myself really useful by cleaning the mixer, to be fair I did do a few barrow loads too.


Like I said, I was home for 23:00 and in bed shortly afterwards but Norman, Lachie and Donald only had a few hours break with no sleep before the concrete was hard enough to walk on. Saturday morning arrived with a clear blue sky and when I left the schoolhouse at 7:30 it was pretty much daylight.


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A touch of frost with the moon still high in the sky but certainly no need for lights.


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The boys had been busy

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and our slab was looking just lovely.

Saturday may have been light on ‘wind power’ but the 4.7kW solar array was doing well,

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I fitted a kWh meter to the 2.2kW array on Friday night and it started generating as the sun came up, producing some 4kwh when I last checked. The other 2.5kW goes ‘straight to battery’ as opposed to being ‘AC coupled’ but I guess it would produce a similar amount, if not more.

The tipping trailer

The boys finally ‘wrapped up’ around 11:00 and headed off on the 12:15 leaving me to admire their handiwork and have a look at Lachie’s tipping trailer.


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  1. Fantastic work ethic, could show a few tradesmen how to work down here
    i,m sure word of mouth works wonders where you live

    Comment by Duncan Boyle — February 14, 2015 @ 10:13 pm

    • Yes Duncan, quite laid back until work ‘needs’ done then just batter in till it’s finished seems to be the local ethic.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 15, 2015 @ 10:27 am

  2. Paul, that video of the runaway power float is brilliant…..thanks for the link!!

    Comment by George Rankine — February 15, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  3. Are you putting the glass on top of the concrete before floating? Do you need to sand the surface later to get the full effect of the glass?

    Comment by willie — February 15, 2015 @ 9:36 am

    • Hi Willie,

      Are you putting the glass on top of the concrete before floating?
      That’s what Lachie and I wanted to do but Norman said it wasn’t a good idea and he really is an expert in these matters.
      Do you need to sand the surface later to get the full effect of the glass?
      Yes, that will be the final job once the house is almost finished.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 15, 2015 @ 10:25 am

  4. I have to say, and this is not your problem, Paul, but the two guys laughing in the video p**sed me off. You’d need to be an educated consumer of US accents to know that those were educated “yuppie” guys laughing at a bunch of immigrant and working class labourers who were probably just trying to do their best faced with a dangerous runaway machine. I doubt either of them has ever done a stick of real work in their lives. (Having said that, it was funny!)

    Comment by mick — February 15, 2015 @ 11:19 am

  5. End coming nto sight now, eh, Paul? Looking very goodcompared with how it was when we were up just over a year ago. How time flies!

    Comment by Lloyd — February 15, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  6. Could you say a few more words about that floor P ? Like is this real concrete? and a ground or air heat pump ? Is it to be covered with … ?

    Comment by jimbo — February 15, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

    • Hi Jimbo,
      it’s a regular concrete slab over 100mm of insulation with some marble and glass through it. The heating is regular wet UFH supplied from a large thermal store that is heated by surplus energy from the wind/hydro/solar. The floor will be ground and polished once the heavy work is done and that will be it, no carpets or floor covering, perhaps just a rug or two.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 15, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  7. I always worry with underfloor heating years down the line if it springs a leak….. what do you do then? Do you have to dig the whole floor up to find it and is it something that does happen?

    Comment by Ali — February 15, 2015 @ 9:28 pm

    • How would it ‘spring a leak’ ? it’s one continuous length of plastic pipe and is pressure tested for days prior to the concrete being poured. If you did have an earthquake and the pipe did burst then I think a damp patch on your floor would be the least of your worries. Sure, it’s not unheard of but it’s invariably within weeks or days of the slab being poured because of a builders ‘hob nailed boots’. It is then their problem and not yours 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 15, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

      • No idea!!! I guess all materials can have a weakness that can be exposed over time. I only wondered if they ever do and, if so, how you would deal with it that’s all. 😦

        Comment by Ali — February 17, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

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