54. Slowing down

Planning first fix is taking time

4th December 2014

It’s nearly three weeks since the scaffold came down, in which time the pace of work on site has slowed almost to a standstill. But that’s okay – we’re not in a huge rush and there are times when it’s important to stop and think a bit. Finalising the drawings for first fix is one of those times.

First fix is the business of putting all the cables and pipes in the walls before the plasterboard goes up. Which means it’s the moment when the position of all the fittings and appliances and lights and switches is confirmed. So, although I have been working on these drawings for some time, it’s been good to walk around the building with the drawings and review everything one more time. Being in the space changes your perspective, in every sense.

For example, the photo above shows the view from the bottom of our staircase-to-be. You can see up through the stairwell into our landing/study/library space, lit from above by two roof windows. At the top of the staircase, where the ladder now rests, there is a door into the bedroom. Above this room there is a loft, shaped like a slice of cheese, which we will access via a library ladder that takes us to the upper level of our bookcases (see right). The original plan was to take the plasterboard all the way up the loft wall to the rising ceiling. But we have had a cunning idea: why not fill the gaps between the studs in the loft with stained glass, which can then be illuminated from within the loft, creating a rather lovely effect in the study?

This idea would not work very well if we had to go into the loft to switch on the light every time we wanted to enjoy the effect, so I have specified a two way switch controlling the loft lights among the other light switches at the top of the staircase, together with its pair in the loft itself. This is the kind of wiring we really don’t want to do when the walls have been plastered. Hence my willingness to potter about on site a bit, trying to think laterally.

I have been doing some proper graft too: I spent today clearing the ground floor in preparation for the installation of the various components of the floor: a leveling compound to give us a properly flat floor, the damp proof membrane, steel straps to hold the timber frame down, 300mm of insulation, tongue and groove boards, and finally hundreds of blocks of panga panga parquet, a gorgeous, dark, variegated African hardwood (reclaimed, needless to say) that will have to be fitted, sanded and oiled.

And that’s just one surface! If you are subscribed to this blog, I fear that you may still be receiving emails from me when the Christmas lights are turned on in 2015.


  1. So exciting to see inside the house - already it has a wonderful atmosphere. You are wise not to rush at this crucial stage. The subconscious need time to come up with creative solutions for complex problems. It is all too easy to push oneself to be 'logical' for a quick result, and then end up making a mess. So long as it's ready for Ford's 'End of My 50th Year' celebration, all will be perfect. Love these posts so much. An oasis of peace, humanity and beauty in the midst of all the jangling rocks of internet crack. Love from Thea xxxx

    1. Thanks Thea. I agree re subconscious - a quiet friend who does so much work for me, even when (or especially when) I am doing very little! xx