Cowieswells is a derelict farm south of Stonehaven in NE Scotland. We were lucky enough to acquire the place in August 2010 when we were moving back to the UK from Norway and looking for something to match or even better our previous, fjord-side home. The farm house and steading (barns) command an impressive and exposed cliff top location with fantastic views across the North Sea. The buildings were constructed from sandstone in a traditional style and our goal in rebuilding it is to be sympathetic to the original design whilst creating a much larger house which is modern, efficient and maximizes the unique views.

Since we bought the place we have spent over a year working with architects, planners and generally doing stuff that doesn't make for interesting reading. This blog picks up the renovation process in late 2011 when work outside got started. Over the coming months it will be updated every week or so with pictures, movies and the odd bit of text. Like Grand Designs but without the suave sarcasm of Kevin McCloud.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Time lapse animals

This week the timelapse camera has captured a few interesting things (but no space aliens). There is rabbits galore, these two seemed especially relaxed, especially considering what is hunting them.

The next view is the back of what is hunting them - a large buzzard. Interestingly we have never seen any foxes in the area.

Finally the night camera captured this chap. It gives an indication of how big their territory is when you consider the closest house is over 500 m away, which, if your legs are only 4 cm long is a pretty long way. Lola the fat cat is in for a bit of a surprise when we move in.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Week 33 - Delays

Work progresses well, the first fix (electrics and plumbing) is complete, most of the plaster board is on the walls and the roof is almost slated. We should be happy.

Slating the roof is almost complete. To bad the windows are currently made of wood
Main living area, plasterboarded
Kitchen area, almost plasterboarded
However, I found out on Friday that the windows, which are being made by Nordan in Norway and where due on the 6th November, will now not be ready until the 26th. There has been no real explanation for this other than "they will be ready on the 26th November". Hmm this is a serious bummer because it means that we will now not be finished by Christmas. This is proper Grand Designs drama, and in the large scheme of things, not really a big deal. But at the moment it is rather depressing. Was very much looking forward to my christmas dinner looking out over the sea in a cosy warm house.

The builders have suggested that they may be able to get the bothy ready for christmas which would be a reasonable consolation prize.
Bedroom, plasterboarded and taped
In the meantime I was off work for a week and spent the time building a wall in the steading courtyard. Building with field stones (large well rounded boulders from Devonian rivers)  is rather like balancing golf balls on top of each other, but despite being slow, I am getting there and its been fun. May even be finished before the house at this rate.

New wall and steps in the steading courtyard. Almost straight!

The best part of a week of work!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Week 29

I was away last week but the weather was apparently horrendous, I heard tales of 80 mph winds in Aberdeen and Footdee was covered in salty white foam. So given that Cowieswells is very exposed I was expecting to see some serious damage, but there was nothing! That was a bonus. The weather had stopped the guys getting many of the slates on the roof, but they made a start at the end of the week.

Some slating has been done. The roof is looking good
Evidence of slating which makes you think they are messy buggers...
Until you see their very impressive lead work 
Meanwhile the weather hadn't stopped things happening inside and the specialist electrical chaps from Boothes came and installed a spaghetti of cables for the Lutron and Elan systems. The Lutron system allows us to control all the lights in the downstairs  family area from a single point (ipad), while the Elan controls everything else, sound, TV, heating etc etc. I think it evens tells me what to wear in the morning and makes the tea. It's an interesting challenge to future proof the place. Installing the possibility for two Sky boxes feels very odd for a family that doesn't watch TV from one month to the next, but we keep thinking its better to do it now than start chopping holes in walls at some point in the future.

Enough Cat5 for an office block. There goes my gun cabinet, lost to 2 sq m of technowank!
All of the manifolds and piping for the underfloor heating have also now been installed. I am used to Norwegian style electrical underfloor heating, not systems that use water. But as someone pointed out, Norway is a country with an abundance of cheap hydro-electric (although it hasn't been so cheap in recent years, but that's a separate issue). Paragon also installed the heat recovery system which provides ventilation around the house with fresh air that is warmed by the heat in the stale air (read farts!) that is being pumped out. With all this we should be cosy and warm and there are also two wood burners to go in!
Underfloor heating manifold - and that's just downstairs. I think I will need a degree to live in this house. Good job we have a small child who will instantly, intuitively know how it all works.  
Although not all things are high-tec and modern. I was pleasantly surprised to find they still use copper for the water pipes. Nice and shiny isn't it?
General view of the downstairs. Note that curved bit of steel again. We are starting to really get a feel for the space. And we like it!
View from the dinning area, this space will be full height.
Another view of the family area. This will be the kitchen
Hard to imagine that we will be sleeping here by Christmas
Upstairs bathroom, with that curved piece of steel again. Note also the heat recovery system in the cupboard to the left of the picture 
We have also been busy and have now finalised kitchen plans, 4 bathrooms, tiles, stairs for the house, stairs for the bothy, the lighting plan - blimey just typing it all makes me feel like I need a lie down!. We have also got a pretty good idea of what we are going to do in the garden. Its been a productive week.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Google Street View

Google street view had a very interesting view of how the place looked just before we bought it. If ever we feel we are behind schedule it's always good to take a look at this and remind ourselves how far we have come since we bought the place.I am working on stitching these into a nice panorama (without big jumps) but in the meantime are a couple of the best views of the house and steading.

House and bothy 

Steading and bothy. This pic lies to the left hand side of the one above. The dutch barn and its standing have gone.