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.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

I can now walk down stairs and get a chilled glass of wine from the kitchen...

... because we now have stairs, a wine chiller and the bones of a kitchen :-)

Work progresses at a steady rate. The stairs were constructed by a joinery in Stonehaven, based on some pictures we found on the internet. They are looking very nice, perhaps better than we had imagined. The corian work tops are in, in the kitchen, as are all the appliances except the cooker. All the floors are complete and they start on the bathrooms next week.

Stairs are in and looking good
Work tops are on in the Kitchen and the wine chiller is installed. No kettle yet, so glass of wine it is then. 

Remember that curved piece of steel...
Katharine admiring her masterpiece of design 
Outside the groundworks are progressing and there are drains and cables and pipes going in all over the place. Having finally got rid of the old stonewall in front of the house you get a nice idea of how big the garden will be.

A lot of space for lawn, think I am going to need a tractor mower (or a goat)
Much better without that wall...
Space for a lot of poo! Getting installed next week.
Interesting discussion with the builders about the landing plate at the top of the stairs. It has a slight lip on it (by design) which to them is fine but screams "trip hazard" to our oil industry, HSE sodden brains! You think you are immune to all the brainwashing but you realise that simply through a process of attrition, some of it effects your view of the world. To cleanse my sole I am going to run up and down my new stairs with an unlidded cup of coffee in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other...

Trip hazard or oil industry perpetuated paranoia? Either way its going to be changed.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Scaffolding Down

Last weekend I was down at the site cutting logs and doing some tidying up. Whilst working (read dicking around), I managed to get the Range Rover well and truly stuck (high centred) in some very deep mud.  The weather has been pretty poor and the place looks like the Somme. I tried for an hour and a half to get it out but to no avail. So I left it there with a view to coming back Monday morning and eating a large slice of humble pie and getting a tow off the builders.

By the time I arrived on Monday morning, they had already dragged it clear and set to work taking down the scaffolding. This represents the start of the next major phase,  working on the ground work outside (drains etc) and I was too excited to be embarrassed about my poor landrovering skills.

This was the first time that we have seen the place without the scaffold and it looks amazing. We are very happy with the way its coming along. Inside they have continued with fitting kitchens, laying floors and doing electrics.

First views of the house and bothy without the scaffolding
View of main entrance and extension 
They have also been busy inside, tiling and painting 
Another view of the kitchen and living area
Another view of the house with no scaffolding - its so exciting!

The bosses checking out the bothy kitchen 
Place looks rather like a WWI battle field

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Week 47 - On the home straight

Lots to report, partly because its been a while and partly because they have been very busy since the New Year started. We got all the windows in before Christmas so the place was finally wind and water tight which was good to know since there was no one about and we headed south over the holiday.

The guys were back at full speed with the New Year, and since the start of January the underflooring heating has been laid, the wooden floors upstairs, the stone tiles in the downstairs are going down, the utility room is in, the kitchen is half in, the skirting and down frames are done, some of the cupboards fitted out and the place has had a first coat of paint. On the outside the place has been rendered and the stonework pointed. In the bothy the floors are down, the kitchen is in, as is the spiral stair. Phew - I am tired just listing all that!

The fireplace for the bothy was too small, right Kw but it takes logs that are a maximum length of 10 cm. I like cutting wood, but not that much! So we sent it back and the very nice people at the fireplace company (Robertsons Stone Centre) agreed to change it for the next model up at no additional cost. Nice people!

Unlike Vicaima who supplied the interior doors, they took  10 weeks to arrive and when they came they were the wrong ones (our fault, well actually their crappy website but...). Anyway they refused to swap them, despite the fact they were off the shelf, miserable buggers! Fortunately our friendly builders offered to buy them off us, so all was not lost.

Current timeframe says we will be in by the end of February, so there is still lots to happen in the next 26 days - watch this space....

Outside, pretty much finished, including the pointing and the rendering of the extension

Big windows in - finally 

Windows from Nordan - Finally 

Kitchen half in...

There will be a stair case here...

The heat recovery unit, this is about the only place they have laid the wooden floor and then not covered it with protective material. So its the best chance to see how it looks

Main bedroom 

Making the most of the scaffold before it disappears 

Bothy kitchen in 

Spiral stair in bothy