Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Extend the pain

So we’ve got the pricing on doing the extension. Its all within budget, at least until we start looking at all the extras we want. Its just a little bit here, a bit more there, and suddenly the costs aren’t quite within budget any more…

Still, we want to do some interesting things. I’ve got a wine cellar to get built. With cases spread all over the shop, I need to get it back with me so I can actually drink the stuff!

I’ve also started looking into geothermal heating. This is really quite cool. Because we’re on a hill, and close to bedrock, we only have to drill a short way down. Various piping is sunk down the hole, then for very little electric cost we get 24 hour heating in winter and cooling of the main rooms in summer. The beauty of it is no change to the pipework and radiators we already have. No more heating fuel, and so long as I stay on a green electric tarrif (ie all the electricity comes from renewable sources) very little eco guilt.

I did look at solar, but for the British Isles there’s this little problem of a lack of regular sunlight. We’re also just in the lee of the hill we live on, so there’s not quite enough wind to make a turbine effective. Geothermal it is.

Next is replacing the septic tank. We’re operating on an 80 year old one. Its full of tree roots, and though not smelly, it does overrun regularly. A decent septic system just isn’t cheap. I’m still looking at the different options. Thing is, a lot of them require electrics to run aeration pumps and the like. Very fussy, they seem prone to breakdown, plus you’ve got to pay to run them. The advantage is clean water out the back end, and nice digested waste. I’m still not sure which way to go on that.

There are some very good grey water systems. These take all the water out of your bath and showers, and do a simple three stage filtration. Not necessarily safe to drink, but its fine for running the toilets, or more importantly giving LL water for the garden, drought or no drought. She’s rather keen on that. I’m pretty certain we’ll go for one of those.

Making a virtue out of a necessity we’ve got a big expanse of flat roof to plant up. I managed to turn LL’s thinking around by getting her excited about how we’d deal with it. She’s been busy looking at what sort of plants work best in a roof system. I’m rather impressed, we’ll have a regular wild flower garden out there by the time she’s done

Then there’s all the interior to think through. That’s a fun bit, and thankfully LL’s sense of taste and design well matches my own. We rarely disagree, and both get excited about ideas. Since getting the planning permission there has been a lot of brainstorming. Its fun stuff, and we’re gaining some great new space to the house.

The biggest downside? The estimates have come back with a 25 – 30 week build time. Half a year of builders tumbling around the house. Half a year of disruption and stress. There’s probably at least a month of moving out of the house while the septic system gets sorted out. Ah well, we’ve lived through it before. Back into the fray we go…


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