Saturday, January 27, 2007


Today when we went we found the roofing (asphalt) all completed, a spanking aluminium front door that looks just like wooden in place, pillasters on the porch, and two men in gnome suits stuffing glass wool insulation batts into the walls and window frames. The legally mandated 24-hour, forced-air ventilation system is now complete and hidden under the upstairs ceiling.

In the style of King George (titter)
(King George of Canadia)

One of the key features of Selco Home houses is the thoroughness of the insulation. It's thick, and it goes in everywhere. They even carefully stuff it in the cracks around the outsides of the window frames. The whole effect is very fua-fua (soft). It gets a layer of plastic sheeting on the outside to protect it from moisture.

Padded cell - the living/dining room

Filling in around the windows

One of the beauties of having a house designed for yourself is the potential to ask for things you've always wanted but that aren't generally possible in rented accommodation. I've always wanted a bar for doing pull-ups on. In the new house, I'm going to have two, built in -- one in the downstairs hall (doubling as an indoor drying rail), and one in the stairwell.

The location of one of the pull-up bars
Instructions to leave a cutaway in the ceiling
for head clearance

The staircase has yet to be started, so to get to the 2nd floor we have to use a ladder. I'm sure the young master will be disappointed when it's replaced with some un-pirate-like stairs.

Hazardous in slippers

On the way home, we went to look at some of the shops in our new vicinity. We found that they have an even better selection of local fresh food and more Japanese wines than the shops in town. They also have really nice bread at good prices. This came as a pleasant relief. There's also a shop selling wild boar and deer meat -- considering the hazards of modern-day industrial meat, some locally-hunted wild meat will be worth a look.

When we got home there was a rather fine winter sunset to enjoy. At the moment, our view of the sunset is blocked by another house, and to take pictures like this, I have to walk a few yards. In the new place, the sunsets will be visible from nearly every window and especially from the balcony.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Looking very housey now

We went to the house today to confirm where the light switches and power sockets are to go. It is looking very housey with the roof boards on and all the main structural items in place. It looks very tall.

Checking the position of the electrical outlets and controls is an important business requiring concentration. The temptation to stare slack-jawed out of the window instead of thinking about how one will want to turn on the kitchen light proved overwhelming. But I think we did a good job in the end.

I had a bit of a shock when I went into my future office and found that the window in front of where my desk is to be was far too low. I said something like, "This would be about right for a primary school kid", and "Common sense should have told somebody this was too low for a window".

Hidaka-san looked a bit upset and said that most tables are about 70 cm tall, and chairs are about 20 cm lower, so the window should be just at head height. I refused to believe it.

So we went back to our current house where Hidaka-san quietly demonstrated that my common sense is completely wrong when it comes to the height of chairs and tables, and graciously accepted my apologies.

We also had a good look at my current office setup and redrew the plans for the size of the built-in desk and the placement and wiring for all my equipment. It should all be very convenient and ergonomic, and I'll have a nice view of mountains on one side, and the sea on the other. I can't wait to get moved in.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

All made of wooden

On Saturday, we got a bit lost on the way and approached the house from the opposite direction from usual. It was a surprise to see that the second floor and rafters are now nearly complete, and how much of an impact the house has on the skyline. Hopefully when it's subdued brick and not all naked wood and blue sheeting it will blend in better.

When we got there, we found that the windows are also in place. We duly asked permission to clamber all over the scaffolding and get into the second floor too.

It's certainly exciting to see it looking so housey

The house is definitely made of wooden. The expression "Can't see the wood for the trees" came unbidden to mind.

First floor

Double joists for the piano room floor

Rafters viewed from the stairwell

All according to plan

Playing 'pirates'

The two framing wallahs aren't very sociable,
but they work quickly and precisely

The approximate view from the balcony

Rafters and blue, Ehime sky

The second floor living room

In the evening, Hidaka-san and Kawabe-san came around for a very entertaining little party. Hidaka-san brought some excellent sake, while Kawabe-san brought two boxes of oranges grown by his family. Tidying up this morning, I noticed with great regret that the sake bottle is empty.

Kawabe-san suggested at one point that I take over the farming of one his family's orchards near our house. This is the sort of opportunity I've been hoping for. I have a few ideas for optimizing the profitability of orchards in this neck of the woods...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The framing of the first floor was already well underway when we arrived on Monday (a national holiday). The snow that was threatened hadn't materialized (why don't weather forecasters ever apologize?).

It was rather shocking to see how much one's own gaff will impact the landscape - and all without asking anybody if they mind. The neighbours who visit their relatives in the graveyard next door and the others who walk their dogs up the hill are all very upbeat about it though. "How exciting!", they say, "How one looks forward to seeing the finished article!". Indeed.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Onto the wooden bits

The last few days have been lousy weather - cold, with gusty rain storms. Not really the sort of weather for putting down joists and underfloor insulation as planned. However, the work went ahead nonetheless, and we just hope the builders know what they're doing.

Suddenly the house looks bigger than when it was just a piece of string on the ground, and then a concrete slab. The floor is higher than I expected, and the viewpoint from the first floor windows should also be better than I hoped.

These are little holes between the floor level and the foundation. The idea is that air circulates freely inside the foundation and keeps it dry.

Batts of fibreglass wool are inserted between the joists, resting on netting stapled to the underside of the joists. Looks cosy.

The lads are at work while keeping a weather eye on the rain clouds out at sea. This was the wrong place to be looking as the unpleasantness comes in from the mountain behind. I hope they will make haste with their tarps when the rain starts.

Within two weeks, the walls and windows are expected to be in place and the roof following soon after. Let's praying for good weather. The next two days of snowmen definitely does not count as good weather.

I spent my time profitably mulching my beans and peas with cherry leaves. I don't know if this is a smart thing to do or not, but the farmers in these parts have all done something similar with black plastic. I trust that cherry leaves will not be more harmful. The onions have been fed with one trayful of worm casts from my Can O' Worms.

The other day with some very useful help from the young master, I dug out some significant chunks of concrete from the rock pile, and formed the outline of the second row. There's an awful lot of cement in this soil, so I imagine I won't have to use any lime for a while.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007