More Watertight

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

The house is now a lot less leaky than it was at the end of last week.

After getting the kitchen window sash in on August 25th, what with a few days of not feeling very well, a few days of wind and rain and a bit of hassle with the latch mechanism it wasn't until September 10th that I got the window for the study in.

Just as I was setting up the scaffold, ropes and pulleys, etc, to lift the sash a couple of neighbours dropped by for a chat and, when I said what I was doing, offered to help lift the sash. It'd almost certainly have been quicker but with my steep roof I was really concerned about the awkwardness of holding the sash and the risk of it toppling outwards so I decided to carry on with my existing method. After they left I lifted this one in very simply at the first attempt with no hassles at all. It took 1.5 hours to do it but time well spent, I feel.

One of said neighbours had previously given me the contact details for a local chap who'd done the profile steel cladding on their shed, which all appeared well done. In parallel with setting up for the last window I tried contacting him (email, leaving a message at his home, phoning his mobile but it going to voice mail, texting him) but got no reply, so time to look elsewhere.

I also popped in to talk to a larger steel cladding firm between Tain and Alness when I was going down to Inverness anyway. They only do the steel cladding, not any of the membrane or timber underneath so I'd need to get somebody else to do that.

I then emailed four possible looking builders on the local caithness.org site. After a few days none had replied so I started ringing round. The first one I tried seemed communicative and sensible so I didn't bother to ring the others but met him on the site on Saturday September 28th to discuss him doing the membrane and battens. A day or two later he gave a quote which seemed reasonable and he and his sidekick could do the job this last weekend unless the weather was too bad so I asked him to go ahead.

Meanwhile, by September 21st I'd got the frame sorted for the last window (in the living room) but hadn't since had a suitable day to cut the hole in the roof and actually put the window in.

Apart from a few showers Monday September 30th would have been a reasonable day to do that but I needed to prioritise getting the materials for the roof lined up and so spent most of the day waiting for calls to be returned. It would have been a tad embarrassing to have the builder turn up but not have all that's needed.

I tried my usual suppliers in Thurso. They couldn't improve on the (rather expensive) price of one roll of the membrane I'd already bought to look at earlier in the year when I'd wondered about doing it myself.

Next I tried the bigger roofing specialist in Inverness. I was looking for VP400 membrane following various recommendations on Buildhub, etc, but they only did Roofshield. I'm sure that'd have been fine but I'd already been caught out by one lot of supposedly equivalent membrane failing quite quickly so didn't want to play that game.

Another supplier in Inverness I tried had 17 rolls in stock, when I needed 10, at £30/roll cheaper than my usual supplier. Well worth a trip to Inverness for that much so off I went on Tuesday October 1st. “Somebody bought our last 17 rolls yesterday afternoon. We won't have any more in until at least next week”.

Anyway, I ordered 340 metres of battens from them to be delivered on Thursday. I already had 100 metres stored in the house which I'd bought to do the gable ends before I decided the windows were taking so long that I should get the roof done as soon as the windows were in any sort of state to be wrapped up.

Their nearest other branch is in Perth. I seriously wondered about asking them if the Perth branch had VP400 in stock and, if so, to put some aside for me but I decided to try the Inverness branch of my usual supplier first. They could do it for £18 less than the Thurso branch but £12 more than the other place. Borderline; I'd drive to Perth for £300 but for £120 probably not, so got the membrane from them.

The rest of the week was too breezy to put membrane round the hole for the last window so there wasn't a lot I could do. On Thursday I went up to take delivery of the battens.

Friday was bright but breezy so I went up to open the windows and dry the inside of the house out a bit. Actually, as I sat reading I noticed the wind dropping so I got on and cut the hole for the living room window, here partly cut with the bottom two pieces of sarking board pulled out from the inside:

and the outside:

put the membrane round it, split the window frame and sash and fitted the insulation collar and frame. By then it was too late to think about fitting the sash - not something I wanted to be rushed on because of oncoming darkness - so I just put a temporary cover over it, again from the inside:

and from the outside.

The forecast for the weekend was pretty breezy on Saturday and very wet and windy on Sunday so I was pessimistic for getting the whole roof done. I hoped that they'd at least get most of the north roof done on Saturday.

Saturday morning I meet the main builder on site just after 08:00 and his sidekick turned up a little later. They got on and put up the first few runs of membrane. We had a little confusion as I originally said to put the battens on 900 mm centres then, when I saw how the 1 metre wide membrane sheets were overlapping by 150 mm suggested reducing that to every 850 mm so the battens would go over where the sheets overlapped making sure each sheet was pinned top and bottom and not just relying on the staples to keep them down.

Normally this wouldn't matter but as the membrane was going over the existing membrane and counter battens (up and down the roof) it wouldn't be held by the counter battens. Originally I'd hoped to get 1.5 metre wide sheets so, with 900 mm o/c battens every sheet would have been pinned twice anyway but nobody had that in stock. Actually, having 1 m wide sheets probably made handling the stuff in that wind quite a bit safer and easier anyway. Maybe that's why nobody stocks the wider version up this way.

For some reason it took a few frustrating rounds of conversation to get through that I meant 850 mm centres, not spacing, which I thought was obvious with 1000 mm wide sheets overlapped by 150 mm.

After a while a heavy rain shower came by and we retreated to our vans. When we emerged they suggested I didn't have to help (I'd been passing up battens and so on) and probably had better things to do. I.e., could I go away before I though of any more good ideas ;-). So I left them to it to carry on up the north roof:

They got that done and were starting on the south roof by the end of Saturday.

On Sunday I swung by twice in the morning, on the way up to Lidl in Wick and again on the way back, by which time they were well above the windows on the south side. I left them to it for the rest of the day.

This morning was quite wet and windy but I popped up in a short gap to have a look, tidy up and take a few pictures. North roof:

and south:

There's plenty more for me to do around the windows (the battens between them are temporary, I'll remove them, do more sealing then put them back nailed properly) but even after a very wet and windy night the inside of the house is already noticeably drier.