Kitchen excavations

It’s been a while since I last posted but I have been fully absorbed in the renovation process. I moved into the house just around new years, which is when the work really got started.

As you might know, my house doesn’t currently have a kitchen, because a previous owner had tore it out but then never finished their renovations. What they left me with wasn’t exactly a blank slate to get started on, so there has been a lot for me to tackle, and the building being as old as it is has thrown me a couple of curve balls too.

So far I have:

  • Removed a thick layer of self-levelling compound  across the entire floor
  • Dismantled the new stud walls a previous owner had put in in front of the old ones
  • Taken down the extra layers of studs and boards added to the ceiling in part of the room
  • Partially exposed the cob walls in dire need of repair
  • Removed layers upon layers of paint on the chimney breast, also removing loose render while I was at it
  • Removed the old floor boards so I can access the old insulation and to be able to inspect the integrity of the beams

I still need to:

  • Complete the removal of the floor boards
  • Remove all the junk found beneath the boards (it looks like mostly dirt and peat)
  • Repair any damaged beams
  • Install new insulation
  • Probably put in another layer of beams in the opposite direction of the original ones so I get a CC suitable for installing new floors on
  • Install new underfloors and then install the lino I’ve bought
  • Repair the cob walls
  • Repair/replace some of the beams in the walls
  • Put up new inner walls with a layer of insulation
  • Put in a new ceiling in part of the room
  • Render the chimney breast
  • Tile portion of the walls
  • Get someone in for plumbing and electrics
  • Buy the kitchen units
  • Install the kitchen units

It is a lot of work, and especially all this preparing work before I get to the “fun” bits is really taking its toll. At the same time I know that if I didn’t do this properly, I would constantly worry about the floors and walls not being sound. In Swedish we have this word byggnadsvård, which refers not only to the repair and restoration of old buildings, but also the care. Taking on a house like this is a responsibility, and I need to respect the house and its materials to be able to get the best result possible. And I am learning a lot.

One of the more important aspects of this process is making sure the house can “breathe”. Houses that were built before the introduction of plastics rarely benefit from having plastic added to the construction, because it can often cause damp to get sealed in in a way that harms the house. In a modern build, it’s possible with modern materials like plastics, composites and steel constructions to get a perfectly airtight build, but that is not something you should try to achieve with an older building. So I have been looking at using insulation made from cellulose and finding paints that will still let humidity air out when needed.

The insulation I will probably use is made by Hunton Nativo and is made of wood fibers. It is not only a good insulation, it also has great thermal mass, and is treated with a fire retardant. You can read more about it here.

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