Sundown – time to get indoors

Unfortunately the photos from this old post have been lost
It’s amazing, we have just had 3 full days of sunshine! We are not talking about just a bit of clear sky every now and then, we are talking about three whole, entire days of sunshine, from sunrise to sundown.

A German friend noted on Saturday, our first sunny day, that we had only had three sunny days in the past sixty days. My German acquaintance tends to make notes like this, as does my Swiss neighbour. They both tend to be mathematical about the weather, percentage of humidity, inches of rainfall – actually make that feet of rainfall, days of sunshine.

Some friends and I were chatting about this phenomenon of being so analytical about the weather and concluded that Irish people don’t have these tendacies because it would be too depressing to know exactly how much rain had fallen last week or that we have had only three whole days of sunshine in sixty days.

It’s much easier to cope when you know that it’s “been awhile since there was a good sunny day” or “there’s been a fierce amount of rain recently” as opposed to the cruel, hard, cold and wet facts.

So, back to the happy, happy fact that we have had multiple, complete days of sunshine. The ground is beginning to dry out, the mud outside our door has dried up. There are wasps flying about, presumably making the most of the last few flowers.

We have been working on the house again, for a while there it was too wet to be climbing up on the scaffolding to do outside work. We kept ourselves busy tidying up the inside of the house, moving the cedar wood indoors to keep it dry, painting the windows that have yet to be installed.

Now, for the last few days we have working outdoors again. We used the cedar to clad another wall, bringing us around to the south facing front of the house. We are about halfway to having the entire house clad and weatherproof.

Water Collection System and Cedar Cladding

It’s been so good to be working on the outside of the house again, even better has been working in a tee-shirt. It’s still a little chilly in the morning however it’s not long until the sweatshirt comes off – yahoo! Soooo nice to feel the warmth of sunshine.

Sundown, however, comes on quickly. The temperature drops so suddenly that it’s a rush to pull on sweatshirts and woolly hats, put the tools away and get indoors to light the fire. I laughed today when I thought about the silly old Vampire movie I saw over Halloween – the townspeople were rushing to get indoors when the sun went down, to avoid being Vampire supper.

We displayed the same urgency for different reasons, bright sunny, cloudless days lead to clear skies and cold nights. It’s time to be back indoors, enjoying the heat of the stove.


Old Windows

Over the last few weeks we have made great progress with our house building project. We finished putting up all the rafters by ourselves which was very satisfying. After that came the job of applying the ventilation membrane, a modern version of roofing felt. We were luck enough to have help for this job as himself doesn’t do heights so the roof is a difficult job for the two of us to tackle by ourselves.

We weren’t very lucky with the weather, it was quite windy and wet which is not great when you are trying to work on a roof. Luckily we were able to do some of this work from the scaffolding and didn’t have to do it all from the rooftop.

Then our luck improved, the weather brightened and some more help arrived, we finished the ventilation paper and got three quarters of the tin secured in place before the light went and we headed inside for a big feed of roast chicken with roast veggies.

Old Fashioned Sheet Tin Roof

It was surprising how much bigger the house felt when we got the rafters up and covered with roofing membrane. We had expected that the house would feel smaller however it was quite the opposite and we wondered if we were building a house which will be too big for us.

For the last 7 years we have been living in a small space, about 30ft by 12ft, which can be challenging for two big people with lots of technology, books, craft materials etc. I think what has saved our sanity is that we have a separate sleeping cabin which remains uncluttered so that no matter how cluttered or untidy our main living space becomes we still have a tidy, airy and bright space for sleeping.

I am sure that when the house is ready for us to move in we will fill the space. We expect to move in long before the house is fully finished and will finish it around us. People have often advised us against moving early however we are anxious to move out of the mobile-home as soon as we can. We are excited about the prospect of designing our new space around us whilst remaining realistic about the possible frustrations of living in an unfinished house.

Anyway, that is all ahead of us….

Right now we are concentrating on putting up cross-bracing on the wall frames and making final decisions about window placement. We are using salvaged windows  which have been stored for some time and now need some attention so today I put up a few trestles and screwed some plywood to the top to create a working table which is in the new bedroom.

Working on Windows

It is great to have a large dry space to work in now so the inside of the house is now becoming the workshop. I need to check all the old windows and ensure that the wood is sound enough to use. The storage area was a little damp in places so I will need to clean off all the old varnish and check the wood thoroughly.

The weather looks to be wet for the next few days so at least I will be dry. It’s nice to be working inside the house, it feels so different now that the roof is all covered and most of the tin sheeting is up.

I have been wondering when the rain was going to ease, it’s been raining for days now and the clouds are hanging low so the days are dark. Last night I was catching up on reading some blogs and over in Colorado, my blogging friend Suzan at Scruboak, has been anxiously looking skyward wondering when they are going to see rain.

I guess it is common for people in different places to have too much or not enough of a good thing…….

Up On The Roof

I know that I have mentioned a few times that we are building a home for ourselves. Usually in Ireland when someone self-builds it either means hiring a contractor to organise the job and supply all the labour or hiring all the builders, carpenters, roofers etc yourself.

Well, we don’t usually do things the “normal” way and building our home is no different! We are doing it by ourselves, with a little help from our friends. We also have not taken the mortgage route, preferring to save the money and buy or salvage materials as we go along. Of course this does mean that we are moving slowly and the build is taking some time.

Right now we want to get the roof on and that is what we have been concentrating on this summer. We have put up most of the wall framing posts and the ridgeboard for the roof.  We are using purlins which are like ridgeborads and do basically the same work – they help to hold up the rafters. The purlins run parallel to the ridgeboard, either side of the ridge equidistant from the outside walls and the ridge and they act to cut the rafter span in half.

Currently we are putting up the northern purlins and rafters. We have five rafters up and are hoping to get a few more up today. The building space is beginning to feel like a house now. For the last year we have had the floor platform up and covered with the floorboards. We have sometimes used the space as a platform for gathering with friends to drum, I have often brought up a garden chair and sat there with a coffee and a book.

Now that we have most of the wall frames up and we are putting up rafters we can feel the shape of the rooms and it is all becoming a little bit more real. It is great to look up now and really see where the roof is going. There are ways in which the slowness of the build is frustrating and there are ways in which the slowness is an advantage.

We are getting to really feel our home become real and we have the time to change wee things as we go along, make adjustments, see where the evening sun shines in, where the summer breezes come from. We will really appreciate it when the house is finished enough for us to move in – everyone says don’t move in until it is finished however our current home is becoming way too small and cluttered and is getting ready to fall apart – it was old when we bought it and really shouldn’t even have lasted as long as it has! We have been reluctant to put any time or money into repairing it as we really need to be concentrating on our new home so I think that as soon as we can we will be moving into the new house.

I am getting a bit ahead of myself though, the moving time is quite some while away yet, today we need to concentrate on getting a few more rafters up…

Housing Problems?

I thought that it was worth posting this information on behalf of a group called CUBE (Campaign to Use Buildings that are Empty)

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Carbery Housing Association was set up ten years ago by local West Cork residents, who could see that local people and new arrivals were unable to find affordable housing to rent in West Cork. As a result they were obliged to emigrate, or to live in unacceptable conditions, dependent on state Rent Allowance. Because of this CHA has made several attempts to progress sustainable housing projects, notably in Bantry (Kinaith-Fineen and Slip) but on all occasions our proposals have been rejected by Cork County and Town Councils.

Today the housing situation nationally is in shambles. A recent University College of Dublin study has found that there are around 345,000 empty homes in Ireland that are standing empty and unused. Some are in need of repair, but the majority would be immediately habitable. At the same time Local Authority housing lists have grown to over 80,000 households.
In view of this, CHA has decided to concentrate on trying to bring empty properties into use. The Government has recently introduced a new scheme to lease private empty properties, where the DEHLG will pay up to 80% of the market rent to the property owner, on the basis of a 10 to2 0 year lease. The tenant pays the equivalent of a Council rent, to cover the management and maintenance of the property.

CHA is now actively looking for privately-owned properties that can be used under this Scheme. So far we are following up the use of 2 properties in West Cork, but we aim to secure many more properties for rent to persons on our housing list in the coming months.

We would like to invite you to join CHA. We need your help to keep looking for homes, and to help raise funds. We currently receive no grants of any kind. We need to carry out surveys of properties we are offered, we need to carry out essential repairs, we need to administer and publicise the Scheme. We want to get as many property owners as possible to understand that letting their houses to us for use by people who cannot afford to buy or rent is a win-win situation.

We are also currently looking for Volunteers, who can help out for one day in the forthcoming West Cork Music Festival, to be held in Skibbereen on July 31st. We need Volunteers to act as Stewards on the day, and for each Volunteer, the Festival organisers will contribute € 100 to CHA for every Steward found.

If you are willing to help out in this, or in helping to identify empty houses and their owners, then please contact me, on 028 21890 or 086 8224429, or by e-mail at
Many thanks,
Yours sincerely

Jose Ospina