Montag, 16. April 2012

Part 6 – It's all about the roof

We have been hard at work and very busy doing all the detailed fixing of the roof. The roof shape is quite intricate, and has always been regarded as providing some of the “character” you would expect of an old building. 
                                         (the old attic roof)

We’ve been replacing and strengthening the noggins, bits of wood that go in-between the frames and also doing work on the walls and rebuilding new windows. We decided to strengthening the entire frames of the top floor by removing the old support, and installing new ones a bit more higher up.
(new roof)

This tactic helps us create a large living space with lots of light available. The work’s been really intensive and visually, we have noticed a great deal of change already.. By the end of next week, though, the whole timber frame will be finished and we’ll be able to see the house as it’s going to look.

Sonntag, 8. April 2012

Part 5 - Building the new floor

It was all systems go at the building site, after steaming off the wall papers and taking out the old lime floor. After digging out the floor, we began work on laying the new floor boards.
Steel is a versatile, popular material used in the construction of everything from skyscrapers to housing. We decided to use steel beam because, it is very durable and is more likely to survive natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and fire. Steel also does not rot, mold, or dry out. It is not subject to infestation and will not shrink or warp in different weather conditions. Furthermore, it has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. This means that a steel beam of a given mass is capable of resisting much higher stresses without fracture than an equivalent mass of wood or stone.
A  long and heavy metal beam was laid next to the old wooden beam, to help stabilise and strengthen the new floor.

After that, new timber frames were laid to form the base of the floor. These frames were then nailed and screwed together to strengthen and eliminate the risk  of the timber frames shrinking or heaving. On top of this, we laid the floor boards. So far the floor is 90% completed, and will stay this way until we are ready to install laminate and carpets.
                                                      New floor completed!!!!!

Part 4 - All about bricks and concrete

This week, we’ve been busy focusing on building new walls in front of the internal walls on the first floor, by. Thick concrete bricks which span the width of the rooms were first laid all around the internal walls of the first floor. Then the whole lot was covered with cement. This was done to help strengthening the inside walls, and prevent them from collapsing.

After the inside foundation for the walls have been constructed, the actual wall itself was built next to the existing inside wall, all around the first floor. The wall is neatly built with a great chunk of insulation between – therefore allowing fresh air to circulate between both walls.

Sonntag, 1. April 2012

Part 3 - Great Excavations!

The first major task we had to do was, to completely clear the house. Some walls had wallpaper on them, which we decided to take off so we can see what the walls are in.
So, after clearing out everything out of the house, we had a good look around and finally realised what we'd got ourselves into.

The next step was to dig out the entire ceilings and floor made up lime and Sauerkraut papers. Lime flooring system are an alternative to cement-based concrete, used in old and historic properties. This is a mysterious substance about which few people know much.  There's very little in the literature and we don't really know much about how the material was prepared and used.  

Based on the fact that the house is over 200 years old, we decide to replace almost everything that was not as it should be..and build the house from scratch.

Removing the ceiling and digging out the floor was, by far the first real insight into how hard the project was going to be!


Approximately more than 200 tonnes of lime, earth and sauerkraut dirt had to be removed and carted away. It took a lot of containers and over a week to complete.

Finally.....we found our Architect!!!

If you type in "choosing an architect" on Google or any other search engine, the results will include lots of articles about the subject for you to read. If you're really dedicated to the cause and want to learn everything there is to know, you can even buy a book about the subject.
I'm afraid you won't get lots of advice about choosing an architect from us. However, we can tell you what we did.

We researched companies on the internet and through yellow pages, looking at their websites, their portfolios and client testimonials. We also visited several companies at exhibitions.

We decided we wanted to work with a local architect. Not only would that make it easier to meet up at our house or their offices or on site, it also meant that they would have plenty of experience and firsthand knowledge of the project.

My father-in-law, was going to be the main builder, He got the job because he knows a lot about DIY, and had built and helped build quite a lot of houses, including his own house. More importantly, he felt that it was his responsibility to take control of the project – which in a way, stopped him from getting bored over the weekends!!!

Other family members were also involved in the whole building project, and they helped us greatly when time permitted it. The main advantages for us doing it this way were:
It saved us quite a lot of money that could have been used to pay the builders and architects.
We build on our own time and pace, rather than having builders hurrying to finish the job – and then you have the risk of them not doing it properly.
And most importantly, we did everything ourselves. This gives us great pride in telling friend that we built the house all by ourselves, a story that we will definitely be telling our kids and grand kids.

Mittwoch, 21. März 2012


Welcome to Monique & Chris's blog. I’m Christopher Buck. She’s my fiancée Monique Manger. We’re both 28 and our house is roughly over 200 years old.
This is the story of how an ordinary family with ordinary jobs living in an ordinary flat gets to go on an exciting adventure to create our perfect family home. Follow us to see whether we manage to build our dream home in the next 2 years!
(The yellow house!)
It’s practically old enough to be our mum, but we treat it like it’s our baby. It’s our first and will definitely be our last home for years to come, and our house located in Sachsen Anhalt, Germany. But let’s go back to where it all began: We moved in back in June 2011, after coming off combined years of living in London and Berlin. Having so much space with lots of potential to play with seemed like quite a luxury for us. The only problem: the house definitely showed its age.
Armed with a little bit of know-how and a lot of enthusiasm, we didn’t waste a second getting down to business. We’re not experts, but her dad (my father-in-law) is. 
We're just DIY couple who dig learning as we go and sharing our adventures (and misadventures) with the world – along with a slice of family life. A couple of months later the dust cleared and our house was beginning to take shape.