Total Pageviews

Tuesday 5 June 2012

A Libation from the Past

When reopening an old doorway between two rooms we discovered a old bottle of Prosecco - A fizzy white wine, the Italian version of Champagne - which had been left between the two walls by the previous builders.

Despite the falling rubble from our demolition work the bottle and its contents have survived intact.

However, the time spent encased between the walls have damaged the paper label so that we cannot see any date … which is a shame. Unlikely to be a great or important vintage we have decided to keep this ‘libation’ from the past intact and resisted the temptation to uncork and drink the contents. 

Open and Shut Case-ments

When we bought ‘Casa sul Monte’ the house had a random selection of old shutters, grilles and doors on its various entrances and windows that were poorly maintained and painted quite a unique and rather unpleasant shade of dark mustard yellow!
'Beppe' Bartolini, a local carpenter and brilliant traditional craftsman, was commissioned to manufacture a full set of new, custom made doors, windows and shutters for all openings.

Using beautiful honey coloured Douglas Fir timber with a natural transparent sealant he has manufactured a full set of fittings for the house that have all now been installed.

The results are wonderful … the softly grained timber shutters blending perfectly with the local stone. These ‘before and after’ images of these casements speak for themselves!

Laying Down the Heat

The most effective and energy efficient way to warm up old properties such as Casa sul Monte is underfloor heating so this is next in line for installation throughout the ground floor.

The whole of the stable floor has already been dug out and all services laid below, then a raised floor has been installed with a fully ventilated space between the slab and the top floor finish.

Blue preformed plastic panels, with insulated polystyrene base, are laid on the top of the raised floor and jointless yellow heating pipes clipped into these.

The heating pipes are arranged to cover all areas including main living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and lobbies.

Each jointless heating circuit starts and finishes at a central distribution panel through which heated water is pumped and circulated throughout the apartments.

Each circuit is controlled by a valve so the whole system can be balanced and equal pressure will ensure even heat distribution throughout the various rooms irrespective of the length of the individual circuits.

Striking the Scaffold

With repointing completed on the two elevations included in the first phase of works the main contractor begins to strike the scaffold, the restored stone walls finally coming into view.

Openings have already been prepared at first floor level for a balcony and external stair that will in the future connect the first floor directly to the main garden.

The upper level of the end elevation clearly shows the results of the repairs and repointing to the stonework while the remodeling and repointing of the old ground floor extension - housing the boiler room and related services - will have to wait for another day … and availability of further project funding!

Meanwhile, new shutters securely close the ground floor apartments to undesired visitors, their pale golden wood blending beautifully with the finished stonework.

Natural Wastage

At time of purchase we knew our new home was not connected to the local sewage network but we did expect to find a working cesspit … or so we were told!

Surprise, surprise … when planning the new plumbing layout we searched for how to connect to the existing installation but were somewhat shocked to find all previous waste and sewage simply dispersed into the ground … and not that far from the house!
A totally new bio-waste disposal system was therefore planned and installed.

This involves burying a sequential set of large plastic containers with intermediary inspection pits through which all waste and sewage from the house will now be passed and processed.
The larger first container collects and separates all waste before passing the resulting liquid into a second bio-processor.

This is where the liquid is aerated, held and naturally processed and digested by bacteria living on a complex network of plastic filters.

The existing slope and falls in the site allow this process to happen gradually and naturally eventually leading to a final clean water outlet down beyond the tree line, now a suitable and legally appropriate distance from the house.

Once installed and connected the whole plant is buried with the extracted soil. As soon as natural ground cover is re-established this new waste disposal system will be lost in the landscaping … quietly working away with very little maintenance for years to come. 
Job well done …