I guess that having the place ready for final sign-off by Building Control is a reasonable definition of finished. The last couple of weeks have involved doing the final big, messy outside jobs – primarily digging a 70m trench to bury the power cable and water and then laying down a paved area and path which was necessary to comply with building regs. for disabled access. I had hoped that I would be able to get away with compacted gravel, but according to the inspector any area had to pass the supermarket trolley test – i.e. allow a trolley to glide across the surface.
We also need to book an air test – which will be a good indication of how well I have built the place.
Following a pre sign-off inspection from Building Control, I have had to do a fiddly retrofit job on the windows in the bedrooms, because they didn’t pass muster for sufficient escape access. This was my fault for not checking closely enough with my own building regs. application but it raises an issue worth bearing in mind for any straw bale build. This is that if you are having a window that is a bale length in width (i.e. about a metre) and if you want to have a window that has a central post (mullion) which I think looks better than just a large single casement, the gap that you have either side of that mullion won’t be the requisite 450mm, because even if the window gap starts out at 1000mm you won’t have half of that available either side of a central mullion once you have deducted the width of the mullion itself plus the overall frame. The only option is to have what is called a floating mullion – where that mullion isn’t fixed solid into the window frame but is attached to one of the casements and will swing outwards if required. The people at Wooden Windows were very helpful in supplying me with floating mullion casement, but cutting out the old mullion, removing the glazed unit and fitting the new casement was quite a tricky job. I would have been far easier to fit a ready made floating mullion unit in the first place.
We have also had a visit from English Country Cottages, who will be marketing it as a holiday let, and fixed 23 March as D Day for letting availability. So this is the first ‘real’ deadline.