Sunday, 25 December 2016

Small bathroom tile I

We picked up the tiles for the small bathroom, which I call aseo. Both the bathroom and the tiles are small ;)

They come attached to mesh backing, all tiles on a mesh the same colour, of course. So in order to have checkerboard and stripes, we either have to remove them all and place them one by one (bit of a pain in the ass since they're 5x5 cm) or rearrange the tiles on the mesh.

I've begun working on rearranging them. The white tile sheets are separated from each other by a waxed paper, which comes in handy, but the black ones do not have it.

First I remove alternating tiles from the mesh, they come off easily, while trying to not distort the mesh. I then I lay the sheet over the waxed paper, apply a little PVA glue (white wood glue) to the back of the tile (of the opposite colour), and lay it carefully. I guide myself by eye and also some 3mm (the given grout line in the mesh) layout crosses. The tiles are not perfect and even, so some eyeballing is always necessary. I lay a sheet on top of another so that the weight will help them set and not shift.

I think it took me about two hours to do one square metre. I have the impression the stripes are gonna be more time consuming ;) it is also a lot more surface.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Plans for the back building

We've been mostly planning the next renovation phase: the "powder room*", laundry room, kitchen and dining room.

*What a stupidly euphemistic name. In Spanish we call this aseo:  a small room with a WC and a washbasin, literally a place where you tidy up yourself. I guess powdering might be considered "tidying up", but, really? anyway.

Planning is incredibly important, we've found. We go over things over, and over, and over, and over again and we always find something we were mistaken about, or we had forgotten. It also happens that you change your mind 3 or 4 times, I think, mostly for the better.

We've been mainly focusing on the aseo and the laundry. These are immediately adjacent the main house building (the living room which is a temporary kitchen at the moment), and, with a baby on the way, will come in very handy as you can imagine. The kitchen and dining room can wait since we have functioning ones, temporary and super messy, but functional. The laundry is also functional at the moment, with the laundry machine and also the dishwasher connected there.

So we have been planning the distribution of the aseo, which is no easy task since it is a tiny 1 x 1,2 m room, and we are recycling a door found in the house (72 cm wide). And I did not want the door to swing outwards into the narrow passage/laundry, particularly since you'll have to go up a couple of steps to go into the aseo, and that seems very awkward to me.

We finally chose and ordered a WC (I love how easy it must be to clean this one! all stupid crannies hidden in a smooth ceramic column :)), a vessel sink (with overflow, many vessel sinks do not have one! dangerous...), the tiles (going for Winckelmans gres again, which we're loving), the taps and hardware (also very happy with our choice in the bathroom), and the lamps (going for a bit of a fancy-design thing this time). We'll build the counter for the sink ourselves, of ebonised oak and carrara marble. A wall to wall mirror and possibly some led strip lightning over the moulding on the ceiling and that's all that's necessary. We have also ordered the laundry sink, but I'll talk about that later.

  • WC: Globo Paestum Monolito with an ebonised oak seat
  • Sink: Scarabeo In-Out drop-in
  • Tiles: Winckelmans 5x5 cm black and white square
  • Hardware: Nicolazzi 1477NO70 nero opaco half dome wall mounted + paper holder / towel bar
  • Lamps: Karboxx Escape cube
Obligatory crap-collage
The hardware finish is all wrong! and also wrong tap handles

The colour scheme of the room will be very strictly black and white. I'm quite inspired by razzle dazzle camouflage paint from WWI for this! Really looking forward to it ;)

So far we have received the WC, we will pick up the tiles tomorrow, and we got a dispatch notice for both sinks. Both lamps and taps (bit of a special order) are due in February.

Structural work has already begun, and, as I'm getting large and clumsy, I am not helping with this hard, dusty as fuck work at the moment. Pim's been cutting at the walls with the angle grinder, in all the places where electricity switches & ducts, and pipes of all types have to be built into the wall. No insulation/plasterboard in this building, so lots and lots of cutting!

He's already built the threshold (recycled steel railroad beam + concrete) for the aseo door (this was simply a solid wall before), and begun building the wall that is missing at the moment, between the aseo and the kitchen. He also cut off a chunk of wall between the laundry and the kitchen, because the passage was unnecessarily narrow:

Insulation II

I realise I never posted about the "finished" result of the insulation of the back building. I say "finished", because we consider it finished for the time being (and we stopped working on it about mid November). The insulation is on, the bricks are on, all gaps are closed, the gutters are on, and this is going to be all for the winter. There is still grouting between the bricks to do, but that will be a summer project. We're now moving on to the inside of the building.

So this is the "finished" result:

Friday, 14 October 2016


Next in house project is to insulate the back building on the outside. The width of the court allows us to do this, instead of losing space on the inside (which we've done on the rest of the house), the back building is only 3 metres wide. It also allows us to cover the very messy bricks of this part. The terrace had to be done first since the insulating foam and thin bricks that go on top will overlap the floor.

Pim finished the drains that come from the gutters, and he and his dad had to replace a couple of windowsills still, since they were not deep enough for what the new thickness of the wall will be.

Then Pim removed a layer of pieces of marble someone had attached to the bottom of the wall, washed the flaky paint (painting over moss is never gonna work, people) away with a Kärcher, and filled all gaps and largest unevenness with cement so that the insulation would glue to the wall properly. The insulation has guides to place the bricks, so they have to be placed level and correct (some bricks over windows etc go vertically), this is very important.

So lots of thinking, measuring, then finally cutting a gluing with a special cement glue.

The entire back is now covered in... polystyrene :D looks total class! We still have thinner insulation to glue to the edges of the windows, screw everything down, then glue the tile-bricks.

We can't wait to move on to work on the inside, the kitchen (!!!) and the dining room. We will have to, soon, due to the weather. We've already ordered the tiles for the floor :)

Finishing the terrace

Wow, it's been a while!

We did finish the terrace this summer. The most involved thing was to build the brick wall (it was Pim's first) and apply the grout (a laborious three man job: Pim, his dad and me). We chose a sand toned grout.

Putting on the floor was easier. Pim had already pre-prepared the substrate with garden earth and cement some time ago, and the rain and people walking over it for months hardened it considerably. Several centimetres of "river" sand (it appeared to be washed beach sand, with lots of shells in it!), packed well with a plate compactor we rented, a layer of bricks (I really enjoyed this fun and quick job!), some more sand and compacting, and it's done :) the most laborious part of this process was to cut the bricks around the angled edges, which Pim did with an angle grinder.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

More terrace

Some progress on the terrace:

First placing concrete L slabs to act as retainer wall for the soil beyond.

As level as possible. These things weigh 65 kg each.

Starting the brick wall, the first row is the most difficult.

Overnight, a cat will always come to your fresh concrete and walk over it.
This one however tap danced on it :D

More layers go faster.

Here come some stairs.

Sunday, 12 June 2016


We haven't been working in the house for a while now. Taking advantage of longer days (although it's been pouring like crazy this spring), we've been working outside. The terrace is coming along.

Soil-cement as a base for concrete Ls to hold the ground

A cat left an imprint overnight

As matters stand today

Meanwhile, further back in the garden, I'm working on some paths,
using the same bricks that we will use on the terrace