It was a very last minute decision to take a day off site and scoot over to the Northern Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Harrogate last week. We’re about 40% into our renovation / self build of our part Georgian, part Edwardian home in Manchester, which many of you will know as the Do Up Diary being blogged here and pictured above at the stage we’re at now. Since August we’ve had no bathroom or kitchen, no hot water, no heating and are living in the only two rooms still plastered with windows in. It ain’t glamorous, but it’s necessary.
As every self builder knows, it’s round about now that we a) start needing to specify and order things like windows, doors and heating systems and b) start panicking about money. Oh the joys of major DIY!
So we went looking for information and inspiration to help us make some final and all important decisions on major items like the bi-fold doors (you can see above where they’ll be slotted in on the ground floor), heating systems, rainwater goods and other general building products. I was super impressed, and from talking to both visitors and stand holders, they were too. I don’t think I spoke to one person who wasn’t friendly, enthusiastic and brimming with facts and figures at their fingertips. No question seemed too simple to answer and even collaring sales staff for twenty minutes or so for a real in depth grilling wasn’t a problem. We’d spoken with Matt from Robbens Systems briefly at Grand Designs but he was properly interrogated this time as we’re getting close to specifying the underfloor heating system I dream of. The traditional high ceilings in Moregeous Mansions are crying out for non-radiator heating and the ambient low level temperatures of an underfloor wet system would be perfect. As we’ve got part solid and part suspended flooring at the moment, it’s taking some time to weigh up options – and that’s a whole other blog post.
The seminar theatre was packed too, that’s a whole lot of renovators out there 🙂
The stand below caught my eye by Yeoman Rainguard, packed with goodies for the self builder & home obsessive to salivate over. Beautiful copper gulleys & downpipes and some lustre finish, pewter shaded rainwater goods which looked very similar to the bi-fold doors finish I want. They have the appearance of traditional cast iron but are aluminium, very strong, light and hard wearing. Plus they look gorgeous, proving that when your mind’s in the gutter, it can be a beautiful thing.
We’ve looked at loads of bi-fold doors recently and contrary to what many people think, they’re definitely not all the same. There were several manufacturers at the show and I particularly liked some ideas had by this company IDSystems. There’s a little catch on the bottom of the single door if you have an odd number of bi-folds which stops anyone from pulling on that door alone and damaging the balance as you’re thus guided to close the system properly instead i.e. from the start of the bi-fold, not by pulling the end single door. And also there’s a mechanism whereby even when the last door on the bi-fold is securely locked, you can partly open the rest to get ventilation and airflow without compromising security. Clever.
I’ve been told over and over by different people that the key is not only a good product, but an excellent fit. I’ll be getting ours measured soon, once the weight of the soon-to-go-on slate roof above has settled on the wall and any movement or deflection has occurred. Millimetres can make the difference between smooth closing or sticky bi-folds so getting measurements too soon can be an issue apparently.
The show wasn’t just all about the exterior build and big tickets items though, there were tools, kitchens, appliances and bathroom products there too, though we weren’t focused on these items as we’re not ready for them just yet. I spotted some ridge tiles exactly like the ones we’d been searching for on an adorable stand by Dreclam, a family run reclamation yard in North Yorkshire which I fancy making a trip out to in the New Year in search of treasure for our interiors.
On the left below is a beautiful Lincrusta paper enhanced with gold paint which reminded me of the stunning interior design at Peacock Pavilions in Marrakech, where we had a few days in Autumn 2013. I MUST do a post about that place, honestly it was to die for. I’m saving my Moroccan vibe for a new build we’ve had planned for yolks (after we’ve finished doing our own house) but this paper is lovely and does fit with the look I’ve got planned for Moregeous Mansions, I’m very tempted! Post coming up on a recent wallpaper challenge and Lincrusta later this week.
Now this below was interesting. We’ve recently been working with lead on our roof and that stuff is heavy, hard to handle and bloody expensive. Plus horrible people who should be locked up if they’re English or deported if they’re not keep going around nicking if off beautiful heritage or church roofs, causing terrible damage and untold cost to the guardians of such buildings. Here’s a product which claims to do the job of lead but instead is an aluminium composite with layers bonded together to create a lightweight, environmentally acceptable alternative which doesn’t tempt thieves. It’s been out for a few years apparently, but I certainly haven’t seen it in local builders or roofing merchants. The manufacturers are: here
There’s information on it via the RIBA: here
It comes in much wider pieces than lead as it’s so much lighter and it’s slightly less expensive. The colour was the only thing I didn’t like, just a bit too pale grey but they are getting a darker shade soon. I’ll be checking on the colour this week to see if this would be viable for our dormer valleys.
Another good idea here too. Water run off from hard surfaces is a big problem in our towns and cities, causing excess pressure on already overburdened drainage systems. This driveway solution made from recycled tyres and crushed stone allows rain or other water to soak into the ground as the driveway itself is porous, thus disappearing into the ground water table as it actually should. Check them out if you’re after a new driveway and want an environmentally friendly product: here
All in all lots of great inspiration to be had! I’ve already had one of the companies above out to quote so i’ll let you know how that goes. Definitely worth the trip, I enjoyed the show, which is a bit like a travelling fair and pops up at different venues all over the UK.
Find out if there’s one in your area soon : here