Thursday, 13 September 2012

No, we're fine, honestly

Isn't this a nice and restful photograph? Soothing to the soul and all that? It's not the eco house that's for sure because that is neither soothing, restful, nor indeed inhabitable at the moment. This photo is close to where I'm hanging out at the moment because the eco house is having both snagging work done in (literally) every room and essential repairs done to spaces like the kitchen, office and all the loos. My better half is camping back on planet eco but I have weighed up the choice between staying sane or keeping a stiff upper lip and picked the former so courtesy of that nice Mr Branson I've fled to the uttermost east until it's all over.

Snagging work you expect when you've been in a new build after a while, but the other work has been hugely disruptive so here's a chance to experience a little schadenfreude to brighten your day, with the proviso (from my OH) that I must keep it objective, not subjective.

For some reason we have needed a new hot water cylinder because we had the wrong sort. When I get back west I will post a photo of the right sort of hot water cylinder and then we can marvel at the improvement. Replacing a hot water cylinder that's attached to solar thermal tubes is more of a palaver than it would be in a normal house: I was told it would take two days at most and so far it's taken four. I believe that the solar thermal had to be drained down before the cylinder was replaced and today it's due to be recommissioned by the firm that installed the solar in the first place. As I've said before, though, this blog is about the experience of the house so whatever the technicalities this meant no hot water from first thing on day one until late on day two. It also meant clearing one of only two storage spaces in the house as that is where the cylinder lives and as that cupboard is in the corner of the office that's meant the office has so far been out of action for four days (and counting).

Well, you can manage without hot water for a couple of days and if you can't answer emails or the phone it's not the end of the world when you work from home** but not having flushing loos is more of an issue. The rainwater harvester first became a problem back in November when we moved in and started using the loos so we just switched it to bypass the harvester tank and flushed the loos with mains water instead. On day two of this exercise the harvester was sorted and it was back to recycled water for the loos again. Yesterday (day three) it stopped working again and someone is coming back again today (day four). I may keep you posted on this but, alternatively, if it keeps failing and I need to go back to non-recycled water, I may just keep quiet to avoid more disruption to my life, who knows?

OK so despite the loos working intermittently, ditto hot water and not being able to reach the phones or computer without climbing over the contents of the only proper cupboard in the house things are still basically OK on planet eco are they? Alas no, let's now think about the kitchen where the worktop needs replacing and for that I blame myself entirely. There was the tiniest, most miniscule gap where the two sections of worktop joined and, like a fool, I mentioned this as water was getting in (because the join was within 15cm of the sink). The result was that the whole worktop needed replacing, but I wasn't to worry because that would take half a day at most. Sadly, confirming my view that we don't all live on the same planet (let alone the whole men-women-Venus-Mars thing) I hadn't realised we were talking about Plutonian, not Earth days (yes, I know it's been demoted but nothing else fits). Since day minus one the contents of all the kitchen units below the worktop have been stacked in a bedroom and for two days the cooker and kitchen have been out of action.

So, as I sit and watch the chickens outside the window and the house martins darting over the pond let's spare a thought for the eco house unable to provide water, loos or cooking facilities. Henceforth I will be very cautious about what I report and when asked how things are going I will simply take the advice a clergyperson gave me many years ago and reply, as Steven Tyler would say "fine".

PS: Many thanks to everyone who offered me an English version of the MVHR manual after my last post - it came in very handy even if I wasn't sure the Boolean logic it contained made sense!

** Sarcasm: Your body's natural defense against stupid.