Niall’s virtual diary archives – Saturday 11 May 2024

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Saturday 11 May 2024: 22:32. Very little has happened since my last post in my house build. We are basically stuck in the timber frame supplier’s queue, and there is nothing anybody can do but wait until they get to us.

It does feel weird to have free time back. I haven’t had any in so long, I am not used to not constantly having to find time to pare down chores lists. I am using the opportunity to clear backlog, all day today was chores and all day tomorrow will also be chores. Same as last weekend, and the weekend before that. But if this goes on much longer, I might actually have to do something non-chore which would be very novel given the past two years.

I did refine the outhouse buildup I described last post to remove the heavy concrete roof, which in turn reduces loading on the foundations which in turn means I can economise on strength of materials used, reducing costs. I think this will be pretty close to my final design:

The structural calculations look fine with very healthy safety margins. The flat roof with the 622 centres will have quite a bit of flex when you walk on it, but I expect to almost never walk on it, so I don’t care and having 622 centres means I can avoid cutting the blocks of EPS which come 600 mm wide. The lintels should be all very straightforward, the widest span should be 2.4 metres, online tables think a 3200 x 215 x 100 lintel should be fine which is a one block overlap each side. As it is such a simple building, there isn’t really much more to it.

Obviously as the house design is finalised, and nothing more can happen until the timber frame design begins, there isn’t really much else to report. The previous mortgage offer from the AIB expired as there was no way to draw it down, so we now have to apply for a new mortgage again from scratch. Yay. The rebooted Passive House certification after our previous certifier couldn’t proceed is proceeding very slowly, my architect clearly has other work on and forward progressing the PH certification is not a high priority. After all, we already did this bit with the previous certifier, so we are simply re-treading the same process without much expected gain from it. Going through the motions as it were. We will only return to new ground later on in the process.

Right now, if there weren’t a thick blanket of cloud above me, there would be aurora borealis which are exceedingly rare this far south. I caught a brief seven minute long or so view of them last night before heavy cloud rolled over them. I had never seen them before in my life, and they were very cool.

I saw greens, reds, pinks and purples all with the naked eye stretching over most of the sky. They were quite noticeably twisting and pulsing in the sky even within my seven minute window. I could see the cloud rolling in, so I just stayed there and drank it in knowing my time would be short. It is quite possible I will never see them again in my lifetime.

I didn’t have my phone with me as I didn’t expect to see them, and I didn’t want to miss any of them by returning inside and ruining my night vision. So I did not take any pictures. Megan missed them entirely last night, and took a ninety minute drive after dark around the country back roads to try and luck out on a gap in the clouds. She returned deflated, having failed to secure anything more than a very fleeting glimpse.

All this was where my rented house is, which gets a fair bit of light pollution from all the urban build up. Out where my site is is much nearer the Irish dark sky reserve and has as close to dark skies as remains possible in Europe. Unsurprisingly you get even better views there than here. My neighbour at the site Rob managed to snap these:

That first picture that’s my site on the right, and the second is a 180 degree turn from the first. The pictures are much more colourful than with the naked eye of course, modern phone camera sensors are better than human eyes. But multiple colours were very much visible without electronic aid, which I read online is unusual enough even very far north. This coronal mass ejection being strong enough to reach so far south might only happen every twenty years or so, and not usually in a way the whole northern hemisphere can see it two nights in a row.

Real shame about the cloud cover though.

Anyway here’s hoping this time next month we might be making forward progress on building this damn house instead of me having to actually go do a non-chore activity!


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