On Day two things started to turn around. I arrived at the plot at 915am in clear blue skies and a light breeze to find some of the panels already up and a house starting to take shape. It was a completely amazing feeling. Going from utter despair and wondering whether anything would happen to the house build actually starting.
The rock that arrived in a tipper truck on Tuesday evening and was deposited in a huge mound on the mud, had been put into two deep holes dug into the peaty gloop and we now had a crane happily sitting on a firm footing and some happy builders assembling the house at an incredible pace. Thanks have to go to our next-door neighbours who let us set up the crane partly on their mud (aka garden) along with all the stacks of roof casettes and white vans parked all over their drive.
The elation was a most welcome break from the woe and misery. I danced about on the plot, staying away from the crane, mud and air-borne wall panels as much as possible and shouting excitedly at the builders.
‘Building Timber kit houses must be the best job in the world!’ I yelled rashly, forgetting the utter hell of yesterday, as yet another panel slotted into position like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle. It got too hot for my coat and waterproof with the sun beating down and the light glinting off the snowy slopes of the Ballchullish Horseshoe behind and I settled down with my computer on a mud and bramble hillock to watch the progress and download photos from time-lapse cameras I had set up to survey the progress while I was in Glasgow.
I had left the plot the night before, wet muddy and miserable, and heading back to Glasgow for work. Things deteriorated for me even further as the road conditions deteriorated. Since it had been snowing pretty much all day, even at the balmy shores of Cuil Bay, I decided it would be very unwise to try the Rannoch Moor crossing again, and so headed south via Connell Bridge to get to Tyndrum on the lower route.
The road conditions were fine but with large banks of snow on either side even in Connell and I drove at a sensible speed to Tyndrum where the roads were markedly worse. Snow was falling again and settling, and with few large vehicles on the road to plough a trail, I was driving on an inch of snow and slipping scarily about. In Crianlarich, I started on the road towards Loch Lomond but the roads were utterly deserted and the snow was still falling thick and fast. I made the decision it wasn’t safe to continue and turned back to Crianlarich (with some difficulty). There was nowhere to stop the car in Crianlarich with every car park and lay-by in a metre of snow, but eventually I found a snow drift to wedge my car into that took it far enough off the road and walked up to the Youth Hostel to find a bed for the night.
It was shut. All lights off and snow drifts all around. Seeing evidence of habitation leading from the car-park in the form of a neat furrow dug into the snow, I followed it and it led to a back-door. I rang the bell. It turned out to be the warden’s apartment and after a great deal of explanation about my predicament and an assurance that I would be no trouble, she agreed to open up the hostel for me. It was a blessed relief to have a warm room and a warm bed and 10 minutes later I was tucked in and fast asleep.
By 8am I was off on the road again, not south to Glasgow, but back north to the plot. I had special dispensation to take a day’s leave to try and get the build sorted out. And this is where things started looking up.
So as I sat on my mud and bramble hillock watching and planning and wondering how much it was going to cost me to pay for all those extra ground works, a man in a suit and a jaunty yellow builders hat approached me. Slightly surreally, he turned out to be a kitchen salesman from a firm in Oban and he was there to talk me into buying one of his kitchens for the house. Since I haven’t yet got confirmation from the contractors on who is going to slate the roof and clad the walls of my house, and while winter gales and torrential rain batter the west coast of Scotland, thinking about kitchens really couldn’t be further from my mind.
I stayed to watch the house grow with the first floor panels put in and the steel beams craned into position. A couple had 10cm holes cut into them to accommodate the MVHR system (mechanical ventilation heat recovery) but that’s another blog.
The guys worked fast and furiously and without ceasing until lunch when I was able to catch up with how things were going. They were even more cheery than yesterday, enjoying the weather, and making progress. ‘It’s going well but we’re a day behind’, said Rosco They would probably need the crane for Monday but I was to wait and see how things went. I wondered where one finds a crane at such short notice…..
I needed to get back to Glasgow to pick up the kids, and a friend’s kids, from after school club so I set off. No snow on the road this time, and even enough time to get a quick couple of runs down at a very snowy Glencoe mountain on the way back.