WiP February 2014: Demolition Derby

So this is going to be a bit of a monster post, but it's mostly pictures and it's worth it!

So this WiP covers most of January and February, so I'm going to lead you in gently. This was the bedroom the last time I showed it to you (left), but shortly after Mum and I started stripped off the wallpaper.

Photos - 37.jpg

There was some collateral damage, but nothing that can't be fixed.


While Mum and I were stripping the bedroom, Dad tackled the floors in the bathroom and hall


Then over the next few weeks, either solo after work, or on weekends roping in willing (or not so willing but at least pliable) helpers, we cleared the wall paper in the living room and hall, ripped up the bedroom carpets and the tiles off of the bathroom walls.


But that was just a warm up. Two weekends ago Susie and Caroline drove down from Edinburgh for a demolition party. First switching off all the electricity (don't want to mess with that stuff) we started small, stripping off the skirtings and door frames.


And then the first panel of wall came out, with some hefty encouragement with a lump hammer. The walls are made of the panels of compressed straw, faced in paper and then a skim (thin 2-3mm thick) coat of plaster. It's not something any of us had seen before. The density means it has a lot of sound proofing, but there isn't much substance, which means fixing things to it isn't particularly easy or solid. Thus why so much is coming out . . .


Once we got the first little panel out, we found out the panels are screwed to the joists in the loft. After some head scratching, we concluded the best way was to go into the loft and unscrew the panels from the top. A call to my neighbour (also called) Susie, and a full height ladder was obtained.

At this point two more friends, Chuck, Andy and Marsco (the labrador) arrived with Pizza from Il Principe for lunch. Perfect timing!


Andy didn't think much of our plan to unscrew the panels from the top. He saw a shortcut.

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There are (well were!) the same layouts for the one-, two- and three-bed for the whole development and it seems the panels are modular, designed for each repeated layout. There are channels embedded in them to carry the electrical wiring, which must have been installed in the manufacturing process. So, we soon realised that we had to unscrew the sockets and then pull the wiring out. So a little electrical work was involved too, and all the loose wires were coiled and taped up near the ceiling out the way. Again, I can't stress enough, make sure the electricity is switched off at the mains before doing any electrical work.

Tidying up the electrics

Tidying up the electrics

The straw panel walls

The straw panel walls

The walls were coming down a lot easier now the first one was out so Chuck and I thought we'd have a go. We weren't very effective though; Andy had to show us how it was done properly.


Leaving the hard work to the professionals I decided it was time for a round of waters; no tea with the electricity off.


Bish, bosh, bash.


And Tah Dah! 


It was quite overwhelming, seeing all the walls gone. It was all part of my plan, but seeing it happen is a different thing all together. I certainly didn't expect us to achieve this much in a single day. It couldn't have been done without the help I was given.

In fact I want to take this chance to say thank you to everyone who has helped this project along so far. Susie M-L and Caroline, for driving the length of the country, staying up till 2am talking kitchen layouts and finishes and then demolishing all day. Photo credits also have to go to Caroline, without whom there would be no photographs to show here at all!

Chuck and Andy (and Marsco) for arriving with lunch, and then getting stuck right in with us. Even missing the rugby for it.

Susie G for the loan of many tools, ladders, local knowledge and contacts. 

My parents for help, physical, financial and emotional. 

Eoin, who has stripped walls and cornicing despite the fact that his enthusiasm for DIY is mostly due to the fact that it makes me happy than any interest of his own. 

And of course all of you who have stopped by to read this and sent me encouraging messages. It really means a lot knowing that while I'm throwing this stuff out into the ether of the internet, somebody is out there catching it.