The thing about old houses is that although they are charming like nothing else, they do require a lot of upkeep. Throughout the years it is a question of constant little improvements; a dash of paint here, new gutters there, replacing panels or fixing the slates on the roof. And still, every twenty years or so, a major engagement is needed. Last winter, in 2017 when the EU directive about household sewage waste came into force, I finally decided to make the major investment renewing the sewage and water system required.
The biggest problem we faced was that all the old pipes had mixed outlet of both grey-water and toilet waste and all was flushed into a septic tank with an overflow straight out into the ground. Not very eco-friendly! It meant that we had to redo all the pipes in the house, effectively tearing out both bathrooms and kitchen and renewing them completely.
The bathrooms are situated on top of each other in the middle of the house, so the simplest solution was to remove everything and rebuild it from scratch. New pipes were laid for water and electricity, and the wall insulation renewed. A whole new floor/ ceiling between the floors was built with damp-proofing in between, ensuring any damp from the the upstairs bathroom could not penetrate the surface.
In these pictures it is clearly visible that Stensund is built of hand crafted loggs, with the kitchen and hallway being the original rooms of the cottage (ca 1840's) and the living room added on some time later. After the renovation, the logg walls are hidden from sight again.
Meanwhile, the rest of the house has been a mess withheld cabinets waiting transportation to the recycling station and the washing and kitchen appliances standing in the middle of a floor waiting for the rooms to be finished. Happily I could leave the books in place, just taking much care to cover with plastic to avoid dust gathering amongst them!
As always with old houses, problems appear once the renovation is under way. This time it was the wall behind the counter where mice had pulled out the isolation and made a nice little home. I had for many years thought that the draft in the kitchen was annoying, but only now when I saw the actual wall did I realise why. Underneath the window, although it looks filled with insulation in the picture, there was mostly nothing except a bit of fluff and the panelling of the outside wall!
Well, at least we got that problem sorted... New insulation with an extra layer of cold resistant material and drywall panels, and then the kitchen walls were ready. While we were at it we decided to change the floor tiles. Might as well I thought... Hopefully it will be another twenty or thirty years until we need to do this again!
And then, eventually, after so many months and so much bother, it was ready! I was most pleased, as the finished result looked so much like the old kitchen that one of my mum's friends (slightly older, I must admit) did't even notice anything had changed, but simply asked if I had tidied the cupboards! Best compliment of my life I think.