April 26, 2005

Digging The Site

The site dig and moment we had waited for since Oct 2003 began am on 22 April 2005.

Our new next door neighbour Sean took on the job. We were unsure of the state of the ground but soon realised that is was very dry and very stoney and rocky, something that was great in one respect but bad as regards the geothermal

Sean spent a number of half days doing the dig.

The pics are below.

April 23, 2005


As you can imagine since we had our plans changed we needed a requote. This was a bit of a pain but something we had to go through again unfortunately and in fairness to all the companies there was not an issue.
I sent off our plans to the TF, UFH, GEO and tradesmen again for quotes.

Timber Frame - It eventually came down between 2 companies but in the end the easiness in dealing with Clarke Homes LTD http://www.clarkeltd.com gave them the advantage over the rest and also the fact my mate was an engineer for them also gave it a serious push.

The cost is of course a major fact and the difference I found between the cheapest and dearest was 15k Euro which as you can imagine is a big difference.

Also what is included in the kit varies - What we are getting is TF kit, plasterboard, doors, stairs, architrave, skirting, felt, battens and insulation.

  • For each of the above there are also upgrade options. We upgraded:
    Felt from bitumen to Pro-tec,
    Doors from hardwood to pine,
    Stairs from mdf risers and steps to red deal,
    Insulation from Fibre Glass to Rockwool

We also got Clarkes to supply the plasterboard.

Another issue is the centres in the joists and rafters, standard is 600mm but there is an option for 400mm centres, Clarkes gave us these for free.

Under Floor Heating - This was an option that was running from the start, it appealed to me on a number of fronts,

a) Warm floors allowed for snug floors which would be warm to the touch.

b) Effiency of the floors, UFH runs at between 18 - 21 degrees C where rads run at between 45 - 65 degress C so as you can it take a hell of a lot more work to get your heating supply to the higher temps.

c) Rads can be ugly and used for clothes horses! can be a danger if young heads bang against them and they eventually need maintenance and replacing.

I had it that we were going for a supply and install option so I sent off plans to circa 30 companies, the differences were laughable ranging from 8k to 14k for the same setup. With UFH really there is not a lot to look out for, the type of Thermostats would be one as in whether or not they are analog or digital, manual or programmable all trivial issue but maybe major for some.

Then one day I was on a UK forum and it was mentioned by one lad that he installed his own and been the noisey git that I am I emailed him and enquired and luckily for me he was very helpful.

I got a company name off him and another set of plans were sent off. A few days later I got a quote back, 4100 euro delivered to our door with installation manual, support line, Danfoss TP5 programmable thermostats and CAD drawings. I was pleasantly suprised.

The supply and install quote was excellent at 8k euro from a crowd called WarmFloor based in Tyrone but www.underfloordirect.co.uk was no going to be beaten. So I set to and got our CAD drawings sent and set myself up for the unknow. It was going to be a nice warm house or an indoor swimming pool!!!

Alternative Heating - This was again another must have option that we were going to have. I first came across it when I was at a mates house in Gallaimh in 2001. To say I was impressed was an understatement.

So the investigation began and little did I realise that I would turn into the unofficially geothermal consultant for www.boards.ie !

To explain quickly your heat can be retrieved in 3 ways.

1. Air Sourced Heat Pump (ASHP) - fans are put out on the wall and the heat is extracted from the air.

2. Ground Sourced Heat Pump (GSHP) - your lawn is laid out with hydradare or plastic covered copper piping in a loop similar to that found in the element of a kettle at a dept of about 3ft. The heat in the ground at that dept is absorbed by the liquid (brine which is water and antifreeze or a refrigerant) in the pipe and returned to the heatpump

3. Water Sourced Heat Pump. (WSHP) - this can be from a lake, river or bore hole well. Again for the lake and river loop of hydradare are laid for the bore hole a pipe is put into a hold about 15o ft deep

Each source is returned to a heatpump which will increase the heat to the required temp for UFH or domestic water. The increased temp is achieved using electricity.

Some system have tanks or buffer tanks or cylinders or vessels, different names for the same thing installed in the house to store the hot water. These can range from 100 litre to 800 litre, some are pressurised to achieve a pumped hot water system and this eleminates the need for pumped or electric showers, other tanks are standard.

The HP is rates based on its COP - a rating of 3.5 to 5.8 is what I have found from different companies, this means for every unit of electricity the heatpump uses it produces between 3.5 to 5.8 units of heat. The higher the COP the better.

Also beware of what is involved in quotes, some companies supply the cylinder others do not.

I will go into the Alternative heating systems in more detail when we choose a supplier.

April 21, 2005

Mortgage Process - Part 2

We got a call at the end of February to say that the bank had an issue with our engineer, no one including our solicitor, engineer or broker had ever heard of this issue before but to cut a long story short, with the site cheque in our position, the land owner due to pick it up and everyone ready to rock and roll we had to pull the plug on the bank!
To say we were frustrated would greatly under estimate it, I was ready to be tied.
Luckily for us we were dealing with a very sound land owner who understood our situation and had no issue with us about it.
So off we plodded again, this time to the NIB who had been bought by Danska Bank and were now offering a new product, the Offset mortgage. It was identical to the First Active Current Account but the NIB manager was excellent to deal with . We got all our papers together again and within 4 weeks we had our offer and the site cheque passed over.
I contacted our plant hire man & neighbour to see when he could get started. He said it would be the end of April so sure enough he rolled in the 20th April 2005. Pictures are below are soon to be attached.