Fire + TV + Log storage

The plan for the east wall of the lounge is to have a wall with the fire, a TV and a log store. Potentially also the HiFi equipment.


I’m currently thinking indoor fire with a TV into an insert above it (so onto the fire chimney wall, that is built for thermal mass) and logs to one side and possibly also below.

I recognise, that with an efficient house, the fire will need to be small (lower thermal output). But any heat will fill the whole open plan downstairs and then travel up the 3 storey stair well column.

Here’s the a few of the current images of ideas for the fire.
– I’m not having an open fire, but some of these images show an open fire.

Above has the fire, woodstore, TV and a bench in front of the fire to sit on or leave stuff.

On the photo above, at the top of the block to house the fire is an exposed section of fire chimney pipe, which will transfer more immediate heat into the room.

Note the metal lining to the log store ūüôā

This layout (above) could also allows the fire to be moved lower, making it easier to put the TV at a more normal height, but above the fire.

Example low fire position below:

fire - low - StovesOnline-co-uk - Stovax-Riva-50-Stove

I do like the above idea of a bench that sticks forward from the fire.

Or have the fire in a fire breast column with a bench to side for the TV etc.

fire - bench to side - poss 4 TV - - Wendron contura-ci4-4-sided


fire - vertical log store - poss lower fire - wide bench to side for TV

An alternative is a bench onto which is the fire and TV (if heat between the 2 is OK) with logs below. Riva do a bench up to 180cm wide. (wider than the one below).

fire - bench from RIVA Screenshot - poss with TV + logs underneath - Riva freestanding on Riva bench - see PDF brochure

Further  great log storage photos and ideas at

Slate hearth

As the lounge area is to have a wooden floor, it’d be good to either have slate on top of the wood, or instead of the wood, just in front of the fire. Dropping logs (whether alight / hot or not).

fire - vertical log store - poss lower fire + so lower TV - slate hearth



Inset slate floor in above photo. On top slate on the photo below.

fire - slate hearth - StovesOnline-co-uk - Stovax-Riva-66

To the north (sea view side) of the fire:

To the north of the fire, on the west wall, the idea is to have a tall vertical window and maybe a comfy seating area.

Contractor Contracts

An email in from a buddy who has managed quite a few commercial and larger (multi dwelling) building projects:

The only other things to be aware of and concerned by is the type of building contract to be used. The standard form JCT contracts, I believe, are biased towards the contactor, the ACA standard form was written by Architects and is more balanced.

You also need to think about the level of damages for overrun on the contract. This is slightly more complicated than it might appear. One of the most crucial decisions made by the contract administrator is the issue of the Practical Completion Certificate as this signals the contract has been satisfied.

If there is an overrun, as invariably there is, he has to decide who is at fault and you are in the territory of the famed “critical path”, ie if the delay prevents progress on the rest of the build its on the critical path and who ever caused that delay in culpable. The reason these decisions are important, even for one week is there is a swing for every week by approximately twice the level of damages assuming damages are set at a level similar to the “preliminaries” figure. Prelims are the costs to the contractor of being on site, ie his admin costs. So if damages are say ¬£2000 pw and prelims say ¬£1500pw and there is just one week delay caused by the contractor he is ¬£3500 down. You get the picture it can get very prickly.

Good luck, I am sure it will go well, new builds tend to be easier, provided they are well planned, because there are less unknowns. Keep an eye on any unusual materials and/or bespoke items that have long delivery lead in times and/or are coming from none standard sources as these can be the source of serious delays.

Project Management

A nice article by Charlie Laing on Project Management at:

They talk about a  Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) contract between builder(s) and client. Going through it and both signing it, so that there is a pre established way to control the work and exchange of money that is fair to all.

For changes during the project, their advice is that:

  • contract changes can only be made by the project manager / contract administrator (which should not be the client).
  • the builder should quote for the changes
  • the contract manager uses this to get client approval. If given, passes this on to the builder.

As I’ve read elsewhere, informal approval changes from the client is the most common area for problems when the consequent bill for this arrives.

A Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) contract, brings with it an agreed adjudication / arbitration route, but in most cases, a common sense, sit down and come to an agreement solution is best. Here the contract manager can mediate.

For this, Charlie Laing have some suggested questions to cover the conversation over what is being claimed. Is / was it:

  • described within the contract?
  • described as a revision to the contract and the contract sum?
    Рif yes, was it requested, quoted for and approved?
  • related to completed work? Is there any evidence that it has been done?
  • related to work that the contractor had to redo through no fault of his¬†own?
  • requested directly by the client?
  • raised by the contractor to the client directly as an option that they may¬†choose?
  • clearly confirmed by the contractor to the client as being at extra cost?
  • carried out with an element of risk by the contractor through not¬†following procedure?
  • in line with market rates for materials and labour time used
  • related to the actual labour time used

In light of the answers to the above, is full payment of the claim considered fair and reasonable?

This all re-enforces the idea I’ve read elsewhere abut keeping a site / project diary. ie keeping your own notes and other records.


The Natural Home – Ecobuilding Consultancy

It was a while ago, that I met up with Adam & Sarah from The Natural Home, Ecobuilding Consultancy.

It was great to get input from a team that don’t have a vested interest with a¬†particular main project supplier, such as the architects or builders.

Amongst their many comments and recommendations:

  • If you find a contractor you trust, they’d recommend their employment under a ‘prime cost’ (also know as ‘cost-plus’) contract. This means the contractor charges for the total price of buying goods, materials and components, of using or hiring plant and of employing labour, in order to delivery the construction project¬†plus a management fee.
    Their are apparently a broad range of contracts available and they could advice / assist with this.
  • Adam pointed out that the distance from the proposed house to the garage at the front may need advance consideration in relation to the surface water run-off ¬†from the building and soak-away. This / these have to be at least 5 meters from the building, so may need to go beneath the garage.
    Adam recommended a permeability test to ensure a soak-away can accommodate the volume of discharge.
  • Current building re-use. As clearing the current building will give a large amount of aggregate, Adam suggested that it might be possible to crush and use some of this in the concrete mix for retaining wall sections.

Frame the sea view ?

How about, as suggested ages ago by Jo Brannan, reducing some of the north, sea facing glazing (glass windows, doors, panels) to have more of a frame on the view.

Yes it’s great to have some rooms where it’s full whack the view, where the end side walls, roof and floor are the frame.

But maybe some other rooms have less glazing. Walls are also much more thermally efficient and cheaper for the heating efficiency of the building.

This extreme framing (ie mostly wall Vs small window) works to amazing effect.

The above photo is from

For this endless ocean view, instead of the windows going floor to ceiling, the designer chose to pull the focus tight by using a smaller window. The minimally framed window creates the look of art on the wall and brings your attention to the balance of sea and sky and the subtle gradient of color.

It seems almost any frame, can end up adding to the view:

Corner Window Idea(s)

There is an idea to reduce the bulk / the massing of the top floor by putting a corner window on the NE corner.

So I’ve had a look at corner windows and found these on

In the above building¬†the corner window isn’t floor to ceiling and still seems to massively reduce the impact there would be if there was a solid corner.

A similar corner window would still allow the current block top floor where there isn’t a roof “cap” that extends beyond the walls.

Viewed from inside, this corner window isn’t floor to ceiling. ¬†Neither is the image above.
Both seem to work well.

Looking at another corner window gallery >>

Again, the window isn’t floor to ceiling, but close !

On the top floor this could then have a column, before a (from inside) a, to the floor door that opens out onto the terrace.

Having supporting columns at or near the corner seems to work well too !

Corner columns can also be fine.
Look at this corner from the outside and inside (season shift):

and this corner window, with a corner frame piece on, what looks like an office building.

26 May 2012 Additions:

This image is interesting, not only for the corner window, but also for the lounge where there could be a problem getting triple glazing to the height, so a top window band strip might be a solution.