A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell

And now for some fun stuff - shopping

Sourcing the right products and materials at the right price takes a lot of time and mileage

Sometimes it is more important to get out there and find the right products and materials for the upcoming sections of work, than it is to actually be doing any work on the build itself.

This weekend we visited (in the snow) a log burner showroom in Cirencester to take a look at a specific model we've been reading up on recently. Our priorities for the log burner - which has been on my "must have" list since day one - is a contemporary unit to complement the house style and for it to be from a British manufacturer.

The ACR Neo 3C is the model of choice at the moment. ACR is a British company, although this model is built somewhere in Europe. It's not cheap at about £1300 but it's certainly more affordable than some of the similar looking Scandinavian models out there. With the upright design and 3 sides of glass, it definitely looks the part.

It's solidly built and has some nice features - like the slide-out ash collection drawer; the smooth action latch on the door; the storage cupboard below and the fact it can burn logs or solid fuels. I'm thinking long term view with this, just in case burning coal becomes necessary instead or logs at some point.

The plumbing is coming

With the fact that the plumber will be fitting the bathroom units and showers quite soon, we need to start buying the wall and floor tiles. There will be a sequence of events that takes place, in the final 2-3 months of this build, so we need to be ready with all the parts and products on site, so we keep things moving. The living room (where we currently live) is fast becoming a storage facility for all these bits and pieces, until they are ready to fit.

Wall and floor tiles are a big purchase, as we'll need quite a lot, so we started looking around a couple of the main DIY stores today.

For the en-suite we quite like the warm tones and textures that travertine tiles have, but I don't want to be paying those kind of prices - or have to worry about sealing the tiles for years to come. I think a standard ceramic tile is going to be the best option, but it is just a case of finding the right tile at the right price.

The British Ceramic tile shown here was very good value at £8.99 a box in Wickes (special offer). They are 500 x 300mm so will be a nice large tile, which will hopefully make the room feel bigger.

For the floor tiles, I really like the effect that mosaics or little pebbles can have - but I know these can be pricey, depending on what type you go for. Luckily it's only a small room - something like 5 square metres, so it won't break the bank if we find something a little more luxurious.

In B&Q these sandy marble pebble style mosaic sheets caught our eye. Again, very good value at £3.99 a sheet I think, so we'll have to keep these in mind. I guess they'll take a lot more work to lay but I'm sure it'll be worth it. A little more wow factor than your standard floor tile.

Showered in mediocre bathroom fittings

With the shower units, we've been looking around at these for a little while. It seems that some of the standard models are really cheaply made - they feel plasticy and worry me that they'll become tired very quickly and will break.

I'd like something that feels nice to use - no sharp corners or edges - and that looks like it will last a few years, but without breaking the bank. There are some hugely expensive and luxurious bathroom fittings out there, but we're doing this on a budget so need to be realistic about what's achievable.

We have settled for these Mira showers units, from Homebase and B&Q. A nice large shower head for the en-suite fixed shower and a standard flexible shower unit for the main bathroom. Pretty good value at £150 and £120 respectively but they seem to be quite solid looking well made. We'll have to see how they perform.

Next entry: Skimming with wet plaster (Monday 19th January 2015)

Previous entry: More plasterboarding - it feels like home already (Friday 16th January 2015)

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