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Intro and first project (not such a trivial one)

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PetePontoValentino

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Hi,

I have just found this site whilst looking for info on vapour control layers. I quickly found out what I was looking for so figured I would join. I guess the first thing to do is to introduce myself and my current project (which will take a few years to complete).

My name is Pete, I am a 57 year old Englishman living just outside Zürich in Switzerland. My father was a builder so I learnt quite a lot as a teenager but that was some time ago. I have aged a bit and technology seems to be changing. I have much learning to do.

A couple of weeks ago my partner completed the purchase of an 1895 stone built house in Ticino in the South of Switzerland. The roof and exterior of the building are in a reasonably good state, the interior is not. We have much to do and will do most of it ourselves.

We will spend the first week in August at the house replacing the floor in the attic and insulating between the rafters (hence the vapour control question), Later we will plasterboard the roof and use this as part of our living space.

I will have questions in buckets as the project progresses. We have a website for the house at 2020vision.ch and we are tracking our progress in a blog at 2020vision.ch/blog on the same site.
 

MikeG.

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Hi and welcome. I'm looking forward to this one........I've only been at my renovation for 6 years.

Erm......what vapour barrier question? Let's be sure you've got the right answer. One of the big things I worry about most in answering technical questions on the internet is that people can take answers out of context and apply the solution in the wrong circumstance. I really, really worry about this with older buildings, which don't deal with vapour control in the same way as modern buildings.
 

AES

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Welcome Pete,

As far as I know you are now only the 2nd Forum member based in Switzerland! (A couple of years back someone else in Schweiz joined - Geneva area I seem to remember - but never heard from him again, so as another so far single Brit living here, you're doubly welcome.

Myself I live just outside Basel (near Liestal, Kanton Baselland) but before retiring (I've been here 30 years now) I used to work at Kloten (Zurich Airport) for Swissair Technics.

I'm not much of a woody myself, very much learning by doing, plus learning from the very helpful members here - the main reason I joined, back in 2011.

I'm not very experienced, and certainly know nothing at all about vapour barriers (or anything else re builders n building) but I may be able to have a go at helping if anything comes up re mechanical engineering.

Anyway, welcome - if you want a generally very helpful, friendly, and IMO very knowledgeable crowd who between them can cover just about any topic you care to name (plus no doubt some you've never even heard of!) then you've come to the right place.

Cheers
 

PetePontoValentino

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MikeG.":8qwjzfvs said:
Hi and welcome. I'm looking forward to this one........I've only been at for 6 years.

Erm......what vapour barrier question? Let's be sure you've got the right answer. One of the big things I worry about most in answering technical questions on the internet is that people can take answers out of context and apply the solution in the wrong circumstance. I really, really worry about this with older buildings, which don't deal with vapour control in the same way as modern buildings.
Wow, that's quite a project. Fortunately our place is structurally sound on the outside and the roof was replaced about 15 years ago. Fortunate because the walls are stone and about 60cm thick.

I think it was actually your response to a vapor barrier question that gave me a few pointers.

The project is about 2 hours drive from home / work which means I have time between visits to do some research and confirm I understand what I am doing. I also come from an engineering background and, as a matter of course I don't trust the Internet.

This is my second attempt at a reply here. I was distracted by my fascination with an old lock and key I have brought back to clean. I have tried to attach a couple of pictures here. They don't make stuff like that anymore!

Pete
 

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PetePontoValentino

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AES":2nha2waf said:
Welcome Pete,

As far as I know you are now only the 2nd Forum member based in Switzerland! (A couple of years back someone else in Schweiz joined - Geneva area I seem to remember - but never heard from him again, so as another so far single Brit living here, you're doubly welcome.

Myself I live just outside Basel (near Liestal, Kanton Baselland) but before retiring (I've been here 30 years now) I used to work at Kloten (Zurich Airport) for Swissair Technics.

I'm not much of a woody myself, very much learning by doing, plus learning from the very helpful members here - the main reason I joined, back in 2011.

I'm not very experienced, and certainly know nothing at all about vapour barriers (or anything else re builders n building) but I may be able to have a go at helping if anything comes up re mechanical engineering.

Anyway, welcome - if you want a generally very helpful, friendly, and IMO very knowledgeable crowd who between them can cover just about any topic you care to name (plus no doubt some you've never even heard of!) then you've come to the right place.

Cheers
Hi AES
Thank you for the welcome.
A large part of my challenge with the project is understanding what the Swissies are going on about in Schweizerdeusch and working out what I need to buy to get stuff done. Perhaps we can compare notes on that?

This is further complicated by the house being in Ticino which I perceived was an Italian speaking Kanton, however, I now find that in the Blenio Valley they speak a dialect that is something between Rätoromanische and Italian. (and I speak neither).

I have an office job in a high stress IT environment so having somewhere to escape to and do some "real work" feels pretty good!

Pete
 

AES

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Hi again Pete, I'm Andy BTW.

My Swiss German is not too bad (depends on what area it's from though) and my "high German" is OK. But my wife is a "proper Swiss" (not a "hobby Swiss" like me) so if you've got problems with Swiss German, between the 2 of us we should be able to help you OK.

As you say, they speak Italian in Tessin, and in the area you're talking of it's even more "interesting" (called "Retro Romansch" - which I'm reliably informed is a sort of throw back to the language a Roman nobleman would have spoken in Rome at about the time of the Roman conquest)! It is however the 4th official language of Switzerland so it is used (a bit) and I believe that SRF even give it about 2 hours a week on either a TV or radio programme.

Neither Sylvia nor I are any good at that (though I do sing in a local choir where we do sing such songs in the lingo now and then, though I guess you don't need too many translations about a girl with nice flowers in her hat?)! But Sylvia's "proper Italian" is not bad and even I have just a few words.

So in short, any problems, just shout out - suggest you use the Forum Private Message system - look on the User Control Panel to see how that goes if you don't know already.

Cheers
 

PetePontoValentino

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So, we have decided on tongue and groove pine boards for the floor. We visited the house last weekend and I lifted some boards so I could measure the gap between the joists, the intention was to order the wood and do the whole job during the first week in August (work vacation).

As soon as I started it became clear that the old boards where not suffering from wet rot. Some form of wildlife is having a feast on my floor. Based on photo's of the damage an extermination company reckon that it is "holzbock" (no sure what that is in English). They will come to assess the damage on Thursday and make an offer for extermination. I will also find out how far the damage has gone. I hope the joists are okay (and the floors on the other two floors). We will find out soon. Hopefully they can deal with the little sprouts during the first week of August so I can replace the floor at the end of the month.

A different question.... the floors on the other two floors are old wood, probably as old as the house. I have arranged a floor sander for the first week in August (Plan B). My plan is to do two passes of sanding, first with 40 or 60 grade and then a second pass with 100 or 120.

I am still undecided how to treat the wood after sanding. I would like to maximise the wood effect as much as possible. I am tempted to go for something as natural as possible rather than synthetic varnishes.

Any thoughts / recommendations??

Best
Pete
 

TheTiddles

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That lock is beautiful! Yes they don’t make them like that, it’s not all that secure, but it looks lovely! How are you going to clean it up?

Aidan
 

PetePontoValentino

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Thank you, I have become obsessed with old door locks since buying the house.

It's cleaned and I will refit it next weekend. It is off an outbuilding in a safe part of the world (it hasn't had a lock fitted for the past month or so, so no issue)
 

TheTiddles

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Sorry, miss-typed my question, it looks riveted together, did you get it apart to clean?
 

PetePontoValentino

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I flushed it with copious amount of WD40 which removed a huge amount of brown gunk. It turns a lot smoother now so I will just refit it.

Given the door it is from I don't want it to look shiny and new. That wouldn't work at all.

Back Door.jpg
 

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AES

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Hi Pete, good to hear from you again.

Well done with that lock. I can well imagine why you don't want something new on that "door"!! ;-)

I've just checked with my wife ('cos I didn't know myself, and it isn't in a proper Dictionary) and she says that "holzbock" is a typical "Schweizer Deutsch ausdruck" for, in your case, we suspect, "wood worm" (or anyway, some sort of wood-boring insect).

But according to Sylvia (it IS her mother tongue after all!) it can also mean, amongst other things, those nasty tick things that you (and your dog, etc) can pick up at this time of year walking in long grass, in the woods, etc, (rather nasty sometimes).

Anyway I'm sure the experts will identify it properly and treat it accordingly. So in short, don't worry, "holzbock" is a general, non-specific word meaning, in your particular case, any sort of wood-boring "thingy"!

Re finish for your floors (IF there's anything left! - fingers crossed) I'm the last person to advise you really, and there are MANY more people with much more expertise than I possess in such matters, and no doubt one of those will be along soon.

But personally I've had great success with 2 part polyurethane. It's fairly messy (and stinky) to apply, but comes in various "shades of finish", including an almost completely transparent very matt "lacquer" which will allow the original wood colourings to come through quite naturally. Ideal thinner is proper white spirit BTW. It's VERY hard wearing stuff, but also very expensive. (Have you got a "Sabag" branch - builders merchants - near you in Zürich or Tessin? If not try Coop Bau & Hobby or Jumbo unless you can find another big "profi" builders merchant somewhere handy).

HTH.

(I BET you're looking forward to the hols) ;-)
 

PetePontoValentino

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I find google image search good for diy stuff translations. They mention both ticks (which I thought were blood suckers - I also know Lyme Disease fart to well but that's another story) and a beetle like creature which is probably my issue. I will let the specialists sort as I need it fixed quickly and properly.

Polyurethane noted. I will look, thanks.

I have become a sad turnip when it comes to builders merchants. Aside from the usual we have a Hornbach nearby and there is a Bauhaus en on the way to the house if we go the St Bernadino route (which is often preferable to the Gottard.

Best
Pete
 

AES

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Pete,

I've found the Hornbach ("local" to me, just across the border into Germany) a bit "iffy" (OK to good for stuff sometimes, not so clever at others), but IME anyway, our local Bauhaus branch (also in D) is good.

As I'm sure you know, both are actually German DIY chains, but the branches in Schweiz are all I think joint ventures with, I think, Migros.

If/when convenient to you, then going across the border into D should be cheaper for you than CH (e.g. cross at Stein am Rhein or Lodtstetten).

And from down in Tessin, going into Italy MAY be cheaper for building matls, wood, etc, for you too. Dunno personally.

Re your floors,my wife is very interested. She says that it's highly likely your floors were originally chestnut ("Kastanie") as it's pretty common and was often used in for building in Tessin.

Funnily enough in the current edition of the "Schweize Illustrierte" mag there's an article and lots of pix of giant chestnuts down there , some several hundred years old. According to that article, in days of yore the common method of making flour for the peasants' bread was ground up chestnuts. Not so much wheat flour down there. (There, yet another piece of useless info !!!!)

Cheers
 

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