Chris 'n' Steffie

Gaming, adventuring, DIY



Wall units

The wall units from Wren are actually really easy to put up. They have lots of adjustment, so if the wall isn’t flat (because they never are) it’s not really a problem. You just measure where you want it, mount the brackets onto the wall, hang the wall unit on and secure.

You’ll also see the Nest Thermostat backing plate for the underfloor heating system.

Then it’s a case of simply putting the doors on. Couldn’t be easier!

We needed another control for our heating system. We opted for another Nest Thermostat, as we had previously invested in the system. This model is the generation 3, it’s largely the same but has a bigger display, and can show you different information, such as the local weather.

It works well for the underfloor heating, just set the temperature and it does the rest. We did have to calibrate the system on the manifold to balance the two loops.nor

We had a bit of a problem deciding where to place it, but opted for under the wall unit in the end. We didn’t want it near the fridge, as it would obstruct the door. We couldn’t put it in the walkway into the dining room, for fear it might get knocked. This seemed like the most logical place. Besides, we don’t really need to touch it!

The dreaded worktops! (Also sink and hob)

This was a job which we were both worrying about. We had done a lot of DIY before, but there was always something we could do to fix things if we went wrong. With the worktops, no such luck. We did have slightly too much, due to the ordering process, but because of the banding on it, we only had the one shot at it.

We paid someone to do it. We understand ourselves well enough to know when something is outside of our skill set, and there’s no shame in that. We did learn a lot from the worker, and actually (in a future blog, far away in the distance) are planning on doing it ourselves in the utility room with the new knowledge we have.

We did miss some photo opportunities, as we were helping him lift the 4 metre lengths through the house.


The first piece was a simple cut-to-size to begin with.


Holes were marked for the sink and the hob. No pictures of any of the router or jig work though, unfortunately. We’ll get some soon though!


And, complete with the holes in the correct places.


The holes were sealed, in case of any water ingress. The mitre joints were connected with worktop bolts and biscuits. To seal in between the mitres, we used a product called Colourfill.

We needed a ventilation hole for the cooling system of the hob to work correctly, following the instructions was really useful! The hob simply drops into place, it has a built in seal and is friction fitted in.

We tested out the hob with a pan of water to see how long it would boil. It was about 45 seconds! Super impressed compared to our old electric hob. Being induction, it is very powerful (ours is 32 amps). It has some features you might expect, such as a timer for each of the four sections, being cool to the touch within a few moments of turning off, only heating where there is a pan. It only works with magnetic pans, as is the same with all induction hobs – not a problem for us as we already had these. The left hand side of the hob can operate as two separate areas, or combined as one area for larger pans, roasting tins, that sort of thing. It also has a frying sensor which adjusts the power automatically to cook things quickly but avoid burning – we honestly don’t know how it works, but it does work tremendously well!


The sink. The sink has a lot of pipes. We had to do a dry run of everything just to make sure that it would all fit together and work. The tap incorporates a boiling water portion (well, technically 98°C, but close enough!), the advantage is that it’s just one tap, and fits with the clean look and looks much better than having two separate taps. However, it does complicate the install.

It’s got hot and cold in, a feed from the cold from the tap into the water heater, boiling water feed, a breather, and one of the pipes we need to connect together – for some reason!

The sink is resin, rather than a more traditional material such as ceramic or stainless steel. You can put hot things straight from the oven onto it, despite that though.


No such luck with a friction fit this time, getting some of the sink clamps in was hard, and awkward work. We only managed to get about half of them in! Mitre joint looking great, by the way!


We hooked everything up for a test run – the water heater install was fairly easy, it was just a case of putting in two screws to mount it. The plug socket for it is hidden from view, but it has a WiFi enabled plug on it so that we can reset it / turn it off when we go away on holiday, it also can tell us the energy consumption.

With our usage, we average 0.53kWh (£0.05) per day (just over £1.50 per month) – we don’t just use it for making drinks, it’s useful in a lot of cooking situations. It also has a water filter – not sure how much it improves the taste, but it does keep out things which could otherwise reduce the lifetime of the product. We change them every six months with a third party item – it’s much cheaper but exactly the same inside – we use our Amazon Subscribe & Save, which saves us another 15% on the cost, and we don’t need to remember to order it manually.

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You’ll notice that there is no waste connected, so this was the next challenge. It was another entire day to sort out the waste, as space is very limited! It was manageable though. The outside does look a little bit messy, but this will all be replaced in the future when we eventually get around to the rear of the house.


A very neat job of the waste pipe, had quite a lot of help with this to figure out the best way to hook it all up, but eventually got there.nor

Time to put down some paper towels and check for leaks (and come back later to neaten up everything)…


And there we go! We went in a few short months from having no water (still haven’t forgiven you, Thames Water), to having hot, cold and boiling! We couldn’t be happier with it so far. Hot & cold mixer on the right, boiling on the left – simply push the lever down and toward you.


We got around to putting the handles on the doors! They are simple enough, just hold in with two screws. We made a jig out of an offcut to make each one line up perfectly:


Extractor fan

Some of these updates might be a little bit out of order. We were narrowly focusing on completing the job, so if you spot something that looks finished that we haven’t mentioned, then we are probably going to post about it soon.

Our first ‘meal’ in the new oven – nachos!


The extractor fan which we picked out vents to the outside of the building. It has a larger than normal diameter of hose (150mm vs 100mm) – we could have used an adapter, but thought that it might increase noise and reduce performance. We don’t really have any use for a 150mm core drill, so we hired one:


It’s almost bigger than the drill! Unlike regular masonry drilling, you don’t use the hammer action with a core drill. The hole took over an hour to drill – it was right between the joists, and access was exceptionally tight, especially up the ladder!

This was all done before the plastering work took place – we never would have managed it otherwise! We had to move one of the waste pipes from the bathroom out of the way for clearance, but it fitted back again (not pictured). The cover has a fine mesh inside to prevent insects from getting in.


The next part was hard. We had fixed some pieces of wood to the ceiling joists near the beginning of the project, but there were no reference points, we just had to make an educated guess as to where they were going to go – not helped by the fact that we weren’t allowed to have the extractor fan delivered before the rest of the kitchen.

Here is the frame, which we’ve put in the room directly upstairs of the kitchen to make sure that it lines up with the bracing. It’s close. Not too bad for a guess at all! We attached another piece to one of the sides to give us something to attach the frame to through the ceiling. The unit just uses a standard 3-pin plug.norIt wasn’t helped by the fact that this space was occupied by the wardrobe in the bedroom! The build was tiring, I was recovering from being ill:


Did I mention I was tired?

Again, no easy reference points to ensure that it was going to be square. We ended up doing it by eye! The work scaffolding platform was really handy for this.


The lower section was easy enough. We could use spirit levels to make sure that it was level. The entire unit is height adjustable, so we made another educated guess!


We put the ducting in. It simply clips with big Jubilee clamps, we also added some foil tape to ensure that it has the best seal possible. There was a slight problem, the hose wasn’t flexible enough to make the corner under the floorboards, so we added in a 90 degree elbow. We need to come back to this at a later stage and add in a backdraught flap – so it’ll be in pieces again soon!

And here is the completed extractor fan – prior to it’s first clean. We think it looks level and square. And yes, the glass section is going to be a pain to clean!


The ovens are in!

Once the other units were placed, getting the tall unit for the oven fitted was a little bit easier. On the sides, were some finishing pieces: first, a cut was made at the bottom to make is square to the floor and walls; then the top was cut. It was slightly too deep, but rather than risk another cut, it was decided to move the tall cabinet out slightly with some packing pieces.


And here it is with the ovens fitted! It is not quite complete, we received the wrong colour decorative pieces which fill the gaps in-between the ovens. These simply stick into place, so fitting them at a later date should be easy enough (Update: 2019 – turns out they don’t make ones in the correct colour!)


The top oven is a microwave convection oven grill. It can do all the normal things an oven can do – it can even use the microwave and oven at the same time to reduce cooking time. Another nice feature is that it can automatically cook food – tell it what you’ve put inside, press “pizza”, and walk away!

The bottom oven has the automatic cooking too, it also has a meat thermometer for more accurate roasts! It can also be remote controlled via our phones (OK, you still have to put the food in at some point, but it’s useful for pre-heating) – on, off, or any of the cooking modes. Going a step further, it also integrates with our Google Home voice assistant, so we can operate it by speaking to it. Nest also integrates with it, so, should a fire be detected, the ovens (as well as the boiler) will be shut off.  The integration does open up some interesting possibilities – currently, the lights are set to quickly blink once the food has finished cooking – time will tell if it is going to be a blessing or a curse!

Breakfast bar paneling complete!

We had no idea that cutting two panels would take so long!


We took our time with them though, and it really paid off – we couldn’t be more happy with the finish that we have on the breakfast bar side of the kitchen.

The oven unit was fairly easy to get flat to the wall – once we had decided on it’s location! The oven shelves got screwed in, and the ovens placed in for now, just to check everything is level and fits correctly.


They are only loosely in place for now, because we still need to work on the side panels for the unit – they are slightly proud of the tall cupboard itself, so, the easiest thing to do is to bring the whole unit back away from the wall – we have been lucky with our cuts so far, so don’t want to push our good fortune any further!

The end is in sight!


More panels and final units

With the side panels fixed next to the dishwasher and the corner paneling complete, we could finish off the corner.


It was a bit difficult to reach at times, but we still got it attached!


The other two units simply screwed into one another once at the correct level:


Now that the units are in place, we could start putting the side pieces on. It looks simple, but there is a lot of measuring, cutting and packing that needs to be done. There are little to no reference points to work from: the walls aren’t straight; the floor isn’t straight; etc… But in the end, we got most of the way there!

The drawers and doors still need some work, but we’ll tackle that job last.

Tomorrow’s task is to finish the paneling, and get the tall oven cupboard fitted.

The other floor units

It looks more done than it actually is!


The units on the side are just placed there to line everything up, we now have to make sure the other corner unit is lined up with everything else – height and square. Difficult, as it isn’t placed against any wall, so there aren’t many reference points to work from.

Once these are roughly in place, we can attach the packing pieces to the sides of the dishwasher before doing final placement of the corner unit.

Thankfully, it is looking like the sockets we placed are in the correct position!

Second unit – sink

With the sink unit offered up to the corner unit, we could clamp the sink on top of it and place the hole for the new waste. Eventually, it’ll run into the waste stack near the side of the house, but for now it’s going to run into the outside drain as it used to do. The hole was hard work, but the core drill gave a neat finish inside and out.

This unit has a lot of cutouts for the pipes – the stopcock, the hot and cold feeds, the dishwasher, etc… The holes were easy enough to place, and you won’t see them when the kitchen is finished.


And just like that, the second unit is fitted!


Again, another whole day, but it paid off. In the above picture, you can see where we needed to adjust the outside tap connection to add more copper between the joints to prevent leaking. This meant moving the tap down slightly.

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