Barn Conversion - Settling In

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It feels like not much has happened over the summer and yet we have been really busy. The landscaping has really moved on with lawns and trees planted. The courtyard garden for the first barn now has a patio, a lawn and pleached hornbeam hedging. The hornbeams are to provide privacy from the farmhouse next door without being too overpowering. Ultimately they will look like a hedge on stilts so that we can peep through to the drive and the fence and make the garden look bigger.

It has been such a pleasure to have somewhere to sit outside in the summer, although it can be a bit of a sun trap - I found myself chasing the shade around the patio. There is still work to be done as the neighbour’s oil tank is yet to be moved away from the house and fence panels and stone caps to finish the brick wall. One day we will have new garden furniture as well, instead of our cast off plastic chairs………although they have been useful as both indoor and outdoor furniture over the past 4 years!

The front landscaping has also been underway through the summer and is almost finished. The track now has kerb edgings to delineate the track and parking areas and we have sandstone paths to the doors. Grass has been sown and at the front of the barns is almost complete with the last lot of seed being set last week. It is all a matter of watching the weather for rain before sowing the grass seed. It has been done in the rain a couple of times to make sure that the ground is wet when the seeds go down as the first lawn was bit of a bird feed fest until it rained. Dratted pigeons.

Landscaping at the front of the barns

Landscaping at the front of the barns

The canopy’s over the front doors appeared whilst we were on holiday. They aren’t quite finished yet as the tiling is yet to be done. The painting has been started but so far just undercoat ready for the final painting to match the doors and windows. The ‘unfinished’ theme continues, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and see how far we have come.

Inside we are still decorating. In an attempt at keeping the costs down, Richard elected to do the painting and he is doing a fantastic job and it’s coming on. Just the downstairs bedrooms and utility to do now. We still have stuff in boxes and storage so that we can keep the furniture to a minimum. It does make for a certain frisson of anxiety when we can’t find anything, but hey, there are worse things to worry about. I have been beavering away making roman blinds. Now we have blinds in the bedroom, utility and living/dining room. It’s beginning to look homely!


The main living area of kitchen/dining/living room isn’t looking like a show home and probably never will, but here is a sneak peak of our progress so far.

And finally, just to say that it’s been a long journey to get here and there are still some challenges to face, but we love it here!

I'm back!

It's been quite a while since I last blogged. We moved house, had no internet, we have small grandchildren, I've been really busy at work….what more can I say? Anyway, it's been a busy time. That's the excuses over with, now some home made fun to talk about. Did I mention our grandbabies? Well, that's the reason for the cute crochet animal selection; although, do we need a reason? These are mostly from Kerry Lord's 'Edwards menagerie's book, though not all made with the gorgeous but rather expensive toft wool. I aspire to use this more in the future when we don't spend nearly all our dough on barn converting. Finally, there is the toy box which started out as an applique experiment and turned into a 'what can I use this box for' sort of thing. Happily, it turned out to be the right size for a soft toy collection😁.

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Barn 1 getting close to completion

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Barn One is getting tantalisingly close to completion. This coming week is make or break week as we are hoping that there will be a full complement of trades finishing off. Everybody has had a dabble - some electricity, some heating, some sinks and toilets. A good start but never a finish.

Let’s talk progress - water has been connected and drains have been the big deal of the last 2-3 weeks. The foul water drains are in for all three barns, ditto for the rainwater soakaways. It looks like a battleground at the front of the barns now, but we are hoping that the landscaping is not far away.

The boiler is in action warming the floor and hot water tank in barn 1. It’s all a bit temporary in that we don’t have the 10 tonne silo yet. Instead we have a small internal hopper and lots of bags of pellets so hopper feeding is a regular task. It’s great to have that comfortable warmth from the underfloor heating as soon as you open the door. The first time it was all powered up we didn’t have thermostats on the u/f zones so the temperature got up to around 25c which was too warm even for me, now it’s running at a much more sensible 18c. It’s a good job too - at the moment it’s snowing!

The drains and soakaways have been interesting to see being laid. Normally, you don’t see them so you don’t think about them

Barn 3 has nearly all it’s windows and doors in now. We had a bit of a hiccup over the window sizes as they are slightly small. It won’t be noticeable when they are sealed and finished, but it has taken the shine off it a bit……so much time and effort went into the measuring and style selection. I think they look stunning though, but I am biased!

Builders on site!

At last we have signs of life at the barns. Yesterday the dining room roof on barn 3 was started and the water for all 3 barns connected. We have a program of works over the next few weeks which should mean that we will be able to move in during March. We are not planning to give notice on the rented hovel any time soon though as there is still plenty of time for the weather to throw a spanner in the works!

New Year -New Barn Home

……or at least that is the plan. There really is little to report except that we are (still) waiting for trades to appear on site. All the promises of drains being dug and roof completed all faded away with the end of the year. It seems that everything is poised for action in the New Year. Let’s hope that we can pin down our builder into cracking on and getting it done so that we can move out of the rented hovel early this year.

Scaffolding is (nearly) all down!

Barn 3 now is ready for it’s final bit of build now that the scaffolding is down. It feels like nothing much has happened, but actually quite a lot has been going on as the roof has been finished and the chimney flues installed. The flues were quite a big job as there were two for barn 3 (log burner and boiler) and log burner for barn 2. Note the plastic coated bonfire in the garden ready for bonfire night!

The flue liners from the bedrooms. Unfortunately, they stick out a bit more than we wanted them to so there will be a bit of rearranging required for the internal walls to make sure everything fits in as we want it to. We thought that the plans should have taken care of all this but there seems to be more 'seeing how it looks’ going on as the build progresses than anticipated. No matter how hard we tried to get all these things fixed in the plans, we didn’t get quite as much input from the ‘eco’ installers as we had hoped. The plus side is that they are local and responsive to the fluctuating timescales, and much cheaper than a couple of the bigger national companies we approached for quotes. It all adds to the fun (or stress) depending on how high your spirits are!

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The next step for barn 3 is windows and doors, and of course to finish the gable to the dining room and put on the roof, install velux windows and solar pv panels, so not quite there yet! But anyway, these are the barn style doors ready for installation. On the positive side, we have ordered a garage door and when that is installed we can have the boiler fitted and then………heating for barn 1……hoorah.

Last night we had our fourth……..yes, fourth…..bonfire party at the barns. Every year we say ‘well at least next year we will be living at the barns and it will be so much easier to do’. Well again we had to do all the cooking at the flat and transport it with the slow cookers and kettle and drinks……well, everything really. We set up in the ‘hall’ of barn 3 as this has a roof and a good view of the garden, and it was really weird as this is where we set up for our first bonfire party, but that was in the original building. The layout of the hall is almost exactly how it used to be in the old building (by design of course), but it looks much sharper and straighter than before, thank goodness. Despite all this, we had a lovely time. The bonfire was fantastic, the food was fine - I mean who doesn’t like a hot dog, and the fireworks across the valley at the Midland Railway Centre were superb. Also, we continued our tradition of sparkler writing and eventually, with a bit of practice, came up with Happy Joel (our littlest member of the family)!


Barn 1 Kitchen

Wall painting is almost finished and the kitchen is underway. As seems to be the case with most things, the kitchen installation has not gone quite to plan with some measurements being incorrect and damage to the work surface. The work surface is really huge and had been damaged on one edge and has therefore had to be re-ordered which will take around 5 weeks!. It’s looking really nice so far though! I’m looking forward to playing in the kitchen - there’s even a warming draw which is very bake-off!

Before the kitchen fitting work started, we quickly arranged for a sliding pantry door after discovering that there would be a big enough space at the end of the kitchen units. You have to look on the bright side of a measuring cock-up! It really finishes off the pantry nicely!