After lots of hard labour this weekend (mostly not mine), the brick situation is beginning to look under control
Well, it's April and we still have no electricity. In fact, we are still waiting for the legals to be competed. Absolutely shocking state of affairs. We regularly contact Western Power, who then speak to their solicitors, who then speak to the solicitors for the landowner whose land we need to cross to obtain electricity. We can't speak to any solicitors direct, except of course our own, as the other solicitors are acting for their clients and not us. We have been told that it is 'very close' since January. Thank goodness it's not 'in the middle' otherwise we'll be waiting for electricity this time next year.
So after that mini rant about electricity, where are we with everything else? The good news is that despite the repeated spells of white stuff out of the sky, barn 3 is progressing nicely. It is almost at first floor window lintel stage and is looking really nice. We went 'upstairs' the other day to check out the first floor and it really gives a feel for the views from the windows and the roof height - we were a little concerned that we would be 'stooping' where the slope of the roof meets the top of the walls, but it looks like it is going to be airy enough for me at least, and only very tall folk will have to be a little bit careful.
Barn 1 hasn't been finished yet. The electricity situation has dampened down the drive to push to a completion. When we have a date for electricity it will hopefully be all systems go and we will re-order the kitchen to time it to be fitted at the same time as the electricity is switched on. The bathrooms can also be completed as the water will also be connected up at the same time as the electricity. We seem to have paid a lot of bills eg water and electricity without seeing any of the actual products! Interestingly we did get a bill for a tv license which was mildly amusing, and no, we didn't pay it. While rain and snow has stopped play (brick cleaning) we have been doing some of the more fun research like looking at lighting and wooden floors and bathrooms. I have to admit that it would be nice to have a normal life back and actually live in the barns.
Now there is a push to clear the front of the barns. The huge pile of bricks to clean has almost been converted into a pile of rubble and pallets of bricks. The process entails digging through the brick pile and sorting out the good bricks from the broken bricks. The good bricks are cleaned and stacked on pallets and ultimately converted back into barn building. The brick pile is the remains of barn 3 which was scooped up and shifted around to the front of the barns. As we have time pressure to tidy up the front (at the neighbours request) the good bricks are being partially cleaned (the big lumps of mortar knocked off) and then palleted up ready to be moved into the courtyard where they can be finished off and used for the rebuild. This has become a critical process as the bricklayers are running out of cleaned bricks.
Now isn't this a cheery sight? The log burner is fully commissioned and being lit daily. It's the first thing the builders do when they are having their breaks!
Barn 2 has no more progress although the windows and doors have been ordered and will be delivered at the end of April. That will make a dramatic difference to the look of the buildings and will mean that we can take most of the railings down from the front. We are hopeful of faster progress from now on assuming we get some flipping electricity.
At last.....the log burner is in! And tomorrow it can be lit. It's so exciting!
Well, this shouldn't take long as nothing much has happened. Except that is for the exemplary brick cleaning and site tidying efforts of Richard. Also the joists and floor boards have been delivered and put in place in barn 3......mostly.......there is an issue to be resolved around the position of one of the joists to allow the log burner flue to go through to the roof. However, whilst there has been a sad lack of building progress, quietly behind the scenes we have been:-
- reworking the bathrooms for barn 1 since the originally requested items are no longer in stock.....arghhhhh.
- planning bathrooms for barn 2
- researching suppliers for engineered oak flooring for barn 1 (and the others if it all works well).
- researching and buying tiles for barn 1 downstairs loo
- trying to progress the electricity connection....just waiting for the legals now.
- building a hearth in barn 3 and a buying a log burner. The quarry tiles were from the dairy in the farmhouse. We found them in one of the barns and wheelbarrowed them over to the garden 'just in case'. I really like them and think we will use them in the next barn too.
- gently heating and dehumidifying barn 1 to bring down the humidity
- having the window and door manufacturer fix the locks on the doors and windows. It had been a bit disappointing as the doors looked absolutely brilliant but were all a bit stiff and some we couldn't even open. Now they are almost perfect - just a few more tweaks and all will be well.
- ordering and picking up a date stone. We wanted a nice big stone above the garage, and decided to go with 2017 rather than 2018 since that was when the build started, and in fact finished on barns 1 and 2. Maybe we will even move in before 2019! (lo).
The good news is that barn 3 has grown up to the first floor. The joists have been placed and the floor boards are going down. A couple of giant steels have been ordered and they will hopefully be craned into place next week so that the first floor brick and blocks can continue. It was great to see the scaffolding go up at the beginning of the month and now we have views again
After the quiet period over Christmas we have quite a lot of progress. It rarely feels as if we are galloping along, but as long as it all keeps moving in some part of the development, it keeps the spirits up. It has definitely been a long haul and there is still a way to go, but this year will see it all finished. Absolutely. Definitely.
A hastily purchased dehumidifier has been working flat out and is gradually bringing down the humidity - today it was at 76% which is a vast improvement on 99% (!) when we first installed it. It has been moving around a bit and has had a little holiday upstairs to dry out the first floor bedroom and en-suite. The good thing about the dehumidifier is that it can be connected into the drains which is essential because it's internal bucket would have needed emptying several times a day. The next step is to get the log burner installed. This is being picked up on Monday and hopefully fitted next week. We are having a hearth for the fire and have today been scavenging around looking for a suitable surface. We were going to use the same slate tiles as in the kitchen but there was just too much wastage to even have enough for the downstairs wc. So, back to the scavenging. We have a few very large pieces of sandstone from the courtyard. Unfortunately they didn't survive too well being hauled out of the ground by the digger so they were no good for the fireplace. We also have some quarry tiles that we 'discovered' in one of the barns aeons ago after removing an enormous thicket of ivy. I think they were from the dairy in the farmhouse. After some mortar cleaning and washing, they are looking like a good candidate for the hearth. They are currently drying in the barn awaiting judgement from the builder.
The MVHR unit has been fitted in the mini loft above the utility room. It looks bigger than I expected and a bit untidy looking so I'm glad it's not on view downstairs. It's such a voyage of discovery, this barn conversion mullarkey!
Most of the tiling is finished. The ensuite bathroom and downstairs wet room are tiled in travertine and it looks absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, we hit a snag with bathroom furniture as the originally requested units are no longer available so we have had to do some rapid rethinking. Also, the electric wiring for the bathroom cabinets has been missed out, so some creative problem solving is underway(!) This has also set us on the case for sorting out the bathroom and shower room layouts in barn 2 to pre-empt any potential 'doh' moments when stud walls are fitted. The kitchen floor slate tiles look really nice too. They were chosen over a year ago and with the intervening interior design research I wasn't sure at all if I would like them when they were first being laid. Now they just need their final wipe down and sealing to really bring out the colours. Phew. We haven't re-booked the kitchen fitting yet, but I hope it will all look lovely together when it's in.
Well, the title sums it up. Last week we thought we were on course for the kitchen and utility floor slate being laid and then the kitchen fitted. However, the extreme damp caused by the plastering and residual damp in the walls and floors scuppered all that. Well, it's not as though we were planning to move in before Christmas as we don't yet have electricity.......don't get me started. The big relief was that the kitchen fitters managed to find gainful employment elsewhere so we didn't have to pay them to twiddle their thumbs. Meanwhile, the plasterers are continuing to get plastered and we are investigating dehumidifiers.
The underfloor heating and screed was laid whilst we were away at the end of October so we don't have any photos of the underfloor pipes. It certainly made a difference to the rooms as the floor now is at a sensible height so you don't feel like a hobbit in a human home. What was really funny was that we noticed that a little visitor had checked out the screed before it had set, walking in through the front door, into the hall, around the lounge and kitchen before exiting by the kitchen door (nb no doors fitted at this point).
Shortly after that the windows and doors for barn 1 were delivered and fitted and it just made it all suddenly begin to look like a home. As the nights have drawn in I have only been able to see the changes at the weekends so it takes a weekly leap and bound, although after the windows went in it typically went quiet for two or three weeks. The last couple of weeks have seen a huge amount of activity with 1st fix being finished, and 2nd fix underway.
The ventilation pipes for the MVHR have been installed too. This needed to be done so that the electrician could do his first fix bit. The MVHR pipes are really quite big and there is a pipe to and from each room so there are a lot of them and the space at the apex of the room above the beam wasn't quite big enough so they were fitted below the beam and then a lower ceiling added afterwards. At the same time the plumber has been doing his bit, and the joiner adding the door frames.
The kitchen fitting is due this week so this has given a deadline for the first and second fix, at least downstairs. We have come to the conclusion that this is the way that builders work - to a tight deadline! For so long all our workers have been moved off to finish other sites that we figured it was our turn and just booked the kitchen to give our builder his deadline to work to. So far, it looks a bit tight but they are going to make it. The plasterers have been in and have finished the kitchen and utility area, though they still have loads more to do in the rest of the barn and from tomorrow the tilers will be in to lay the floor.
Simple pine staircase, beautifully made and fitted
Not forgetting the staircase which went in last week, and the stud walls for the master en-suite. The master bedroom has lost maybe a foot of space as a stud wall will need to go in to hide all the mvhr pipework. It won't make a significant difference to the bedroom which is a really nice size.
The plasterers have been plastering away like mad people to meet the kitchen deadline. The ceiling in the kitchen/dining area is a thing of beauty where the intersecting vaulted ceilings meet. We are so glad that we didn't go for reclaimed beams and kept it simple. The feature brick walls are just perfect as a nod to the origins of the barns. Incidentally, most of the bricks have been cleaned by Richard and he is still beavering away preparing bricks for barn 3, so it is great to see it looking so beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.
This is the master bedroom showing the mvhr pipes. These come in from the vaulted ceiling of the lounge and then up and over the bedroom to the en-suite. We lose a little bit of bedroom space but it will be nice and tidy when the plasterboard goes up.
There have been a couple of hiccups along the way; when the stud wall was put in to separate the master bedroom from the stairs, it became apparent that the velux roof window was in exactly the wrong place and was bisected by the stud wall. Not to worry, the roof window has been moved down - all in a days work. Similarly, the vast quantity of mvhr pipework in the lounge meant that the ceiling needed to be a bit lower which again caused bother with the little window in the gable. Again, it was not a drama - it was just moved down a bit and you can't see any difference from the outside. The party wall between the kitchen and the neighbours utility room almost caused a kitchen fitting catastrophe because the final measurements for the kitchen had been done before the specially insulated plaster boards were fitted. This meant that the measurements were wrong but were caught just in time before manufacturing commenced. Phew. It actually highlighted that the pantry door was going to be partially covered up by the kitchen cabinets, so again this was moved and the feature brick wall rebuilt (beautifully, I must say). All in a days work.
Not to forget barn 3. This is making steady progress despite the intermittent rush jobs on other sites and the occasional episodes of inclement weather.
To finish off this monster catchup post here are a few snowy photo's from today!