Courtyard Garden Plan

Whilst the brick cleaning and building continues, we have turned our thoughts to the courtyard garden plans. We decided that we would like to have brick walls to separate the courtyard gardens. We definitely don't have a shortage of available bricks! In total there will be three properties and we need to make sure that each property gets a section of private garden and we really didn't want to have a courtyard  full of fences or hedges, or even worse a mish mash of all sorts. We have been looking at brick walls up to about 1m in height with brick piers and railings to take the total height of the walls to around 1.8m. The reclaimed brick looks so nice and we will have loads of bricks left over after the build so it all makes sense. Obviously, we need to make sure that we can afford all of this so have asked for a quote from the builder! It might yet be pipe dreams, but you have to start somewhere. From much perusing through magazines we have decided upon a low maintainenance mediterranean style for the main bit of courtyard - the bit that the occupants of all three barns will need for access the rear of the properties. This will have a centre piece - probably a simple water feature, with paths radiating out to all properties with the ground covered in pea gravel or similar. To break it up a bit, we will cut out some beds and fill with lavender and herbs. I envisage some planters with tall trees and roses. will look beautiful one day........ The images below were painstakingly rendered in Sketchup - not by me I hasten to add, I spend all day working on computers and couldn't face the time needed to learn new imaging software! The images are based on the planning drawings so are pretty much to scale

Building drawing plans review and more bricks

On the brick and wall front, it's pretty much the same as last time except that the brick pile is noticeably smaller, the brick pallets are bigger and there is a bit more wall. The rest of the joists and the floor boarding have been delivered and we have been assured by our builder that more chaps will be on site on Monday to fit them in place. Meanwhile, next doors walls have been repaired and so the neighbours are happy. The flipping joist delivery man managed to take out a chunk of one of our walls though, so that will need to be fixed at some point! 

barn 3 plans

It's a long time since we reviewed our plans for barn 3. In fact it was 2 years ago! So now the rebuild of barn 3 is (sort of) imminent, we have been going over our previous plans with the architect. It's been such a long time since we started all of this barn converting lark that if it had gone ahead and been finished by now we wouldn't have changed anything. However.......two years down the line and we have made a few changes. Nothing drastic - the layout is pretty similar, but now we know for certain that it is more of a rebuild than a conversion we realised that we could make a few tweaks to the sizes of the rooms and the position of some of the windows. To summarise; the garage is a little bit bigger and the hallway a little bit smaller, the downstairs loo a bit bigger and the pantry a bit smaller. We were really unsure originally how the layout of the lounge was going to work with the position of the windows so we have moved one! It's a door shaped window looking out onto the back garden and it was originally placed in the corner of the room as per the layout of the barn, which is an absolutely useless place for sitting and looking out onto the garden. So we have moved it to the middle of the wall rather than at the end which means that the tv will be able to go into the corner and all the seating areas will have a view out of the window. Phew! An interior design conundrum solved. We are also decided that we are going to have a faux chimney breast so that we can have an inset log burner and wood store. The window move has also means that we can keep the double doors into the lounge from the hall, which is a feature we really wanted to keep but just couldn't work out how the furniture was going to fit. 

Joists and bull nosed bricks and a snake

We are waiting for some of the joists to be delivered for barn 2 but the rest have been put into position along with the 'steels' or rsj's. We have joists with 'holes' so that our heating pipes and MVHR ducting can easily fit through the floor.

I dropped in at the barns on my way home from work and found myself scrambling around on scaffolding almost entirely inappropriately dressed except that I managed to change my sandals for a pair of scruffy trainers. It was such a lovely evening that it was worth it to get some lovely photo's in the evening sun.

Bull nosed bricks have not yet featured in our barn building, but since the majority of them have come out of the big barn, they will all go back into barn 3.

And finally, we had an unexpected moment with a snake at the weekend. Yes, I did say 'snake'. Fortunately it was a grass snake and not an adder which decided that it wanted to snooze in the engine of visiting friends car!

Check and re-check the plans against the building!

The building is progressing for barn 2 but not without the odd hiccup. Due to a misunderstanding with the versions of the plans some of the joists were ordered incorrectly. This meant that more had to be ordered causing a week's delay to the first floor boarding out and consequently the continuation of the block and brick laying on the first floor. It's such a shame because the weather has been so good for building. We took the opportunity in the lull in building activity to have a good scout around in barn 1 by manoeuvring a ladder into place so that we could get into the first floor bedroom. We haven't been up there since before the rafters and boarding were fitted and barn 1 only has one first floor bedroom and en-suite, so is a small part of the building as a whole. We then discovered that one of the roof windows was in the wrong place. Again a later change to the plans hadn't been included so when the staircase was changed to bend around at the top of the stairs rather than just go straight up, it meant that the bathroom became a bit larger. Now the bathroom has an extra roof window and the stairs none! Fortunately, this is not a disaster because neither the roof or the windows have been fitted. Phew......we are so glad we checked now rather than later.

The window lintels are looking great in plot 2 with a mixture of brick arches and original stone lintels.

More brick cleaning and barn building

Bringing order to chaos, the pallets of cleaned bricks are getting bigger and the brick mountain is gradually getting smaller. 

The good news is that barn 2 is gradually growing but the not so good news is that there has been no further progress with barn 1. The plan is that the roof will be done on both 1 and 2 at the same time. The rain last week didn't help as the builders don't play in the rain. Today, however, the team have been at work in the beautiful July weather. Most notable today is that the cambered heads have been made and fitted ready for the brick arches over the windows. I'm looking forward to seeing these as the mixture of original stone lintels and brick arches really make it look interesting and of course are true to the original barns.

and the barn came tumbling down

Just when you think that progress is slowing down and you are wondering if it will ever be finished, something dramatic happens. Nope, we haven't finished one and moved in, now that would be ridiculously dramatic........instead we have more destruction than construction as the last barn has been demolished. At first it was really exciting to hear that it had come down, and the videos of the JCB pushing and prodding the building really encouraged a Hooray feeling. But when I went to the site in the evening after work, it just looked like a bomb site. It was really quite shocking that instead of a charmingly delapidated building there was an enormous pile of rubble and rafters. It was a very sobering, 'OMG what have we done' sort of visit. You tell yourself that the new building will be made with the same bricks and to the same layout (but just not irrevocably falling down) as before, but it still made me feel sad that we couldn't renovate rather than rebuild. There really is no going back once the building is down. I'm sure I will feel different about it once they start building it back again. To cheer myself up I had a look around barn 2 which is now up to first floor height with the internal walls currently being built, and I have to say it is coming on fantastically well. So not all doom and gloom. 

The following day I popped over in my lunch break and it already looked much better as the site was being tidied up. Mind you, there is now the most enormous pile of bricks to clean. We went over yesterday to clean bricks and managed a good 250 or so, but that barely made a dent in the pile. There are thousands of them.

To find a 'before' photo I went back through each month until I came to a particularly photogenic month last June. That was when we were desperately wishing that some building would start, although still wrangling with the coal mining surveys and structural surveys so not in the slightest worry free. As a reminder here are a few of those lovely picturesque barn photo's.

Barn 2 growing fast

From foundation concrete to first floor windows is the dramatic (for us) progress over the last couple of weeks. Sadly rain appears to have stopped play today and probably for the best part of the coming week. Dratted weather. It is great to see such visible progress though. Some of the window openings for barn 1 were held up waiting for the delivery of the cambered heads for the windows. Fortunately, these arrived last week and so the windows could be completed. This was holding up the roof so hopefully this will be completed soon. It's nice to see the colour of the cambered heads. We chose the colour months ago and whilst we opted for a traditional cream colour it's a relief to find that we don't hate it after all. There are so many decisions to make that you agonise over everything and then go 'sod it, just pick one'.

We still have issues over electricity connection which we are working on resolving, but it is certainly causing anxiety. Our little plot is an island surrounded by land owned by the charitable trust next door and as such we need access to the nearest electricity supply point, which is of course across their land, and we need to apply for an easement for right of way. It's not leaving us in a happy place at the moment. This is definitely one of the 'downs' in this barn conversion roller coaster.

Roof beams now in place


We both missed the crane and the installation of the beams which surprisingly took place on Saturday. Hopefully we'll catch the next building beams. I like a video with big machinery! Typically, rain stopped play today so no further progress. The tricky bit with the roof is that the building is a bit wonky, or dog leg shaped, so it will be interesting when the roof is built.