Little has been mentioned about the services needed for the barns. The water is a relatively simple affair as there is a connection just a meter outside of our land. Electricity should have been the same. Our neighbours are a well established charitable trust from whom we will access the electricity mains. However, when we made the application for the electricity with Western Power a year ago we were unaware that the charitable trust would expect compensation for allowing access known as 'an easement' across their land. This is known as a ransom strip. Western Power expected to make some concessions; replacing old infrastructure with up to date and so on. They were wholly unprepared for the land agent appointed by the charitable trust who came up with an easement compensation figure of £30,000. Naturally, we were somewhat taken aback by this. Maybe that's an understatement. We were thrown into a state of panic. The electricity connection was going to cost us about 12k plus the groundwork from the nearby electricity pole to bring the cabling up to the edge of our property. Now we expected to pay much much more than we had budgeted for and indeed more than our contingency allowed. The only thing we could do is appeal to the trust. This seemed like a sensible thing to do, however the trust only meets every 3 months and we only found out about this after the January meeting so we had to wait until the April one before we could even start to negotiate. Hah! Negotiate! They held all the cards. Anyway, we appealed to their charitable nature and eventually heard after the July meeting that they would accept less (in order to not bankrupt us), but with some extra concessions. These concessions transpired as replacement of the entire overhead cables, of a distance of 250m for which we have to do the ground works for. The groundworks are going to take a couple of weeks and will cost us about another 6-8k. It's all madness and a bit of a salutary lesson to anyone out there thinking of self building or barn converting. Check your access to the services early! This has caused such a lot of stress and it feels like there have been more down's than up's this year. These damn barns had better be worth it after all of this. We want our lives back! Hopefully, we'll be able to look back on this and think that it was all worth it.
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. Sigh........it 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