The biggest remaining hurdle for planning consent was the bat activity survey and bird nesting check. These took place last weekend at dawn on Sunday and the report was quickly produced on Monday. Thankfully no bats or birds were recorded entering or leaving the buildings although some bat activity was recorded in the vicinity. We have had a tense few weeks keeping the birds out as there are so many holes in the barns; in the roofs, walls, windows and doors. Daily inspections have been made to check for the pesky blighters and when you think you've stopped all the gaps you find that they have somehow got in again. So, then you have to go round doing a fingertip and torchlight search to find the tiniest little holes to bung up with some scrunched up chicken wire or tack up some netting. Talk about stressful, but this herculean effort has paid dividends. I speak as if I've been doing the searching and gap filling, but actually I've mostly just been sharing the stress. The final hurdles are for the planning officer to approve our choice of brick and tile and for the structural engineer to design the foundations (for any rebuilding that is required). Actually, the final, final hurdle is bringing all the planning and structural stuff together and passing it to the building society so that we can get our mortgage. Then we can heave a collective sigh of relief and get on with the work, or more accurately the builder can get on with the work, although he has already advised us that his original projected start date of last Tuesday has been put back for 3-4 weeks due to delays on his current projects. Aaaaarrrrrggghhh........will this project ever begin................
Well, actually there is no building progress. We are still working through the planning pre commencement conditions and had a fun hour trying out brick samples with our builder and architect, also discussing tile samples. We have planning approval for Staffordshire Blue tiles on the current planning, but the previous planning was for pantiles instead. There is actually a mix of roof coverings on the barns at the moment - staffordshire blues, clay pantiles, roofing felt tiles, and in some cases nothing at all. So a lot of ummming and ahhhhing later and we have completely changed our minds from wanting orangey clay pantiles to now preferring staffordshire blues. We have also done quite a bit of extensive research by driving around the local villages taking surreptitious photo's of other peoples barns. Apologies to anyone who had dodgy looking people taking sneaky photo's of your property, it may have been us :) Now we have to see if we can afford real staffordshire blues or to have some concrete look alikes instead. Obviously we would like the real thing, but you can only spend your money once and I'd like to be able to have a kitchen and bathroom as well as tiles on the roof.
Today has been a bird and weed prevention day. For bird prevention the current project is too make screens for the missing barn doors and windows to deter swallows from making them their home. They haven't arrived yet, but it must be very soon. Last year they arrived just about now. We also have to make sure there aren't any robins, sparrows, wrens or any feathered friends building new nests. We have taken down all the old ones so it should be easy to see when they start building new nests, and is just a matter of being vigilant. On a weed prevention front we didn't think to spray weedkiller on the nettles last year until they were man sized and of course it was too late by then and the only course of action was extreme strimming. This year I've tried to get the little blighters early with a good spray around with something really nasty. It's a good job I'm not trying to grow any vegetables or fruit this year or we might just poison ourselves.
It was a nice sunny afternoon so I thought I would take some photo's of the barns before any building begins. I'm so looking forward to having a few photo's of work underway, but patience is definitely a necessity not a virtue in the barn conversion world. I might have gone a bit overboard with the sepia filter but it sort fit my thoughts of how the barns look before building and perhaps photo's taken after the building has finished will be all bright and shiny and colourful.
Just a bit of a hint that building will start at some point.......soon.