Beginning of March at thetrevproject

This post was written on the 2nd of March so it is slightly out of date as I am posting it on 12th – nearly time for the next update already! I will however start with a before and after photo of the entrance to our house. This is the first of the promised before and after shots. The trouble is that we have a myriad of photos and the right one often cannot be located, or, we didn’t take the photo we thought we had taken.

Ha – just wanted to get Fred into a post May 2015 to July 2017 saw a bit of a change.

This the change in our entrance, before (May 2015);

Although technically that is not before because we had already done quite a lot of work clearing up. This is what it looks like now February 2017

Not a lot to report on the building side at the moment. The One great thing that did happen ws that we had some dry weather so the mud dried up (mind you the “Beast from the East” may have reversed that now). Anecdotal evidence suggests this is one of the wettest winters on record in Cornwall. I just hope that means a drier summer this year, but not too dry. Some pictures below of the track by our back gate shows how the weather has dried up.

Whilst on the weather we did get about 10cm of snow but it was dry and powdery so it blew around a lot. We have an old wooden sledge which we couldn’t really use as the runners just cut through the snow to the ground and didn’t slide well. We did get the twins on it for a ride round the garden being towed by Daddy. The biting wind meant that we didn’t stay out long. As it was Louise’s birthday we went back inside for birthday cake quite quickly. Later we walked down the hill to the river for a cup of tea with a neighbour. The walk down was easy but the walk up was harder than usual because of the snow.

The biting cold highlighted an issue with our house. The heating struggles in cold weather so we have had to use fires all day and I haven’t sawed enough logs so we are going to run out unless I brave the cold and sharpen the chainsaw and cut some more. Part of the reason the heating struggles is a total lack of loft insulation in much of the house. We are also still without 3 sets of shutters which would have helped keep the heat in.

Another issue is the lack of loft insulation in much of the house. This is partly down to bats. We were having the loft sprayed for woodworm when the contractor spotted a bat. Well bats are like asbestos – as soon as you see a bat you have to down tools and contact the specialist. Our bat consultant said we could continue to spray with bat friendly spray but only on very cold days when the bat would be hibernating and therefore not present in our roof. We have had cold weather recently but our contractor can only fit us in when he hasn’t got other jobs planned.

Work wise I have almost finished the painting in the bathroom and toilet. I still need to do some grouting and I have give half the walls in bedroom 5 a wash and a coat of white emulsion. Technically this is not quite right as emulsion has very low breathability and the walls are lime/mud but, the walls outside are bare, it is upstairs and the walls already had emulsion on them. This room needs to be made liveable by the end of the month for our “Trevster” event.

I purchased a chain saw saw horse for cutting logs into decent sizes. I have a lot of logs in the shed but they are all about 40 – 50 cm long so not suitable for a woodburner.  I now regret having gone for 12 inch blade rather than a 14 inch blade as the 12 inch blade is only just long enough to fit in the clamp and cut through the logs. The other thing with a 12 inch blade is the teeth on the chain are very small and difficult to sharpen well. They need sharpening every hour or so of cutting.

I have cut down some trees for burning in 2 years time. They are basically a hedge that has been neglected and turned into quite mature trees. They are shading an area of the veg patch which could have a poly tunnel installed on it. The wood is for 2 years time as I am allowing it to dry out naturally. Dry wood burns easier and has a much higher calorific value as you are not using part of your heat to evaporate the water in the wood.



Mid February at thetrevproject

Well we are mid February and the broad band hasn’t improved,in fact it has got worse. Plain white BT vans have been seen in the vicinity and the occupants claimed to be surveying for new fibre lines. This is not on our branch of the line but the surveyor thought we might be included in the upgrade, since we are literally the end of the line it will be a significant achievement for BT/Openreach to get to us.  You have to laugh though as this is all EU funded and Cornwall voted overwhelmingly leave.

Rant over what has been going on at thetrevproject. I continue as a multiskilled technician, or should that be Jack of all trades, we all know how that rhyme goes. Just in the last 2 days I have been painter, turfer and chain saw operator.

We have finally had a couple of dry days and a full day of sun.

Today for the first time this year I was looking for ward to going rowing in the sun, guess what, cancelled due to sea conditions . What we have had weather wise is a sprinkle of snow and a hell of a lot of hail – up to 6 hail showers a day. The photo is below is hail not snow.

One of the good things about rain though is occasionally you get fantastic rainbows.

We have had a couple of small updates in the cottage. Fitting a weather strip in the window in the bedroom. Its weird but we had to fit an inward opening window as the wall is our boundary (Building Regs). The trouble is that when the rain blew directly on it the water came in, hopefully now it won’t. We also fitted a fan heater in the shower room as it is freezing in the early morning in there and there is no room for a radiator or heated towel rail #compactliving.

The really big thing from a builder perspective was the removal of the rubble. This took a couple of days and was achieved with a digger and a tractor and trailer, cheaper I believe.

The rubble was taken somewhere an hour and a quarter away. We can now park beside the road on some hardcore and NOT on the mud. It is across the road from the house but we only have about six cars and a tractor a day past here. Its not actually clear who owns the land we are parking on but I think it probably is part of the high way, but then who owns the highway?

I had to call the builders back to replace three more rotten lintels. Two of which had been painted over by the joiner doing the windows. He says its not part of his job but I still think he should have flagged the issues.  The third one was down to the builders they changed a door upstairs in the garage and failed to spot a lintel which was as hard as a sponge. It was a freezing day when they did it but still they should have spotted it.

We had a force 8 easterly gale this week which blew the rain directly on to the sash windows which weren’t brilliant at keeping the rain out. So our joiner had to make a visit to do some modifications.He claims that part of the problem is the lack of render in some areas of the window reveal (see previous posts for explanation of why the render has not been completed).  We still only have 1 set of the 4 sets of shutters required but there is a dispute going on about payment for these. I wont pay until I get the shutters and he wont deliver the shutters without payment.

I have  decorated the bathroom and toilet with the exception of the woodwork. It was tricky painting round pipes etc but I love a challenge. I started in the 2 smallest rooms because I want to be able to say I have achieved something.  The rooms are a bit of a contrast – walls in cheap Wilko paint and woodwork in Dulux Eggshell Timeless which is not only not cheap but is very difficult to get hold of. Most places only sell Pure Brilliant White Eggshell and if they do sell Timeless it is only in 750ml tins.

I have also turfed the other half of the entrance way. It was fun, the turf arrived on Wednesday and it rained ALL day and was windy and cold. As and aside the turf man cannot find any young people who are prepared to work as turfers because it is too hard. The latest young recruit started Monday but called in sick Wednesday – the weather maybe. I laid the turf Friday but couldn’t lay it all first thing as some rolls were frozen solid. I had to wait until midday to be able to roll it out – but Fred loves it and supervised the laying.

I will just finish off with a picture of a fire burning up all the rotten lintels. You can’t beat a good fire to cheer you up.


January at thetrevproject

I haven’t updated recently because I was a bit ill, I would like to claim “man flu” but actually it was a chest and throat infection. Very annoying as I don’t get ill. I also had a tooth removed which is very painful and makes eating awkward. Added to that our broadband has not improved much we are getting 0.75 Mbs download speed but apparently it is nearly 2 Mbs on the BT line so they are implicating our internal wiring. So doing anything on the internet is difficult.

Well the trevproject is not finished yet albeit the builders are rarely seen on site these days. There are one or two jobs which need to be finished but by and large the work is done now, or should I say the builders work is done. The weather continues to be a bit grim although we have had some dry periods of around 24 hours but nothing long enough to dry out the mud significantly. We have had a lot of rain – filling my wheel barrow overnight on several occasions.

Plus we have had several hail showers

But fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective no snow and few frosts. And we did have the odd bit of sun.

The work is far from done and now we are into phase 3, which is decorating and making good, which starts in earnest. Phase 3 is largely down to me although Louise might help a bit. The first objective is to make the place look good for “Trevster” (Easter gathering of the Trev tribe) when we will host up to 16 extra adults in our house. Most won’t be staying overnight but this will be their base for a few days. Trevster apart the building will never be finished and I will have to become adept at many skills before too long to keep the house in order.

I am re-acquainting myself with decorating techniques such as painting, tiling etc. We are going for what Period Living magazine might call “the rustic look”. In other words we are not looking at stripping everything back and making walls etc. look perfect. We will in the main be painting over rough areas or tiling walls which aren’t flat. In one or two areas we might go for a papered feature wall so we may need to call in a plasterer to skim the wall and make it flat and smooth.

So far I have learned that an angle grinder is not a good tool for shaping tiles as it is too crude. I discovered an old jig saw blade which is much better. I wish the builder had advised us tile the wall before fitting the bathroom and toilet sinks as it would have been easier. However I enjoyed the challenge of shaping the tiles to fit round curves but I would say they may be slightly below professional standard.

We have an issue in some areas where the wall consists of a stud wall with metal lathe and plaster. The metal lathe means that a stud detector doesn’t work and the plaster means the wall has little strength. So you need to be creative to hang things like mirrors using plywood, “No more nails”, etc. Plus of course the outside wall has mud as mortar so they are very soft and crumbly between the stones. So the technique is drill a hole fill it with “No More Nails” or equivalent and then insert a rawl plug leave to cure and then attach whatever is required.

The big thing happening today is the removal of all the builders’ rubble and rubbish from the side of the road. So pictures of that and some completed decorating to look forward to. But for now just a picture of rubbish being burned.


Christmas and New Year @ thetrevproject

It was weird to have a period of no builders on site at thetrevproject but one thing didn’t change the weather – plenty of wind and rain and hence mud. The mud was started off by loads of builders vans parking on the side of the road. This was supplemented by the fact that our farmer neighbour having cows in the adjacent fields requiring daily big bales of hay or silage. The teleporter fork lift churns up the mud when it goes off road and then it sheds mud on the road as it returns for the next load. Its just country  life.

Mud has consequences in the house – mud every where and you have to be very careful to change shoes every time you come in side and the dog’s feet have to be constantly be wiped down with an old towel which gets very muddy and smelly.

Since we didn’t have along build up to Christmas with only a week to put up most of the decorations we went to see the famous Mousehole (pronounced Mouzal) harbour lights. Brilliant they were but we struggled to find a fish and chip shop on the way home. That is  another feature of living in a tourist area – many businesses only run when there are tourists around  so out of season and d especially January many places are closed.

We decided to have a housewarming drinks party on 23rd December on the basis that the building would be finished. Well the builders left site on Monday 18th December but work is not finished they are due back on site in January.  The landing window was returned on Tuesday 19th which we were rather relieved about as we had our doubts. We did have the majority of the house usable and we had a great day and were able to share our home with lots of our new local friends. I was able to wash some of the mud from the road and put down some sand to minimise the mud.

Living in a house gets you to recognise the good and bad bits of the house but we won’t go into that now.


We had a wonderful Christmas with our 3 daughters, son in law and granddaughters then on 27th we headed up country to visit relatives and friends. We managed to meet up with all Louise’s family and all my direct family in the UK. We stayed in Bishops Stortford as our base to visit friends and family in Essex and Suffolk and slip in a murder mystery evening with our Braintree friends for New Years Eve. We were greeted in Bishops Stortford by 2 inches of very hard frozen snow. By the time we left it was almost gone.

When we returned to Cornwall the weather was – windy and rainy. So we set about drawing up a list of outstanding works and arranged for the builders to return on 15th January

16th update December at thetrevproject

  • This week it’s all about wind and rain and hence inevitable mud!  Yes whilst “upcountry” people were enjoying early snow and sledging we were being battered by wind and rain, we did get some frost but not any hard frosts.

60 70 mph gusts inevitably test the fabric of your premises. We survived pretty much ok with one branch dropping on the fence and damaging it. The portaloo blew over once so we put some breeze blocks in it and it shifted across the yard about 4 metres.


We did have a substantial tree down in a local lane. It was cleared up by a local farmer and the Council arrived 5 days later to put up some blocked road signs. To be fair they were busy and are very strapped for cash.

The main wind issue was that we lost power at 4.00 am one morning due to a snapped high voltage line post. Despite the post being in the middle of a field Western Power Distribution had power restored by 9:00 – lucky because we had builders, plumbers and roofers on site and vans everywhere. The advantage of using a slightly bigger building firm like G A Wildish is that they turned up with a petrol generator so if we had no power they would still have been able to work. It has highlighted vulnerability in our system though.

No power =no water or heating as well.

Having said that our new pressurised water system is brilliant when it works apart from the fact that the pump is a bit noisy. We have now realised why our shower is called a “rain shower”.

Due to the wind and rain we didn’t get our wood burner installed because it was too dangerous to go up the scaffolding to drop the new liner down the chimney. All being well that will be done Tuesday.

So why am I prevaricating in this blog – you guessed it we didn’t finish on Friday. We made substantial progress but there will be builders on site on Monday. Just a few bits of finishing off to do for the builders but we have a day’s work for the plumbers and at least half a day for the electricians to do. Plus our joiner helpfully said on Friday he wouldn’t be back on Monday but probably on Tuesday.

We have however got heating throughout the house now. That is a significant upgrade as only half the house had heating previously.  So we have enhanced the house (and increased our oil bill accordingly).

We also now have 2 bathrooms and 3 toilets in the house so finally Louise and I have an ensuite to ourselves. The second bathroom has a shower bath and sink with a separate toilet (due to have a temporary connection on Monday). The toilet will eventually have its own sink. The toilet is a slight issue as there is a window directly behind it so a toilet with a high level flush has to have a side cistern. who supplied have not been very helpful trying solve this little challenge and Adrian our foreman is going to plumb it temporarily in plastic on Monday.

We also have all but 1 of the windows back in place. We await with baited breath the return of the landing window. Sadly although it this was the window with the most historic interest it was also the most rotten and had to be almost totally rebuilt.

Before they left the builders cleaned the slate floors with a mixture of linseed oil and white spirit. The wisdom of this is debatable to say the least but it has restored the colour and finish to the slates even if it does smell. You can only use “it smells like cricket bats in summer” so many times before it gets annoying. On Saturday I spent a couple of hours with a cloth removing the excess oil that refused to dry up on the slates.

We were able to set up the new dining room for Christmas.

So on Monday, seven days before Christmas we are expecting the builders and windows and wood burner installation on Tuesday.


First Week in December at thetrevproject

Here are some of the neighbours walking past the house.

So this is the week we were due to finish phase 2 of the project. Well, you won’t need me to tell you that we didn’t finish I am sure you have already guessed.

This is the project that keeps on giving. We found yet another rotten lintel. This time in the landing window.

This wasn’t a surprise as the window sits under a gutter that sometimes over flows and it is also the oldest window in the house. The window was put in late in the “remodelling” of the house but it must have been re-used from somewhere else. It was properly old with a lead weight as well.

Of course it doesn’t end there not only was the lintel rotten but most of the widow frame as well.

Windows are a bit of an issue. We are currently missing  5 windows and the bathroom window needs to be completely replaced. This is one area of concern as I don’t anticipate a lot of dry weather before Christmas.

We had a slight hitch with the wood burning stove for the living room. When Jason arrived to install it he decided that the chimney needed to be swept before he fitted the new liner. To be fair to him I think he did mention it before but I forgot. As luck would have it I managed to book a chimney sweep for next Wednesday so by next weekend we should have 2 wood burners in the house. The installation of the wood burner necessitated the start of Phase 3 of the project – decorating. I painted the fireplace in Nutmeg White in readiness for the stove installation.


The main reason we didn’t finish was down to plumbing. The plumbers arrived on Wednesday with 5 days of work to do. This included fitting a bathroom, fitting a toilet, fitting a new pressurised hot water cylinder, fitting 6 radiators, drilling through a 1 metre thick wall to connect the heating flow and return and fitting a new tank and pressurisation unit complete with UV lamp.  To make life more interesting when we went to fit the dual fuelled heated towel rail in the bathroom it had no “T” for the electric heater. To cut a long story short Bathstore stopped supplying the towel rail I ordered 6 months ago but just sent me something similar with no “T”.  Basically we have already installed the pipes so we had to have a radiator with that profile. Fortunately I managed to find an exact replica and it was cheaper. The bathroom is starting to take shape now.

This was a week of two steps forward and one step back but we are confident that we will be moving in to phase 2 by the end of the week.  I think there will be quite a long list of snags to look at and I am not confident about the landing window being back in time. I have to mention the dust – it is every where and no sooner do you dust than more dust settles.

Any way at least we have a Christmas tree even if we don’t have any other decorations yet.

thetrevproject end of November

Well theoretically at thetrevproject we are reaching an exciting time as the builders are due to be finished by the end of the first week in December.  The reality is stress levels are rising:-

Will the subcontractors turn up?😞

Will they / wont they complete😞

Christmas is coming and we want to decorate but nowhere is really finished😞

Mary is moving to live with us on 30th which means more stuff to store😟

Having said all that progress has been steady. All the areas is phase 2 have been plastered . All the ceilings are now painted as are the ceilings in bedroom 2  &  3 from phase 1 (Mary and Esme’s rooms).

The render on the outside on the south and East walls was completed. The job is not quite done though as the window reveals and porch need several coats and the weather has turned against us. You shouldn’t apply lime render below 5°C and we have had a few nights when the air temperature was 1 or 2 °C. The thing about lime is it doesn’t just dry there is a chemical reaction which occurs to adhere it to the substrate, basically it is carbonated and needs exposure to Carbon dioxide to set properly.

Did you know lime mortar was first used by the Egyptians 6000 years ago? Also there are many different grades of lime which give different hardness and drying properties. There can be different colours as well dependent on what kind of sane is mixed into it.

I love the creamy colour of our lime render. It goes a darker colour when wet as well.  We have no completion date for the remaining render as it may now have to wait until spring.

We have lost more windows to be repaired but we have got the new dining room windows back.

We also have a new back door without one inch gaps top and bottom to allow in weather and vermin.

Here we found a little structural problem – a very rotten lintel with evidence of death watch beetle infestation as well. We have inserted 3 concrete lintels to replace the old wooden one (very thick wall).

Speaking of vermin in October we were plagued by flies #rurallife. Basically the local cows attract flies. We thought they had disappeared but when we went in the loft recently we discovered they had all gone up there to over winter – where are those blooming bats when you need them. Thousands of dozy flies up in the loft is not ideal. I hope that when the loft is treated for wood worm the insecticide zaps all the flies as well.

Phase 2 was electricity free for many weeks with all electricity coming in via extension leads. This meant frantic scrabbling around at dusk to find an extension lead and lamp to light up the front door area. We also had no outside lights or lights in the laundry so torches were de rigeur. In the last week of November the “Sparkies” came and connected up most of the lights in phase 2 and the outside lights as well as the living room lights. We have no wall or ceiling lights in the living room but we have a 5 amp plug ring which is switched from near the door which allows standard or table lights to be switched on entry to the room. For some reason the switch had not been connected so we couldn’t use this system. Also 5 amp round pin plugs are hard to find which didn’t help.

Finally we erected extra scaffolding so that the chimney can be lined in preparation for the installation of a wood burner in the living room. Also the chimney needs some re-pointing.

On a non building note we had the first egg from our hens.

And now the sun rises at around 8 am I can say I am up before dawn every day and we get some interesting sunrises.