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.

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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.

Early November at thetrevproject

Anyone who follows this blog – I am sure there is someone – may have noted that we are becoming a bit jaded with the building works and reporting it. We have been living in a building site since April. People say “oh it will be worth it in the end” and it will but when will the end be? Even after the builders leave, hopefully in early December there is a mass of decorating, gardening, landscaping, maintenance etc. to do.

We know we are incredibly blessed and lucky to be living here but it is a bit wearing at times. Still we get occasional fantastic sunsets and the views around here are lovely even if the weather can be a bit challenging, its windy and rainy but not often massively cold.

So In November we took time off for some R&R and visited France. We took Esme with us to celebrate her recently turning 21 and stayed in the beautiful village of Montfort L’Aumary 40 minutes by train from Paris with Emma and Tom – Emma was our bridesmaid a few years ago! Their house is possibly even older than ours probably dating from the 14 the century.

France was freezing and shortly after this picture of Louise and Emma was taken we were drenched in freezing rain.

Back to thetrevproject. The first week in October was primarily occupied by first fix electrics, first fix plumbing followed by “replasterboarding” which continued into the second week. We had a couple of little incidents during this week.

Firstly whilst I was digging over a section of soil which is intended to be turfed I suddenly noticed frantic activity. A lot of buckets being run in to the house and the plumber rushed into the laundry to turn off the water. You guessed it a flood. One of the builders removed a bit of old lead piping which was still live. Fortunately very little damage and all confined to the area being stripped.

Secondly, there was a weird set up with a basin in the bedroom at the furthest extremity from the bathroom. It had been plumbed with a phenomenally long drain – about 15 metres. Needless to say the water didn’t drain well. So the builder drilled a hole in the pipe at the lowest point and released the foulest smelling water which kept dripping into a bucket for hours. I decided to try and mask the smell with Jeyes fluid, that became very pervasive as well.

Thirdly we had a modern life crisis. We came back from France to find no internet connection. A little detective work revealed that a builder had inadvertently snapped the telephone wire. I have to commend our electricians who had the service back up within a couple of hours of the call out.

During this time we also started the re-rendering of some of the outside walls. To date we have bag rubbed the north gable end and half the east wall exterior with lime.  A bag rub is what it says. You render with lime and then rub it with a bit of hessian to give it texture. It is a thin coat to protect the stone and mortar underneath whilst allowing the wall to be breathable so moisture will be removed by capillary action. It was recommended by Cornish Lime. So I asked how will I know if it is working successfully and I got the answer “wait a year or two and see how damp the walls are”. There is a slight problem with that in that the scaffolding will be long gone if we find it hasn’t worked. However the conventional wisdom is that it is good for this type and age of building. It looks pretty good as well.

 

Another thing that happened in this period is that some more windows disappeared to be repaired. So phase 2 is dark and drafty as the boards over the windows don’t fit very tightly.

We said goodbye to the old Aga which nobody wanted to buy. It was in a fairly sorry state it was a bit heavy though and all the insulation had to be removed before it could be moved too far. The insulation is a granular silica based product.

Phase 2 at thetrevproject 16th – 30th October

The builders returned on 16th October and set about removing the old kitchen and removing the fibreboard ceilings and walls  in the old part of the house. Fibreboard is a fire hazard and we need to insulate the ceilings. Added to that it is easier to remove soft fibre board ceilings than to lift floorboards to do electrics and plumbing. There is no heating in this side of the house. As you can see below the wiring was a bit of a mess.

First however they covered the floors with “Antinox” plastic floor covering and built temporary doors to prevent too much dust getting into the rest of the house. I had insisted that better precautions were taken after our cleaning debacle.

The good news is that we haven’t found any structural issues and we have an estimated completion date of 5th December – that is 2017. There have been some issues in the past though as there is a steel “I” beam across the floor under the bath. This suggests that there was some rot under the bath at some time in the past.

Stripping went quite well and the whole area was stripped in a week and the old toilet was removed and the bath disconnected. Its an old cast iron bath which I want removed in one piece which the builders are not happy about it going to be heavy.

We have created a new door in the old kitchen wall. The heritage consultant was worried about removing historic fabric but as I expected it is a block wall so not really old. This part of the house could be as old as 1640’s but the block wall is probably 20th century.

We also have a heavy old Aga to dispose of. “Webuyanyaga.com”  (which is areal website) and similar are not interested in buying our old aga. Apparently there is no demand for really old Agas these days. Also with all the rubbish going on about diesel nobody wants an oil burner these days. (Dont get e started about the environmental damage done mining the stuff that goes into electric car batteries or child slave labour in the mines.) I believe the Aga was second hand in 1951 so its done its duty ok

We had  another hot water issue as well. The electricians came in for the strip out ad first fit and ripped everything out including the supply to the immersion heater. So a new emergency temporary supply had  to be fitted. We also lost the supply to borehole pump switch which required some detective work to find the right wires to connect together.

We can now start having visitors again so Rupert and Sara came to stay for a night along with Lola the beagle who instantly made herself at home on the kitchen window seat.

The second week of the strip out, well actually the start of the refit as we were installing battens and insulation, coincided with or anniversary of moving down to Cornwall. Right on cue our first visitors to Cornwall came to visit a year after our arrival. Mark, Clare, Kezzy and Jake Heasman came to visit on my first day in the house before the removal men or Louise arrived. They came again during half term by coincidence on the exact anniversary of last years visit. Needless to say they noticed a big change in the house.

Our first six weeks in the house the weather was idyllic – extremely warm for October. This year the rain has finally abated and we are starting to dry out. Lets hope for a dry autumn.

 

 

 

Phase 1 of thetrevproject is complete – well sort of.

We are feeling quite bullish about our project at the moment.

 

This week we discovered  nice wooden floor in the living room which was a nice surprise. We were expecting to find a chipboard floor like the one in the new kitchen when we removed the old carpet. The fact that we found it is an indicator of progress, it means we are starting clear up.

We were promised that phase 1 would be complete by the end of September. Well it is  and it isn’t. Today the 2nd of October we have 2 builders on site clearing up and phase 1 is sort of finished.

Just a reminder about phase 1 and 2. The house is “L” shaped and phase 1 is the major part of the work which is the foot of the L. Phase 1 involved renovating 3 bedrooms, 2 reception rooms and an ensuite as well as the creation of a new downstairs loo. Oh and the repair of 5 sash window (listed building consent requirement) and the small matter of some major steel work to run alongside rotting or wood worm infested beams (again listed building consent requirement).

So where are we:-

Structural work – completed

New ensuite almost there – we just need a drain in the basin

Bedrooms complete – just need decorating and windows

New kitchen – complete apart from commissioning of range cooker booked for Friday

Downstairs loo – complete apart from extract fan

Windows – all still outstanding

 

The plan is, plumbers come today,  we get the first 2 windows back on Wednesday, cleaners come in Thursday and we move in Friday – that will be only a week behind target.

So we completed on time, well sort of yes, but really no. We still have to render two outside walls and we took most of the decorating out of the spec. This is an old house built with mud as mortar in one of the wettest parts of the UK only about 2.5 miles from the sea so we plan to leave the walls bare and dry the house out, once the heating is commissioned on Friday, for several months before we apply paint etc.

As a taster for what we are looking at there is a short video tour of the kitchen here (this video is unedited and one take so forgive the quality please):-

Also this week I have made progress with the slug barrier in the veg patch by almost completing a hard core path around 2 sides of the veg patch and laid some turf in the entrance from the road.

Phase 2 doesn’t need much in the way of structural work (so far as we know) so it will hopefully be a bit quicker than the first phase. Lets hope so we would like to be builder free by Christmas.

 

 

September at thetrevproject

Half way through September and this is the first update. Things are getting exciting now as the end of phase 1 is in sight. Just as well really as the stress and the dust and the dirt and the mess are starting to take their toll. Its amazing how you can get used to living in a tip – well not for me as I have always been pretty untidy. I was punished weekly at boarding school for not having a tidy bed and drawers etc for about 3 years. No one say I am not a quick learner  😆 – its just my definition of tidy was not the same as others.

Added to the stress is that our youngest daughter is home and she has to use a dark depressing bedroom and has no space to get her stuff out to make it homely. We are used to the lifestyle but it is hard for her to adapt.

The weather hasn’t helped either. Rain, rain, rain, admittedly interspersed with brief glimpses of the sun and a few lovely rainbows. Its been so wet that there is still standing corn around because its not been dry long enough to get the combines out. I have put the sun loungers away virtually unused this year. Last year October and November were great weatherwise, so here’s hoping. We have had a good couple of days weatherwise so Esme is getting a good end to her Cornish interlude, and guess what we did yesterday, The Eden Project – Thanks to Tesco Club Card we paid no cash to get in.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. We have lights and electricity in the whole house at the moment. As of last week the electricians worked out what circuit was connected to which lights and transferred the circuits in phase 1 to a new breaker box. We have safe electrics in half the house now. Still a few minor modifications to make but we have progress. A slight challenge is we don’t have enough light bulbs to turn on all the lights at once. As we had so few lights working we didn’t bother buying many spares so we need to get some in. We still don’t have all the power sockets live but the circuits re connected.

These are the views from the windows in phase 1 at the moment – note the light bulbs in the two bedroom windows. May seem insignificant but when you have had no electricity for several months this quite a big deal. Oh, and that is not frosted glass in the bathroom it is cobwebs on the outside of the window.

We are having the radiators fitted this week and hopefully the Heritage Cooker/Boiler will be commissioned the following week. Just in time as the evenings draw in and start to get a little chilly. In the meantime I have to start moving dry wood to woodstore near the house and moving the logs outside into the shed to replace the dry logs removed.

early autumn update

Hi, it is officially autumn now and the weather is on the turn. We had 72 mm of rain one day which caused some floods locally but we are on top of the hill so we are ok.

Today just a one minute video to show what progress is going on.  There has been a lot of activity this week, masons, plasterers, carpenters plumbers and electricians. Some painting was done as well but it was done by multi skilled guy ie. one of the other trades. There was also some tiling and grouting.

Any way here is the quick video.

Potentially next week we will have an exciting update with some completed rooms to show.