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.

 

 

 

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Spaced out at thetrevproject

We are just about to enter a very exciting phase in the renovation.  By the end of next week the cottage should be occupied so there will be some exciting photos next week.

Meanwhile we are spaced out  or  more correctly out of space.

One of the things about living in a house while it is being renovated is the mess but the biggest issue is space. Where do you put everything??? We have a 5 bedroom house with only 2 bedrooms usable – we have cleared 3 rooms as the floors had to be replaced and the walls had to be skimmed. Add to that we have Kate and Josh’s 2 bedroom house to accommodate as well. And we have toys for one year old twins so our living room looks like this.

Plus we have 2 kitchens and 2 bathrooms to accommodate as we ordered them based on a building schedule that had to be put back several weeks due to structural issues.

So what do we do with all that stuff? Basically we cram is in where we can so the garage is stuffed to the gunnels. This includes several boxes we brought from Braintree in October which we have never opened. The video below gives some idea of what the garage is like – after we have removed the cottage kitchen and bathroom fittings.

This created a challenge for the delivery of our new Heritage Range cooker. You can see below that the guys had milimetres to spare in some of the gaps between the new kitchen which is currently stored in the hallway.

They were amazing, their system of boards and rollers enabled them to wheel in the cooker in just a few minutes. The first floor tiles are down for the cooker to stand on. They are Fired Earth Orient Travertine tiles which is a kind of limestone – we wanted a stone floor which isn’t as dark as slate.

The cooker is now in place but you will have to wait for the big reveal to see what colour it is. 😜

 

 

Late July update from thetrevproject

So what has happened recently. Well….

The Lions drew a test series in New Zealand

England won the World Cup (women’s cricket)

Chris Froome won a 4th Tour de France – will he make into Sports Personality of the Year, probably not.

Oh yeah and what has happened to the Trev Project?

We have a load more stuff in the house as Josh and I went up to Widnes, hired a large van and brought all their stuff back to Trev. Most of it went in the garage but we are certainly very short of space now.  We now have 4 adults and 2 eleven month old twins living in half a house with only one temperamental toilet and a single bath. Its fun but I hope we get some more space soon.

Good news is that some stuff has moved out of the garage – the kitchen for Marler Cottage ready for fitting  so it was moved into the cottage and we could shoe horn Church Street Widnes in to the garage. Yes that means we are starting to put things back together again. The kitchen is going in the walls are painted, we have door and we have ordered an oil tank. We won’t make the completion by the end of July but we are hoping that a week into August the cottage will be habitable.

In the main house we have a floor in bedrooms 2 and 3. The floor is nice new pine, we looked at reclaimed floorboards but they were too expensive and we couldn’t find enough any way. The boards were kept in the room for  a week to acclimatise before being used. I did not realise how much work is involved laying a floor. Every board has to be racheted into place to ensure a tight fit and clasp nails hammered in by hand, no nail guns. There was the odd expletive from builders as they hammered fingers.

The walls are plastered  in the ensuite and we have a nice heritage roof lite in there. Tiles have been ordered for the floor and we are getting ready for the walls to be skimmed.

Downstairs the kitchen walls are ready for skimming. The walls are ready for skimming and the first floor tiles have gone in ready for the Heritage Cooker to be installed on Wednesday.

In between all this I have been helping to remove the Maiden Bells of St Veep Church for repair. These bells are unique – we believe the only Virgin Peel in the country and possible the World. A Virgin Peel, in case you don’t know and I certainly didn’t, means the bells were cast and never tuned, they just had perfect pitch straight away. So all 6 bells were perfect pitch. There are many other maiden bells but no virgin peels.

Installing New Steel to Reinforce the rotten Wood @ TheTrevProject

Installing New Steel to Reinforce the rotten Wood

Since our last update there has been some significant progress although we are now in a bit of a hiatus. Due to illness etc. we are down to one builder on site the last couple of days.  We have been blessed with some fantastic weather with Britain (but not Cornwall) officially making it to heat wave status. We had the hottest summer day since 1976 at 35.6°C – hot by British standards but places like Singapore get that temperature about 7 months a year.

First major issue was to do the preparation for the installation of the structural steel. Basically we are a listed building so we are obliged to keep a much old structure as possible. In our case we have to keep some old joists and an old beam. The beam is severely rotted and damaged by woodworm etc.  So we have to fit steel beams either side of the main beam and bolt all of them together. The beam is approx. 300mm x 200mm, or at least it should be. In reality some of it is only 60% of that size. Surprisingly though the middle of the beam is still incredibly hard. It made it very difficult to drill a hole through the beam to fit large threaded rod between the steels.

So we lifted the steels up through the window.

     

We then had to clear the area where the steel was to be anchored and install a steel I beam lintel in the outer wall. The inner wall had to be hollowed out and a hard pocket installed to rest the steel on. To do this the ends of all the joists had to cut off. They were pretty rotten any way so it was a good move. But then as part of the LBC (Listed Building Consent) we had to retain the old joists and bolt a new one alongside each old one! This meant chiseling out a pocket in the inner beam as well.

Having done that the joists on the other side of the beam had to be cut and a steel place on the other side of the beam. Straight forward as we had already done it once. The difficulty was drilling a hole from one side of the beam through to the other side to tie the two steels and the wooden beam together. As the drill started in soft semi degraded wood and then hit rock hard oak in the middle it was kicked off of straight meaning it came out 10 – 20 mm off straight on the other side so it didn’t line up with the hole in the steel.

We had to put new joists alongside some every bent originals as you can see from the photo below. You can see also that some joists have been repaired up to 3 times before.

Then we discovered that there were issues on the wall side. A couple of joists were totally rotten so they had to be discarded.

 

The other issue was that some of the joists rested on a wooden lintel – which of course was rotten. With some well judged stone work we overcame the issues.

We are now ready to install floorboards in bedroom 2 and 3 but not bedroom 1 were we still have some steel work to install. Since we are an old listed building we have to try to install reclaimed floorboards. We have saved some but many of the floorboards removed were so rotten and riddled with wood worm that we had to burn them.

We also discovered that we have been very lucky not to have been burned down. There were numerous dead mice (desiccated) under the floor boards when we lifted the floor. We have now discovered that in a lot of places the mice had chewed the plastic insulation away and there were bare wires in several places.

 

Whilst this was going on the plumber arrived. He removed the old boiler (second-hand in 2014 and it was in excess of 20 years old), disconnected and drained the heating. A new element was installed in the hot water tank so we can be sure of hot water. We also removed several radiators.

 

Mid June Building Update TheTrevProject

Building Update at TheTrevProject

We have had a lot going on in the last couple of weeks since the last update – at least that is what the stage payment request tells me. There isn’t much visual to report on though but that might change for next week’s update.

So up to the beginning of this week we had the walls in the cottage completely insulated and they are basically ready for plastering now. You can see Alfie checking out the cladding below.

We finally got a response to our structural queries (to be fair Peter was on holiday and we did get a response from him so that is quite good). So the concrete lintel was removed from the cottage and a steel one installed higher up so we can now fit in our bifold doors.

  

We also have an answer to structural issues in the main house so that work is progressing as I write. Lost more to report on that next week.

Another step forward is the erection of scaffolding for the “heritage conservation roof light windows”. Basically expensive Velux type windows for the cottage kitchen and ensuite bathroom.

What has been highlighted though is how much lighter and more airy our front entrance is now. Below are two pictures showing the current light open access compared to the overgrown dark oppressive access in 2015 (we had already done quite a bit of cutting back of plant life when the photo was taken). Quite apart from the darkness all the vegetation is not good for the walls as it encourages damp. The dead leaves also block gutters which leads to damp and even wall collapse.

You can see also that the vegetation has been massively reduced by looking back into the building.

The Trev Project Bank Holiday Update

Bank Holiday Update

It is a bit late due to us being away for most of the week but here is the update for Bank Holiday week. A few interesting things happened during the week running up to the Bank Holiday.

Firstly we had a delivery of sand in a 27 tonne tipper. We didn’t think we could get such a big lorry down our road.  Not only did he arrive safely but he came up the hill from Penpol – anyone who knows that road will tell you it is steep, narrow and there are no passing places for 600 yards or so. A lorry this size will fill the whole road. Now we know practically any lorry can get to our house so we can order almost anything we want for delivery.

The sand was required for the screed floor in the cottage which was duly laid on Wednesday and needs to be left to cure for a week or so. It’s difficult to take a decent picture of the new floor but laying the new floor means that next week the walls can be insulated and plastered.  We are hoping for big progress this week including a plumbing first fit. I have had to bring forward the delivery of the shower tray so that we can have it fitted ready for plaster boarding around the shower.

The next interesting occurrence was that we uncovered the septic tank. As we suspected  there is no man hole on the tank which is about 3m x 3m. We were able to remove one of the concrete slabs and reveal inside a 2 chamber system. The solids chamber is almost totally full with sludge and worms. We know it has not been emptied for at least 15 years  so it does work ok. We now have to find a contractor to empty it before it starts backing up in the pipe. Unfortunately whilst revealing the tank we damaged the pitch fibre sewage pipe. Whilst carrying out a repair we also discovered a cracked inlet T so that was also repaired.

We completed the removal of the render from the east  wall of the house. So we have no more “Polperro Ripple” and only one wall is currently rendered. The west wall has an unknown render on it but it will remain for now. The stone work we have revealed is of mixed quality. Some is quite good and attractive and some is not in very good condition and has quite a lot of slate in it. We still have to decide what to do with it leave it natural or re-render with lime plaster.

The render/finish on the walls of a house of this age is very important. You should not have an impervious outer layer as the walls are designed to breathe. This breathing allows moisture to migrate through the wall and escape thus preventing damp issues. Our house has had two walls with  impervious cement render which is most likely a contributory factor in the amount of rot and wood worm we have encountered. Both the wood worm and fungal rot prefer damp conditions (even so called dry rot needs damp). Wood worm requires a humidity greater than 60% and wood moisture content of greater than 12% to thrive. Fungal rot generally requires greater than 20% moisture in the wood to survive. Moisture contents of between 8 – 16% may be found in a ‘normal’ dry domestic dwelling wood.

 

This week also saw the mowing of the main sector of the lawn. Cutting a large area with a small electric flymo is quite time consuming but it looks good. The so called lawn is mostly meadow grass and weeds and I had left it un-mowed because I though the builders van would be parked on there a lot. We managed to arrange access through the farmer’s yard so we have hardly had any traffic on the lawn. The neater lawn is going to be nice when the building work is over and we look out of our new kitchen.

Also in preparation for a life after builders we have purchased and assembled a chicken coop. We plan to have our own fresh eggs and vegetables. Gardening at this house will be a challenge as there is very little topsoil and it is very windy. Many plants show signs of wind burn on new leaves when they are produced.

TheTrevProject Update May 7th

First Week in May update on the Trev Project

Ok not that much visual stuff going on at the moment.

In Marler Cottage the big change is the delivery of the concrete for the new floor. We had to have a small cement mixer lorry to fit in the gate. Unfortunately the cement mixer was just 3 barrow loads short of the complete floor so the guys had to hand mix 3 barrow loads.

  

The other big thing, though not very visual, is that we ordered the kitchen for the cottage which will be delivered on 3rd June. We still make a final decision on what shower and toilet we want but that is looking good too.

In the main house we have made limited progress. The joists for the new floor in the ensuite bathroom have been put in. We have to keep the rotten old floor because the boards are lime washed underneath and the heritage people think that is great. It’s a bit of a shame because if we could raise the ceiling in the laundry below that would be very convenient.

We have the beginnings of the new panelling in the new kitchen. We have to keep the original so we are having matching panels made for the wall where the toilet was removed.

The main progress has been in removing the cement render from the front of the house. Rubblestone walls are designed to breath and get rid of moisture. If they are cement rendered that can’t happen because the cement is impervious. This leads to damp walls which can cause timber rot. We do have quite bad rot in at least one main beam at the wall end. The plan is to lime render the wall with a breathable paint on the outside. Originally we were going to remove only one layer of cement but as some of the render came off quite easily we are going for the full strip.

We also exposed some lovely granite lintels above the windows. You can just see a window that was blocked up at some point just to the left of the porch. We have an old photo copy of a drawing done in 1815 which shows the windows in the current position so when the window was changed is still a mystery

You can see that the porch is also partly gone. The timbers were totally rotten but the walls turned out to be very hard.