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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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.

Change over at thetrevproject

The first week in October was a finishing off of phase 1 with only a couple of guys on site. We were expecting  the two windows back and a clean of the areas completed ready for us to move in. The plan being to move from one side of the house with 2 bedrooms and the old kitchen and bathroom to the other side with 3 bedrooms and the new kitchen and ensuite bathroom. So in theory more room.

The first two windows came back on Thursday 5th of October but minus the shutters. So the windows went away on 22nd of August and returned  5 weeks later refurbished and ready to go. They came back minus shutters but that wasn’t critical. We were so pleased to be able to see out and get daylight into the living room and kitchen.

The new Heritage Cooker was commissioned on the October  5th . So we now have heat in the first phase and a new controllable cooker. The Heritage will eventually do the hot water as well but currently we are using an immersion only. The Heritage is an Aga type cooker but uses a modern controllable burner and electronic controls. This means you can turn all the burners off  if required and save fuel. Also you can get from cold to cooking temperature in 20 minutes only which is close to the time of a conventional oven. Plus it is made in Cornwall just down the road in Liskeard.

The immersion heater was a funny story. The day the Aga was switched off we had no hot water. So we panicked and called in the plumber to replace the immersion, when he arrived he said it has a new element – to cut a long story the switch is wired back to front so off is on and on is off! We had hot water all the time but we didn’t realise the switch was back wards

The cleaners arrived on 5th October. Two really nice ladies and to be honest I didn’t supervise what they did trusting that out builders knew what they were doing. Well, lets just say there was a gap in expectation between what we expected and the builders specified. We hadn’t been strict on the use of dust sheets etc. as we knew there was a clean at the end. Basically we thought the more mess they make the job of the more work for their cleaners.

There were no builders on site from 9/10 for a week to allow us to move  from one side to the other. In our eyes we were expecting nice clean rooms to move into.

It took me 4 days to clean 4 rooms. The process was:-

  • Hoover with industrial vacuum cleaner to remove loose dust
  • Chisel off plaster, paint etc.
  • Hoover with industrial vacuum cleaner
  • Hoover with Dyson and brush down.

Then of course we needed to move over the bedroom furniture and the mountains of shizzle stored under the beds in cupboards etc. I concentrated on Mary’s room first as she was coming to stay for a couple of weeks. Also I got the living room cleared so we could move from one “living room to the next”. One slight problem was that we had no TV signal in the new living room but that was sorted fairly quickly and the terrestrial tv connected. We had to retire to the “snug” or old living room to watch satellite or recorded programs. We arranged that we would move the satellite dish so that in future Sky/Freesat will be in the min living room.

So the position at 15-10-17 is that:-

We are in our new room is all but complete the bedroom has no window it is boarded up.

The ensuite is all but complete (bath and shower available but water pressure is still a bit low we haven’t yet installed the booster pump)

Mary is in her room but the window is boarded up

Esme’s room is ready for the transfer  but the window is boarded up

The old bathroom and toilet are still in use

New kitchen is up and running.

Down stairs loo is up and running  minus the fairly crucial extract fan, there is no window in the room. We have gone from one very temperamental  loo to having 3 loos in one week.

The builders are due back on site 16th October.

 

 

Slugging it Out at thetrevproject

Firstly living in the country has some advantages, one of which is that you can have a good bonfire without annoying your neighbours too much.

Ok so this has got very little to do with the house but part of our plan to live in Cornwall was to grow our own fruit and veg.

So, I spent hours in the late autumn digging over 3 reasonable sized vegetable beds. The plan was to make raised beds. I soon discovered there wasn’t much top soil in the veg patch. Also it had been fallow for many years resulting in masses of weeds, grass, ivy, nettles etc. So no need to go to the gym I just got stuck into clearing the veg patch.

I duly cleared and double dug 3 raised beds, Well they were ground level with timber borders with the plan being to practice “no dig gardening” for a year or two (basically just top up the bed with 10cm or so of top soil each year).

We trotted off enthusiastically to the garden centre and bought loads of seeds, planted them up on the window sill. Its great having 3 foot thick walls as there are large window sills. Our seeds were slightly mixed in how successful they were. We then bought seed potatoes and planted them in the soil and in potato bags.

After planting out the seedlings we discovered that there was a very significant challenge to gardening in Cornwall – slugs and snails. Being a moist mild climate the little slimy buggars thrive most of the year. So wanting to be “green” and organic I set about using some nematode slug control which was not really successful. Collecting slugs at night and putting them in salt water. Beer traps were deployed (they prefer cheap continental lager to bitter). Both the last two methods have the downside in that you have dead slugs to dispose of which if not done regularly can be very smelly.

These photos don’t do much for scale but these guys are about 12cm long.

So the slugs and snails decimated our crops. We tried again with bought seedlings – again devastation. Some plants are slug resistant, young peas (they do attack mature plants), fennel and maybe more.

Did you know that there are 40 different species of slugs in the UK? Most are vegetarian but some are omnivorous. You can find out more here http://www.slugwatch.co.uk/?page_id=13.

I have been asking around about how to control the slimy creatures. There are many things to try but no one method is 100% successful. I asked the gardeners at the Eden Project, where there are extensive slug free gardens outside the biomes, and the answer was a firm “slug pellets”. I am reluctant to use anything that would harm dogs or wildlife though but I will try them next year along with nematodes and here is the building bit – surround the veg patch by a hard-core path. Luckily enough I have plenty of hard core to get rid of so that is what I have started to do. The fact that I have to dig up some topsoil is serendipity.

 

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.

bank Holiday update no 1

Oh you may have noticed I have been a bit quiet on here recently so here is a little video to show some of the progress. Its basically a whistle stop tour of phase 1 upstairs. We are assured this will be completed by end of September so exciting times ahead.

As you can see from the end of the video its been fantastic weather here in Cornwall this weekend and its due to continue tomorrow. Look at Talland Bay on Friday.

 

 

August at thetrevproject and Marler Cottage

August is summer, supposedly, and we were reminded that we live in a rural location when our neighbour drove past the house.

Here in Cornwall August weather has been a bit dodgy. You might be wondering what  happened to the last few weeks updates on thetrevproject, all about the cottage being finished. Were we too busy going to the beach? Or touring around holiday spots?

Well no – and the finish was delayed and we didn’t get into the cottage at the end of July. There was a touch of the builders living up to the stereo type. They didn’t hit the dead line, but there were mitigating circumstances, because the foreman was off ill for 3 days but they may not have made it any way, but who knows.

After having been promised the cottage would be finished by the beginning of August we took it over on Wednesday 9th at 3:00pm. It was cleanish but no professional cleaner came it was left to the builders to give a sweep and a mop down. Needless to say we had to do a bit more cleaning. This was highlighted by the twins crawling around and getting black hands and feet on the clean looking floor covered in dust and grime.

Kate and Josh and the girls didn’t actually move into the cottage until the Thursday.  So Thursday was bitter sweet – we got some space back but we lost Dot and Margot (one year old twins) as they moved out. We had kind of got used to having them and their parents around all the time.

Not having access to the cottage on time made life a little difficult as Mary can to stay for a week to celebrate the twins first birthday. She had to sleep on a mattress on the floor in a room with no lights or curtains.  We rigged up a blind and got a long extension to get light into the room where she was staying.

So here are a few pictures inside the cottage – I am putting together a collection of before and after pics for publication soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got our room back for Friday night and Mary moved into the room we had been in as well so we all had a good nights sleep Friday. Mary went back to London Sunday so we have a spare room again. Lucky really as we have guest coming this week and then the wanderer returns on Thursday – Esme is back from a summer in Trumpington, she is currently Leaving Las Vegas (I feel a Sheryl Crow song coming on) heading for Yosemite.

The cottage is great and it has  a few little quirks. The bedroom window opens inwards due to the fact that it is in a boundary wall – Building Regs. None of the walls are vertical or straight – apart from where the walls have been clad to give some straight lines in the kitchen and bath room. It is comfortable and has utilities (water is on a temporary pump pending a new pump going into the main house). We are jealous of Kate and Josh who now have a lovely drench shower whilst we are stuck with an old bath and using a saucepan to wash our hair.

The cottage has a few snags to sort out but we are now concentrating on the kitchen and ensuite in the main house. We don’t have blinds in the windows or bifold doors in the cottage, there are no splash backs in the kitchen or bathroom, but it is usable.

The time is coming for the big reveal of the colour of our cooker as the work top has been templated and is due to be fitted 5th September. The floor is down and the units are in position and the first fit of electrics and plumbing have been completed. The kitchen is going to be fantastic – having lived in flats terraced houses for 27 years having a large kitchen is going to be fabulous, we can hardly wait.