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.

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.

Trev Fest Test Event

As a little red herring this post has very little to do with building.

We have always joked with our girls about having a big party and calling it “Trev Fest”. With music and people camping out in the garden etc. So last weekend we had a little test event.

Our friends Ian and Sharon said they were coming to Padstow to camp and could they call in on us. We said yes of course but be aware we have no spare bedrooms and only one temperamental toilet. No Problem said Ian we are  coming in our campervan.

The builders very helpfully pointed out that their portaloo was cleaned every Thursday so it should be in reasonable condition if we wanted to use it.

So Friday night the Randle family arrived and parked their camper on the lawn near our garden door.

We had a great barbecue and fantastic catch up – I have known Ian and Sharon since University days. We tested out the new fire pit and the famous local Penpol cider – made less than half a mile from our house in the same traditional manner it has been for 100’s of years.

So now we are ready for a new sideline – mini festivals 😆😆😆

PUMPING THE POO and an Historic Discovery

PUMPING THE POO and an Historic Discovery

We have kept slow but steady progress this week. We have had few builders on site due to a back injury to our foreman. Shifting all that steel was harder work than we thought.

Monday kicked off with the delivery of the kitchen for the house. Since we are a couple of weeks behind schedule we don’t have anywhere to put it so we have stored it all in the lounge. We weren’t using the lounge really any way. We have freestanding units from Fired Earth, due to Listed Building Consent we had to preserve some panelling so we couldn’t have a fitted kitchen. Delivery had to be now as we bought the kitchen in the Christmas sale and the build was delayed as long as possible (they are built in France). We managed to delay delivery twice but if we delayed it again we would start to incur storage charges.

On Monday the floor joists in bedroom 2 and 3 were completed with a bit of heavy lifting. The weather was fantastic – not quite the heat wave experienced up country but nice and hot. Louise and I sneaked off to  Penzance in the afternoon to experience the  famous Jubilee Pool. I don’t know what happened but Tuesday morning there were no builders present – Adrian the foreman had back problems so the other guys were diverted elsewhere.

 

We had a major job done Tuesday. The septic tank was emptied  for the first time for 15 years plus.  Two old boys and a tanker arrived late morning. They looked down the grassy lane and debated whether or not they could get the tanker down and back up the lane. After much debate and chin rubbing they decided to give it a go. Mike jumped in the cab and drove carefully down the lane to the point opposite the septic tank. Then with a lot of revs and wheel spinning he reversed up the lane almost flattening Stan on the way. Stan survived by clambering on to the bumper of the tanker.

Turned out the guys were much more competent on the emptying of the septic tank. We discovered that our two chamber tank was well built and working well. The sludge was a little thick but in good condition – probably in better condition than many tanks emptied far more regularly.

The thickness of the sludge meant that the sludge had to be removed and pumped back to the tank a couple of times to make it more liquid so it could all be removed. Well actually you don’t take all the sludge out you have to leave a little sludge behind to seed the continued fermentation of the sewage. We have been advised not to leave it quite so long to pump it next – ever 2 – 3 years is the suggestion. You can see the twin black holes of the empty septic tank below.

Back to the house and another unexpected discovery. We removed the boarding behind the boiler and found a Clome oven. Initially I thought it must be very old but I have since discovered they were manufactured until the 1930’s in Truro. It is almost certainly a lot older than that but who knows? You can see a little bit about Clome Oven here, Google isn’t particularly useful in providing a lot of detail about Clomes. The Clome will be concealed and left in place when the new kitchen goes in.

 

 

Mud, a big hole and May 19 update

Mud, a big Hole and May 19 Update

This week we ran out of luck with the weather and it rained all day Monday and Tuesday.  Well you know what that means with builders – muuud. Actually it is very muddy but being in Cornwall the soil is loam so its not like sticky Essex mud we have known before. It is muddy but not as messy as it could be.

An early victory was the removal of a huge root ball. This was a potted bay leaf plant that my Grandmother planted in the flower bed in 1952. It had grown to over 30 feet tall with multiple large trunks. The trunks were removed by a tree surgeon in early 2016 as it was causing massive damp problems. The leaves were also falling into the gutters and blocking them – bay leaves don’t rot well so they form good plugs. Unfortunately due to access restrictions he couldn’t get his big stump grinder close to the stump and we hadn’t managed to kill the stump. It took two days of labour and a digger to remove it and we reckon it weighs over a tonne. When it finally came away there was much whooping, hollering and tooting of the digger hooter. There were no major roots just millions of little tiny roots bonded to the wall.

Luckily there were inside jobs to do. In the main house we have hit a hiatus though. The structural steel arrived Tuesday, Wednesday morning the builders prepared for beginning the job and we were out Wednesday afternoon.  When we returned we found the dodgy beam lifted by a few inches and some stone work removed. The builders had revealed that the dodgy beam was supported by a wooden lintel over the ground floor window not the expected granite so we need a structural engineer to sign off proposed replacement lintel. This is our hiatus we can’t get hold of the engineer but we were able to leave a message with his wife to which he hasn’t responded (#Cornwall life ). So we are at a halt and most of the work in the house depends on getting the structural support into the floor.

The beam and ceiling are all supported by Acro Props ready to go and amazingly the room looks bigger as the ceiling in the middle of the room is now about 20cm higher. Being a listed building we need to keep the lathe and plaster ceiling which is now probably a bit unstable so we are going to fit a plaster board ceiling below it. This achieves two things – it secures the historical ceiling in place and it ensures a flat ceiling so we can have flush ceiling lights.

We had to go to Truro to confirm our choice of work top for the kitchen in the main house on Wednesday.  We are using Fired Earth in Truro for our kitchen as we need free standing units due to the listing issues – they have been great and all the people who work there have been really helpful and knowledgeable. We went to Topps Tiles choosing  flooring  etc. I can recommend Topps Tiles Truro its massive and there is so much choice it is quite confusing, and the staff are very helpful.

In the cottage a lot of progress but not very visual. The walls are battened for installation of insulation. Electrical first fix is done and electric supply cables are laid in the trench. We have most of the insulation laid on the floor. That place is going to be so warm. Several drainage pipes were also laid and we began re-filling some trenches.

The big excitement cam on Friday afternoon. We used the digger to move the large lump of concrete over the old rain water tank. Only it isn’t a rain water tank but and old well – 21 metres down to the water and possibly another 4 metres after that. The hole is big as well approximately 2 metres by 2 metres!  Its only 1.5 metres from our  front door and we were oblivious to is existence but we do have a borehole drawing water from the same source a couple of metres away. We are now considering making a feature of this with a glass cover and some  lighting. That will be for another day after the end of the main project.

 

 

May 15th Update

This week was the time we turned The Trev Project into a proper building site.

First of all the digger arrived on site and started – well digging. We are digging trenches around Marler Cottage (the outbuilding we are converting) for drains, power supply water supply, oil pipeline and a French drain. Why oil I hear you think. Well as we are an isolated rural property there is no chance of getting gas so we are using an oil combi boiler.

As you can see this has turned our lovely courtyard area into a a load of holes and piles of shale dug out of them. A feature of the area is that there is very little topsoil and about 10 to 20 cm down you find rocky shale stone. this will be a challenge in developing the garden in years to come.

One thing we have done is tried to recycle some of the bushes dug up. So I have replanted a couple of lovely Weigelia bushes in the hope that they will recover and grow again. One is planted to hide and old tree stump (see picture) and another is planted in the vegetable garden. Bees love Weigelia flowers so we hope to attract bees in the future to our veg patch.

Another way our project is transformed is that we now have loads of scaffolding around the house. This will help in re-rendering the house and the removal of windows for repair (It is a condition of listed build consent that we repair not replace or upgrade the windows. This is bad for insulation and the environment due to the increased CO2 production required for heating. In the world of preserving old buildings keeping the old stuff trumps looking after the planet for our descendants.) There is also scaffold up the chimney which will be required when the flue liner is installed for the new modern, efficient Heritage cooker/boiler which will replace the old very inefficient Aga. Sadly even though the Aga is over 70 years old it has no second hand value, I would have thought it was an antique!

The inside of Marler Cottage has also made some progress with internal stud-work progressing. We have had to make a minor design change following the building inspector’s visit as he insisted on having damp proof membrane up to 1 metre so we now have to batten the walls before installing celotex insulation to the internal walls. This will make a minor change to the size of the inside space.

Undaunted by the upheaval we had friends to stay over the weekend. We still have 2 bedrooms and one working, if slightly temperamental, toilet so it worked OK and we had a great weekend. We did manage some stress relief.

Another interesting thing this weekend is that we had a wildlife incident in the house. A swallow looking for a nesting site came in the open front door flew up the stairs  into the bathroom and then back down and out. Not much of an issue except that it left its signature in multiple places as it flew around. Luckily nothing too critical was signed.

The coming week is likely to see more disruption as the structural steel is due to be delivered and installed so it should be all go inside the house. The weather forecast good for farmers and growers this week but not so good for builders so if inside jobs are available that will be good.

Why not check out our instagram account here

Planning Permission Planning and TheTrevProject

Why do we need Planning Permission for TheTrevProject –

Planning law is complex and evr changing. You can find out more about planning permission at the Government Planning Portal

In summary you will probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building, eg building an extension
  • change the use of your building eg. If you want to convert a farm building.

To find out if your project will need planning permission, contact your local planning authority (LPA).

We decided that we would probably need planning permission since we were planning to convert an empty out building into accommodation. To quote the famous Fawlty Towers character “We no nothing”. To get the house up to scratch and to comply with the regulations we decided we needed help.

Disused building to be converted

We needed someone to help pilot us through the system and the local council procedures. We appointed an architect by looking for someone local who had done this kind of project before. Our architect was working on a bigger, higher budget job in the same village so we felt he would be sympathetic. He has been invaluable in helping us navigate our way through the system and in preparing the necessary documentation and drawings. He also guided us through all the required pre-amble.

Planning is administered by the council Conservation Officers. At the time we took over the house the county had 2 conservation officers one was off long term ill and the other was due to go on maternity leave. Originally each district had its own conservation officers but the ravages of local Government cuts meant this was reduced to 2 officers for the whole county.

We were advised to create a planning pre-application which the Council would assess and advise if planning permission is required. We duly filed one with the help of our architect. It is worth noting that you have to pay for a “pre-app” and, it is assessed by the relevant planning officer. Getting your pre-app approved is no guarantee that you will get your planning permission/listed building consent approved when you submit it. It does however give you a good steer as to what if any modifications you might need to make and it is usually significantly less expensive than the final application.

Along with our pre-app we submitted:-

Bat Survey and mitigation plan

Heritage report

Drawings of the existing buildings and proposed changes

Structural engineers report

Design details

Building regulations compliance

Topographical Survey

Environmental report

An example of the standard of drawing required

The planning application was submitted in tandem with the Listed Building consent (see previous post) and all the accompanying documents. We received provisional approval subject to conditions mainly around the bats.

We started working on the planning process in January 2015. Our  planning application was officially received by the Council 28/07/16 and approved subject to conditions 15/09/16. The application is submitted to the County Council but has to be approved by the Parish Council as well.

We submitted our revised application with mitigation plans 5/12/16 and planning permission subject to the issue of a license from Natural England was granted on 15/2/17. We could not apply for the licence until we had been granted Planning Permission. To find out more about the licence see the Totally Flipping Batty  post.