The Trev Project First week in July

This is the beginning of July update. It’s a bit late but here is the first week of July update any way.

After a quiet week last week some visible progress this week despite the rain.

First of all the heritage roof light went in to the cottage on Monday. What you may ask is a heritage roof light – well basically an expensive one that is supposed to look in keeping with the period of construction. It was specified due to the Grade II listing but why we needed a special one who knows. It is incredibly heavy so we do get something for our money  and it does look very good.  It goes in the kitchen which is in the middle of the cottage and gives a nice lot of light in the middle of the building.

Unfortunately on Tuesday the heavens opened and the roofers disappeared. We couldn’t open up the roof while it was pouring with rain.

We installed the 4th window as well and the internal sills were installed on all of them. We were therefore able to finish the internal insulation and plaster board and we are ready for plastering . Then we are able to get on to finishing  – well we still need glass in the windows and the handles etc.

We have ordered the floor tiles as well for install after the plastering is complete.

In the main house we made the decision to go for new floor boards. There were not enough reclaim boards around  and we need to make progress. We have bent over back wards and further to preserve joists and beams despite the fact it would be cheaper and easier to have replaced the lot. There is still a lot of rotten wood worm riven timber in place. It has all been treated but rot is a fungus and spores are notoriously difficult to kill so you can’t be sure it won’t recur at some point. We just have to try and avoid damp conditions (see and earlier post) and hope we are ok. The picture below is the new floorboards acclimatising – they need to be stored for about a week in the place where they are to be installed to prevent shrinkage or expansion etc.

The structure in bedroom 1 & 2 complete we turned our eyes to bedroom 1. Visually much less rotten but a nice surprise awaited. The wooden lintel above the living room was totally rotten – see picture below. We were already going to install a steel to support the window but now we have to install a second concrete lintel to replace the rotten wooden one. You can see below the very rotten one which should have been as big as the slightly rotten one next to it.

The pictures below are a bit dark but you can see the supports and steel work required to keep the living room ceiling together while the steel reinforcement is installed


Another big step forward was the arrival of electricians for the first fix in the main house. This is all the underfloor wiring in phase 1 (the foot of the “L” i.e. bedroom 1,2, & 3 ensuite lounge and new kitchen) off the repair. This is anticipation of new floor boards being laid in the next week.

The collateral from this is that we are very short of space for storing things and our kitchen is taking up a lot of space in the hall way.  This makes it very difficult to check the new kitchen which has arrived but we have identified that a sink is missing so there is a lot of backwards and forwards going on to find out why and where etc.

Another big change is that we have more residents now. Kate and Josh have arrived with the twins so we have even less room for storage. They have only brought one car load of stuff with them and we will collect their belongings in a few weeks.

Also there is a bat house update – the swallows have moved in and the chicks are doing well. I reckon these little beauties are worth about £1000.00 each!!!


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.

thetrevproject – History of The House – Trevelyan

thetrevproject – History of The House – Trevelyan

A house has stood on the site since the Doomsday Book. It is thought that the house was possibly grander in the past as a 1907 map we have shows it being on the site of a former Manor House. Parts of the current building date back to the 17th century (probably around 1642) and parts to the 18th but a major re-ordering was done around 1810. There has been very little maintenance done on the building in recent decades.

The name Trevelyan comes from one of two possible sources

Tre plus melin = homestead plus mill

Tre plus Melian = farmstead of Melian

Whatever the origin before 1066 it was held by Alric and he paid tax for 7 ½ acres.

Trevelyans (spelling of the name has several variations) owned the house most of that time but seldom lived there, it was usually let out after the 1480s when the family moved to Nettlecombe Hall due to the marriage of Sir John Trevilian to Lady Whalesborough (a descendent of Sir Walter Raleigh). Nettlecombe remained in the Trevelyan family until the early 20th Century.

In fact for a significant period (1615 – 1735) a family with the surname Bastard rented Trevelyan which would originally have had farm land associated with it. In the 1930s the property was sold for the first time in around 1000 years. The reason for the sale is not known but local folk lore tells of fields being lost to local farmers in card games. In 1951 my Grandfather bought back the house but not any of the farmland.

Just to make things more interesting the house is Grade II Listed. That means you can’t do any work without the approval of the council conservation officer. This involves a formal application and a lot of paperwork, and of course some cost.

The recent history of the house is that after my Grandfather’s death in 1953 the house was rented on long term rents to various people until 2014.  In 2014 we inherited the house and we moved into the house full time in October 2016.

The house was listed on 30th April allegedly when it was nominated by a member of the public.


Bat and Building Update @thetrevproject

Building and Bat Update 19-4-17 at thetrevproject

Yesterday we had an inspection from our ecologist and she gave a “tool box talk” to the builders so we are good to go now with building work on the out house. Just in time as 3 swallows turned up yesterday as well.

The upshot is that the builders had to sign to say they had read the conditions of our bat liscence and any new builders arriving on site have to have a toolbox talk from Adrian our foreman before starting work and they have to sign the register. The bat liscence basically says if you see a bat down tools and call the ecologist.

We transitioned from a tarpaulin over the entrance of the building to a semi permanent door see below. Rats could still get into the building as there is a small gap at the bottom of  door. A bat could technically get in but they are unlikely to go down to ground level to get in.

Preparatory work in the house continued –

removing floor boards, cleaning up the ceiling below the floor boards ready for rot and wood worm treatment,

removing doors and wood work in the new kitchen in preparation for mving the toilet etc.

Taking out furniture and floor boards


There were a couple of interesting finds – a 1967 thrupenney bit and a piece of a 1945 Times Newspaper.

Battingham Palace

Battingham Palace

The first couple of weeks of our building project have actually been primarily involved with the Bat house which we have nicknamed Battingham Palace.

The reason for this is that

  • We cannot work on the out house until the bats are gone and we have to provide them with alternative accommodation.
  • If the swallows start nesting we cannot work on the out house. We cannot exclude swallows as that will also exclude bats.
  • Swallows or any nesting bird cannot be disturbed once it starts nesting.
  • We can only exclude bats in accordance with our liscence from Natural England. (Fortunately now granted, with conditions of course).

So below is a little montage of the building works followed by a little video tour of the house.


So lets have a look at the finished building

Well actually the bat house is not quite finished because we have to make some minor modifications to the internals to make the bats more comfortable. We have had our visit by “bat woman”, our local ecologist who is a really nice lady, and we need to make a minor modification to the bat house.

The good news was there was no lesser horseshoe bat in the building but there was one flying about locally (detected by ultrasonic microphone). We have installed a physical barrier but bats only need very small apertures to gain access to the building so we are not guaranteed to exclude bats.

Totally Flipping Batty

Totally Flipping Batty

As many property developers know bats are not your friends. They are a signal that you are going to spend a lot of money on unproductive things.

Let me explain.

As a condition of any planning application or listed building consent  Cornwall Council insist on a bat survey. I stupidly thought “oh well they are cute little creatures there won’t be any around here and if there are some we will encourage them to move on”.

Oh how wrong could I be there are laws about bats.

In England and Wales, the relevant legislation is the Wildlife and Countryside Act(1981) (as amended); the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000; the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC, 2006); and by the Conservationof Habitats and Species Regulations (2010).

How does the law protect bats?

It is difficult to summarise succinctly, but basically, it is an offence in the UK to:

❍ deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat

❍ deliberately disturb a bat in a way that would affect its ability to survive, breed or rear young affect the local distribution or abundance of the species.

❍ damage or destroy a roost (this is an ‘absolute’ offence)

❍ possess, control, transport, sell, exchange or offer for sale/exchange any live or dead bat or any part of a bat

Police and court powers

A police officer who suspects with reasonable cause that a person is committing – or has committed – an offence, can stop and search them, search or examine any relevant thing in their possession, and seize it. They can also enter land other than a dwelling house without a warrant, or enter and search a dwelling house with a warrant.

Bat-related offences are arrestable.

The potential fine for each offence is £5,000 and, if more than one bat is involved, £5,000 per bat. An offender can also be imprisoned for six months.

So you see bats are bad news and can cost a lot of money and potentially your liberty. Plenty of incentive to play by the rules even if you think they might be a bit over the top.

So how bad could it be? Well it wouldn’t be that bad would it?

We duly paid for our first bat survey which told us :-    we have bats.

Oh what a surprise!!!

But wait there is more.

We don’t just have bats we have more than one species in more than one location.

Joy of joys.

Not only do we have more than one species but we have a very rare bat. A (only one mind you) lesser horseshoe bat. To quote our ecologist “that makes you a site of county significance” as the Lesser Horsehoe Bat is rare. Alarm bells are now ringing deafeningly. County significance that sounds like very expensive in my mind.


What was the conclusion :- you must have a second more expensive emergence survey to see if we can detect more bats and where they come from.

Cue google bats starting with the Bat Conservation Trust

Conclusion of these surveys:-

  • You can do no roof or ceiling work in the house between April and October. Yes that is right you can only work on the roof when its rainy and windy and cold.
  • The out building has the one lesser horse shoe bat (probably a juvenile male kicked out of the breeding roost). You will need a liscence from Natural England to work on that, and, the Council will have to approve your plans before you can apply for the liscence.
  • You can’t work on the building during potential hibernation up to the end of March
  • Oh and by the way you can’t do any work if the swallows start nesting in the building before you start. They will probably start nesting in April.
  • And the coup de grace, you must build alternative accommodation for the one single bat who may well rejoin the main colony any way.

Oh and p.s.

We did DNA analysis on the droppings and there has been an even more rare Greater Horseshoe bat visiting your building. Greater Horseshoes are alsos much bigger creatures.

Who the hell DNA tests random bat poo!!! Kerching, potentially more cost being teed up.

So that is why we are spending significant money on a bat house.  We are not alone and we are not spending as much money as some, but, I could have bought a decent second hand car or a new Dacia Sandero for the money we have to spend.

Or to put it another way we forfeit a bathroom, a small kitchen or similar to help the little furry flying things, don’t you just love them?

To add insult to injury when our ecologist filled in the Natural England liscence application the words “common and widespread” were used to describe the infamous little sod – lesser horse shoe bat. When I queried it I was told “oh they are common and widespread in Cornwall but not through out the country”. Cue banging of my own skull on walls.


Record of the Heritage Restoration of a period building with rubble stone walls.


We decided we would write a blog about our experience restoring an old Grade II listed house which had had little tlc for many many years. This is an old Cornish house which needs renovation and restoration to keep the heritage going. This is mainly for our own record of how the restoration project goes in our old listed building but also hopefully we can give some help or inspiration to others who may be thinking of embarking on a similar renovation

Finally the building work has commenced on our project and so our blog begins after 2 years of ups and downs and large financial expenditure to get to this point,  we are about to be in a position to move forward.

Having spent our adult life living in 20th century flats and houses we were totally naïve about the vagaries of the planning system. Sure we have all heard stories of nightmares with planning permission but if, like me, you think the stories are often based on fact but exaggerated to give a good story you are probably only partly right.

We took over the house in October 2014 thinking we would breeze through it and fix it up and within a few months we would be living in a lovely period property.

Uh er!!

We learned that with a Listed property you have to get permission to do anything to the house. You could just plough on and do what you want but the authorities can object and make you do it the right way or undo what you have done, you could even end up in court with a fine or even prison. Renovations that seem like valid improvements to you could well not be allowed.

We hadn’t bargained for planning permission, listed building consent, bat protection and added to that the pace of life in Cornwall.

Ok, well then take a few deep breaths and start doing it by the book.

We soon learned the the meaning of the word “dreckly” – basically a Cornish version of manyana. Everything will be done dreckly and all dates and times are suffixed by “ish”. A typical response will be “I will get back to you dreckly, probably Mondayish” translated “I might get back to you at some point when I am less busy could be Monday but most likely later in the week”

Having said that, the time it has taken to get us to this point has helped us to take stock of how we want to move forward. For example since living in the house we have come to appreciate its quirks and have been able to realistically think about alterations we would like to make.  We have also come to appreciate the role that building consent plays in conserving our great heritage buildings in this country (well, maybe Louise more than Oliver!) and have taken on board advise from professionals.

This blog will record the building project and will give some personal insight into the process. We will also go through the history of the house and how we came to take over the heritage of large period house with a long family connection.

So we hope you will keep an eye out for our next blog post and the story of the Bat house and why we are building one.