thetrevproject at the end of March

We managed a short trip to west Cornwall in March. We visited the Lizard and Lands End Britains’s most southerly and most westerly points, staying in St Keverne overnight. Well at Lands End it was absolutely persisting down and the place was mostly closed and deserted. We went to Sennen Cove and the sun came out and we had a lovely afternoon driving from there to St Ives.

Well we passed the one year anniversary of thetrevproject on the 21st of March, or should I say the anniversary of the builders being on site. All that time ago they started building the bat house. I have to say I am a lot more chilled out about bats now but, I still think they are a pain. I am all for conservation but I am sure we have particularly cussed bats. They always turn up the day you want to do some work and then go away when no work is going on. It was raining quite a lot this time last year a well but the difference was that the rain followed a long dry spell. Also it has been a bit cold this year and it snowed here for the first time in 10 years then snowed again a fortnight later.

Back to thetrevproject. Not much going on in terms of building. We have had our joiner back to look at some leaking windows. The sash windows were thoroughly tested with a spell of torrential rain and easterly gales blowing straight on to them. They didn’t pass with flying colours. We had water coming through the windows in places so we had to call Dave back to seal the windows but I feel we are dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause. I think the windows are a losing cause and I don’t think we will ever be 100% happy with the windows. We will have to be content with keeping most of the wind and rain out for a few years.

We have had another go at treating the roof timbers for wood worm. Guess what, the flipping bat was there. I went up the day before with a spot light and couldn’t find a bat. When Old Tom and Young Tom the wood worm guys arrived the bat was fast asleep on the first A frame that needed treating. We only have about 2 hours work required but we can’t do it because the bat keeps turning up. The bat is a brown Long Eared Bat and you can see the woodworm holes behind him.

So we called the Bat Conservation Trust and they sent round a volunteer called Paul Diamond. He inspected the loft and concluded that there was an occasional visitor. The solution is to try again and if the bat is present call the volunteers if he is present to remove him.

In the house the progress is now very slow. Since the last blog I have scrubbed the walls in bedroom 5 and given them a coat of white paint. I have also removed the sink put down a 6mm ply wood and some floor tiles. Then re installed the sink and even managed to get it almost exactly level in all directions. The sink will have to come out again as the plaster on the outside wall has come away from the wall and needs to be re-applied.

The big news is that my Polytunnel has arrived. It is a lot more work to erect it than I thought. One of the issues is that it needs to be level from side to side. Living where we live the site of the Polytunnel is not remotely level in any direction. So there is a lot of fiddling about to get the anchor posts in. So far I have installed 6 of the 12 anchors in between the rain and snow.


The tunnel came from First Tunnels. We had a minor hitch in that it was delivered when we were out and when I counted only 21 of the 22 packages were present. I rang First Tunnels and they already knew and were chasing the courier for a delivery date. It duly turned up the next day. More about the tunnel another time.

I have also covered two thirds of my hard-core path (approximately 25 metres) around the veg patch with 20mm granite chips. It reminded me of doing fatigues at school – basically when you were naughty you had to spend Saturday morning pushing barrow loads of soil around at speed. It is very difficult to walk on the hard core path. The granite is a lot easier to walk on. The hard-core path is supposed to inhibit slugs from coming into the garden to eat our veg and the granite will hopefully do the same as they don’t like the roughness allegedly.

Any way happy Easter we are having a family gathering at the weekend – 21 adults and 2 toddlers to a sit down meal on Saturday. It will be a squash but that is what a lovely house like this enables.

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Mid February at thetrevproject

Well we are mid February and the broad band hasn’t improved,in fact it has got worse. Plain white BT vans have been seen in the vicinity and the occupants claimed to be surveying for new fibre lines. This is not on our branch of the line but the surveyor thought we might be included in the upgrade, since we are literally the end of the line it will be a significant achievement for BT/Openreach to get to us.  You have to laugh though as this is all EU funded and Cornwall voted overwhelmingly leave.

Rant over what has been going on at thetrevproject. I continue as a multiskilled technician, or should that be Jack of all trades, we all know how that rhyme goes. Just in the last 2 days I have been painter, turfer and chain saw operator.

We have finally had a couple of dry days and a full day of sun.

Today for the first time this year I was looking for ward to going rowing in the sun, guess what, cancelled due to sea conditions . What we have had weather wise is a sprinkle of snow and a hell of a lot of hail – up to 6 hail showers a day. The photo is below is hail not snow.

One of the good things about rain though is occasionally you get fantastic rainbows.

We have had a couple of small updates in the cottage. Fitting a weather strip in the window in the bedroom. Its weird but we had to fit an inward opening window as the wall is our boundary (Building Regs). The trouble is that when the rain blew directly on it the water came in, hopefully now it won’t. We also fitted a fan heater in the shower room as it is freezing in the early morning in there and there is no room for a radiator or heated towel rail #compactliving.

The really big thing from a builder perspective was the removal of the rubble. This took a couple of days and was achieved with a digger and a tractor and trailer, cheaper I believe.

The rubble was taken somewhere an hour and a quarter away. We can now park beside the road on some hardcore and NOT on the mud. It is across the road from the house but we only have about six cars and a tractor a day past here. Its not actually clear who owns the land we are parking on but I think it probably is part of the high way, but then who owns the highway?

I had to call the builders back to replace three more rotten lintels. Two of which had been painted over by the joiner doing the windows. He says its not part of his job but I still think he should have flagged the issues.  The third one was down to the builders they changed a door upstairs in the garage and failed to spot a lintel which was as hard as a sponge. It was a freezing day when they did it but still they should have spotted it.

We had a force 8 easterly gale this week which blew the rain directly on to the sash windows which weren’t brilliant at keeping the rain out. So our joiner had to make a visit to do some modifications.He claims that part of the problem is the lack of render in some areas of the window reveal (see previous posts for explanation of why the render has not been completed).  We still only have 1 set of the 4 sets of shutters required but there is a dispute going on about payment for these. I wont pay until I get the shutters and he wont deliver the shutters without payment.

I have  decorated the bathroom and toilet with the exception of the woodwork. It was tricky painting round pipes etc but I love a challenge. I started in the 2 smallest rooms because I want to be able to say I have achieved something.  The rooms are a bit of a contrast – walls in cheap Wilko paint and woodwork in Dulux Eggshell Timeless which is not only not cheap but is very difficult to get hold of. Most places only sell Pure Brilliant White Eggshell and if they do sell Timeless it is only in 750ml tins.

I have also turfed the other half of the entrance way. It was fun, the turf arrived on Wednesday and it rained ALL day and was windy and cold. As and aside the turf man cannot find any young people who are prepared to work as turfers because it is too hard. The latest young recruit started Monday but called in sick Wednesday – the weather maybe. I laid the turf Friday but couldn’t lay it all first thing as some rolls were frozen solid. I had to wait until midday to be able to roll it out – but Fred loves it and supervised the laying.

I will just finish off with a picture of a fire burning up all the rotten lintels. You can’t beat a good fire to cheer you up.

 

16th update December at thetrevproject

  • This week it’s all about wind and rain and hence inevitable mud!  Yes whilst “upcountry” people were enjoying early snow and sledging we were being battered by wind and rain, we did get some frost but not any hard frosts.

60 70 mph gusts inevitably test the fabric of your premises. We survived pretty much ok with one branch dropping on the fence and damaging it. The portaloo blew over once so we put some breeze blocks in it and it shifted across the yard about 4 metres.

  

We did have a substantial tree down in a local lane. It was cleared up by a local farmer and the Council arrived 5 days later to put up some blocked road signs. To be fair they were busy and are very strapped for cash.

The main wind issue was that we lost power at 4.00 am one morning due to a snapped high voltage line post. Despite the post being in the middle of a field Western Power Distribution had power restored by 9:00 – lucky because we had builders, plumbers and roofers on site and vans everywhere. The advantage of using a slightly bigger building firm like G A Wildish is that they turned up with a petrol generator so if we had no power they would still have been able to work. It has highlighted vulnerability in our system though.

No power =no water or heating as well.

Having said that our new pressurised water system is brilliant when it works apart from the fact that the pump is a bit noisy. We have now realised why our shower is called a “rain shower”.

Due to the wind and rain we didn’t get our wood burner installed because it was too dangerous to go up the scaffolding to drop the new liner down the chimney. All being well that will be done Tuesday.

So why am I prevaricating in this blog – you guessed it we didn’t finish on Friday. We made substantial progress but there will be builders on site on Monday. Just a few bits of finishing off to do for the builders but we have a day’s work for the plumbers and at least half a day for the electricians to do. Plus our joiner helpfully said on Friday he wouldn’t be back on Monday but probably on Tuesday.

We have however got heating throughout the house now. That is a significant upgrade as only half the house had heating previously.  So we have enhanced the house (and increased our oil bill accordingly).

We also now have 2 bathrooms and 3 toilets in the house so finally Louise and I have an ensuite to ourselves. The second bathroom has a shower bath and sink with a separate toilet (due to have a temporary connection on Monday). The toilet will eventually have its own sink. The toilet is a slight issue as there is a window directly behind it so a toilet with a high level flush has to have a side cistern. Soak.com who supplied have not been very helpful trying solve this little challenge and Adrian our foreman is going to plumb it temporarily in plastic on Monday.

We also have all but 1 of the windows back in place. We await with baited breath the return of the landing window. Sadly although it this was the window with the most historic interest it was also the most rotten and had to be almost totally rebuilt.

Before they left the builders cleaned the slate floors with a mixture of linseed oil and white spirit. The wisdom of this is debatable to say the least but it has restored the colour and finish to the slates even if it does smell. You can only use “it smells like cricket bats in summer” so many times before it gets annoying. On Saturday I spent a couple of hours with a cloth removing the excess oil that refused to dry up on the slates.

We were able to set up the new dining room for Christmas.

So on Monday, seven days before Christmas we are expecting the builders and windows and wood burner installation on Tuesday.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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!!!