thetrevproject end of November

Well theoretically at thetrevproject we are reaching an exciting time as the builders are due to be finished by the end of the first week in December.  The reality is stress levels are rising:-

Will the subcontractors turn up?😞

Will they / wont they complete😞

Christmas is coming and we want to decorate but nowhere is really finished😞

Mary is moving to live with us on 30th which means more stuff to store😟

Having said all that progress has been steady. All the areas is phase 2 have been plastered . All the ceilings are now painted as are the ceilings in bedroom 2  &  3 from phase 1 (Mary and Esme’s rooms).

The render on the outside on the south and East walls was completed. The job is not quite done though as the window reveals and porch need several coats and the weather has turned against us. You shouldn’t apply lime render below 5°C and we have had a few nights when the air temperature was 1 or 2 °C. The thing about lime is it doesn’t just dry there is a chemical reaction which occurs to adhere it to the substrate, basically it is carbonated and needs exposure to Carbon dioxide to set properly.

Did you know lime mortar was first used by the Egyptians 6000 years ago? Also there are many different grades of lime which give different hardness and drying properties. There can be different colours as well dependent on what kind of sane is mixed into it.

I love the creamy colour of our lime render. It goes a darker colour when wet as well.  We have no completion date for the remaining render as it may now have to wait until spring.

We have lost more windows to be repaired but we have got the new dining room windows back.

We also have a new back door without one inch gaps top and bottom to allow in weather and vermin.

Here we found a little structural problem – a very rotten lintel with evidence of death watch beetle infestation as well. We have inserted 3 concrete lintels to replace the old wooden one (very thick wall).

Speaking of vermin in October we were plagued by flies #rurallife. Basically the local cows attract flies. We thought they had disappeared but when we went in the loft recently we discovered they had all gone up there to over winter – where are those blooming bats when you need them. Thousands of dozy flies up in the loft is not ideal. I hope that when the loft is treated for wood worm the insecticide zaps all the flies as well.

Phase 2 was electricity free for many weeks with all electricity coming in via extension leads. This meant frantic scrabbling around at dusk to find an extension lead and lamp to light up the front door area. We also had no outside lights or lights in the laundry so torches were de rigeur. In the last week of November the “Sparkies” came and connected up most of the lights in phase 2 and the outside lights as well as the living room lights. We have no wall or ceiling lights in the living room but we have a 5 amp plug ring which is switched from near the door which allows standard or table lights to be switched on entry to the room. For some reason the switch had not been connected so we couldn’t use this system. Also 5 amp round pin plugs are hard to find which didn’t help.

Finally we erected extra scaffolding so that the chimney can be lined in preparation for the installation of a wood burner in the living room. Also the chimney needs some re-pointing.

On a non building note we had the first egg from our hens.

And now the sun rises at around 8 am I can say I am up before dawn every day and we get some interesting sunrises.

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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.

 

 

September at thetrevproject

Half way through September and this is the first update. Things are getting exciting now as the end of phase 1 is in sight. Just as well really as the stress and the dust and the dirt and the mess are starting to take their toll. Its amazing how you can get used to living in a tip – well not for me as I have always been pretty untidy. I was punished weekly at boarding school for not having a tidy bed and drawers etc for about 3 years. No one say I am not a quick learner  😆 – its just my definition of tidy was not the same as others.

Added to the stress is that our youngest daughter is home and she has to use a dark depressing bedroom and has no space to get her stuff out to make it homely. We are used to the lifestyle but it is hard for her to adapt.

The weather hasn’t helped either. Rain, rain, rain, admittedly interspersed with brief glimpses of the sun and a few lovely rainbows. Its been so wet that there is still standing corn around because its not been dry long enough to get the combines out. I have put the sun loungers away virtually unused this year. Last year October and November were great weatherwise, so here’s hoping. We have had a good couple of days weatherwise so Esme is getting a good end to her Cornish interlude, and guess what we did yesterday, The Eden Project – Thanks to Tesco Club Card we paid no cash to get in.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. We have lights and electricity in the whole house at the moment. As of last week the electricians worked out what circuit was connected to which lights and transferred the circuits in phase 1 to a new breaker box. We have safe electrics in half the house now. Still a few minor modifications to make but we have progress. A slight challenge is we don’t have enough light bulbs to turn on all the lights at once. As we had so few lights working we didn’t bother buying many spares so we need to get some in. We still don’t have all the power sockets live but the circuits re connected.

These are the views from the windows in phase 1 at the moment – note the light bulbs in the two bedroom windows. May seem insignificant but when you have had no electricity for several months this quite a big deal. Oh, and that is not frosted glass in the bathroom it is cobwebs on the outside of the window.

We are having the radiators fitted this week and hopefully the Heritage Cooker/Boiler will be commissioned the following week. Just in time as the evenings draw in and start to get a little chilly. In the meantime I have to start moving dry wood to woodstore near the house and moving the logs outside into the shed to replace the dry logs removed.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.