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.


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.



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.