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. “”  (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.





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.

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.

May Day Update at TheTrevProject

May Day Update on the Trev Project

The last post was a bit technical and boring so this one will be a little less heavy and technical.

First of all this week saw a big increase in manpower on site. As you can see below we now have two vans and a pickup on site. We have had up to 7 men on site which means we have made progress on the house and the out building which is now affectionately known as MC “Marler Cottage).

Builders Vans

This has been great for Fred who you can see is very conscientious about checking the workers canteen set up in our woodshed.

One of the things we have been able to do is to dispose of some rotten wood. We have retained as much of the floor boards as we could (which was not much) and all the beams and joists. Some examples are shown below.

Some of the floor boards disintegrated into dust when chucked out of the window so there was only one thing for them.

So here is a quick tour of the new inside of MC so far. Basically the old concrete flooor has been dug out and the ground level reduced 200mm. A radon sump has been installed and drainage points and a sand layer has been put down on to floor and this will be followed by a damp proof membrane and a new concrete screed. There is a new window cavity where the shower room is going to be. This acts as a fire escape as ell so that we comply with building regulations.

The en suite has also been cleared. You can see the large but long and narrow space here.

The plan is to raise the floor to the level of the bottom step but due to the listing we have to keep the existing floorboards as they are lime washed underneath. The floorboards under where the bath was are significantly rotten and propped up with timber props from below.

The story goes that the last tenant in the house, who was a big man (tall and heavy) got into the bath one day and felt it drop significantly. So he propped it from beneath as the boards were rotten. Even so we cannot replace those boards. In the photo below you can see the outline of the bath etched out of the wood.

The bath was a cast iron bath circa 1985 we believe judging by the newspaper found under the carpet. Sadly it had to be broken up as it was so heavy it was almost impossible to move.

1985 Observer found under the bathroom carpet – sadly Sinclair and STC no longer exist


Listed Building Consent

 Listed Building Consent And thetrevproject

We have probably all heard the term “listed Building” and the term “planning permission”. But to most of us these are not important. When you take over an old house suddenly these things become very relevant and important.

Trevelyan 1897 

Listed Building Consent and when do you need it.

Listing of buildings is controlled by Historic England. Listed buildings are those considered to have historic significance and it is considered they should be preserved. Trevelyan was listed some years ago when a member of the public nominated it to be listed. Whilst Historic England decide what should be listed the local council will administer listed buildings and adjudicate what falls within the curtilage of the listing.

If your house is listed you must apply to the local authority for Listed Building Consent to make alterations. This may be in addition to Planning Applications  which may be required. Listed building consent applies to anything within the curtilage of your property. And of course you have to pay for any application.

If you do not comply with listed building consent you are committing listed building offences and potentially liable to penalties including up to 2 years in prison or an unlimited fine. Unlawfully carrying out work on listed buildings is regulated and correctional action can be prescribed and enforced.

So basically it is advisable to apply for and comply with Listed Building Consent even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.

In our case the thing that was hard to comprehend is that we had suspected  we had rotten floor joists and beams. We were told they could not be removed but we had to bolt new wood to the damaged wood and retain the old wood.

We also have several windows which are in various states of decay. Both Sash and casement windows.We wanted to have exact replica windows made but we are obliged to have all the windows repaired no matter how much they are rotten. One of the important things with old windows is to preserve the glass. Old glass is not uniform so when you look through and old window you get a slightly distorted view. This is considered desirable by those interested in building heritage.

   Trevelyan 1951


Our listed building application was received 28/07/16 and approved subject to conditions 15/09/16. The application included

Approximately 30 architects drawings – as existing and proposed

Structural Engineers Report

Design and access statement

Sensitive Development Questionnaire

Preliminary Bat and Bird survey

Bat Emergence Survey

Refurbishment Survey

Method of Repairs

Schedule of Repairs

Heritage Statement

If you want to know more about preserving old buildings you can look at the SPAB (Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings) website.

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.