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.

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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.

Mud, a big hole and May 19 update

Mud, a big Hole and May 19 Update

This week we ran out of luck with the weather and it rained all day Monday and Tuesday.  Well you know what that means with builders – muuud. Actually it is very muddy but being in Cornwall the soil is loam so its not like sticky Essex mud we have known before. It is muddy but not as messy as it could be.

An early victory was the removal of a huge root ball. This was a potted bay leaf plant that my Grandmother planted in the flower bed in 1952. It had grown to over 30 feet tall with multiple large trunks. The trunks were removed by a tree surgeon in early 2016 as it was causing massive damp problems. The leaves were also falling into the gutters and blocking them – bay leaves don’t rot well so they form good plugs. Unfortunately due to access restrictions he couldn’t get his big stump grinder close to the stump and we hadn’t managed to kill the stump. It took two days of labour and a digger to remove it and we reckon it weighs over a tonne. When it finally came away there was much whooping, hollering and tooting of the digger hooter. There were no major roots just millions of little tiny roots bonded to the wall.

Luckily there were inside jobs to do. In the main house we have hit a hiatus though. The structural steel arrived Tuesday, Wednesday morning the builders prepared for beginning the job and we were out Wednesday afternoon.  When we returned we found the dodgy beam lifted by a few inches and some stone work removed. The builders had revealed that the dodgy beam was supported by a wooden lintel over the ground floor window not the expected granite so we need a structural engineer to sign off proposed replacement lintel. This is our hiatus we can’t get hold of the engineer but we were able to leave a message with his wife to which he hasn’t responded (#Cornwall life ). So we are at a halt and most of the work in the house depends on getting the structural support into the floor.

The beam and ceiling are all supported by Acro Props ready to go and amazingly the room looks bigger as the ceiling in the middle of the room is now about 20cm higher. Being a listed building we need to keep the lathe and plaster ceiling which is now probably a bit unstable so we are going to fit a plaster board ceiling below it. This achieves two things – it secures the historical ceiling in place and it ensures a flat ceiling so we can have flush ceiling lights.

We had to go to Truro to confirm our choice of work top for the kitchen in the main house on Wednesday.  We are using Fired Earth in Truro for our kitchen as we need free standing units due to the listing issues – they have been great and all the people who work there have been really helpful and knowledgeable. We went to Topps Tiles choosing  flooring  etc. I can recommend Topps Tiles Truro its massive and there is so much choice it is quite confusing, and the staff are very helpful.

In the cottage a lot of progress but not very visual. The walls are battened for installation of insulation. Electrical first fix is done and electric supply cables are laid in the trench. We have most of the insulation laid on the floor. That place is going to be so warm. Several drainage pipes were also laid and we began re-filling some trenches.

The big excitement cam on Friday afternoon. We used the digger to move the large lump of concrete over the old rain water tank. Only it isn’t a rain water tank but and old well – 21 metres down to the water and possibly another 4 metres after that. The hole is big as well approximately 2 metres by 2 metres!  Its only 1.5 metres from our  front door and we were oblivious to is existence but we do have a borehole drawing water from the same source a couple of metres away. We are now considering making a feature of this with a glass cover and some  lighting. That will be for another day after the end of the main project.

 

 

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.

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

 

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.