January at thetrevproject

I haven’t updated recently because I was a bit ill, I would like to claim “man flu” but actually it was a chest and throat infection. Very annoying as I don’t get ill. I also had a tooth removed which is very painful and makes eating awkward. Added to that our broadband has not improved much we are getting 0.75 Mbs download speed but apparently it is nearly 2 Mbs on the BT line so they are implicating our internal wiring. So doing anything on the internet is difficult.

Well the trevproject is not finished yet albeit the builders are rarely seen on site these days. There are one or two jobs which need to be finished but by and large the work is done now, or should I say the builders work is done. The weather continues to be a bit grim although we have had some dry periods of around 24 hours but nothing long enough to dry out the mud significantly. We have had a lot of rain – filling my wheel barrow overnight on several occasions.

Plus we have had several hail showers

But fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective no snow and few frosts. And we did have the odd bit of sun.

The work is far from done and now we are into phase 3, which is decorating and making good, which starts in earnest. Phase 3 is largely down to me although Louise might help a bit. The first objective is to make the place look good for “Trevster” (Easter gathering of the Trev tribe) when we will host up to 16 extra adults in our house. Most won’t be staying overnight but this will be their base for a few days. Trevster apart the building will never be finished and I will have to become adept at many skills before too long to keep the house in order.

I am re-acquainting myself with decorating techniques such as painting, tiling etc. We are going for what Period Living magazine might call “the rustic look”. In other words we are not looking at stripping everything back and making walls etc. look perfect. We will in the main be painting over rough areas or tiling walls which aren’t flat. In one or two areas we might go for a papered feature wall so we may need to call in a plasterer to skim the wall and make it flat and smooth.

So far I have learned that an angle grinder is not a good tool for shaping tiles as it is too crude. I discovered an old jig saw blade which is much better. I wish the builder had advised us tile the wall before fitting the bathroom and toilet sinks as it would have been easier. However I enjoyed the challenge of shaping the tiles to fit round curves but I would say they may be slightly below professional standard.

We have an issue in some areas where the wall consists of a stud wall with metal lathe and plaster. The metal lathe means that a stud detector doesn’t work and the plaster means the wall has little strength. So you need to be creative to hang things like mirrors using plywood, “No more nails”, etc. Plus of course the outside wall has mud as mortar so they are very soft and crumbly between the stones. So the technique is drill a hole fill it with “No More Nails” or equivalent and then insert a rawl plug leave to cure and then attach whatever is required.

The big thing happening today is the removal of all the builders’ rubble and rubbish from the side of the road. So pictures of that and some completed decorating to look forward to. But for now just a picture of rubbish being burned.

 

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Christmas and New Year @ thetrevproject

It was weird to have a period of no builders on site at thetrevproject but one thing didn’t change the weather – plenty of wind and rain and hence mud. The mud was started off by loads of builders vans parking on the side of the road. This was supplemented by the fact that our farmer neighbour having cows in the adjacent fields requiring daily big bales of hay or silage. The teleporter fork lift churns up the mud when it goes off road and then it sheds mud on the road as it returns for the next load. Its just country  life.

Mud has consequences in the house – mud every where and you have to be very careful to change shoes every time you come in side and the dog’s feet have to be constantly be wiped down with an old towel which gets very muddy and smelly.

Since we didn’t have along build up to Christmas with only a week to put up most of the decorations we went to see the famous Mousehole (pronounced Mouzal) harbour lights. Brilliant they were but we struggled to find a fish and chip shop on the way home. That is  another feature of living in a tourist area – many businesses only run when there are tourists around  so out of season and d especially January many places are closed.

We decided to have a housewarming drinks party on 23rd December on the basis that the building would be finished. Well the builders left site on Monday 18th December but work is not finished they are due back on site in January.  The landing window was returned on Tuesday 19th which we were rather relieved about as we had our doubts. We did have the majority of the house usable and we had a great day and were able to share our home with lots of our new local friends. I was able to wash some of the mud from the road and put down some sand to minimise the mud.

Living in a house gets you to recognise the good and bad bits of the house but we won’t go into that now.

 

We had a wonderful Christmas with our 3 daughters, son in law and granddaughters then on 27th we headed up country to visit relatives and friends. We managed to meet up with all Louise’s family and all my direct family in the UK. We stayed in Bishops Stortford as our base to visit friends and family in Essex and Suffolk and slip in a murder mystery evening with our Braintree friends for New Years Eve. We were greeted in Bishops Stortford by 2 inches of very hard frozen snow. By the time we left it was almost gone.

When we returned to Cornwall the weather was – windy and rainy. So we set about drawing up a list of outstanding works and arranged for the builders to return on 15th January

Early November at thetrevproject

Anyone who follows this blog – I am sure there is someone – may have noted that we are becoming a bit jaded with the building works and reporting it. We have been living in a building site since April. People say “oh it will be worth it in the end” and it will but when will the end be? Even after the builders leave, hopefully in early December there is a mass of decorating, gardening, landscaping, maintenance etc. to do.

We know we are incredibly blessed and lucky to be living here but it is a bit wearing at times. Still we get occasional fantastic sunsets and the views around here are lovely even if the weather can be a bit challenging, its windy and rainy but not often massively cold.

So In November we took time off for some R&R and visited France. We took Esme with us to celebrate her recently turning 21 and stayed in the beautiful village of Montfort L’Aumary 40 minutes by train from Paris with Emma and Tom – Emma was our bridesmaid a few years ago! Their house is possibly even older than ours probably dating from the 14 the century.

France was freezing and shortly after this picture of Louise and Emma was taken we were drenched in freezing rain.

Back to thetrevproject. The first week in October was primarily occupied by first fix electrics, first fix plumbing followed by “replasterboarding” which continued into the second week. We had a couple of little incidents during this week.

Firstly whilst I was digging over a section of soil which is intended to be turfed I suddenly noticed frantic activity. A lot of buckets being run in to the house and the plumber rushed into the laundry to turn off the water. You guessed it a flood. One of the builders removed a bit of old lead piping which was still live. Fortunately very little damage and all confined to the area being stripped.

Secondly, there was a weird set up with a basin in the bedroom at the furthest extremity from the bathroom. It had been plumbed with a phenomenally long drain – about 15 metres. Needless to say the water didn’t drain well. So the builder drilled a hole in the pipe at the lowest point and released the foulest smelling water which kept dripping into a bucket for hours. I decided to try and mask the smell with Jeyes fluid, that became very pervasive as well.

Thirdly we had a modern life crisis. We came back from France to find no internet connection. A little detective work revealed that a builder had inadvertently snapped the telephone wire. I have to commend our electricians who had the service back up within a couple of hours of the call out.

During this time we also started the re-rendering of some of the outside walls. To date we have bag rubbed the north gable end and half the east wall exterior with lime.  A bag rub is what it says. You render with lime and then rub it with a bit of hessian to give it texture. It is a thin coat to protect the stone and mortar underneath whilst allowing the wall to be breathable so moisture will be removed by capillary action. It was recommended by Cornish Lime. So I asked how will I know if it is working successfully and I got the answer “wait a year or two and see how damp the walls are”. There is a slight problem with that in that the scaffolding will be long gone if we find it hasn’t worked. However the conventional wisdom is that it is good for this type and age of building. It looks pretty good as well.

 

Another thing that happened in this period is that some more windows disappeared to be repaired. So phase 2 is dark and drafty as the boards over the windows don’t fit very tightly.

We said goodbye to the old Aga which nobody wanted to buy. It was in a fairly sorry state it was a bit heavy though and all the insulation had to be removed before it could be moved too far. The insulation is a granular silica based product.

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.

August at thetrevproject and Marler Cottage

August is summer, supposedly, and we were reminded that we live in a rural location when our neighbour drove past the house.

Here in Cornwall August weather has been a bit dodgy. You might be wondering what  happened to the last few weeks updates on thetrevproject, all about the cottage being finished. Were we too busy going to the beach? Or touring around holiday spots?

Well no – and the finish was delayed and we didn’t get into the cottage at the end of July. There was a touch of the builders living up to the stereo type. They didn’t hit the dead line, but there were mitigating circumstances, because the foreman was off ill for 3 days but they may not have made it any way, but who knows.

After having been promised the cottage would be finished by the beginning of August we took it over on Wednesday 9th at 3:00pm. It was cleanish but no professional cleaner came it was left to the builders to give a sweep and a mop down. Needless to say we had to do a bit more cleaning. This was highlighted by the twins crawling around and getting black hands and feet on the clean looking floor covered in dust and grime.

Kate and Josh and the girls didn’t actually move into the cottage until the Thursday.  So Thursday was bitter sweet – we got some space back but we lost Dot and Margot (one year old twins) as they moved out. We had kind of got used to having them and their parents around all the time.

Not having access to the cottage on time made life a little difficult as Mary can to stay for a week to celebrate the twins first birthday. She had to sleep on a mattress on the floor in a room with no lights or curtains.  We rigged up a blind and got a long extension to get light into the room where she was staying.

So here are a few pictures inside the cottage – I am putting together a collection of before and after pics for publication soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got our room back for Friday night and Mary moved into the room we had been in as well so we all had a good nights sleep Friday. Mary went back to London Sunday so we have a spare room again. Lucky really as we have guest coming this week and then the wanderer returns on Thursday – Esme is back from a summer in Trumpington, she is currently Leaving Las Vegas (I feel a Sheryl Crow song coming on) heading for Yosemite.

The cottage is great and it has  a few little quirks. The bedroom window opens inwards due to the fact that it is in a boundary wall – Building Regs. None of the walls are vertical or straight – apart from where the walls have been clad to give some straight lines in the kitchen and bath room. It is comfortable and has utilities (water is on a temporary pump pending a new pump going into the main house). We are jealous of Kate and Josh who now have a lovely drench shower whilst we are stuck with an old bath and using a saucepan to wash our hair.

The cottage has a few snags to sort out but we are now concentrating on the kitchen and ensuite in the main house. We don’t have blinds in the windows or bifold doors in the cottage, there are no splash backs in the kitchen or bathroom, but it is usable.

The time is coming for the big reveal of the colour of our cooker as the work top has been templated and is due to be fitted 5th September. The floor is down and the units are in position and the first fit of electrics and plumbing have been completed. The kitchen is going to be fantastic – having lived in flats terraced houses for 27 years having a large kitchen is going to be fabulous, we can hardly wait.

Spaced out at thetrevproject

We are just about to enter a very exciting phase in the renovation.  By the end of next week the cottage should be occupied so there will be some exciting photos next week.

Meanwhile we are spaced out  or  more correctly out of space.

One of the things about living in a house while it is being renovated is the mess but the biggest issue is space. Where do you put everything??? We have a 5 bedroom house with only 2 bedrooms usable – we have cleared 3 rooms as the floors had to be replaced and the walls had to be skimmed. Add to that we have Kate and Josh’s 2 bedroom house to accommodate as well. And we have toys for one year old twins so our living room looks like this.

Plus we have 2 kitchens and 2 bathrooms to accommodate as we ordered them based on a building schedule that had to be put back several weeks due to structural issues.

So what do we do with all that stuff? Basically we cram is in where we can so the garage is stuffed to the gunnels. This includes several boxes we brought from Braintree in October which we have never opened. The video below gives some idea of what the garage is like – after we have removed the cottage kitchen and bathroom fittings.

This created a challenge for the delivery of our new Heritage Range cooker. You can see below that the guys had milimetres to spare in some of the gaps between the new kitchen which is currently stored in the hallway.

They were amazing, their system of boards and rollers enabled them to wheel in the cooker in just a few minutes. The first floor tiles are down for the cooker to stand on. They are Fired Earth Orient Travertine tiles which is a kind of limestone – we wanted a stone floor which isn’t as dark as slate.

The cooker is now in place but you will have to wait for the big reveal to see what colour it is. 😜

 

 

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!!!