Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Structural Engineer

I met him at the house this morning. Overall, he seems to think we'll be able to do what we want (he had various interesting questions, such as why dig down, couldn't Gil put insulation on top of the current concrete floor. But I suspect it's a no-go as we'll need to damp proof too, and also won't want to lose that much head height from the rooms or the front door.

Saw some interesting things with his direction - will take some pics soon. Anyway, encouraging overall, looks as if we can go ahead, though he wants to think a bit more about stiffening the walls and roof upstairs before we knock down the stud walling there - apparently there's a theoretical risk that high winds could cause twisting.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Garden work

 Looking down the garden at the gable end with our future bedroom windows just visible.


Looking back at that same window, and the across the view from it - weeded by Mum so now the lavenders are visible.

We had a few days of fun in the garden with my parents - they provided the knowledge and the stick-to-it-iveness, and Clare and I did the running round and some of the work. The garden is made up of lots of separate beds and we've cleared a couple out, so we can start some planting - garlic is in line for the first planting (we love it, and now's the time, I gather).We plan the ones near the to-be-expanded balcony to have most of the veg and herbs, but we'll bung some raspberry canes in a bit further down. all very exciting!

Mum was able to name lots of plants, and drew us a plan of the garden with labelled areas and so on. We seem to have lots of repeats - can't remember all the names, but several Cotoneasters, Euonymous (?sp?) and other stuff, including some possible little Leylandii (ssssssssss....) which need to come out asap.

Dad dug out several shrubs that were right in our way (and rather moth-eaten, too). This is one of his major fields of expertise - and he started training C! She and I cut lots out of an overgrown Fatsia japonica which left more light on the situation, much needed.

We created a massive pile of stuff-to-be-composted - way more than we can handle right now, so it'll be a gradual drip feed into the garden waste bin.
And lots of bits of wood to dry for next winter when we'll be living here!

We're lucky enough to have a shed that will work as a greenhouse in the future, we hope.

We met our neighbour show seems lovely and is a fount of knowledge about the area and the people who live here. He's been here since about 1970. We'll have to show him the paperwork that came form our solicitor yesterday - goes back to 1876 and the details of ownership of the big house, Malvern House, to which our house (the coach house and stables) and his (the Lodge - shown as having a vinery and plant houses in what is now his beautiful garden) belonged.

On another note, Gil (the architect) came round and was pleased with how we've started on the destruction of the decorative beauties. We'll try to get the rest of it done over the next few weeks.

And, excitingly for us, the structural engineer is coming on Tuesday - so we should soon know what we can and cannot just knock down. Gil's sent the proposals to the planning office to get their views on our plans re windows, balcony etc.

(Don't think we showed the glories of the electrics in our last post, did we? Rather scary!)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Few Days off!

So we haven't done anything in the house, other than a bit of a clear-up since Wednesday. This is mostly due to me working, Emily visiting Birmingham, and then me busy paddling at the Dragon Boat National Finals this weekend. We (notts anaconda) didn't win anything, but we had a great time and a really good club atmosphere and ethos.
I have also just started a 10 month training plan for an ironman triathlon next August. I have decided to get a proper plan worked out from the coach at the triathlon club I have joined. Last week was OK but this week looks a bit more full on, so fitting training, work, and the coach-house refurb is going to keep me fit!
We will get some more done, and some more photos on in this coming week. We have Emily's parents visiting, and hopefully will use their expertise to get started on some garden stuff - for the first time ever we are hoping to grow some produce, as part of our general green plans.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Clear Up!

Just a short post today - after work and before dragon boat training today I will be mostly clearing rubble into a Rhino Bag - a 1 tonne bag that you buy for 5 quid, and then gets collected like a skip. Our hope is that the structural engineer can come this Thursday, and that we also get the damp and timber stuff done soon, so that we can get going on proper plans, cost and a timescale.
No pictures today, but will be back on soon - maybe with some plans.........

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Ready for the structural engineer

We've spent the last three days slogging away at the coal face. Great fun, specially when C's sister and boyf came up to assist (he's very tall; that helps! She's got spatial awareness - that does too!)gnomes go mad

The wall against the bank (the south wall of what will be our bedroom) had the strange cardboard pseudo-stone walling; behind the fibreboard behind that was a brick wall - but these bricks were cream and ceramicized,
south east bedroom 3like tiles - perhaps olde worlde damp roofing? Anyway, very little damp - just a bit at each corner where there were joints with the ordinary bricks above.

Turns out the joists of the floor above this room run south-north, and do rest on the solid internal wall of this room; a shame, but the rest of the 1st floor rests on east-west joists, much more convenient for our plans.stairs to east

The marie-antoinette room (re-christened by Kate as the Sindy room)sindy bedhead is no more; the wardrobe, the cupboard off and the bedhead have been shredded. The walls behind the battened plasterboard have tar-paper over a layer of plaster (on the wall with the garage this is painted with bitumenised paint). On the west wall there's a window which was battened and tar-papered over, with wardrobes in front of it - now it's open to the room, it's a great improvement! (Neither of us can see out of this window, too high, but Ed could).there's a window!

The cupboard with the fuses etc in is an exciting find - there are about 8 switches to turn off all the electric power to the house, and three boxes are old painted cast-iron ones, look pretty industrial (and rather scary). They are ancient, and have big handles to turn off the leccy.
scary but beautiful fuseboxesGulp!

Hardly anything left to do before Gil brings round the structural engineer to see if we can do what we want - so far an obvious problem is the joists in the bedroom resting on a wall we want to remove (which anyway may be tying the east and west walls together, who knows? Well, the engineer, we hope!)

A lovely end to the day with Humph and Kate and two bottles of lovely fizzy white in the courtyard. Mmmm, I could get used to this!
chilling after boshing (This pic is C with her sis and boyf, though).

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A talent for Destruction.....

So we have started the destruction process!

Who knew that Emily would be a master at destruction - whilst I was hitting a chisel with a hammer to make a hole, Em had a jemmy and had opened a headsized hole in the ceiling, and linear gaps in the wall - it was extremely impressive (and slightly anxiety provoking!) she definitely has a talent for destruction!
At the moment it is a controlled affair, just opening up specific areas requested by Gil (our architect) such as the fireplace downstairs to see what is behind the faux brick cardboard cladding.
destro fireplace
What we have discovered having started the process is that this whole room is actually battened and fibreboarded, so all that would have had to be taken down anyway as it is not fireproof (like plasterboard is). Although slightly daunted by the task I am pleased we were planning to strip the whole house back anyway, as it would have been a bit of a shock to have had to do it, if we had just been planning some basic cosmetic refurb.
We are also making holes in the ceilings downstairs in every room, to see the beams and boards above, removing all the beam cladding, removing the staircase boxing, and opening up a hole to the southern end of the house as far as the outer plastic coating found on a bit of the end wall. The sooner we can get this first wave of destruction done, the sooner we can get a structural surveyor in. This means that the refurb plans can be finalised, we can get a guestimate of the price, and a final set of plans can go out to builders for tender. We can also get damp and timber surveys done (as required by the mortgage company) and make sure there are no nasty surprises to add to the projected cost.
Luckily for us (possibly unluckily for them) we have enlisted the help of my sister and her boyf for the whole weekend, and some other friends on Sunday so we will post more pictures at the end of the weekend!

Friday, 25 September 2009

It Begins...

We own a house!
the front door and windows

Yesterday we completed the purchase of our funny old coach house. Today we start knocking it about to see its bones and check its structure before the real renovation can begin.

The house was built in about 1880 as a coach house and adapted in the 20th century for living in, then had a mansard 1st floor (that's a second floor for Americans!) added in the late 80s. Downstairs is a strange conglomeration of little cupboards and a tiny kitchen with two big rooms, one at either end; upstairs has a huge landing, 2 big bedrooms and the bathroom. The staircase is bizarre! It is inside a tiny square box, and although it only rises 1 floor it spirals twice in a dizzying and NOT cool way! square stairsIt has a tiny electric water heater, electric storage heaters and two little gas fires - none are things of great beauty or very effective!

So - our plans are a full-on green refurb, with proper insulation (including underneath), triple glazing and living upside down - sleeping downstairs and living upstairs where we should be able to step across from the balconybalcony to the sloping garden.gable end We're using Gil Schalom, an architect who has done his own green refurb locally and worked on several others.

It's going to take a while, but we'll try to keep you updated!