Friday, 30 April 2010

2 little problems

Another site meeting today (and we remembered the buns this time. We still haven't managed to bake for them...).

It really is an amazing thing to see the space like this, all dug down to the original floor level (which is a bit varied, and all floored with the old tiles like chocolate bars).more destruction

Unfortunately, a couple of problems have cropped up. The first is that in digging out the old concrete some of the inner stone wall to the left of the front door came away, as you can see under the ladder here.wall where stone fallen out
It's not catastrophic, the wall is very thick here and the outer part is still fine, with the headers coming across and supporting what's above, but it does need sorting. Rather than cut away to fit bricks, and potentially cause movement of the old outer stone wall they're going to shutter it and fill with concrete.stone wal detail 2

A worse problem is in the corner where the damp had already been found. When the place was made into a dwelling rather than a coachhouse, presumably sometime in the thirties or so, the floor level was raised with concrete/similar, and either then or later the garage was formed with a floor level also concrete and higher than the old inner level. Unfortunately, the original wall had several levels of horizontal timber members in some brick courses. The bottom one has rotted away, gone from 4" to less than 2", and hence the wall is drooping. damp sagging wall
The plan here is to use acrow props and 'strongboys' (sp?) to prop 2 courses above the upper timber and rebuild below with blue bricks (waterproof). Ultimately, this is better than the previous plan of just tanking internally as it will be better structurally, but it is a pain and obviously an expense in labour and materials.

At the other end, the acrow props that were supporting the bedroom ceiling joists are gone, and a beautiful glulam beam has come instead!new glulam

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Empty barn!

We popped in yesterday to see what was happening in the coach house (and show C's Ps while they were staying overnight).

Blimey! Nothing left!smashed up floor

Morgan from next door says it has indeed been pretty noisy the last couple of days. Think that'll be this indoor vehicle...digger indoors

And a little view of the acro-props holding up the joists above hwhat will be our bedroom.

stepdown to the bedroom

Outside the magnolia is just starting to bloom (so late! But it is one very like the one my Mutti had in her front garden, so my favourite); the daffs are legion, and the garlic field is green and sprouting. Hurray!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The builders are on holiday

So Clare went yesterday and took some pictures. (She would want me to say - it's my camera, with which she is not awfully familiar, and which isn't v good anyway. But who cares - this is a renovation blog, not a photography one!)

We were excited to see the original floor under the old wooden one in the south ground floor room, which will be our bedroom. It slopes down to the east (courtyard side) and has flat bricks/tiles to the west (like under the tarmac in the courtyard), and those chocolate bar type tiles towards the east (like in the stables). bedroom 1 original floor
As I think we've said before, this room - which was the habitable one back when it was a coachhouse - has glazed bricks up to the level of the brown line you see. ON this (the west wall) you'll also see evidence of the bricked-up ventilation - on the outside there are rather decorative airbricks.bedroom 1, old airbricks blocked
Here, turning to the right from the last pic, is the old archway from this room into the rest of the building, bricked up for many years. Rather blurry, too! This wall will be knocked down to allow for full insulation of the new floor and the walls.
bedroom 1, old arch doorway
On the east wall you can see the small 1989 extension with its RSJ supporting the wall above. bedroom 1 courtyard wall
And in the south east corner of the room, you can see the old beam and the start of the pitched roof supports, now cut off and supporting instead the frame for the first floor (second floor if you're American) mansard roof.bedroom southeast corner

Elsewhere downstairs, the old roof is visible - the joists and the planks above, anyway. It was an almost flat roof, just curved a bit like an old shepherd's caravan.the old roof visible
And you can see the joys of the old electric system (yup, piping everywhere!)

old ceiling electrics

So - in the next week: on Monday the National Grid will come and remove the gas meter (but they won't cap off the gas outside - oh no, National Grid will have to come and do that on a separate date they are as yet not sharing with us, at a cost of £750 and loads of stress in sorting it).
On Tuesday the asbestos removers will come to take out the downstairs floor tiles (not the low ones, but the ones that look to me like lino) and one board near the front door - that'll be £790 +VAT at 17.5%, oh joy.
At least we've confirmed where the electricity supply runs, so can get the board to come and move the meter outside (instead of where the stairs will be, as it is now). That'll be £560, and again, we've paid - but no idea when it'll be done.

All those Grand Designs where nothing comes in on budget - maybe not so stupid, after all!

But still, it's all progress, and we also have a quote for the solar thermal, and a projected one for adding PV next year (which we're pleased to see can go on the old stable, so we can do that roof as planned ourselves over the next year or so). Pretty exciting!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Ode to Sydney - coffee!

So having just got back from 2 weeks skiing and snowboarding in powder at Whistler (fantastic time, excellent snow but very expensive) we were both suffering from jetlag and in need of coffee. Luckily for us this morning was when we got delivery of our new coffee machine from Best Coffee Beans and got basic barista training and machine set up at the same time.
Magister stella
Magister stella and Spaziale grinder

We got a magister stella commercial machine alongside our la spaziale grinder and now can't wait to add them to our English Rose kitchen where they will look brilliant, and we can actually have one of the brunch parties we have been intending to have since we got back from Oz!?
After our initial training this morning we can both make a pretty good espresso - and after a bit more practice in tamping and milk frothing I think we will be able to rival many of the coffees we had in Sydney (although maybe not all!).

Unable to hold back, we even visited the coach house on our way home from the airport (via watford) yesterday, and lots more has been done. We will visit again later this week (the builders are having a week off for easter) and take some pictures to show the ongoing progress, and fill you in on the saga of getting our gas supply capped off, and the electricity meter moved........

Clare (writing logged in as Emily in order to use flickr)