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Building Progress ~ December 2010

Category: Barn Conversion Journal January 7th, 2011 by mbc

Happy New Year – 2011!
Snow disrupted things in mid-late December with a fall on the 17th of December staying with us until just after Christmas – so between that and Christmas itself progress has been limited.

I had high hopes for what I’d achieve before Christmas as I wanted to start laying the flagstone patio for use over the festive period and also mostly complete work on the main bathroom – neither got done as we were snowed out of the barn over the weekend I had that work planned for.

I managed some work in the bathroom – which has taken a step back towards being a building site, to hopefully shortly be able to take a few steps forward towards being a bathroom.

After Christmas, I continued work levelling the patio area and on my ‘tap hut’ (the shelter around the external tap that stands proudly at the front of the barn). I also at last managed to get out my new concrete mixer and mixed a load of concrete for the floor of the tap hut and a mix of cement mortar for the recycled back wall. I’m pleased with my mixer – a Belle Mini Mix 130 – and it’s made in Britain!

The snow and ice caused some further erosion along the bank on the garden side of the path at the back of the barn. This is a problem as the original ‘garden’ wall (a two foot wide mortared stone wall) is perched on top of the bank and needs some support. To provide that support I’ve started ‘under-pining’ the wall with concrete and stone and suspect I’ll need to build a low wall along the whole of the path to tidy up.

I also have an area where the path at the back of the barn ends to tidy up. I thought this would be relatively a straight-forward job just requiring me to build a low retaining wall. However, as I dug in the area I discovered that the soil is very stratified and contains a lot of clay and in places holds a lot of water. As you dig, occasionally the water runs out from where it was trapped in small rivulets. So although not very wet under-foot I think drainage needed. There’s already a length of drainage pipe that connects into the land drain – I just need to dig a trench to accommodate it. Another job for the list…

Finally, I spent many happy hours getting my satellite dish installed, cables run underground and behind walls and all the associated Freesat gadgetry working. I’ll spare all the gory details for now, suffice to say my advide is – use Freeview via an aerial if possible! (Actually I exaggerate, it’s not that painful and I’m quite pleased with the results really) I plan to publish a more lengthy post on the subject shortly.

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Building Progress ~ November 2010

Category: Barn Conversion Journal December 15th, 2010 by mbc

At last I’ve broken the strangle-hold that pointing has had on me! I’ve also gone back to being late making my monthly updates to the website (this one for November being written on the 15th of December) – swings & roundabouts I guess…

I’ve retired from pointing for 2010, probably in truth falling just a little bit short of the finishing line in relation to my original goals for the year. I have about a square metre to point at the top of the back wall and the gable end (6 or 8 square metres) to finish. We had a major (for Carmarthenshire) deluge of snow on the day that I intended to finish the back wall and the cold weather has put me off ever since.

Beyond pointing I’ve been busy in the bathroom, finishing the floor, mosaic tiling and boxing-in. As previously reported, we started some work on landscaping the garden, first with a digger and I then started to level the patio area by hand with a pick & shovel and plan to lay flag stones on sand in the area shortly. I’ve also started to build a small ‘hut’ around the external tap that stands rather proudly at the front of the barn. My ‘tap hut’ is another victim of the weather as it’s been too cold to play work with my new concrete mixer to mix up the mortar and aggregate mix I need to finish the ‘hut’.

I’ve also got a satellite dish to install, but that’s a job for December and all those Christmas repeats on TV…

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Been Caught Snowing…

Category: Barn Conversion Journal December 2nd, 2010 by mbc

Last Friday the 26th November it snowed like mad – 3 or 4 inches fell in just over an hour. Took me an hour and a half to complete a 7 mile journey and I gave a lift in the car to two separate groups of snow-bound refugees. Needless to say I didn’t get much work done. Although I did restart work on the main bathroom which felt strange as I’ve spent so much time over the last few months working outside.

From Barn Conversion 2010

Last week I promised some photographs of the garden after we had cleared it with the digger. Unfortunately, you can’t see much as it’s covered in snow…

From Barn Conversion 2010

I’m hoping for a thaw this weekend. The water pipes have frozen again this year despite my efforts to build a ‘hut’ around the outside tap…

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Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 24th, 2010 by mbc

I’ve been itching get started on sorting out the garden and beds at both the front and back of the barn all summer. So, when we arrived at the barn last Saturday to find S digging a ditch along the drive with a digger and with the offer of starting on our garden there seemed like no time to lose. As it is dark at this time of year by 5PM, I rigged up a couple of halogen lights and we started work that evening…

From Barn Conversion 2010

We realised early on that we weren’t going to be able to move a great deal of earth. With no tipper, dumper or any other way of transporting soil away bigger than a wheel-barrow there’s only so much that can be achieved by digging, dumping and scraping. But with the tree / hedge line being higher than the barn and the generally sloping nature of the site, I’m not sure that removing a great deal of soil would be the correct thing to do.

We got held up for an hour or so when a track came off. But after a few false starts managed to release the pressure from the wheel carriage that the track had slipped off which meant the end guide wheel ‘sunk’ back into the housing and in doing so slackened off the track. Then with a large metal bar managed to lever the track back onto the slowly running guide wheel and the whole track & wheel assembly fell back into place like a bicycle chain back on its sprocket.

We cleared most of the grass from the main areas that will be laid to lawn, smoothed over the lumps and bumps that ran down the central slope and moved the two fruits trees that were always a little too close to the barn.

I’ve not yet photographed what we achieved – I will take some photos this weekend and post those.

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Cornwall 2010

Category: Barn Conversion Journal October 12th, 2010 by mbc

I picked up on a few ‘nuggets’ of inspiration on our recent trip to Cornwall.

From Travel
From Travel

I’ve got quite a lot of raised beds to build both to the front of the barn and in the garden at the back. I’m toying with the need for solid breeze block or brick backed structures against ‘looser’, less permanent dry stone structures. These lovely raised beds, photographed on my phone (so apologies for the quality of the pictures) at the Eden Project sway me down the dry stone route.

From Woodland

I thought it worth taking this picture of a hurdle – I’ve plenty of ash and willow that needs tidying up and maybe I could ‘lash’ some of these together from the smaller branches with the larger stuff going for firewood.

From Travel

Not one for the barn, but this living roof took my eye (after dragging it away from the beautiful estuary in the background). Although I worry about leaks, having a living breathing roof seems like a good use of an otherwise ‘dead’ space (unless it’s crammed with solar or PV panels of course!). The wall and gate are pretty special as well, although the wall is too perfect for the barn – a little too neat, tidy and precise – too correct – it would both show up and look down on my more ‘organic’ dry stone walling.

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Autumn 2013

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