Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)…

With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need finishing off, my thoughts are turning to outside. I’ve not done much outside since I laid the flag-stone patio in 2011, so plenty of attention is needed.

The hedge and further away the woodland that separates the barn from the field need attention in the form of clearing back and thinning out. I also (as ever) need to tidy up the yard, there’s still a lot of stone both dressed and raw stored out there. I’ll also need to build a new wood store. Once cleared there’ll be a space just begging to be filled by a shed.

I had every intention of saving up and buying myself a shed. However, sheds appear to be one of those products where you either pay through the nose from a reputable supplier or have to deal with shoddy suppliers, shoddy quality and potentially dodgy sales practices if you go for the more ‘reasonable’ end of the market. Thus put-off I remembered a leaflet that I picked up at the Royal Welsh Show earlier in the year relating to a week long training course in timber framing that is run relatively locally to me. So for now that’s my plan – to build my own.

In researching timber framing I came across an introduction to timber framing published by my alma mater, the University of the West of England (or Bristol Poly as I’m proud to say it was in my day).

More on the course and my plans as they evolve…

VAT Reclaim – VAT rate history

VAT rates over the last 30+ years…

So at last I’m looking at the VAT reclaim on the barn again. I think the last time I seriously discussed it here was back in 2009 when I very foolishly stated ‘My own VAT reclaim will be due soon – by early Summer at the latest‘ — ahhhh, the innocence of my (relative) youth!

The first thing I was struggling to get straight was what the VAT rate has been over the period of the conversion. So here’s a summary I assembled from across the web, in reverse chronological order:

  • On 4 January 2011 VAT was raised to 20%
  • On 1 January 2010 VAT returned to 17.5%
  • On 1 December 2008 VAT was reduced to 15% temporarily
  • In 1991 VAT rose to 17.5%
  • In 1979 VAT was consolidated to a single rate of 15%

Building Progress November 2012

Update on building progress during November 2012…

The weather, time & family illness have pretty well shutdown progress this month.

One thing I’ve managed has been sealing the wooden kitchen furniture. After some research Danish oil seemed to be the best option. I didn’t want a hard varnish or anything too unnatural on the worktops so I was happy with an oil based finish and of those on offer Danish oil seemed the best. I sanded out ‘most’ of the stains – one particularly stubborn red wine stain wouldn’t give in to my sanding & cleaning efforts and so remains embedded in the wood as my kind of signature. I’d only intended sealing the worktops, but as usual with these sort of jobs, once you start, you end up increasing the scope and doing the lot. I’m pleased with the finish as it gives the birch a lovely rich finish.

I’m also on the verge of getting the completion certificate for building reg’s…. more on this to come…

Building Progress October 2012

Update on building progress during October 2012…

The flue guard that I’ve been building from perforated steel sheets, aluminium joints and resin based adhesive is finished and does the job of keeping stray clothing and children away from the potentially hot flue.

I had a visit from the building control officer at the start of the month. Went really well with just a couple of pieces of paperwork to chase up and get completed before the barn is signed off.

I’ve added extra security in the form of locking door bolts to the top and bottom of the exterior doors and locks on the roof windows. I must admit I think that the roof window locks are probably overkill, but the whole place is now very lockable.

I did some further work on the cabin bed in the second bedroom. I removed an annoying squeak that had developed between two touching but unjointed pieces of wood by inserting a small sheet of metal. I also reworked the walls around the bed to tidy things up and did some further work on tidying the boxing in. I’m thinking of using the whitening oil that I used of the stairs and banisters to give a toned down finish to the bare wood that I’ve used for the boxing in.

At the end of the month I was away in Brittany for the week, which helped contribute to my lack of progress, but did provide a great week away from things and an excellent time with my family.

Building Progress September 2012

Update on building progress during September 2012…

The end of days approach (at least in terms of this stage of the conversion)…

The utility room is now completed. Painted, shelved and ready for storage. I’ve also all but finished the high level kitchen shelving, just a small ‘decorative’ detail to add to the supports at either end of the shelf to cover up the new wood brackets with some of the reclaimed timber.

I’ve also progressed with the flue guard that I’ve been building from various perforated steel sheets, solid lengths of aluminium and a resin based adhesive. It’s been slow going as I only stick one or two pieces at a time, then allow the joints 24+ hours to dry before moving on. But it’s pretty much there now, definitely finished in October.

Other jobs this month have mainly been concerned with tidying things up, getting ready for a building control visit in early October and the fast approaching onset of winter. So I’ve tidied the yard / sorted out firewood, repainted the wall behind the stove that was looking a little mucky, filled various holes in various walls and finished & filled little pieces of trim & gaps on and around the stairs and gallery landing.