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Nuts and Bolts

Category: Barn Conversion Journal January 31st, 2011 by mbc

Anyone who has encountered my stuttering inability to remember the proper name for things … things like the constituent parts of a roof or a staircase, or the name of a particular tool, or of different types of nuts, bolts and other fasteners will understand my attraction to this page found on an American website…

Fastener Type Chart @ boltdepot.com

…a pretty complete list of the proper names for all types of nuts, bolts and other fasteners. Some of the terminology is American and so slightly different to that used in the UK, but I think it’s useful never-the-less.

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Shelving and storage

Category: Barn Conversion Journal January 26th, 2011 by mbc

I have a lot of shelving and storage to build, install or buy for the barn. At the moment there is very little real storage. That makes things nice and open – no big closed in furniture and nice uncluttered walls, but it’s not very practical.

In my usual way, I’ve been trawling the web for options and I thought I’d share what I’ve found so far. Any further recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I’d love to build-my-own, but I’m not so sure that a) my carpentry skills are up to it (not that that has stopped me yet) or b) where to buy suitable wood from – the stuff in DIY stores never really looks to have the quality I’d like.

Anyway, this is what I’ve found so far…

Wooden shelving


Shelfstore – “For over 25 years we have been providing shelving solutions for all around the home and office, shops, schools… The list is endless.”

The Shelfstore shelving system looks to be very flexible and comprehensive, if a little piney (by which I mean I’m not so keen on a plain pine finish) for my tastes.

The high (expensive) end…

Not really what I need, but I really like Vitsoe shelving.
Vitsoe hanging rail - starter collection


Vitsoe – “For 50 years Vitsœ has stood against product obsolescence, which means you can still add shelves to your old system.”

I’ve been trying to convince myself that the Vitsoe ‘starter collection – hanging rail’ (pictured right) is just what I need for the dressing area / the strange 1 metre wide space – but I’ve not managed to do so yet.

Then for everything from shelves, to sliding doors, to drawers and coat hooks there’s Elfa. A great design & storage solutions company.


Elfa – “For 60 years Elfa has been the market innovator and leader in the storage category.”

Elfa products are available in the UK through >> : http://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk/home-storage/elfa-shelving (EDIT: alternative URL supplied by Simon at aplaceforeverything.co.uk).

The DIY Option

When it comes to a DIY option this one, developed by the author of the blog the-brick-house.com looks to be an easy and effective option. It utilises plumbing pipes for much of the structure which is a little strange, but I like the finished product…


the-brick-house.com – “…we’re renovating a mid century cement brick house in the middle of retirement hell, making it awesome and doing it on a budget.”

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The ‘do’ lectures

Category: News November 1st, 2010 by mbc

I’ve spent a bit of time roaming around the slightly confusing web-world of the ‘do’ lectures, the ‘do’ shed and the ‘do’ village. (This article on the Guardian website make things clearer).

Arranged by David and Claire Hieatt (ex of the clothing brand Howies), the lectures are an annual event:

…all about getting a handful of speakers together in one place, in the hope that they may inspire you to go Do something. To give you the tools and the desire to change the things you care about.

You can view many of the previous lectures online at the do lectures home page. I’ll be taking a look myself, as time and broadband speeds allow. Some very interesting people have been involved, Tim Berners-Lee and back in 2008 Trevor Baylis especially stand-out.

One thing that caught my eye on the site was the video embedded below, that is of Lloyd Khan, a pioneer in green building and now a spritely 70-something. Mr Khan was a guiding light in the world of geodesic domes in the late 60’s early 70’s. In a rarely seen display of strength of character and conviction, he was later to turn his back on geodesic domes, decrying them as a poor solution and seeking better ways to build and live. In his words…

You can still use your hands to build a home…

SHELTER from jason sussberg on Vimeo.

Link: http://blog.thedolectures.co.uk/2010/10/use-your-hands/

The do lectures themselves, look like a fascinating event – more SoCal than SoWal, but all the more engaging for that. iPhones and iPads in darkest West Wales beyond the sphere of 3G conjures an image of ‘twentysomething geeks’ (thanks to the Guardian article for that one!) cast back to the dark ages…

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Wales has a ‘carbon free’ house

Category: News August 4th, 2010 by mbc

An interesting story on Wales Online today that raises more questions for me than it answers for me…

Wales has it’s first ‘carbon free’ house. The house is built along PassivHaus lines on a small estate in Ebbw Vale from mainly Welsh materials. It has PV panels so generates its own power and has managed to achieve level 6 in the Code for Sustainable Homes.

However, it still has energy bills of £50 a quarter. Not sure what that’s for, perhaps electricity connection or standing charges (although the article does specify ‘energy bills of just £50 a year’). As such, I’m not sure what ‘carbon free’ means – perhaps I’m being cynical and perhaps some more research is required…

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Maintenance [really does] matter

Category: Website Reviews July 22nd, 2010 by mbc

I discovered a great source of information on the maintenance and restoration of old buildings on the new Maintenance Matters website. The site has been produced by Cadw, the ‘official guardian of the built heritage of Wales’. Short publications on such subjects as lime-washing, repointing and replacing sash cords are freely available and well worth a read if you’re looking for heritage building advice.

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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 […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]


Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”


What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety


Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…


Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…