Friday, 13 December 2019

Latest front and back shots

Right at the beginning of the build I started off by showing front and back photos of the plot.
We are now eight weeks into the build and this is how far we have got. We have slowed down because we lost a few days to the weather, but still moving on.



We have also solved our ongoing problem with the extra steel beam. I managed to get it designed by the structural engineer, then got it made by the fabrication company in Nottingham, but I was completely stumped as to how to get it to our site.
The trouble was that it is 4.5 metres long and the longest van that it is possible to hire is only 4.2 metres.
We tried courier companies but they also only used 4.2 metre vans so couldn't bring it.
Removal companies had big enough vans but they came with a huge price tag.
In the end I found a company that hired flat bed vans with idea that we could rest it up against the back of the cab, sowe hhired it and drove up to fetch it. In the end it actually easily fitted across the base of the van so was much easier than we expected.


It's probably the smallest load ever moved, but at least it's done.


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Progress on the balcony

Until now the future balcony has just been a gaping hole in the ceiling. However, yesterday and today Darren started to fix that.



There isn't anything to walk on yet, but there are joists and noggins, and I will be making a few phone calls tomorrow so soon there should be a floor.
Darren has set up a great little workshop in the future kitchen and has even copied Trevor and got himself a heavy duty builders radio.


He's very pleased because now he doesn't have to listen to radio two all day.

Monday, 9 December 2019

My birthday and surprise delivery

We took a long weekend off because it was my birthday. I did absolutely nothing all day and it was glorious. Had some lovely presents and cards, and enjoyed a chocolate pizza from Darren's mum.


Back to work today and I can't remember if I have mentioned it before, but I have spent many, many hours trying to finalise the joist plans for the second and top floors. After probably at least 100 emails and phone calls it was at last sorted out and I paid them.
Towards the end of last week I found out that they hadn't started making the joists after all due to another misunderstanding. So I had missed my delivery date and they wouldn't give me a new one.
Disappointed, I sat back to wait, so I was really caught out unprepared when the whole lot arrived at 9.30 this morning.
Our lovely neighbour Robert came round to the help unload and it looked quite small on the huge lorry.
It rapidly expanded as we unloaded and by the time we got it inside the house it was enormous.


Just got to get it all up to the next floor and then on to the top of the blocks.


Thursday, 5 December 2019

Christmas wreath and prosecco party

Last night I went out with Susan to one of her neighbours houses for a Christmas wreath making and prosecco party.
I have never heard of such a thing before but I had a lovely time and met a lot of future neighbours.
Here is my effort, and in the absence of a front door, I have hung it on our electric box by the front fence.



A quick tip in case you are ever invited to a similar event - don't make the wreath out of real holly because it is really spikey and makes the whole thing quite painful.
I also had a look on the Graven Hill website and there are a few new aerial photos.
This one shows our road at the top left hand side and lots of spaces still to be filled.


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

More deliveries

I was just about to have my breakfast when I realised that I had missed a call from the builders merchants.
In a scene that has been repeated too many times in this build, I grabbed my hat and coat, pulled on my boots and set off at a run to the site.
The lorry was outside and the lovely driver was waiting patiently for me. It was time to test the loading bay on the scaffolding.


It just reached although it was a stretch, and two pallets of blocks successfully went up. 
Trevor arrived at this point and in the time it took me to go home and eat my breakfast, he had unloaded all of them on to the scaffolding. 
I then rang and arranged for a fork lift to bring more bricks. This was a real stretch and they were left overhanging a little bit, but we unloaded them and then I rang for some more. 


The whole thing was exhausting, but the loading bay works and all of this stuff should keep Trevor busy, and quiet for a few days. 

For any scaffolding officianados

I didn't write a blog yesterday as for some reason I fell asleep at 8pm and didn't wake up until this morning.
So, possibly better late than never, here are the photos of the scaffolding second lift.



At first, second and even third glance it looks just the same as the day before yesterday, but if you look closely then you can see that the walkway on the scaffolding is higher.
This took the scaffolders all day to do, and I was very pleased that their boss only turned up for about ten minutes. He was also in a much better mood than the last time that I saw him.
I am writing this blog at the site this morning and there was a heavy frost overnight. The sun is just coming up through the woods behind us and is looking glorious.


Also, a nice view of the old water towers above the mist.



Monday, 2 December 2019

On the up

Today is the last day that we have our scaffolding at this level.


Trevor has built all of the brickwork up above his head, so the time has come to raise it.



The scaffolder and his team arrive first thing tomorrow, and I am hoping that he is in a good mood. Last time he was a real moaner and the only good thing I can say is that this time he won't be here as long.



Even Trevor is staying away until they have gone, and he usually chats to everyone.

Friday, 29 November 2019

End of week six

The weeks have really flown by and we have been building for six weeks. Today had been the first sunny day for ages, and a great chance to take some photos showing our progress.
View from the front and you can just catch a glimpse of Darren's hoist, although it is covered with a black plastic bag to keep the rain off.


The hoist is very popular with Trevor and he uses it to lift buckets of mortar up onto the scaffolding and the first floor.


Next is the back view with the huge first floor window just beginning to take shape.


Finally, a side view.



Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Four bedrooms

It might be a bit difficult to work it out, but we now have the outline of four bedrooms on the first floor.
They look pretty similar at the moment, but here we are :-

Bedroom one


Bedroom two


Bedroom three


Bedroom four


All a bit wet and muddy at the moment, but just wait until we get a roof.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Cable spool repurposed

A few weeks ago I noticed what I initially called a giant bobbin that had been dumped by the side of the road behind us. I now know that it's actually called a cable spool.
It had a small amount of very thick electrical cable wrapped around it, and we think that it had been used to wire up the lamp posts.
More time went by and it was still sitting there, so one Sunday I unwrapped the remaining wire and then took it back to my greenhouse.


I left it to dry and then spent a happy few hours repairing it, wallpapering and then varnishing it.
It is now our new coffee table and I am very pleased with it, although for some reason I haven't managed to smile for the photo.



Ps, in other news it was another wet and windy day on site, but good progress made by Trevor on the house. Update tomorrow.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Soaked but still smiling

There has been a few days of rain, again, and it is spoiling our building plans. Hardly surprising as it's the end of November I hear you thinking.


My new job on site every morning is to get our new super duper squeegee and sweep the rain water off the floor boards.
It is amazing how much there is and it is a huge hazard for Darren and Trevor as they have to avoid the tidal waves of water that randomly shoot off the roof.
Trevor cannot get on with building the bricks so he is instead building the block internal walls.
These are going up really quickly but are giving a false impression of our progress.


I am currently having a mini panic about our next set of joist plans, although the top floor plans look good.
Hopefully I can sort it out tomorrow.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Up and up

It was a showery day today and Trevor worked on the blocks because he prefers dry weather to lay bricks.
As the blocks are six times as big as bricks, then the progress looks much more spectacular.
By the end of the day the first floor, in parts at least, was at least five feet higher than yesterday.



We also have a temporary ladder to get up to the first floor, and will very soon have an internal wall to the left of it and although you can't see it, Darren has built a safety rail to the right.


Thursday, 21 November 2019

Large deliveries

It seems that all deliveries to the site are fraught with potential problems, and new ones appear daily.
Today I had another order for ten tons of sand, and I was casually eating my breakfast at 7.45 when the phone rang.
The lady delivery driver was only a couple of minutes away and just needed the final half mile of directions. I jumped around in a panic, got in the car and arrived to find her already there.
I opened up the gates and belatedly realised that Trevor's concrete mixer was in the way, but no matter how hard I pushed it, it wouldn't budge.


In the end I told her to drop the sand nearer to the road, so now I have a couple of tons of it on the pavement. I hope that Trevor manages to use it before the Health and Safety Guy puts in a complaint, but at least it didn't bury the mixer.
A couple of hours later two pallets of blocks arrived that I wanted putting up on the loading bay.
Yesterday the scaffolders had returned to give us a gate on the loading bay because the Health and Safety Guy had complained that the existing scaffold pole wasn't good enough.
Unfortunately the first time I tried to open the gate I found out that it wasn't a gate at all, but instead was a sort of huge see saw that rose up into the air. This then blocked the crane on the lorry from dropping off my blocks.
Darren was out shopping and the delivery guy was going to put them on the ground, but fortunately my hero Trevor came flying to the rescue and took part of the gate apart so that the pallets could land.


Just got to move them onto the first floor now to make way for the next drop off.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Four days in on a one day job

Trevor is not very impressed with our progress on putting the floor on to the the joists.
We started work on it on Sunday and got off to a very slow start. The glue has a mind of its own and has managed to stick our fingers to our gloves and jeans to the floor.
It has also expanded under the floorboards and raised some of  them up so that once it dried the next board didn't fit.
We also got confused about where the supporting walls came through, amongst other things.
Anyway, it is all over now, although it took all day today and we finished tidying up as it got dark.
Very pleased though and we will be a lot quicker on the next floor.



Monday, 18 November 2019

A murder of crows

A couple of days ago we were just getting ready to head home because it was already getting dark.
Suddenly I heard lots of squawking and looked up to see hundreds of crowd circling around directly above.
Today there was a lovely sunset.....


..... and then a few minutes later the crows started to appear again.



It reminded me of the huge numbers of starlings that we used to see in Brighton that was called a murmuration.
I have looked online and a group of crows is called a 'murder'.
In the olden days it was a small step from seeing them as scavengers to thinking of them as a huge gang that actually hunted down and killed their foes.
I think that just to be on the safe side I will keep the greenhouse door closed in future.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Almost all noggined out

We have had a busy weekend, and I feel that I have got to know the noggins very well.
Here I am with a couple of the cute little things.


Unfortunately we haven't been able to finish the job because we are short of a few of the metal fixing clips, and they will be delivered tomorrow.
We have started on the the flooring though, and we nearly have a waterproof garage.


The view is getting very nice, and this is what we will see from the front bedroom window.


Friday, 15 November 2019

Noggin hell

We spent the day today making and fixing noggins. I wasn't too aware of these little things before, but they hold the whole floor together, along with their friends the strongbacks and metal straps.
There is quite a lot of nailing involved too.
I was so engrossed in the task that I almost forgot to take any photos, but in case you ever need to know, these little bits of wood at the back are noggins.


The long piece of wood is a strongback that goes the whole length of the room,


and this is an example of the many nails that I hammered in today.


It will all be worth it when we move in and the floor doesn't creak, fingers crossed.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Putting in the joists

Torrential rain all night and we arrived at the plot to find nearly an inch of water in all of the rooms. I brushed a lot out but we still paddled around for the whole day.


We hoped that the rain would hold off for a while so that we could make a start on putting up the joists.
While I went shopping (no, not for shoes or handbags), Darren started to set up his equipment.


Trevor also arrived and between the two of them they started to lay out the joists using the noggin spacers that Darren had cut.
When I returned I took charge of the instructions that the manufacturer sent us and mostly stayed at ground level directing the operation.
Trevor was a great help as he had done this many times before, and just as it was starting to get dark we had the whole lot up.


How neat does that all look?
PGTips box, builders own.