Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time to catch up

I know, I know, I started this blog with such enthusiasm and now here we are two weeks later with a blog that is definitely old news! Anyway, I or we haven't done a runner. We are still here and well and truly immersed in life with the builders. In fact, maybe that explains my on-line absence. I am so used to living on a building site that the builders' favourite biscuits and tea and sugar requirements feature on our shopping list with alarming freqency - I have even been wondering about getting in some orange squash with this current heat wave. And today, I found myself taking the roofing joiner's dog, a young Lakeland Terrier, for a walk! I'll getting in dog biscuits next!

Anyway this is where we are at now

The gable wall has been built up and the wooden posts you can see sticking out to the right will be the balcony. When we stood on the balcony and looked out at the view the other evening we did feel very lucky to live in such a lovely place. I think the balcony will be fantastic and big enough for four people or so to sit out on. The other nice surprise was getting to see the new study/bedroom which will also be a great room to work and relax in. To be honest we haven't really paid a lot of attention to up to now as we have been concentrating on the kitchen area so it seems a real bonus and vision on the part of the architect - I don't think we would ever have envisaged creating a room like this. The study will have a borrowed light window along its length that will offer a view out through the kitchen veluxes and beyond onto fields. I think for us to use as a study and for our friends and family visiting this room will really work well. I have taken this picture to give an idea of what I mean. The window will tilt away from these wooden supports. It will all become clearer as the build progresses.

Meanwhile on the front of the house, the roofers have finished most of the re-roofing. They arrived the other morning but got no further than a cup of tea from their thermos flasks in the garden before disappearing for the day! I guess they will be back. The main thing is that they have made an excellent job of the roof. They'll be getting on with the other side next and the new roof.

Phil, our joiner, has also finished the dormer windows. He has done a great job on them as they look really solid unlike the previous flimsy ones that looked like they might blow away at any moment.

David has been up the scaffolding and painted the windows and timber fascia in a mix we had made up similar to Farrow and Ball's Old White - we've called it 'Old School White'. It matches the sandstone of the house and is much nicer than brilliant white.

I think that has brought us up to date so I'll be back with more later and I'll try not to leave it as long next time!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flat roof dormers

I took this picture yesterday and it just gives you an idea of how the gable end of the house will look. The architect has replicated the stone arches above our original windows and we also have some lovely stone cills on the others that I would eventually like to replicate around the house as we gradually replace the other windows at a later stage.

Meanwhile round the front of the house the roofers have arrived. They worked like lightning to strip the slates and nailed down the roofing felt in a day - egged on by black clouds overhead. These lads are a different breed to our builders who seven weeks into the build we have struck up a good relationship with. I guess they are here to do this one job then they move on. And although the builders will do the same they are with us for longer. Of course, they may not feel the same affectionate way about us! After all, this is what they are doing all the time, whereas for us this is all a novelty - maybe not the right word but we may still be in the honeymoon period. But it is not the norm to have a team of people observing your every move and your lifestyle unless your are candidate on Big Brother. For the builders this voyeurism comes with the job.

We had drama in our village last night when at about 10.30pm David noticed the hay barn next to our house in flames. By the time he spotted it they had engulfed the 40-foot high structure. He called the firebrigade and they spent the next 12 hours dousing it down. With our roof stripped of tiles we were a neighbouring hazard for the sparks coming our way.

Back on the subject of roofing, we're also getting the three flat roof dormers replaced. These dormers were inherited with the building and would not be a style I would think of adding to a Victorian property. We could have spent a fortune on changing them, making them pitched etc but this wouldn't make any difference to the way we live in the house whereas the new kitchen area will. So, we have had them re-built and fully insulated so these rooms will be really well insulated. Anyway here is what they look like now .....

I think they look much better and once the roof is done will blend in well. With the new windows they give you a fantastic view of the Yorkshire Wolds - I hope the kids appreciate this!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The roof pitch

Our architect came out today to work with the builders on the new roof pitch to the extension. It is not a straightforward pitch and quite complex but I think it will work well to give the roof an interesting slope. We may have some issue with the small dormer window and the roof pitch.

Meanwhile, we've been thinking ahead to flooring. We went through the various options - stone - nice but cold and you would only use it in the kitchen area and we wanted something that gave continuity throughout the whole house as the area will be very open-plan when finished, ceramic tiles - practical option, cheaper but our hearts weren't in it or wood which is what we have gone for.

Then, there is then the question of engineered boards or solid boards. Most places are keen to sell you engineered boards and it does seem that these offer more flexibility. We went to a couple of places to see what was available before coming across a place called Viking Reclamation, near Doncaster. It's a huge reclamation site - we could have come home with a telephone box, post box, rusted gazebos, urns, and for us, renovating an old school, we saw a huge slab with 'BOYS' written across it, from the entrance of an old school. Anyway, we were there to look at some reclaimed oak boards. These have been sliced from old beams from demolition sites and have been sanded and tongue and grooved, ready to lay. This was the best flooring we had seen so we put down a deposit. It's good quality wood. If you're in Doncaster or around pay a visit or have a look at their website http://www.reclaimed.co.uk/

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Windows, doors and details

Hello again. It's Sunday evening and this is where we are at. The builders cracked on with things at the end of the week and got quite a bit more stone work up which when I look at how they do it really is a skilled job. Each of the stones is hand-picked for its size which will depend where it will go. The stone the builders have used is a great match and the extension to the house is almost seamless.

Then on Friday the windows and doors arrived. I've only briefly seen the windows but looking at these patio doors the moulding looks really good and solid.

We've got the dormer windows going in tomorrow. The joiner, Phil, had to build a new carcass for the dormers as we wanted them to be as good a quality as the extension and we didn't just want to do a patching up job.

Anyway, as an antidote to the chaos at home we went to one of the NGS Open Gardens near us which was a delight and very inspiring for when we turn our attention to our garden - probably next year and beyond. They said it had taken almost 25 years to get it looking like it does today. So only another 21 years for us and we've cracked it! Anyway, if you're in the area, check it out as it is a lovely garden with great views across the Vale of Pickering and the Wolds - http://www.jacksonswoldgarden.com/

The images above are of our own garden. The thing I come away with when I visit these open gardens is that mass planting does have the wow factor. We have a mass of poppies this time of year in our garden which always look spectacular. You can see them from quite a distance when you are walking up to our house from the village.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Measuring up

Well, the building work is moving on at a rapid pace. We're now surrounded by a mini grey breeze block city in the space that was occupied by our old kitchen, boiler room and garage. We're beginning to get an idea of the space we'll have which will really increase our living area. Without the walls I thought it seemed small but oddly enough the space looks bigger with the walls up. My sister-in-law's boyfriend who works in the building industry says people always think this and worry that their extension isn't big enough - so it's not just me.

By the way, that brick arch you can see above our window is the outline of the original stone mullion windows that got taken out when the school was converted to a house in the 1970s. A lady in our village kindly dropped us off an old slide of the house as it was when it was a school. The windows were lovely but they would have been very high so we wouldn't have had the super views we have now out of every window in the house.

As we are project managing this renovation ourselves we seem to be obsessing about every detail. So at the end of the day when the builders have headed home we do a tour of the building site to check out what has been done that day. Although it is chaotic living in the house with all this work going on around us, especially with a two-year-old and a five-year-old, it does have its advantages. You can work closely with the builders and make quick decisions which always happens.

I have pored over the flat plan many times, but I can't always visualise the three-dimensional aspect of the plan until I see it in real life and that might look very different to what you imagined.

The windows have been designed to give you the feeling of the outside coming into the room so it feels very spacious and airy.

Meanwhile, on the outside of the breeze block there is a layer of cavity wall insulation and then the external stonework which looks a perfect match to the original sandstone and limestone of our house. The lime mortar is still quite wet and will lighten to match the original part of the house.

I think I am going to get one of those Bob the Builder belts to put a tape measure in. Measuring has become our obsession and I'm finding myself doing it several times a day at the moment. And it's all in millimetres so we're always talking in hundreds and thousands. At least my maths will be good at the end of this!