Well, I’m sure Mr D wishes it was as easy as that..
Easter this year was a complete whirlwind. Not only in terms of the build, but our personal lives too.
It’s the first time that I’ve been forced to move out of the cottage, and most of you that know me well know that this is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, due to the fact that I’m so passionate about this old building and love being so hands on with the whole build.
But it’s the right thing to do for me and our little one in the way (I’ll cover building and renovating whilst pregnant in a future blog post). This post however is purely to take you through what Mr D has been up to whilst I was away, and talk you through the process..
I should stress again that although we are doing this all ourselves- Mr D is a trained builder with a lot of previous experience, (and he tells me he knows what he’s doing) so please don’t go knocking out gable ends without enlisting a builder and structural engineer first.
Although I had moved out for the week, Mr D and his brothers were still having to try and live amongst this chaos. This meant trying to seal off what little living space we currently have from the rest of the building site. We are also doing building work in the upstairs bedrooms, so this gives us very limited living space currently. They managed to seal off the dining room and kitchen (the two rooms which were to become one large space) so that it resembled something vaguely similar to the TV show ‘Dexter’…
Once it was sealed, it was time to start demolition. We knew that this ground floor part of the wall was an original wall, and so knew that this section would come down easily, thanks to the original crumbling lime mortar.
What we didn’t expect, is to have a huge steel reinforced concrete ‘footing’ built on top of the original wall- and this also needed to come out.
This part of the cottage would have originally been single storey. Possibly a room where the people living in the cottage used to work (we are told it may have been a Dyers cottage for the local wool trade in the town) This room once had its own external doorway ( see image below) and its own open fireplace.
Over the years, the cottage has been extended. Someone obviously extended above this room, and when they did, we can only assume they decided to pour this reinforced concrete on top of the wall to level it off. This would have made it easier for the builders to lay on top of. It possibly would have also added an element of support too. Not ideal for Mr D and his brothers at this point though!
The original wall came down fairly easily, as expected. But it took a full day of chipping away at this reinforced concrete in order to get it to shift at all. It finally dropped, but then came the battle of having to try and break it up to be able to move it out of the house.
Once the concrete was down and broken up- it was then the boring job of trying to clear all of the stone and rubble out of the house, to make way for the RSJ’s.
Where the original wall was was so thick (almost 1m) we actually needed two identical RSJ’s either side of each other to support the wall above.
I have no idea how they managed to lift these with only four people… but they did it and got them sitting nicely in place!
Serafin needed to do a bit of building up of the ‘pillars’ either side for these to sit on. You can also see in the photo above how some of the bottom of the wall above fell loose- so he’s now blocked all that back up too!
After a lot of heavy duty cleaning ready for my return, they sent me this photo. You can start to get an idea of how big the new space will be. The new glazed stable back door is also in!
The next step was to start getting the floor joists fitted in the room upstairs, and the oak beams for the glass floor. This floor will let the light from the two velux’s in the room upstairs, down into a portion of the kitchen. As you’ll see in some photos later on, the oaks are large enough to obscure any unwanted views into the bedroom- and the glass is right at the edge of the room against the wall, above where new worktop space will be in the kitchen. This means that you won’t actually be able to get close enough under it to see directly up, but will be able to slithers of the exposed stone wall in the bedroom.
I think it’s fair to say that the cats will love peering down through the glass!
Over the last couple of weekends Serafin has managed to get the floor down in the room above, run the electrics, build up the rest of the old stone wall where the boiler once was, finish plaster boarding and plaster, so things are really moving along. It would be easy to carry on from here, but as this post was purely about the knock through and the work the three Mr D’s managed to get done over Easter, I’ll save that room for a separate post.
Thanks for bearing with us, and a big thanks to Luis and Marcos for helping us out with everything, we couldn’t have done it without you!
Emma and Serafin x