The doors to the outbuilding are finally finished (although they still probably need one more coat of paint). The lock arrived this morning and was fitted straight away. It is a van lock intended for use on the rear doors of vans (you have probably seen while waiting behind a van at traffic lights). The hasp is circular, as is the padlock itself, and this produces a neat looking solution. I wasn’t expecting the lock to be quite as big, but then that is one of the dangers of buying things online. At least it was quick to fit!
The doors have now had a couple of coats of Sandolin and match the window frames in the house. They still need another coat, but I am going to let them fully dry first.
These locks are intended for the rear doors on vans, however, they are a neat solution for a shed door. This one looks a little over sized for this door, but it does the trick.
This is actually a van lock, but I thought it would look like a neater solution than a traditional clasp and hasp. I hadn’t quite realised that it was going to look so “serious”!
We are almost there in terms of finishing the new home for the mower. Over the weekend, we made some doors and got them installed. They made using 165mm wide tongue and groove floorboards. The original doors (which are probably more than 100 years old) were made the same way but using much bigger boards (some of them well over 300mm wide). You just can’t get these size boards anymore, so we decided to use the smaller equivalent. It is a shame as I would have loved to have kept the old doors, but there are just too far gone to go back on (plus they don’t fit the wider opening).
The boards in the new doors are held together using strips of 18mm plywood. This should resist any twisting and help the doors remain straight as the wooded boards dries.
They just need a bit more paint and a lock!
A quick coat of the paint – the same paint that was used on the window frames – and the outbuilding is starting to look a lot tidier.
We laid the new concrete floor in the outbuilding yesterday. The concrete (around 2.5 tonnes) was due to arrive at 3pm, but eventually got here at 5:30pm (shortly after we had packed up our tools and decided to go down the pub!). Once it arrived, we had little choice but to lay the floor. In the end, it only took about an hour, but it was at the end of the day and it felt like a very long hour.
Earlier in the day, I had laid some rubble at the far end of the floor in an attempt to level it up a bit. We want the finished floor level to be higher than the drive outside (so water doesn’t run in) and sloping slightly to the front (so if water does get it, it will flow out). I use the rubble to level up the worst of the floor and then put some crushed stone on top (about 1 tonne). This was then compacted with a Wacker plate rented from a local hire shop. Then we put down some Visqueen damproof membrane and then a couple of tonnes of concrete on top. The concrete came from Hi Spec concrete in Huddersfield. The machine mixes the concrete on site and we were fortunate to be able to shoot it straight into the outbuilding. There was still a lot of shovelling to do to get it into all the right places, but shooting the concrete right in makes life a lot easier.
The finish is pretty good and at the end of the day, it is a shed! However, pride kicks in and you want to make it look the best you can.
The original floor in the outbuilding sloped to the back. To correct this, I put some rubble at the back and some old stone slates at the front. Then covered it with crushed stone which was then compacted. This corrected the floor level as well as helping raise the finished floor level above the drive outside.
There is a layer of rubble underneath the crushed stone that has helped level out the floor. This now needs to be compacted before the damp proof membrane is put down and the concrete laid. The finished floor level needs to be just a tad higher than the drive outside (this will stop water running in).
One of the pictures off one of our security cameras. The concrete is mixed as it is delivered by the machine. The concrete is metered so you only have to pay for what you use. We thought we only needed about 1 cubic meter, in the end we required 1.75 cubic meters! If you order it the traditional way, you would over order to guarantee that you have enough to finish the job. This isn’t great but it is better than being short! However, it does mean that you frequently have surplus concrete to get rid of at the end of the job.
We used some battens along the wall to mark the top of the finished floor level. This is a piece of timber along the front to create the step into the shed. This should be dry enough tomorrow to walk on.
We have just installed some hi-fi speakers in the lounge. Or rather, we have just installed another pair of hi-fi speakers in the lounge.
We had a set of black Celestion speakers and wall brackets from our previous house. We thought they might work well here. But alas, no. While they sounded great, they looked terrible. Against the almost white walls, these large black speakers just stood out like a sore thumb. The wall brackets didn’t help very much as they just stuck them out into the room even further! They had to go!
After doing a bit of research, we found some white Bose 161 speakers. Unlike most Bose kit, they were very reasonably priced. Just £180 for the pair. They also came with their own integral bracket (in matching white and very unobtrusive).
So there was nothing for it, but to take the old speakers down, fill the holes where the brackets had been, repaint that patch of the wall, and finally install the new speakers.
They have definitely been worth the effort. They look and sound great – plenty powerful enough to fill this large space (both the lounge and the kitchen).
Only one stone needs to be replaced before the props can be removed.
We are going to need to empty out all of that old wood, before we can get a mower in here! Tomorrow we will remove the props and replace that missing stone.
We have used a couple of ashlar lintels that were left over from the house renovation (I think we ordered them by mistake, but no one can remember where they came from!). Anyway, they have been put to good use and now form the course above the door. This is support behind the steel beam behind.
We have been wondering for a while about the best place to keep the new John Deere mower. We had thought about building a tractor shed – you don’t need planning permission as long as it falls within certain constraints – but to get one that was big enough and looked half decent was just too much of a challenge.
Then Jo came up with the idea of widening the door in the end of the existing outbuildings. This is only currently used to store logs and this could easily be moved to an outdoor logstore (and might be better off outside anyway). The building is probably a couple of hundred years old and is built of a single skin of stone. Bits of it look very precarious. However, we are in the process of widening the existing door and installing a new steel lintel above the opening. The steel will be completely hidden from the front thus maintaining the look of the building.
There used to be a normal sized door and window here. Once reinstated it will be a 6ft wide door capable of housing the new John Deere mower.
The new lintel consists of an I beam with a steel plate welded to the bottom. From the inside you will see the back of the I beam, but you will not see any of the beam from the front. The stonework will be replaced exactly as it was and the edge of the steel plate will be lost in the pointing between the courses.
We have had quite a few swallows darting about over the summer. Lately, these seem to have been replaced by large crows that walk along the top of the roof wearing clogs (well, at least that’s what it sounds like when you are laying in bed!).
Today, one of the security camera caught a rather large Blue Tit.
Although image is blurred, I think that this is a Blue Tit (probably a little too close up!).
We seem to be on a bit of a roll with the ground source heat pump. Last week we finally sorted out the leak in the ground loops that had been plaguing us for the last 6 months. Today our application for the Renewable Heat Incentive got approved. We applied for it at the end of July and it looks as if our first payment will be at the end of October. The incentive is paid on a quarterly basis, so this means that the approval today means that our first payment is exactly 3 months from when we first applied.
The current tariff is 18.8p for every kWh generated. According to our EPC, it has been estimated that we will be generating 35,405kWh per year. A quick bit of mathematics will show that this generates a payment of around £1,660 per quarter. These payments are for 7 years and by the time we reach the end of this period, it should have re-couped the capital that we invested in the ground source heat pump.
We have installed our own electricity monitor (Owl Intuition) so we know exactly how much electricity that we are using. While we are going to have to wait to see how the heat pump, and the house, performs over the winter, current indications are that we are using between 150kWh per week in the summer to around 1,000kWh in the winter (this includes all of our heating, hot water, lighting and cooking). We will have to see how it all pans out…..
Now we have our own means of mowing the bottom field, things seem to have improved dramatically.
We have mowed the grass 3-4 times over the last month. On the first couple of occasions, we raked up the worst of the grass, but we are now getting to the stage where we can just leave the worst of the clippings to rot back into the soil. The grass in the bottom field does not grow as fast as the new grass in the top field.
Here’s the bottom field as it looked like last year!
This was the bottom field only a couple of months ago. We borrowed a tractor and topper to take off the worst of the grass. We are now using our John Deere Z425 to get a better (and quicker) finish to the grass.
This is looking a lot better than it was a year ago – or even 4 months ago!
We repaired sections of this wall last year and now you would never know that it has been repaired.
The grass in the bottom field is starting to look good. We have also had a go at sorting out the young trees in the far corner. We have removed the lower branches (essentially lifting the crown) which has meant that we can mow around the trees with the new mower.