Well that was interesting. My meeting with the felt supplier and builders merchants (see last weeks blog) amounted to …well, nothing much. Perhaps not a surprise. The rainfall inside the property was all down to atmospheric pressure! Rob the roofer, Neil and Andy all have a different viewpoint. We have been assured the felt will dry out once the tiles are in place. I have asked for a guarantee – in writing – and am still waiting on that.
In the meantime, work continues. The fascia boards are done as is most of the guttering. We still have some drainpipes to sort but they need to wait until the rendering. Some of the roof tiles are now on and a little repointing of the chimneys has taken place.
The lead work is next. A product that goes up and down in price on a daily basis and although it’s purchased in rolls (3m & 6m) and various widths there are other considerations that I did not know about. The most important is you should always request Milled Lead for roof work. It is more expensive but it’s a must.
For those of us too inexperienced to tread the roof tiles more than once (scared!) there has been some more demolition and an ongoing relationship with my dance of the wheelbarrow. A new skip arrived and I was tasked to fill it. This I did over a number of days.
The garden is accessible through a covered walkway that also leads to the gents. This walkway has now been dismantled – a job I took on. Another first for me – removing a window, then back on the crowbar, hammer, sledge hammer and drill. Tiles off the roof, battens removed, beams smashed and then the brick wall. I attacked it with all of my physical might – and it didn’t budge. Not an inch. Andy came to the rescue with the sledge hammer and the jack hammer and it gave in. I helped, of course, but the wall knew it had beaten me.
I should say at this stage if you have never used a sledge hammer yourself it is not as easy as it looks. Ours is heavy and has a typically long handle. Creating a momentum at shoulder height in order to strike a wall is simply knackering. Andy was very good for not laughing out loud at my effort.
So we now have an idea of how big the courtyard garden will be and I need to start thinking about doing something with the space.
In theory, all of the demolition is done – apart from breaking through a wall to reach the boiler room. A relatively small job.
I knew the property was old but blimey, have we been surprised by some of the building methods that have been unearthed.
We were expecting a bit of lath and plaster and that is what we have found. Along with horsehair and straw! It’s not clear when this method of building was used but needless to say its a while ago.
Modern day plasterboard is such a joy to remove. Older plaster methods is not. I cannot begin to explain how dirty the job is and when the ceilings as well as the walls are made using these old methods you can truly expect a mess when you pull them down. For Neil and Andy this was less of an issue. They went home every night and had hot showers. You’ll know from a previous blog, I did not.
Halfway through the first few weeks I thought we might find some treasure. This place is old. Surely a gold sovereign or similar can be found.
A Samsung phone…If you read this and think you lost the phone in the pub then get in touch.
We did find a lovely old key and the place is held together with old nails some of which I have kept as a lovely reminder !! We also found a box of matches that still work and an (empty) pack of cigarettes. Good job I gave up 20 years ago.
Commercial to residential, in this case, also means lots of digging! Not just a little way either. We have to dig the floor out to a suitable depth and then put it back in but with all the necessary materials that make a modern building. Including a DPM (damp proof membrane) and the necessary insulation. We knew this from the outset, so in Week 1 we broke into just one area of the floor to see what lies underneath.
Concrete tiling is what everyone saw – great for a pub. Easy to clean and hard wearing. No good for a residential property. That was the top layer. Underneath was dirt, then blue lias flagstones. Probably originals from a way back. Yippee. There is value in them there stones and if we can save them, we can re-use them or sell them on.
Then weirdly, a type of bitumen. Didn’t smell too good but nothing to worry about.
What was worrying was the next material we found. It looked like a type of insulation board. We stopped work, masked up and sealed the area. Both Neil and Andy thought it might be asbestos. That is one of the words you do not want to hear when you start a job this big.
I cannot tell you how worried I was. My first action was to find out what I had to do. The HSE has tons of information but it doesn’t help lessen the panic. We have to dig up an area of about 90m2 – and if it was asbestos the digging out programme was about to get incredibly expensive.
That was a tough week. I sent off the sample we had unearthed to Artisan Surveyors, a specialist business found online. The result came back negative.
What a lesson to learn. We do have some asbestos sheets on an outside toilet. We know we have to deal with them in time…but it never crossed my mind that some of the floor would be made of asbestos.
You might have seen me dancing in the streets that night under the influence of sheer relief.
The project started on 2 September 2019 and I was late – having been caught in the traffic on the M5. Nothing to worry about I had already handed over keys to my builder – Neil and he and his No. 2 Andy were on site from 0830hrs to get started. By 1030hrs when I turned up I walked into a mess – that simply got bigger and more dirty as the week progressed. No turning back now. I had first day nerves. Not sure why. I know Neil (met him playing golf). I took out references on his work as a builder and we met several times to discuss the project. But even so I was still nervous.
The plan is simple. Knock everything to pieces and then re-build where necessary to meet current building regulations and to turn the old pub into a contemporary home. Simples !!
I took a course at the NSBRC (National Self Build & Renovation Centre) in Swindon. Three days on how to plan, manage and implement your project. I then did another one day course with them on Project Management. The courses were great – truly interesting and helpful. I took loads of notes.
One of the things they said again and again is make sure you budget for everything in advance. So here I am on day one, having only budgeted for the next 4-6 weeks on a project that is likely to last for 6 – 9 months. To be fair, I did get some total build quotes and they were around £50k over my entire budget so I have an idea of what this might cost if it all goes horribly wrong.
Ask me at the end of the project whether this way of doing things was a good idea.