31st August: Robbing Hood

Hey, Insomnia, welcome. It’s half four in the morning and I’m wide awake. Much as I’m sure you’d all like to think it’s the stress of house building, it’s more likely to be because the dog was trying to get in under the covers, thanks to the single figures on the thermometer. Brrr, chilly out there, warm in bed, King Charles wasn’t a stupid man 😉 Tomorrow’s job is to get some sort of bed heating device that doesn’t require feeding. Namely, an electric blanket.

I thought I’d do an update though – there’s not a lot of different stuff to see on the house as it’s still all about the stonework. However, big plans are afoot for the next couple of weeks, so the changes should start getting dramatic again. Although I’m delighted Stu has been taking his time getting the stonework spot on, it’s getting to the point where I’m so excited about seeing the finished product I want him to hurry up. You can’t rush men with axes though. And anyway, looking back through the blog, I think it was only 18th July when the roof came off and work started in earnest. Although we’d had initial six week target to get the roof back on, there’s no hurry because we have to wait for the SIPS panels for the extension anyway. Stu could have expanded his team (of two) and got it done sooner, but decided against it so a)he won’t be kicking his heels later in the build b)he’s done the stonework himself so it’s absolutely perfect the whole way round and c) he doesn’t have to share his cakes on Fridays. On all three counts, I think he has a point!

These are quite large, and have got to get in the small holes below…

So next week, the crane is back and the roof is going on. Woo hoo, now that’s progress. Last Friday, our two lattice beams from Metsec turned up – great service, highly recommend. Man, they look massive, especially compared to the holes that have been made in the gable ends to accommodate them.

Some holes in the gables for massive beams

We have a bit of a problem on the north end though. The chimney in the living room (actually, it’s more like a hole going through floor joists and everything) runs up the corner of the house, ie the side of the gable, then moves over with the curve of the gable end, and ends up leading to a (missing) chimney that’s not quite central to the ridge (we didn’t know it wasn’t central as it had fallen off before we purchased!) Basically, Stu has had to put a bearer across the chimney to take the new lattice beam. Not only that, but I wanted our new fireplace to go where the old one used to be, in the corner of the living room. However, with the bearer and beam sitting right in the middle of the void, we were never going to get a liner in there. When Stu gave us his costs, the chimney was one of the only variables – he wouldn’t know how much it would take until actually getting in there. Thanks to the beam and lintel, we’ve decided to move the fireplace to the other end of the room – where there’s another, straight in the middle, chimney. I wasn’t overly delighted, even though Stu (and architect-like man) did a great visual example of ‘Living With The Chimney At The Other End Of The Room’. Rich had been away driving fancy cars in Wales, I said I’d hold off the decision and speak to him when he got back. He got back, I explained the situ and he folded and said ‘Well, why not?’ straight away. I hadn’t even told him about the cost saving implication… Obviously, I told Stu is was a difficult decision and that Richard wasn’t particularly happy about it but I’d managed to talk him round 😉

Chimney sweeping, Fen-stylee

Talking of costs, it’s just as well we’ve saved a couple of quid on the chimney because if we want to move the electricity pole (UK Power Networks), it’s going to cost a large fortune. A very nice man called Alan visited last week, talked though what needed doing and said they were obliged to do the work in the most cost effective manner possible.  All good so far.

The offending pole

Basically, we have three poles on our plot – one infront (and to the side) of the house where the feed comes in, one near the Stephen King bungie and one near the barn. The electric comes to us, then on to the neighbours and the barn behind us. We were hoping to move the pole infront of the house (about 25m) so that it sits on the boundary, then run the other feeds underground. The quote was for us to do all the groundworks and them to do the rest.

So the price? A cool £12,700. What a joke. I knew it would be a few thou, but that, frankly, made me laugh. I wrote Alan an email explaining that I hadn’t laughed so much since the quantity surveyor bloke gave us a quote for 100m of post and rail fencing (er, £25,000) and could he justify the cost, especially things like ‘Miscellaneous’ on the quote. He rang straight back, agreed that it seemed like quite a lot and gave me a more thorough breakdown of the prices. Still, it’s given me a bit of a challenge. Now, instead of being willing to pay towards the moving of the pole, I’m going to refuse to pay a penny. If the pole moving costs the best part of £13K, and a wind turbine costs about £25-30K to install, but gives us our own supply of electricity and earns about £9K a year from feed-in tariffs, then I’m going to investigate the turbine. Then UK Power Networks will have to remove their property from our land – especially as there’s no wayleave in place – leaving them with a headache as to supplying the other house and barn. I do like a challenge. They will rue the day 😉

So next week, first thing Monday, the lovely Ratcliffe’s crane people (who actually specialise in accident and vehicle recovery) are coming back to lift the two lattice beams. I suspect Stu might be a bit quiet on Monday until that’s been done. Swinging an 11m long beam close to our delicate gable ends will be a breath-holder, I’m sure.

Once the beams are in, some blockwork needs to go back in to build up the gables and then the lovely Julian can come and put the wall plate on, ready for the roof. Instead of pre-fabricated trusses, we’re going for a cut roof – I’m assuming it’s called that because it’s cut on site – 27 trusses (not sure of the terminology) with 54 bits cut in total. Once that’s on, things will really start shaping up. The wood for the roof is turning up later today. Is it wrong to be so excited?

Talking of shaping up, the SIPS panels are in the design process. It was meant to be ten weeks from order, but, by all accounts, as it’s not a huge job, we’re going to be squeezed in when there’s some production space – Lazy God told me this the other day having come back from a two week holiday, er, best book the groundworkers in for a couple of weeks time!

Mr T and Badger, overseeing works

Plan of action is as follows: roof goes back on (including fireboarding ready for thatch), scaffold at the back of the house then comes down allowing for groundworks to be done, Helifix come and stitch old building, Stu can then get on with repointing it, SIPS arrive and are erected in about 15 minutes, cut roof between old and new fabricated, thatchers come and thatch it, windows arrive making the whole place watertight, roof and render finish go on extension, work starts inside.

Simple. To give you some idea of timescale, the thatcher is coming late October/early November, the windows arrive end October and Stu is hoping to be finished both inside and out, by Christmas. He just didn’t say which one 😉



5 responses to “31st August: Robbing Hood

  1. Sounds like it’s nearly done, then! 😉 So, moving-in party in January?

    Oh, and did UK Power come up with anything resembling a reason why it costs 13 grand to move a pole?

  2. Because they do a sideline in robbery! I seriously don’t intend to pay it though. Watch this space. Party may well be lit by generators 😉

  3. We had a quote for similar large costs to move our pole, we asked them to do it and the engineer came out and said it was rotten so we said you will have to move it as you don’t want it falling on our new garage do you? So we dug the trenches by hand and they moved it at a lesser cost 🙂 I think we paid for the cabling not the rest, still a bill I’d rather not have paid but a smaller one either-way!

  4. Emma,
    How have you got on with the wayleaves? We’ve got a similar situation to yours and have so far not signed up to anything. It sounds like our only alternative to taking our pole out is to dig the road up (country lane) and run 200m up the road at our expense 😦 . Feels like they have us over a barrel and were just going to have to live with the pole.

  5. I haven’t started looking at it yet. I’ve been in denial, I’m afraid. The poles aren’t in the way of anything we want to do. I suspect we may well put the trenching in now before we do the garden, drive, etc and forget about it til a later date. Suspect we’ll be living with the poles too.

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