Did time stand still?

Well I’m still here and more importantly so is Tŷ Chi.

The build has been ticking along nicely and whilst we won’t win any races, all is well. Life events take priority and whilst we have had a Huge one in the past six weeks – it really does put everything into perspective.

Hope, Thanks and New Beginings

Back to business- windows – tick. (only a tiny peak for now 😉)

The view through the square window…….

Easy exit to the garden.

Getting alternative windows has severly set back the completion date but maybe everything happens for a reason.

Once the building became water tight it really felt as if things were progressing. The last window to go in has changed the dymamic of the property and I’m more than a little pleased with the result. What do you think….? PS. Anyone know a good window cleaner?

Glass wall at Tŷ Chi.

Further delay was caused by the dreaded ‘Sprinklers’. The Welsh Assembley Government passed legislation in 2016 that ensures that every new residential build in Wales now requires sprinkler coverage. The principal is laudable however practical application is ill thought out and, in my opinion, one that will severely restrict residential contruction initiatives in Wales.

Off my soap box and back to decisions – (not my strongest point where any form of design vision is called for!).
Creating an useable space from a restricted area can be ‘challenging’ and modern day living has high demands. Two foot thick walls add character but likewise severely restrict space and finding the right balance is often difficult. I wanted to retain some character from the stone outbuildings whilst creating something more modern and contemporary. Cost has a huge implication – it definately costs more to renovate than it does to start from scratch!

Remains of the old fireplace.

From the outset the plan was always to create two bedrooms with en suite facilities. Whilst the available space looks ample with bare walls exposed, the expanse of insulation totally changes the perspective. Being a ‘feet and inches ‘ type of person I soon became accustomed to the mysteries of cm and ‘mills’! Needless to say it all appears to have found a space without too much drama. Transformation from insulated space to tiled bathroom was a vision.

Bathroom to be.

With wall space in the cottage being precious we decided that underfloor heating would be the best choice. The recent blistering summer has shown exactly how much heat the cottage retains so it remains to be seen exactly how often the heating will be used!

Underfloor Heating

Of course we may still get an ‘extreme’ winter so of course the essential woodburner will be installed but not quite there yet. More decisions (and cost !)

Talking of costs – one of my least expensive purchases so far is my favourite. Door handles! I absolutely Love these beautiful items.

Handmade Oak Door Handles

It gets better ……..

Oak Latch

Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one…….

A touch of craft with a touch of contemporary was the aim for the project and I eagerly await some more handmade finishing touches made by a local craftsman, using locally sourced materials. One in so far, more to follow.

‘A’ Frame

The kitchen however is 100% contemporary, modern and hopefully easy to clean but of course with a quirky touch!

Nearly there now.

Drum roll…….

Now we are talking. Walls, floor (sort of) and a roof. Notice I didn’t say windows. We will be encountering a delay on that front as the plans needed changing to factor in a change from wooden to woodgrain U-PVC. Anything that mentions ‘changing the Plans’ involves a lengthy delay, lots (and lots) of forms, oh and of course, money . Always money. Watch this space !

That said, there is no denying now that its progressing. My fantastic ‘new’ old slates look great and I’m super pleased to have reused such a valuable Welsh asset. Luck was with me the day I found those.

Welsh Slate

Slate Roof

Remember the Sneak Peak in the last posting? Now a more advanced look of how the view over to Snowdonia will be ‘framed’.

Room with a view

Snowdonia View (on a clear day!)

Room with a view
Side View
Gable

Meanwhile the garden….. what garden……

Mud Garden

We had a bit of ‘oops’ moment with the treatment plant, (septic tank) to you and me. Nothing major but the garden has suffered as a result of the machine work and the digging that was needed to instal the humongous tank.. It will mend with Mother Natures help and a little bit of landscaping. Now buried in its correct position in the adjoining field , its tank, which tank?

Tŷ Chi

Hopefully the windows situation can soon be resolved and then the building can be made water tight. As things progress decisions now have to be made about the internal finished look. With limited wall space the choice of underfloor heating removes the need for any radiators thankfully. I pondered over the choice of floor covering – there are so many choices now from real wood, laminate, tiles etc. In the end tiling it is, hopefully making it user friendly and also robust. The wonderful County Tiles in Holyhead have been amazing with their wealth of knowledge, advice and also offer a great selection of products. Whilst we sometimes dive for internet shopping, that local, personal touch can be invaluable.

Another choice to make is the kitchen. That box has also been ‘ticked’ now. More on that next time. Onwards and upwards!

Progress…

Building blocks

it does feel like there’s no going back once blocks appear. Quickly changing the appearance from historical outbuilding to a modern day structure, bound by cement and bureaucracy.

I recently visited Felin Uchaf, an Eco Social Enterprise in Aberdaron on the Lleyn Peninsula. A gathering of wooden buildings, lovingly crafted by hand using traditional skills. The difference between my build and theirs couldn’t be further apart and although in my heart recreating those types of structures would be the goal, reality is always so different.

With the aim being to create a self catering holiday let, time and finances are always major considerations. Things have gone according to plan so far on both – the lads from AK Costruction are on site daily at 08.15am, fantastically tidy and always grafting hard.

Compound

Somehow I don’t think the garden will stay like this for the duration but Mother Nature is wonderful and I will just have to see it as a necessary sacrifice for the time being!

Greenery

As the structure develops week by week each of my home visits reveals a glimpse of what to expect in the future. All the work goes on between Monday to Friday and its with a mix of excitement and trepidation that I arrive home to see the developments.

One side of the building already had a concrete floor with a damp course membrain underneath. This had been done when I purchased the property in 1993 so that it could be used as a kennel for the sheepdogs. It was always a very warm building, with no hint of damp but this all had to be dug up to allow for the installation of underfloor heating and of course to install all the requirements of modern day homes.

Slab

The problem with a new concrete slab is….. its wet for a while! Cue concrete feet! As I mentioned, all my home visits result in ‘an inspection’ – never to be left out faithful Wellie always close behind……. a bit too close on this occasion trampling through the wet slab….

Hiding the evidence
Butter wouldn’t melt

Damage repaired – (I needn’t have bothered because it was the first of many layers!) the floor area now begins to appear much larger to the eye. Underfloor heating and the screed base will raise the finished floor level then Its decision time as to the actual flooring. Decisions, decisions.

One decision that was made very early on was glass, a whole wall in glass. Being a renovation rather than a new build its a case of making the best of what already exists, in this to maximise the views across Snowdonia and to let in light into what is effectively, a small space. The strutural calculations and plans were done with a steel frame in mind, supporting the glazing and effectively making one whole wall of glass… Sneak peak –

Steel Frame

Of course steel is straight whereas old stone walls moreoften aren’t. Quirkyness within the building is fine by me but having taken the roof down it was apparent that one particular wall was going to be an issue. Adding a few ‘straight lines’ of blocks soon corrected the visual imbalance and hey presto we get an impromptu log store and a bit of balance.

Whilst on the subject of the roof – what’s in a slate? Well good old Welsh slate £££ or Spanish slate £ – The renovation had been quoted with Spanish slate, purely down to coast. The roof covering is a major expense, even on a small property. In my heart of hearts I wanted Penrhyn Welsh slate because of two factors, a) it would match the existing roof on the main house and b) much better quality and weight. Unfortunately the cost differential was substantial and a massive overspend at such an early stage in the build was never on the cards. Reluctantly accepting that Spanish it would have to be……………..

FACEBOOK! “Good old Facebook” or more apptly, Facebook For Sale sites. Out of the blue, right on cue and as if by magic (I never know how it does that?) up pops an advert for a huge quantity of second hand Penrhyn Welsh slates and all recently removed from the demolished school at nearby Llansadwrn. Beautifully weathered, heavy, perfect size and more than enough. Oh and the right price. I’ll show you how they look in-situ next time 😉.

Penrhyn Slate roof

New meets old….

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Now you see it…
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Tough guys
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Digg deep

A good friend of mine is ‘an expert in demolition’ and was on standby 😉. Raring to go and eager to expose the building blocks of history, the starting blocks were “fully loaded”!. Thankfully enough restraint was exercised and in came the heavy mob!

Making light work of the large boulders, the machinery carefully exposed the new footfall and tore through the ivy, the bain of my life for so many years.

In an ideal World, ‘The Plan’ would have been to project manage this renovation, compiling all the trades, ordering all the building materials and generally ‘wearing the hard hat’. Reality however would be different.

Finding the ideal contractor is part of the major headache of starting any project like this. Cost and quality of service are obvious factors but also the important issue of having a good working relationship with your chosen contractor.

After much deliberation I chose AK Developments (Anglesey). (More about them later).

‘D’ day was upon us and I would be lying if there wasn’t a tinge of sadness at seeing the old buildings beings stripped of their history. Acceptance that modern day living, combined with the bureaucracy of current Planning Regulations, did not marry well with keeping the existing facade.

The dogs made sure the *’his and hers’ toilet was empty, ‘just’! and all systems go.

More Ivy
His & Hers!
Wellie investigating the hens.

Must start somewhere…

I think taking the first step into the unknown is the hardest. Totally reliant on the knowledge (and honesty) of others, isn’t always easy.

Doubt and more doubt then the reality that nothing changes unless you take the plunge, so head first I went!

The objective…..

First and foremost was to make use of the now redundant stone farm buildings. One was a log store (with the inglenook) but the other two had remained unused for many years and with glorious views towards Snowdonia, they seemed the natural starting point.

Plans drawn, the next stage would be negotiating the minefield of planning applications and all the stress and strains that such bureaucracy entails.

Too many weeks later plans are approved and we have lift off.!

Starting the work

Home is where the hearth is.

Logistical nightmares. From the huge inglenook fireplace that filled half of the ‘old house ‘ to not so straight walls! .This building pre dates the existing main house (circa 1780) and will eventually become a bedroom with en suite.

Fireplace

Funnily enough one thing will remain, it will go from a being a 2 x WC facility to 2 x en suite…. but more about that in later posts.

The animal store, more straightforward but no less challenging from the point of symetry. I think its called, character…

Animal Store.
The animal store. Anglesey Holiday Cottage.

Do I, don’t I…..?


Bliss

On a good day it was, “YES”, on a bad day (and there were many!) it was a resolute NO!

Thankfully good won over bad and I have taken the plunge.

I will be sharing ‘my little piece of heaven’ with anyone that wants to spend a little time here on Ynys Môn (Isle of Anglesey), experience the wonderful natural surroundings of Newborough and just generally, chill out.

My rickety old outbuildings are ‘soon’ to become a bolt hole for those who want to get away from it all and holiday here on Anglesey. A degree of imagination is required please.

Outbuildings as they were
Well, well, well.