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