-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hedging our bets with the old house

So we were all set with the plans for the old house - it was to be a lovely little guest cottage, and a place to live in temporarily while the new house was built.  As the move looms closer though, we're being more practical and hedging our bets.

We'll need to be *very* sure before selling up in London and building the new house, since it'll be unlikely we could recoup that investment should we ever need to sell.  So, we've decided to make sure the old house is renovated in a way that, if worst came to worst, we'll be happy to stay living in long-term.

Which really just comes down to a question of space.  The way we had it planned was perfect for a holiday rental, but for permanent living there just wasn't enough storage and the kitchen was too cramped.  So we're tweaking one last time (hopefully).   It'll add a little on to renovation costs but Dad doesn't think too much - and certainly it will be a hell of a lot cheaper to make the changes now than later.

Here's the latest planned layout:

revised old house plan

For comparison, here's what it used to be:
latest layout plan for old house

There are 3 main differences between the old and new versions.  First, we stretched it - buying us space for a walk-in robe in the bedroom, as well as a more spacious dining area.  Second, we added an extra small "L" shaped bit to the kitchen area, again just to buy some more cupboard space and help the kitchen feel not quite so open-plan.   Third, the entry to the laundry is now enclosed to give a small back entrance area - a place for coats and muddy boots.  We've also made some minor tweaks - eg: changing the position of the bay window to have the symmetry of windows at either end; changing the direction the back steps go out, etc.

When I look at it, it feels pretty minor - but that extra space is going to make all the difference between feeling cramped and feeling comfortable.

We also gave some thought to how we might incorporate some of the scavenged materials - there are quite a few that, on initial glance, seem like they could fit.  Here's the ideas:

revised old house layout with coding coding for scavenged finds

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Lake house update

Dad has been making steady progress.  I love seeing it coming together, it's looking even better than I imagined.

Here's the latest photos Dad send, showing the roof being added, on one side, and below are extracts from his emails explaining what he did.

lakehouse gets a (one-side) roof - 2 lakehouse gets a (one-side) roof - 5

lakehouse gets a (one-side) roof - 4  lakehouse gets a (one-side) roof - 3

From email 22 Sept

"I got the rafters into place the first day. I had to accommodate a small dip in the wall plates by cutting the rafters to suit each position so as to get a near perfect fit against the ridge. I am very pleased with the fit of the 14 sets of rafters.

 Overnight I was worrying how I might manage to do the roof battens and sheets as I do not have materials for making pipe scaffolding to that height that can be easily put there as all my long pipes are involved with the scaffold for the old house. I woke up with the answer, as is often the way.

I had ordered material that would be used for the second half of the veranda at the front of the old house, but had to use the rafter materials for the lakehouse. As you can see in the photos I managed to create a high perch using the long battens with enough remaining for the lakehouse. I didn't have enough to be sure until I am finished with the fitting of battens on the lakehouse to use any for handrails, but will use some if possible.

I placed the scaffold to trim the rafter tails, fit the fascia, fit the battens, and then the sheets. I had to space the rafters at 450mm centres because we are lining the underside with lining boards for the high ceiling. Normal spacing for this kind of roof is closer to 1mtr. As the roof grows in timber members so the weight increases. Consequently, I have installed very sturdy bracing against wind and weight as I am building the roof. This bracing had to replace bracing made earlier but which was in the way of current works.

The triple grips to anchor the rafters at the plate were put on prior to making hoop iron strap bracing to make it all more rigid. I have to put sarking on top of the battens before the sheets. I have placed the battens to suit the secondhand sheets holes from previous fitting"

From email 25 Oct

"I got the first half of the roof sheeting done last visit. The breeze was at times difficult, and at the end of the second day the drill fell into the water. I had to stop work until it could be checked for safety...     I was obliged to make a ridge hook ladder from one of my old tressles made of pipe. It worked a treat, but it is quite strenuous to my feet to remain standing on such a gradient for any length of time.

I will have to assign the ladder to be used for the loft access because it must remain for use when getting on the roof to do any maintenance. Are you still keen to have the rusty iron atop the roof to render it old looking? I have to proceed with this stage if that is the case before I remove access scaffolding. Once I put the weatherboards on the gable ends it will be neccessary to access the roof from the aluminium ladder founded in the dam bed beside the pier.

 I have to get some suitable material to make the ornamental barges also. Do you have any special pattern for the ornamentation in mind, or should I try to copy that in the photo of the old boathouse you sent me? The tooling of the boards is to be done prior to fastening them after cutting to size from the stock board. I can do a small range of router tooling for the edges, and can use a jigsaw for the shaping of the board. Ideally I will get some secondhand cedar from the demolition yard. Using cedar will mean it will endure"

(NB: We've decided not to worry about the rusty iron on top because it looks so splendid as is, so that'll be a good time saver.  In terms of the ornamental barges, I'm still trying to figure that out - am not exactly sure what they are yet :-)   It may be we delay that until later, but tbd)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Inspiration from India

We recently spent a week in India on a whirlwind trip...  the so-called Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur.  I *really* did not like the cities - Delhi in particular - but it was worth it to see the architecture at the historic sites.

The whole trip was planned to see the Taj Mahal, to finally tick it off my "must-see" list.  I'd fully expected to be disappointed, but even with high expectations, it was stunning.  Then there were all these other places, like Agra Fort and Qutb Minar that I'd never known about that were awe-inspiring too.

Anyway, as was usual, I was always looking out for ideas for Amherst:

Flower decorations on wall
These were at the Red Fort in Delhi.  They were carved into the stone but I'm wondering *if* you got the right mould, whether you could do something similar, pressed into adobe. I liked the fact that they had detail but it wasn't ornate everywhere, just very simple and true to life shapes.

Red Fort in Delhi - 09

Single tiles as decoration
This is from a big arched gateway at Humayuns Tomb, also in Delhi.  There was just a single panel like this at the top of each side.  I'm not sure if originally there was decoration all over, but seeing it like this made me think that a way to stretch out our antique tile collection could be to place them in a similar way, set above doors either side of the wall.

Humayans tomb in Delhi - 16

Flying staircase
This is from Fatehpur Sikri.  I loved the shape it made next to the wall.  Obviously would only work for narrow staircases and probably violate all kinds of health and safety rules... but I still like the look of it.

Fatehpur Sikri - 22

Interestingly shaped pools and drains
This is from Agra Fort.  Lovely shape for an ornamental pond.  I don't have the slightest idea how you'd build it though if you didn't have a team of free stonemasons on hand.  Perhaps make a mold in concrete and pour it in?  It'd be a right pain though, so suspect this one will stay on the drawing board.

Agra Fort - 45

But this is much simpler... who said drain catchment thingies needed to be boring looking?  This catches the water from the pipes from the roof, as a kind of mini pond, and then there appeared to be a place for water to drain out under the little central round bit.

Agra Fort - 43