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Extension III

builders on scaffold

This week the roof goes on.  I've been trying to take regular photos to record the build:

extension building works
28 February 2017
extension building works
2 March 2017
extension building works
28 February 2017

extension building works
2 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017
extension building works
9 March 2017

extension building works
10 March 2017
extension building works
13 March 2017
extension building works
15 March 2017
extension building works
16 March 2017

extension building works
16 March 2017
extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017
extension building works
30 March 2017 - Awaiting the roof.

Spring Has Finally Sprung


Today it hit me, spring has sprung.   The bees are flying.  I need to be feeding, spring cleaning and applying varroa treatments, to give the two hives that have survived the winter, room and encouragement to start expanding their colony and producing honey.

The veg patch needs some TLC, I should be getting broadbeans into the ground and sewing seeds  indoors for planting out later in the spring.

The chickens know it's spring too and they really need to be let out.  There are restrictions on poultry in the UK, and mine are also living on a building site so they are not free-ranging at the moment.  We were planning to try and breed from our hens this year.  We've 2 strands of Maran heritage in our little flock.  We can breed the classic Black Copper Maran...

and Lavender Birchen Maran. 

However, all this is being hampered by the mess, time and energy being expended on the building works we are in the midsts of.   The extension is going up fast:

extension building works

extension groundworks

From a demolition site...

extension groundworks


extension groundworks

preparations for the slab being poured,...

extension groundworks

under-floor insulation,...

extension groundworks

slab being poured,...

to Louis driving the digger.

There have also been some surprises.  Well one really!  We have a well in the dinning room, more on that later.

Ash Cottage - The Extension II

Day Fifteen - Day Twenty-Five

ash cottage extension
13th February 2017
We are now camping in our own home for 6 months.  Extension Camping - That's what we're calling it, to make it seem like an adventure, not a chore.  We officially started building work on 24th January 2017 although not much happened on day one: Some boarding was delivered. Arris fencing erected.  Contract signed.  But significantly my Aga, was dismantled. 

Ash Cottage Extension

Aggie the Aga now awaits us in the garage until there is a new space for her back in the same position she has always been in the kitchen.  Do I sound like there has been an Aga in our old house forever?  I installed Aggie, in January 2015 and she made our kitchen the centre of our home.  Her removal leads not just to the lack of an oven, but a lack of warmth and homelyness downstairs.

The week prior to the start of the building work were a frantic scramble of clearing and packing and moving furniture from one room to another in a heavy, grunt-inducing, 3D jigsaw.  Will the sideboard fit behind the door in Mrs Fox’s room?  Is the grey kitchen cupboard too tall to go under the butcher's rails in the shop?  Will the green cupboards stand between the shelf brackets in the kitchen?

shop converted to kitchen

The shop is no longer a playroom for the Little Foxes but a, rather exposed (it looks straight out onto the road), kitchen diner for us all.  But the shop makes a beautiful light room and we still have plenty of space downstairs even if it is all a tad cold.  Three weeks in we are quite comfortable and there is an ever increasing hole in the back garden that will one day be our home again.

They poured half the concrete foundations on Monday and the remainder today.  Getting out of the ground so quickly and relatively problem free is a relief, I wait with trepidation for something to go wrong.  Because, when you say you are having building work done, everyone has a story about how it all went horribly wrong.  Then people always seem to say; “But it’s all worth it in the end.”  I’m already a little sick of that line.

I apparently made my first mistake before the first day on site and paid the builder a 10% deposit, two weeks before he started.  As soon as I’d done it my Architect said; “Don’t pay a deposit.  The builder should have accounts/credit lines with suppliers and cash flow to cover the beginning of the job.  You should never be paying in advance for work.”  But it was too late by then and the £10,000 was in the builder’s bank account because he said;  
“Up until around 3 years ago, I never asked for deposits from customers, but I had a large extension to build for a customer, I had ordered materials and put off some work to be able to concentrate on it, right at the last minute they told me they had found someone cheaper and was cancelling.”
I chose to use a builder who has done work for us before and had always seemed fair and prepared to listen and do what we asked, whilst recommending what he felt worked best.  We trust him.  But after the Architect’s comments I began to wake up early in the morning worry about him running off with all our money.  

Fortunately our trust is well placed and he’s here, he’s now signed a JCT Contract that I bought from Riba’s online store.   And his 2 lads are presently knocking seven bells out of my house.  

Ash Cottage - The Extension

Day One - Day Fourteen

ash cottage extension architects plans

We've started the remodelling of Ash Cottage, above is what we've started with at the back of the house.  

It has mostly been about destruction so far.  I feel like I have been attacking my lovely old house.  We've ripped down the 3 old extensions that had been added piecemeal to the house over the years.  

Building works grabber truck extension

We enjoyed watching the grabber truck eat up the remains of our demolition and tomorrow the digger arrives.  Louis is looking forward to the arrival of the digger.

grabber truck extension

skip with rubble

We are replacing them with an extension that wraps round the side and back of the old house in an L-shape. We are adding a single large garden room downstairs that will transform the previously separate kitchen and back room, into a kitchen, dinning room and snug.  This room will have views onto the garden, great light from a large window, french doors, a lightbox and rooflight.  

ash cottage architects 3D plan extension

We are having to demolish and rebuild the old laundry room and shower-room downstairs, so that the side of the house formerly built directly onto the old flint garden wall has proper footings.  The remains of this part of the flint wall can then be reused to repair the same wall as it encloses our front garden.  Upstairs we're adding another bedroom with it's own shower room ( I refuse to call it an en suite) that is over the laundry room and old shower room downstairs.

We think it will make a great family space downstairs, upstairs; a new bedroom for us, bigger bedroom for Louis and a spare room for visiting grannies, and will also, possibly, relieve the old butcher's shop of it's role as a play-room.  Leaving the shop free to, maybe, become a shop again.

back house with extensions

How she used to look... and how she's looking right now:

back house extension

They're back

dolls folksy

Goodbye Summer

wild daisies

I was looking back at pictures of our Summer, now it's over and Autumn is upon us.  Still the memories are GREAT.

Una rhubarb
Giant Rhubarb

Bee Keeping:  I got stung this year for the first time.  Still it was fun...

with the children.

honey jars
And honey this year, enough to sell.

Lavender Birchen Maran Cokerel and children
Our Maran chicken's - Bernadette, renamed Bernie, because she's a boy!

cockerel and hens
We've a flock of 11.

picking plums
Picking plums - at least the dratted caravan has some uses.

Greengages, nom, nom...

onions, potatoes, beans, courgettesfrom garden
Harvest from the Veggie garden.

rainbow chard
Rainbow chard was a big hit.

ash camp
Ash Camp was bigger and better than ever this year.

Ash Camp 2016

ash camp badges

relaxing in the garden
Our summer cocktail of choice for 2016 - Aperol

relaxing in the garden
Reading in the hammock

Trips to the seaside in the summer hols went on late into the evening.

Little Hadham and Albury Garden Club Show
I became a member of the Little Hadham & Albury Gardening Club and we went to the show.

Little Hadham and Albury Garden Club Show
My entries for the show.

Little Hadham and Albury Garden Club Show
Una won in the junior section with her "Tutti Frutti Chicken"

Little Hadham and Albury Garden Club Show
Louis won in the junior section with his photo of a field of poppies.

All together a glorious summer!
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