Sarah started the day by assembling our new concrete mixer, then used it to produce concrete for setting in the sewerage inspection chambers. Mark finished laying all the sewer pipes in place, which involved a lot of pipe cutting and edge filing, lubricating socket seals and squeezing junctions in place. At the end of the day Graham arrived on site, just in time to assist with the last connection, so he was able to claim credit for completing the job.

Kaye also joined us on-site as she was visiting the UK from Otago. After a tour of the site we all returned to Twin Cottage for a balmy evening BBQ. We enjoyed catching up on the all the Otago news from Kaye: some may accuse us of spending the evening reminiscing and gossiping, but we couldn't possibly comment!

 

 

Jewson's delivered 5 tons shingle and a couple of large radius 90 degree bends. The building inspector requested we change the sewerage bends, since 'solids' stall when negotiating tight bends, so that was a quick and easy fix. Once the bends were replaced we back-filled more of the trenches with the fresh batch of pea shingle. More tons hand shovelled and wheel-barrowed into the ground.

Meanwhile Sarah's mission of brick lifting, cleaning and stacking continued at pace. We managed another 200 bricks tonight, as the floor for the bedroom wing is slowly getting cleared.

 

This morning we planned out the storm water pipes which go directly above the sewerage. The pipes are the same as those used for sewerage, so we have plenty of pipe but found we needed more joins, intersections and corners. So we had to dash to B&Q in Northampton for the missing bits; unfortunately our regular trade suppler operates builders' hours, so they close at noon on Saturdays, which was too early for us.

Once back on site we spent the afternoon shovelling more shingle to back fill over the sewerage pipes and lay the storm water pipes. We're getting good at this shovelling.

We started the day rounding up rubbish around the site to do a trip to the Towcester recycling centre. Mostly glass and metal bits of old farm equipment, now destined to be melted down to come back as a baked-beans tin.

The rest of the day was spent finally filling in the trench across the drive to enable us to get onto the site more easily, so Sarah's timber ramps can be retired. Once the pea shingle was over the pipes we laid on large chunks of concrete that we'd broken out earlier, so more good recycling on site.

More than eight weeks after we accepted the offer on Twin Cottage, the paper work was finally sorted today and the money is in the bank. So after five happy years we waved the cottage goodbye and drove the last of our possessions up the road. As the amenities at the barn are not quite ready we've made a temporary move to Graham's place in Milton Keynes. Bit of a trek to BAR but not much difference in commuter mileage for Sarah going to Northampton.

Unfortunately this August has been one of the wettest since records started. After a couple of days of torrential downpours we found several sections of our sewerage pipes have floated up through the shingle. The pipes are all sealed up, waterproof and full of air, so when the trenches flood the pipes produce some serious thrust. Sadly that means we had to dig out all the shingle again in order to reset the pipes at the correct depth.

Once that chore was complete we got onto the next task: digging out the rubble from the mains water trench in order to lay a cable duct ready for the BT man to connect the phone line. This was the first good news we've had regarding service connections: BT provide all the ducting for free, and will dig up the road to make our connection all for the standard new account cost of around a hundred quid. What a change after the thousands we've spent on power, water and sewerage!

We also took the opportunity to run a duct up to the caravan, so we can lay a couple of lines of network cable for phone and ethernet from the barn to the caravan.

Another GP weekend, this time in Hungary. Mark was working on race support again, so friends Kate and Steve came to join us at the factory for the race. Unfortunately it was not the most exciting race to watch, but we did collect more points (bonus = bricks!) and we gave Kate and Steve a factory tour. They're now even bigger BAR fans, and have promised to come back another weekend to help with the building too. We didn't actually get any barn work done today, enjoying an afternoon beer break instead.

 

Sarah accepted a new job today; as if building a barn was not enough to do! She will be starting at Staverton Park near Daventry on September 27th - as Senior Assistant Manager for Golf & Leisure.

We started preparing for the next phase of building today by relocating all the tools and materials from the old turkey room (bedroom 2) to the large stone barn (dining hall). Mark also worked on the Beetle brakes (new shoes and handbrake cable) so it can be moved out of the way soon, while Sarah pulled up the last bricks from the floor of the open barn. We've reclaimed about 2000 bricks now, and have a few hundred more to extract from the turkey room floor.

 

We also had another visitor today: Xeno is over from NZ for a few weeks, so he called in on us for a barn inspection and BAR factory tour. As he has plenty of experience redeveloping "old" houses in NZ it was great to see his reaction to the scope of our task, and to compare notes of planning regulation bureaucracies between the two countries.

After a long wait for paperwork we finally got the contractors on site to start the sewerage connection work. They've got about 15m to dig to run from our boundary, down the street to the sewerage manhole. It was planned to take just a day to get the road dug, pipes in and back-filled... Unfortunately the British summer weather created havoc as a huge thunderstorm broke out just as they had the first half of the trench dug. The rest of the day was spent bailing out water, as all the run-off from our land and the street ended up in the new trench. And if that wasn't bad enough they also managed to put their digger through our power feed, giving one of the workmen a shock and knocking our power out for the day.

After two more days of thunderstorms and flooding the sewerage guys finally got us fully connected for foul water and rain water. They back-filled and re-sealed the road, but left our final inspection chamber in the garden (actually the neighbours' garden) accessible since we need space beside it to service the power cabling.

With all the plumbing attached it was time for the crucial test, the first flush!

So, two weeks after leaving Twin Cottage, and nearly six months into the GFB project, we finally moved on site for good. We are now officially trailer trash at last.

We started the day with an early visit to the tool hire centre, collecting a hydraulic breaker. It consisted of a 76kg hydraulic compressor, run by an 8hp Honda engine, a pair of hoses and a 30kg handheld breaker. This was the baby-brother of the JCB-mounted breaker we had used previously, but still a real handful to operate by hand.

Our aim was to break up the concrete flooring of bedroom 4, the former farm shop, as the level will have to be lowered and we need to dig trenches for the plumbing to go through. As usual we discovered the concrete was thicker than we expected, but after pounding away for several hours we created a big pile of rubble.

We both took turns with the breaker, and when we needed a rest from the noise, vibration and incessant dust we spent time shovelling shingle, grading gravel and cleaning clay bricks. We also found time to catch the qualifying session from Spa, which was disappointingly wet and wasted, as our boys came in 12th and 15th.

We started the day as silently as possible, as we didn't want to offend the neighbours with the breaker first thing in the morning. Instead we continued shingle shovelling, back-filling the trenches and smoothing off the tops so we can finally drive smoothly up the drive without bumping over through the ditch.

At lunchtime we took a break and watched the GP; initially disappointing as Button lost his nose and Sato demolished his car on lap one, then we felt relieved and impressed as Button recovered through to fourth place, but finally shattered as Jenson's right-rear tyre failed. Incredibly that was our first double DNF and the first race where we scored no points, so no bonus this week.

Back to the barn we finished smashing up the bedroom floor and then started breaking the troughs in the kitchen (stables). That proved more difficult than expected, as the breaker was too heavy to get into tight spaces.

Bank Holiday Monday, which gave us an extra "free" day with the breaker. After a well-deserved sleep-in we attached the concrete behind the kitchen block, where we will eventually bury a rainwater harvesting tank. The concrete was quite different, appearing to bounce with the impacts instead of breaking, so we decided to leave that for another day with a heavier machine. We spent the rest of the day smashing up the concrete path between the kitchen and bedroom blocks. By the end of the day the place looked like a war zone, with shattered concrete and stacks of bricks strewn all over. It looks like chaos, but we can see another big step towards the end product...


july

Green Farm Barn

september