Mark continued installing plasterboard in bedroom 4 while Sarah was at work this morning. Travis Perkins dropped off a delivery of more plasterboard and a stack of chipboard flooring for use in the loft and for the temporary floating floor throughout the lower bedrooms.



This afternoon Sarah painted the fascia boards on the rather hard-to-reach south end of the upper bedrooms. We then finished plasterboarding the ceiling of bedroom 4, which involved more head-balancing as we discovered last month. We're now well-versed in balancing the sheets on our heads, keeping hands free to operate the battery drill. Successful, but not recommended.


We spent most of the day building studwork in the old doorway between bedroom 4 and bedroom 2's ensuite. This cavity will now house the plumbing for the shower, and will be filled with three layers of insulation to prevent shower gurgling noises coming through into the bedroom.

Meanwhile in France Jenson collected a solid fourth place for us, finally getting the points tally rolling.


Sarah had the day off work today so she finished installing insulation in the ceiling of bedroom 4 then went on to repoint another section of the exposed stone wall in the hallway of the lower bedrooms. In the evening we had a site-tidying blitz to get everything looking respectable in time for an important meeting tomorrow...


Mark had a big meeting on site today with the council's planning and conservation officers, plus our architect Malcolm and engineer Andrew. The hot topic was planning details for the next phase of work on the old stone barns that will become the dinning hall and lounge. We are requesting a planning amendment to install a mezzanine in the corner of the lounge, giving us a study that will be accessed via a compact staircase in the dining room, stepping through the existing opening midway up the stone wall. We also discussed details of the new steel trusses that will be used to support the rebuilt roof, but hidden entirely within the ceiling space so we retain the look of the old timbers below new thatch. The council's conservation officer was delighted to see the cruck truss in the lounge, which he told us is quite rare: before today he thought there was only one of this type in the county, but now he knows of two.



Mark headed to B&Q in Northampton this morning to purchase our ensuite toilet, basin and shower tray, plus a couple of sheets of fake tiles for lining the shower. The faithful Focus did a good impression of a builder's van as it was stacked full of materials, leaving just enough space to squeeze in to the driver's seat.



Once home we unpacked all the new goodies then started installing loftboards above bedroom 4, which need to be in place before the water header tank can be sat in its final, albeit temporary, position.

Meanwhile Jenson was having quite a good day a couple of miles to the east: he qualified second for the British GP.


Before heading to the factory for race support we managed to get a reasonable chunk of the ensuite plasterboard installed. We put the shower tray and toilet in situ to work out the final locations of everything and plan the plumbing routing, then stripped everything out again to give clear access to the walls. We also prepared the boxed-in corner containing the pipework for the toilet.



Taku's day also featured plumbing: his race went down the toilet before it began as he accidentally pressed the kill switch on his way to the grid. Luckily Jenson was having a better time, finishing fifth to collect more much-needed points.



Mark started the day in sparky mode, wiring up the ensuite lights and extractor fan in the ceiling we got installed during the week. Meanwhile Sarah got stuck into sanding and staining the old timber lintel above the courtyard window of bedroom 2. After that we reinstalled the toilet and shower tray into the ensuite and bolted the basin to the wall, so we could do more plumbing work and finish the plasterboard and boxing behind the cistern.



This morning we popped out to B&Q for yet more plumbing supplies, then returned to get running water working in the ensuite shower and basin. The drains aren't connected yet, but with the aid of a bucket we were able to give everything a test run.



We also managed to complete all the plasterboard in the ensuite, including the panelling around the deeply recessed window. With that lot done all that remains is to plaster out, which we decided to have a got at... not very successfully! After a few trial attempts we decided it's a job best left to the professionals, so we'll get Michael onto it next week.


Michael and Keith got our patio doors installed today, so we now have a fully weatherproof section to live in. They also got started on plastering the ensuite, which we've once again stripped of toilet, basin and shower tray.

Mark met Michael and engineer Andrew on-site at lunchtime to go through the details of how we will attack the stone barns. In particular we formulated a plan for propping, removing, repairing and replacing the old timbers, hopefully without anything falling down during the operation.

In the evening we continued plasterboard fitting in bedroom 4.


10 Days To Go

Michael and Keith finished plastering out the ensuite today, which looks terrific. The room has been transformed from green (moisture-proof) plasterboard to dark terracotta coloured plaster. It will dry to pale terracotta and then be ready for many layers of paint.

Mark caught up with them at lunchtime to discuss the schedule of work over the next week. We decided they will also skim-coat plaster both of the lower bedrooms too, rather than leaving them rough during our temporary occupation of these rooms.

9 Days To Go

We both had work commitments this morning, as Sarah headed to Staverton and Mark dialled in to Hockenheim to support the team's qualifying session. We were all done by mid-morning, so we continued plasterboard installation in bedroom 4. The north wall of this room will retain its exposed stonework, but the bottom half of the wall is below ground level so we battened up the damp-proof membrane in preparation for recycled timber panelling. We also built a section of false wall beside the door to provide a cavity where the plumbing runs from floor to ceiling.



8 Days To Go

Sarah had a super early start with her golfers today, so we both got up at first light to have breakfast together before Sarah headed to work. Mark then returned to the plasterboard work, this time working on the fiddly window surrounds in bedrooms 2 and 4. Due to the thickness and irregularity of the old stone walls we have to make irregular shaped openings, and do our best to match them up with the very regular, squared edged windows. In these areas we have to throw away the spirit level and judge the best compromise by eye.

Sarah got home after lunch so we stopped briefly to watch the end of the GP: Jenson scored an impressive third place while Taku continued his run of bad luck with an early shunt resulting in an uninspiring 12th. Jenson's podium earned us some valuable bonus money though so that will help a little with the plastering costs...



We spent the afternoon finishing off bedroom 4 ready for plastering tomorrow. The final detailed efforts included leaving access flaps through the wall behind the ensuite shower so we can tune the water pressure (to get appropriate hot/cold balance) and fixing all the power/network/aerial/switch socket boxes in the walls.

Once that was done we continued in bedroom 2; Mark had to perform some acrobatic manoeuvres to install collar ties in the apex of the roof, then fix plasterboard over them to close off the apex ready for plastering.


7 Days To Go

Michael and Keith started plastering out bedroom 4 today. Sarah had the day off work so she finished painting the fascias and eaves, then continued preparations in bedroom 2. Mark took the afternoon off so we finished the window details in bedroom 2, including a revised plan to expose the old stone around the courtyard window with the use of some creative plasterboard shaping that will allow Michael to cut from plaster to stone at the edge of the window opening.




6 Days To Go

Sarah had another day off work, so she started the day clearing up some of the contents of the caravan in preparation for a speedy exit. Meanwhile Michael and Keith finished off skimming bedroom 4 and moved into bedroom 2, making a start on the high ceiling.

Mark took the afternoon off work and we headed off-site to visit our thatcher in order to see another house he is currently thatching.



Once back on site Sarah got two coats of PVA onto the plaster of the ensuite walls and ceiling to seal it ready for painting. We then installed sheets of celotex insulation (60mm dense foam sandwiched in foil) on the floors of the ensuite and in bedroom 4. On top of the insulation we put a temporary second layer of insulation, stripped rather than solid, with 18mm chipboard flooring above that. That gives us a temporary floating floor that is about the same thickness as the final screed flooring. We completed the ensuite floor and got half of bedroom 4 done, but as we working under floodlights until 22:30 we decided the noise of the circular saw wasn't too sociable!


5 Days To Go

Mark had to pop over to Budapest today for a work meeting, so Sarah continued working with Michael and Keith. She managed to get three coats of white paint done in the ensuite, and also installed the power wiring for the heated mirror. Meanwhile Michael plastered the high ceiling of bedroom 2, which involved lots of work shuffling scaffolding around the room to reach up to the furthest corners.




4 Days To Go

This morning started with a flood: there had been torrential rain overnight, and as we are currently sans-guttering a pool had formed on the east side of the upper bedrooms, which penetrated the oil-line duct and flowed directly into the stairwell. Consequently Mark found a sizeable puddle under our newly laid floor in bedroom 4. The only option was to pull up some of the flooring, mop out the water and leave a fan heater running to dry the concrete.

Michael and Keith continued plastering bedroom 2, finishing the east and south walls. In the evening Sarah applied yet more paint to the ensuite while Mark did more post-flood repair in bedroom 4, sealing up the oil-line duct to ensure no chance of a repeat. We also got the temporary hot water cylinder fired up, so we have hot and cold running water. Finally we installed another run of cat-5 cabling from the stable block to the lower bedrooms so we can move the telephone from the caravan to our new home.


72 Hours To Go

Michael and Keith finished off plastering bedroom 2, and also installed temporary recycled doors in the ensuite and bedroom 4. They also applied a good dose of sealant around the patio doors and all the window frames to ensure we won't get any rain leaking in.



Mark took the afternoon off work and applied a (hopefully) final coat of paint in the ensuite, then finished laying the floating floor in bedroom 4 now that it's fully recovered from yesterday's flood. Once Sarah got home she installed insulation on the floor of bedroom 2, then we got stuck in to the ensuite installation.

We started with the shower tray, which took some effort to level, then cut and fitted some temporary carpet, care of Sarah's work where it was due to be discarded. It isn't very attractive, indeed it's very unattractive, but it's free and it will keep the floors warm in the interim, as whatever we put down now will need to be thrown out when we redo the floors anyway.

Next stage was the shower "tiles" and enclosure, which turned out to be rather more complicated than expected. Nonetheless we got it assembled and sat in place before calling it a night.



48 Hours To Go

This morning we had a very early start as Sarah was heading for work at 06:30, so we had an early breakfast before she went. Mark was also working on remote support for Budapest for the morning practise session. Once that was done Mark headed to the ensuite to continue work on shower installation, which was proving more difficult than expected due the non-square barn walls... help soon arrived in the form of Graham, followed shortly by Lawrence to make up the all-Kiwi emergency build team.



With extra manpower enrolled we soon had the shower enclosure under control, so Lawrence started work on all the electrical wiring. While all the cables were in place throughout they were not connected to anything, so Lawrence started by installing all the wall sockets and attaching the downlights in the ceiling of bedroom 4.

Meanwhile Graham's task was to build the temporary floating floor in bedroom 2. The first layer of insulation was already down, so he had to add strips of insulation to raise the height then cut and assemble the jigsaw-puzzle of flooring sheets.



As the day wore on Lawrence moved into the loft to link up the bundles of light switch wiring. We were soon able to hook up a temporary power feed to test the bedroom 4 lighting, so with great anticipation we threw the switch and were delighted to find fully functional two-way switches for the ceiling lights and table-lamp sockets, just like a real house! We also powered the mains loop and tested all the sockets, allowing us to remove the long chain of extension reels we've been working with for months.

Graham completed the bedroom 2 flooring so he continued down the hallway, while Mark installed the basin and toilet in the ensuite. After a few hours of plumbing fiddles we managed a first flush with no sign of leaks, which was a great relief!



24 Hours To Go

We had another early start today as Sarah had another set of morning golfers to look after. Mark started the day with a shower: not by having a shower (real builders go smelly) but rather by running the new shower to see if all the silicon sealant injected yesterday was doing the job. Looks like no leaks.

Next task was carpet... with much grunting and dragging Mark managed to haul a large chunk outside for measuring and cutting, then more grunting and dragging to get it into bedroom 2. With more trimming and a good dose of kicking it more-or-less fits the room, certainly well enough for now.

Lawrence was back to finish off the wiring, and before long we were able to test all the lights throughout. Luxury! Lawrence then set to work terminating all the network cables and connecting them up to a network switch in the loft.

Meanwhile Mark was hacking away at more carpet, this time for the hall and bedroom 4. These sections were a bit smaller than bedroom 2, hence less grunting and dragging and trimming required. It's hard to deny the rooms look like a tramp wearing someone else's clothes that have been dragged through a recycling bin and don't quite fit...



12 Hours To Go

As it's a GP weekend Mark and Lawrence paused briefly to grab some lunch and watch the start of the race. After a few laps of mayhem things settled and it became clear how the afternoon was panning out (ie we weren't quite fast enough) so we returned to work with Radio 5 race commentary in the background. With carpets in place it was time to move some furniture: we hauled the wardrobe and dresser into bedroom 4 ready for occupation.



Sarah was home shortly after lunch, and immediately began the huge task of moving the caravan contents into the barn. Lawrence and Mark got the new power consumer unit (fusebox in kiwi-speak) installed in the stable block and cut the power to the caravan in order to swap over to "proper" temporary barn power. We patched the caravan power back on too so we have lights for the night shift.


Once the power was sorted our next task was to get some big items from the portakabin to fill bedroom 2: the fridge, a dresser and a sofa. With them in place we were able to start moving the contents of the caravan fridge and cupboards down to the barn.



6 Hours To Go

Grim arrived with our bed in tow; it's been in his spare room for a year now, so he took the Focus and trailer yesterday in order to deliver it. Sarah was on reassembly duty in bedroom 4, then she moved all the bedding so we're ready for a good night's sleep.



Meanwhile Lawrence and Graham helped Mark with the last big item to shift, namely the washing machine. It came out of the caravan reasonably easily but took quite an effort, and the removal of a section of floating flooring, to get it into place under the sink in the barn. A quick fill and pump-out test confirmed it is also leak-free, so all our plumbing is now tested and approved.



3 Hours To Go

Now it's crunch-time... unlike TV makeover shows we are not going to get everything miraculously finished on time, so we had to decide what things we can live without. Our focus is to strip everything out of the caravan, rather than making the barn perfect. There were some last-minute building jobs to finish though, such as a shelf over the hot water cylinder to house the electric hob and a temporary chipboard window sill to provide the kettle and toaster with a new home.

By 22:00 we had all the big bits moved, so after providing huge amounts of help Lawrence left us to finish off.


90 Minutes To Go

The caravan bedroom, bathroom and kitchen are empty, so we "just" need to clear the junk from the utility room and living room. Easier said than done of course as we were flat out stuffing things into plastic bags and doing our best to categorise things so we'd be able to find them again once in the barn.



45 Minutes To Go

We decided it was essential to have a brief pause to eat, so Sarah christened our new tiny grill-oven and we cleared just enough space to sit down briefly and swallow food. Couldn't stop for long though because the deadline was looming large.



22 Minutes To Go

We dragged the last loads of excess stuff from the caravan to the portakabin, all the time wondering 1) how did we fit all this in the caravan, and 2) why do we keep this stuff anyway since we don't recall needing it in the last year? Ah, the pleasures of moving house...


11 Minutes To Go

Looking at the clock we decided we could just manage two last armfuls of stuff to clear the caravan by midnight. With carrier bags crammed full of shoes, towels, electrical cabling, pot-plants etc we dashed back and forth, then just as we were stepping out of the caravan for the last time we heard the village church clock start the midnight chime. At that point Mark also spotted the towel rail still screwed to the kitchen wall, so it was a race between screwdriver and clock chime to see who could finish first.... we literally just threw the rail, screws and screwdriver into a bag, tuned off the lights and shut the caravan door behind us as the twelfth gong chimed, so we made it!



We're In!

After running from the caravan to barn and dropping everything on the floor, the champagne cork popped a few seconds after midnight as we've made it, in to (part of) the barn some 698 days since first learning the barn was for sale, 518 days since taking ownership and 341 days since moving on site. It hasn't been a small task, and without the generous help of friends and family it wouldn't have been possible at all. Thanks to everyone who lent a hand, especially Graham, Lawrence, Ken, Cass, young Angus for his tireless efforts, Kate and Steve, Phil, IanW, IanP, Ron and Jill for spending their holiday doing hard labour, and Ray for fussy fencing in those first few days of the project. Also a big thanks to friends and family all over the world for all your encouragement and support over the last couple of years. You're all more than welcome to come again: there's still plenty more to do!



Green Farm Barn