Year: 2007

Rock & Roll

Today's job was clearing our fine collection of rocks to one side of the yard. I'd always coveted the small sea of rough rocks and dressed stones that covered the concrete yard to one side of the barn. When they were left in place when we completed the purchase I felt I'd somehow got better value-for-money. It was pretty backbreaking stuff, carrying and rolling a few tons of stone of various shapes, sizes and weights in the unseasonably hot (25 degrees Celsius) weather to one side of the yard. But some of the finer discoveries made it worthwhile. In-fact, I'm…
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Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is one of those simple concepts that reminds us of old-fashioned sensibilities. Basically, it entails the collection of the rainwater that falls onto a roof, the storage of that water and its utilisation for domestic purposes. The water is collected by normal roof gutters then passed through a filter to remove dirt, leaves and other debris picked up from the roof, gutters or down pipes. The filtered water passes into a storage tank. Filtering is an important part of the process as any decaying organic material that remains in the water will consume oxygen through microbial action possibly…
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Brambling

With a big shed to convert into habitable accommodation, you'd think we'd have plenty to do without gardening. Regardless, we've spent the last few weekends clearing brambles and establishing footpaths through the piece of scrub woodland that we bought along with the barn. Very satisfying when liberating trees from the brambles that have engulfed them - although I think we're just establishing a breeding ground for stinging nettles. Perhaps just a gentle start to our developments ... ?
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Step 5 = project management

Answer these: Question: So once you've started, who will bring it all together? Question: Can you handle the potential loss of control of the project of delegating some responsibilities? Question: Do you have the experience to bring together such a complex project? Question: Will the role be fulfilled by you or someone you pay (an architect or building project manager)? Question: What professionals are available in your locality with the appropriate skills and experience? I think by the time you've worked through those you're going to have a pretty good idea of the way to go and the shape your…
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VAT for barn convertors

There is an update to this post at ... VAT for barn convertors update December 2007 Having been confused by the VAT treatment around barn conversions for some time, I thought I'd better get the situation clear before going any further. This is a summary of the VAT situation currently: Conversion of a building to a residence is free of VAT paid on labour and materials. You can reclaim the VAT paid on labour and materials without having to be VAT registered. The relevant legislation is 'Customs & Excise Notice 719 - VAT Refunds for DIY Home Builders and Converters'.…
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Going Green

We never really had any great green aspirations when we started out on this project. Our design priorities were mainly aesthetic rather than practical. Our goal was to build a beautiful place to live. As the design has taken shape, it has grown to incorporate many features that are considered green or ecological. Highly specified insulation. Underfloor heating & a ground source heat pump. Rain-water harvesting I'll post more on each of these in coming days...
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Damn the architect

Having weighed up the pros and cons over the past few months of employing an architect in a 'full service' capacity we've decided to go it alone. It's not been an easy decision and is at least in part driven by the fact that I've not managed to find anyone who is able to offer this type of service in the locality of the barn. That meant that travel expenses were likely to be a sizeable cost and time-on-site would be minimal. These may well be famous last words, but I resent the potential cost and loss of control that…
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Step 4 = design owner / design implementer

(or ... will you employ an architect?) We have some strong opinions about how we wanted the conversion to be. We're keen on a natural finish, wanting to avoid the dark stained timber, olde worlde kitchens & stairs and gravel often to be found in and around a stereo-typical barn conversion. Our aim is to blend traditional rustic design with modern design; the material and furnishings will reflect this blending. So the question you need to answer is who fulfil the roles of design owner and design implementer? In other words who will derive the initial design (design owner), then…
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Here we go…

Having claimed that the ball was rolling back on the 28th June 2006 only to spend six months to-ing & fro-ing, waiting for utility companies and solicitors to get their acts together, the ball really has started rolling. We completed the purchase of the barn on Friday the 26th January 2007 - now here we really do go.
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