Year: 2012

VAT Reclaim – VAT rate history

So at last I'm looking at the VAT reclaim on the barn again. I think the last time I seriously discussed it here was back in 2009 when I very foolishly stated 'My own VAT reclaim will be due soon – by early Summer at the latest' -- ahhhh, the innocence of my (relative) youth! The first thing I was struggling to get straight was what the VAT rate has been over the period of the conversion. So here's a summary I assembled from across the web, in reverse chronological order: On 4 January 2011 VAT was raised to 20%…
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Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example... It's reported today that the governments current favoured gas powered path to the future will actually cost us more than greener alternatives. According to the Guardian reporting today on findings of the Committee on Climate Change (one of the governments own advisory bodies) "Household energy bills will be about £600…
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Building Progress November 2012

The weather, time & family illness have pretty well shutdown progress this month. One thing I've managed has been sealing the wooden kitchen furniture. After some research Danish oil seemed to be the best option. I didn't want a hard varnish or anything too unnatural on the worktops so I was happy with an oil based finish and of those on offer Danish oil seemed the best. I sanded out 'most' of the stains - one particularly stubborn red wine stain wouldn't give in to my sanding & cleaning efforts and so remains embedded in the wood as my kind…
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Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on green belt protection through the new Economic Development Bill. My scepticism spews forth driven from several sources including, Nick Boles MP recent comments that the green belt is only safe “for now", the forth-coming aforementioned Bill that reportedly will look to sacrifice the green belt at the altar of the construction industry and Eric Pickles commitment to protect the green belt "the green belt plays a vital role in stopping urban sprawl and we will protect it". I can't help but read that like the board of a football club…
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What is a shadow gap?

A recorded episode of Grand Designs introduced me to shadow gaps. Apparently the gaps had cost £10,000 in the house in question. One of the patrons questioned the wisdom of this architect led spend and that left me wondering, just what are shadow gaps? Well, it turns out they are a grandiose term for a space between two surfaces. For example between the frame of a set of shutters and the window frame / wall against which they are installed (as in the photograph below) or between a plastered wall and a door lining. By leaving a narrow gap, the…
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Flue guard completed

As I've previously mentioned, with the flue from the multi-fuel stove running through the second bedroom without being boxed in or otherwise closed off there was a need to provide a guard in order to conform with building regulations Document J section 1.45. The flue requires a long, tall, open-topped guard and with no suitable shop bought options and my internet searches yielding no made to measure options, do-it-yourself was the only option. From Barn Conversion 2012 The guard is constructed from perforated steel sheets and aluminium bars, that have been cut to size with a combination of a hack…
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Building Progress October 2012

The flue guard that I've been building from perforated steel sheets, aluminium joints and resin based adhesive is finished and does the job of keeping stray clothing and children away from the potentially hot flue. I had a visit from the building control officer at the start of the month. Went really well with just a couple of pieces of paperwork to chase up and get completed before the barn is signed off. I've added extra security in the form of locking door bolts to the top and bottom of the exterior doors and locks on the roof windows. I…
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Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

This comment from robertloxton was posted on one of my how much does a barn conversion cost posts the other day. Hello, I bought a threshing barn and subsequently got pp for conversion to one dwelling. There are so many different ideas and prejudices out there about how and where to go about this. The best advice I had.....was to make sure you applied for what you really wanted for yourself. Not to be unduly influenced by other peoples experience. Sometimes you find that experience (including professional) is 20 years old....and in truth matters have moved on. The economy has…
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Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Part D is about ensuring that there is no risk to the occupiers of a building from toxic substances used in its construction. As of the date of writing, Part D was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010 and Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2010. Part D Toxic substances contains the following high-level requirement: D1 Cavity Insulation This is a short document, of limited relevance to historic building convertors as the requirement contained in the document relates to cavity walls. In the UK, cavity walls only became a common template for wall construction in…
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The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

So the Stirling prize was won by what seemed to be a long shot. I think two things blinded me to the potential of the eventual winner - the Sainsbury Laboratory. The first, the association with a supermarket (boo-hiss), or at least with the family that setup the supermarket. The second, the fact it was a lab, just how interesting can a laboratory be?... Well, seemingly very interesting, very motivational and very inspirational, both as a piece of architecture and as a place to work. I must admit that my initial impression of some of elevations was that they were…
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