Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Moving the Workshop - Day 2

We woke this morning sore, stiff and creaking from our efforts yesterday - digging is not something we are used to, thank goodness! After a huge breakfast and a quick dog walk for me and a lap of Tesco for Kristy, we set to.

The first job was to finish the shuttering - this is the boarding that contains the concrete in the trench and makes a fairly straight line. We had visited Ikea on Thursday, and they sell old sheets of particle board for £5 a load - perfect for the job, after they had been ripped to size on the table saw. Imagine the sound of Saturday Live to complete the image below!

The trenches were half filled with hardcore and tamped down - note the improvised bridge to allow access with the wheel barrow to the side closest to the large barn...


Kristy was OIC Concrete - here she is with Kiwi, unaware that she has to shovel 800kgs of aggregate into the mixer, and then pour it out again...


Lots of shovelling, mixing, pouring into barrows, pouring out of barrows, compacting and smoothing later - we have foundations!


Spot the deliberate mistake - all the spoil from the trenches is now marooned until the concrete goes off and we can get the Gator back in.

In other good news, I've found a listing on eBay for enough concrete blocks to build the dwarf walls - which should save us at least £100. Just need to find some nice but inexpensive roofing next!


Friday, 18 April 2014

Moving the Workshop - Day 1

As part of The Barn project, we had to either move or get rid of the outbuilding that I'm currently using to store lots of outdoors stuff, and as a workshop. The first idea was to scrap it, but that would leave us with a problem - namely, where to store all the workshop and outdoor stuff while the new barn was being built. This was quickly superseded by another idea - to move the outbuilding as a whole, and then convert it into a tractor mower shed and potting shed when the Barn is commissioned.

The outbuilding is a fairly basic construction - a concrete foundation, two layers of concrete blocks, and then wood stud walls made in a frame style. I thought that if we could dig a new foundation and build an identical block wall, the wooden walls and roof could be disassembled and moved without too much hard work.

I did some calculations concerning the foundations for the outbuilding (and a new slab I'll need to pour for the relocation of the oil tank) and ordered a delivery from our local independant Builders Merchant, for 1700kgs of ballast (mixed sharp sand and gravel) and 250kgs of cement, in plastic bags in case of rain.


This morning, we started by pegging out the site after measuring the existing slab about eight times to ensure the correct dimensions! We had help all day from our neighbours son, who bought his John Deere Gator with him.


The Gator was hugely useful - we loaded all the cut turf into the load bed, and later filled it up with recycled hardcore to line the bottom of the trenches - and so was he, digging all day and trying to be helpful!


This is where we got to after 9 hours - trenches all dug, and more than half of the shuttering is in place. The front trench has hardcore in the bottom as well.


There is a forecast of rain for Sunday, which isn't great for fresh concrete - the loose plan is to pour concrete as soon as we have finished shuttering tomorrow, then cover the site to prevent the concrete getting wet.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

A New Tool

We have quite frequent deliveries of tools to AnAcreInHampshire - but this new one is quite special.

This is my new plumb bob - new to me, not brand new. It is a lovely object as well as a good tool - and I'm quite sure that a contemporary plumb bob would be plastic, or cheaply made.
This is particularly exciting as it is the first specific Barn building tool I've bought.
A plumb bob is vital for the scribe rule method of woodworking - because the oak I will use will probably be twisted and 'crowned' i.e not flat over its length, each joint will have to be custom cut to match its neighbour. Scribe rule joinery is one of those things that I suspect is easier to demonstrate than describe - at least that's my excuse for not understanding it fully yet!



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Barn

When we were looking for our new home, we wrote a list called Our Next Home - it detailed what charecteristics we were looking for, and helped hugely with our search;

  • Garden - 1/4 acre or more
  • Barn - or space for one
  • Three bedroom - but ideally four
  • Parking
  • Large airy kitchen
  • Garden room - or space for one
  • Utility room for washing machines and wellies

Item two was my favorite - I've always loved green-oak barns, and I was longing for the opportunity to plan and build one.

We have a collection of shabby outbuildings at the moment which have done the job, but are begging to be replaced by a proper barn. As it stands, we have a 5m x 3m shed (in use as a workshop and store), a lean-to which is in danger of collapsing at any moment, an oil tank and a garden shed which we rescued from the top of the garden.

Our plan (as it stands...) is to move the shed about 40 metres onto the eastern boundary and put the oil tank next to it - the front of the shed will go where the two posts in the grass are, and the oil tank will to to the right of this picture where the odd red pallet-thing is.

This will leave us with a nice big area for the new outbuilding, rather grandly dubbed The Barn. It will be green-oak framed - meaning the oak is cut and fitted together when green, or fresh - the mortice and tenon joints will then pull tightly as the oak dries. The building will be 11m long by 6 metres wide, and will accomodate two parking spaces, a workshop and a summer house / garden office room.

The best thing about the Barn is that I'm going to build it - from scratch. It will be a great project, and a wonderful thing to have done. I don't underestimate the significant amount of work involved, but the cheapest quote we have received is for £12,000 just to supply the oak frame - if we ant this barn, I have to build it!

To this end, I'm going on a course at the end of this month with a firm called Oakheath in Shropshire - 5 days which I hope will arm me with all I need to know about green oak framing. The latest design (there have been five previous incarnations!) is shown below;