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!


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Converting the Barn

So, with the Wedding finished and everything packed away, it was time (after a quick mini-moon in the name of tradition) to start converting the Barn. It was a lovely space when all open, but the building would become much more useful if divided up. The end by the drive will remain open and become a cart lodge for two cars (with a covered area for storage), in the middle would be my new workshop, and the far end would become a guest room with a bathroom for when Kristy's parents came to stay - her father uses a wheelchair so he can't get around easily. When not in use as a guest room, it will be a craft room / garden office / retreat as necessary - to be named the Garden Room.

Onto the conversion! I ordered a load of Celotex-type insulation from a firm called Seconds and Co, who sell insulation which has not passed quality control during manufacture. It's still perfectly useable, but the odd bit has a void here and there, or not perfectly flat. We saved about £1,000 over using full price material.

I also did the first of many runs to Wickes for studding timber. I normally shy away from Wickes, but they were holding a promotion and so we saved a good deal - even over using a larger builder's merchant.

The first job was to wire the place. There is an '8' shaped ring main around the garden room and workshop, with a spur to another socket in the cart lodge. Building Regs state that a ring main can be a maximum os 50 metres long, which was a challenge. There is also a secondary circuit in the workshop to connect certain power tools to a plumbed-in dust extractor that will live outside the workshop, a lighting circuit in each of the three areas and more PIR and timed lights outside.

The stud timber went in easily enough, even though an earlier mistake in specifying timber to hold the cladding in place caused me a good deal of extra work. I started by trimming the insulation to exact sizes but this took a long time and caused bowing if the size was slightly out; in the end I cut dimensions 5mm under size and filled the gaps with expanding foam.

The roof was quite easy - I used 100mm insulation to provide the necessary air gap between the top of the insulation and the underside of the cedar shingles to prevent condensation. In this pic you can also see the OSB I had to add to the frame to provide some lateral stability - as recommended by Roy, our structural engineer. I'm sure it's overkill, but it was easy enough to add.

After the insulation, a vapour barrier was stapled to the studding timber.

Finally, some more bracing was fitted to the northern gable. Despite the braces which stabilise the ridge, some galvanised strapping was further cheap insurance which helped to secure the roof. This would be covered by plasterboard in any case - the X shapes in the roof provide tension in either direction against wind load.

In other news, we've designed and ordered our new kitchen, Roy is close to signing off the design for the Orangery for the side of the house, the doors for the Barn are on the way and work is racing along to plasterboard and paint the two rooms in the Barn.

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