The Pig Yard

February 2013

There should be no surprises when a February races by because it is 3 days shorter than most months but why does 3 days make such a difference? The vagaries of time are a mystery to us. We've been focussed on the house project and we got off to a good start with the timber frame company giving us a delivery date which has brought the project to life.

Jane's mother has been in hospital again after she lost the use of her leg and she continues to worry us. Jane has been travelling down to see her at least once a week. The situation has been made more complex by an outbreak of Norovirus on her ward.

We haven't managed to have any cultural experiences but we hope to make up for this in March.

Timber Frame Construction

Timber Frame Delivery

Our programme of work is now gathering pace, particularly since we put a deposit down with the timber frame company (Frame Wise). Site level and ground surveys have been completed. We are finalising the plans for the timber frame company and they have produced a plan of the building sole plate. This is the footprint of the building which is placed on top of the foundations where the level of tolerances must be plus or minus 5mm.

We have a delivery date of week commencing 3 June and provided the project remains on time that should just be in time for the foundations to be ready. Within two weeks of delivery the timber building should be constructed.

One of the problems we have is getting heavy construction vehicles onto the site without damaging the tree roots. We will be using a product called Cellweb to protect the roots. Initially it was thought that we would need to install 200mm of the material and on top of this would be paving. The outcome would be a drop of nearly a foot which could be a serious problem in terms of levels and steps. Hopefully we will be allowed to access the site from the top end via a road that ends at the boundary of our land. This simple solution may save us £10,000 and a lot of hassle with the planners and tree officer.

Pile Foundations

We have the ground survey report and the site has varying depths of a loam/sand soil with an underlying Kimmeridge clay. Our plot has about 7 metres of "loose" soil and sand before we get into the clay and so we are going to need pile foundations that go down at least 8 metres possibly more.

The cost of piles can be up to 50% more than standard foundations however there may be savings because there is no spoil to be removed. At the moment we don’t know how this is going to pan out so we await the engineers who will decide what foundations will be required to keep our timber frame standing for the next 100 years or more, not that we'll live to see it for that long. We hope people enjoy our creation after we're long dead.

Screw Piles

Project Plan

Project Programme

Steve used to manage programmes of work with a number of project managers working for him and he always felt more comfortable when there was a realistic project plan underpinning a scheme. We have such a plan in place for the house and it was really satisfying to meet our architect, James, at the start of the month and his first sentences outlined what was going to happen over the next two months and how we are on target.

Our building control plans were sent off on 25th February and we are due to interview our potential main contractors on 19th March with an aim of appointing one of them in early April. This should mean our foundations and services are completed by the end of May so that our timber frame can be delivered and erected in early June.

Bedroom Decoration

Jane has been busy tidying up the paintwork in some of the rooms. The bedroom facing the church was full of boxes, many of which had been placed there when we first moved in 16 years ago and the room had never been decorated. After several coats of emulsion, new curtains and blind and a new carpet the room looks wonderful.

We are asking ourselves why we didn't do this years ago. We can now place back a few items of furniture and turn it into show home condition. Our intention is to continue with decorating and cleaning the house then move on to the garden so it is ready for when we put it onto the market in May.

Church bedroom



Our Murphy has become a changed character since the demise of Millie. He now sits on our lap whenever the opportunity arises and he loves sitting in front of the fire. It's possible to measure the temperature in the room by the closeness of his nose to the wood burner glass.

He's now seventeen years old and of course he sleeps a lot, old animals do, but he has all his marbles, he still goes out on patrol in the garden at least twice a day come rain or shine. If we can live as long in such good health then it will be a good life. At least if an animal's quality of life goes downhill then there's always euthanasia, us humans don't have that luxury.

Next Month...

  • Martin & Kate visit from Bulgaria
  • Our annual holiday with the usual suspects
  • Interview prospective contactors for the house project
  • Visit the cinema at least once

This Weather Widget is provided by the Met Office

"Steve Says" has moved onto the Blog Site - click here to see the latest comments...