It's been nearly four months since our last progress report, and lots has happened since then!
When you see Jameswood on a daily basis, it's really easy to forget how far you've come and notice the changes that are slowly happening. When a friend re-visits and exclaims, in shock, that, "the place has electricity!" Or, "this room is cleared out!" You realise, lots has changed since we first started the project!
It's important to allow some time for self reflection. We've taken on HUGE project, and looking back at all we've accomplished so far helps motivate us to carry on!
In our last progress report, we had managed to clear the garden - an epic task that required battling through a forest of weeds that had engulfed our property and rescuing trees from the chokehold of ivy and other climbers.
PROGRESS REPORT #2: March - April, 2019
Shortly after my birthday, near the beginning of March, we finally got electricity on site. This was a monumental step for us. Aside from no longer having to live by candle light (a risky way of living in a small caravan), we could now charge our tools on site, instead of down the road in our neighbours shed, which really helped get the project on its way!
At this time, we didn't own the whole building (YET!), so, to keep ourselves out of any legal troubles, we weren't working on the actual house, aside from clearing our own flats. This meant we had plenty of time to spend on ground works.
Cal spent this time digging out the old, cracked and broken sewage and storm water pipes. We dug these out by hand, but, as it turned out, the pipes were too far gone, so we took them all out and replaced them, like for like, with the hopes of not having to dig them up again in our lifetime! We crushed some of the old pipes, to use as hardcore for the driveway, and kept others to reuse as planters in the garden.
During this time, we also dug some ditches closer to the house's foundations, as extra protection from groundwater erosion and dampness. I became the French Drain Queen - filling in all of these ditches with landscaping fabric, washed aggregate and perforated pipe, to divert water to flow away from the house.
In the meantime, negotiations were going ahead with the couple that owned the final apartment in Jameswood. By the end of March, we were proud owners of the whole building, and we could start thinking about building works! I wrote a blog post around this time, explaining how we acquired the whole house. You can check it out here!
Once we owned the whole building, we spent the first few weeks clearing the final unit out - which we hadn't touched until we owned. The upstairs of Jameswood is now completely cleared back to the studs and ready for works!
I also set my eyes on finding scaffolding! We managed to get a really good price on a joblot, the only problem being that it was all in Bristol! We needed to find a way to get all our scaffolding from the South of England, up to Scotland.
Our first thought was to hire a 7.5 ton truck, and drive the scaff up, with the help of Cal's dad. We soon realised that this was going to be a very time consuming option - and after a flight down to Bristol, multiple days away from the project, fuel and rental costs, it was not going to be economical.
I started posting ads on haulage websites, and just as we were starting to lose hope, I got a call from Alan - a WONDERFUL guy, who was about to drive an empty truck up from Bristol to the Glasgow area. He picked up our load the day after our first call, and the next day, we had our scaffolding delivered to our door! This was really one of those happy occasions when life works out and everything fell into place!
Now we had our scaffolding. Next, we had to learn how to put up scaffolding!
I hadn't known this, but scaffolding is a trade of its own. We had considered getting quick-stage scaffolding, which is much easier to put up, but we chose to get traditional tube and fitting scaff so that we could use it to brace the partially collapsed bay window and front wall while building.
Cal read a scaffolding book that our neighbour had lent to us, watched numerous Youtube videos, and took on some very helpful advice we received from an Instagram follower (thank you!)
We managed to get the scaffolding up on the gable end, and safely take the chimney down with a pulley and a bucket. This had become priority after chimney bricks had started falling into the house! We needed to take it down before it came down on someone's head!
With the chimney down, and a new hole in our gable end wall, we were finally ready to start work on the house! For some reason, we were both very nervous about this. I guess it felt like we were finally diving right in. We had chosen to restore Jameswood, and had been planning for months, but now it was actually happening. We were actually doing this!
Luckily, Cal has worked with a VERY talented and experienced stone mason, who was happy to give us some advice! We've decided to use traditional natural hydraulic lime for repairs to the house. This will help newly repaired patches of wall move and breath in the same way as the rest of the house.
With the repair on the gable end done, we've lowered the scaffolding on that face of the building (for now, we only needed it at full height for this repair), and we're in the process of extending the scaffolding around the rest of the building.
Next up: were going to be getting into the scary stuff! Fixing the front wall and bay window, and repairing the roof! I'm sure it will make for a very eventful summer!
So far, we are absolutely loving our adventure. It feels so good to wake up every morning, and work hard at making something for ourselves, bring a beautiful, old building back to life, and learn new skills along the way - it's incredibly rewarding and empowering.
Thank you so much, to everyone, for your continued support. We have received incredibly kind, positive and supportive words from people from all over the world! It really helps us keep going, especially on days when we feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand!
I haven't had a chance to individually thank everyone for this - but please know it is because we have a very needy building to take care of - not because we don't appreciate it!
Thank you again,
Claire and Cal