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Build Diary - Phase 1

The Build

This is the diary of the building phase in 2010...

We're off ...

It is very important to have made all the decisions and everything detailed on the plans for the builder to work from - before any building work is started.

We were very organised and had discussed and planned down to a detailed level. Just as well because once the build started it moved very quickly.

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All-in-all, the whole process went very smoothly and we are delighted with the results.

April 2010

The Archaeological Report

Before the building work could start we had to have an archaeological report, which uncovered some pieces of pottery (dating from around the late 1800s), some metal agricultural pieces, a small fireplace (in front of the new garage), some flat stones that might have been part of a floor or pathway - and an old cider stone, buried in the ground near the new porch and front door.

Clearing the Site

Two of the first jobs were to provide the water and power. The electrical cable was installed running from the power pole up by the road - about 450m away. The water bore hole was drilled and Gee Gonzalez and his team were good to go!

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Before any serious work could start Gee and the boys cleared the vegetation that was taking over the pile of stones and removed the old fences around the courtyard.

Drainage and and footings begun

The drainage was laid and the footing for internal walls and the new sitting room were started. Within a few days the overgrown site was transformed into a building site, and the new garage block started to grow out of the ground. Next the drainage and footings for the main barn were in place and by the end of the first month real progress had taken place.

May 2010

The Garage

Once the rafters are in place on the barn it really starts to take shape. The new garage tends to screen the main barn from view as you approach the property from the driveway, and then, as you swing into the parking area. the barn is revealed in all its (one day soon) glory.

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The barn will have two open bays for vehicles and two closed bays for storage and workshop at either end. The roof space will be used for storage.


The site slopes gently to the south and the remains of an old wall are used as a natural split in levels between the upper parking / turning area and the lower courtyard. As this area gets levelled we begin to see the prospect of an “infinity terrace”. Details of landscaping are a long way off - but it is great to see things taking shape.


Inside the barn the foundations are excavated and the new internal walls begin to take shape. The walls of the new single storey extension start to extend the barn into its planned configuration.

June 2010

The first oak timbers arrive

The first of the oak timbers that are going to form the beams and trusses for the main barn arrive. One of the jobs that Lizzie and I can undertake is to oil the timbers before they are put into place.

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On one of our visits we are standing below the old oak tree by the spring, and just above our heads is a swarm of bees. We quietly get out of the way, and later we find a local apiarist who comes and takes them away. We hope to get some honey by way of thanks.

The main barn starts to take shape

Inside the barn the rooms are taking shape and the three large oak beams over the kitchen / dining are installed. It is starting to look very good.

The scaffolding is erected ready for the upper walls on the two storey section, and there is a chance to see what the view from our bedroom will be like. Its good.

July 2010

Garage roof put on upside down!

After quite a lot of negotiation with the planning department we were allowed to have a corrugated iron roof on the garage. The plans had specified reclaimed Welsh slate (the same as the main barn) but we wanted to differentiate the outbuilding as being more agricultural and of a lower status that the main building. Using photos of the visitor centre at Goodrich Castle we were given permission to use corrugated iron in ‘Goose Wing Grey’. We were very excited to see the new roof in place - but then taken aback to discover that the roof had been laid with the required colour facing down, and a very reflective off white on the visible side. The builder and his roofing contractor put this right at no extra charge, so all's well that ends well.

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The crane arrives to lift the oak trusses

The day the crane came to lift the main trusses and ridge beams into place must have been one of the only wet days since the start of the build. The crane towered over the barn when it was lifting the massive pieces of oak, and they were gently swung into place.

Once the main ridge beams were in place, the rafters on the main roof were up in no time. Once the top layer of insulation over the rafters was in place the final shape of the main building could be seen.

August 2010

Summer Time is Holiday time

Gee and the boys take their annual summer holidays from the end of July, so August is a quiet month. The barn is looking great and Lizzie and I just go down to tidy up and soak in the atmosphere.

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When the builders return work starts on the oak trusses for the new sitting room extension.

And the bad news is ...

At the end of August we hear that our house sale has fallen through - our buyer’s buyer has pulled out. The very next day we have another offer which we accept, but this too falls apart due to "business commitments" of the new buyer. So we are back on the market and looking at how much further we can afford to go with the build. (Expletives deleted)

September 2010

Raising the roof

There is a lot of visible progress during September. The weather is warm and dry so progress is good. The main accomplishment is the tiling of the main roof. The porch becomes integrated into the structure, rather than looking like a ‘bolt-on’ shed.

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While the roofers are busy laying the reclaimed Welsh slate tiles, Julian and Danny are cracking on with laying the new stonework, and scraping out the cement pointing old stonework, and replacing with a lime-rich mixture.

October 2010

Velfac Windows

The arrival of the Velfac windows and doors feels like a major milestone in the diary of the build. Once the windows and doors are in place it feels as if Llan Adan suddenly has a soul.

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The outer oak facing timbers will be stored in the garage to dry out over the winter and will be third leftted in the spring.

Glorious Autumn Colour

This Autumn has seen one of the most spectacular displays of yellow, golds and reds for many years.

The lack of funds mean that building work is about to cease until we can sell the barn, and we hope to just get the building weather-proof and secure before it is left for the winter.

I am surprised at how stingy the banks are when it comes to lending money at the moment. I am beginning to regret bailing them all out.

November 2010

Winter sets in

The external building work finishes at the end of October with the installation of the sliding glass doors in the new sitting room. The three sliding glass doors are designed to pass behind the oak posts so that the door frames are hidden from view externally.

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The view from the sitting room, across The Rolls of Monmouth golf course towards the Trellech Hills is fantastic.

That's all for now, folks

November sees the start of another very cold, frosty and snowy Winter. Over the Christmas period Lizzie and I intend to clean up, install the roof insulation between the roof rafters, and decide on light third lefttings, sanitary-ware, and hope that we have the resources to carry to in the Spring ..

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