Stone Barn Conversion

By | 25 Oct 2014

stone barnI realise that I haven’t written much about the building conversions, when that is one of the main reasons I am here.  A psychologist might read something into that.  Better put that right.

So, the works have started on a small part of one of the barns.  We decided on doing this first as we thought it would be the quickest and cheapest to complete, and I didn’t want to be living in a building site. I wanted a separate area that could be worked on, whilst my living quarters remained relatively clean and undisturbed.  As everything needs redoing, there would also eventually be nowhere for me to cook or wash unless there was an alternative.

Of course, ‘quickest and cheapest’ doesn’t mean quick or cheap.

Although this barn was in a better state than some, we’re still starting with a very basic building that needs everything doing to it (although we did discover that there are conduits for utilities to the building which is a bonus even if they’ve never been connected).  Then there was a delay with August holidays and then there was a delay because the holes for the new windows were put in too high and the boss was on holiday to pass word on it.  It’s all sorted without problem and work resumed, but we have come to realise that the place won’t be ready for the winter.

We’re taken a leaf from the book of Bourguignon and are relaxed about it.

More so, not finishing quickly is a good thing.  It allows us to think more carefully about our next stages, exactly what we want and how we get it done.  The more one looks at the building, the more one sees all the jobs that have yet to be done due to the bad work or lack of taste formerly applied – such as black coloured lime between the stones on the inside, red painted over the lime and some stones on the outside and a mock cut stone façade applied to the bottom of the wall.  When you first get a building one tends to glance over some of the undesirables and think one can do some sort of whitewash, but really that all needs to be scraped out/off and it’s obviously better to do that before you’ve moved in.

I keep asking the builders about not using concrete in the stone walls as the colour of what they’re using seems very dark grey.  It does dry lighter and they have told me it is half concrete and half chalk and that they need to use concrete around the windows.  It still looks quite different to what is in the walls next to it though.

I find the whole concrete, stone and insulation thing confusing.  I’ve done several searches online and it seems one shouldn’t use concrete because it stops the stones from ‘breathing’ and their transference of humidity.  The builders say you need to use it to reinforce around the windows, and their mix of 50% chaux sounds OK to me, if that is what they really are using.  However, they are using it even when no support for the new stone window lintels is needed, amongst the more decorative stone put back in around where the lintels.  I don’t know whether I should insist on its non-use or a better mix in those cases.  It’s already rather too late.

I don’t know if liming over the top is enough to keep the breathability.

They seem very surprised that we won’t be insulating all the walls but from what I read on heritage sites etc, that’s not the best thing to do.  If necessary, we can always add something later.

Anyone reading with an informed opinion or experience on the matter?  Please do write in a comment.

In the meantime, I’ve started doing some DIY on the building I’m currently living out of to make it more snug and cosy for the winter.

Not helped by one of the shower unit doors shattering – the one that holds the taps and shower head.  It has shattered as safety glass does; the whole thing is mostly there but in tiny pieces.  It is a precarious arrangement.  I’ve applied lots of strips of sticky tape in an effort to reinforce it all but each day, as one opens and closes the faucet, a few pieces fall.  This is not something I want to spend a lot of money on repairing as the whole thing will be ripped out as soon as we redo this building, so I have ordered a sheet of acrylic that I will MacGyver into a replacement.

broken shower

There’s a delay on that delivery.

In the meantime I have to be extra careful when showering.

More than any other part of a house, me having use of a dedicated bathroom which is in full working order, warm, bright and with the type of cleanliness one only gets with newly installed facilities, has now become a luxury that fills my dreams and daydreams.

The current loo – upstairs, along an unheated, dark, draughty corridor – is rather like using an outside facility, only colder.

Ah well, not finishing before winter is a good thing.  Not finishing before winter is a good thing.  Not finishing before winter is a good thing.  (To be seen whether I believe this repetition when the temperature drops to minus figures.)


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  1. Pingback: It’s Christmas 2015 – Bah Humbug! | Back to Burgundy

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