Getting the floor down.
June has turned out to be a good month despite the continuing rain! We have had no further problems with water getting in thank goodness, so we started the month with concrete being poured in the trenches for the foundation walls and in the hangar ready for the workshop area. We decided to use a ready mix concrete company as mixing it by hand for the quantity we needed would have been really time consuming, not to mention back-breaking! In fact it didn’t end up costing much more than it would have done if we had had to pay labour charges for extra days to the builders. Anyway, on the day, luckily for me, the concrete company wanted to make an early start (about 8:15am), so I was able to excuse myself for most of the job as I had to conveniently take the children to school! By the time I’d done this and bought necessary ‘post-concreting’ cakes, Stuart, along with Gary and Dan, our builders, had the job virtually done, shame!
A few days later Gary and Dan came back to lay 2 rows of concrete blocks in each trench which will be the foundations for the 2 supporting walls for the first floor. They also prepared shuttering around the walls level with the top of the concrete blocks which would provide the level for the concrete floor. A good day, all went well and everything was achieved. This done, our next job was to get the floor prepared ready for the whole area to be concreted which we booked for about 10 days later. What a job this turned out to be…!!!
I have to admit we seriously under-estimated this. We ordered a truck load (14 tonne) of stone from the local quarry which would form our hardcore base, and naively we thought this would be enough. It took a few days of wheelbarrowing in by hand but we were feeling keen and motivated – right up until we realised we would need another delivery. This was disheartening because we knew we were physically exhausted already and the clock was ticking. We had only a few days left plus Stuart was having to fit in his work too. We were desperately wanting to keep to the schedule because we knew when the concrete was done we could a bit of time off whilst waiting for it to dry and we were so looking forward to that! Realistically though, as much as we slaved away, we knew we probably wouldn’t do it. Then help arrived just in the nick of time in the form of one of my best friends, Deborah. She happened to call in just at the right time to see how we were getting on and found us looking thoroughly miserable and desperate! After giving us a lecture about making ourselves ill she went away and reported back to Colin and Ray about our sorry plight. (Colin and Ray were the guys who did a wonderful job of digging out the floor). That evening like a knight in shining armour, Ray turned up with his machine to shift the 2nd delivery of stone into the barn which was absolutely wonderful except we realised we still didn’t have enough!! Never mind, Ray had offered to come back again the next evening when we would have another delivery and we were so very grateful. However the next morning we had a call from Ray to say he had been rained off of his job so he would come straight over and get started. As if this wasn’t wonderful enough, our neighbour, Alan, came to lend a hand and then Deborah and her husband, another Alan came by, booted up, and ready for action too. From the point of view of getting the work done it was wonderful, but what was even better was knowing that so many of our friends were prepared to drop everything at short notice and really help us out. We are so grateful and are well aware that we owe everyone some very big favours…!!!! By the end of the day all the hardcore and sand were whacked down and the waste pipe for the ground floor toilet was in place. Hooray!
Monday morning arrived along with Gary, Dan and Ken. Unfortunately, I think we had previously got a bit over excited at finishing the hardcore and sand and had to do a little more prep work to make sure the levels were okay as we had a few spots that were either a bit high or too low. However, this wasn’t too bad as there were a few of us. This done we had a couple of hours to do the final preparations before the concrete arrived after lunch. In this time we laid the damp proof membrane and an insulation level. We prepared the water pipe and conduit to lay in the concrete and cut the reinforcing metal grills to size.
Two mixer lorries and a few hours later, half of the floor was laid and levelled. The second half was ordered for the next morning and thanks to our friend Heather, Ken’s wife, we had an extra pair of hands for this. Again all went well and by lunchtime the whole floor was complete and we even had a bit of concrete left over to extend the concrete base in the hangar.
The builders worked really hard over this couple of days and did an excellent job. It is such a relief to have got to this stage, so a big thank you to them and to everyone who has been involved so far.
For various reasons, holidays, work commitments etc, we will not be able to do very much during July so I will report back at the end of August. We won’t be able to call it a home for a while yet but I’m hoping by then we will have progressed from ’cow shed’ to an up-market ‘cow residence’ at least!