04 September 2020

Conservatory Design & Build - Part 2 - Enabling Works

Following on directly from our Part 1 post, we've been continuing with the enabling works for the new conservatory.

The photo diary continues ...

the old guttering arrangement above my office door, 
also fed with a downpipe from the main roof

the new arrangement - a galvanised C-section purlin now carries the water to 
a tundish at the RH end. A second length of purlin below makes a face
 between them to add a board.   This board and the timber post structure on 
the right will provide a flat interface for the end of the conservatory to butt up against.

17 August 2020

Conservatory Design & Build - Part 1 - Enabling Works

We'd previously thought about erecting a conservatory, but the difficulties to be overcome at our location seemed too complex to address without a lot of time to spare.

But we're currently spending much more time at home - I'm not sure if our usual autumn holiday will even be possible this year - and of course we also haven't been spending money on travelling, so now seems as good a time as any to look at a conservatory.

We began exploring options a month or so ago.  A DIY conservatory kit was first considered, but the companies I approached were not very responsive to non-standard layout queries and technical requirements.  So I very soon lost patience with them.

Design and Project Management is actually my business, so I decided that by designing and sourcing everything myself, we would get exactly what we wanted and it would likely be much less costly too, without a middleman taking a cut.

Anyway, finalising the required layout and design was the first objective.  We looked at several possibilities from a double-ended lean-to layout of just 3.5 metres length, then a similar arrangement at 5.0 metres, before finally electing to bring the new building right up against the face of the existing extension, making it single-ended and 7.4 metres long in total.   There are a few challenges in connecting the buildings together, as will be seen in the photo diary commencing below.

For the basic conservatory layout, we considered either dwarf walls or full height glass all around, but in the end I designed a hybrid version with a dwarf wall on the northern aspect that's visible to passers-by, and using full height glass for the long western elevation which can't be seen from anyone outside the garden, so privacy is not an issue here.

basic drawing of the design ...

We looked into the planning requirements and concluded that this design met all the criteria to be considered 'permitted development', e.g. additional side width not greater than half the width of the original house, nothing protruding forward of the principal elevation fronting the road, single-storey conservatory with total height < 4 metres, total built area less than 50% of the total curtilage, etc.

Unlike house extensions for which planning permission is required, conservatories are a special case and are exempt from having to use materials of a similar type, style and colour as the original house, although we'll try to make the front elevation blend in as sympathetically as possibe.  Additionally, Building Regulations are not applicable to conservatories provided a few very simple rules are followed.

But if you're looking to build something similar, then you'll need to do your own research on planning requirements and regulations depending on the design, location and size of the conservatory.

18 July 2020

Garden update - Summer 2020 - Six on Saturday

1.  Garden Tools

We bought a cordless lawnmower in June, £100 from Lidl without any batteries or charger.  But I bought this model because I've ten (!) other cordless power tools in the same range and which all use the same batteries, so I've already four 4Ah & five 2Ah batteries, plus several chargers.

I'm impressed with this mower so far.  It's lightweight and very easy to handle, and can cut all our three lawn areas twice on a single charge using the 4Ah batteries.   It operates at twice the voltage of the other power tools in the range, and so takes two batteries to power it.

However, the petrol mower is still in the shed for now.  Keeping the lawns tidy every week in the summer is a world away from hacking down long wet grass during the winter and early spring, and I don't yet know how the cordless mower will perform then.

The other garden tools I have in the same cordless range are a chainsaw, a standard hedge trimmer, a long extendable hedge trimmer and a pressure washer.

01 July 2020

Investment Review - June 2020

Here's the combined portfolio summary sheet updated on 30 June :-

click on the graphic for a larger image ...

27 June 2020

Hedge gap in-filling by underplanting - Six on Saturday

Since we removed our old greenhouse, we've exposed a four-metre length of the old hawthorn hedge at the northern boundary.

Although it has quite healthy upper growth and is still making good shows of blossom and berries, this hedge is very old and spans the length of the boundary which we took over when we bought the slice of additional land to the west to extend our garden.

Amateurish attempts have been made in the past to 'lay' the hedge by partially cutting through some of the trunks and bending them over to the horizontal so they maintain a growing connection with the tree, but then sprout more upward branches to fill in the lower areas. 

However, what with this poor quality laying and the lower part of the hedge being shaded by our old greenhouse for seven years, the base of the hawthorn hedge is very open and provides little or no low-level cover and wind protection to the garden now that the greenhouse has gone.  

And hawthorn is deciduous, so it will be even worse during the winter months when there are no leaves on the upper branches.

large gaps lowdown in the hedge behind the retaining wall
(photo taken before we moved the fig tree here)

Although winds from the north are not too common here, when they do arrive they're usually strong and very cold, so we thought we'd try to fill the lower gaps to protect the garden, and with a longer-term view of creating a full-height evergreen screen.

13 June 2020

Repairing a failed Double-glazed Window Unit

Our living room sealed double-glazed unit has failed.  The sealing has been breached and allowed moist air to enter which has become trapped and resulted in mist patches and water droplets condensing on the inside faces of the glass panels.

you'll need to look very closely to see the water droplets between
 the panes at the bottom, and the line of misting near the top...
close-up of the bottom right corner ...
and in the centre...

Last year we also had a failure of a similar sealed double-glazed panel in our bedroom window.   In this case, we ordered a new glazed unit from a manufacturer around 80 miles away, and picked it up ourselves in the back of the car.  We then swapped it out with the failed panel, which we took to the local tip.  The new panel was less than £100, so a reasonably cost-effective DIY repair.

However, this same process wasn't an option this time around because the failed window in the living room is much larger, so it wouldn't fit in the car and the manufacturer we used last time won't deliver so far from their base.  Other online glaziers wanted ridiculous sums of money to manufacture a new unit to my dimensions, and anyway only a very few offered a delivery service.

We don't want to spend too much money on this window repair, because I think all the windows on the house will need replacing within the next few years anyway.  They're at least thirty and maybe even forty years old.

So I decided to repair this failed window unit myself, or at least to improve its appearance, by trying to remove the trapped water from between the panels.   

Assuming we don't break the glass, then the worst that can happen is the repair doesn't work, so it's definitely worth a try.

06 June 2020

on a white theme ... Six on Saturday

New Zealand holly bush, olearia macrodonta ...

click on any photo for a larger image ...