Work started on 22nd April 2015 with a meeting on site with the building inspector to discuss the foundations. Like most houses built in the 1840's Pound Cottage did not have any foundations, the brick and stone walls were just built onto the earth.
The Inspector said they should be underpinned but only to prevent the work of digging out the floor undermining the walls as he thought the ground was very good This was a sensible outcome and a bit of a relief. Joe and Craig then started to pull out all the internal structure leaving one long piece of wood supporting the roof!
Over the next two weeks Joe, Craig and then Ian put underpinning round the walls of the cottage, demolished the chimney breast and then hired a small digger and dug out the floor.
They managed to botch fix the rotten roof with a couple of planks and a few coach bolts so the plank holding up the roof could be removed. If health and safety had come round, they would have had a fit.
Whilst Joe and Craig were sorting out the floor I set about the rear retaining wall. Both the architect and the structural engineer had specified that the old stone wall at the rear of the house be replaced with a massive concrete one.
This seemed a bit over the top especially when the building inspector came round and remarked at what a good wall it was so against the "experts" advice I decided to use the old wall with just one section strengthened with concrete. as a compromise I lowered the level of the bank so there is less weight being supported.
Once all the walls had been underpinned and the floor dug out hardcore then reinforcing mesh was laid and a layer of concrete poured on top. The next job for me was to clean and stack the old bricks, mostly from the chimney stacks ready for them to be reused to extend the stable.
I managed 400 on the first afternoon, 300 the next (they were further away) and 200 on the third. I did them rather than pay the builders to do such a simple repetative task.The bricks were used to extend the old stable block, we also had to buy "new" reclaimed bricks from a place in Ludlow but they matched quite well and as in the end we were going to paint them, it was just a case of getting the size and texture right.
There is an old well at the rear of the house, were were very worried that it would be in the way of the foundations but fortunately it is a little further back.
One project I took on was laying a base for the oil tank. As access was difficult I spent ages mixing concrete in my small mixer and carrying each bucket up to the corner of the garden, I could not use a big mixer and a wheel barrow. My concreting certainly was not smooth, it looked awful but it does not matter other than confirming to everyone else that I would be no good as a professional builder.
Joe and Craig got the roof down which was quite a risky business, I don't really understand why they did not wait until the scaffolding was up. I carefully stacked all the slates, those from the front to reuse on the house and those from the rear, which are much nicer, to use on the garage.
I then spent several days sawing up the old wood into woodburner sized lengths and then took them up to the Porch House for fuel. They lasted two winters.