Monday, 27 March 2017

The last post

Well the extension is all done and the rest of the cottage is completely refurbished. Outside the patio looks great and the landscaping has matured so that it looks as if it was always there.

For those that were following - I hope you found it interesting and informing. The Blog will remain as a record of the largest building project I've ever done. It was fun but I'm glad it's over!

Job done, Blog done, last post. Pennine View OUT!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Painting the outside

It's been a while coming but the outside is finally being painted. The new extension is particularly challenging, as it is rough pebble dash, in keeping with the rest of the house but, having never been painted before is something of a sod. It's amazing how a bit of paint brightens up the exterior appearance! I think it'll look really nice when it's finished, hopefully within the next week.

Making a start
Looking better
Painting the black bits makes a surprising difference...

Nearly done... just in time for my birthday party!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Sorting out the utility room

Another issue with the back of the house being the de facto front nowadays is the utility room, added some time in the 1990s. It is a natural "junk" room but it's also, now, effectively the principal entrance.

A partition has now been built, dividing the utility room in two and creating a short hallway, convenient for wet clothes, boots, etc. between the back (front!) door and the kitchen. The untidy electrical distribution/meter area has also been boxed in to make it less obtrusive. Some plastering, a new paint job and LED lighting completed the project. At the same time, I took the opportunity to replace the horrid fluorescent tube lighting in the kitchen with LEDs. The entire house is now LED lit.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A new front gate

When Pennine View was first built the front of the house was on the south side, looking out over the fields towards New Mill Flatt, on whose land the cottage had been built for the farmer's family. It was before the days of widespread car ownership and so the back of the house opened out onto a back yard and not much else.

By the 1970s the bungalow had been extended with the addition of a kitchen to the north side and the back yard had become a car park, with a rather awkwardly offset entrance made in the hedgerow on the northern edge of the property. With most people now arriving by car, the back of the bungalow had now effectively become the front!

The old gate was at an awkward angle to the driveway and not especially wide. Improvement was called for. The new gate is 18" wider and the awkward angle has been more or less removed, making access considerably easier, especially for larger vehicles. New gateposts had to be erected and the opportunity was taken to reverse the opening, further improving access.

With the new gate installed the road side access was tarmacked and new limestone chippings laid on the drive side. The result is quite pleasing!


Two years ago...

... Pennine View was a completely different home. What started out in June 2013 as a relatively simple, if quite substantial extension morphed into a much wider ranging programme of improvements to the rest of the house and its grounds.

Most of the work was completed by autumn 2014 and nothing much happened during the winter, which brought a little snow.

The intervening six months gave the new landscaping time to settle in and afforded the grass seeded areas the opportunity to become established. A few minor cracks started appearing in the plaster, mainly around the join between old and new and the pointing work on the patio suffered a bit during the winter.

With the arrival of spring the final touches are now being applied. These are:
  • Adding a wall to the utility room, to create a hallway for the back door into the kitchen
  • Installing LED down-lighting in the kitchen and utility room
  • Fitting a new wrought iron gate at the side of the bungalow and improving the wall behind the summer house
  • Fitting a new, wider front gate, straightening the access line into the driveway and generally tidying up the front of the property
  • Fixing those cracks
  • Reworking the pointing on the main patio area, which suffered a bit during the winter frosts
  • Painting the exterior.
More on each of these shortly.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


With the completion of the patio area and paths around the newly extended Pennine View, the last few weeks has been occupied with landscaping work. A particularly dry June/July meant that the soil was too dry and hard to be easily worked but early August brought quite heavy rain and with it the ability to rotavate and grade the soil.

There was just enough top soil to grade the lawn from field level up to the new pathway level, some 2ft higher, in the SE corner of the property. The whole area has now been seeded with a rye-based grass which should establish itself during the autumn and over winter.

Whilst I was at it, I also reseeded two areas behind the garage that were used as a storage area and for mixing cement, etc. I've also rotavated and graded the area by the septic tank, which is where we stored the top soil during construction work.

Unfortunately, the local mole population seems to have discovered all this good work and sees it as an excellent opportunity for easy tunnelling and, presumably, a plentiful supply of worms. Not much that I can do about this without doing further damage until the ground firms up. The indigenous rabbits have also been having fun digging holes in my nicely graded top soil. The vicissitudes of living in the country!

Nearly two years after the first thoughts about building an extension emerged, I'm finally getting to the end of this odyssey. There remain a couple of small work items that will be done as and when materials and builders' time are available. Much as I would like to get the outside painted, I now suspect that will be a job for 2015.

Friday, 13 June 2014

High speed broadband @ PV

Not really related to the extension project but going on alongside and improving the property, I now have high speed broadband at Pennine View!

For the last ten years or so, the best broadband speed I could get was around 2.5Mbit/s. Ten years ago that wasn't too bad but the rest of the world has moved on and rural Cumbria has not. Well that has all changed with the installation of a Lonsdale Network Services wireless node here at PV.

I am now getting broadband speeds in excess of 60Mbit/s - far faster than most town dwellers get on their telephone line-based service. The intention is for PV to become a relay node, beaming high speed broadband down into Sleagill village, so they too can benefit from this excellent service.

Patio nears completion

It's taken a while but the new - and very large - patio is more or less finished in time for summer. Including the paths, some 80 square metres of terracotta stone has now been laid. Big job!

The pathway to the back door is also finished and graded into the driveway area with stone chippings  - a great improvement. Steps down to the garden from the southern edge of the patio is the next job, some time next week. After that I'll be able to get on with grading the lawns up to the patio using all the soil that was displaced by the extension work.

In other news, the last of the old-style windows around the north side of the cottage have been replaced with four new hardwood frames and modern double glazed units.Should be a bit warmer in the kitchen during the winter months!

Friday, 23 May 2014

The patio takes shape

Another week of stop/start progress, hindered yet again by the weather. After the retaining wall was built the builder was able to fill the void with hardcore and flatten it with a "wacker" to provide a solid base for the flagstones. The past few days have seen most of the very large patio area finished with red sandstone flagstones.

In addition, the builder has been laying stones from the back door around the side of the house. This required some careful work with levels to ensure that there was a suitable slope for rainwater run-off. The old path around the west side of the cottage was very good at collecting pools of water but hopefully we've fixed that now.

The patio area is starting to look rather good!