The team from Argles Medal Design have now installed the steel structure to form the porch extension. The huge cantilever is amazing, structures always fascinate me and this is no exception! The clear unsupported open corner that will be possible when the glazing is opened up will really make this space. The social spaces within the ground floor to the cottage will hopefully spill seamlessly into the courtyard/garden outside. It should be a fabulous space for its small size.
The entrance to the cottage will be through a starkly contrasting contemporary glass and steel “porch”. The foundations for the structure were put in place a year ago before the scaffolding was erected, but now the scaffolding is gone, we can get the extension fabricated.
This is the most expensive single element of the project involving use of “weathering” or COR-TEN® steel: https://twopointseven.co.uk/blog/f/what-is-cortenweathering-steel . Weathering steel, best-known under the trademark COR-TEN® steel, is a group of steel alloys which were developed to remove the need for painting and form a stable rust-like appearance when exposed to the weather for several years. Consistent with my aim for a truly sustainable restoration of the cottage, weathering steel is not only made from recycled steel, it is also 100% recyclable itself.
Almost a year to the day, the scaffolding around the cottage has been gradually removed to reveal the refurbished exterior with its beautiful natural slate roof, repaired chimney stack and the crisp white larch cladding. The rainwater down-pipes still need to be completed, but these must wait for the drains to be connected. The windows also need installing and these are going to wait until the interior work is complete as they can be fitted from within. Everyone involved is chuffed to bits!
The confined nature of the site at 28 Leigh Hill has meant we’ve had to find space to store salvaged wood, materials awaiting use, and a place to do preparatory painting. A pair of vacant shops nearby have proved invaluable for this purpose and without them, we’d have been falling over ourselves at Leigh Hill. Once the the interior wood wool insulation arrived, we virtually filled a shop with the insulation batts.
The interior is where we start to make the cottage a home again. Having straightened / levelled the frame (see the “Big Lift” below) it was time to strengthen the floors. In most places it was possible to retain the existing joists and strengthen them with new timber laid alongside. In some cases, we had to replace entire joists where they were split or simply had insufficient structural integrity to justify retention as floor and ceiling joists. In the hall way especially, it was necessary to replace the floor altogether on account of its completely rotten structure. These timbers were not discarded though. We have carefully removed all the damaged joists, the now unnecessary first floor ceiling joists and original floorboards from site to the shop where they are awaiting preparation for reuse. Many floor boards split, but it was certainly possible to salvage sufficient to re-plank the principal rooms.
The weather-tight external fabric now permits work to commence upon the reconfigured interior. The vaulted first floor ceilings to the two principal bedrooms give a real sense of how these spaces will be in the future. The central room upstairs is being re-planned to incorporate a bathroom and an en-suite shower room. The space is tight. The approved layout below illustrates the compactness of the space and the need to make every square inch count.
A milestone of sorts has been reached – as the cottage has its new roof, temporary windows and is effectively weather tight. We can take the scaffold lid off. The scaffold company wanted the roof for another job anyway! Whilst it was sad to see the protection go, the new roof and chimney can now be fully appreciated – as can the estuary views!