PLEASE TAKE THE CLIMATE CRISIS SERIOUSLY
Bungalow Diary of a dream
Diary updated last 27-11-07
Scroll down and see the story unfold.
the very beginning...
all started on a holiday in the autumn of 2001 when a whole lot of things
We realised that IF we were able to buy the land and derelict cottage
next to our families
Greenlow House and Kennels, we MIGHT be able to build a house to fulfill
many of our desires.
wanted to have more space, in a rural spot,
to both work from home
and spend more time
together traveling into London a few times a week and on Saturday nights
instead of living in
London and visiting family out in rural Melbourn as often as possible.
We wanted to spend more time with Jamie, Matt and Becky and to help inspire
them to reach
for thier dreams
We wanted to create a TOTALY wheelchair friendly landscape and house to
and respite to Jamie and the family
We wanted to create a calm space for Nana and Grandad to escape from the
We more than anything - wanted to motivate and inspire Jamie through the
design of the house ...
This house we envisaged could enable him to potentaly live with a partner
and his own children
and a personal assistant, work from home by computer - we hope we can
afford to leave it to him
if he wants to live in the same area when we are gone.
view Google Earth SG86DG - View from family house - the rainbow appears
to land right on our dream spot
took three years to agree the sale terms and price to buy the land then
it took a further year to complete the legal
November 2005 the
land is ours -
Our.... VERY overgrown land
family welcomes us from signing contracts with a champage reception on
"our own" land
we thought we could clear this wildly overgrown plot on our own
how does this thing work .................................................
watch out i'm in here somewhere
soon became obvious that we needed some serious help - Enter local farmer,
landscaper, builder ...
Warren Scott and his magnicent team from Scott & Scott The
work begins to flow with land clearing and the
beginings of a road into the site was laid
1 - The first of a number of major suprises (despite much research prior
to our purchase) ...
We knew the land was not flat but with all the overgrowth removed we could
now see that the land rises some
3 metres over the 54 metres from front to back.
Planners force us to move the house back from the front hedge and keep
the height very low
so we cut into the land to create a 200sq
area for the house and courtyard and a seperate 25sq mtr garage
good news is that under all that growth we found we have a beautiful spreading
pictures coming to show you how it changes through the seasons
SO guilty for removing so much growth
(though mostly diseased trees of little merit - strangled with
Lelly plants 500 native hedging trees (protected by plastic bottles donated
2 - Cutting over 1.5mtrs into the ground requires a serious retaining
to stop the top field sliding down onto the new house. (fairly unlikely
in steady chalk but not worth the risk)
3 - We had a bore hole water well that we expected to use for our water.
(There is no mains water in the area) however new regulations force us
to bore a new hole that has to be 50mtrs
from our waste water system (you got it no mains sewerage either).
Luckily with 54mtrs front to back we just managed to comply. An unexpected
4 - We had a power supply but again because of new regulations and a condition
of the sale
we had to get a new supply from the telegraph pole that luckily we have
in our south east corner. A £2000 extra
this work done was a comical farce that we will document seperatly)
5 - We planned to soak away the rainwater from roof and courtyard - after
passing through the chalk
this water will join the water in the artesian well beneath us. We though
a simple hole filled with bricks would
do the job ... but after consulting building regs inspectors, doing porosity
tests and doing the calculations
our best plan was a pair of soakaway tanks each with a capacity of 3 cubic
mtrs. A £1500 extra
6 - Despite much research and discussion with South Cambs Planning department
our planning permission was recomended for refusal. We had permission
for a building but not what we wanted
to build with the access features and wheelchair turning space we are
PANIC we engage a specialist profesional to help us put over our case.
A £4000 extra
With great thanks to Fiona at Strutt & Parker and the support of Melbourn
parish councilors we lobbied
and swayed the planning commitee.
On April 5th 2006 with a 13 to 5 vote in our favour we recieved our planning
will write this horror story up seperatly). Meanwhile click
here to see what we showed
at last the old house can come down
progress during a very hot July - Dan adds to the retaining wall around
the courtyard the foundation for
the hot tub / jacuzzi base, fish pond, planter and fire pit ring built
and the garage erected.
(All to be later clad with reclaimed bricks)
last we have secure storage (and somewhere to shelter) our shed is custom
made and erected by
Rob and Burt from local company Melbourne Garden Buildings. I have lined
it with insulation panels and OSB
plywood and have fitted electrics to run the water well and power tools.
The shed is big and still leaves room
for a car in the middle despite the fact that I have installed industrial
racking down both sides to give lots of
storage and a terrific strong work bench.
and Dan put in the rainwater collection tanks and the septic tank into
8 - The Titan tank does not have a third party certificate so NHBC control
stop us installing it ...
untill finaly (two weeks later) they are happy that it is suitable.
9 - The amount of chalk we have dug out of the site has become a mountain
and we cant move so
it has to be removed from site - Finaly over 20 x 20ton lorry loads.
10- After landscaping the top part of our land we experience the biggest
storm in our area since
records began 3inches in one hour. This seriously tested our french drains
and water run off which failed
washing a foot of mud down around the newly built garage flooding it.
This was agravated by the water well
head filling up and flooding down the 4inch duct pipe that bringss the
2inch pipe from the well to the garage.
Back to the drawing board
add extra steel and railway sleeper retaining walls and extra french drains
(and seal the duct from the well)
Next storm we will be ready.
to the build there is so much now in the ground that you cant see.
Septic Tank, Well, Pipes for waste, gas, telehone, septic outflow, rain
The hardest to set up was the septic outflow 65 metres of perforated pipe
in shingle wrapped in geo textile.
but its all now in and Dan has made good all the access points
STILL no sniff of a house. UNTILL NOW
Pauls Whitton's help we mark out the trench foundation and Bob digs the
after passing our NHBC/Building regs inspection we put down layers of
crushed concrete, MOT type 1 scalpings
Proof Membrane, steel reinforcing and then (again after NHBC inspection)
pour the concrete and
voila we are ready for the frame to be screwed onto it.
courtyard is extra complicated as we want to achieve a flat wheelchair
access through EVERY door
so there are lots of drainage systems to ensure the house does not flood
in a storm.
The feature of the courtyard is the walled garden and that is nearly finished
and looking great thanks to
bricklayer's Gary and Ed.
the end of October we have electricity, water, rain storage system, septic
waste system, fences, a
landscaped site (even the fish pond), foundation and we have the frame
and steelwork scheduled for
November 1st with the roof 10 days behind and windows 3 weeks more.
We are 2 months behind schedule Lesley is taking two weeks holiday to
join me in "The Shed"
(I have been living here Monday to Friday now for weeks) during which
she is planting up the top garden and
the shed / garage has a fridge and a kettle and a bed, telly but no internet
dogs Peggy Lee and Rosie Lee love it on our site and run around like maniacs.
Peggy paints herself with
chalk and finds cool shady spots. Rosie climbs trees after birds and has
learnt to honk the horn in my van.
I am blessed to be able to share the rich Greenlow life. We rescue injured
birds. We cry tears of sadness as we
bury Matt & Becky's little cat Garfield and more recently our own
Bernie Cat. Rascal cat dissapears for two weeks
returning after all hope is lost with broken hip and a front leg that
had to be amputated.
But we cry tears of joy as Lesley's sister Amanda has just had a new baby
- Kasper here he is with his "big" sister Eden.
With thanks to Ian we tour our estate on a Quad Bike which now has a trailer
to move stuff around the "Ranch".
We struggle without water for 4 days (when the main house well, caves
Then we supply the house for two weeks from our new well and 100mtrs of
pipe (until a new well is drilled and pump installed).
The summer has been a real Swallows and Amozan's treat.
I will never turn Becky and Matt into builders but they are watching from
the wings at the performance of my life
and a story unfolding that none of us will ever forget.
frame design is our own.
We have built a number of models and many design drawings for planning
communication to create manufacturing drawings ready to prepare the frame
for delivery and erection.
frame design turned into reality by local team ER&R.H
Ted Halford (Structural engineer) and son Robin (Architect) using 3D CAD
have calculated the structural integrity,
engineering a steel frame and panelising a SIPs panel construction. They
arranged for panels from SBS andmanufacture
of the kit in Scotland by SIPit and they are arranging erection by a local
company A1M with experience of steel and SIPS
construction Thanks Jim, Pete, Paul, Alex, Danny and very especially Rob
(The unstoppable force)
1st of November is the big day
We are woken (in our shed) by a crane lorry that lands on site like something
then a lorry arrived from SIPit in Scotland (after a breakdown on the
way - of course) and Jim and his lads
arrive from Essex.
After scratching thier heads and looking at the picture on the front of
the box they set into rapidly putting up
the jigsaw of numbered panels gluing and screwing as they go. A few of
the sole plates need modification
and of course there are two of the same piece and two pieces missing but
still by the end of the next day a
large proportion of the panels are up.
first of two deliverys arrives from SIPit in Scotland and we get to see
the assembly instructions
Steel goes in to support the roof at the centre of the buildings with
just a small hic-up that is quickly
put right by the very friendly local (metal man) Jeremy Brew assisted
by yours truly (the scarecrow)
assembly of the frame took 16 days during which there was a short delay
where work stopped waiting for
the second delivery from Scotland. All in all the whole process went smoothly
bearing in mind that this was
Teds first full project for a third party and only the third SIPs build
by Jim and the "first ever" for the main team
working on the erection Danny, Paul and (the driver) Rob.
the two day delay Lesley and I built two boxes for growing vegetables
without having to bend down and
so our Jamie will be able to go up to the back garden and pick veg from
window installer John
visited to confirm details and get final measurements I am thrilled with
has engaged with the project and taken such care - He has made a full
scale wooden template to measure
to make sure he gets the awkward angles measured correctly.
Our Dryliner / Plasterer Jamie Bunton stopped by to check progress (on
his horse Worzel) - He lives just next
door at Greenlow Cottage completing our Greenlow family. (House, Kennals,
Cottage and Bungalow)
roof tiles battens and velux windows arrived during frame build. Somehow
the Velux sizes that I wanted
over the conservatory were not translated to the manufacturing drawing
so we accepted the earlier (smaller)
sizes but this meant that the Velux windows had to be "restocked"
at a cost of £250 that is 20% of thier value.
Luckily the smaller windows are cheaper so all in all the roofing company
owe us money. At 2hrs per day the
VERY SLOW tiling means we are not watertight for Xmas.
However it was obvious that the windows (which
are being made to measure) would not be in before Xmas either. But what
is Xmas on a building site - just
another day followed by a two week shut down in the building trade!!
SO I am looking forward to Mid Jan when the roof is finished scaffolding
can come down and we can clad the
outside with featherboarding and get the windows in.
After a short break in January (too much Christmas pudding), a
good deal of rummaging around the sales to buy tiles
(Tops Tiles), flooring (Floors to Go) and bathroom fittings (Bathstore.com)
all at knock down prices, and after a little
snow - the
glazing is delivered and John Ellis and Liam start fitting the windows.
With help from VERY mild weather and local lads (and lasses) including
the very capable Charlie who helped prepare
and install the external cladding and also In February, Warrens lads were
back to tidy up the landscaping all around
the house. They have top soiled the front garden, shingled all around
the back of the house (we have a very large back
passage according to sister Janet - that last sentance made her sound
like a rude nun - when she is actually a rude
mother superior)) AND they have tidied up the road so that we can get
in and out of the site without getting covered in mud.
entrance using recycled road scalpings and the paddock field waiting to
be tidied and re-seeded
the drive to parking space and front garden to arrive at barn like monolith
parking and front garden and behind the house the "ginormous"
at the entrance to reveal the courtyard and all the south facing windows
down on the house from the top of the paddock field and from the top field
beside the chestnut tree
stage interior first fit : underfloor central heating,
electrics and plumbing, before plaster boarding and floor screeding.
cleans the concrete floor -tapes a DPM to the under concrete DPM - and
lays 60mm insulation on floor
NU-Heat underfloor heating system arrives - here, on our home made trailer,
is the unvented tank
(with solar heating coil)
floors insulated and we have lined the stud wall with 11mm OSB and now
we are going to
start drylining and plastering in the utility room - so that the services
can be mounted on the
finished plastered rear wall. We are using two layers of 12.5mm plasterboard
in the utility room
to ensure a good fireproofing to this room which will house the gas boiler
you so ...... (behind it is the electricity supply - joined soon by a
gas we hope).
This is the manifold to control the UFCH underfloor central heating. and
this is what it is connected to ....
is out on whether this lot is leak free and ready to operate - but needs
must and now it is buried under
20 tons of sharp sand and cement - that was 150 barrows of cement mixed
and delivered by
Jamie to be smoothed to perfection by brother Danny.
Paul has laid the paths under the "cloisters" - now Lelly is
deciding on internal flooring
and it is likely to be travertine and engineered oak
to the genius of Lelly and Lyn assisted by Rosie Lee the garden is blossoming
Well its nearly December 2007 and with 6 puppies born 21st October
and hundreds of visitors
we are virtually finished. Lelly has moved in, all the services are in
and working ... SO HERE IT IS
at our entrance next to the family kennels - we need a big sign as you
cant see a building
the drive past the paddock field and into the car park
Looking back on the paddock field, (can't wait for the spring)
All the landscaping, road gates and fencing are complete and the paddock
field is seeded.
From the north side it looks like an agricultural barn - not a home which
is exactly what the local
planning officer wanted. But look around the gate and what a difference
Come on into the south side ... and up into the garden ...
The shed "how did I live in there for six months?" ...
Have a look inside the building ... from the courtyard, this is the first
guest room and my office
which shares ...
a bathroom - with the second guest room which is also Lelly's work room.
This room leads into the main room which is usually entered from the courtyard...
The central area looks directly south and this is where the puppies entertain
all thier guests ...
This central space leads to every other room ... like the "engine
room" utility ... and
the main bedroom and kitchen...
sharing the kitchen island is the lounge area
HELPED MAKE ALL THIS HAPPEN - Thanks everybody see you all at the opening
party I hope
planning application was
submitted and case progressed and advised by Fiona at Strutt & Parker
foundation has been designed by PD Consultancy (part of civil structural
engineers Peter Dann)
recomended by ER&R.H
This foundation was built by local
builder Paul Whitton working with Bob from Scott & Scott
of our groundwork has been carried out by Bob and Dan from Scott &
Scott agricultural and landscaping
contractors based at thier farm in Buntingford. With greatful thanks to
are providing Building Regs inspection on behalf of the local council
alongside "Solo" inspections
for a 10year insurance on the building
Our ground and landscaping materials are supplied by local
(just one field away from our site)
"feature" courtyard wall is built by Dan Day from Scott &
Scott and dressed in reclaimed bricks by
Gary from bricklayers E C Crow.
waste pipe systems are from JD Pipeworks at Sawston Duxford
rain water management is by Milton Pipes
water treatment is an Aerotec by Titan
borehole well and water pump system is by Mathew at George Lack and Sons
(who installed the original well on the site 35 years ago)
garage is a custom wooden prefab shed by local
Custom Buildings (at Philimores)
courtyard was laid by Frank and his team
Frame is our own design turned into reality by local team ER&R.H
Ted Halford (Structural engineer) and son Robin (Architect) have calculated
the structural integrity,
engineering a steel frame and panelising a SIPs panel construction.
They arranged for the steel to be manufactured to thier drawings by local
(Melbourn Village) steel fabricator
They arranged for panels from SBS andmanufacture of the kit in Scotland
by SIPit and they are arranging erection by a local erection company A1M
with experience of steel and SIPS construction
Thanks Jim, Pete, Paul, Alex, Danny and very especially Rob (The unstoppable
Sandtoft "Olympia" double clay pantile roof with Velux windows
is to be supplied and fitted by local company
Tanner & Hall (Bowler Group) and is to be photographed and entered
into a contest
gutters are from Coppergutta with Japanese style cup chain downpipes
french doors and glass wall is is to be supplied by Thermaseal and fitted
by local contractor/rep John Ellis
heat recovery ventilation system by Rega Ventilation installed by myself
insulation is 60mm Kingspan supplied by Seconds.com
underfloor heating is supplied by NU-Heat and is being installed by myself
Electrics is to be installed by local NICEE registered electrician Andy
Blows ably assisted by myself
floor screeders, dryliners and plasterers are Jamie and Danny Bunton of
North Herts Plastering www.northhertsplastering.co.uk
condensing boiler by Valient and gas range cooker was installed by Steve
Michaels who also checked and advised on the plumbing that was installed
installed a kitchen supplied by Howdens in Royston with thanks for design
tips to manager Adam Bruce
Work tops are from Ikea the upstand and shelf is all made from the oak
A top in recontitutied granite is on order for the Island in the centre
from local company Granite Transformations
I also installed customised Howden units to create fitted furniture in
the living room
The built in furniture in all the bedrooms is from Ikea - but we used
customised kitchen units in the guest rooms
promise some great parties at our "ranch" most especialy for
all those that are being so supportive helping us to achieve our dream.
COME BACK SOON AND SEE HOW WE GET ON
Thanks to Matt for the bottom bunk (untill my shed was ready)
Jamie for the use of his bathroom
Becky for help on site and tidying away the tools.
Thanks Jan for looking after Rosie Peggy and Bernie while I am on site
and for being an extra pair of hands.
Thanks John for extra hands and being my drinking buddy (I never drink
Thanks Ron for advice and years of motivation and inspiration and
thanks to Gwen for feeding me and loving me xxx
Thanks to 'Rosie Lee' for making us so happy with your puppies
big thanks to Lelly "what a team we are"
you all - we love being nearby all the time.