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The Story of the Barn Conversion

January 2019

We started on site on the 9th January, with Andy and two of the team from Carrock Design, Dan and John 

The initial work was to get the site prepared 

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Carrock Design Build

The builders arrive (Wednesday 9 Jan). The first thing they do is put up their cabin. Heath and Safety requirement; they need to stay warm and dry (a challenge in the Cumbrian winter).



Just below the surface we find a layer of stones/boulders. In a way, this is a good thing as we need these to build a new dry stone wall (planning requirement). Thank goodness the building supplies delivery driver arrived and moved the biggest obstacle with his hydraulic lift.


The Path

Getting tools and materials to the barn is a challenge - the building is on a steep slope.

In December we spent a week digging out a path from the road, traversing the slope to reach the top part of the barn. 

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Boys Toys

The builders bring along lots of "boys toys". Andy is particularly impressed with the big yellow motorised wheel barrow.

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Oil Tank base

We became aware that the house uses too much electricity (it had electric heating) and there wasn't enough to power the barn. To reduce the house usage, we are putting in oil fired central heating. Andy has dug out and is now filling the based for the oil tank.  

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Mini digger

The mini digger putting in the trench for the electric supply from the house to barn. Bad news for Andy - you need a digger driver qualification to use it so he has to stick with the a shovel.

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Knocking down a wall

Andy and Dan (joiner) taking a break from knocking down the internal wall in the lower half of the barn. almost ready for the mini digger to excavate and start under pinning.

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Boiler base

It is Saturday. Andy is digging out the external boiler base and the plumber is here too trying to get all the new radiators in place. The electricians took the electric radiators out on Wednesday.

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Digging the drains

The big digger has arrived and is excavating for the drainage and new water supply for the house and barn.

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Digging out the barn floor

Digging the ground floor out so that we have enough height to stand up. Not sure yet how far the stone wall goes down and how much underpinning will be required.

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Broken drains

Just when it seemed to be going so well... We were checking that the toilets in the house all went into our sewage chamber. Found that one was blocked and the pipe cracked. Poor Andy volunteered to clear it out and take out part of the wall to expose the broken pipe (which runs under the kitchen floor).

Hoping the plumber can fix it.

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The wall came tumbling down

Digging a channel under the wall for the rain water drainage and it came tumbling down. Lucky only a spade was buried.

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After a weekend in Whipsnade, we arrived back at High Brow to find the new oil fired boiler and central heating was working. Toasty!

Andy just tidying up around the external boiler and oil tank.


Slow week

Not too much progress this week as snow prevented the builders from getting to us.

The weather has given us some fantastic sunrises though.

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Repointing inside the barn

Due to the weather, we are doing inside jobs. One of these is to plug the gaps in the internal stone wall of the barn to strengthen it. Hoping this helps the stones stick together and not fall down!

February 2019

Despite some weather challenges we make good progress

March 2019

Snow and then torrential rain hold us up a little, but good progress made

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More snow!

It is Friday 1st February and 3 more days lost due to snow.

The scenery is lovely though.



The 6th Feb and the snow has gone. All action again including the start of the under-pinning.


Propping up the door

When we excavated by the door, we found a piece of rotting wood holding up the wall. Once the foundations set, we can rebuild that part of the wall.

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More drainage

The chamber for the surface water drainage is in place. This will help to stop the barn from flooding.

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Mini collapse

A small section of the wall collapses during the under-pinning - more rebuilding to do. Andy comments that it is the ONLY section he did not dig out...

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Sewage System

The new sewage treatment plant has arrived and ready to install.

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Sewage in situ

The sewage tank is in place and being encased in concrete and soil.

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Digging the drains in the barn

The drains in the barn are in place for the kitchen sink and bathroom.

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Andy has started to rebuild the dry stone wall that collapsed a few weeks ago. Slow and steady progress, but looking good.

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New water supply

The water company have finally connected us directly to the water mains. We had been sharing a single supply with next door so the pressure wasn't great. 

March 2019

Good progress made, focussing on the structure of the building 


Concrete lorry

The 5th March and the concrete mixer and pump arrived. The pump negates the need to wheel barrow the concrete down the slope a bit at a time. It takes 2 hours but much quicker than the manual option. 


Laying the slab

The concrete is "tampered" using a long horizontal metal bar, to make it lovely and smooth.



The scaffold is up ready for the roofers and for us to start the re-pointing.


Starting the windows

Starting to knock through to make the new window openings.


Break Through

The extra window openings in the lounge have been made. Waiting for the windows.

April 2019

Tanking to keep the water out completed, then start the framing out ready for insulation and plasterboard. Building regs for insulation mean that we have to cover up all the internal stone 


Wall Battens

First battens in place following completion of the tanking 



Waterproofing the walls and ground floor - we are assured that the river off the fells that came through the barn in february will now pass round and under ! 


Roof Insulation

Insulation installed - accurate cutting required or it falls out! (Andy only made that mistake once..)


Roof Lights

The roof lights are in.

The roofers are here and repairing the roof where required.

The plasterers started last week on the tanking.


A flue

The flue for the log burning stove is in place. We are a little way off having the stove fitted though!

May 2019

Progress being made - first fix electrics and plumbing completed, scaffolding down and walls spray foamed for insulation. We finally found our missing roofers, who turned up and did a great job, as illustrated by the front porch below. The underfloor heating pipes are in and first floor screeding completed by Andrew, whilst Jacquie keeps pointing ! Planning issues over the air source heat pump siting have been resolved...after five months! Staircase has arrived, to go in next week and we begin plasterboarding friday. 


Spray Foam Insulation done

Now we can be warm...


Scaffolding Down!

Still a building site, but further progress; Jac's pointing is very evident in this photo



Front porch roof completed and all roof repairs finally done - worth the wait...


Ground Floor Wall Frames

First frames installed for the bathroom



Floor insulation laid



Underfloor heating pipe installed



Andrew's floor screeding 

June 2019

Watertight at last, with doors and windows installed. Andrew and Jacquie have been plasterboarding for weeks. 


Front Porch

Doors installed


South Side

New door and window and expert pointing by Jac


West Side

New window


East Side

Door installed, essential pointing done


Stairs Installed

Partial balustrade, spindles to follow



Weeks of plasterboarding by Jac and Andrew



Tiling in progress

July 2019

Plastering on and off for several weeks, but hope to complete this week. Bathroom has working facilities and virtually complete. Air Source Heat Pump and Water heating systems commissioned. External steps being built. We even got out walking and running a little this month. 

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Plastering progressing

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Tiling nearly complete

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Expert tiler!

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Road to nowhere...start of path to main entrance

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Air Source Heat Pump


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Big tank recirculates warm air to heat water

August 2019

We took some time off, but some further progress made

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Tiling the porch

We took a some time out this month but Andy tiled the porch and kitchen area with slate tiles.

September 2019

We spent most of this month waiting for the various trades people to turn up. Andy spent the time building the external steps and I cleaned oak beams and painted the walls.

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Top patio

The main patio with slate tiles

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External steps and path

Ready to cover in slate

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Internal stairs

Painting the internal stairs

October 2019

The Dry Stone Wallers called to say they could start in mid- October.

On our way home at the end of October, the joiner rang to say he could start! Andy managed a weekend at home before going back to the Lakes.

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Lower wall

Andy admiring the start of the lower dry stone wall

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Completed lower wall

The finished lower wall. The wallers had to go to a dry stone walling emergency. Due back in November

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A pile of stones

The next pile of stones for Andy to sort out ready for the upper wall

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Bathroom door

We now have doors on the bathroom



A few more spindles, this time put in place by Andy (under supervision).

November 2019

We have finally finished the internal work and external building, just an external handrail to go...and hopefully building regs signed off early January. In the spring we will add external shutters to ensure it looks like a traditional Lakeland field barn in it's setting. It's been hard work, but now time to enjoy walking, running and spending time relaxing in our retirement! We have external landscaping to do, but aim to take our time over that in the spring. 


Back to Fell Running !

Blencathra from Clough Head - Andy can still get up there, but slowly...

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Barn from our field

Finished building externally

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Lounge and Beams

Amazing what you can do with Wire Brushes and elbow grease!



They were fun pulling in!



Same design as house...



Nice big shower!


Hobbit Door for Jac

Eventually Andy will learn to duck!


Expert Step Building by Bob and Andy

Hopefully will meet Building regs...


Andy's Wall

It's still up...


Top Dry Stone Wall

Up in three days, the stone shifter had to work hard...

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