Pete from Bradfield Woods and 120 hazel poles
As mentioned in a previous post, I had been debating whether hazel pins within the bale walls would be necessary, versus using external hazel strapping on those walls which will have the greatest wind loading. An answer on this has come in the form of a condition from Building Control which stipulates internal hazel pinning – so I have had to find myself some more hazel poles. Fortunately we live a few miles from Bradfield Woods – an area of traditional ancient woodland, managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which provides a supply of coppice products. They still had a supply of hazel coppiced last winter – so last week I went across to meet up with Pete, the Bradfield woodsman and pick up 120 poles, cut to a 1m 35cm length.
While it would have been nice to have used only hazel grown on-site, the fact that you can get it locally from ancient coppice stools while contributing to the survival of one of Britain’s oldest managed pieces of ancient woodland is some compensation.
We have planning permission. This took longer than is normal since the application had to go before a planning committee because my wife is the local district councilor. The next step is building regulations approval.
In the meantime I have been focusing on the boring bit of the project, which is the demolition of the building that is already there. My advice here is to not under-estimate the difficulties, delays or possible expense associated with demolition.
First up – just because demolition is included in a planning application does not (apparently) remove the need to also issue a demolition notice. This is something that sits within the remit of Building Control, rather than Planning, and needs to be issued 6 weeks before demolition starts. It also requires that you produce a Method Statement detailing exactly how demolition will take place. The examples of Method Statements sent to me by Building Control were extremely detailed and complicated things – but I am hoping that what is required for a small domestic situation can be considerably simpler: basically just a form of risk assessment.
Secondly – knocking a building down is easy. It is something a man with a digger can do in a day. Getting rid of the rubble is quite another matter Continue reading
Last week I went to EcoBuild, together with (in fact at the invitation of) Colin Hart, the architect on our project.
It was an interesting and useful opportunity to discuss aspects of the design with Barbera from Straw Works and also meet the people at Straw Build. Straw Works do a course on car tyre foundations and I think we will see if we can be a host for one of these – once we have got through the process of building regs approval and can be more certain on our timetable.
However, probably the most important thing to come out of it though was a visit to the STEICO stand. On the recommendation of Barbera we had been planning to use engineered I beams / joists for the floors, and also wanted to check-out wood fibre insulation and insulated boards. However, we are now thinking that these would also be a good idea for the roof – as rafters and the central ridge beam. This would make the roof lighter, probably remove the need to support the ridge beam in the middle and also make it easier to build the roof first and then prop it up and build the walls underneath. (See picture of a roof section using I beams for rafters. Note, the beams have insulating panels inserted into their flanks).
I was also able to check out a few heating / thermal store people. I am relatively confident that we won’t need to have a conventional central heating boiler, but that we could rely on a system that has inputs from only a wood stove with a back boiler, solar thermal, plus electrical coil as a back-up to provide frost protection if the building was not being used much in the winter. However, it would still probably be a good idea to get a store which has an input for a boiler, just in case we need to add this at a later date.
Have just submitted the planning application, using the on-line Planning Portal. Learnings thus far from the planning process are that it is advisable to talk to the planning department first about what you want to do – especially important in our case since the property is Grade 2 listed. I would also recommend using the on-line submission system because this was very straightforward. Even if you don’t actually use it to submit everything electronically, you can still use it to create and edit a version of the form – and then print it off for manual submission.
While we had some basic sketches of what we wanted, we did employ a professional, Colin Hart, to make sets of drawings. Again I would recommend doing this, both so that you have something to use in talking to builders, costing the project and liaising with building control – but also because Colin was able to make some very useful suggestions.
The full drawings are here: Shrub Farm drawings.