7 – Barn Conversion – Week 2

| 21st September 2015 | 0 Comments

Maddomswood Barn Conversion

Week 2 – 27th to 31st July 2015

This week we will be laying the blockwork to the dwarf walls to the NE and NW elevations. But before we can do that we need to support the structure. On Tuesday a birds nest scaffold is to be installed inside the barn with supports under the purlins to deal with the downward force and raking shores tied to the principle posts to prevent sideways movement. Further scaffold pins will be erected adjacent to the dwarf walls to enable the underpinning. We will then lay the blocks.

Whilst we are waiting for the scaffold to go in I decided to get the septic tank in the ground.

I chose the P6 Tricel super low pro invert septic tank – We chose a location far enough away from the Barn and with enough fall to satisfy building regs.

We dug a hole as per the installation instructions and laid a 200mm concrete bed onto which the tank was placed.


Deep excavation to enable installtion of Tricel Septic Tank at Historic Barn Conversion, East Sussex

Deep hole ready for the Septic Tank


Concrete base within the deep excavation onto which the Tricel Septic Tank will be lowered at Historic Barn Conversion, East Sussex

Concrete Base onto which Tricel Septic Tank will sit


We packed 10mm drainage shingle around the tank (dry location specification – if wet location we would have needed to use concrete) and finished off with top soil and grass.


The second layer of drainage shingle surrounding the Tricel Septic Tank at the Historic Barn Conversion Maddomswood Barn, Whatlington East Sussex

The second layer of drainage shingle surrounding the Tricel Septic Tank


The manhole with 4 inlets was installed before the tank and a distribution box after with 6 outlets for the drainage field.


Manhole serving the inlet of the Tricel Septic Tank

The Inlet Manhole and Pipework to the Tricel Septic Tank


Septic Tank outlet pipework with sampling and distribution box

The outlet pipework from the Tricel Septic Tank with distribution box serving the drainage field Manhole and Pipework to the Tricel Septic Tank


The drainage field, which we will be installing later in the project when there is a gap in the schedule, we anticipate will be made up of 4no 24m long lengths of perforated pipe surrounded with 10mm drainage shingle, topped with geotextile fabric to prevent soil mixing with the shingle and finished off with topsoil and grass. The percolation test will establish if this is too much or too little.

The bird cage scaffold has been erected.


Birdcage scaffold installed in Historic Oak Barn to support and stabilise the structure prior to repairs taking place

Birdcage Scaffold providing support and a platform to access the Oak Structure


We have made start on digging the foundations for the dwarf walls. We are waiting for the construction drawings but the Structural Engineer tells us we need a strip 750 wide and 200 deep extending to 900 wide and 400 deep under the principle posts.

Dan and Rick get to it with the digger and dumper breaking out the concrete and removing the sandstone to the required level which they check with the laser level I purchased for the job.




Digging foundation to enable underpinning of principle post of oak barn by hand

Dan finishing the foundations under the principle post by hand


A laser level is a massively important piece of equipment when setting out foundations and brickwork.  You can spend a little or a lot and there are lots of accessories that can be purchased with the essentials. We went for the basic kit which does the job without the bells and whistles.

Here is how it works…basically….The tripod is set up in a location local to the works and switched on. The measuring pole is then lowered to the level required and the slider is then moved up or down the pole until a beep is heard. The slider is then tightened. The level has been calibrated. The pole can then be moved around the site and when the beep is heard the bottom of the pole is at the calibrated level. Simples!

(I have uploaded videos showing how the laser level works in practice in later posts)


Laser Level measuring pole to be used along with the self levelling laser

Dan with the Laser Level Pole


I left Dan and Rick to it and retired to the site hut to draw up a materials shopping list for the project. The list is made up of the major materials I would need across the project including timber, sheet materials, 25kg bags, bulk bags, insulation, drainage etc. Once ready with approximate quantities I sent this to Jewsons, Travis Perkins and Alsfords (my local merchants) asking for their best terms.

Once I hear back I will create a summary and highlight the best prices per item across the 3 merchants. There will always be one that is the most competitive. On my last project in Brenchley this was Travis. On this project it was Jewsons.

I now had the best prices and I needed Jewsons to match them all. If they agreed and also confirmed they would give me the very best prices throughout the project my loyalty for the whole project would then be with them; no chopping from one to the other. This is how Alan Sugar does business. He is very loyal to one supplier; having said that, if for any reason they change their terms or pull a fast one Alan would drop them like a stone and move to another supplier. The same would apply with Jewsons; that is why from time to time, if I was ordering something without terms set up, I would ask for prices from other merchants and, if my selected supplier was way off, I would have words. I am pleased to say this has never happened. I spent £45,000 on materials on my last project with Travis so it makes sense to look after me.

Dan and Rick have worked hard all week and the trenches are now ready.

What should happen is that prior to the concrete being poured the trenches should be inspected by the Building Inspector. Unfortunately my inspector was on holiday so it was decided to take photographs and video to give to him on his return. I did this for not only the foundations but also the septic tank. By the time I gave him the memory stick he had about 1 hour of film to watch. Better get the popcorn in.

Building Inspectors are there to ensure that any building is constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations. They are there to help not hinder so work with them.

You pay a fee for their services dependant on the type and value of the project. You can employ the Building Inspector from the council or from Private Companies. I have used BBS from Tunbridge Wells on my last few projects. My fee was £1200.

The concrete pour was organised for Friday. William the Concreter (great name) arrived on time and poured. All went great until we ran out with about 2 metres of the trench left to fill. The driver had to go and come back with another m3. Not good practice and my mistake for being too precise with my m3 calculation.

NOTE: the trench is never exact in width or depth so it is best to organise ‘mix on site’ or order an extra m3. You will then never be short.




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Category: Construction Phase, Maddomswood Barn, My Projects, Property Developing

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