Author Archives: lotti

About lotti

I am a small but feisty (unless you include dishwashers, fishing rods, doors or Chihuahuas) Jack Russell terrier. I like food, sleeping in the sun and chasing balls, cats and anything else that runs. I also like living in the country, which is why I've commissioned my humans to build me a new house - read on......

More foundations – in the mud and rain (almost). October 2013.

Hello construction fans, Lotti here again.  Over the past few weekends, me and my construction team have been hard at work again on site. Finally, the destruction has finished and we have started to build up layers of tyres in the bottom of the trenches.

Now the bottom of the trenches has been levelled, we spread aggregate thinly and compacted and levelled it to provide a firm level base for the tyres.

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We placed the tyres butted up against one-another along the length of each trench, except for gaps to allow services (water and waste pipes) through.  Each tyre was filled with pea gravel, making sure the rim is fully packed, as this is the main weight-bearing area for the next tyre in the stack.  


After minimal instruction, the two-Legs seemed to get the hang of it, though I had to keep an eye on them.

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After about 4 days’ work, we had two trenches filled with four layers of tyres, all packed and level.  This brought these foundations up to soil level.  Then we back filled the inner side of each trench with waste soil from the excavations back to ground level.  On the outer side, we filled up to the height of the first two tyre courses.  The layers above will be filled with gravel over land-drain pipes to form a french drain to keep the base of the walls dry.

2013_10_26_13_32 2013_11_ 2_19_26 2013_10_26_19_50 2013_11_ 2_19_25By the end of today (2nd November) we had completed two full wall lengths, up to ground level.  When I say we, I mean the team, under my direction.  By the end, they were so good at it, I was able to attend to other more weighty matters indoors……

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As the summer tried to come to an end, the Two-Legs finally got round to some construction. A day was spent working out how to get the plans and the reality to match! The plans were drawn up from the barn when it was still standing in its original site.  Our measurements come from the barn as it is now, refurbished and at its new location.  Surprisingly, after a bit of crap maths, and a lot of string and bits of wood, we got paper and metal to match!

DSC_7029The picture above shows the outer edge of all the foundation trenches marked out, ready for the arrival of the digger.  The humans used up the last of their holiday for the year, and on Monday morning a ‘micro-digger’ arrived on hire from a local firm (A E Faulks Ltd).  I took a cursory look at this rather small affair  (I’m a big fan of machinery, tractors and land-rovers are my favourites)


and went inside for a second breakfast.  Meanwhile, Rob attempted to learn to use the myriad controls of the so-called digger.  By late morning, and after quite a lot of ineffectual thrashing about, a water supply trench had been started.


Rob thrashing around in the undergrowth during the digger learning phase of trench excavation

A day later, the trench was complete, all the way to the road, where it will join the mains.  Digging unearthed another load of jars and bottles to add to the collection.  Once this was done, work started on the foundations proper.


Me supervising the soil removal, in my PPE


Katie doing a bit of light trench smoothing


DSC_7101Katie and Rob formed a proficient team digging the trenches to the correct depth and width to accommodate  the tyres.  Chris helped out with removing the huge quantities of soil and rubbish coming out of the ground, adding to the already voluminous bund separating the site from the road.

Later in the week, Spencer and Dave and Tony (Rob’s dad) came over. Dave helped out with the trench levelling and Tony laid sand in the water trench, while Katie went to work.  Spencer was useless as ever, chasing sticks and rushing about – wouldn’t catch me losing my dignity like that…I was acting as foreman for the day!


By the end of the week, we had dug out half of the trenches for the foundations, and flattened and levelled them all off, with the help of Guy and Viv.  We had shifted approximately 15 tonnes of soil, and a small bit of recalcitrant concrete from one of the barn footings that jutted into a trench!DSC_7083


Raising the barn – part 2 – Late summer 2013

In late August, lorries started to arrive at the the yard carrying the components for the roof cladding.


Curved steel roof sheets with condensation reduction coating on the underside.

A week or so later, DPL steel Buildings were back on site, to put the cladding onto the frame, to give us a roof, before the walls!  Unconventional, but you can explain this stuff to the Two-Legs time and time again and they just look confused and chuck the ball again, so I have to fetch it back! Evolution has some funny ways yer know….

Anyway, after four very long days in hot sun, the DPL fellas completed a very splendid looking barn, fit to have a house built under it!


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On site works…..roof and tyres – Summer 2013

The foundations for the walls (as opposed to the frame and roof) are to be made of discarded car tyres.  Over the last 6 months or so, the two-legs have been travelling here and there (under my supervision, obviously) around the county, collecting tyres from all sorts of places.

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So far, we’ve got tyres local companies, Tanvic in Melton Mowbray, Geoff Fowkes in Ibstock, and Oakham Tyres, Oakham.  We have around 200, but we’ll need around 450, with footing depths of around 80cm (4 tyres below ground level).

Preparing the site and raising the barn – part 1

Early in  July, DPL Structures Ltd (a local company – who also dismantled the barn from its original site) dug the footing holes for barn plinths on site.

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On the hottest day of the year the concrete was poured (a standard concrete mix, but including between 21 and 35% fly-ash to reduce cement content).

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Into this they set the 4-bolt sets to secure the barn stanchions.

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Later in the month, DPL commenced erection of the frame itself . It only took them  2 days to put it all up!


This is me checking out the final result – actually something to show for all the effort and noise!!


The bolts receiving the foot of a leg

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Site preparation – September 2012/March 2013

After removal of larch trees from the site in early autumn 2012 (after the bird breeding season)  by Rob, Katie and Chris, the site was levelled.

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After I showed them the way….

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Brian, from local contractors H Duffin & sons, came with his JCB and levelled the site.  Over two days, he removed nearly 1ft of soil from the site, which was moved to the back of the site, next to the road.  Here it was added to a 10ft high bund, to shield the site from roads noise.  This process brought us all into much closer contact with the site’s former use as the village tip.  We found hundreds of old bottles, as well as tons of rotting metal, cattle bones and boot soles!

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Restoring the frame – June 2013

Early in June 2013,  Andy & Paul from Blastek came and spent 2 days sandblasting the frame. We were dead lucky with the dry weather, and the start of what turned out to be a long hot spell.  I hated the noise the sand blaster made, and made myself scarce in the house until it had gone.


Meanwhile, as Andy & Paul cleaned the steel, Katie, Rob and their friend Dave spent the next week spraying the clean steel with 2 coats of Peganox rust prevention paint, then 1 coat of Mathys cladding Top-coat paint.

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The paint was mainly applied with a hired airless sprayer which also made a hateful noise.  Spencer, Dave’s accompanying dog (much less important than me) didn’t seem to mind, but didn’t help much either.

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