Now inside the barn, we started to plan the removal of the existing timber floor that was not structurally sound. taking up the boards was simple enough with a scaffolding pole for leverage. The beams, however, were another matter! It required 4 people, 2 acrowprops, 1 mini-digger, 1 chainsaw and series of the ropes. By propping-up the beams and then sawing through them, then lowering the loose end down to the ground with the arm of the digger, we managed to complete the task. It was another example of problem solving, teamwork and brutally delicate work!
Once the beams were removed, we were able to deconstruct the internal stone wall, carefully taking the blocks (some up to 1m long and 220x300mm in section) down in the bucket of the dumper truck. Each cut block was set aside to be re-used at a later date.
With the barn clear of obstacles, we set about digging out for the foundation strips and organising the ground floor levels. Before embarking on any excavations of the ground we arranged for our archaeologist to oversee the work, checking for clues as to the previous use of the buildings.
Following the excavations we were able to create the 3 levels of the ground floor and cast the foundation strips. This meant substantial movement of earth around the ground area, which Paul made light work of!
The new walls started to be erected just above the level of the floor, so that we could then go on to cast the floor slabs.
The foul drainage pipework was also installed, with pea-gravel bed and connections formed through the hefty stone walls of the barn. After some shenanigans with pipe work for the district heating system (probably requires another blog to explain) we were ready to prepare the ground for the casting of the concrete slabs. After shifting more earth and compacting it to be a solid bed, 3 tonnes of sand was used to create the blinding (layer to stop any sharp stones tearing the damp proof membrane (dpm). Then we set about laying and taping the dpm, laying out the reinforcement mesh and resting it on the castles. With a willing team, this was achieved in half a day… ready for the concrete pouring!
This all took several months to complete, with over over 10 different builders involved!