We built a house:

Birdtrek HQ was acquired some years ago as two pony paddocks, divided with a watermill leat, and bordered with on one side with the River Gwili and the other side by a private railway.

We undertook the house project without any building knowledge. With reference to books and looking at other properties, a split level design was decided upon. Despite never having laid concrete blocks before, we managed to succeed in building the shell. The children and friends helped with the roof. A few weeks in Technical College mastered the plastering skills. Carpentry and fixings were trial and error.
While building our home we made aviaries and enclosures, and sculptured the landscape around us and enhanced it with trees and shrubs.

Building the House ....

 


THE PLOT

 


A corner of a paddock adjacent to a steam railway and in view of the River Gwili was the designated spot.

 

DIG! DIG! DIG!



The machine digs out the foundations, three feet below ground level.

 

 

 

READY FOR CONCRETE


The foundations are ready for the 10 inches of concrete to form the anchor for the house to sit on.

 

 

THE FIRST BLOCKS


A start is made on the lowest corner. This corner needed seven courses to bring it up damp course level.

 

 

THE LOWER LEVEL


This level is almost complete, and will form the foundation for the two storey part of the building.

 

 

NEXT LEVEL


The upper level is now reaching completion.

 

 

THE LAYOUT


This picture gives a clear indication of the eventual layout of the building. The left foundation will carry two storeys with three rooms on each level. The right hand foundation gives a further six rooms and hallway.

 

 

CONCRETE BEAMS


The concrete beams, now on site, form the floor area. This saved filling the foundations with ballast, and bringing in more concrete.

 

 

MORE BLOCKS


Concrete blocks were then used to infill the beams. This means the house has air travelling under it.

 

 

FINISHED SLAB


The slab is now ready for stage 2. Blocks are already stacked on the perimeters to commence the building of the shell.

 


 

 

Damp Course To Wall Plate

 

UP! UP! AND AWAY!


The lower level grows up to meet the other level.

 

 

WOODWORK


The first windows go in, and you know they fit when you build the blocks around them. We are now able to lay blocks through the total length of the building.

 

 

TAKING SHAPE


The upper level starts to grow.

 

KEEP ADDING


We just keep adding more and more courses, but as the height goes up, the blocks seem heavier and heavier.

 

 

WINTER!


Block laying on hold until the good weather returns.

 

GETTING THERE


The single storey part is up to wall plate, but the hardest is yet to come.

 

ORDERING FIRST ROOF


The single storey is ready for the trusses. These need to be in place to ensure that the damp course, where they join up, is positioned correctly.

 

VIEW FROM REAR


The building now looks quite imposing when viewed from the rear. We just count ourselves lucky we didn't fall off this side.

 


 

 

Wall Plate And Roof

 

ROOF TRUSSES


The trusses are on the wall plate and with none of us having done this before there was a lot of head scratching.

 

 

REAR VIEW


The ones up are still only have temporary fixings.

 

ALMOST DONE


The last few go into place.

 

 

FIRST ROOF FINISHED


Now secured and braced, these had to stand the winter months.

 

READY FOR THE NEXT ROOF


A few finishing touches to the double storey side had to be completed before the next trusses could be fitted.

 

 

TRUSSES COMPLETE


All the carpentry on the roof was now done.

 

REAR VIEW


Stuart decides to build his own house, in the tree!

 

READY FOR FELT


The gable ladders are on, and the pine ends built up.

 

WATERTIGHT


The roof is is sealed with the felt and battens, and waits for the delivery of tiles.

 


 

 

Drains And Gardens

 

THE MACHINE IS BACK


While work goes on inside, the machine is back to bury the drains and landscape the surroundings.


AT THE BACK


The machine builds up the back level, so we can step out of the rear doors.

 

THE HOLE


The big hole is for the septic tank.

 

REAR GARDEN


The rear garden is terraced so we can have level lawns and shrubberies.

 

DISAPPEARING FOUNDATIONS


Six feet of foundations disappear underground, but we can walk around the house on the level.


ALMOST DONE


 

The house is usable. The garden fenced off and growing.

We still need to render the outside, put in the patios, and finish off those hundred little jobs.

Come back and check for updates!