SarahBeenySpringIssue2017 - 222
existing floor by supersizing the 4in (101mm) joists we had
with new 9in (228mm) ones, as well as packing in twice as
much insulation as building regulations required.
The result was effectively an over-engineered floor, but
one which would keep in the heat and any noise generated
up there to a minimum.
Next, we tackled the exposed brick walls. All the old
mortar was ground out, the bricks cleaned and repointed.
Sounds simple, but, as with every job related to this project,
there was so much more involved.
Grinding out the mortar took three days; cleaning the
bricks, with acid no less, to remove 100 years' worth of filth
took a painstaking half-day and was repeated three times
- it's now been washed close to 10 - and the repointing
used up another three days.
NO ORDINARY FLOOR
Then came the floor. It was at this stage in the build that
Jem developed a mild obsession with scaffold boards
- you'll spot them everywhere if you look close enough.
So it was to be no ordinary floor, but a bespoke one made
with discarded wood salvaged from Lincoln Cathedral.
The boards were clamped and air-dried on a local farm for
two months before being tongue and grooved and sanded, all
before being fitted. A long process, yes, but we now have
a floor unlike anyone else's. We can't put a value on that.
Things began to move along at a much faster pace from
this point. The roof trusses were built out to carry 100mm
of Kingspan insulation with a 50mm air gap: just what we
needed to meet building regs.
Stud walls for the en-suite bathroom - the one we didn't
realise we wanted until this point - went up, were insulated
and plasterboarded, along with the rest of the wall and
roof space. Second fix electrics and plumbing, and a coat
of plaster finally transformed the loft.
Now there was just the question of how to get up there
- obviously a ladder wouldn't suffice for much longer.
During the 10 years I've been married to Jem, he's happily
turned his hand to anything in the building trade. Not so
with the staircase. The most substantial first of this project
222 | MAY 2017
was one we should have approached, quite logically, one step
at a time. The problem was we didn't know where to start.
Every night when we sat down to talk through the everchanging regulations, angles and head-height allowances,
the harder and more daunting a job it seemed. The giant
leaps we had experienced over the past few months were
replaced with baby steps, which slowed to a crawl.
STEP BY STEP
It wasn't until the discovery of a website dedicated to
building staircases, complete with plans you could
download and adapt, that things changed.
To allow for maximum space and access, our staircase
had to be an 'S' shape - one of the most complicated
and angle-ridden designs. And to add its complexity,
Jem insisted on making it out of scaffold boards to match
the floor; so more reclaimed wood had to be sourced,
cleaned and in some cases aged.
But, with a slow and steady approach, we mapped out
the plans in situ, physically drawing a grid on the walls >
EXPOSED BRICK WALL
WAS MESSY BUT VITAL