So we invented this idea of ‘slow build’, I say invented, we don’t hold a patent or anything like that, but we claim the concept. It began as an excuse to parry our friend’s enquires, “Have you finished your house yet?” our reply, “It’s a slow build, a bit like slow food”. Okay maybe twenty years is stretching the concept a bit, but it has its practical benefits. We were still able to go out and play, during the build process and we still enjoyed the odd holiday. It turned out that there was another upside too. Living in an unfinished building project allowed for the endless gestation of ideas; ideas that have consolidated into what has turned out to be a cosy, practical and efficient home. It’s still not quite finished. It’s a slow, some would say, glacially slow build.
Let’s start at the beginning “a very good place to start “ as Julie Andrews said. We bought the house, at the second attempt, twentyish years ago. It was in a poor state and after practically throwing the previous owner out, we took possession. An old single story, stone farm building had been turned into a dwelling, by the addition of two floors of bonded brick, perched atop the existing two feet thick, Cotswold stone walls. The authorities call this a ‘non standard construction’, by way of a barely disguised insult. Non standard construction appears, periodically, in the progress of our work. We wear it as a badge of honour.
As self taught, amateur builders we learned our trade by trial and error. One early incident involved Jen heading for the attic bedroom wielding, amongst other tools, a sledgehammer. From this I discerned there was remodelling afoot. I tried hard to ignore the sounds of destruction filtering down to the ground floor, until there was silence followed by an expletive. I meandered to the top of the house and, amongst the hanging dust clouds, could make out a masked figure inspecting a stout timber. The attic room had previously been divided into two by a partition wall. We had decided to ‘open up’ the room to reunite the two halves. In this process Jen had discovered a vertical timber that was supporting the roof, it was resting on a massive steel joist hidden below the floor. Fortunately, due to her light build, she had been unable to dislodge the timber and, as a result, the roof remained intact. Over the following years much of the house has been remodelled in this way. Partition walls moved, staircases repositioned, kitchen demolished and rebuilt. For a small building a fair amount of abuse has been exacted in the name of ‘improvement’.
When we took on this project we were young, energetic and full of ideas, now we are older, knackered and still full of ideas. We’ve learnt much, overcome problems, occasionally argued, but stayed true to our ‘slow build’ ideology. Our home is a brilliant manifestation of us, “we done it” without compromising in the face of bullying ‘we know best’ experts. It works, at least to our satisfaction, and that’s all that counts.
Interested in what we are doing and how we get our ideas? Please contact us and let us know what you think. To see some more of our efforts visit our build blog here.