Monday, July 20th 2020 – The Great House Extension Project (Day 1)
Getting building work done is always stressful for the householder, no matter what level of disruption you’re expecting. A couple of years back we started to plan to extend our current house to give ourselves a decent amount of space in the lounge/dining area downstairs, and to add a dressing room to our bedroom and make the second bedroom big enough to be a work room and spare bedroom so that Lynne could have a decent amount of office/sewing space.
The architect got to work, and we ended up with a design we were happy with, the local council planning department approved the plans, and we hunted around for a builder. By the time we had done all of that, and found someone we were happy with, it was getting late in 2019 so we opted not to start work then because I didn’t want us to be dealing with chaos over Christmas. We would start in Spring this year… well, given Covid-19 that went about as well as you might expect and we were shut down due to lockdown before we could even get started.
The plan, therefore, was that we would start on July 13th, raw material availability permitting. As it turned out, raw materials did not permit, so today was the designated date.
In advance of it, we’ve cleared out the shed that was round the side where the building will go, got rid of said shed by means of the local freecycle page (along with a load of stuff we no longer needed/used), given away a whole compost bin full of compost by the same means, and have started clearing the loft prior to the necessary roof space extension, and dealt with half of all our wardrobe space.
At 08:00 today our building contractor turned up with muscle in tow. They got going, taking down fences and digging up the raised beds until they’d opened up the space where the footings will go. And that’s when we hit the problem that meant they had to stop. On the corner just beyong where our building will go, and on the public land side not our side, is a silver birch tree which is a thundering nuisance at the best of times. It’s going to have to be removed but we can’t remove it without permission from someone somewhere, presumably at the council.
Cue the architect, Jim, having to get on the phone to the council to see if they will let us remove the tree, or if they will insist on doing it themselves (which may mean a long wait while they get it organised). Now, the thing I’m finding weirdest about this is that wen the planning officer came round to look at the site prior to granting permission, she took loads of photos, so she must have noticed the tree. There’s nothing in planning documents about it, not one word. Did she think it was in our garden? It wasn’t. It was the other side of the fence.
However, the builder, Mal, is reluctant to try and remove it without saying anything. It would, after all, be him that would get the blame (and any subsequent fine, etc) but the frustration here is that the went home at noon and won’t be back until they can get clearance to go ahead. The local Building Inspector, who could probably help, has developed sloping shoulders and is refusing to come out and look at it because it’s “nothing to do with him”. So here we are, getting nowhere fast.
I have two separate tree surgeons coming to take a look at the damn thing on Wednesday afternoon (when the digger was due to get started), and Jim is supposed to be talking to the council on Tuesday, but we’re not proceeding any further until such time as the tree issue is resolved.