My New Studio – Week 9

George arrived, as promised, with his helper Roger, to begin erecting the studio…and within minutes the first section was upright.

The first section erected

A quick cup of super-fuel (coffee!) and there was no stopping them.
More sections erected

I couldn’t believe how fast my studio was growing!
...and more sections

Three hours and it's amost up!

And before lunch it was looking like a studio!
All walls erected

The previous Wednesday, as I was in the lane walking the dogs, I was accosted by a driver (no vehicle in sight) who was delivering the roof trusses. The suppliers had sent him to us with an artic (semi-trailer) which couldn’t negotiate the final bend in the lane. With promises to return the next day with a rigid truck… we never saw them again! Fortunately, this is a common problem for George, our builder, and he soon had them racing out to us again and the job could proceed.

George worked hard for the rest of the day and by the time he left the empty shell was beginning to look like a building. I’m glad I chose to have an eight feet high ceiling – standing in the shell it didn’t feel at all oppressive.

As seen from our house


George offered me a deal. He couldn’t find anyone to hire to help him install the plywood ceiling, so if I’d help, he’d return the favour by helping me with the floor and its insulation. That’s a job I knew would take me far longer without George’s knowledge, so I readily agreed. And, as a bonus, I’m now totally sold on compressed air nail guns! What a machine!
Half the ceiling completed - enough for today!

By four o’clock we had half the ceiling completed. The sky looked heavy with rain so, rather than risk a downpour overnight, George worked on into the evening installing the roof insulation and the metal box-profile panels over the completed half.
Beginning the roof insulation and covering

We have 6″ of Rockwool insulation over the ceiling, 4″ in the walls and, as you will see, 4″ of polystyrene insulation beneath the floor. As wood is itself an excellent insulator, and all potential draughty gaps will be filled with foam, this should be a warm and economical space to heat.

That morning George had the windows and doors delivered and he found time to fit the first two.

At the end of the day

Work on the floor began. I had visions of 4″x2″ bearers, packed between with rockwool, and then having to nail down tongue and grooved chipboard. But the expert came up with a far better and faster solution… T&G Chipboard but glued together and laid directly over 4″ of polystyrene insulation. We had the studio area covered in no time at all, and then half of the office and storeroom end, leaving a gap where we could build the dividing wall.
Insulating and fitting the floor

George began work on the partitioning wall and installed it.
Building and installing the room partition

This wall divides the studio from the office and storage/shipping rooms. George was going to build the partition between those two rooms and complete the flooring today… but he was urgently called away to another job and promised to return later this afternoon…
Looking from the studio through the storage and shipping room

…but he’s not back here yet and that’s as far as we’ve got right up to date. It’s been an eventful but very rewarding week!
The studio on Satuday evening

My new Studio – week 7-8

George the builder called in briefly to build the low retaining wall for the concrete floor – having first removed the soil kicked on top of the concrete by the chickens. (Reminder to self: Keep the chickens in their pen when the floor is poured!).

Louie (foreman cat) inspecting the new work

And then it rained… and rained…for days!

The digger was cancelled, because the ground was too soft. I didn’t mind, despite the delay, as access meant the digger had to travel through the field and around the back of the barn – it’s the boggy end of the field and I didn’t want it chewed up. Finally the rain abated and everything was set in motion again.

The digger arrived and levelled the contained area.

Levelling the base - the easy way!

George laid the damp-proof membrane down and, right on time, the concrete mixer reversed into our yard. My vision of having to help George barrow concrete to the far end of the base soon evaporated when the digger took over the job. Instead I went to double-check that the chickens were firmly held in their pen! My workshop floor still bears a reminder of a marauding hen stomping its way from one end to the other before the concrete set!
Pouring the concrete floor

The solid base next morning

Maruading Hens

The next morning (after a night thankfully with no rain) the marauding hens inspected the new base, found it to be solid and quickly lost interest in favour of the soil alongside.

Once again we stood on the base and couldn’t help thinking “This is not going to be big enough!”. So we decided we’ll block up one of the two doors into the studio and, in time, install another one leading to the passage between the studio and my workshop. Reluctantly, I’m going to have to partition off a quarter of it to provide an additional and larger storeroom.

Once again it rained heavily for a couple of days, and George had a concrete job to attend to in Scotland. On his return he was as good as his word and spent the morning building the wall on which the studio will stand.

The new retaining wall

This wall will accommodate four inches of under-floor insulation, and raise the building high enough (we hope!) to avoid the light flooding that this area sometimes suffers in winter.

This afternoon I had to go to the Post Office to ship the pencil packs and worksheets to Loveland, Colorado, for the three-day workshop next month. On my return I found George’s van and trailer in the yard… laden with half of my studio!

Half the studio arrives!

I helped George stack the panels in their approximate locations and he left saying he’d bring the rest tomorrow and begin assembling them, as the roof trusses are due for delivery at 4pm.

Later as I was feeding the dogs and horses, George returned with the final sections. Each section is complete, with outer boarding, damp-roof membrane, four inches of insulation, and internal plywood skin.

Clarrie inspecting the delivery

George has left his trailer here overnight, saying he had a couple of hour’s work to do at home… which reminds me – I’m supposed to be painting our bathroom ceiling… more tomorrow!

My new Studio – week 6


George the Builder arrived at the allotted time with digger in tow, and within 10 minutes…

Cutting the first sod

…the first sod was cut! Yeah!!!

George’s mate took over from there and in no time at all the trenches had been dug, the site levelled and both builders and digger moved to another job.

Digging the trenches for the footings
Trenches ready to receive the concrete


Right on time the concrete mixer backed into our yard. I made George a cup of coffee (he says he lives on caffeine) and in no time at all the site began to look as though it might eventually be a studio.

The concrete arrives
The studio begins to emerge from the ground

You know that moment when you drive past a new building site with just the footings in place and you think “Wow. That’s going to be a tiny house!”… and it turns out to be a five-bedroomed mansion? Well, that’s how I feel right now. Standing in the centre of the plot I can’t help thinking “Heck. Is it going to be big enough?” 🙂

My new Studio – week 5

The final clearing phase was completed this weekend – from part shed to no shed.

I saw the mother pigeon feeding her two young on top of the outhouse this evening, so both are fit and healthy. I’ve seen the mother a few times since the youngsters disappeared but I’m very pleased to have their safety confirmed – especially as I found the remains of a pigeon in the field this afternoon while I was harrowing it.

Today I finally began to remove the roof timbers and evicted the swallows – tyrant that I am! 🙂 There are plenty of nearby trees and access to the inside of the barn for roosts, and roosting was all they were recently using their old nest site for. With the roof and end panels removed, that just left the rotten uprights to haul out.

I discovered how powerful the new tractor’s hydraulics are as I lifted out the only upright that wasn’t rotten at the base – with a push to loosen it, it came out the ground complete with its concrete block. And that was it – the last post out and the job completed!

So the site is now cleared, fenced off so old Dolly the 34-year-old Shetland Pony can safely graze, and the site is ready for the builder to begin laying footings and the low wall that will contain the concrete base. The wall is designed to lift the studio above the occasional light flooding, and to dissuade Ronnie Rat and his mates from chewing their way in. All I need now is the builder….

My new Studio!

As so many people keep asking how my new studio is progressing, I’m going to keep a diary of events here. I’ve been working in the house for the past 30 professional years and I outgrew the space a couple of years ago. It’s time to move out! And Jenny would love to have the master bedroom back… and the dining room… and landing… and all the other places used for storage! 😮

More important to me is that I’ll finally have the studio space to begin making instructional DVDs – a project that I’ve been enthusiastic about for the last two or three years.

The 34′ x 20′ studio complex will consist of an office and DVD editing suite, a storage and shipping room, and a 20′ x 20′ film and art studio.

I’m currently dismantling our old hay barn to make way for the new studio – I even changed my 64 year-old MF35 tractor for a “young” 40 year old MF135 to help with the job. The old Fergie 35 lost its hydraulics a couple of years ago and, despite many attempts at replacing different parts and renewing seals, I only ever regained half the oil pressure.

Progress is slow – not just because of the tractor but because the hay store has temporary residents…

…a nursing Pigeon and a family of Swallows! And I’m having to dismantle the building carefully, because we mean to re-erect it on the other side of the barn, where it will serve as a field shelter for the horses and the MF135.


This weekend I managed to remove the cladding of the vertical wall and cleared part of the site around the building. The new studio will be about one and a half times the width of this old building and ten feet longer – extending somewhere near the tractor’s bucket.


Half of the roof has been removed – up to the point where I would expose the Swallows to the elements – and I’ve begun to clear the old hay and straw from inside. The hay stood on pallets that were raised up on breeze blocks to dissuade the rats from making it a home from home, helped by the gap giving my cats room to hunt underneath.


This week I’ve finished clearing everything out of the barn. The two Pigeon squabs are feathering up and the three Swallow chicks are demanding food with wide open yellow mouths, so they should all be flying soon. Unfortunately, my builder seems to have the same idea. He still hasn’t drawn up the contract and three weeks have passed. On Sunday we phoned to ask for progress and were assured it would be ready in a couple of days. Maybe…


Still no contract! We’re still hoping to have the studio erected before the end of August when we fly to the United States to run the Oregon, Californian and Colorado workshops. On my return I’ll have the electrics, heating, flooring, and doors and skirtings to fit, and then begin the task of fitting out all three rooms.

This afternoon we decided to provide ourself with a “Plan B” by returning to the original company, although their quote was considerably higher – by a few thousand. We managed to reduce the price a bit but that still leaves us with a building requiring a concrete base that we have to provide, having no insulation or interior panelling, and a felt-covered roof instead of box-profile steel. Not what we’d wish for but at least we’d have a building, even though the extra work in fitting it out will almost double the price quoted by our missing builder.

On our return home we were going through the figures, over a welcome cup of coffee, when there was a knock on the door. It was the builder! Contract? “I’ll draw one up,” he said “I never used to bother with them until recently.” Apparently he was preoccupied with other jobs, but now has the materials in stock and is ready to begin. He gave us a start date and will commence building it this week in his workshop (it’s a wooden sectional building). And he’ll have it erected before we leave to run the US workshops in September.

So we’re back with him and I’m pleased. He’s a local builder who branched out into building pig farrowing sheds – which is what I’m getting, with modifications! Before you scratch your head in wonderment, the pig sheds are fully insulated, superbly lined, finished to a high standard and climate controlled.

This means I’ll now have a building that is almost fully finished, including the two internal walls, and set on a base that will be poured next Monday week.

I’ve finished clearing out the old hay store and will remove the rest of the roof as soon as the Swallows no longer need their nest. In fact this evening I removed the rest of the roof panels, and loosely replaced the one above the nest. And I dismantled some of the roof timbers. This building has to be gone my next Monday!

Two days ago one Pigeon squab disappeared and today the other has gone too. There are no signs of feathers anywhere near, so I’m happy that they’ve flown from the nest and not been caught by the fox or one of my cats. Yesterday the Swallow chicks moved from their nest onto the beam to practice flying – and immediately after I took the photo below they did just that! A short circuit and back to the beam. They’re all back alongside the nest this evening and being fed by both parents, so I’m confident I can remove the nest and the hay store next week.

I finally feel as though progress has been made – even to the point of ordering some equipment I’ll need for making the instructional DVDs.

I’ve just taken delivery of a Seagate 1.5 TB external hard drive. If you need something similar, I don’t think you can beat either the brand or price – head straight over to the BT Shop and grab one for just £74.98 including VAT and delivery!