Friday, 28 October 2011


Friday is my research day and one of the papers I was reading this morning was  Rebecca Blood's "Weblogs: A History" (2000) where Blood describes the change from filterblogs to journal/diary blogs that software like this enabled and the very personal everyday diaries that emerged - and the desperate need for readers they expressed.

It made me wonder why I - never interested in blogs before - hunted for self-build ones and now indulge in one myself. I suspect that I went looking because this whole experience is not one that is really (in a personal way) well documented or easy to describe. When I found them (see the ones I follow + lots abroad) I felt we weren't crazy - or at least we weren't alone!

I wonder if, since 2000, all the project-type blogs (for want of a better phrase but writing on finite processes like travel, pregnancy, business set up, house building etc) have changed this a bit? And if blogging on housebuilding comes partly from wanting to share in a community still (and perhaps to brag a bit in the Grand Designs age??) but also to work through the anxiousness and rage the process engenders. I will be sending this link to friends & family and perhaps colleagues eventually as a way of letting them know where things are at - and perhaps so that a 'house' doesn't appear to have been magicked from nowhere overnight rather than painstakingly brought together by numerous people, machines and processes - BUT, I think I am getting into doing this because I feel less awful about the process when I've written about it.

This week we've heard the guy we bought the land off has been on to the planner about our drive being too steep. Ours was one of two plots with a shared drive which he's had outline planning permission for for years and he has just been given 1 final year for a generic detailed plan for a 4 bed house. As far as we know he wants to sell it and the farmhouse and land so won't be building it at all if he has a choice.

We're in a little lane between bungalows and a farmhouse and need to have enormous splays left and right and a partly shared drive to not cause obstruction when we pull out onto the road. We also have to have 3 parking spaces and the architect and planner have worked really hard not to turn our little plot into one big not sure why the other owner is the fact he'll have to contribute for his side I guess!

Here's an enthralling visual snippet with ours on the top:

Its only the second sunny day since Rob moved here so I'm off to meet him and the dogs for a walk!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Deferral and Drawings

So, we've had an unofficial ok from the planner and he has invited us to submit our floorplans which we are, how can I put it, "coaching" (?) our architect/design builder to get in for Monday morning. Some last minute insistence on keeping the stairs where they were and the odd recessed wall and we should be away. But I'm getting used to hope being deferred...

I was reading about gender and blogs briefly this morning (in the case of cancer patients) and non of the self-build blogs I look at are written by women. I don't know the details about the house that perhaps I should and that other bloggers talk about. I seem to want to talk around it instead...and I feel that working full time and with Rob doing the drawings that I am a bit liminal - but still able to be driven mad by it! For him it is a different sort of madness - I asked him to keep a journal which he does but I'm certain it wouldn't be publishable!

Driven to a mutual but differently experienced despair last night I asked Rob why we were doing this and he answered: because it is in the place I (as in me!) love most in the world, it is an environmentally and economically sound thing to be doing, and it offers us a rich and interesting future. Glad he remembered.

I've scanned some of the early drawings and already it is amazing to see the scribble (clearly representing a fully realised image in Rob's head, of course!) to early house design:

  Maybe it really will be a house one day!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Still a field...

Its been a week but no change! The planner has been ill since last Friday and is in today catching up – so we should get a response to our plans on Monday. The waiting doesn’t get any easier but we have been distracted with endless amounts of packing, moving and unpacking, which will continue this weekend. I’ve only moved 10 mins up the road but feel like I’ve regained some muscles in my arms!
Still a field:

The cats and dogs are now officially under the same roof in practice for the new house – which we are having trouble believing in. Putting Rob’s stuff in storage last night we tried to visualise taking it out, at some point in the future, to a real house rather than a little field but I don’t think either of us managed it!

Royal Commission archives
I’m looking into places to find building and architecture archives and will have to visit the National Monuments Record of Wales at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in Aberystwyth RCAHMW

The webpage claims: “It includes over 1.25 million photographs and many thousands of drawings, surveys, reports and maps. The archive grows daily as information is gathered directly through the Royal Commission’s research and survey programmes and from donations of material from other organisations and private individuals.”

Unlike the amalgamated English Heritage, Wales (and Scotland) have kept the Royal Commission which is “the national collection of information about the historic environment of Wales from the earliest cave dwellings to 21st-century windfarms” as opposed to CADW (which means ‘keep’ in Welsh) which “is the Welsh Government’s historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales” CADW

It isn’t the most sophisticated of websites so I’m a bit apprehensive. As with a lot of online access to archives, it can be very difficult to get a sense of the whole collection and disorientating to have to search and then know you are looking at records (images/reports etc) in the middle of a collection you can’t grasp. But COFLEIN, the online database can be searched via keyword/advanced search  or map sections and having done a quick check it was pretty cool to find images of our plot on photos of our lane and the adjacent farm, and a history of lead mining – hmmm, less cool?? 

The images are under copyright so not much use here but a taster I think. Going and talking to a real person about what I can find there (what sort of surveys do they do? What dort of donations do they accept?) should be fruitful…

Fingers crossed for Monday