Cowieswells is a derelict farm south of Stonehaven in NE Scotland. We were lucky enough to acquire the place in August 2010 when we were moving back to the UK from Norway and looking for something to match or even better our previous, fjord-side home. The farm house and steading (barns) command an impressive and exposed cliff top location with fantastic views across the North Sea. The buildings were constructed from sandstone in a traditional style and our goal in rebuilding it is to be sympathetic to the original design whilst creating a much larger house which is modern, efficient and maximizes the unique views.

Since we bought the place we have spent over a year working with architects, planners and generally doing stuff that doesn't make for interesting reading. This blog picks up the renovation process in late 2011 when work outside got started. Over the coming months it will be updated every week or so with pictures, movies and the odd bit of text. Like Grand Designs but without the suave sarcasm of Kevin McCloud.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Week 15

I was away for a couple of weeks running trips in Spain and South Wales. By the time I got back I was itching to see what had been going on. Here's a quick summary
In the main house they have been mainly bashing holes in the existing stonewalls and then making them secure. So we now have: 
A doorway into the utility room 
A window in the kitchen 
The dining room hole is now secure 
The passage way from the main house into the extension is also secure 
They opted to take down the end wall rather than try and knock a whole in it for the lounge extension. That is ongoing. 
In the bothy there has been more visible progress. The trusses are up and the roof is on. There is an upstairs floor. They have also knocked a window to give up a seaward view and built the fireplace. 
The weather has been pretty horrible but the guys are cracking on. We are almost half way through now. It was amazing there today, the storm has passed and apart from the wind singing in the scaffolding and the swallows chirping away it was completely peaceful.

Overall the place still looks like a bomb site, but note he missing gable of the far end of the house
Velux windows have arrived 
Inside the main house looking east. They opted to take down the gable rather than punch a hole through for the lounge extension. Note the opening for the dining room (to the right) has now been secured.
Looking west in the main house. Note the new window and the opening to the utility room  
The bothy now has a roof!
Inside the bothy, it all looks rather cosy. the upstairs floor is in. The near end will  be open to the roof.
New window in the bothy to capture the nice sea-view
Sandstone waiting to be reused - we have knocked a lot of stuff down. 
Hay meadow almost ready for a cut

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Week 13 - Progressing nicely

Things are getting a bit out of sync with the week numbering. This update is up to the start of June which is the last time we were at the site. Since then we have been on tour in the van and doing other fun stuff that doesn't involve having access to the internet.

Work on the house is progressing nicely. They have started to build the wooden frames for the extensions and have made virtually all the required holes in the old stone shell for the various windows. It is interesting to note that although the house commands an impressive location with great views out to sea, there was only one very small window on the east (seaward) side of the building. I guess this can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, back in the day when it was built the insulation was so poor that they avoided having windows on the exposed sides of the building. Secondly, if you work outside all the time you are probably not so bothered about seeing the views.

Well one of the main reasons we bought the place was the views, so we will be putting plenty of windows facing both east and south. Another aspect is that window technology has advanced so much that the benefits of passive solar heating out weigh the heat lose through the glass. All these windows have required a lot of holes putting put into the walls and at the moment it looks a bit sad, with huge gaps punched through it.

Work on the Bothy is coming on even better, much of the steel work is now in, the walls are rendered and the chimney has been built. Persuaded the builders to save the stone lintels from the fireplaces and to use them again which is all part of the vision of "having a modern house that features some elements of the traditional building".

Off to Spain now for 9 days in the Pyrenees followed by a couple of days in South Wales, so it will be a while before about two weeks before I get down there again.

The place has a very healthy (and productive) rabbit population 

Steel ready for the inserting

Watch this space to see where this unusual piece of steel ends up 

The house looks like its been part of a war zone

This hole will be a very large south facing window 

Our mantra remains " can't wait to be living in Cowieswells, can't wait to be living in Cowieswells....