by Jez Bond

So much to blog about. Head buzzing. A three hour meeting in the morning at the (new!) offices of Hughes Jones Farrell proved to be one of the most important to date. Decisions have been made – and more to dwell on.

The roof to the back of the property will be lightweight timber (or metal frame) with plasterboard and sound block acoustic insulation rather than concrete as previously considered. This keeps the weight of the structure down and significantly reduces the steelwork needed to support it and – a major knock-on benefit – negates the need for (expensive) groundworks like new foundations.

The fifth story (fourth floor) can be achieved taking a balanced view on disproportionate collapse, building both new stories out of lightweight material and strengthening just a few key areas – without slotting in a new steel skeleton into the front of the existing building (a tricky, costly job requiring considerable ground works).

So all in all good. A few other things to think about: whether the roof lights in the main house will let in sufficient daylight (given the depth of the new roof) to warrant the money and time installing them; how much acoustic attenuation is required to the plant units and the associated ductwork; whether we are going for a tension wire grid system or other (perhaps catwalks) for the main house and the list goes on.

But most importantly the huge questions were answered and now the more intricate work can be done in preparing the set of building detailed drawings. Programming is key – and an incorrect schedule can lead to Grand Designs style nightmares: “week five and the sparks have turned up to do the wiring but the roofers haven’t yet completed their job” or “no one can continue until the custom built glass panels arrive from Holland – but there’s been a delay at the factory”…. As such, Project Manager Jordan will need to take some time to ensure that everything is factored in.

We had originally hoped to start on site by November but it seems doubtful that we will start on site this side of Christmas. A well prepared January start though would seem to be a safer deadline to aim for – and according to current thinking it would still get us into the building in time for an early 2012 opening. Still not behind schedule!

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