Construction - mostly destruction at this stage - is underway. I've been nipping out for a few hours most days when the gales and heavy rain stop to remove a rockery and completely rebuild a clawdd wall. This is to make space for The Conservatory which, we hope, will result in a much warmer house, partly because of its insulating properties on the solid stone wall of the exposed front of the house and partly because I intend to duct heat captured inside the conservatory into the usually-cold inside of this traditional farmhouse. I hope the walls will act as a heat store. That's the idea anyway. Any ideas for simple control devices and fans welcome! (Please add a Comment.)
Now that the rockery and wall are 'rearranged', there's a lot of heavy work ahead shifting barrowloads of soil and rocks. I've tried to arrange things so that I don't have to move stuff twice. So the biggest boulders - some of which I could only just manage to slide or roll - will form the basis of a new rockery in the middle of the garden, burying the existing ugly concrete path which with dozens of barrowloads of soil. So most of the excavated materials aren't 'waste'; they're useful in a new and more attractive context: a rockery in the middle of a single lawn no longer bisected by the ugly path to the gate which was never used anyway.
Now that I have the detailed drawings of this conservatory from its manufacturer, Val and I set up a datum level which is based on the distance between the base of the upstairs windowsill and the top of the conservatory 'wall plate': the highest timber of the frame which is bolted to the building. I have to leave space below the sill for flashing to go in or it will leak. That done, we checked with a water level that both sills were the same height (they weren't) and measured down to a point which is 1 metre above the finished floor level, marking this with a line. I then attached one end of water level to the wall. This means I can attach the other end of the level to a measuring post whose length below the level is at precisely the depth below the finished floor level that I need to excavate. That is 1.2 metres for the path which I will make along the front of the new structure, allowing for a dampproof course to be made at floor level in the dwarf wall which I will build to support the conservatory frame and glass. The glazing, by the way, will be low-e glass, double glazed, with a U value of about 1.3. Pretty good.
Excavating is the way it's going to be for a few more days if the long-awaited colder, drier weather persists. Then the fun starts! I have to break up the existing concrete 'patio' where the conservatory structure is to be built. This is a hodge-podge of patches of different concrete and different levels and so, unfortunately, has to go. Will I do the breaking by hand (sledge hammer) or hire a hydraulic breaker? I think the latter! But do watch this space...