This week has involved some rather more in depth learning about flooring than I had anticipated. From the very beginning of this project we had envisaged and planned for a polished concrete floor, and had discussed this with the architects who were encouraging. What we hadn’t anticipated was the price! The quotes we have received have been unjustifiable in relation to our overall budget, so we have been seeking alternatives. Micro cement seems to be the way to go, although the first floor we saw with this finish had been so poorly installed that we spent quite some time researching entirely different floors. However, this week we visited Koubi Design where the extremely knowledgable Dimitri generously spent a good deal of time explaining the entire process and materials required to achieve the finish we desire. So, with insulation, hardcore, damp proof membrane, underfloor heating, anhydrate screed and micro cement we should end up with a floor at the right height looking something like this!
It should prove to be a super practical floor that will cope well with muddy boots, be warm enough underfoot and easy to keep clean (housework not being my forté!). The micro cement is available in many different colours and finishes, is less likely to crack and more resilient to acidic spills so no need to worry should we somehow spill white wine on the floor – I usually hold on pretty tight but you never know!
At the moment the downstairs area in the barn has wonderfully high ceilings as all the existing concrete and hardcore has been removed, maintaining the height would have been lovely, but not viable given the height of the existing damp proof course. I did have a somewhat complicated phone call with the architect on how we could line the interior walls partially to accommodate a lower floor, but quite honestly once he started explaining that we would have to plasterboard all the interior walls I lost interest and reassured myself that low ceilings mean warm rooms.
The last couple of years have certainly been a good insight into just how the costs on projects can escalate. We have often watched programmes like Grand Designs and wondered how people can get so carried away, but when you’re starting from scratch every decision seems more important than when making an alteration or improvement to an existing home. We increased our budget to allow for an air source heat pump and solar exchange system which will allow us to exist largely off grid, and which should pay for itself over time. Since we definitely needed some sort of outbuilding for storage a garage seemed the sensible option, and then to have it quickly constructed in insulated panels seemed practical and appealing – but is a good example of how ‘trading up’ adds up!
Still, Oak Tree Barn is the one place that we can’t ever imagine parting from, we have happily said hello and goodbye to many ‘homes’ over the years, but this is ‘home, home’, the place that warms our hearts and makes us smile. I still can’t quite believe that we are lucky enough to be making this long held dream come true.