The Autumn Struggle - don't look down!!
After my last post in early September, things have moved on quite a lot but it hasn't been without it's struggles - however what I didn't anticipate was that one of the biggest hurdles would be myself!
We finally completed the decking in preparation for the ramp to be built, which meant it was finally time to install our doors. Plymouth Windows and Doors (based in Plympton), had been kindly holding onto our French Doors since Lockdown began in March, so we were glad to finally get them out of storage and installed.
The two guys who came to fit the doors from Plymouth Windows & Doors were brilliant, they set to work straight away cutting out a hole for the doors, and sparks were flying!.... Literally, everywhere - so I could see why they had needed me to move out all the timber stored in the cabin... I was a bit worried about whether the decking itself would catch fire but I needn't have worried - they were pros!
However when it came to install the doors - a problem emerged - the cabin was leans toward the decking! Over time it must have sunk into the ground, tilting it slightly, meaning that the doors would have no decent swing and would open into the decking surface...We had no option but to somehow jack the cabin up.
So time was of the essence as I needed the doors fitted today, we couldn’t leave all our materials outside the cabin and equally couldn’t leave the cabin with a massive hole in its side and our budget wouldn't allow to pay for fitting twice!
I dashed around Plymouth eventually finding Machine Mart in Embankment Road. I explained to the guy in there what we needed to do. He recommended a Farm Jack for about £65, and to be honest it was one of the best purchases I have made. I made a quick phone call to Kintsugi's special friend Kevin “Sprozy” Sproston, asking if he was free to give me a hand. True to form he dashed down to the site to meet me. Between us we managed to jack the cabin up about 5-6 inches, which was thankfully was so much easier than I first imagined!
The fitters were able to complete the job, and especially after all that stress - we thought it looked amazing and we hope you'll agree! Then our next problem emerged...
The trouble we had now was the door threshold was considerably higher than the decking, which would make it impossible for a wheel chair to enter which rendered the cabin useless.
Andy, our British Army volunteer and carpenter was due to build the ramp as the next job, but we had to put that on hold until we could rectify the decking. He gave me a very good idea to fix it though, which was to build up the joists with 50 x 50mm timber. We also worked out that the thickness of the decking would also add additional height to bring the decking even closer to the door swing.
So all our achievements over the end of the summer building the decking with Martyn and Sprozy had to be undone and in a week I had stripped back the decking. Whilst this felt gutting, I focussed on the future and ploughed on. After another delivery of wood I was then able to build up the joists, but not after lowering the two joists that were too high and causing a curve in the decking. After another week I had managed to rebuild the deck completely and am pleased to say it's now even better than before so perhaps everything happens for a reason.
With the doors and decking finally in place, and we wait for Andy to have some more time to give us to help us build the ramp, I decided to turn my hand to building the roof....
Now the cabin roof doesn't look very high from the ground, so last week I climbed up to repair some rust holes and start fitting some timber to begin building the roof with a spring in my step. And then it happened... Vertigo! With more drama than a Hitchcock classic, I suddenly felt really unsafe, very gingerly knelt down and shuffled my way very slowly back to the ladder. Back at the bottom, a bit shaken, I took a moment and thought to myself that if I didn't overcome this fear of heights, I'll never get this cabin finished.
The next day, determined, I went up again and managed to slowly (very slowly!) built myself a frame around the edge of the roof which helped me feel a bit safer. I felt really proud I had managed to get it done, even if my knees were shaking at the time. I knew however I would need to go up many more times to finish it, and that's when my brother in law Paul came to my rescue. With a good head for heights, he went up weatherproofed the top and helped me fix a load of joists in 90 mins - although I only went as far up as the ladder would let me! It's amazing how quickly we made progress together compared to me plodding along on my own - a great reminder of just how powerful teamwork is!
The next week we built a veranda over the decking, which will be topped with corrugated sheets to ensure that rain or shine we will have a safe, accessible, well ventilated and sheltered space to sit and admire the garden in all it's glory.
It's been a bit of a struggle for us this Autumn, with setbacks upon setbacks (and that's not even mentioning the L word) - but we keep overcoming them, one step at a time.
Now winter is upon us - we'll be finishing the roof, and planning to do up the inside of the cabin to make it cosy and functional ready for the garden to open for growing season in the Spring. Yes it's a year behind schedule... but nothing can keep us down - not even Vertigo....
If you would like to help me with the build we would really love to hear from you - please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org - even if it’s to be an extra pair of hands, or you may have experience in building things, or better still have a head for heights!
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