More for less, then.
The platform needed extending as the summerhouse was metrically larger and it would need painting from the inside as each layer of planks were added. But the kit system was all but proof against this particular fool as I had a contact at the kit-manufacturers who would help me if required.
So first the under shed was clad and the walls grew up until window height was reached. Translucent plastic panels ordered to shed water coming through the decking also provided 4 easy to fix windows that lets in light but hides the contents from outside observation. A door to fit between the posts was made at our friendly sawmill. It arrived along with the summerhouse kit.
Up went the walls pausing only to paint each layer of clip together planks. The weather, up till now behaved perfectly but as rain came down another emergency tarpaulin reduced the problems. A tall neighbour, Bill Harrison, helped me place the four roof sections in place and we were standing dry and high.
Very high. Vertigo high. Gulp! I thought.
But this was my job and I concentrated hard, especially when tiling the roof panels. 4 metres of fall always focuses my mind and the heavy felt tiles needed to be placed systematically. Working from each side in towards the ridge was just acceptable if I could just fail to fall. I approached the worst bit. Moving away from the ladder, this involved sitting astride the roof ridge, placing and fixing the complex shaped tiles, with glue and tacks. I bottom shuffled from one end to the other – and then dismounted onto the for once welcoming ladder! But in spite of my fears it was done. And I did not fall off
Avril chose three exterior colours and two interior colours of wood treatment. Our paint-as-we-built approach had been less than totally satisfactory, and extra coats were needed. Ladder work true enough, but after the giddy heights of the roof, acceptable. One very useful tip from Andy was to use decorative fence panels as railings at the edge of the platform; far easier to fit and make firm than the usual handrail, posts and spindles. Simpler and as cheap, it looks better.
From her past, Avril supplied some Indian brass lanterns, which now eco-light the summerhouse in the evenings. A high-level water butt takes rain from the roof and fills a watering can via a tap. As the butt will more than fill overnight, an overflow is arranged fill the pond and/or spout into the field.
Afterwards the old shed was taken down and the walls, which turned out to be quite sound, ‘free-cycled’ to nearby Thorncombe. Floor, roof, felt and detritus were environmentally recycled by natural combustion. Ash and spare topsoil has formed our third raised vegetable bed. Spare wood from the project has been used as a dustbin store and, with trimmings from the tiles, a bird table. And quite possibly a tree-camp elsewhere in the vale. A mast, folding for access, now carries the wind and temperature instruments of a weather station – Ali’s Christmas present from Avril.
In place of the shed, stonework will arise, only to collapse to become our very own ruin.
Even whilst under construction the platform was climbed on and enjoyed by our cats. But more surprisingly we found that they, along with the wild life in the field would not notice anyone up so high above them. We call the two-story shed and summerhouse ‘The Monty’ after our favourite cat, who was killed before it was completed, but after we had watched him hunting in his favourite field.
- Avril Cameron – Art design, catering and permission
- Dave Corneloues – All-purpose building and aerial stunts
- Bill Harrison – Aerial stunts
- Brian Holmes – Masterbuilder and digger-meister
- Andy Spencer – Blamphayne Sawmills
- Tony Studley – Access
And if you don’t believe any of this, come and have a look!