The first thing we did was to remove the old summer house. Then, we thought it would be fairly straight forward to level the land, dig into the bank and site the 2 lodges. Alas, it was not to be so simple. First of all, we could not dig into the bank due to a badger sett being discovered, After consulting with an ecologist, we were allowed to continue work under licence. Then whilst getting ground work quotes we were told that the over head electric supply lines had to move. This was a nightmare and delayed us by several months. The electric distribution network operator had to remove the lines, move a transformer out to the next pole and put cables underground to the house. As part of this work, the water mains were re-routed and also a joint set ready for supply to the lodges. And, none of this work could start until we had the landowners permission to have the work done. Eventually, it was all sorted and ground work could commence with gusto.
One of the biggest parts of the ground work was to put in the sewage system. Due to being in a remote location, we’re off grid from a sewage point of view. Therefore, we need a septic tank. A super modern system made by Graf was out in. This system has a pump that puts air through the sewage to break it down. Supposedly the water that comes out is very clean – not that we would drink it! All the pipes were underground – loads for rain water run off into the burn as well as metres and metres of soak away pipe from the septic tank. This was also a very expensive piece of kit.
The ground was leveled with loads of earth moving but especially lorry after lorry full of hardcore coming. We were worried about how they would come down the drive – expert driving was seen with 14 wheelers reversing down full of hardcore and earth. Even the burn (stream) that runs by the lodges was rebuilt at one point as the water and electrics go under it!
Finally, the ground was ready for the concrete pads to go down. With shuttering ready, along came the cement mixer – also reversing down the drive. Dumper truck after dumper truck moved the concrete down and the team worked like Trojans to lay it. After, the lodge building team were very complimentary of the job that was done.
With the concrete down, the main lodge structures could be assembled. This took 2 weeks with non stop working. The SIPS panels, windows, roofing material and tons of wood was all delivered to site. The team used a manitou to transport all the material down to the lodges. Bit by bit they grew.
By mid December 2021 they were waterproof – but they looked like Smurf huts!
They were to stay like this for 3 months. Due to concerns over the weather and material availability driven by Covid impact in the supply chain, Outerspace needed until March until they could come back. Then, at the beginning of March, Kev and the team came back. They were supposed to be with us for 3 weeks….
Although the structures were waterproof, they didn’t have windows. One of the first things that was done was to get the windows in and cladding done. They were really starting to look real. Then, the insides could be worked on…
It was great to see work start on the interiors with plaster board, painting, electrics, bathroom and kitchens all going in. This was a long part of the job and saw the guys pass their deadline. We frequently fed the team and made their stay as nice as possible. However, it was a big job and seemed to have been underestimated. The guys worked solidly every single day without a break for weeks!
We’re in great danger of over simplifying this stage. It was more involved than we had really thought but it was such a milestone with sewage, water, drainage and electrics being connected up. There was a ton of work going on and we had to really be on the front foot – even thinking about how the broadband was going in. The variety of trades people on site was tremendous. Yvonne was kept very busy answering their questions – most of which were in great danger of going over her head. But, she persevered, asking questions, calling people and totally staying the course. She learnt tons! Each evening, she would share all with me. What amazing job she did managing this stage of the project.
A condition of our planning permission was to provide extra parking space. This was one of the last jobs to be done – with trenches done for outside lighting and then hardcore down and compressed for the path to the lodges as well as the parking area extension. This was going while finishing touches were being made to the interior.
This photo was taken at the beginning of April, just before Ben Fogle and the film crew came up for the final stage of filming. The build team had managed to get the interior of one lodge ready for us to kit out. So, we were busy getting this one ready to show well for the TV – with living area furniture and the bed. It was to be another 2 months before all the interiors were ready with custom made blinds and curtains being the last thing to be fitted.
About mid June, the lodges were ready. Lodge names were in, photos on the walls, kitchens fitted out, all bedding ready….just to name a few things. Our first guests were to arrive at the beginning of July – an Airbnb booking for a couple of Dutch travellers who had driven all the way just to stay with us. This was really exciting and pretty nerve racking. Would they like the lodge???? Well, they LOVED it. Brilliant.