Finally we’re on the home straight and the house is looking absolutely fabulous. Now that we’ve completed all of the major building works, we have decided to concentrate on finalising the last few projects one-by-one.
This month we turned our attention to the garden for a number of reasons:
• The weather has been great
• There was a fantastic sale at our local garden centre in Cruise Hill, with conifers going for as little as £16, and small topiary balls that normally cost around £20 on sale for just £6
• We really wanted to create some off street parking
To stop any weeds growing through the gravel drive, we laid down a special geotextile fabric. On top of this we placed a layer of rubble, which was made up of our leftover building materials.
We raked out two tonnes of sand – which was left over from the renderers – on top to flatten it out, and topped it off with Joosten GS Panels (www.joostenkunststoffen.nl), which look like plastic egg boxes.
The points system to which we must adhere to reach Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes requires that the house must be self-sufficient in terms of the grey or waste water it produces, and can’t place an additional strain upon local services.
Thankfully the Joosten soakaway panels – recommended to us by the engineer at the planning stage – help us to achieve this. They allow rainwater to drain away, solidify the gravel and stabilise the ground. They cost about £10 per m2 but are worth it.
To finish off the driveway we spread 3.5 tonnes of 20mm gravel on top of everything. To save some money we collected the gravel as and when we needed it. This really was a thrifty option as it cost just £30 per tonne, as opposed to the £40 it would cost to have it delivered in one go.
Four years ago, I bought a number of railway sleepers for £1 each – knowing that they’d come in useful one day. And I was right, they absolutely have! We’ve used them to define all the raised beds at the front and back and have planted them up with everything we purchased in various garden centre sales. We also managed to use up all the bricks we sourced from the pub renovation a few months ago to make the flower beds.
To add a little extra glamour to the entrance, we’ve fitted some gorgeous Georgian-style gates. The look really decadent, but we bought them on eBay for just £60! Barry did a seven-hour round trip to pick them up, but it was worth it. They look fabulous and really finish off the frontage.
We’ve been buying and selling things at other auctions too, including a table and chairs for the kitchen. I like the idea of reusing things – society in general throws away far too much – and I think recycled materials add character to a home.
The grand finale this month was saying goodbye to our caravan – we sold it on eBay for £175. We bought it for £270 four months ago, which means it has only cost us £95 to live for four months. Not bad for a London rental!
Barry for one was over the moon to see the back of it – and probably won’t want to plan a caravan holiday any time soon.