The underfloor heating screed had now set, so just the entire building to finish.
There was a huge mini-project at this point. The whole building runs off computers. Lighting, heating, CCTV, speakers, sensors; all required miles – literally – of cables hiding in walls and floors. Here’s a photo of my friend Liam lending a hand. He almost lost said hand haha!
This whole process took a hell of a long time, but it’s just the most amazing thing when you arrive in the morning, heat set just right, and the lights and your favourite radio station fade in. ‘Sick’ I believe is the term. This also means if nobody is going to be at the studio that day, the boiler won’t fire up and waste pellets.
In part 2 we mentioned the underfloor. Now it was time to get warm water into the pipes. After a staggering amount of research, the choices were a regular gas boiler, air-source heat pumps, or a biomass boiler. The government offer incentives for renewable heat sources known as RHI and because of this, a biomass pellet burner was a great option for us. The air source heat pump was quite a faff, and none of the installers seemed convinced it would work for the space.
Commercial biomass boilers aren’t the prettiest bunch, so I went out of my way to spec a good looking domestic stove that was up to the job, and would bring a much needed homely feel to the building. Much maths was done! Really glad though, as it makes the viewing area of the building look cosy as, which after all was the aim of these renovations. Guess what? The install was a nightmare! We built a room behind the boiler to hide the workings but it took a hell of a lot of work to get everything in and working. Something which I’m still working on months later. I should also mention the thermostat in that photo is showing 5 degrees. This entire part of the build was done in finger chilling temperatures and was unspeakably unpleasant.
On to three huge jobs to make the tin shed into a warm workspace. Replace the roller door and front door, clad the walls, and replace Every. Single. Ceiling. Tile. Arghh!
Try and find a roller door that looks attractive inside and out, comes in the right size, integrates with a building control computer, and can be bought with a matching front door. I’ll let you guess how long and drawn out that process was. Still, at least I didn’t have to fit it, because that really looked like hell.
Once the really badly assembled old walls were taken down upstairs, they revealed some token ruined insulation and metalwork which needed repairs. I’ll skip that bit – slightly boring. Once fixed, as mentioned before, we built stud walls all around the building, on top of this went the space foil insulation. It helps keep warmth in, but more importantly in this case, stops the drafts from where the metal isn’t air tight.
On top of this goes regular plasterboard, only the wall is 5.5m high in places so even that was a challenge – see photo of the scaffold tower. This plasterboard then needed taping and jointing by yours truly. Still makes me twitch thinking of all this time spent. The painting team – my wife and my mother – then lovingly gave the walls three coats of paint. Those numbers again 11m x 5.5m, and that’s just the studio wall. There are three other sides! Some serious time and effort.
The ceiling. Hands down the worst job I, or anyone involved have ever done – my friend Tom, my wife, and my mother again. 140 tiles requiring removal, the frame cleaning after some lovely previous owners grew £2m of ‘plants’ in the building and thus had to duct tape cardboard to the roof to block light and heat. Every tile removed revealed wads of cardboard, plastic bags, and even a bag of at least 3 year old calamari – horrrenddouuuss. Ask Mike, it almost hit him in the face. Again, all to block heat and make sure they weren’t caught – didn’t work. A lot of the tiles required custom cuts, some taking almost an hour. Imagine finely sculpting Weetabix, pretty much the same material.
Once the tiles went back in, insulation went on top of them and lights/sensors were installed – a huge job, but I don’t have many photos so will skip.
With the building fairly airtight it was finally time to start putting things back in. Construction of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets got under way, the edit suite was built using the old floor joists we removed in part 1, and the new stairs were installed. Also we had to lower a bit of the floor to get the doormat in, ugh.
Now there were stairs, it was time to get some railings in before someone had a slip, trip, or fall onto concrete.
The curved wall under the mezzanine (another nightmare decision) had been clad in slate tiles at this point and so Ant’s friend Rhys helped us with the frustrating job of laying laminate up to a curved wall with two doors in. It looks great now, and is one of the focal points of the building which people always comment on. Would I do it again? Hmm.
Another huge mini-project was the sign you can all see from the road outside. Luckily there’s a sheet metal works three doors down from the studio, and after nearly three weeks of back and forth emails we found a file format I could send to their printers, so they could deliver me this! The worlds largest business card.
After much thinking I ordered all the parts needed to make it a light up beast that ties in with the building computer. Very time consuming build. But once it all worked we wasted no time covering it in the Fossca swirls and putting it on the side of the building. About 6 meters off the ground, easy.
You’ll notice the building is now looking spiffing in its new coat of black paint. Probably the best contractors ever. Quote on Thursday, painted by Wednesday. Legends.
The question you’re all no doubt wondering. Where were you working at this point? Why in the corner of the building site of course!
That’s it for this part, quite a lot to fit in. Join us next time to find out if we survived the floods!