An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

My previous Decrofting post summarises the situation with the purchase of the plot as it was at the beginning of November. Since then not a lot has happened but just about enough to be worth reporting.

As I said, I was wondering about buying a run-down house to do a lot to - lots of extra insulation, etc. I looked at the outside of one cottage to the west of Dingwall. It was quite nice, more-or-less on its own but with reasonable communications: off a, for the area, busy main road nearby and only a hundred or so metres walk from a little railway station on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line with about three trains a day each way. The house itself was an old stone building which looked in basically good condition externally facing a bit west of south quite high off the ground which sloped gently to the south west (and to a bog at the bottom of the garden adjoining the railway track). It looked to be vacant with a suspended timber floor (to which insulation could be added underneath) and decent sized rooms which wouldn't lose too much space with internal wall insulation.

In many ways it was ideal. However, it was also attached to the only other cottage in the immediate neighbourhood. Not necessarily a show stopper but I'd really like to be sure of peace and quiet.

Logically I was seriously interested but couldn't really get used to the idea. Every time I thought about houses I kept coming back to ideas about a new timber frame design.

Around then I also spent some time talking to the owners of the caravan site here who have both been involved in the building industry in different ways for a long time. They have some scary stories about badly done foundations around here but other than that have been cautiously encouraging.

I therefore decided to get in touch with a few house designers in the area to see how much support I could get from them. I emailed the three from the who looked likely and had a internet presence. One replied that he was now not practising in the area but I had good conversations with the other two later on in November. Both are chaps who would provide good input and I'd be happy to work with. I have a slight preference for one as he was happier to listen to what I wanted to do and why rather than the other who tended to push his own ideas (which were quite reasonable, just different from mine).

One thing they both thought would be a good idea would be to put in a pre-planning application to see what the planners did and didn't like about my ideas. I therefore decided to get on with that.

I decided first to do a new SketchUp drawing of the house design putting in a bit more of my thinking on construction details and reflecting the updates in my plans over the last year or so since I last went into much detail.

December up until just before Christmas was pretty cold and miserable here and I had a hard time concentrating on anything “creative” at all - I spent most of the time just reading stuff on the internet with only the odd half-hour burst of doing anything useful. This winter I've kept on a fairly even keel mentally but at the cost of not getting a lot done.

At the same time I did the drawing in a slightly different way to my previous use of SketchUp (much more use of components) which also took some getting used to. E.g., it took me most of a week to draw the black anti-racking struts here:

Well, actually it took me about an hour but that was after I'd tried about half a dozen different ways then wandered away for a couple of hours each time something didn't work. It's all quite simple but getting SketchUp to make little cylinders not aligned with any axes hurt my brain a bit.

Anyway, still plenty to do before I can put in a pre-planning application but progress is being made.

In the mean time I hadn't heard anything from the vendor so I gave him a call once the New Year, etc, was decently out of the way. He's had a few iterations getting the decrofting application right but that's in now and shouldn't be a problem. Apparently even if they won't decroft the land it will be possible to split it off from the existing crofted part of his farm. Therefore I plan to pop over to Tongue next week to try to pick the brains of somebody who owns and rents out some bits of croft land to try to get a better idea what the implications of that would be. Just in case.

The mornings are still pretty dark making for a slow start but the evenings are a lot lighter now - I'm putting the lights on around 16:00 rather than nearly an hour earlier only a few weeks ago.

The dance continues.