Picking up pace with the Chapel renovation, today’s Renovation Diaries is an exciting one! Outside, the new/old door and window along the south wall are installed and there’s progress with the brickworks and re-pointing too. We also uncover a relic from within the walls of the Chapel. Inside, the floor is filled and has its first pour of concrete. Last but not least, the beginnings of the mezzanine start to appear!
I’m also here with a mid-week announcement to say that I’m going to be sharing weekly renovation updates on Wednesdays as an additional post. Posting once a month just wasn’t allowing me to keep up with the pace of the progress! So for now, Sundays will be the day for more houseplant-focused posts, with the occasional Photo Diary appearing in the mix too. Renovation content will be up Wednesdays for the foreseeable. I hope you enjoy the more frequent posts!
Fitting the door
First of all, the old Chapel door we sourced from London came back from the joiner with a newly made frame. Due to its arched shape, getting the aperture the right shape took some skill! But the finished result was worth it and the door looked like it had always been there. The re-pointing and re-building was transforming this corner too:
You can see one of the beautiful brick arches from the inside photo, below right.
Installing the kitchen window
The joiner also made a frame for the kitchen window, this was the one we reclaimed from an old school. We needed to work out quite carefully its placement within the alcove at this point. We could see that a central position would work with the kitchen layout and be the most visually pleasing too. With the height, we had to account for the multiple layers of floor that were being installed soon so that there was no issue with the location of the window and the kitchen worktops.
As the door and the window were the only structural elements we would be amending, it felt like a big leap forward in the project when these were installed. I could properly start to imagine how the space would look inside too!
Pouring the floor…
At this point, we needed to work inside on the floor some more. The photo below looks quite bizarre I know! Before we could pour the first concrete sub base, we needed to bring in hardcore which is what you see here. More specifically, 40 tonnes of it! It really did look like a lunar landscape on this day.
The DPM (damp proof membrane) was then laid and the first pour looked a little something like this:
Once the concrete had dried, the floor level felt more ‘normal’ again. Though there would still be a few more layers to go in before we reached the final height. The construction side of things was really interesting to me and the builders were very accommodating in explaining the process. In a while, we’d lay thick insulation, but it was back to the brickworks for now.
Sourcing a reclaimed pantry door
As a brief interlude to the building works, I wanted to show you a reclamation find. I managed to source an old door in an online auction during this part of the Chapel renovation that I knew would be perfect for somewhere in the interior. I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sure where it would go…but it was a bargain!
On my birthday, we drove to collect said door and here it is all strapped into the MINI. Initially I considered using it as a cupboard door on the mezzanine, but the measurements would be pretty tight. A few weeks later though, it came to me! It would make the perfect door for the pantry cupboard as the width was much better suited to this option.
Big brickwork progress
Turning our attention back to the outside, the builders were making strides with the brickworks. I’ll be honest here, at times it felt less like a Chapel renovation and more like a Chapel re-build at this point… there were big holes all over the place! But the re-built parts were looking fantastic.
Around the base of the Chapel, one of the bricklayers, Steve replaced the old bricks with engineering bricks (below left, centre). This would provide a stable foundation for the building as the original bricks were the worst damaged by the weather and the ravages of time. A particular detail of the brickwork I love is the ‘stripe’ of white bricks that run around three sides of the Chapel:
The front right corner of the Chapel underwent quite a considerable re-build and I’ve included a very satisfying before and after:
Some scaffolding arrived for the back which allowed the brickies to focus on repairing, re-building and repointing that wall. We had some more snow too, so it was pretty cold up there… note the hessian and random coat that was keeping some drying mortar warm!
If there weren’t enough holes already, some of the windows got taken away to be restored so we boarded them up…
Uncovering a relic…
Yet more holes, but this time they were the source of an interesting discovery! The brickies were simultaneously grinding out the old mortar to re-point so the Chapel was looking quite pale and dusty at this stage.
The above corner in the photos was where we uncovered a relic. An old bottle inside the wall housed a newspaper from when the Chapel had been built in 1879! Unfortunately the bottle was broken in situ when removing some of the bricks. Steve suspected there was something on the other side of the building too. We decided to leave that in place though to be uncovered in the future. We also added in our own ‘time capsule’ with a copy of the Northern Echo!
The beginnings of the mezzanine!
I saved perhaps the most exciting development of the Chapel renovation until the end. Here are the beginnings of the mezzanine! As you can see, the I-beams are being installed and you can start to get an idea of how the space will look. Some points to note in case you are interested, the mezzanine level will also have an escape step built into it to comply with building regulations in case of fire. Also, compared to some other Chapels, the height of ours could accommodate another full height floor without any major issues.
So there we have it – lots of construction in this Renovation Diaries instalment as the project is showing some real progress. There are also the first real glimpses of the conversion inside the Chapel with the initial structure of the mezzanine taking shape. I hope you enjoyed reading and I’m so glad you are finding the renovation documentation interesting alongside my usual houseplant content.
As I mentioned, I’ll be sharing weekly renovation updates on Wednesdays from this point as an additional mid-week post. Sundays will be the day for houseplant focused posts, with the occasional Photo Diary appearing in the mix too.
For easy navigation, I’ve made a ‘HPH renovates…’ tab on the homepage to catalogue this series. Alongside sharing the key points of the renovation on my main HOUSE PLANT HOUSE instagram, I’ve got a dedicated secondary page — HOUSE PLANT HOUSE renovates, which I will link here, where I’m sharing more of the Chapel renovation project.
This process is actually quite intrinsically linked to HOUSE PLANT HOUSE because alongside being a space for my plants and I to grow, it’s also going to be a place from which I can run my small business. This was something I’ve had to put on hold for a while, with re-locating and all, but it’s a goal I’ve been working towards behind the scenes for the last few years. Essentially, the Renovation Diaries will document the creation of a physical iteration of HOUSE PLANT HOUSE, which I’m really looking forward to sharing.
Thanks for supporting HOUSE PLANT HOUSE,