We are four weeks into our house project and, inevitably, we’ve run into a couple of problems.

There has been a bit of miscommunication between us and the people doing our garden. I don’t really understand what has happened but they seem to work in a different way from our architect and our builder and it’s been impossible to get hold of them and talk to them to agree a way forward.

Time and nature will not wait, however, and we are concerned about the various amphibians that hop up our vertiginous drive every spring to spawn in our pond. As you can see from the picture above, our garden isn’t exactly friendly and welcoming for them at the moment. Here is a picture of what has happened to our current pond:


So it was, then, that the OH decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. Our builders have kindly dug a new pond more or less in the place where is was designed to be before the garden people went silent and there he was this afternoon, finessing the hole for the new pond ready to repopulate it with water and plants to make another 5 star hotel for amphibians and anisoptera.


Another, more serious issue has arisen with the house, however. Here’s a back view of our house as it is now:


Do you see the block pillars on either side? They will form the new outer extent of the kitchen and living room. Between them is the 8m aperture to be filled with a bank of bi-fold doors.

Now, the back of the house is blessed with a lot of sun in the summer and it gets very hot. Poor Oscar with his black fur coat has to take shelter under the swing seat. A sunny patio is less useful if it’s too hot and shadeless to sit out so we want a retractable awning attached to the back.

This would be fine if there were any blockwork to which we could attach the awning, but there is going to be virtually no space between the top of the doors and the bottom of the angled roof. Our architect realised yesterday, rather late in the day, that an awning fixed where we anticipate it would leave little cleareance between the end of it and the retaining wall on the patio. About 5’6″ in fact, which is high enough for me to fit under it but not for anyone else.

The current solution is to build an extra parapet wall on top of the slate pitched roof onto which we could attach the awning. Having seen the initial drawings for this, hastily drawn up yesterday afternoon, it became apparent that this will be less than aesthetically pleasing. It looks like an eyesore bolted on to an otherwise sophisticated-looking roof.

Our builder spotted this flaw first. He can do it for us, he says, but it won’t look good and it will block out the light from one of the large rooflight windows in the pitched extension roof. Not only that, but the huge steel beam that we’re installing to take the weight of the glass doors might need extra reinforcement for this new parapet wall. You can see the knock-on effect of this realisation and how it seems to have opened a can of worms.

Until Friday, there was going to be an awning covering the full width of the house. No wonder our structural engineer was worried about damage caused by the wind catching it. No wonder it was going to be so expensive. I decided that a full width awning would be too much for the size of our house – it’s hardy something out of James Bond is it? – so I reduced the awning to half its size but this means that a parapet wall will look even stranger.

I don’t want it to happen at all  and I’ve been fretting about it. I’m worried that I’ll be pushed into a position with which I’m not comfortable so we’re trying to set up an emergency meeting on Monday to decide what to do. Really, this should have been spotted some time ago and not only when the builder is right on the verge of putting on the roof. We’re quite cross about this glitch but I am hoping that we can find some suitable alternative without resorting to a flat roof further up the house or the purchase of patio parasols. I’m sure those are nice but it’s not quite the look we were hoping to achieve.

There are so many different things to think about in this build, it’s difficult to keep across all of them all of the time and things do get missed. I’m very glad that at least this has been flagged up before it was built but it’s quite frustrating nonetheless.