Old Yew Tree Cottage Progress October 2016

At the end of August 2016, the Trust got their Planning and Listed Building consents, on target, from Waverley Borough Council. The applications had been very detailed so as to avoid lengthy time and cost in discharging Conditions attached to the consents. We are pleased to state that Waverley have been impressed with our architect’s approach and the Trust’s philosophy, aims and choice of materials (e.g. hand made bricks to match colour and size) which ensured a smoother consideration of the application.

We had also commissioned a full ecological survey and the main finding was, as expected, the presence of Bats. These were Pippistrelle Bats, Britain’s most common species. Their presence will not prevent the works although once we get the new extension to roof level, there will be a need to have a licensed bat handler to be available to provide guidance/instructions. Another recommendation of the ecology report is to retain the high hedge to the front as this provides a good barrier for the bats from the street lights.

We have also had the ground floor chimneys cleaned. Up the chimney in the main living room (the oldest part of the house) nails can be viewed which were used to hang meat to cure.

In September the Farnham Society had an exhibition of paintings by Michael Blower which were for sale to raise funds for the Farnham Society. They were extensive and very good. The Trust acquired one of Old Yew Tree Cottage which we intend to be sold with the cottage with the wish that the painting, along with an information note, remains with the cottage in perpetuity. As an aside, Michael has offered to undertake commissions of people’s houses to raise further funds for the Farnham Society. If interested, please contact him or the Farnham Society.

During September our architects, Stedman Blower, progressed the Tender documents and plans as well as the structural engineering report. These will be required for both the Tender documents and for discharging Building Regulations. In respect of the Building Regulations, we will not be able to meet the current regulations in some areas, e.g. thermal insulation, stairs, but this is accepted by Waverley as it is a Heritage Asset.

Stedman Blower have also approached a number of contractors known to have the skills to work on listed buildings to ascertain their desire to tender and undertake construction in our time scale. We are pleased to report that there are a reasonable number who responded positively. We expect to finalise the engineering report and Tender documents by mid-October when the Tender documents will be issued with a 4-week return period and they will start to discharge conditions and the Building Regulations.

Once Tenders are received back, they will be reviewed and we are likely to have to “Value Engineer”, in other words, look where we can reduce costs without impacting the quality of the heritage work. It may also mean opening up some of the structure to reduce costs risk which will need approval (method and extent) from the Conservation Officer at Waverley BC. We are also aware that when we open up the building, particularly roof timbers, the Domestic Building Research Group wish to access the property again.

Our intention is to get a contract placed to enable a contractor to start on site in January and it is still expected to be a 9 month construction project. With any luck, we will be able to open up Old Yew Tree Cottage for Heritage Open Days 2017 next September. At this point we will be able to implement our exit strategy by putting the property on the market and recouping our outlay ready for the next project.