DAY TWO: 8am
Today the builders, NS Construction, are scheduled to start creating a sensory room in the studio theatre with loads of electrical sockets so we can have some lovely light displays. With funding from Cash4Kids we have been able to buy some fidget wall boards, a mirror and a small bubble tube. We already have some fibre optic lights and small sensory items so have the start of a sensory area that will be stimulating and engaging for our beneficiaries.
Our biggest problem today is waiting for approval from the Building Control Inspector of the planned fire alarm system. It’s a bit of a knife edge as the electricians wish to start installation tomorrow morning. Fingers and toes are tightly crossed.
Another early start but the workmen are on site and working hard already. I feel such a lie-a-bed! By the time I leave they are cutting insulation foam shapes to fit into the wall framework they have erected. The sensory room is perfectly placed inside the studio theatre so if a beneficiary wishes to have some chill out time they can do so easily.
The VOS Heating team arrived to disconnect the old oil heater. Apparently the previous owners purchased it from overseas and, when they needed spare parts, VOS Heating had to ring Italy to discuss their requirements. Luckily one of the staff spoke Italian so the correct bits and pieces were shipped! While telling this story the team were trying to trace pipework buried under the concrete floor. They eventually managed to disconnect the oil supply at source: an oil tank buried in a flower bed and covered in Mint (presumably to disguise the smell of oil!). Once the heater was removed the team had to access the roof to seal the round hole left by the stackpipe. Luckily we have access rights onto the farm’s driveway so that was not a problem but it demonstrated how much you have to be prepared for all eventualities when taking on building work.
As I leave site I meet up with another neighbour, Jan, who also wants to know what is happening and when can they start using the barn as a community space. We are going to keep in touch so they can use it as soon as possible. I explained our plans for a community café and Jan is interested in helping out and supporting the disabled volunteers. More exciting news.
However, my enthusiasm is fizzling like a damp squid. It’s teatime and no word from the Building Control Inspector about the fire alarm installation planned for tomorrow morning. Oh dear.
DAY THREE 9.30am
The Building Control Inspector met up with the building and electrical teams on site. They showed him their work-in-progress and, most importantly, discussed the proposed Fire Alarm System. It is crucial to get this passed by the Inspector as the smoke sensors need to be placed in the roof void before the suspended ceilings are erected. Nail biting stuff … and breathe … hoorah. Verbal approval has been given, subject to the building plans being amended to show the position of the sensors – to be sorted by our architect team, Lytle Associates. Lytle are also working on plans for our neighbours, Young Epilepsy, so they are able to pop in quite often to see progress on our barn.
The glazier has started work on replacing the old acrylic single glazed windows. He took ages to remove the first one as it appeared to be firmly imbedded in the brickwork, muttering “how long have these been here?” However, he persevered and we now have five amazing double glazed windows keeping out draughts and, just as important, reducing the sound of passing trains while we are filming. I read that there is a long-term proposal to reintroduce the Crowhurst Chord track to allow trains to run between London and Tonbridge via Oxted but not sure if that will affect our remote community. It would be great if we had some public transport here at Crowhurst Lane End. Yes, you must have realised by now, I am a half-glass full person – and I never spill a drop of enthusiasm for any H2H project.
Now, back to the barn project. Windows in – check. Wardrobe and Sensory Rooms being created – check. Old barn doors being demolished and new walls being built with a wheelchair ramp access. Oh, this is beyond exciting. Bit of background: when we wanted to remove the barn doors we had to dig a deep hole just inside our storage area to prove that there were foundations. Another few days of angst. I’m sure H2H must have a four leaf clover tucked away somewhere because they dug deep and found what they were looking for … bricks and cement (how can you get excited about that but, I tell you, we were jumping up and down with excitement!). This work meant that for several weeks our storage unit had a huge hole covered by chipboard but we didn’t lose anyone … at least I don’t think so. Perhaps we should have done a head count?
So, here we are. End of Day 3 with new windows and everything else taking shape very nicely.
The author: Anni Steere Rhodes is Founder of Head2Head Sensory Theatre. Find out more about Anni and her charity on our About Us page.