Hooray – more digging…!

This weekend we thought we should make the most of the sunny weather by getting out in the garden and pushing on with one or two of the many jobs on the list.

We started off by clearing ivy from the roof and side of the garage, in order that we can replace the asbestos cement-board roof with corrugated metal roofing sheets which we bought a few weeks back.  We’d hacked most of the ivy back a while ago, but there was still a fair bit coming over from our neighbour’s garden, so we attacked that this time round.  Years and years of leaf-fall combined with neglect, had led to a build-up of silt on the roof, which had to be scraped out of all the grooves in the roofing sheets.  A bit mucky, but lovely rotted stuff – went straight in the compost bin!  As the garage is set into a slope, there is a narrow gap down each side which is very difficult to access, and this is where a lot of the ivy is getting over onto the wall of the garage, and climbing up over the roof.  Now that we’ve hacked back as much as we can, and we can see the ground, we intend to give the ground a decent soaking with weed-killer, to hopefully prevent more ivy from growing up.  This will probably be a twice-a-year job, as our neighbour is unlikely to keep her boundary tidy, unfortunately.

We’ve set aside a day next weekend to remove the existing roofing sheets and take them to the tip.  The concrete beams which support the roof appear to be sound, so hopefully we will be able to lay the new roof directly onto those.

Recently David noticed some mould on the wall in the corner of our bedroom, adjacent to an outside rainwater downpipe.  The downpipe is square, and leads into a smaller-diameter round plastic pipe set into the ground.  Unsurprisingly, when it rains, lots of water misses the round pipe entirely, meaning that water collects on the ground below the downpipe, and seems to have been drenching the wall.  We got out the shovels and started investigating what was going on underground.  Firstly, the round pipe was encased in concrete, so we had to dig that out in order to be able to replace it with a square-to-round connector.  The round plastic pipe led into a round clay pipe underground, the first section of which was sound.  We kept digging, following the pipe along, and found that the second section we came to was completely broken up.  The third section, however, appeared sound, and when we poured some water into it from a watering can, the water disappeared happily enough – presumably along the underground pipes and into a soakaway somewhere, or perhaps the mains sewer out on the road.

Right, we thought, all we need is a short section of plastic 2″ pipe, that we can slot into the sound clay pipe, and a square-to-round connector to join the new plastic pipe up with the downpipe.  Easy-peasy.  So off we headed to Homebase.  Well firstly, being Homebase and therefore generally a bit useless (although invaluable to us as they’re just around the corner and we don’t own a car!), they didn’t have any underground piping.  Neither did they have any square-to-round connectors.  Being Sunday afternoon, and not having a car, there was no way we could get to a builders’ merchants or similar, but we decided that we couldn’t leave the situation as it was (not now that we knew it was happening!)  Therefore we would have to go for a bit of a bodge-job.

We bought a length of 2″ downpipe, that we figured we could recycle when we sort out some guttering for the shed.  We also bought a 2″ shoe.   We made a lovely square-to-round “connector” using a plastic bottle, and this fed into the shoe, which connected onto the new 2″ pipe, which would feed into the clay pipe.  Simples.

However, something didn’t seem quite right with the clay pipe – we poked a stick down it, and it would only go down about a metre, before hitting something solid and muddy…time to do some more digging.  So we lifted some slabs which form the path at the front of the house, and dug up the next section of pipe.  But where the next section should have been, there just appeared to be a big lump of stone…alarm bells started ringing!  David lifted this huge flat-ish lump of stone, and underneath appeared to be…a soakaway!  I say a “soakaway” – in fact, it was the worst excuse for a soakaway I’ve ever seen.  For a start it was tiny – approximately 1′ square (bearing in mind it was supposed to be draining half of our entire roof!)  It was also completely silted up – right up to the top.  AND it was only about 1m away from the house!!!  Current design guidance states that a soakaway should be at least 5m from any building, and even in the past the rule of thumb was a minimum of 2m, as the water can potentially cause damage to foundations.  Eeek.

We did the best we could, for the time being – dug out the soakaway a bit, and ran the full length of our new pipe into it.  Hopefully that will cope with any rain that falls this week, and we’ll crack on with digging some new drainage next weekend….can’t wait.

So we think the proper course of action should be to continue the trench into the front garden, as far away from the house as possible, then dig a new soakaway pit.  We need to do some research, but are planning to buy a proprietary plastic or concrete soakaway of the appropriate size, and lay a new run of plastic piping from the down pipe into the soakaway.  Just as well we haven’t landscaped our front garden yet!

On a happier note, here’s some pictures of our lovely new railings – made by Beth’s clever Dad!

Cool huh?!

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