From Barn to Shop and Visitor Centre!

Logos

Renovations

This building project transformed the current stone-built barn into a working soap-kitchen and Retail shop, where people can come, learn a little about the history of soap, browse through our products, watch our soap being made, and relax at decked areas outside, overlooking Loch Roag and the Hills of Harris.
The project began in September 2005, and was partially funded and facilitated by the Western Isles Enterprise, the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Business Advantage Scheme, and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Before being used as my ‘warehouse’, the building used as a sheep-byre. 50 years before that, however, it was a dwelling-house, as can be seen by the fireplaces halfway up the walls inside.

Original Barn

Original Barn

Friday 9th September 2005

All Grants are in place – just waiting for groundwork to be started. Builders arrive on the island next week.

Monday 7th November 2005
Removing some very large rocks!

Removing some very large rocks!

Andy and Neil, my builders, have gutted the inside of the barn and laid a new floor …
Currently, MacLennan Contractors are digging out the Groundworks for Utilities and Car-park. As you can see, they are having to remove very large rocks!

Unfortunately, the new roof for the building cannot be supplied until January 2006, so now the development definitely won’t be finished until early Spring 2006.

Tuesday 27th December 2005
 Timber skeleton

Timber skeleton

Building work has now stopped for the festive season, but the timber skeleton which will be the new Retail area is now in place…

The pre-assembled one-piece roof will be delivered in January…

Levelling of groundworks is on-going.

Friday 24th February 2006

Pointing of inner and outer surfaces of stone is now completed, and the stone floor should be going down inside soon …

Continuing groundworks means that the site is full of deep chasms and exposed pipework interspersed with huge mountains of peat topsoil, a portion of which is being spirited away by green-fingered neighbours for their vegetable gardens (with my consent, of course) …

All excavated rocks are being kept aside to go towards constructing my organic Herb Rockery, around the edge of the site …

Work scheduled to commence with new roof around the middle of May … After then, things should go really quickly …

Tuesday 4th April 2006

Walls for extension are now built, and old roof has been taken off ready for the new one …!

View from back of barn

View from back of barn

View from side of barn

View from side of barn

Tuesday 18th April 2006

(1.) The Cranes came to lift ‘A’ shaped joists up to the roof – these will form the framework of beams which will be visible upward from inside.
(2.) Shop window frames have now also been put into place.
(3.) Roof framework now just has to be built up with supporting joists, this will form the basis for the beam structure which will be open and visible from the inside of the buildings.

Cranes lifting 'A' shaped joists

Cranes lifting ‘A’ shaped joists

Window frames

Window frames.

 

Roof framework to be built up.

Roof framework to be built up.

Tuesday 25th April 2006

The heavy, insulated roof layer has now been fitted, and waits to take ceramic tiling on its surface. No more work will happen now until mid-June 2006.

Starting then, three weeks work should take us up to completion.

Now the basic roof structure is in place, a hint of what the finished interior will look like emerges:

View of barn extension and roof layer

View of barn extension and roof layer

View of roof rafters

View of roof rafters

Friday 21st July 2006

Phew … Pressure of work …

Building is in dormant stage for a couple of weeks, while head builder gets married …  !

Most of the Tiles are now on roof, using modern clip-grid system, and heavy slate tiles.

Glass is now in doors and windows.

Glass is now in doors and windows.

It is difficult to fit modern window-frames into thick stone apertures - they must first be fitted roughly, and insulated around the edges. Then the stonework will be replaced around the borders of the frame, using traditional stonework skills.

New window

It is difficult to fit modern window-frames into thick stone apertures – they must first be fitted roughly, and insulated around the edges. Then the stonework will be replaced around the borders of the frame, using traditional stonework skills.
The final work will commence in first week of August. At this time, roof tiles will be completed, skilled building-works finished off, and shop-fitting will commence.

Window

The final work will commence in first week of August.
At this time, roof tiles will be completed, skilled building-works finished off, and shop-fitting will commence.

Wednesday 6th September 2006

The new shop is beginning to look more ‘finished’ from the outside now …

The roof is completed …!  At this traditional landmark, a bottle of cold Bollinger was popped and enjoyed by architect, building team, and myself, under the new roof …

Special weatherproof tongued-and-grooved Cedarwood Cladding has been applied to the shop extension. This wood needs nothing else doing to it, and will only just take on a more silver sheen over time.

Cedarwood-clad building

Cedarwood-clad building

The cladding was also tailored to fit over the external pine ‘A’ beam:

Painstaking wood-screeding has been hand-cut (by builders) to give an exact fit around the inside and outside of windows within the stone frame:

Wood screeding on windows

Wood screeding on windows

And solid bespoke Douglas Fir furniture, designed by Dominic Marshall, the architect, and built by Henry Cutts, the Chief Builder, is now in place, and the first coat of floor paint has been applied to the cement.
Solid Douglas Fir furniture

Solid Douglas Fir furniture

This piece of furniture is actually a soap Curing Rack – each of the seven pull-out shelves will take 200 bars of soap, standing on their ends. The shelf-ends protect the curing bars from dust and debris.

Unfortunately, our electrician burst a head gasket at Carlisle and lost his window of opportunity, which has delayed the project a little while longer (all should’ve been finished by now), however, more work will be done this month, which should (fingers crossed/touch wood) see all work written off and signed off.

Raised standing stone

Raised standing stone

Sunday 15th October 2006

The Hebridean Soap Company now has its own two-ton Standing stone outside the business premises …!

This rock was dug out of the earth under the new shop foundations, right at the beginning of the project, so it seemed fitting to stand it up outside …!
Rain is busy washing away embedded peat and dirt from all crevasses …

Ceiling fan

Ceiling fan

The building has five sets of electric fans fitted:

These work to force warm air down, and in so doing, paradoxically heat the building to some extent, rather than cooling it …
They will also aid in good air circulation which is needed to cure the soap bars …

All electrical wires are concealed cleverly in chrome metal piping (see picture above), attached to joist-work … This is aesthetically the best way it could be done, given that the walls of the building are solid igneous rock …

New walls of shop

New walls of shop

Proper MDF walls are now up, finished and painted in the extension … My builder has built all of these himself from scratch, and because he is a pedant like me, they all fit perfectly …
The facing panel of the electric meter panel below is held in place purely by the pressure of the wood within the presented wooden frame …
Good Craftsmanship …

Wood edging on meeting stone

Wood edging on meeting stone

And once again, wherever the new walls edge onto stone, they have been painstakingly cut to fit the contours closely.
Control panel

Control panel

All electric work has been finished ? here is the Control panel
Lighting

Lighting

And tube lights are in place, suspended by decorative chains from the wooden joists …
Tube Lights and suspending chains

Tuesday 19th December 2006

A  Very merry Christmas, and a Peaceful New Year to one and all …  !

Not much progress up to now … And we are unable to open until all work is completed.

Hopefully the Car Park tarmaccing will be done soon …

And realistically, work will now conclude next year, hopefully being well-finished by the Spring.

Here is how the shop looks … No soap in there, and a feeling of somehow … waiting …

Shop

Shop

Kitchen

Kitchen

The soap kitchen now contains all of its furniture, and is simply waiting for some soap to be made and set to cure there …

More in the New Year …!

Thursday 29th March 2007

Hello again, after a very long wait …!

A little progress … The Car Park is done, Yay …!!

Building ‘snag-list’ not yet completed. Waiting for return of team …

However, Snag-list is (in Proprietors personal opinion) only superficial, and more importantly, all of the basic necessary things are now in place for opening to proceed at Proprietors convenience, rather than Project Managers convenience … There is a long-awaited freedom in that … So we are going to go for it …!!

Tuesday 1st May 2007

Grand opening!!!