Building Blog

We’re feeling fairly chipper. If you look skywards as you walk down Exeter Street, you’ll see why. We’ve got a new roof. Not only does it look pretty splendid, but we’re feeling the benefits inside. We’re watertight and super-insulated, meaning that you’ll be warm and dry when you next visit. And we’ll be paying lower fuel bills to boot.

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Not only that – but when the cost of the project looked like it might escalate – we got creative. Broken and damaged tiles meant that we didn’t have enough to just renovate and replace the existing ones. But we knew that they’d be great to reuse on smaller projects. We salvaged them and sold them on. Volunteers stacked up over 11,000 of the Kent clay peg tiles and that’s helped us to save over £5000. Not bad!

Better still, whilst the money from The People’s Millions was enough to cover the large main roof, we still needed to address the smaller roof at the back of the Hall. Volunteers got stuck in and have completed the work, which would otherwise have cost us an additional £15,000. It’s been an incredible team effort.

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Our dra2014-10-29 08.43.24ins have been quite the horror story. They were badly broken and causing untold damp in the back room, rendering it unusable. Money raised from fundraising events and donations in June is putting this situation right.

Work on this badly-needed repair should be completed in the next few days meaning our back room can finally start to dry out. It also means we’ll have access to the gents toilets, although we will need some serious DIY to get them ready for use.

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We’ve incredibly grateful to the following people:

Our building team
We know they’re a modest bunch, but we’d like to give our volunteer building team a name check. They’ve worked their socks off on this project. From scoping the work, drawing up plans, handling the tender, supervising the contractors and getting stuck in themselves. We hope they feel justifiably proud about seeing this project through to completion. Heartfelt thanks to:

Jonathan Dall, Manolis Datseris, Richard Davies, Dave Fellows, Patrick Fitzsimons, Pete Golton, Martin Moore, and Amanda Nichols.

All our volunteers are talented. But we’ve been incredibly lucky to have an accomplished architect on the team. Manolis Datseris has worked pro bono on this project. His expertise has had a dramatic impact. Planning some architectural work? Manolis consults on residential and commercial projects, so we’ve included his contact details here.


Our building dust busters
We’re indebted to Catherine Cole and Susan Corlett who transformed the interior of the Hall, clearing up the considerable mess that a building project can create.

Our contractors
Sussex Building Services worked hard to bring the project in on budget and on time. They were creative, professional and a pleasure to do business with.

R&M Scaffolding donated the scaffolding to the Hall for free. We’re thrilled to have been given such tremendous support from a brilliant, local company.

Our neighbours
Building work involves a fair bit of movement and noise during the working week. We endeavoured to keep disruption to a minimum, but we’re very grateful to our neighbours for being so understanding.

The People’s Millions
The People’s Millions is a partnership between Big Lottery Fund and ITV. They’ve given over £27.8 million to good causes to date. The public decided to award us with £50,000 of National Lottery funding. Awesome.

Our People’s Millions campaign team
This time last year, a small team worked flat out to spread the word about our chance to win. They secured a staggering 11,325 phone votes and made our dream to replace our leaky, creaky roof a reality.

Exeter Street Hall is a community space. That means nothing happens without local engagement. And we’ve been lucky. When it comes to the crunch, people step up. So thank you for buying shares, voting for us last year, supporting events and spreading the word. Small deeds really do make a great, big difference.

It’s been great to re-open the Hall as part of the EcoOpenHouses, celebrating our efforts to restore the building and reduce its environmental impact. It’s early days, but so far we’ve replaced lighting with commercial LED units, which have cut lighting energy use by 75%. We’ve insulated the roof to tackle heat loss and inefficient old heaters have been removed and replaced with a high-level warm air unit.

2014-10-19 14.34.54For the Eco Open Houses event, we produced a roof section
highlighting the new 140mm of insulation installed in the roof.

Of course, we still have much to do. We face challenges. The Hall was woefully neglected for a long time and we can only forge on with improvements when we have the funds. Volunteers are continually seeking grants and working on fundraising events and campaigns. It’s a long-term project, but we’ve made an inspiring start.

We’d estimate that over 1000 volunteer hours have contributed to this project. We’re proud of everyone who has played their part. Thank you.