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Welcome to our "ongoing building projects" page! 

Most of the time we only have our own hands for our massive endeavours, but we also have many years of engineering, alternative energy, and other sustainable building skills we would love to teach you. We can help inspire you and get you started - or "over the hump" - on your own projects, and teach you for free whichever skills you would like to learn. Accommodation can be arranged according to your needs. Full free tuition provided. 

We are NOT a commercial company, we are simply passionate ambassadors with a big project for green living, who want to share our philosophy and knowledge about alternative energy and sustainable living with like-minded people, who learn for free, whilst progressing a significant project.... sustainably!

So how would you like a "skill and chill" break with us for one or two weeks in beautiful rural Normandy? Learning how to build a wall, tile a roof, make a wind turbine, or an off-grid solar PV system, make your own mini-power station?

If you have a project of your own or you're just curious to learn, then come and see us, so we can show you what's involved - and maybe we can even empower you to do it yourself!!  

Does this all sound too good to be true? Our most urgent projects are described below, take a look, and contact us! And if what you would like to learn is not mentioned below, or you just want to refresh your existing skills, contact us anyway, chances are we have a match!  Prior helpers, young and old alike, with no skills base but a keen enthusiasm, have gone on to formalise their interests into projects, and even forge their own careers! Please read and take note of the legal disclaimer on our contact pageThis is essential, since we are individuals sharing information and knowledge informally and free of charge, but your physical safety and how you use this information is Your responsibility, as if the project were your Own!

And help us spread the "Echo" in "Echorenovate" by sharing this page using these Facebook, Twitter and G+ links. Thank you!

 Project Range #1 - Slate Roofing

We have 3 slate roofing projects: small, medium, and quite large! All our projects will touch on overlapping skills - we have just tried to break the projects down into bite-sized chunks so that you can see the satisfaction of following them through and specialise in an area of your choice.


1a. Large hip-roofed barn aka "Animal barn". Oak framed building to restore to covered barn state.  Range of skills, roofing, woodworking, brickwork, general restoration. Steps: remove old slate tiles, conserving where possible. Check and repair wood work. Insulate on outside, then reroof with wooden structure and slates over insulation. Guttering, lead and zincwork. Solar panel installation on new roof as electricity source for future eco-gites. Project time: 2 people 10 days @ 8h days.


1b. Red-bricked "barn" toilet (aka the North loo!). Great reroofing project for a newbie to roofing, easy square structure, slates, "faitage" on top, guttering, wooden plinth, lead and zincwork. Project time: 1 or 2 people 5 days @ 8h days.


1c. Red-brick and flint "house" toilet (aka the South loo!). Slightly bigger project than 1b, extra work required - see brickwork 2c. Project time: 1 or 2 people 1 weeks @ 8h days.


Animal barn: projects 1a, 2a, 4a. 

 Red bricked "barn" toilet: projects 1b, 2b.

 Red brick and flint "house" toilet: projects 1c, 2c.

 Entrance to finish, with solar electric opening: project 2d.

Project Range #2 - Brick-laying.

We have 5 brick-laying projects, again all different sizes! The bricks are local and hand-made, from 30km up the road, Briquetteire Lagrive at Lisieux, and others are old bricks cleaned and re-used on site.


2a. "Animal barn". Rebuilding 2 x exterior brick walls - currently facing outwards and falling down! - with oak frame / wattle and daub structure, sitting on top of oak wall plates. Also works with roofing and wood structure projects 1a and 4a. Also includes building thermal block wall up the inside of the barn to render it structurally sound ie independent of the brick facade. Project time: 2 to 3 people 2 weeks 8h days.


2b. Red-bricked "barn" toilet (aka the North loo!). Repair and restore brickwork, especially under roof wall plate and at foundation level. Pointing in white cement. Project time: 1 person 3 to 5 days 8h days.


2c. Red-bricked "house" toilet (aka the South loo!)  Restoration of a red-brick and flint wall, ornamental brickwork around arched window. You will also learn valuable hints on underpinning  - when you need to do it, and how - how to tie in a wall, how to repoint old bricks. Project time: 1 person 5 days 8h days.


2d. Finish Entrance, and build wall from entrance to South loo 2c. Hand-made bricks, some experience preferred if possible, we always "build to a line"  - a tight string level from one end to another of a wall - but this one does need to be moderately straight! Project time: serious brick-laying projects are entirely based on experience, 5 days should do it for 1 person with some experience.


2e. Build wall from main house to North loo 2b. Includes pedestrian entrance in wall. Hand-made bricks, experience preferred! Project time: serious brick-laying projects are entirely based on experience,10 days should do it for 1 person with some experience.


Project #3 - Structural re-engineering of a large exterior door area in the barn (aka "The Fourth Door").

This project looks deceptively simple, but will encompass a wide variety of skills, from basic structural engineering, through brickwork, and making an oak plank barn door! The sloping brick support under the 2 ton pinciple beam needs reinforcement - see photos. Project  time: 1 person 5 days @ 8h days.

Exterior door: project 3.

Restoration of oak barn: project 4c.

Project Range #4 -  Structural Woodwork

4a. "Animal barn" main structure. Repairing and rebuilding oak frame of animal barn, including replacement and repair of wall plates and roof beams on existing RSJ (H beam) structure. Alongside projects 1a and 2a. Project time: 1 to 2 people 5 days @ 8h days.

4b. "Animal barn" large oak door. Make from oak planks, for covering front of building. Project time: 2 people 3 to 4 days @ 8h days.

4c. Restoration of old oak garage / barn structure 20m2 for our pedal car and bike storage. The old structure being unsafe, we have demolished it carefully, but kept as many as possible of the old building beams under tarpaulin, for use in this project. Follow old photos and CAD technical drawings to build a copy, with exterior wood cladding, insulation and interior wood cladding, insulation, slate roof.

Project: 2 to 3 people 30 days @ 8h days.

Project #5 - Construction of a low courtyard approx 60m2. Replacing existing lean-to structure and on existing hard-standing, for use as animal housing and organic produce storage area, currently used as storage. Project time: 3 people 15 days @ 8 hr days. 

Animal courtyard / storage area (see lean-to on left of photo, taken whilst we were re-roofing the long barn - see Sustainable Building). Project 5.

2016 The Animal Barn/Lecture Theatre gets a new slate roof.

All Walls repaired and new interior thermal block walls sitting on a new raft foundation.  3 new windows being installed, and 2 new barn doors. 

© 2014 Echorenovate Sally Woods-Bryan & Leslie Bryan Microengineering