It’s taken a long time but, my Lean-to is finally complete

Lean-to in May 2017 © Ricky Yates

At the end of a post I wrote more than four years ago entitled, ‘Making progress‘, I featured two photographs of the incomplete lean-to on one side of my house. This one on the left, taken in May 2017, just a couple of weeks after I moved to Stará Oleška, and the one below, taken after ‘Jan with his van’ had taken away a whole load of unwanted items left by the previous owners.

In that September 2017 post, I wrote, ‘Once I’ve removed some remaining loose timber into the wood shed, then I plan to lay a proper concrete floor. After that, I hope to be able to hang the door that is already sitting there, propped up on one side, and create a dry and secure home for my mower and garden tools.’

Lean-to minus junk © Ricky Yates

Whilst soon afterwards, I did move all the remaining timber to the woodshed where it was cut up and used as firewood, everything else remained an aspiration until earlier this year. However, over the intervening period, whenever I found bits of brick, stone, broken tiles etc, in various parts of the garden, I stacked them by the open entrance of the lean-to so they could be used to form the foundation of the concrete floor that I envisaged being laid at some future date.

When, in the Summer of 2020, I found František and he came and laid a new path in my back garden, as described in this post, I showed him the incomplete lean-to and indicated by sign language 😉 , what I wanted doing. The project was put on hold over the winter, but during April 2021, he promised to come and commence work on Saturday 1st May.

So in the late afternoon of Friday 30th April, František deposited in my woodshed and/or garden, a cement mixer, numerous bags of cement, a metal door frame and various other materials. He promised to return in the morning, once he had collected a load of sand. Unfortunately, he hadn’t reckoned with 1st May being Labour Day, a public holiday. Therefore builders merchants who were normally open on a Saturday morning, were closed 🙁 So on the Sunday afternoon, František came and took back the cement mixer as it was needed by his regular employers from whom he had borrowed it for the weekend.

There then followed a month of frustration as František’s van suffered a major breakdown and was off the road for over two weeks. Eventually, I got Kát’a to phone František with two suggestions. If he told me what quantity of sand was required, I would order it and pay to have it delivered. Secondly, he could ask my neighbour Milan, if he could borrow his cement mixer.

In the end, František became mobile once again and was able himself, to bring the required sand to my garden.

Sand delivered © Ricky Yates

But he took up my second suggestion and, as I expected, Milan was very happy to oblige. So on the sunny evening of Tuesday 1st June, a month after it was meant to happen, finally a new concrete floor was laid with a metal door frame inserted.

New concrete floor laid © Ricky Yates

František was able to use all of the bits of brick, stone and broken tiles I had collected and his calculation of the amount of sand and cement required proved to be exactly right.

Further progress was made on Sunday 13th June when František returned and, with breeze blocks covered by cement render, filled in the gaps surrounding the metal door frame.

Gaps surrounding the metal door frame filled in © Ricky Yates

He also helped me transport a kitchen base unit, which I had held onto since January 2018 when the rest of my kitchen was gutted, out of the house and into the far end of the lean-to.

Old kitchen base unit in its new home © Ricky Yates

There then followed yet another hiatus. I thought František was going to find a door of the correct dimensions. He thought that I was going to do so. I should add that the old door mentioned in the second paragraph of this post and which can also be seen in the first two photographs, was both the wrong size and the handle and hinges were the wrong way around. So in advance of František commencing work, I sawed it up and the wood from it is currently being used as kindling for my woodburning stove.

Once I realised the misunderstanding, I paid a visit to Obi, a German-owned DIY store on the outskirts of Ústí nad Labem, to try and find a suitable door. I went with my English-speaking Czech friend Kát’a, to try and avoid any confusion. We found a suitable door and arranged for it to be delivered on the morning of Saturday 21st August. My VW Golf is unfortunately not big enough to transport a door of the correct size so I ended up paying over 1000 Kc to have it delivered 🙁

New door propped up © Ricky Yates

Here it is, propped up against the door frame.

In due course, František came to fit it. However, whilst the door was of the correct dimensions, it had its hinges and holes for the door handle and lock, the incorrect way around 🙁 At this point, I really did begin to think I was fated and would never ever see this project through to completion. I certainly didn’t want to spend over 1000Kc to get the the incorrect door taken back and the same sum again to have the correct one delivered.

The solution eventually came some days ago, with František taking the incorrect door back to Obi, accompanied by my receipt, explaining the problem and returning with the correct door. I promised to more than cover his petrol costs as well as paying him for taking a strip off the bottom of the door so it was the correct height and fitting the door handle and lock that I’d purchased back in August.

By the time František got back with the correct door, the light was fading fast. So I ended up using the torch on my mobile phone so he could see to fit the door handle and lock and adjust the hinges. Even then, we were once again frustrated as the door catch and lock wouldn’t quite connect with the appropriate holes in the door frame. Finally, František returned on the afternoon of Sunday 28th November and, aided by an electrically-driven metal cutter, removed a small bit of the door frame. The door then shut firm and the key turned easily to lock the door.

Lean-to complete with locking door © Ricky Yates

An interior view © Ricky Yates

6 comments to It’s taken a long time but, my Lean-to is finally complete

  • Kathy Ferguson

    Gosh, what a saga, Ricky! That said, František has made a beautiful job of it and you now have a really useful garden store there.

    • Ricky

      Yes, it really has been a saga, Kathy. Some of it due to language issues, together with some unfortunate events. František does have a very high standard of work & together with him being a near neighbour, it’s why I like using him rather than trying to find other trades people. As you say, the end result is excellent. However, I do now need to put a couple of coats of varnish on the door 🙂

  • Stephen Morris

    Lord have mercy—If anything can go wrong, it will! Glad it all got resolved in the end, though.

  • Sean McCann

    Hi Ricky,

    That’s a great job well done, dry storage for everything garden related right where you need it rather than having to carry things to and from the job. A few hooks to hang the tools on and you’re set up forever.
    I wish you many happy years of ‘lean to-ing’, and also a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and good health in 2022.
    Take care and keep safe,

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,

      As I’ve said in response to a previous comment, the end result is extremely good & exactly what I’ve envisaged over the past four years. Yes, everything garden related stored in a dry & secure space. I also intend to sort out my smaller hand tools & store them in an orderly fashion in the old kitchen base unit.

      Thank you for your good wishes which I reciprocate.