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About this blog

Nestling neatly between two ponds, each with its own medium size population of Great Crested Newts, this is the blow-by-blow story of a New-Build with newts. Newts in the dogs food bowl, newts in the digger tracks, newts in our belfry. This blog will take you into the real detail.

Our cottage name is no accident.

Entries in this blog

 

The Great Crested Newt

Our neighbours talk of them in hushed tones. Our friends look puzzled, and then after a few moments get that thousand yard stare. It’s easy to bore people when you mention the humble newt. But people on buildhub.org.uk  searching for what to do about them in planning terms won’t be bored. So here is a summary of our experience in the hope that I can save you some time, money and worry.   Quick Read: The great crested newt (GCN) is a protected species. It is unlawful to handle them (unl

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Piling: Preparing for the Quotes 2 - costing

Making a sensible guess at what it might cost We already know from the previous Blog Post that , at the moment, Stone Columns is the preferred method. So, it's straight to SPONS for a look-see.  Here's a link to the book, it's expensive, but it's saved me more money than I care to count - and here's the twist - it's increased my level of confidence no end. Because I know what a reasonable price is likely to be. Here's the link to a post I made about it recently - goes into more detail

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Piling: Preparing for the Quotes 1 -piling method

'Forewarned is fore-armed' say some. Others 'do your due diligence'. Bottom line - do some background research. Here's mine. (With as many internet links links in as I can to help you with yours) If you can pick a hole I what I write, or see that I've missed something, I'd be so grateful if you could tell me. Method We already know that we have to pile. Does the SI report give a hint at which type of pile? Have a look at this Phase 2 SI Report: Concrete Design page 12, point 7.4:

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

How Much? A simple list

Here it is: as accurate as I can get it. No pretense of getting it done cheaper than anyone else. Just the raw numbers and a few words to explain context if necessary (why did I buy a chain-hoist for example). Yes, you'll probably get it cheaper. That's excellent. The point is openness and telling it like it is. March 2014 Home Building and Renovation Show NEC: £100, including fuel and tickets Phone calls about £15:00 extra, and about £70:00 fuel. July 2014 Land: already owned

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Piling: talking to the contractors; (now) not so clueless of Lancaster

Ah, heart-in-mouth stuff this. The phone goes - new number - no half second when you can adjust to the person you know is on the other end because the name flashes up on the screen. Starting a phone conversation with a technical  expert, but hoping for an emotionally literate, customer-focused, technically easy to understand response is not a pleasant feeling. Add to that a mobile phone with a hiccup and a slightly distracting tomcat (Sid) who fastens himself to my leg in mid-sentence, a re

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Piling; getting quotes and comparing them fairly

Why Piles? Because we are on a spoil heap. Our house will be built on the spoil heap of what was a clay and sandstone quarry.  We are here The ridge of trees 50m to the south stand on the top of what was the old quarry face. We had a soil survey done (have a look at it here) The bore hole location map is on page 47 and the profiles are detailed on the next pages. Here's how much it cost to get this done. (Feb 2015; desk study and geophysics). Our house will stand on the site of the old

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Checklist: Preparing To Take A Planning Application To Committee.

Hesitantly, I offer this checklist because the subject matter is often deeply sensitive: there's so much at stake during the meeting and the build up to it may well have been fraught. Indeed, this blog entry is a pen-portrait of a recent Planning Committee Meeting in my area All the more need for a rational, carefully structured checklist, therefore. This list appeared originally on the ill-fated ebuild site. Each comment was referenced to multiple threads, thus adding greatly to its vali

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

What they don't tell you about owning a digger

The chant "Yer wanna get a digger mate!" started in 2014, and I finally got one two years later. The chanters were right. But what I didn't hear was what they were chanting (sniggering) under their breath. "You're gonna get covered in grease". Let's start at the beginning. How much does a digger cost to hire? £70 per day. How much does it cost to transport it to and from your house / plot? £25. All plus VAT. Bang goes £300 / £350 per week. And it rains, or there's a delay, and it sits there

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

A Note on Overthinking

I'm sometimes accused of overthinking stuff. And I'm a little weary of it. Here's why. Expert status in many areas is thought to develop after about 50,000 hours of practice. And one of the common characteristics of expert status is the reduced need to think about the hard-learned craft or subject. It (irrespective of subject matter) becomes hard wired.  Take my digger. Just bought it a few weeks ago and while using it in the first couple of hours I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. My

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Health and Safety: a summary of the research

This article is interesting enough to read in full, but we’ve not got the time….so here’s a copy of it’s own summary (unedited and in its original format) How do workers, their material, equipment and workplace relate to construction accidents? · Problems arising from workers or the work team, especially worker actions or behaviour and worker capabilities, were judged to have contributed to over two thirds (70%) of the accidents. This points to inadequate supervision, education and

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Planning, warts and all

We were awarded Full Planning Permission in October 2015. The point of this blog entry is to describe the process of obtaining that permission in some detail. Bits of the process were painful. I describe the lessons I think I learned. We were awarded Outline Planning Permission some time ago. (October 2014). And that was the moment I bumbled into (the now sadly defunct) ebuild.co.uk. That was a key event. We live in what is a variously described as a ‘…charming hamlet…’ or ‘… a beautif

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

The Planning Committee Meeting

We met under a hundred pinpricks of light, and two snarling lions rampant. It seemed to me that we were going to need the shield against which they were leaning.  The beasts looked angry, angry at the nervous jollity, the back-slapping, the power dresses and forced open-neck shirt paired with mohair suit. When one Councillor cracked a joke the lions retained their severity. And so they should, because this committee is a money factory. Fortunes are made and lost here. Dreams come true, dreams ar

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup

 

Off Mains Drainage

Let me take you with me on my first steps on the road to cynicism in the building sector. For some reason (sewage smells?) many people appear to delay attention to the soft and smelly until it’s either too late or until they’ve backed themselves into the smallest room in the house; and then, trousers round their ankles, they allow someone to lock the door from the outside. Evidence? Use the search terms refusal and percolation on our LPA website. ‘Refused pending percolation test resul

ToughButterCup

ToughButterCup