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The building of Todcroft...

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Screeds and screams 2 - how the pros do it.

So for the larger ground floor room, we got a professional screeding company to come in.  They were due to start Monday morning so I took the day off work. For some unknown reason, over the weekend both my wife and I had we had an uneasy feeling they weren't going to turn up, but there was no logical basis for that.  By about 0930 I had a suspicion, and sent a text asking roughly what time they thought they would arrive. A few moments later the phone rings and its the owner apologising saying th

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Screeds and screams 1

In the last blog entry I was putting down insulation and the UFH pipework in the smaller of the 2 main downstairs rooms.     In the end I decided we would do the smaller (3.5m x 7.5m) sitting room ourselves.   So with myself and daughter levelling, wife and friend mixing and super fit farmer friend on the wheelbarrow we mixed the requisite 4 tons of screed and ton of cement and laid it in a day.  Fish and chip lunch provided of course to helpers!    All in all we didn't to to

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August 2018

Well it has been some time since I did an update. Really busy at work and of course with the house.  Things have slowed now as money reaches an end, and as time goes on the finishing will be on a "when can afford" basis, but we always knew this, and one of the points of this whole exercise was to end up with a house we could never have afforded to buy of course.   So the stonework is all done and looking great, and I have built the stairs and gave them a temporary coat of paint (they w

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Back to Buildloan (groan)

Well, all the outside is done now except for some weird small bits the builder has not yet done for no reason I can work out - the stone above the porch window (1 layer about 6" thick) and the ground floor bathroom window sill, and the bottom of the porch doorway.   They are coming back which is fine and there is no panic, but I don't quite know why they left those bits undone.   Anyway, as is the way of these things, we ran over by a good few thousand - mostly because both t

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March update. Shiplap Sparrows!

I know it's shot vertically (I forgot) & the wind makes it a little hard to hear, but this is an update as regards the windows etc. Meantime, our lovely warranty people are being difficult again,asking for photographic evidence of *things they've already inspected* which are now buried or behind walls! ..... they *really* do not like SIPS!   

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Q: What's in a name? A: £100-£50

Had to laugh yesterday as I got demand number 4 from our council for us to fill in a form for us to beg their permission to call our house what we want (there are no street numbers as there is no street) .  Their first attempt about a year ago when we started building was to try it on for £100 and when I ignored that another form was sent asking for £50. The funny bit was they addressed it to the house, and the form explains that unless we pay the bribe we will not receive mail or deliveries at

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A fire test.

Well my old back injury came back and bit me over the weekend (nothing I'd done, just a chronic condition for which I'm on painkillers permanently and which flares up worse occasionally for no apparent reason)  -  and I'm off work unfortunately, laid up, so this has given me an opportunity to post this. Our patio doors were fitted by a very efficient and friendly team, who left a couple of offcuts, and as is my wont with these things, I decided to fire test them (yes, I know I videoed it vertica

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A raging convection flow and a cold nose...

It has been a cold few weeks here at Todcroft, with -13c at one point, which saw us flee from the caravan when all water, toilet and even the LPG froze and no longer worked. So we set up in the house even though we only have temporary polythene windows.   But this bad weather (to be expected of course) combined with lack of windows and just (triple glazed ) polythene in place of glass, has meant running fan heaters pretty much 24/7 to even keep slightly warm, though that's a misnomer a

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January video update, and a girls school!

As I said a couple of posts ago, I thought I'd put video updates on to save time. This one is without much detail, just a quick update on where the build is and a whirlwind tour of the house on a snowy Northumberland day.   

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Warranty inspection woes.

Well rather than repeat everything here, this is the link to the issues we've had with our building warranty inspections. At it's most basic the issue is that our inspector has not dealt with SIPs before and both he and his boss appear to have objections to anything other than brick and block.  Those issues have taken up weeks of the time we should have been working on the house. In the end, although his boss claims he's been an inspector over 10 years, his behaviour/knowledge level makes

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A long long time ago...

So it's been months since I've updated this blog. This is because things have just been so hectic. These last few months, and probably for the next 12 at least, my life consists of going to work, coming home and working on the house then going to bed - then going to work... and repeat. Pretty much everything else has come to a halt. Very few social calls and even my hair isn't getting cut as often!    Masses has happened, but hopefully I'll get time to write it up one day.

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Passing inspection.

Two weeks ago today our stonemason started and poor guy it rained heavily from the very first day! In fact, so bad on the first day that I fully expected him to give it a miss, but there he was when I got home from work, grafting away on his own.  Being a SIPs build, the roof is already in place, so of course all the rain falling on the surface area of the roof flows straight off - directly onto where he is building the stonework below. So this weekend, I managed to get the fascia board and soff

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Eureka - Northern Electric Networks finally turn up!

Well, though in total it was almost 7 months, we finally got electricity. Life in the caravan is now much more civilised, and I can write this without ear defenders on because of the generator noise. No more lukewarm showers or worrying about flattening the caravan battery. Hooray!   On the other hand, our builder is getting increasingly vague about when he will do the stonework on the house and it is getting very much colder in the caravan now here in Northumberland - we have to keep

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Floors, horses and UFH

So apart from the long running saga getting the Northern electric network  to understand their own reson d'etre, I've started to do the utility and downstairs bathroom, so as to give us facilities as soon as possible. Coincidentally the two houses to the North of us have been bought and are being renovated and the guy doing the building work called in to see me and very kindly told me that there has been a 14% or so rise in insulation costs and another forecast for October according to his

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Services.... or not.

Electricity:  Well, we applied for electricity to be connected in March of this year (It is late August as I write this).  Made a couple of calls to see how things were progressing, but never got any call backs. It would have been great to have an electricity supply for the a lot of the work, but in the end I had to buy a generator, which has been a godsend. So come August and we are now living on site in a caravan. I've been in for the last couple of weeks and last night my wife moved in too (w

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The stone arrives, as does a caravan!

Well, some interesting developments: 1. We bought a caravan! Even though it's only about 8 miles from where we are temporarily renting (though that "temporary" has ended up into it's 3rd year since we sold our old house!) , it's a pain working on the house then having to hide/ lock everything away each time, before going home, then spend half an hour getting it all out again next day, so we gave notice on our temporary tenancy and are moving onto the site at the end of the month. That shoul

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The house arrives & I get a real life Tonka toy!

Well, things, as I suspected might be the case, have gone from slow, slow, slower, to a sudden rate of knots overnight. After an initial bump where we discovered that the architect had drawn the SIPs to start at the beam and block floor level, (but with 2 weeks to go the SIPs designer pointed out that the soleplate must be 150mm minimum above that), we quickly got the builder to some blocks laid to give us the 100mm insulation, 75mm screed + stone floor height needed.    Building regs

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Mains and drains.

We are now looking at getting the services into place before June when our SIPs should turn up. I've found both water board and electricity folks to be really helpful and approachable thus far when I've asked for advice or clarification.  I also think their charges are not excessive actually, which I know is not the experience nationally. That may also be because we are very fortunate in having the water running 1 metre away along one boundary and the electricity main running underground 1 metre

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Founds in.... and lessons from Buildstore.

So we ended up with 2 builders in the running. One who has built SIPS before but who was quite negative, (saying his guys wouldn't like the travel, his masons wouldn't like the reclaimed stone and his roofer wouldn't like the slate... he was also not happy with how he'd get pallets of the stone to 1 side of the house where it's near the boundary) and the other who had a "nothing is a bother" attitude, and an excellent reputation locally. As it happened, the second one also had the most competiti

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Price creep on the SIPs. The Grand Designs Effect?

Hmm, sent the full plans off for the SIPs price a while ago, and got the proposals and price back showing where steel beams would be required and were factored into  the price etc.  Sent our deposit off and now getting emails (in language we struggle to understand what they are actually trying to say) saying they'll have to add this that and the other - starting to get a bad feeling that the price is getting bumped.  The designer is saying they did not allow for X, Y & Z in the price and so

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Hooray!

Well, we finally started real work. Fortunately the snow melted yesterday, but the sun shone on us today and it was perfect weather for setting out and stripping the site.   We finally found a good builder with a lovely attitude and a fair price. I know these folks by reputation so was pleased to find their quote was competitive. Just the owner was on site today along with a digger driver from a firm he uses, and what an enjoyable day it has been. The two of them taking the mickey out of each ot

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Hurry up... and wait

Well, progress of sorts, with BR agreement to the plans and finance decision in principle all fine.  Getting builders quotes has proved very problematic for some reason, which wasn't an issue I foresaw. Out of 12 who responded via those check-a-trade and trusted people web sites, only 2 eventually came through with anything, one very detailed and very good, who is so busy they could only offer to do the founds, another who I really liked when I met the owner, but whose quote came in one day and

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Plans and an unexpected visit to another site.

Visited a site being built by Sips of Clays today, who are our choice of supplier. Had called Clays to ask a question about lead times (it's around 12 weeks) following a query from one of the builders I've asked to quote for the outer walls, roof etc. and discovered by chance that they are erecting a SIPs build about 15 miles from me -now that's not something that happens often in Northumberland so it was great to have the opportunity to go and see the work in action, and their client kindly agr

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In the beginning...

So here we are, owning a bit of field in a National Park. The plan is to build a house for less than it would cost to buy one and of course to a much higher standard, particularly where insulation is concerned. We can build in the national park because I grew up in the village (local occupancy clause on all new builds) Now in this rural area, that is do-able as market forces mean retirees and people on city wages have driven the prices up well beyond what anyone on a rural wage can afford, in fa

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