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Third self build in 26 years, 3 days since the tf arrived on site 











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Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

So last Tuesday saw us eventually getting the track inspection passed and we were told 5-10 days for connection.This morning I decided to phone to see if they had a date for us and was told 19th November but could be earlier.Half an hour later Scottish Water draw up so I go to see what’s happening, well I was here to make your connection but I won’t be doing it, firstly the hole is full of water- oh really well we did warn you this would happen! Secondly you have to get a chapter 8 - you can then imagine the explosion that happened mostly by me as hubby seems to be able to keep his temper better than me, so he goes back to his van and I go into the caravan to phone them, a lot of good that did me, as far as that department was concerned they’d done their bit and passed it!  I was exasperated where do you go from there,? However mr jobsworth had been phoning his gaffer and came back to tell us if we got road signage etc he would come back and do it, even gave us his phone number to phone him, admitted it was a 10 min job , I was actually pondering giving him a backhander just to do it but considering SW have had over a thousand pounds from us for doing nothing I reconsidered. The signs are ordered and hopefully he will come back by the end of the week to do it. The other problem of the staircase rumbles on, we told the kit company we couldn’t and wouldn’t pay any more for it since it was the architect who made the mistake and he refused to pay. He then came back out and a new plan was put together for a reposition of the staircase with the architect agreeing to pay for extra balustrade since it was no longer beside the wall, he had been going to pay for the cantilever which would have been needed if we’d gone with the first plan. Today I was given the new over cost which is £1100 which I duly sent over to the architect who then back tracks and decides he’ll only pay the amount that the cantilever was going to cost and it was going to be a sidey from a friend of his.Tomorrow someone has to take responsibility or I’m afraid it’s going into the hands of our solicitor.

Christine Walker

Christine Walker


Driven to the edge

I am a very strong person, I don’t usually let things get me down, If I think it’s at all possible to do something myself I don’t ask for help, not even from hubby, some of the things I’ve done many a woman wouldn’t even know about never mind know how to do but these last few weeks have broken me. After the major problem with our electricity supply which I managed to sort out I didn’t think it could get any worse but things are all just getting on top of me now to the point where I have cried today. The electricity is now in which should be a good thing but since Scottish Water seem he’ll bent on making life difficult the electricity doesn’t actually help a lot since we need water to get the heating on and this has a knock on effect on painting and floor laying which will now need to wait, every little thing is now annoying me and if anyone asked me if I would recommend self build I’d say a definite NO.however an hour has passed since I started this post and the cry seems to have helped let off steam, we will continue on as there’s no other option!

Are they doing it on purpose!!!

So 16 days ago the builder said he had a weeks worth of work to do, 16 days later he still has, the electricity connection is happening this week and we’ve told them once there is power we’re in but it doesn’t seem to make any difference to them, the plumber said today when I told him our plans, do you really think this will happen, short answer- yes you lot are not forcing me into staying in this caravan any longer my furniture is coming home next Thursday and once it’s here there’s no builders getting in I’ve seen how they treat your belongings, why do they not finish a room at a time, shut the door and know they don’t have to go back in there, oh no that would be using your brain, instead they leave a window sill or piece of skirting to be done and move onto something else and that’s if they bother coming out at all, we’ve had 3 days of attendance the last fortnight, fed up doesn’t even begin to cut it!

So near but so far away

That’s exactly what it feels like! Builders have said they have a weeks worth of jobs to do, there’s been a hold up with the staircase, nobody signed it off, the architect came out and did all the calcs and I asked him to contact staircase firm with them, at the same time I emailed them and told them architect was going to contact them but I did feel they needed a visit to see what they were dealing with, this was on August 29th , they never answered me and I took it all was in hand, however I decided to phone them last week as they had said it would be ready beginning of October, f**k, the architect didn’t get back to them and instead of them getting on to me they just let it lie. So now we’re looking at another 4-5 weeks for it appearing, it’s odd that a hand built kitchen can be done in a fortnight but a staircase takes so long. Since I’d not been upstairs we got a cheap staircase and joiners fitted it so I was pleasantly surprised at how the upstairs looks, my mind had been playing tricks on me regarding this but all was well. Hubby has taken over the drain installation as when the builders started to dig with a small machine it was quite obvious they hadn’t a clue what they were doing, a lot of them seem to be jack of all trades! The kitchen is in and we await the corian, once this is done the painter comes along to hand paint it, it’s just under coated at present, it’s a mix of oak and painted, looks good so far and the installer spent 6 days installing, a lot of attention to detail. The electricity is coming on October 22nd , we almost lost that slot because BT were booked in for the same week and wouldn’t work with SP energy, this was going to be a problem because the next available date for the contractor was end of November, in the end I had to cancel the phone connection to enable the power company to get in first but the chap who’s the contract manager has been fantastic and has agreed to put our water duct in at the same time. Most of our problems on this build have been with the utilities, something we’d not come across before as we had water and power on site in previous builds. It’s not been easy living in the caravan this last 5 months and oddly enough we have had little help from family who pay a duty call once a month, most of our help has come from people who were strangers until we started this, I don’t know where we would have been without the lovely lady who bought our cottage, she has provided water, power and even her shower in the cottage, it just makes you reevaluate things!

Nitty gritty

As the title says we’re getting into the nitty gritty now with so many things to make final decisions on.   Kitchen is all finalised, David l Douglas have been fantastic so far, we’ve had four visits to them and two visits from their project manager to the site, we’ve got samples of sink, door handles, worktop and paint colour and their service so far cannot be faulted. We decided to source our own range and fridge freezer and had to send them a link to the exact model so everything is in place for October 1st.   Elsewhere the work continues, however there are always little niggles that occur when you employ people to do jobs that you previously did yourself and they don’t seem to work in any order, they do a bit of this then move on to something else without completely finishing anything, they talk about doing something which you think means they’ll do it now but a few days go by and it doesn’t happen. We go along for a week or so quite happy then you notice something that’s not quite right and you have to go back to being not quite so nice to them to get it done properly.   The tiler who wanted ready mix adhesive is no more and after a lot of detective work I managed to track down the tiler we had in 2007 for our last build and have brought him on board.   You may be wondering why I am sourcing the trades of tiler, kitchen and plumber but this was the agreement with the builder as we wanted some control over some things and it has turned out to be the best way as we can dictate when certain things will happen and they must be ready for that to happen.   So this morning I’m meaning to go pick light fittings but it’s a dreich morning and I feel it may not physically happen, maybe online? Oh and by the way I am fed up of ordering things online, getting an order confirmation but they never send an invoice, I spent last night going through all my online orders and checking invoices then emailing the offenders for invoices, ho hum!

Christine Walker

Christine Walker


Light at the end of the tunnel

The last two weeks have been very productive! The rendering is done and the scaffold gone.The pellet stove and thermal store have been installed as far as they can be for now and the plasterboard work is coming to an end. We had to pay a visit to David L Douglas last week to finalise the kitchen- colour, door styles, worktop, handles, sink etc they are very thorough in getting it just right. The plasterer will be in tomorrow and my kitchen and utility floor tiles arrived yesterday. After my previous meltdown things seem to be on the level again, for now! The budget has had to have a few tweaks but nothing too major. A visit from SP energy networks project manager last week revealed the power won’t be with us until October 22nd( they’ll start the digging then but he has assured me we will have power by the end of that week) bit disappointed in that but on the other hand we should be finished and ready to move in by then. So this weekend we will be digging drains to cope with the run off from the field up the hill from us and getting the house drains in, definitely onwards and upwreards 

Christine Walker

Christine Walker


Another week comes to an end

Been a busy week, roofer, brickies and joiners going hard at it , I believe upstairs is almost finished as far as insulation and plaster board goes, I say I believe because I haven’t been up there having a phobia about ladders! Got hubby to go up and video it for me, problem is since it’s an oak staircase it will be one of the last things to be fitted so it could be sometime before I see up there by which time it’ll be too late! Tonight we’ve gone through the ever increasing pile of ‘rubbish ‘ that has accumulated and rescued a lot of lengths of wood, some with a couple of nails in that must not have fitted the bill! Having a full new garden to construct I’m sure it will all come in handy at some point, I can’t stand waste but the younger generation are definitely a throwaway society!


So , Monday night saw us spending 2 hours with our electrician going over everything that we wanted, sockets, switches fans etc  saturday and Sunday the plumbers had been in doing first fix which they finished off today, Sunday was an 11hour shift for them, Tuesday two electricians started their first fix and they arrived on site this morning at 5 am! They worked 13 hours today and were off to look at another job when they left here! Oh for the stamina of youth! roofer did his batons on Monday/Tuesday and started roof tiles today, joiners have all the upstairs flooring down and have started insulation  contracts manager from David l Douglas was in today taking his hard measurements for kitchen, he has us down for fitting on October 1st but I get the feeling we might bring this forward and need to decide soon as kitchen takes 4/5 weeks to make. Ceramic tiler will be here for a look at the weekend and Phil from Greenflame will visit on Monday to advise of any preparation needed for the pellet stove and thermal store. tomorrow staircase manufacturer will be here to measure up . Oh and today I posted the cheque for the electricity supply!!!

We have a house!

After 11 days on the job we are now wind and water tight. Plumbers will be in tomorrow, roofer, brickie and electrician beginning of week, definitely moving along at a pace I’m happy with, lots of ordering went on this week to make sure we are ready for the onslaught next week and I may have news about the electricity soon but can’t say much just now, onwards and upwards ?quite an interesting roof in the middle only wish the budget would have run to oak here as it seems a shame to gyproc it all but it will still be an interesting shape     

Moving along nicely

A week ago today the tf arrived and this is where we are now, expecting to be w&w end of next week, Windows arrive tomorrow, excited to see them, welders will be back tomorrow to get the second AFrame in

Day four... Truss Day !

So day 4 since the tf arrived and it’s truss day- we have a man with a telehandler who assured us he can load them all and has done many times, the joinery firm wanted us to hire a lorry with a hi-ab from a friend of theirs but since it was a very high rate ( in our opinion) and the fact that he also charged traveling time at the same rate we decided to trust our man who has done a few things for us already with no problems so fingers crossed it all goes well -my heart is in my mouth and for once I’m glad I’m working today and can leave hubby to deal with it .    I won’t repeat myself on the first bolt from the blue that hit us just before we started it can be read about elsewhere in electricity extortionate price and this has not been overcome yet although we are in talks with SP energy and I will let you know if or when it comes to a conclusion!but with the cottage sold and already some financial output into this project we had no option other than to go ahead and this we did.   we thought we were getting off lightly when we applied for the water connection and paid just over a thousand pounds however we did not realise that the water company did not do the road crossing for us and when we started looking for someone to do this we couldn’t find anyone who was interested in such a small job.We were very naive in this as although we’d built twice before we had built on the site of some old glasshouses so water was already on site and hubby made the connection.We advertised the job on one of the sites-my builder and immediately were approached by a small outfit who said they could do it in two days and at a reasonable price so we gave them the go ahead to sort it all out,all went well , they did the crossing , put in ducting backfilled and were coming back next day to put pipe through and tar. It all seemed to fall apart then when we were asked if we could pick up the tar but with a Mini Countryman this wasn’t an option which we told them and they agreed to come out with the tar at the start of the week.   We spent a terrible weekend listening to all the traffic bumping over the crossing and on the Monday morning when my hubby phoned to see what was happening the guy became very cagey and said he’d had a missed call from the local council! It turned out he had no permit to do this work and we were left with the problem to sort out. We managed to get another firm to retar and are now waiting on this firm obtaining the relevant paperwork to do the job. Just shows you how you can be taken in! So , off I went to work and when I returned 4 and a bit hours later-voila! Trusses to both sides are up, the middle section has two A frames which need welding on Monday before the remainder of the trusses are fitted , a good job done today     

Third time lucky?

So this is the 3rd self build we have tackled, the first being a 168m2 bungalow 26 years ago which we lived in for 14 years, this was followed by 18 months in a caravan while we built a one and a half storey 385m2 house, that was the build that nearly did for us, fraught with problems, friendships ruined, but it was a beautiful house.After living in it for 8 years and with the family gone we found ourselves rattling about in it and although we were living mostly in the kitchen/sunroom we still had to heat it all! We decided to downsize and when a cottage came up with a couple of acres on the same road we decided to have it, being animal lovers and with a selection of dogs, cats and chickens we were seduced by the grounds and didn’t give much thought to the actual size of the cottage but within a few months I decided I couldn’t live in a quarter of the space I’d been used to so we set about obtaining planning permission in the grounds, it took two applications before success but on May 10th this year we sold up and moved once again to a caravan on site. So this was to be the build without problems, we’d spent night upon night doing the budget and were quite comfortable that it could be done on time before winter and in budget. I might have been a bit arrogant at that stage after all what could go wrong, everything was priced up , labour was booked in , no surprises in store after all we’re old hands at this now. What is the saying? Always expect the unexpected! So the first problem to occur was the electricity quote, we have two plots we are marketing just under a mile up the road and had asked before putting them on the market for a quote for water and electricity, electricity came in at £1500 for the two so in our naivety we expected to get a quote of around £1000 after all there’s a pole in the garden! This was not to be, we still haven’t sorted out this issue and I am in talks with SP energy having put in a complaint, we will see where this goes and it is taking some of the excitement out of the build but as the old saying goes- I’ve never died a winter yet! Water has been another thorn in our side, not the actual price but finding someone to do it and it makes me so glad that we put the rest of the build into the hands of a building contractor, I vividly remember the trouble we had on our last build trying to secure tradesmen then keep them on the job, it was a total nightmare and delayed the build by months when my hubby and son in law had to learn new trades and work at it after a days work and every weekend, this put us off doing it again until now.