• entries
    9
  • comments
    85
  • views
    677

About this blog

Having done a large renovation project and turned an old 1770s vintage wreek into a fantastic Home we decided that living in Cheshire was no longer for us,  so we sold up and moved, to be closer to family in the Southern  Lake District. 

 

However the journey was far far from straightforward, we really had no idea what we were looking for, was it to be another renovation project or a self Build? Having viewed around fifty ‘oportunities’ ranging from dilapidated houses, to an old pub, to a closed garden centre, we gave up!!     Then about six weeks after ‘giving up’ Debbie had to come clean, she’d not actually given up, but had been searching online and she thought she’d found what we were looking for. So we arranged to view a rather sad looking dormer bungalow on a very wet, cold and overcast March day. Once into the property we both realised this was the one! So we bought it and moved in.

 

Having  lived in the property for a year it was clear that this wasn’t a renovation  job!

Entries in this blog

The Slates Start Going on in Typical Cumbrian Weather

We have a lot of roof and the only planning condition we have, is that we use local slate, 18 tonnes of it at a cost of £22k.   So here’s the front roof of the house.   And the rear roof of the house.    A total of 18 separate roof planes in all! Why oh why did I let the architect talk me into this design?   Once the Timber Frame company left a local roofer started to batten our the roofs for our random width, diminishing course roof. Everything was going swimmingly, however he complained of feeling dizzy whilst on the three storey section, so i sent him to the doctors.   He’s very old school of farming stock and would probably be more comfortable going to the vets!    The upshot is he was signed off sick and needed hospital tests. The doctor has told him no more roofs. So that’s it, he’s told me to find someone else!    I’ve  wished him a speedy recovery, he is a really nice local guy and I’m gutted for him as he’s no pension, so relies on local roofing and small building jobs.   He’s irreplaceable, but somehow I had to find a replacement. If only I had a magic wand, I’d wave it for him.   Gutted!    Went to seek the advice of a neighbours regarding good local roofers.   The upshot being, I’ve was told to hunt down a guy known locally as “Old Fruit”. I asked the neighbour “don’t you know his real name” the answer, “NO” I’ve only ever known him as Old Fruit” So I have no phone number and only a vague idea where he lives.   As luck would have it, the third house I tried was Old Fruits parents house. So I now know he’s called Chris and having looked at the job and agreed an hourly rate, he’s start battening the roof out.   Fast forward a couple of weeks and he’s back and this morning the slates started going on in the pouring rain, Old Fruit is keen to get on with the job! More to follow........        

Triassic

Triassic

 

The Timber Frame Goes Up

The Timber Frame company arrived on site on a very wet mid-January morning. Very quickly wagon loads of components started to arrive and before long every space around the slab and up the drive was dotted with Ikea style flat packs, assorted timber and steelwork.   The first job was to floor out over the basement to form a flat working platform for the main house erection. The original specification called for pre-stressed concrete floor panels, these were changed to Posi-joist, as this gave us space within the joist to locate services, ducting, electrics and waste etc.   With the basement floor in place, the sole plate was positioned, levelled and fixed ready to attach the wall panels. With every panel, piece of timber, beam and noggin precut in the factory and numbered and with a full set of drawings, the house started to take shape quickly.   Four weeks later and the roof timbers were in place and the next job is to fit the roof.      

Triassic

Triassic

Scaffolding and things that go bump in the night

Since my last blog post things have been fairly quiet. Our frame manufacturer, Lakeland Timber Frame, have confirm that our frame is in production and we have a date for erection  of mid January. The crane company have visited site to check the narrow access and hairpin bent for themselves, they’ve confirmed that their smallest crane will be able to get onto site, with difficulty!   Ss with a start date agree it was time to get the scaffold up. Originally I’d considered buying my own and selling it on after the build, however that option would have cost me £12,000. The alternative was to hire scaffolding and get it erected at a cost of £5,000. After a lot of careful consideration I’ve gone with a local scaffold company. Looking at the size of the scaffold and the shear amount of scaffolding required, ii think I’ve made the right choice. So far they’ve used six wagon loads of scaffolding kit and it’s taken 9 man days to errect. I recon there’s another 2 days to finish it off.         The other thing I’ve had on my list of things to do,  is get all the very tall Ash trees inspected. This is the sort of thing that tends to be low on my agenda as it’s not really Build related. However it’s just moved up the priority list after a loud thump at 3am yesterday morning.     The tree just missed a plastic oil tank and party constructed outbuilding and the site loo, that’s it under the branches on the right. I couldn’t get far enough back to get the whole tree into shot, I recon it about 120 feet tall (long!). If it had fallen the other way it would have flatten on our residential cabin and us! I’ve got about six more of these and they are all going!   The tree also took out the overhead power lines and at one stage 65 homes were without power for 6 hours whilst the cables were replaced.    

Triassic

Triassic

Foundations

Because our site was on a slope we always envisaged having a walk-in basement, that’s a basement surrounded on three sides by the slope and open at the front to a lawned area. The architect recommended a structural engineer to design the basement walls, what I hadn’t realised until it was too late, was that the design would be way over-engineered. His design is for a 200mm thick steel reinforced poured concrete wall tied into the basement slab. The slab and retaining wall contains about 52m3 of concrete and 3.5 tonnes of steel. The only saving grace is that it sits on an insulated raft designed by Hilliard Tanner and has UFH pipes cast into the concrete.    So here we are just about to start pumping the concrete into the insulated slab.   Next, the ICF basement walls were put together, a bit like Lego. Here you can see the completed walls braced and ready to receive 26m3 of concrete.   Finally, the lounge section of our insulated raft foundation was done to complete the three-stage foundation project. In this photo, you can see the insulated raft and its steel ring beam under construction.

Triassic

Triassic

A Winter of Peckering

Our site slopes, so we had the idea of digging into the slope and creating a walk in basement. Having done two trial pits into nice soil and clay  during the initial design phase, we were confident that it was a simple soil dig out sort of thing! Once the bungalow was demolished it became clear we’d quite by chance dig into the only two areas of soil and clay and the house had been constructed on a large lump of limestone rock called Cumbria.  After a hit of head scratching and a coffee with my neighbour Brian, he’s the ‘go to guy’ if you have a problem, as he’s usually got a solution and the solution was a local guy called Chris, a man with a machine and a pecker.   Chris arrived on 1st November and twelve weeks and an estimated 1,200 tonnes of rock later we had a basement.   Here he is starting clearing the site.     The basement hole starts to take shape.   This is about half of the stone removed from the basement hole.        

Triassic

Triassic

Demolition

Having promised my wife Debbie that I’d get people in to do most of the Work associated with the new house, i contacted two local demolition companies and got prices to demolish the old timber bungalow. The prices were £6,000 and £12,200. Being tight I demolished it myself, it cost the price of three skips, £540, The bonus for me was over £1,000 in payment for the scrap from the house, things like a hot water copper cylinder and piping, lead off the roof, the old cast iron AGA and two baths, the oil fired boiler, taps, light and socket fittings etc.   The problem in demolishing a timber frame house is the amount of timber! So I saved as much of the timber as possible and cut up the rest into firewood sized pieces, I used leftover builders bags to store it and we’re burning it very slowly in the cabin, the problem is the cabin is so well insulated we only managed to burn half a builders bags worth last year!. An even biggest problem was the cedar shingle roof, it had been re-covered during its life so the shingles were two layers thick. I ended up cutting the roof up using a reciprocating saw, a lot less dangerous than a chain saw! The roof as then burnt on site,    The roof being stripped.   It’s going slowly!   Progress.   Finally clearing up the plot.   All told it took me six months to dismantle the old bungalow and clear the site. luckly my time is free and I did save £6k and taking the scrap value into account I’m £7,000 in pocket to spend elsewhere.

Triassic

Triassic

 

Somewhere to Live During the Build

Like all Self builders we found we had a limited number of options for living accommodation during the build, given that we needed to demolish the bungalow to clear the plot for the build.   The options were, rent locally or a caravan on site. Renting locally wasn’t an option due to the high rental costs, so we looked at the caravan option. The main problem was access, an 8 feet wide drive with a hairpin bend half way up, a dry stone wall, 80 feet tall trees and limestone outcrop put paid to that idea. A local crane company visited the site to look at the feasibility of craning the caravan over the trees, the narrowness of the road, a road closure and 4 mile diversionary routes for vehicles, a licence from the local authority soon put paid to that idea.         Then a brief conversation with a neighbour and a lightbulb moment, we can up with the idea of a timber framed tiny house built in an orchard that formed part of the plot. The day before submission of the planning application a sketch of a small 7 x 5m cabin was added to one of the drawings. Thankfully we got planning approval.   The construction of the cabin allowed us to practice our woodworking, insulation and other construction and trade skills. This is where we currently live.     This what it looks like on a wet autumn day. Not the power cable over sailing the cabin. Happily the DNO installed taller poles to increase the clearance.

Triassic

Triassic

 

First Steps - The Design and Planning

Having done a large renovation project and turned an old 1770s vintage wreek into a fantastic Home we decided that living in Cheshire was no longer for us,  so we sold up and moved, to be closer to family in the Southern  Lake District.    However the journey was far far from straightforward, we really had no idea what we were looking for, was it to be another renovation project or a self Build? Having viewed around fifty ‘oportunities’ ranging from dilapidated houses, to an old pub, to a closed garden centre, we gave up!!     Then about six weeks after ‘giving up’ Debbie had to come clean, she’d not actually given up, but had been searching online and she thought she’d found what we were looking for. So we arranged to view a rather sad looking dormer bungalow on a very wet, cold and overcast March day. Once into the property we both realised this was the one!   So we bought it and moved in.   Having  lived in the property for a year it was clear that this wasn’t a renovation  job, so the bungalow had to go. The next step was to decide what to replace it with.  Although we had it in mind to downsize we missed the larger rooms of our previous home and. According to my interior designer (Debbie) we needed larger rooms so our furniture would fit....   Living in the old bungalow made it obvious it was the wrong way round, the two bathrooms and the bedrooms had the best views. Also because of the  shape of the plot, an L shaped house would make the best of the space and the views. Once we had our requirements clear, a design brief was produced and a local Architect appointed.  A series of design options were produced and after some tweaking, final plans drawn and planning permission sought. Prior to the submission of the planning application we walked round our neighbours with the plans, this gave us an opportunity to gauge their response, in most cases it was ‘interest’ and nothing more. Thankfully the planning application went through without any opposition.   So here is the design.      

Triassic

Triassic