Yaffles

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About this blog

Quite some time ago I thought it would be a great idea to write a blog.  Time (or lack of it) has been an issue and the blog writing never got started.

But here we go.

 

First self build.  Husband.  Two kids (one of whom is now bigger than us).  Caravan.  Full time day jobs.

 

Here's where we are at......

Entries in this blog

 

We have rooflights! (and some tricky joinery to do)

Today our roof lights were installed.  We are pleased with the finished product and how they fit.  The blue sky and sunshine helps of course. Almost helped take the edge off the unexpected contract lift costs (£1380 in the end, but we have managed to avoid the additional VAT and we got him to lift some roof trusses off the scaffolding which saved a job). Their man on site today admitted that it had taken a long time to get to this point.  Not wrong! The photos will hopefully do them justice.       Already they make such a difference to the light inside the house.       And the feature window (circular on the top, octagonal currently from inside) in the full height entrance hall is really fantastic.     Any thoughts on how to get the internals finished on this octagonal light?  I was wanting to make it circular (and the window company advises this so that we don't get any issues with condensation on the visible frame (which would be covered by the insulation if we did make it circular).  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Will they be worth the stress (and the money)?

Our designed house has 5 rooflights.  3 rectangular, 1 small square one in a bathroom and a large circular one above a two storey entrance hall, making it, I guess, the "feature" of the house. Our plot is surrounded by trees on two sides so getting light into rooms is an issue, hence the rooflights.   Here is our rooflight story (part 1)   We got some quotes in from companies and decided on our roof light manufacturer based on price and reasonable service. MBC agreed to make the upstands as part of our contract. The rooflight company quoted for the upstands also. We opted to let MBC do the upstands as they were already paid for effectively. MBC couldn't make the circular upstand so designed an octagonal one.  We thought that would be OK, and that we would get an octagonal rooflight or make a circular finish inside later.   We didn't mention the octagonal upstand to the roof light company.  Not deliberate.  Just didn't think anything of it.  BIG MISTAKE.   MBC put the frame up.  They did the upstands whilst we were on holiday. The upstand finish wasn't great.  Our roofers came on site and said that the finish would need to be better, otherwise the roof membrane wouldn't sit well over the upstands. We decided to sort them out ourselves so didn't approach MBC.  No complaints about MBC on this issue as it was our decision not to ask them.  Hubby had acquired a multi-tool and was keen to use it.   You can see on this image that the edge of the upstand is not vertical as there is a bit of board plus the blue membrane sitting proud of the top edge.     So we ripped the outer board off, cut new bits to size and then planed and sanded for a level smooth finish.      We then filled all the gaps so the roof membrane could fit nicely.     So far so good. Then mid August the roof light people come out for the survey (paid for by us, having at this point put down a 50% deposit of the total expected cost on 26 July).  They like to measure the actual upstands in situ to make sure the rooflights will fit.  Makes sense. Whilst on site, the installation manager notes that the octagonal window will likely be a little more expensive and it will be included on a revised, final quote which adjusts for the as-measured dimensions. He also informs us that the installation fee does not include lifting the rooflights off the lorry, lifting the roof lights on to the roof and that there needs to be additional health and safety such as a roof man anchor set.   We ask him to get the revised quote to us asap as the roofers are back on site to finish roofing over the upstands. Two weeks elapse.  We chase the quote.  The roofers finish.  We chase the quote again. The quote arrives.  The cost of the octagonal rooflight is 100% more than the cost of the circular one.  Mmm, that's a bit more than a "little bit more expensive". We lose sleep.  We speak to the roof light company and say that is unacceptable and what can they do about it.  They suggest adjusting the upstand.  We inform them that this solution would have been easy had they told us 2 days earlier but now our roofers have roofed it over and are off site  so it can't easily be changed.  If only they hadn't taken more than 2 weeks to update their quote..... The roof light company decides that they can come up with a design solution so a circular rooflight will fit on an octagonal upstand. We ask to see it.  Several weeks pass. I chase them.  The lady on the phone is rude. I explain our situation, again. They send the drawing.  We approve them.  No choice now.  We are 50% paid up.  Let's hope this works. We have to pay the remaining 50% for them to even start manufacturing them and get us in the delivery queue. We do that on 10th October. 2-3 weeks lead time apparently. All goes quiet. We chase them. A delivery date is arranged for next week (13th Nov). We contact their contract lift suggestion who visits to quote for the crane needed.  We had been hoping to put these in with our other windows (sharing the crane) at the end of September.  The delays have made it impossible to do that. This comes in at £1350 plus VAT. We are horrified.  Unforeseen costs.     Am trying to be pragmatic but I am hating these rooflights more and more and we haven't even got them yet.   This has been our worst experience so far with a supplier.  Really disappointing.  Couldn't possibly recommend them. And there is rain forecast all weekend so those bloody holes in our roof are going to let more water into our house (the are covered in plastic but it always finds a way in).   Part 2 (next week, after they are fitted) - are they worth it?  (gosh I hope so)  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Roofing a flat roof

Our flat roof guys have been great.  Though they worked very short hours compared to MBC (doesn't everyone).   With a flat roof you apparently need at least 18mm OSB to lay the roof membrane onto.  The standard MBC spec is less than that for a flat roof so we had to stump up some money to upgrade the roof deck to 18mm.   We have three different roof decks.  Here is one roof deck with the roof lights (more on those in a separate post one day).     The upper roof deck     And a view of the lower roof deck and garage     Some lessons learned:   OSB is not weather proof despite assurances from MBC that it would be OK.  It holds out for a short time and then water floods through the joins. It was a pretty sunny summer.  But the downpours were bad. Wish we had plastic sheeted the whole roof. To be fair to MBC, the house is fine (as they said it would be) despite being flooded more than twice.  However, the stress for us, and the clearing up, could have easily been avoided.   We insect meshed all the gaps before the roofers started.     The parapets are edged with this smart design.        We drilled some drainage holes through the parapet walls for the roof drains.  Burned out the drill.  Got that as a wedding gift 18 years ago so him indoors was delighted to upgrade.       This is the membrane going down, on a felt underlayer.     And the finished look (though the front of the garage isn't finished and can't be until the render is done).       Learned from the building inspector that we don't have a high enough upstand on this roof / door combination so it will likely not get included in our warranty. That was news to us and is one of the issues caused by not keeping on our architect.  We have definitely missed stuff like this so could have probably avoided a few problems.       So that's it.  Probably one of the easiest bits of the build so far.  However, we still made some cock ups like not allowing enough space to fit a window into an L shaped corner area. This is the view from above and the window has to sit on the OSB bit.  Unfortunately that bit of roof sticks out a bit far.  We had to trim it on site and the roofer guys are going to come back and fix it another day.......     A big lesson for us has been the ability to fix things on site.  Doesn't stop me losing sleep over them, but I think I am losing less sleep than I was over the "problems".  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Ooops (anyone need a window?)

So going on holiday in the middle of your build is not ideal.  Best laid plans and all that.  Holiday booked a year previously.  With extended family so couldn't avoid it.  House build delayed by lots of things.  Resulting in our holiday being slap bang in the middle of the timber frame construction.   Reluctantly we left for northern France, asking the build team at MBC to send photos.  They didn't.  [But a friend did, so we knew it was all going up] The problem is that we didn't see how much of the frame went up so had a lot of questions on our return.     First day back and we spotted this. Actually this is a photo from the second day but we didn't spot the problem until the internal walls were up. The window isn't in the centre. This is our stair well which will have stairs that go up, along and back. It took me about 3 seconds to notice it once we got home from holiday and about 3 seconds to realise that OH wouldn't be able to stand it with the window off centre. Completely our fault.  Should have spotted it on the MBC drawings about 6 months earlier.     The MBC crew were great.  We all set about solving the problem.  Moving the opening was the obvious one but not easy due to a structural vertical support being to the left of the opening.   You can see what we did in the next photo.     Sadly, it wasn't possible to change our window order (already in manufacture) so we ended up ordering a new window.......   Anyone need a window?  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Blink and you miss it (MBC timber frame goes up)

Using a timber frame company (such as MBC) made the frame erection stage of self building quite satisfying.  It only took two weeks to build something that truly looked like a real house.   We did spend more than 7 months in dialogue with MBC over all the little details.  And still we made some quite clanging errors.  More of that in my next post.   It was glorious weather back in July.  [How I wish we weren't in rainy autumn now - we are still not watertight......]   Anyway, the first week passed by in a blur of unloading lorries and the ground floor going up.  And then we went on holiday......        

Weebles

Weebles

 

That's alot of polystyrene

MBC arrived on site, laid Type 1 and soil pipes pretty quickly and 50mm sand blinding and then set to constructing the EPS raft that is now our slab.  Its been said many times on this site, but I will say it again.  These guys work hard.  They arrived before 7am each day and left at 6pm or later each night.  They hardly stopped.  And after a week it was assembled.  Ready for concrete.                

Weebles

Weebles

 

Foundation - how deep shall we dig?

The SE suggested digging 900mm deep because the soil survey said we had clay.  And we have trees. I used the NHBC foundation depth calculator and did alot of reading around foundation digs.  Overthinking it all, alot. BC said to dig to 700mm and see what was there.  Guess what?  No clay (well, only a tiny patch amongst loads of gravel). So the SE suggested a new depth of 200mm.  But we are already at 700mm I said.  No problem he said.  Fill it back in, with crushed concrete and then Type 1 on top. So £5K for muck away and another £7K to fill the hole we didn't need to dig.  Did I mention our contingency was gone? But we have extra secure foundations.  BC happy.  And we have moved on.   A photo blog seems like the simplest way to show what has happened.  So here we are digging it out.       We even shovelled a bit by hand late one night.       We laid some ducts.  Thanks @JSHarris for swift assistance on getting those in properly.  For about 10 days we got up at 6am, worked on site for 2 hours, went to work, got home, worked on site til 11pm or later.  Couldn't have MBC turn up without it being ready.     Then we put the crushed concrete and Type 1 back in the hole and compacted it to level.  Just in time.  MBC arrived the following morning.  Its now 4th July.  

Weebles

Weebles

 

Demolition part 2

From this     To this       The demolition guys worked alarmingly slowly.  They didn't bring any machinery in until late on when the slab needed to be dug up.  Unbelievably they were loading the skips by hand, brick by brick, concrete lump by lump.  Anyway, we ended up a bit behind schedule due to them taking 3 weeks longer than planned.   If we were ever going to do this again, which we are not, we would know better.  I would drive a digger into my flat pack bungalow myself.    

Weebles

Weebles

 

Demolition

So, as I am backdating this blog by 6 months I need to catch up quickly.  I covered alot of our demolition in other posts due to the asbestos issues.   The bungalow was encased in plastic sheeting and over the course of three weeks amosite asbestos was removed from the soffits, chrysotile asbestos from the roof tile edging and from inside every internal wall.  We left this job to the professionals and were pleased to do so.  It whacked up the cost of our demolition by about £20K in the end and the contingency was dipped into straight away but best off done properly.        

Weebles

Weebles

 

Our new home

Back in March our new home arrived.     Manoeuvring it into place took more time than we possibly imagined.     And we looked at our snow covered new home from the relative warmth of our 1960s flat pack bungalow and wondered if it was too late to turn back.     Thanks to fellow buildhubbers we got it safely hooked up to gas.  Thanks to You Tube we got it levelled.  Thanks to him indoors it got all plumbed in to mains drainage.  We moved in in mid April.

Weebles

Weebles