The story so far.
My background of building has helped; our modest budget dictates the house will be modest and simple.
Highland planning guidance wants single or 1.5 storey houses, ideally traditional looking, or architecturally beneficial. Architects as a whole are probably the most important people to take Ideas and turn them into a deliverable home. Unfortunately an architect for us is unaffordable.
We have a budget, and we have to squeeze and leverage every penny from it. So doing away with every fee / service we can has to become a mindset.
So we sketch out our plans, make paper models for floor space, list what we want, we need then categorize these into must haves.
Our must have boiled down to:
2 bedrooms, Office space, utility / boot room, WC in / near the Boot room for when were outside, Kitchen, Lounge, Bathroom
I spent hours reading blogs, and topics, researching timber frame companies and the like.
Once we had the outline we now needed the land.
We visited lots of crofts* for sale, some as little as 10K some with building some with houses with land from 1 acre and 50 acre.
Made enquires for electricity on 1 plot to be given an estimate of 30K for connection.
Eventually we put a cheeky offer in for the croft and after a bit of back and forth bought our croft.
I printed off lots of drawings from successful applications on the planning website, and used these as basis for the information we needed, to make the whole project possible we needed to add a couple of camping pods into the mix, and to this we needed lots of drawings and lots of information. I never asked for quotes as I knew we couldn’t afford somebody else to draw them.
I have used cad before, a long time ago when I was in engineering, and to a lesser extent for building works (floor plans etc), but I had never produced scaled drawings.
I found the software Arcon Evo, and this seemed like a solution. I downloaded the trial and started messing around with it. It’s buggy, but after a few hours I was thinking I might be able to pull this off, so I spent £300 for the full blown version, and set out drawing.
The software is clever, you can make your own walls, similar to build up in a U value calculator, you draw in plan and it creates the 3d model. Once you’re happy you can create plan elements, these are automatic and form the part of the drawings. You then add the plan elements to a plan. This is your final drawing.
You create North, South, East and West plan elements, and you can add dimensions, text etc. You drag these elements into a plan called elevations. If you change the floor plan all the plan elements and plans change dynamically. But it is buggy in places so you have to check all is good.
As this was not just a house but pods we needed drawings showing the site elevations, landscape plans etc.
We now needed a land survey. The plot is 8hr 30mins approx. from our house so we put some feelers out for getting a land mapping done. £1500-£3000 to produce detailed digital levels and dimensions....
We set off around 2pm on a windy day in July, with my trusty dumpy level, 100m tape and sighting staff, also some red flag metal spikes. We arrived in Inverness around 9pm and stayed in a lovely B&B in Inverness for a mere £130 had breakfast at 7.30 we were on the croft for 10.30.
The plan was simple, walk around the area the house was going to be, look out to sea and make sure we position it for the best views (there are 2 houses and a stone barn between us and the sea). Then from here get the levels to make sure the drainage works. And start measuring.
The sea harr didn’t help, I couldn’t see Mandy more than 35M away never mind read the staff.
We set our datum on the corner of the field on the road, we measured in 10M increments to the position of the house plot around 80M in then created a grid of 10M sq 40M x 50M, using our little metal red flagged sticks to mark the way.
I had to reposition the dumpy level a few times due to visibility and used previously measured markers to re-define the datum. An hour or two later cold and wet we had the measurements we needed. After a brew in a café, we set off home getting in around 10.30pm just shy of 1000miles.
Total cost around £300.
I created a full set of drawing, to include Floor plan, elevations, sections, site plan, pod plans, plot elevations, landscaping plan, 3d plan for the pods. -
I sent in a Pre planning application, this is a little thing in Scotland where they like you to ask in advance for planning before you ask for planning. Pre planning took 8 weeks, and was a report saying in general it seems ok, they would need more info on X and Y and drawings for A & B. with this I changed and amended the drawings and put forward my full planning application.
I did get the feel that me not being an Architect, did rub them the wrong way, but after a few discussions and changes here and there planning was granted around 8 weeks later. so home drawn plans can and do get planning approval....
I have been asking questions on this forum and reading posts / blogs so added my Introduction with the plans..
The feedback was generally positive, but the big black cloud was the post from @ProDave with regards to the problems he has had with the render on Wood fibre approach. This is the blog I found to work and copied the methodology. How did I miss the posts regarding his troubles?
@Russell griffiths, and others also got me thinking about the exposure, so a few restless nights with the calculator and looking for options, we plan to change the external finishes; the planner has been responsive and sees no issues with my request to change the external to Fibre cement boards (Hardie Plank). And also change the roof from Metal roofing sheets to Forticrete SL8 thin leading edge concrete tiles.
These changes will give a cavity between the rain shield and wood fibre that I will wrap with Breather membrane.
That brings us to present day.
Now waiting for the formal quote for electrical connection.
And an issue with the water main being made from Asbestos concrete running across our proposed entrance, so we need some trial holes before they make a decision on what needs to be done…..
JCB Backhoe loader
small touring caravan - cheap as chips - this will be lived in by me for a few weeks at a time until we can get access, water, power and drainage for the static sorted.
*A trap we nearly fell into is if you buy a croft you need to follow the rules and work the land, you are bound by these, there are upsides of available grants for help, and this is the bit you need to be careful about. If you buy part of a croft i.e. 2 acre, you’re still bound by the rules, but you won’t be able to apply for grants as the original croft will by default have this entitlement.
You need to own the whole croft, and as far as I know this is a minimum of 4.5 Hectare, (11.2 Acre) to be able to apply for grant assistance.