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One year and £9k later...

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(I know, I know...the photos didn't paste in and I will have to do them one at a time...I'll get 'round to it I promise...managed the first dozen, more to come)

Part One-Wind And Watertight For Under £6k

I'm new to blogging and probably have nothing much in terms of knowledge to impart but some of you might be interested in building on a low budget so here goes.
After many years on the waiting list we got offered a plot on the famous West Highland Way about 3 miles north of the starting point in Milngavie, just north of Glasgow.
For £4k we get a 20 year ground lease around 100ft square, ground rent is £90 per month and of course membership of the community group that collectively owns the whole estate.
See more about Carbeth Hutters here
we needed planning permission and Carbeth is itself a conservation area so we kept to the hutters spirit of ingenuity and self-everything and splashed out on some graph paper from the local stationers.
We made several models from foam board (thanks JS Harris) and finally paid the fee and waited...

I'll add the plans when I find them but permission was granted and we stated work digging the footings by hand.

Oh I should say at this point so far we have not paid for one trades person nor used any machines other than a Makita saw and drill and a Hitachi gas nail gun.
Many thanks to Dominic Stevens and this website for teaching me all I needed to know about the mysteries of marking out

Marking out April 2015.jpg

Building peirs May 2015.jpg
In May we braved the rain and pressed on building 14 (dodgy bricklaying) piers one big one using cobble stones the rest using concrete blocks from a reclaimed mono bloc driveway.

Peirs complete Mat 2015.jpg
Our near £2500 load of timber arrived and it was time to see if the 'water in a tube' method of levelling the piers was accurate or not...first big confidence builder-it was bang on level across a 4m span
Joist assembly May 2015.jpg
I really wish I had bought OSB flooring as the chipboard got soaked a dozen times...its fine now but we have a few swollen joints that will need attention before final floor goes down.

Chipboard floor May 2105.jpg
Lots of wet days and rain dripping of noses but a nail gun is a great stress buster for us Social Work types and the wall panels and trusses were complete...time for a big hut raising weekend!

The June weather was kind and we got a lot of work done but the tarps had to go back on as the floor was still getting soaked...
Wall panels made May 2015.jpg

Roof trusses June 2105.jpg
Magic, frame complete

Roof is almost there and again we had 8 volunteers over the weekend...including schoolboy nephews who kept wandering off with tools!
Then end of June saw the EPDM roof being stuck on with the stickiest of glues but close to water proof at last.

Hut raising weekend June 2015.jpg
On the odd evening we managed to get the windows in...
Roof assembely June 2105.jpg
Got some nice doors from Gumtree for £40 so in they go and by the end of June we are almost there

Roff covering complete June 2015.jpg

Roof finished June 2015.png
Windows go in June 2015.jpg
Insulation and building paper on
Insulation and building paper July 2015.jpg
Oh and Gumtree found us some kitchen bargains so shipped then up as its nice and dry inside now *smiley face*

Kitchen furniture July 2015.jpg

Cladding at the front August 2015.jpg


Cladding And Lighting

Weather was sh#t all July so had to bash on through the rain...
Sparrow Fart recommended the Hitachi nail gun and as I'm on my fourth box that's 7000 nails so far!

patio view.jpg

90% Finished...90% To Go...

Nearly there...hearth and fire needed to go in as it was getting too cold to work...
Got a reclaimed dance floor 57m for £250 so that went down too.
Finished off the ceiling joins with some 5mm ply, looks okay.
Finally got the dry toilet finished but not *commissioned* it yet.
Put some furnishings in for a trial run.
Just some plumbing, wiring and joinery to go.
Oh and the view from daughters window...

interior stove.jpg


Diy Plans-Graph Paper And Pencil

I am putting these images up simply to show that you do not have to employ professional help to submit planning applications.
For most of you serious self builders designing the house of your dreams I suspect that this will be the only way to go but my little project is different from the norm in many ways.
Firstly Stirling Council (in fact the single planning assistant that deals with the Carbeth community huts) is hugely helpful and happy to talk on the phone and comment via email. Secondly reading through previous applications I noticed that some drawn on foolscap (with imperial measurements) passed first time and the more professional architect drawn submissions had lengthy correspondence in the file.
I went with the spirit of the old hutters and splashed out on some graph paper and a sharp pencil. I kept what I could vague so as to allow a bit of flexibility as the build progressed. Eight weeks to the day after submission we got a green light with four simple conditions.
Having read some of your experiences out there I feel your pain and hope that ion the future this minefield of a system can be improved and made more consistent…I’m not holding my breath though…

Attached Files


Interior Fit Out And Decoration

The low tech approach continues as does the re-use and recycle theme. Bought a load of Michelin road maps from the charity shop to make my feature wall background and topped then off with a few nice ones I picked up in Poland during the summer. Probably spent about 20 quid in all.


Went to the local mental health wood recycling project (boy, they are not cheap!) and spend 15 quid on an old scaffolding board to make this kitchen unit. Might add some hooks underneath and a couple of shelves on the map wall to complete this corner.

interior long.jpg



kitchen cooker.jpg



kitchen sink.jpg


I might have mentioned before that around my office Monday is the day that the Council bin lorries come around for bulk uplift. The area is all tenement flats and there is no room for bulk trash in the back court so the local arrangement is you put it on a street corner before each Monday morning. It does make for an Aladdin's cave of goodies and there is a fair bit of 'help yourself' going on before the bin lorry arrives. in fact plenty of stuff is labelled, like a TV with remote control taped and a sign 'saying perfect working order'.
Anyhow I helped myself to this worktop and slotted it in next to the beech free standing units from Gumtree to make a little sink unit. Looks okay I think...the rest of the worktop was cut up and kept the wood burner going to keep us warm during the freezing weather outside.



Dry Toilet And No Smell Whatsoever

Apologies for the pic of the loo, warts and all so to speak...
This is the 'seperate' plastic toilet from Sweden that has a front funnel and back void. The thinking is to seperate the solid and liquid waste as it is the combination Of both together that causes the smells we don't like.
Urine runs to a soak away and the solids and toilet paper (and sawdust which helps the drying process and Erm...helps the appearance should you peer into the pit!)end up in the bucket below.

There is a small fan running constantly which you can just see on the floor behind the urine waste tube.
The fan is powered from our 12v battery and draws next to no power at around 0.1 amps.
This provides an airflow which removes odours and aids the drying process for the solid waste.

seperate toilet.jpg

toilet inards.jpg

Once the bucket is full it can be sealed with a tight fitting lid and left for 18 months when it will be safe to use as compost. Some folk toss it on the fire but not sure I fancy that job.
Still needs a lick of paint but all in all very pleased this all works as promised in the literature.
As the blog title says there is no smell at all and its really a pleasant smallest room.



Balcony, Wood Store, Somewhere Nice To Sit

Decided simple was best and to crack on with the decking out front.
Rescued some fallen trees from nearby and rested them against a quickly assembled frame of 6*2 treated joists.

This gave us a nice deck to work on the roof from...

Always keep a tidy site don't want a wayward screw sticking into the foot of one of you volunteer helpers who come to play with trainers on!
Bit of good luck, we had one 4.8 length of decking left over so fashioned up three nice steps to the front door. Lucky for us 800mm wide was just right.

Finishing Touches

If you wait long enough, what you want will come along in Gumtree.

Seller said they were £100 per metre and I can believe that. 4m of them in the back of the car and the suspension was riding low!
Anyhow, had no confidence in grouting these the normal way so borrowed a piping bag from SWMBO and took my time squeezing it into each gap so it was just proud. Ran a pencil around the gaps and hey ho it looks great.
Now just some stove paint to buy and a few dozen more jobs before its finished...

Exterior views

back view.jpg

back door.jpg


balcony side.jpg

front view.jpg


WHW view.jpg



back view.jpg





Cladding at the rear August 2015.jpg

Frame complete June 2015.jpg


balcony view.jpg



extension shelf.jpg

front view (2).jpg

kiychen shelf.jpg

loch view.jpg

side view green.jpg

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I've just done some sums.

So you paid £4K for the lease of the plot, £9k to build it, and £90 per month ground rent for 20 years which is another £21600

So a grand total of £34,600 for 20 years, or an average over the period of £144 per month

It's probably like owning a boat, you should NEVER add up all the costs of ownership and never ever write it down.

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18 hours ago, Crofter said:

Great wee project. Have you had much use out of the hut yet?

We are up there all the time. Family use it's a bit of a party hut! 

Had 14 sleeping over one night.

And the kids love it, got the kayak out now the weather is good and its only 30m down to the lochside??

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That was a really interesting read. Thanks.

I hope you get many happy years of use out of it. A home-from-home when you're away. Something that will become part of the fabric of your family life. Brilliant.


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I somehow missed this awesome post - what an inspiring project!  Really great attitude to building.

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I somehow missed the part where I recommended the Hitachi gas nailer under my pseudonym. 

"Sparrow Fart" for the uninitiated. 

Thanks again, Ian :D

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Well done - what a great project and nicely documented blog - thank you

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It was all going so well, then I spotted the obvious building control infringement which could jeopardise the whole project...............

Yup, that Justin Bieber poster xD. I'm trying to bring out new legislation banning such items. :ph34r:

"Is it too late to say sorry?", yes Justin, it is :D


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I think that is exceptional for 10k or thereabouts.

Love the 3 or 4 frying pans. 

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Amazing project, well done!  - love the idea of the maps.  Just one quetion - what was it that was £100 per metre?  You bought 4 m and grouted it? 

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On 06/07/2016 at 21:51, jack said:

The pics are a bit out of order 

£100 per metre refers to the slate tiles behind the stove

Think he gave me the 4m he had spare for 70 squids!

They were 15/20mm think and really heavy. They act like a storage heater after the stove has been on all evening they radiate heat through the night.

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thay look the same as the tiles down on my kitchen floor in our renovation house.  They are really heavy.  Some were laid on wooden shelves and as I took the shelves off, they fell off and narrowly missed my tootsies.  God job I had my dickies boots on. 


Shame they are all coming up when we redo the kitchen.  You could have any I manage to get up in one piece....

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A question about the compost loo, if I may @Tennentslager..


How often do you need to change the bucket, and do you have dozens of buckets composting? Is it one per weekend staying there say?


The application I am debating elsewhere is whether a compost loo is suitable for an allotment, and I thought of this system. I guess the issue will be whether enough compost can be generated to be worthwhile, and whether one or two allotment-holders generate enough poo to fill a bucket quicker than it gets too smelley to be pleasant.


Any comments would be most welcome.






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We don’t compost it at all as the other alternative is to burn it. 
Generally it needs emptied after a couple of months and I store it sealed under the hut then when I have a big garden fire going I pop it on at the end of the night and it turns to ash

Its probably 90% sawdust and paper so burns quite well

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28 minutes ago, Tennentslager said:

We don’t compost it at all as the other alternative is to burn it. 
Generally it needs emptied after a couple of months and I store it sealed under the hut then when I have a big garden fire going I pop it on at the end of the night and it turns to ash

Its probably 90% sawdust and paper so burns quite well



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So it is quite happy to sit there under the thunderbox with no lid on the bucket for a couple of months, and the smell protection provided the liquid / solid separation, a handful of sawdust, the toilet lid and the fan (in the case of your posh one)?


And if you were composting it would be about 10 buckets in total.



Edited by Ferdinand

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We have a garden compost loo using tall plasters buckets (£7 from B&Q) sitting on a frame. We don't bother separating and use a handful of wood shavings (horse bales cost about £10 and will last a long time) after each use. It really absorbs the smell well.There's a book called 'Humanure' which explains the different types. You could experiment with this very simple low cost set up and see how long it lasts, I'm suspecting most people just want a quick pee at the allotment after their cup of tea?!

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