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  1. 11 points
    Moving on to day 2 of the timber frame erection, I make no apologies for this photo-heavy post as the pictures speak far more eloquently than I can on the subject matter. Especially as I don't know the right words for much of it. It rained overnight here in Dorset, but nothing disastrous and it was all gone by a couple of hours into the morning. Here's how I left the team yesterday evening: This morning, another day, another crane. This one, I think, was even bigger, but it hurt my neck to keep looking that high, so I can't swear to it. Along with the crane was the next lot of timber frame components, but also the steels for the ground floor ceiling/first floor. There's a lot of steel in my building and whilst being very good for the structural integrity of the building, it's pretty rubbish if you want to stick an MVHR duct through it. At the production stage, my MVHR guy liaised with MBC to request penetrations through the steels for the ducting so that we didn't have to try and deal with this after the event. Here's one such steel with the right holes in the right places. Again, the crane did its thing and shifted all the posi joists into the interior the building and helped position the internal stud walls. All the steels were craned into position as well. The posi joists were man-handled up onto the steels: This is the run of the posi joists, looking from the eastwards from the west facing window. This is looking from the end of the living/dining area towards the kitchen and utility. This is looking back towards the building from the field. The silver box is the attached garage which will not be part of the thermal envelope; we haven't yet decided whether to put any insulation into this, but that can come later. The interior of the garage looking out to the field: A shot taken from the scaffolding. I'm standing at the west side of the living room (where the field is) looking over the lane and the fields beyond. For those of you who know north Dorset, that's Hambledon Hill near Blandford Forum in the distance. And finally, this was resting on the joists upstairs. It pleases me greatly.
  2. 9 points
    You had better be, because once MBC turn up on site, it's fast and furious and everything has to fit around them. Things happen at an incredible pace and no matter how much you read about it, how many videos you look at, it doesn't quite prepare you for the reality of that speed, or not in my case. Some surprises are good, and this was one of them. I'll get to the photos shortly, but first a few comments on what else has been happening since the slab was finished on the 9th August, or thereabouts, as some is preparation and others are running in parallel. First off, immediately after the slab was finished, I confirmed that everything was still good to go with the scaffolders and that they would be here the week before the timber frame was due to be certain it was all in place. I understand that scaffolders have quite a negative reputation in general and I can only speak of this, my one experience of dealing with them, but so far the firm I'm using have been professional and polite throughout, from the manager to the guys actually putting the scaffolding up. Long may it continue. You may recall my post about my little problem with the overhead electricity lines and my concern about being able to put sufficient scaffolding up for the MBC team to do their thing. The scaffold guys came around as far as they could with it, but there isn't much around where the garage will be and I will admit to having some qualms over this and whether it would cause massive problems for MBC. It turns out that it didn't. At all, not in the slightest. Nada. Phew. You'll see the detail of it later, but it was a weight off my mind to see the garage actually going up. So what's happening with the electricity thing, then, I hear you cry. Currently, it's a waiting game. There is a viable and acceptable solution in play, which is to replace the poles that support the lines which oversail my property with taller ones, an increase in height of about 3m. This is fine with me, as I don't object to the lines being there, after all, I bought the property with them in situ. The wait is down to planning permission, but not mine. It seems that because the proposed increase in height of the poles is greater than 10% of their current height, the DNO has to apply for planning permission to replace with the new, taller ones, and the DNO is no different from we mere mortals who also have the statutory 8 week wait for the planning decision. So, we wait. Sadly, the DNO are showing no signs of paying for the work so far and the quote for the work, inclusive of VAT, is around £8k. Let me state at the outset, I have no intention of paying £8k for this, particularly as the lines running over my property are then on a voluntary basis, with my consent (the wayleave agreement). I have done some reading around the subject and, in particular, the level of compensation that DNOs typically pay to householders if a wayleave or its more permanent cousin, an easement, is granted to the DNO. In the case of an easement, it's anywhere between 1% and 2% of the value of the property with all the legals at the DNO's expense. I haven't had a chance to talk through this with the wayleave officer, but I suspect and hope that we will reach agreement on the logical course of their doing the work at their own cost and I will grant them an easement. It seems a fair exchange and an efficient way to give a good outcome. Whether they take the same view remains to be seen, but I shall update once I know more. With regards to other tasks, I'm basically thinking ahead to once the structure is weather tight and secure. This stage of the timber frame should be done in a couple of weeks, so let's say 14th September. My solar PV is all booked and ready to go shortly after that but I need to get the velux windows and a roof course of the tiles up so that the PV installation can go ahead. I'm waiting for quotes right now and hope to have this sorted by early next week. Once the solar PV is in, I won't call the roofers back straight away as I need to wait for the glazing installation, which is due on 24th September, so the rest of the roof will get done most likely in early October. What else? Well, my UFH, MVHR and all the kit for that is actually starting to get sorted this week, from tomorrow. MBC are pushing off to another job for a couple of days to give my plumber time to get the UFH stuff sorted for the first floor. What? UFH upstairs? Yes. I'm a girl and I function best at temperatures a couple of degrees higher than you boys. It may be that we don't need it, but it's easier to put it in now than for hubby listen to my teeth chattering for the next 30 years. Okay, okay, I'll get to the action stuff now. So, bright and early the day after the bank holiday, the first enormous flat bed lorry stacked with timber frame arrived. The crane was already on site, as were the MBC crew. Actually, I think I've got 2 crews, a total of 7 guys yesterday, which explains the blistering rate of progress. It was a really tight squeeze getting that lorry up the narrow lane to the site and the drivers really prove their mettle getting in and out of there. This is yesterday's crane. They have an incredible reach and are quite something to see in action. I couldn't get the whole thing in a shot. Before anything happens with the walls, the team go around string marking where the beams are and putting down sole plates for the walls to lock into. The black stuff is the DPM which overlaps the EPS underneath. Space was getting a bit tight on the site, but between the hard standing and the inside of the house, everything found a spot. Once all the marking out was done and sole plates were down in the right places, the crane hauled the walls up and they were guided into position. Here's the view over the field from what will be one of the living room windows. At the end of yesterday afternoon, all the external walls were up and they starting marking out for the internal stud walls. There's more to follow from today, but I'll put that into a separate post. This one's busy enough.
  3. 8 points
    So the piles are in, 29 steel tubes, smashed into the ground, down to a depth of 7.5 m, all filled with concrete so what’s next A RING BEAM. this is basically a steel reinforced beam that spans from pile to pile, so spreading the wall, floor, roof load down on to the piles. Piles in pic. So the ringbeam consists of a square of 450mm by 450mm reinforced concrete, the traditional method and one I have used in the past consists of cutting ply to the desired size and nailing and screwing for the next millennium until you have a mold in which to place you reinforcement and then concrete to form the beam. Whoo there boy, this is 2018, plywood is so last year so in 2018 what are we using. PLASTIC, BLOODY PLASTIC I have a love hate relationship with plastic, it is so clever, it can be extremely strong, but it also goes brittle and cracks, I find it very hard to recycle it so this is what the BLOODY PLASTIC looks like. To be perfectly honest it was terrific, all folded to the exact dimensions of the beam 450x450 it has a steel mesh core to keep it ridgid, it cuts nicely with a cordless grinder, i priced up to do it in ply and it was about ply £650 plastic fantastic £1100 but the labour saving was absolutely bloody huge, 2 of us had it all installed in 6 days, I think I possibly saved about 10 days in labour for 2 men so a massive saving. The plastic also stays in place after the concrete is poured, so a degree in waterproofing to the ring beam also. steel reinforcing, so over the years I have used more than a few tonne of this stuff, but I’ve never brought it in ready fabricated well blow me over what a breath of fresh air this is. All cages pre fabbed to your dimensions, a steel layout showing where it all goes, and a luggage label on everybit of steel. PERFECT the only Sod’s law bit to hit us yep you guessed it cage one is on the bottom of that bloody great pile of steel. This is the largest reinforcement project I have done on my own without a big bunch of lads as backup and it went so smoothly I had to do a little jig around the site. If anybody wants details of the suppliers pm me I would thoroughly recommend both companies. this is what it basically looks like, round pile poking up in middle of pic, steel reo sitting on top, plastic shutter to hold the concrete in place, back fill around the plastic to hold it in place CAREFULLY. this is is an example of a junction of 2 walls. So in this pic are 3 cages, 2 joined as a lap splice and one coming in from the side, all tied together and sitting on top of a pile. so 6 days of sweating, a minor amount of swearing we are ready for conc 24 cubic metres, one concrete pump, 3 lads, 28 degrees, all finished by 10.30am. 100 m of hessian soaked for 2 days in the water butt. That will do, off to Spain for a week to smash it up, give it large, and generally get drunk and fall about on the dance floor.
  4. 7 points
    If there's one thing that really gets my back up, it's someone trying to bully or intimidate me. It rarely works, it just makes me angry. If you've been following this blog, you may recall a post some time back in August concerning the high voltage power lines that oversail my plot, sadly very close to our new house. They do, in fact, just about cross directly over the very furthest corner of the garage. Now whilst these lines do not supply my new house and there is no equipment actually on my land, their proximity to the garage means that they are below a safe working distance, according to the regulations of the DNO, who is SSEPD in my area. I had a meeting with the local wayleave officer, let's call him AJ, on 14th August to discuss the situation and how to resolve matters. From the outset, I have stated that I have no issue with the oversailing lines and I'm not asking the DNO to remove them or do anything drastic, I would just like them to be made safe. AJ had a long look around the plot and came up with a rather complex proposal to bury the cables, via a somewhat convoluted route, digging up the lane and digging on the land of 3 different owners. The local linesman came out and had a look a few days later and suggested that the existing poles could simply be replaced by taller ones that would lift the cables up high enough to give safe clearance underneath them. The DNO has issued me with quotes for both sets of work, both expensive, one slightly less so. The lesser of the two evils, raising the poles up, comes to the princely sum of £7,600 + VAT, so not much change out of £9k when all's said and done. If I accept, the raising of the pole height will take some time: the new poles would be more than 10% greater in height than the old ones and so the DNO requires planning approval for this. Then, it seems, they have to put some other sort of submission to another official body that will take another few months, so all told, it will be well into next year before anything happens, if it does. This is the basic outline of what passed. What I haven't mentioned yet is the attitude and approach of AJ in all of this, which is what provoked my opening statement. From the very first telephone conversation that we had back at the beginning of August, he has been highly combative in a passive aggressive kind of way. So, no raising of voices, but very much a 'we're bigger than you and you will do as we say' style. This came to a head on Tuesday evening when AJ rang me at 5.10pm to discuss the quotes that had been sent through. In fact, what he actually wanted to do was rattle my cage because 30 minutes before his call, the local linesman had rung me to discuss the dates for burying my supply cable and had clearly been in the same office, chatting to AJ and saying that the garage had already been constructed. AJ laid it on pretty thick. He said that SSEPD would 'make a contribution' towards the cost of increasing the height of the oversailing lines, and he clearly expected me to be grateful. They were offering to pay 25% of the cost (no VAT to charge to themselves), i.e. in the region of £1,500, but in exchange for this, they wanted an easement. Just as a refresher, the wayleave on my property currently is a voluntary one which I can serve notice on. An easement is a right in perpetuity, well beyond my lifetime, lodged against the deeds of the property. As with all AJ's conversations, there were lots of long and deliberate pauses of the type that some idiots use when they think they are masters of manipulation and want to make the other party feel uncomfortable and force them into filling the silence. I shan't quote chapter and verse on it because it's far too tedious but suffice it to say, he really pissed me off and to the extent that I sent a forthright email to him later that night summarising what he had said and how he had said it. I also requested that he no longer contacted me by phone, but put everything in writing (email) so that I would have an audit trail. Now, it may be that this gets me no further, but I have received a request from AJ's boss this afternoon, requesting a meeting to discuss the points I have raised. I have said that I will meet her, but I want to know in advance exactly what points she wants to discuss and how this will move things on. We shall see. In the meantime, for the record, here's the email I sent that gives more detail on what annoyed me so much. "Dear AJ Further to our telephone conversation late this afternoon, I feel that I need to email with my comments regarding this and my planned actions as a consequence, since I have been left very troubled by both your comments and your tone. When we first met on site on 14th August, I explained to you that throughout the entire process of building my new house, I have used and relied upon professionals and have sought to do everything correctly and legally, as far as I have been able. To this end, the house was designed by a qualified architect who chose the location of the building on the site according to a topographical survey that was produced by a firm of chartered surveyors. Once the build was ready to commence, setting out of the building on site was again carried out by a chartered surveyor and there was no change from the original plans as detailed in the approved planning permission. Unfortunately, it later became evident that the north east corner of the garage of the new house is directly under the power lines that oversail but which do not supply my property . However, I did not realise that these were high tension lines until my scaffolder contacted SSE to establish what type of lines these were and their nature then became clear. As a result, I have made all contractors who have come on site aware of these power lines. The builder who constructed my house and garage was completely aware of the high tension lines and proceeded with the construction of the garage on a day when I wasn’t on site. I am told, however, that this was all done from floor level and inside the garage. Indeed, it is clear that it could not have been achieved in any other way, since there is no scaffolding around the garage to facilitate its construction from the outside. I can confirm that the timber frame of the garage has been completed, but the flat roof surface has not been put on it and I have advised my flat roofer that this is not to be done until such time as it can be completed safely. I have no desire to see anyone injured as a result of working on my site, whether it is due to ignorance or carelessness, and I deeply resent any assertion to the contrary. If I wish to take a risk with my own safety, I am free to do so, but I would not deliberately endanger others. As evidenced by my approach to this build, at no point have I tried to cut corners or take any risks. I have also engaged with you in a co-operative, straight forward and positive manner during our meeting and our conversations. Regrettably, I cannot say the same for you or your approach. I understand that you are paid to represent the interests of your company and, thus, your company’s shareholders. I also understand that a DNO has a public duty to ensure continuing and safe supply of electricity to its customers and have never disputed this, but I find your assertion that my seeking adequate financial compensation for SSE to have permanent rights over my property in the form of an easement will somehow increase everyone’s electricity bill to be an insulting one. Any charges paid by me to SSE are taken into the business as a whole which pays profits to its shareholders by way of distributing electricity and each DNO has an effective monopoly over its distribution area, so I have no choice in whom I deal with. The wayleave that exists over my property is a very old one, dating back to the 1950s, and it is a voluntary wayleave agreement. My husband and I have owned this property since February 2017 and have never received any compensation due through this wayleave, although this would be an insignificant sum, in any event. I understand from the previous owner of the property that no payments have been received in respect of the wayleave as far as they are aware. The wayleave grants permission to the DNO to place its equipment on or over my land and I have no desire to have SSE remove its equipment from my property and have stated this since the outset of our discussions. I have also stated my willingness to offer SSE a far more secure tenure in the form of an easement which gives rights in perpetuity rather than on a voluntary basis as is the current situation. Given the longevity of an easement, its nature is very different from a wayleave, as you know, and despite your assertions to the contrary, it is a valuable difference to the property owner. You kept referring back to the fact that the original wayleave is very old and that the equipment has been in situ for a long time, thus the financial impact on my property is negligible. I do not agree with this statement. It may have been true when the wayleave was first set up but that was over 60 years ago and property values have increased considerably in that time, particularly residential ones. The direct consequence of the oversailing wires is my inability to fully use and enjoy my property, as is my legal right; were the wires not oversailing my property, this would not be the case and I would be free to develop it as I choose. Therefore, there is a direct financial loss to me as a result of your company’s equipment passing over my land. One solution that has been put forward to remove the danger posed by your equipment passing over my land is to increase the height of the existing poles so that the clearance between a person standing on my garage and the overhead lines is greater than the required safe distance. This seems like a very sensible solution and one with which I am in agreement. On 22 August SSE quoted a cost of £7,231.45 + VAT, a total of £8,677.74. I have researched the amount of compensation a property owner might reasonably expect to receive for granting permanent rights to their property by way of an easement to a DNO and I am advised that these are typically between 1% and 2% of the property value, when negotiated by parties familiar with this process. Based on a reasonable estimate, my property is conservatively valued at in the region of £800,000, thus giving a minimum expectation of £8,000 of compensation for granting an easement. You today stated that SSE are prepared to contribute 25% of the cost of increasing the pole height for the overhead lines, i.e. £1,807.86 since SSE will not need to charge themselves VAT on the cost of any works. I also doubt whether the quote provided to me is at cost to SSE and there will be a margin of profit in that so, in effect, the true cost to SSE of this contribution is far below 25% of the cost to me. I believe that this valuation of permanent rights over my property is an extremely poor offer and not one that I am prepared to accept. In the interests of overcoming the issue of SSE’s equipment over my land, I have not sought to profit from the matter in any way; I have only sought to reach a fair and equitable solution and have dealt with you in a very transparent and fair manner. Indeed, I have already agreed to pay the charges for re-routing the power supply to my house and have no issue with this, since it is of direct benefit to me. On the other hand, you, on behalf of your employer, have been guarded and done all that you can to avoid straight answers, instead almost treating the process as though it is a game of poker where he who bluffs the best, gets the best deal. This has included difficult telephone conversations where you deliberately insert long, awkward silences presumably in an attempt to make me feel ill at ease or intimidated, and this has been the case in every conversation I have had with you. In addition to this, you constantly allude to issuing notices and starting other processes, without any explanation of what these are or what the outcome of them is, instead leaving these veiled threats hanging until I continually had to press you for answers to them. When you do finally explain what these other actions are, it seemed to be a circular argument that brings us back to where we began in the conversation and no further forward. Your rang me at 5.10pm this evening and our conversation lasted 37 minutes, in which time all your main objective seemed to be to attempt to intimidate me into accepting the above financial offer, otherwise you would serve me with legal notices and generally make things difficult for me to progress my house build. For the record, I do not appreciate attempts to bully me, no matter how passive aggressive they are, and I think that it is disgraceful behaviour. It has also made me re-think my approach to this situation, since being transparent and fair does not seem to have produced any meaningful progress. Towards the end of our conversation, you stated that you want to continue our dialogue and see if we can reach a resolution. This, however, is not a poker game for me nor is it an enjoyable sport of seeing who will blink first and give in to the other’s proposal. As a result, I have no wish to continue any conversations with you since I feel it is a very stressful waste of my time. Therefore, unless you are prepared to deal with matters in a clear and straightforward way, next week I shall issue formal notice to SSE of withdrawal of the wayleave on our property. Once this is done, I shall instruct a firm of chartered surveyors experienced in negotiating financial compensation agreements with DNOs for the grant of wayleaves and easements and I feel confident that will, in due course, more than adequately cover the costs of any work to the oversailing wires. Please contact me via email only from now on as I want to have a permanent record of precisely how you respond to me."
  5. 7 points
    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.
  6. 7 points
    My upper floor, that is. Due to the vast number of MBC guys on site early last week, my upstairs was ready for the underfloor heating pipes and spreader plates to go in much earlier than my plumber had anticipated. So, fortified by all the sausage rolls and pies that his local Greggs could offer at short notice, he hot-footed it from Wales over to Deepest, Darkest Dorset late last week to put the filling in the UFH sandwich of the upper floor. MBC were due back on site this morning to get the egger boards down on the first floor, so it was a case of then or never. The downstairs UFH pipes are embedded into the concrete slab and so a different method is needed for the upstairs, and this is it. What you are looking at are aluminium spreader plates with the UFH pipe bedded into them. The spreader plates are thin sheets of aluminium with two semi-circular recesses running the length of the plates. These are stapled to the joists along their length and their job is to hold the pipe in place and also to diffuse the heat over their area. The plates are very thin, barely a couple of mm thick, I would say, and very sharp, as I found out when poking the corner of them all stacked up in the shrink wrap packaging when they first arrived. Here's what they look like individually: There were a couple of delays in getting started on Friday and as a consequence work went on till well into the evening. Nick didn't quite go to the same lengths as MBC by getting his head torch out and fitting them in the dead of night, but it was still a reasonably late evening. UFH by sunset: After some hard graft on Saturday, it was all in place and the manifold had been attached, pressurised and tested and all looks good. Once all the egger boards are on, Nick will need to come back and staple the centres of the spreader plates along their lengths to the boards above to ensure good contact and heat transfer. I did not sit idly by whilst all this effort was going on, oh no, not me. I had some very important decisions to make and these took a high level of innovation and imagination. Like, where's the best spot for the furniture in the to-be living room and where do I prefer the view? Really important. And, it turns out, that off-cuts of EPS upstand make for a really good improvised sofa. To be seen in all the best furniture showrooms soon: Having tried this, I came to a very meaningful conclusion. I need more furniture. Another thing for another day. Back to business, MBC were back on site today, a team of 4 to put the egger boards in place. You can see from the spreader plate pictures above that there is virtually no joist exposed, hence the need for screwing them down, particularly as the spreader plates will need to be attached from them underneath. The guys also used the egger adhesive along the tongue and groove runs of the board sides. Being a complete ingenue when it comes to all matters of construction, I was pondering last week what the purpose was of the hefty blocks of wood set into the recesses of the I shaped steels. Today, I found out. The posi-joists don't just rest in place, they are very firmly attached using steel thingies called roof hangers. These are they: And this is where they go: On other matters, I'm busily chasing down roofers at the moment, and they are proving difficult to get hold of. One has already declined to quote because they are so busy, but I'm working through a list of possibles, so it will get done. I've also booked in for my service alteration on the electricity - it's on a pole via an overhead line right now but will be buried eventually and the pole removed. Current date for this is 17th October, but electricity companies dance to the beat of their own drum so this could easily change. It's the big stuff back tomorrow with the final frame delivery and the upper floor being constructed. Sit tight for the next thrilling episode!
  7. 7 points
    At the end of my next two blog instalments, you may all be shouting OMG YOU FOOL at the screen a couple of people asked for a no frills no BS account, warts an all they said. Ok it’s coming i think there are more than a couple of people on here that will probably need a Prozac and a lie down if they even considered going the route I have. Well time will tell. If I come back with a blog of how my house fell down or is full of cracks, I will stand here and allow you to all tear chunks of me. So after all the extra concrete had gone from my build site I was left with a bare patch that looked like the Somme. and then it rained,and rained. So we have worked out we are on bad ground, and some form of extra measures will be needed, 1. Ground investigation survey. £1500-£2500 2. Engineer to design slab ,foundations. £2500-£5000 these where the prices quoted from two different companies that turned up to have a look. Both companies stated that I would need some form of piles no matter what type of foundation I placed on top. Raft, ringbeam whatever it would need a pile of some description. So being the bloke I am I put my hi vis jacket on and drove over to the site down the road to talk to the piling team, I found out more about piling in 10 minutes than I had in a lifetime unfortunatly they thought they would be too expensive as they are a nationwide company and deal in multiple houses on big sites, so of to google a couple of local companies i got two companies out to talk to me and this is where it gets a bit interesting. This is how the first conversation went. Me. Hi piling guy, now to be referred to as pg. hi. Me. So I’ve had a quote for a ground investigating survey and there a bit shocking. Pg. yea piss takers pg. So looking at the drawings you sent me I have done some very rough calcs and you will need 29 piles spaced around the perimeter and two rows through the centre. He produced a CAD drawing with a piling layout showing which piles would be carrying a higher load due to floor loading etc i was more than slightly impressed. Me. So if I get the ground investigation done, you will work from that. Pg. what for I just told you what we will need to do. Me. Yea but, we need to pg. If you want to spend two grand being told your soil is crap that’s up to you, I thought you just told me it’s crap me. I did but won’t we need it for the engineer pg. what engineer, I’ve just done it for you, all your loadings have been given to our in-house engineers and that’s who designed that cad drawing your looking at. Me. Oh. Pg. I don’t mind if you want to pay some plonker in a BMW £5000 to tell you you’ve got crap ground and you need piles driven to 7-8 metres that’s up to you, Me. Oh. Me. So you design each pile to take a design load of the wall that’s going on top of it, plus floors and roof and, er, er pg. yep. Me. But I will need the engineer to design the ringbeam that ties it all together pg. Nope. We do that all in one design package, piles ringbeam, steel bar schedules everthing this bloke said is exactly how I envisioned it done if I was the piling company, no knobs in suits with their pinstriped trousers tucked in their wellies, good solid blokes, no bullshit, no messing been doing it 30 years, exactly as I am, take it or leave it. I was starting to like this guy, in a manly way you understand. Pg. so that’s it lad I will have a quote over to you in the next day or two. so 3 days after the quote arrived I laid a piling Matt for the rig to sit on, nothing fancy as the piling rig only weighs around 5 tonne. So. No ground investigation, no separate engineer and I was just on the verge of instructing both at a cost of about £6000 all in. Every differant saying was rushing around in my head. FOOLS RUSH IN WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. 3 weeks later this lot turned up bloody hell that’s a lot of steel, 58, 4m steel tubes making 29 driven piles all going in the ground 8m. The next day a couple of lads turned up with the piling rig. For the next 4 days they proceeded to upset everthing within a 300m radius bong,bong,bong, the piling rig looks a bit unassuming but it has a 500kg weight that is lifted to the top of the mast and dropped down the steel tube, the ground shakes for a good 25m around it, over half the piles went down to there design SET, the rest stopped at REFUSAL somwhere between 6-7m. So thats it thats how I roll.
  8. 7 points
    You would have thought having mocked it all up without the risers it would have all fitted together first time hey. Oh no! Every winder had to be adjusted ( including adding bits)... which I’m sure will come back to bite me in the arse. BUT they are in!!! I still need to trim the wedges, make the landing proper, and fit the bottom easy straight flight but Iv had enough stress this weekend. So we’re going to the pub, ( I might look at the landing tomorrow..... I might go shopping, I’ll see how I feel in the morning)
  9. 7 points
    @Ferdinand is right, I'm one of the younger self builders at 31. In the south no less. Only reason it has been possible is a combination of factors: - Saving near enough 25% salary since starting my career. Lived in cheap/shared accommodation until last year to make it happen. - left university with no debt, paid via summer jobs, and never taken on any other debt since - always been frugal. For example, cars have always been sub £3k and bougt outright - been super fortunate in my education (aerospace engineering) that has landed me an insanely good career. - inheritance via father-in-law (biggest reason) - lucky break on a few share options - decision to project manage and DIY about £40k worth of labour (else we can't afford it). How we do that with two full time jobs between us will be an interesting challenge I won't deny that the majority of the above is down to privilege and luck. I would definitely consider myself a fortunate outlier, and am very thankful for it. But if I had a choice, I'd rather have my father-in-law around.
  10. 6 points
    ....is how my brother in law accurately described the state of the build now when I Whatsapped him the picture below, taken yesterday afternoon. As you can see, MBC have been at their blitzkrieg style building speed again and this morning I arrived to find my roof all covered in membrane and battens, too, and MBC noticeable by their absence. Actually, it's the silence that you notice as much as anything. There were about 7 in the team over the weekend and when all the nailguns are going it does sound either like gunfire skirmishes or lots of firecrackers going off. Either way, they were true to form and really shifted. This is the view from down the lane and you can see the membrane and battens all in place. Personally, I think that this is an interesting photo because it shows how, despite being a large building, the view of it from the lane is much less prominent than one might expect, due to the angles of the gables and pitched roof. The part that looks like it's covered in tin foil is the garage. Here's a more distant view from down the lane, taken before the membrane went on. Of course, in order to get the roof on, all the posi-joists needed to be put in place and this was being done over the weekend. My neighbours work in construction and have been fascinated by the process of the MBC build, which is all very new to them. It's great having neighbours who view the construction with such enthusiasm because instead of complaining about noise and disturbance about the teams and working late/working weekends, etc. (remember Peter powerfloating the slab till 12.45 am?), they gush about how hard working they are and give me full update reports on what's happened in my absence. Lucky me! And thus, according to my local spy network, there were 9 team members working on Saturday and there were 7 on Sunday. No wonder I came back to an empty site today. I was away from the site on Friday, dropping hubby off at Luton airport at 6.30am and then on to have a brief bit of R&R with a girlfriend in Birmingham before heading back south. On Friday, my temporary staircase was delivered from Howdens and MBC added a couple of extra treads to the bottom to bring it up to the necessary height. For £120 + delivery (and VAT, if applicable), it's a very useful bit of timber to have. Most of the stud walls are up now; there are only 2 that need to be put up when MBC come back, both off the hallway and have been left out for the time being for logistics. This photo is looking from our bedroom into the en suite and through to the main guest bedroom. We had a lucky save on the stud walls, not in financial terms but layouts. The architect had specified that each of the bedrooms should have a partial stud wall just inside the door and centrally located, almost making a corridor as you walk into the room. We were really unconvinced by the idea at the time, but went along with it as it can be hard to accurately imagine these things before the building goes up. When I came to the site on Thursday, however, it was clear that they would have been awful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, having gone to a lot of effort and expense to have bigger rooms, these immediately sliced off 25% to 30% of the room and made you feel like you were being pushed up against the window which, by the time a large bed is in the room, is exactly what would happen. The second reason is that because of the really high vault in the main bedrooms, 4.7m, having a run of about 3 along the floor from the partial stud wall the the window meant the proportions were really off and looked terrible. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and these weren't put in and are now a nice load of scrap or surplus timber lying around. The matter of the stud walls does, however, emphasise the value of being on site most days as had I been absent, they would have been put up according to the plan and I'd have regretted it bitterly. There have been many instances like this where what seems like a small, or even trivial, decision or alteration at the time which is quick and easy to deal with because I'm there, could have developed into a big deal or expensive issue at a later time. Coming back to those vaulted ceilings, the ridge height is such that when the scaffolders came back to put the second lift on and make some adjustments earlier in the week, we needed to get a tower in for the guys to reach the top internally. If I can give one bit of advice to anyone starting out, scaffolding is EXPENSIVE!! I know that very little comes cheap when paying others to build a house, but don't underestimate the cost of scaffolding. By the time I'm done, mine will be just over £5k. It isn't the simplest of buildings to scaffold with the balconies and vaults, but even so, it's a significant cost. Once all the internal stuff was getting done, the roof was getting boarded. This is the main, west facing bedroom with half of its roof boarded. And then the same once it was all covered. Finally for this post, the balconies have been made ready for boarding and flat roofing. I have to go back to the architect in the morning to check on the fall of these and the direction of the run-off as it doesn't make sense to me right now. I need to refresh my memory as to what was discussed and answer a couple of queries PDQ as my flat roofing is now imminent. But that's another subject for another post.
  11. 6 points
    Thanks. I've bookmarked it to read later.
  12. 5 points
    Introduction Note - this is not a definitive guide, but made up of advice and guidance taken from various sources and the experiences of forum members. Any reliance you place on the information here is solely at your own risk. Please contact HMRC on 0300 200 3700 for clarification of any issues you may have. This guide is intended to help self builders and those involved in eligible conversions understand the VAT rules that relate to their project, in particular the VAT refund rules. It will be updated as and when new information becomes available. If you have any information that you feel is important to include please include it in a new post. Note that it does not cover the regulations if you have set yourself up as a VAT registered trader and have raised invoices through a company. Nor does it cover renovations ineligible for refunds through the DIY Housebuilders Scheme although there are certain types of renovations that are eligible for reduced VAT rates at source, for example renovation work on a dwelling that has been empty for 2 years, but you cannot claim through this DIY scheme. To keep this guide relatively tidy new posts may be deleted once read and the information acted upon. Note that I am not a VAT expert in any way but have based this guide on my own experience of reclaiming VAT for my self build, from reading information about the VAT regulations, and the experiences of others. This guide is not intended to cover all of the information included within the claim forms. There is an extensive amount of information included in the notes sections of these forms and you are advised to read the notes carefully to ensure that you understand the details. This guide is intended to provide an overview of the scheme, some practical hints and tips, and to help readers avoid some of the most common mistakes based on the experience of others. Overview of the Scheme The DIY Housebuilders Scheme allows you to reclaim VAT from HMRC that you have paid out for your project if you are: building a new house converting a building into a new dwelling bringing an existing dwelling that has not been lived in for 10 years back in to use. The scheme is intended to put a self builder in a similar VAT position to someone who has bought a new house from a developer and allows DIY housebuilders and converters to reclaim VAT for specific types of projects. The rules can be complex and it is important that every self builder understands them at the very start of their build because you should ensure that your project meets the eligibility criteria to avoid your claim being refused later. You must also ensure that your invoices are charged at the correct VAT rate throughout the build, and that they are in your own name. Only certain projects apply, and there are several conditions that must be met. For new builds the home must: be separate and self-contained be for you or your family to live or holiday in not be for business purposes (you can use one room as a work from home office) For conversions: The building being converted must usually be a non-residential building. Residential buildings qualify if they haven’t been lived in for at least 10 years. You may claim a refund for builders’ work on a conversion of non-residential building into a home. You should qualify if you are building your home from scratch and meet the other criteria whether or not you have instructed a builder to do the majority of the work. Or you can buy a 'shell' from a builder and complete the internal work. You cannot buy a finished property from a builder and use this scheme to cover additional work such as building a conservatory or garage, or adding flooring. The purchase of a 'shell' must clearly state that. Even if you have instructed builders to complete the majority of the work (that should be zero rated if a new build) you can still use this scheme to claim for any materials you have purchased directly yourself. There can only be a single claim for a property however and this should be within 3 months of completion. There are very strict rules about this, discussed further down but send your claim in on time or you risk the entire refund being refused. You MUST check your planning permission to see if it notes any restrictions, for example whether the permission ties the new property to a business or prevents the new dwelling from being disposed of separately. Restrictions like this may make your entire claim ineligible so it is best to ascertain whether your project will qualify from the outset and then if appropriate apply to have any conditions removed from the planning permission if you can. Your home must also be considered lawful and this means that you must have built the dwelling stated in the planning permission. If your planning permission starts off as a renovation / extension but the building was later discovered to be unstable so it was demolished and built from scratch you must ensure that the PP is altered even if building control are aware and have approved building plans. The 2 departments are separate and will not liaise with each other in general. It is your responsibility to ensure that the planning permission is in line with the approved building plans. There have been cases of claims being refused in such circumstances (see here) even where retrospective planning permission was granted for a demolition and rebuild. It is estimated by HMRC that around a third of self builders do not apply for the VAT reclaim. That's a lot of money being gifted to the tax man and I'm hopeful that posts such as this will help people claim the money that is rightfully theirs.
  13. 5 points
    In my last post we were waiting on two items arriving from our suppliers: Velux flashing kits and a metal roof to be fitted at the back. The velux flashings arrived first and we were able to make good progress and finish this side. Our joiner then came back on site to fit the metal roof. Unfortunately as mentioned in my Terrible Thursday post the flashing arrived at the incorrect angle, the plan was then to use the lead, but thankfully we decided not to and we managed to get a replacement flashing sourced quickly, which allowed the rest of the slating to be done. Last bit. And then finally ridge tiles. To be honest the roof was a bit harder than I thought. Various different materials, which can all take a while to arrive on site. If one supplier delivers late or supplies an incorrect part it can hold up the entire roof fitting. As with the entire build, except the blocks and concrete the materials are all organised by us, so perhaps it would have been less stressful to leave it to a single contractor. We had a great roofer who did the work in all conditions and a joiner who came on site quickly when we needed him.
  14. 5 points
    Firstly, for all you lot waiting with baited breath for my next blog update, my apologies! Since the house was opened up for guests I've needed a bit of time to switch off from what was a very full time project for the last few years. When we first opened to guests the house was missing its decking. I had gone through various ideas for the design of this, and in the end decided that less was more, and made it a fairly minimal affair, just somewhere to allow access to the big sliding door and give space to sit and enjoy a cuppa or glass of whatever, whilst looking out over the views to the loch and the sunsets. Due to the big change in height, I decided to make the seating integral and do dual duty as part of the step down as well. This has worked pretty well, I think, with the advantage of dropping the height of the decking and preventing the handrail from obscuring the view from inside the house. There's still some tidying up to do- paths around the house, and some cladding trim to finish off the decking itself- but it's a big improvement on how the place looked a few weeks ago.
  15. 5 points
    I managed to get a full day tiling the kitchen floor I’m working tomorrow so won’t be able to get there to grout till next weekend
  16. 5 points
    What items can VAT be reclaimed on A list of items that can ordinarily be claimed for and those that can't is contained within the notes section of the claim form. The detail shown below is not intended to be an inclusive list but is noted here to provide some general categories and highlight specific items that forum members have been successful in claiming for, or not. In some cases you may find that a builder is willing to zero rate certain supply and fit arrangements that include materials that you may not otherwise be able to claim for via this scheme, for example an automated garage door that does not function without the automation. There should also be nothing preventing you from securing any of the eligible items below on a zero rated supply and fit basis. What items are eligible? A summary is below (not an exhaustive list - if you feel that there are some items that it would be useful to include then please note them in a post below). Also read the notes section in the claim form as this also contains a list. This is not advice but a list intended to include items that are most likely to be allowed. All construction materials normally incorporated in a new dwelling, for example, bricks, blocks, timber, timber frame kit, concrete, insulation, sand, cement, plaster, plasterboard, roofing, stairs, windows, doors, guttering, doors, etc. Electrical and plumbing materials Fitted kitchen furniture such as kitchen units, sinks and worktops Boiling water taps (there is evidence to show that these are being approved) Extractor fans, air conditioning systems, dust extractors and built-in vacuum cleaners MVHR systems Gas or electrical systems designed to heat space or water (includes Agas and solid-fuel cookers if designed to provide heating) Gas or electrical systems designed to provide ventilation, cooling, purification or dust extraction incliding cooker hoods Burglar alarms, fire alarms and smoke detectors Heating systems including radiators, underfloor heating, storage tanks, solar-powered heating, boilers, air source heat pumps etc. Solar panels Aerials and satellite dishes Fireplaces and surrounds Curtain poles and rails Basic fitted wardrobes that meet all 4 criteria from VAT Notice 708 as noted in more detail at the end of this post Plumbing and electrical installations including central heating, fixed heaters, fires and fireplaces, solar panels, bathrooms and showers Integral blinds (sealed inside window units). At least one member has also been successful in claiming for external blinds that were fitted onto the window frames by the window supplier. Sanitary wear including showers Bathroom accessories (towel rails, soap dishes etc) Mirrors Fixed floor coverings such as engineered wood, lino and ceramic tiles Materials for installing services such as water, gas and electricity Lifts and hoists Light fittings (including chandeliers and outside lights) Swimming pools and saunas inside or linked to the new dwelling Permanent boundary fencing Walls Gates (but not any electrical components) Garage doors. You may also have success in claiming for a motorised garage door if it comes as a holistic unit and is noted as a door. You cannot claim for separate automation. Drives, roads, patios, footpaths, parking areas Turf - as noted in VAT Notice 708 - the provision of soft landscaping within the site of a building (such as the application of top-soil, seeding with grass or laying turf) Plants and trees but only as detailed on an approved planning permission Delivery charges included on invoices for materials As yet unproven but potential to be eligible: Hobs with integrated ventilation (eg Bora) - no evidence to show that these are allowed yet but given that an Aga that provides cooking and heating is allowable an integrated hob may be too. If you have any information as to whether these are being accepted please post below. What items are ineligible? These include: Rooms above or attached to a detached garage Detached workshops or storerooms Sheds Stables Detached swimming pools Garages and conservatories not included in the planning permission Plants and trees not included in the planning permission Domestic electric and gas appliances, such as ovens, fridges, microwaves, coffee makers and dishwashers etc, whether built-in or freestanding Lampshades and ornamental light fittings Electrical components for garage doors (or door locks) and gates Curtains and blinds Carpets, underlay and carpet tiles Audio equipment, built-in speakers, intelligent lighting systems, CCTV, TV receivers etc Consumables (sandpaper, white spirit etc) Tools Bedroom furniture, bathroom furniture (ie vanity units), mirrors Garden furniture, ornaments and sheds Hire charges Separate architects fees, design charges, survey fees, solicitors' fees, project managers engaged directly by you, structural engineers' fees etc. Labour charges (unless for a conversion) Skip hire, temporary fencing Muckaway Delivery charges on separate invoices even if for eligible items Criteria for eligible Wardrobes from VAT Notice 708 is below: Basic wardrobes installed on their own with all the following characteristics: the wardrobe encloses a space bordered by the walls, ceiling and floor. But units whose design includes, for example, an element to bridge over a bed or create a dressing table are furniture and are not building materials the side and back use three walls of the room (such as across the end of a wall), or two walls and a stub wall. But wardrobes installed in the corner of a room where one side is a closing end panel are furniture and are not building materials on opening the wardrobe you should see the walls of the building. These would normally be either bare plaster or painted plaster. Wardrobes that contain internal panelling, typically as part of a modular or carcass system, are furniture and are not building materials The wardrobe should feature no more than a single shelf running the full length of the wardrobe, a rail for hanging clothes and a closing door or doors. Wardrobes with internal divisions, drawers, shoe racks or other features are furniture and are not building materials.
  17. 5 points
    Dead man walking....... Ed, that looks the dogs bollocks mate. If I'd have fitted that, let alone made and fitted that, I'd have been walking around with a chest like Katie Price. Go drink beer, and buy SWMBO a bottle of fizzy for being your support, in more than one way.
  18. 5 points
    No they were well rotten but according to G "not an issue" ... well they were a bloody issue. Should have seen how easy the lot was to drag down! Got all my money back and an apology. Then he asked if he could carry on and work for me. Anyway, page closed on that one, a room lost but never mind I have an amazing new crew on board now so onwards and upwards.
  19. 4 points
    Hi - yes things are getting messy but in a positive manner! I have been very busy these last few weeks, working a full 8 hours or so and a full weekend. The house has now been plastered except for the sitting room. The reason being the chimney still hasn't been completed. Should be done this week I am told! Once it has been done, the plaster boards can be finished off and the room plastered. Allowing for the rooms which have been plastered to dry thoroughly, I have followed on with my paint roller and whitewashed to walls and ceilings. I am using Johnstone's Trade Contract white emulsion which in turn has been diluted. The first coat I applied was more diluted than the second coat. Having asked a question on the main forum, I am comfortable with painting the walls in a weeks time or so with our favoured colours. I have been giving it my all simply to keep ahead of the joiner, who has started the second fix joinery. The upstairs has been finished but the downstairs will wait until the floor tiles have gone down. Outside I have also been painting the exterior wood. We are using the Dulux range - Weather shield - Firstly, I applied two coats of preservative primer. Then, on went two coats of dark grey undercoat, before finishing off with a top coat of Bowler Hat. Having followed their procedures, I am hopeful this will be good for at least 10 years. The stone work is nigh on complete. It is basically the gable ends that need finishing of together with the chimney. Unfortunately I am struggling to upload some photos - these are the ones I did manage to do. Perhaps I will have better luck when the next post is due. Thanks for reading.
  20. 4 points
  21. 4 points
    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
  22. 4 points
    Thank you. I'm pleased with the way its coming together.
  23. 4 points
    There will be a pair of newts doing synchronized back stroke....
  24. 4 points
    God how I wish my dogs could do it I’m sure they would have the same sense of urgency as we do! Yes you’re right it can be a lonely place a building site, we get very few visitors even the family don’t visit because I suspect they can’t comprehend how we can live in a caravan, my son in particular thinks we should just buy a house and settle ourselves down but for the money we had we were only going to get a small house and we’ve tried that already and it didn’t work.We too went and looked at an ex council house just after the foundation was poured and it didn’t go as planned, but we decided to continue and I’m sure in the end it will be fine but you do get these moments when it all gets too much, for me writing it down did help and all your words of encouragement are much appreciated
  25. 4 points
    Yep, had my own wobble this week. I tend to have a depressive episode around this time of year (second half of August, first half of September) and sort of know to discount it a bit. Last Sunday (19th) I went up to the site to try to finish off fitting the membrane on the west gable but what with the slight depression and it being the first day I'd been able to work at height for a week I was already feeling a bit frustrated. My safety glasses (needed most of the time for the reading bit on the bottom) kept misting up under the midge net and the scaffold tower was being awkward to put together and I rather lost it - threw a few bits of tower down pretty hard breaking one platform and one top ladder section. Haven't been up to the site since except to check that no other parts of the scaffold tower are damaged and to pick up post. Through the early part of the week I was pretty seriously thinking about giving up on the whole project. On Wednesday I went and had a look at the outside of a cheap ex-council house that's up for sale and started thinking through what I'd do with it, etc. Since then I've been thinking on two separate tracks at the same time: if or if not, while trying to do useful things to get out the depression cycle, which I am but still feeling a bit fragile. E.g., today moved most of my office stuff up from the living room to the small bedroom as that'll be a lot easier to heat in the winter. So, yeah, maybe this forum needs a Mental Health section. Whatever, reading and talking on here has helped. Thanks all. More amusingly, either I'm reading this wrong or you have very well-trained and dexterous dogs…
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