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  1. 13 points
    So the floors in and it’s time to start putting up this icf stuff now there’s many ways to build stuff and I chose to build the icf up from the footing blocks and incorporate the block n beam floor in the process, thus locking the ends of the beams in place this first course of blocks would then get filled with concrete up to finished floor level. With the height difference between the foundation blocks and my block n beam floor, this meant I had to cut the first row of blocks with a step in them, the inner face half the height of the outer face. OMFGG. What a shit choice that was, I think I am possibly the worlds expert on icf cutting, what I thought would be a couple of days work took 6. Cutting leveling, plumbing up, more cutting the static generated by cutting the blocks is ridiculous, the little bits stick to your face arms, hands anything that it fancies. This is a pic of the stepped block, inner leaf cut smaller than outer to allow next course to come up level from that. So 6 days of cutting the bloody stuff and it’s all the way around the footprint,fill it with concrete and that’s another bit done. The random spacing on the reinforcement bar relates to pillars that will be between openings we have a lot of openings and not a lot of wall between them we also have some very substantial reinforcement over the windows to compensate for the lack of wall structure around the openings Tadar that’s that done. So anybody going to start an icf build with block beam floor let me know and I will tell you exactly how to do it. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FOLLOW THESE PICTURES. unless you want 6 days of frustration. 🤪🤪🤪🤪 Bugger me we thought we where down sizing.
  2. 11 points
    So after a month or so in the house, the time has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and what if anything, we would change or could have done differently. In truth there is very little if anything that we would change. The rooms flow, the doors open in the right direction and the lights can be switched on and off in the appropriate places. Even the WBS has proven to be a worry that wasn't worth worrying about, as it's position within the hearth is no longer an issue due to it being vented through the back as opposed to the top. Some jobs have been completed such as the down pipes and a few jobs remain outstanding but nothing that has an impact upon our daily lives. One such job is the porch that needs to be slated. Thankfully I still have some financial leverage over those various trades so I know they will return. Our satisfaction I suppose, has to be routed in the preparation work, the research and being a member of this superb forum. None of these elements should be underestimated. Therefore I would like to sign off this blog with a heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed, not only to my issues over the past couple of years, but to all the other threads, as they too are just as relevant / enlightening. I have also attached some images which complete the project, namely the WBS chimney installation and the erection of the much mentioned porch. For a final time, thanks for reading, and given the date, seasons greetings to you all. Paul.
  3. 10 points
    Okay, so I know that I promised another blog post soon way back at the beginning of December but it was busy on the build. Crazy busy, details to follow. As for Christmas, well, that didn't turn out as planned, and I had planned it so well. Both OH and I were proper knackered by the time we got into December - me with the build, OH running our business by himself, so we planned some quality R&R by running away to Gran Canaria on Christmas eve for a week. A fly and flop, turn ourselves into zombies for a week then return all bright eyed and bushy tailed for the new year. You just know this isn't going to end well, don't you? You'd be right. 2 days after we got to Gran Canaria, Paul started to feel off-form, then he felt crap, then he felt like death would be a more comfortable option. Turns out he developed real flu, not man flu, but real, proper, can't get out of bed to pick up a £20 note that someone has dropped on the floor flu. Not great, but it got worse. On Thursday, I learned the hard way why all-inclusive buffet style food has such a poor reputation and I mulled on this whilst turning myself inside out and wondering whether, in my sickly state, I had the necessary co-ordination to take care of everything with only one WC and no handy plastic bowl available. Thankfully, I did and whilst recovering the following morning I thought that the worst was over. You just know this is going to get worse, don't you? It did. We just about managed to get home (thankfully flying into Bournemouth) with OH in an increasingly sickly state. Ever the prima donna and insisting on trumping my food poisoning, flu became something between bronchitis and pneumonia and OH was a very sickly boy to the extent that tomorrow will be his first day back at work. I banned myself from the build for a few days in the new year as I'd caught a cold, but I couldn't be self indulgent about it given my patient was worse. So, if there's any justice in the world, we should be good to go for the next and final stint on the build but I'm all to aware that life isn't fair, so we shall see. Enough of plague and pestilence, let's get onto the plastering bit. Actually, I'll come back to that because although in real time we are mid way through the skim now, a vast amount has gone on since early December when the cellulose was blown in as first fix got started in earnest and at a break-neck pace. The plastering has only started in earnest in the new year and I'd like to cover the first fix stuff that happened in December, given that this is the heart and circulatory system that will make the building function as a comfortable home. We received our planning permission just over 1 year and one week ago and I already knew largely how I wanted the building to function, as a result of reading so much here on BH. Serendipitously, about the same time as PP was granted, Nick popped his bicep. This was disastrous for a plumber but brilliant for me as it meant that I was able to drag him on board to design the systems for my building from the outset. Every cloud, and all that. Things have moved on and been formalised since then, but suffice it to say that all my plumbing, heating, MVHR and electrics have been seamlessly integrated into the building and designed alongside the technical and engineering drawings from MBC by Total Energy Systems Ltd, headed up by Nick. Other systems firms are available, of course. Here is Nick and team. You will see that in the true spirit of accuracy, Nick doesn't have the sun shining out of his posterior, but a laser beam shining out of his head. The nature of the first fix work means that it's hard to photograph the amount of effort that goes into it, but there is plenty. Initially, the team is focussing on getting all the MVHR pipes through the metal web joists and, in time, insulating them. Then there are all the underfloor heating pipes to be run through to the right places and the manifolds. We're having UFH upstairs as well as downstairs - the ground floor manifold is in the very useful cupboard under the stairs, the upper one in the loft space along with all sorts of other interesting things. Here's a nice selection of the MVHR pipes, some insulated, as well as the clipped up UFH pipes that are insulated where they are tied together and in contact with one another. And here's a close up of the insulated UFH pipes. Neatly done. Much thought has gone into how air will flow around the building with the aid of the MVHR system. In particular, in the large open plan lounge/diner/kitchen area, and how to ensure that none but the stinkiest cooking smells make it out of the kitchen area. As a result, there are long runs of the MVHR pipework leading to plenums at the far end of the lounge area where air will flow into the room. The exhaust pipes for this area are (almost) directly over the hob on the island at the far end, so the airflow should ensure that all the cooking smells get sucked up and out over the kitchen area. Here's a photo of the inlet plenums either side of the window at the far end of the living area. Originally, the architect designed the entire upstairs to have vaulted ceilings, including the landing. Whilst MBC were still drawing up their engineering drawings, we asked for the landing area to be boarded out to create a loft area as this would be an ideal space to stuff a load of plant, including the MVHR manifolds. On reflection, this was also a good decision as I think the proportions of that area would have looked very odd and felt like a vertical tunnel due to the height of the ceiling at that point (4.7m). The MVHR manifolds have been neatly attached to racked out sections in the loft area, making sure that room is left for the upstairs UFH manifold and, in time, the PV inverters. Here's the loft area back in December: And the one on the west wall. You can also see the UFH manifold and the black cables from the PV panels that will be connected to the inverters. There were also the soil pipes to tackle and these were planned to get sufficient fall on them as they came through the web joists: For anyone tackling a similar build, I can't stress too much the advantage of having your systems people involved from the very start. It means that any holes that need to be put through steel beams to accommodate pipework can be designed in and made at the fabrication stage. Even then, things can go awry and a couple of the steel penetrations were either off kilter or not in the right place, but the majority were where they needed to be and made life much easier. An example of this kind of thing is the stud wall between the landing and the en-suite for the master bedroom. In order to be able to hide the various pipes that travel up to the loft space, Nick asked MBC to make this into a twin stud wall and specified the depth so that it would carry the pipework. Here it is. A bit tricky to see, but you can easily see the benefit of being able to conceal this bulky pipework into the fabric of the build. Speaking of concealing things, all the loos in the house are wall-hung with the cistern concealed in the wall. All you see is the loo and the flush plate, and so the framework needs to be put in before walls are boarded and plastered. Here's one such frame: I'm on a bit of a catch up now so stay tuned for the next exciting episodes of ponds, brise soleil and vertical slate cladding. Ta ta for now.
  4. 9 points
    We make a start on 15th October with the diggers arriving on 16th October. By the 17th October, state of play is as per the picture below. The gabion wall on the right of the plot was put in by the vendor as part of the infrastructure works. The trench on the left is for a gabion wall that we are putting in on the other boundary. As there is quite a slope from back to front, we are putting another gabion wall across the plot to act as a retaining wall. All OK so far, but there is a surprising amount of muck that came out of the trench for the gabion wall which will need to be taken off-site. On the plus side, the plot had already been stripped of topsoil and as we are using a passivhaus foundation there was not too much extra muck on top of this. The builder we are using has been involved since the early stages of the project. We didn't go to competitive tender but worked with the Architect to look for someone with experience of the build method we are using who we felt would be able to build to our budget. We are living around 3 hours drive from the site and made a decision out of necessity to continue working in our day jobs throughout the build, however we are purchasing all of the materials ourselves or via our own accounts which we expect will make the build more cost effective. This arrangement works to my strengths as whilst my practical building skills aren't great, I should be OK tracking costs and getting good prices on the materials. Original plan was to get the gabion cages in place and fill them as time allowed, but the Passivhaus foundation could not be delivered for the requested date of 24th October, so once the drainage is complete, filling the gabion cages becomes the main task to keep the team onsite busy. By 26th October, the majority of the drainage and gabion walls are complete The following week is spent finishing of the gabion walls, landscaping, groundwork and preparing the grit base for the Passivhaus foundation. There is however a further delay on the Passivhaus foundation, so a decision is made to push on with the garage to keep everyone on site busy. At the end of the week (2nd November), the slab for the garage is laid The garage progresses quickly the following week and the Passivhaus foundation arrives on 8th November. There are some small dimensional inaccuracies with the Passivhaus foundation base that need to be corrected, but I am thankful this is spotted before the concrete pour when it is relatively easy to fix. It is however another delay and distraction we could have done without. On the bright side however, there have been no nasty surprises with the groundwork / drainage. Work continues on the garage w/c 12th November with prep for the house slab starting at the end of the week. DPM and steelwork for the house slab go in on the 19th and 20th and following a review of the weather forecasts, we go for the 23rd November for the concrete pour. The concrete and concrete pump are ordered again, the rain holds off, temperature is ok and the pour goes to plan. Garage has also now been boarded.
  5. 7 points
    At the same time that all the indoors first fix was going on during December, there was plenty going on outside, too. From the perspective of the build, the main event was the slate cladding but the thing that drew by far the most attention was the digging of the pond. I use the term 'pond' loosely, and it has been the subject of great debate, but it is a wildlife pond. Not a swimming pond, not a boating lake, nor a flight pond, which are all alternative suggestions that have been made. It will be a wildlife pond. Let's begin with the simplest thing - a old inspection whiteboard from work and a permanent marker meant that I finally got a sign up to stop all our delivery drivers carrying on down the lane and annoying the farmer. During the design stage, the architect was very keen for us to have the super-trendy (around Dorset, anyway) burnt larch effect cladding, but we really didn't like it at all. Not the colour, but the overall effect, and so when we saw a house with slate hung vertically as a type of cladding, we decided that was the one for us. I persuaded our roofer, Dylan Faber, that this would be a really good job for him to undertake and add another string to his bow. We had originally intended to use Marley vertigo slates, which are designed to be used for that purpose, but it turned out that they aren't used much in the UK and would have to be made to order in France and then shipped over, giving a lead time of somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 weeks. Instead, we used the same slates as are on the roof, but with the Marley trims and accessories, and it all worked out well, particularly as the slates were slightly cheaper than the Marley ones. The brand is SVK. The process is exactly the same as for the main roof - membrane, batten and counterbatten with the slight variation of using copper rivets rather than the hooks that were used on the roof and they're nasty scratchy things that you don't want to lean up against. Here's the first stage of the prep work: Once all the counter batten was up, the slating could start. The team started at the front as this is the most weather exposed area and I was keen to get some protection on it and make the building more water tight. A little later that day: Other than the stairwell section, the whole of the upper floor of the house is now clad with the slate, and a fine bit of work it is. Dylan Faber and team have been a pleasure to work with and I would gladly use them again. The stairwell section will be clad with the stone slip Tier system that's going to cover the ground floor. This gives a nice break to the slate and reduces the visual impact of the upstairs, and this work should be getting underway at the start of February. It's a little later than I had planned, but that's largely due to the lead time to get the materials in as the supplier has stock of every colour apart from the one we're having. Besides the slate and the stone slip, one of the more dramatic features outside is the brise soleil that sits in front of the stairwell window. This is a vertical run of horizontal cedar fins that are held in position on a RAL coated steel frame. The brackets and coach bolts that hold the frame and fins in place had to be done as a first fix item and before the cellulose was blown in. There are 3 sets of brackets, top, middle and bottom, and it's the top and middle ones that take the majority of the weight of the entire structure. The MBC timber frame construction means that there is nothing behind the outer boards and so the positions for the brackets had to be packed out before installation. This meant cutting out a section of the airtight board on the inside, attaching some nice sturdy noggins to the external wall from the inside, then re-sealing the cut out. Clearly, trying to do this once the cellulose had been blown in would be more than tricky. Once packed, the guys from Contrasol Ltd, who are supplying the system came along and first fixed the brackets. Here are the top ones: And here are the centre ones: In due course, once the cladding is complete, the framework will be attached to the brackets and the timber fins fitted. Contrasol have been a really good firm to deal with and the standard of how they approach things has been very professional. Besides working out all the loads for the framework, etc., they also calculate the optimum angles for the fins and the fins themselves are engineered and precision cut. The fins are actually manufactured by Vincent Timber Ltd in Birmingham, and they are things of beauty in their own right. Here are the fins carefully stacked up just after delivery: And here's a close-up of them: Besides the house itself, we've intended from the outset that the garden and field were every bit as important a feature and fundamental to this is the wildlife pond. One could ask what else we would do with such a large plot otherwise, but this has allowed OH to realise a long-held ambition of having what we hope will develop into a fabulous haven for wildlife. Given that, there seemed little point in limiting our ambition at the start so our groundworkers, Keith and Gail, got digging. This started off with me using a couple of cans of line marker paint to give the outline and then Keith scraping off the turf. Next up was scraping off the topsoil so that we could retain that for later use. Here's the outline of the pond, as seen from the scaffolding. Keith had just started digging out the deeper part of the pond when the tracks came off the digger - the first of many times that day. That will teach me to try and save money by hiring kit from the local farmer. This is what he had to contend with multiple times: We finally got there over the course of a few days, and here's the pond with the deeper centre dug out, prior to having these scraped a bit more and given gradients rather than steps. Once things were smoothed off a bit, this is how it ended up. The water you can see coming in is from a land drain that we broke through, which we will leave broken as it's as good a source as any to fill it up. Our attempts to block the other end of the land drain haven't worked so we need to give this another go in due course as we'd really like the water to stay in the pond. Finally, this is to prove that I'm an equal opportunities employer and that ladies can do groundwork as well. And because Gail felt very neglected about not being pictured on the blog when she and Keith have done so much work on the site. This one's for you, Gail! Keith's other act of vandalism work that week was to give the old electricity pole a good shove and get it out of the way once and for all. Most satisfying. Next up on the blog will be more inside work involving vast amounts of plasterboard and rockwool, but that's for another evening. TTFN
  6. 6 points
    Well, it’s been a momentous day today. It’s taken us a couple of years to get to this stage but we finally broke ground today. All watched over by an archaeologist and in the grounds of a listed building, I’m pleased to say that nothing was found apart from a few copper nails and a few fragments of no significance. Groundworker didn’t encounter any problems and will be back at it tomorrow. Visit scheduled in from Building Control (using Stroma) scheduled for Thursday. Limestone ridge at about 1.5m deep, so a nice solid base to sit on. Here’s some pictures taken by the Groundworker. I’m working away at the moment unfortunately but can’t wait to see what’s been happening this weekend.
  7. 6 points
    Well that’s 5 weeks now since we made our move into the house, our joiner worked away until December 21st then cleared all his stuff away to allow us to get ready for Christmas. We have a fully functional kitchen, lounge, dining room, bedroom, ensuite and bathroom and it has been pure bliss living in a house again! The glass for the staircase should be this coming week after which we will get the upstairs organised and maybe buy some new furniture 🤗 the chap from the heating company came down eventually and sorted things out for us , turned out to be something minor but with nothing labelled it was difficult to get your head round so now we have a better understanding of it all. waiting for the better weather now to get a ramp, steps and decking done and the garden and drive sorted out but all in all I am very happy with my new home and haven’t yet found anything that I wish we had done differently, although this could come! They do say you’ get your third one right 😂
  8. 6 points
    So in my last thrilling instalment I was moaning about how I had just spent 6 days putting in the first row of blocks well for the next week I kept on to my mate helping me that I hoped that wasn’t how the rest of it was going to go, I mean 6 days for 1 course, how bloody long was it going to take to do 12 courses. Well one afternoon we had finished doing a few odd jobs and I thought it was about time to get on with putting up the main walls right then god loves a trier 4 hours later I had this lot up. Bloody hell that was easy so the next few days we spent knocking all the Lego together, still easy, then it started to get a bit more complicated, some idiot has designed this house with far two many openings, small pillars of wall between the openings and SEVEN gables more advice, build something square with just 4 external corners it will save you hours of agro So more windows and openings slowed the progress a bit, things you sort of forget about is all these windows and doors require some form of support, so you add a bit of timber to hold all the icf in place, then you wake up at 2 in the morning and think, should I add some more bracing, then you watch a YouTube video of an icf concrete pour so you add a bit more timber, then you talk to a lad down the road who has done half a dozen icf builds he pops around one afternoon and adds his thoughts into the mix, you guessed it. More wood added, it was starting to look more like a timberframe house than icfso we’re up to lintel height so in icf you don’t actually install a lintel but cast them in situ, lots of reinforcement bar added to the inside of the blocks so when you add the concrete it all makes a monolithic concrete structure. Plenty of steel over these openings tbh it was a thorough pain in the arse, lots of steel a skinny gap and fingers like sausages does not make an easy job. So reo in,corners braced-its time to install the bracing system that hold the walls all plum before you install the concrete now some of you may think you should have put the bracing up a long time ago, and you would be correct but the way my icf provider hires the bracing out meant I would be paying for it for all the time it was on site, so I decided to not bother having it on site until I actually needed it, with all the bracing it was once again looking more like a civil engineering project than a house. 7.30 one morning the concrete pump turned up and for the next 12 hours all hell broke loose i had arranged everything perfectly, extra tea bags plenty of milk it was going to be a breeze ol yea bucko don’t get cocky, I had 3 lads coming to help all with a set job. And at 8.30 on a Sunday night I got a text from from 1 of the lads saying he had a poorly tummy, oh boo hoo to###r so we are now down to 3 of us in total and hence why all hell broke loose, we ran around for12 hours solid I managed a cup of cold tea halfway through the day and 1 slice of toast, we ended up troweling the top of the walls with head torches on and a floodlight. Anyway it’s all in first lift done,no major disasters, one tiny bit of wall that has a bulge in it that I can fix with a mornings fettling. Things I would recommend if doing icf, add lots of bracing every where, if it looks dodgy add a chunk of timber the big orange pipe thing is called a MUD SNAKE it fits to the end of the concrete pump hose and allows you to place concrete so much more accurately than with the big rubber hose, it also allows you to squeeze the end and stop the dribbling concrete from running out when you pass over an area that doesn’t need concrete in, hire one it’s the best £30 you will ever spend. Dogs, if you have a stupid dog try to prevent him getting his head stuck in an icf off cut.
  9. 6 points
    Ok, so maybe I got a bit ahead of myself again... The second wagon that they filled with spoil didn't fare as well. Matter of fact, it managed to beach itself on every axle: The muck-away company had to send a 2nd wagon, fully loaded with 6F2 and a big-arsed chain. Then it dragged the beached wagon out across the street using the chain. The (now-freed) wagon drove off with our load of spoil. Since there was a load of crusher run on the rescue bus, we had it tipped on the front of the plot, to stabilise the ground and prevent a recurrence. So, excavation continued apace for the next few days. Apart from a few more land drains excavated (including an abandoned rat nest), things went well. Here's a few more pics for your delectation: We decided on a stepped bank initially, to try and prevent bank collapse: But as this photo shows, we were still fighting the effects of the bad weather - some small cave-ins, and we started adding acrows to shore up parts of the banks: Now, when we started investigating the options for basement excavation, we had previously considered sheet piling the excavation. However the 2 quotes we received both sad that the steel sheets would need to be left in the ground ("sacrificial" was the word used) because the sheets wouldn't be able to be extracted. And with quotes coming in at over £60k for the sheet-piled excavation, it was well over our budget. So when the groundworkers told me that the excavator was starting to fall into the excavation, and we needed to sheet-pile the front of the hole, I was more than a little concerned. Still, it appeared to work: So the hole was finished - only 74 wagons of spoil taken away... Concrete blinding was laid oversite to stabilise the clay underfoot, and the shuttering for the slab constructed. Then the mesh and starter bars were set into place, and we were ready for the slab to be poured: And lo, our first concrete pour arrived - the first of many! And before I knew what was happening, the slab was done (notice the increase in the number of props / acrows): Time for some ICF...
  10. 6 points
    A quick photo update, I will do proper blog posts over the next few days...... The ground works were started back in August, however there was a long delay with the timber frame being manufactured (partly due the the first floor layout changes), which meant that the TF kit wasn't delivered until November the 18th. Last week the house was made wind and watertight. This week the ground floor UFH was laid and the screed poured. We are hoping that the steel for the cantilevered stair will be fabricated and installed over the next 2 weeks.
  11. 6 points
    Welcome Welcome to sleepless nights Welcome to frustrating builders Welcome to "Christ that was close" Welcome to " How much? Do you think I'm stupid?" Welcome to "Darling, can we move that window 3mm to the left - no - right please?" Welcome to the doctoral thesis on Bathroom Tiling by @Onoff Welcome to one liners by @Nickfromwales Welcome to @Temp's caution Welcome to nerds R Us Welcome to obsession.
  12. 6 points
    Following on from finishing our blockwork a few weeks ago, our brickie came back the next week and fitted the concrete cills. We then had a short wait before before our joiners could come back on site and fit the remaining Siberian larch cladding. Here are some photos. The next exterior job will be rendering, but with the winter weather it might be some time before this can be done. Our attention will now be concentrated on getting the house to 1st fix, fitting the insulation is the first job on the list.
  13. 5 points
    First off - an apology. I've been lax in getting this next instalment posted. Several days away over the holiday season led to several days more trying to sort out family issues, which have since spiralled out of all proportion. I think I have now put the genie back in the bottle, so on with the show. Where were we? Ah yes, we'd poured the basement walls. They'd gone a little wonky (because I was a numpty and failed to install adequate bracing on the outside of internal T-walls), but we had walls that we could build up from. Time for backfill and construction of the remaining foundations (our basement is only 60% of the width of the above-ground house). Before that, we needed to fit a drainage channel around the basement walls & slab. Here's the groundworkers putting the (terram-wrapped) french drain in around the slab/wall junction, which was then covered in 10mm pea gravel to a depth of 500mm, and then 40mm clean limestone: This actually led to one of the most enduring memories of the project to date. I was laying the drain outside the far corner of the basement (where the cave-in nearly smashed the wall apart). The groundworkers had decided that they wouldn't get in that part of the excavation (between the concrete walls and the bank) in case of further cave-ins, so myself and a couple of mates sorted out the drainage channel. Unfortunately, it had rained a lot over the weekend, and was muddy and slippy and wet... Standing on the edge of the slab was precarious to say the least, and I'm not the most svelte individual... Long story short, I fell into the mud. Which sounds funny, but at the time, it was rather terrifying, because of the depth of said mud, and how much effort it took to get me out of the mud. Don't believe me? Here's how deep it was: Took 2 people to lift me out of the mud, and I came out without one of my boots as well, which has never been seen since. I had to walk home, because I didn't have a change of clothes, and I had come to site in the Jag. So over an hour, with outside temps being about 3C, trudging home feeling very sorry for myself. At least my mate lent me a pair of boots! One detail I haven't mentioned prior... The basement walls are 10" thick concrete core, but the above-ground walls were designed to be 6.25" concrete core. The mathematically-astute among you will have already worked out that gives 3.75" (or a touch over 95mm in new money). This was intentional, because I figured I was a clever so-and-so, and could use that 95mm as a bearing surface for concrete floor beams. Genius, eh? Well, maybe. It did give us a nice bearing surface, and it did remove a potential cold join between pours at ground level, so big win there. However it then entailed removal of a large amount of EPS from the inside of the blocks so that the beams would slide along on this concrete (because a crane wouldn't get on site very easily, so we used manual labour to move the beams), so the labour aspect was considerable. It took better part of 2 days to remove the EPS (and resulted in about 3 builders bags worth of EPS fragments sitting in our basement), and another 2 days to set the beams in place and start laying the infill blocks. Here are the beams going on: And here are the floor blocks being laid: Here you can see the EPS having been removed en mass from where the beams had to slide. Don't worry - it's not a giant thermal bridge, because we put EPS back around the beams once they were in situ properly (albeit much later in this story) we have now put insulation above the floor beams for the UFH to sit on top of, and we will shortly be putting insulation under the floor beams in the basement ceilings too (cos we have a load left over) (The big hole is where the stairwell is going, in case you're wondering!) We backfilled at the same time as laying the floor beams. More precisely, because of a battle of wills between the engineer and the groundworkers, we backfilled to approx 50% of depth, then laid the beams (with the walls evenly loaded all round by the backfill to "prevent asymmetric destabilisation and collapse") and finally finished the backfill. 440 tonnes of backfill went in around the basement - that's a lot of stone! Next up was the remaining foundations. Building Control had specified a minimum depth for the mass-fill RC footings for the rest of the house, because of the massive lombardy poplar trees at the front of site. A nice big strip was dug out (2.5m deep at the front, and 1.5m deep at the back of the plot - furthest from the trees), and filled with concrete. The engineer had specified cages of 16mm rebar to make our ground beams that linked the mass-fill footings to the basement walls, with clay heave protection, so we dug out from the clay capping over the backfill, formed shutters with the heave protection, and dropped in our cages: Once the concrete had started to cure in earnest, we laid the first course of blocks on the new foundations, and linked into the basement wall blocks. The steel reinforcement is probably overkill, but better safe than sorry when your engineers starts saying "you don't want the two halves of the house to separate"... The blue pipes were my attempt to ventilate under the block & beam floor that we were going to lay over the new foundations. Turns out that Building Control didn't care a jot about that once they saw how much backfill stone we had placed - not sure why that would matter, but there you go! Concrete was poured in this course of blocks to stabilise everything, and get us ready to carry on with the build. Myself and a couple of mates laid the remaining floor beams in a weekend: That'll do for now - as my Mum used to say: "keep 'em wanting more!"
  14. 5 points
    Our efforts in the latter part of 2018 was spent on getting the exterior properly wind & watertight. With just the render left to do, we could now concentrate on the insides. Starting to insulate the suspended timberfloor was the first job to do. We attached some little bits of timber to the underside of the joists, which will keep the insulation boards in place. Our primary insulation for the groundfloor is Quintherm 65mm (another two layers of insulation will be added later). Once ordered these were then cut to size using a piece of wood to score a mark and then cut with a handsaw. We left a bit of gap either side which will be filled with expanding foam to ensure a tight fit. The other insulation ordered at this stage was the Frametherm wool which is the primary insulation layer between the studs. But some will also be used to top up the gap left in the joists. The width is already in the correct size so it was just a cut for the required length and then you can pop into the studwork. Compared to the Quinntherm this is more quicker to fit. And that is that for 2018. Reflecting on the build process to date: We are exactly where I hoped we would be at this stage. A proper wind and watertight shell that can stand up to the Hebridean winter weather. Reviewing the finances we are about half way through our build budget. We have been fortunate no real issues. A problem with a wrong size velux flashing and the metal flashing provided for utility roof was provided at the incorrect angle, both were the suppliers fault! At the start of the build, I had visions of the concrete wagon sinking in the road, the windows being dropped on arrival and the trusses not being able to fit down the access. The lesson here is watch programmes like grand designs and building the dream, but don't let the drama put you off, self building, it is achievable by anybody!
  15. 5 points
    Is that all, come on I’m bored stiff sat here pictures of the big hole please picteres of progress c,mon c,mon I’m about to kill one of the in-laws if they ask me another stupid question about my polystyrene house.
  16. 5 points
    Updated plans and 3D renders. My parents are over the moon. WC adjusted to add a cupboard. We might lose the other hall cupboard for a larger dressing room.
  17. 4 points
    That's alot of insulation - over 600 bags of the stuff. They cut a load of holes in the MBC vapour layer ply. More holes than we ever imagined. Then they pump the insulation into the holes to fill up the walls (300mm deep) and ceilings (400mm deep). Some of it escapes. Easy to vacuum up though. Then they put the ply discs back in and tape over the holes. They have left us with some patches for areas of the ceiling they can't reach and for any they might have missed. Only found one so far. Sean and his firm - works subcontracted for MBC for alot of the pumped cellulose insulation for them - was fantastic. The house is definitely warmer inside now, and the echo is now deadened. It is so quiet in there. Can't wait to move in........
  18. 4 points
    Our design calls for some pocket doors - 6 in total - good for space saving, should look tidy. We decided to go with Eclisse and got them from the ever helpful Alan at Door Supplies Online. We will also get our door sets from him, to match, and he'll supply some matching architrave to finish the pocket doors nicely. Will post photos of the finished doors when we get there (probably September). In the meantime, we needed to install the pocket frames in advance of plaster boarding. It seemed too easy. But I am posting this because we had slight issues understanding how they fitted so hopefully this post will help someone else in the future. Him indoors built them so quickly I didn't even get photos of him putting them together. But he assures me that the instructions were straightforward to follow and they went together well. Top tip - don't throw out the bits of polystyrene that look like packaging. They actually help give it some bracing strength when lifting the whole thing into place (otherwise it bends quite a bit). The You Tube videos are also helpful. Our MBC structural openings were exact (to the mm) so we had allowed a bit too much structural opening (we didn't know how mm perfect they would be). We then had to pack slightly off the stud frame (offcuts of egger board and OSB). And also pack off the floor to ensure the door was fitted at finished floor level. Have allowed 20mm for carpet / underlay upstairs (and tiles to the bathrooms) so should be OK. The frames come in 100mm finished wall depth or 125mm finished wall depth. With 89mm stud walls this does give a bit of a conundrum, assuming 12.5mm plasterboard. We chose 125mm. And then Alan suggested putting ply on the frame as well to make it extra rigid. Also useful for subsequent hanging of pictures / toilet roll holders on finished wall - otherwise fixings might go through and result in scratching the sliding door. What we couldn't understand was that the pocket side of the door had a frame that was 125mm wide. But the bit the door closes on was only 100mm wide. For a short while I doubted the assembling ability of my definitely better half. Thankfully, a call to Alan set that straight. Though I am not sure I have been forgiven yet. There is a timber jamb (125mm wide) that fits over the 100mm section, making the whole thing 125mm wide. Now for the ply. It has been a bit of a juggle. Some need ply and some don't, some need double ply before plasterboard on one side to build out the stud work. And we need to match the ply on each side otherwise the door will be off centre in the total wall depth. Feels like overkill and probably is. But it will be solid! The ply attaches to the door frame itself using little screws (supplied by Eclisse). If you don't put ply on then these little screws fix the plasterboard. This door below has ply on the left hand side to bring the stud wall out to the frame edge. Then it will have ply over the top of that (and the frame) to match the other side. Then plasterboard. Toilet roll holder going on the other side and mirror on this side so will be strong enough for those. From the inside of the en-suite it looks like this, with one layer of ply. So, just plasterboard over the top of this. All the standard (classic) pockets are now fitted. Ply to go on the other 4 still so plenty of late nights in store before the plasterboarders come in. We are rather enjoying this bit though. Allows us to actually contribute to our build in a meaningful way, saves some cash, justifies the circular saw Christmas gift...... The telescopic pocket door is being saved for another day.
  19. 4 points
    Our groundworkers broke ground on October 9th 2017. Here's the digger and fuel bowser arriving: Bit of a squeeze, but they got it on-site in the end! The driver set to work on the site strip right away. He'd been working for perhaps 45 minutes, when work ground to a halt... A land drain was exposed (well, kind of dug up, if truth be told), in the middle of the plot, all of 6" below the ground. The digger had removed a 2' section of it completely, as this photo shows nicely: Oh well, can't have been that important! 😁 So the scrape is completed, with vegetation separated off from topsoil. Here's our mountain of topsoil (about 20m3), ready for when we want to spread it back over our garden (and me, feeling all smug about the progress we're making in the space of a day!) And the vegetation... well that was loaded by the excavator onto a 32T wagon. Now we had already arranged for pre-acceptance of our clay spoil at a quarry/landfill about 2 miles away, so the driver says "it'll be fine". 30 minutes later, the driver is on the phone, saying "I'm trying somewhere else - they wouldn't take it here". Another 40 minutes, and another call... "I am off to another place"...and so on. So roughly 4 hours later, the wagon arrives back at site. Still full of the vegetation. "Nowhere will take it", says the driver. "It's because of the roots in the load", says the driver. Turns out, the driver has given my vegetation a tour of the North West, having been to 3 separate counties with it. I'm fairly sure he just took a fancy to it, and they went on a drive in the country... he probably bought it a cream tea in Blackpool and asked it back to his place... Here's the wagon in question: Still, could have been worse... the groundworkers pulled a magic trick out of their hat. They dug a Transit-sized hole out of the bottom of the plot, and dropped the vegetation into the hole. Then they loaded the spoil dug out of the hole onto the wagon, and that was accepted at the quarry. The groundworkers compacted the vegetation, put a 600mm capping layer of clay over, and job done. Pretty successful day, if you ask me!
  20. 4 points
    I am Neil, and this is the story of my self build - warts and all. First, some background. My wife and 2 girls and I live in Lancashire, in a 5 bed detached modern build house on a smallish estate. For a few years, we have looked around for somewhere a bit bigger, but in the same village. We had no luck for ages - everything was either too expensive, or too small, or too near a busy main road (and frequently all 3). Then in December 2016, a house with a large garden came on the market only 4 streets away. Perfect location, and it needed a load of work doing to it, so it was going cheap. We went to have a look. House was perfect for what we needed. Ok, so it needed extending - it was 100m2 of floor and we were thinking of making it more like 250m2... but the garden was easily big enough to make that viable, and we had the budget to do it. Better yet, there was a plot of land for sale (with outline planning permission) which used to be the side garden for the house. We put in offers for both of them at the asking prices... So did several dozen other people. It went to sealed bids, so we offered 17k over asking for the house and 15k over asking for the plot. We got the plot but NOT the house. Hmmm, what to do? Here's the plot and the side door of the house - it doesn't look much, but both sides go back another 25m behind those trees... total of approx 600m2, and a snip at £100k plus fees for the plot...
  21. 4 points
    A new house AND Virgin Galactic tickets! You're spoiling them!
  22. 3 points
    Right, Christmas came and went - I had spent enough time with my family and friends, recovering from the previous 3 months. It was time to resume on site! ☺️ So, first up - inspect what the basement looked like, now that it was largely enclosed... Big mistake, because it was horrendous: You can see that the water level is approx 2/3 of the way up the first course of blocks, so about 250mm deep. You can also see the bit of EPS that were chipped away to make the 95mm bearing surface for the floor beams, just floating around. Still, nothing that couldn't be remedied, and at least the basement was holding water - that suggested it might be able to keep the water out, too! Now, we were starting to do things that required real tools to be kept on site. When the groundworkers were on site, we had hired a proper site cabin - hot and cold water, cooking facilities, drying room, toilet, etc etc etc. However, now that we were above ground, it was going to be just me and the occasional mate helping out. Kim had off-hired the site cabin, and swapped it for a porta-loo. Can't really keep much in the way of tools in a porta-loo if you don't want them nicked... So we decided to buy a van! It had a few dents, but it was nice enough, and it would hold the tools, generator, etc, safely overnight. Cha-ching! Now, another reason we hadn't made much progress over the holidays was because we were lacking some fairly necessary items to carry on building - the wall blocks. The ground floor ICF blocks were due for delivery the week commencing 11th December 2017. They actually arrived on site on the 12th January 2018, so just over 4 weeks late. This was something of a running theme with Logix, TBH... if you recall, the internal wall blocks for the basement were a few weeks late too (and you'll find out just how late the rest of the blocks were delivered later in the blog!) Still, they turned up eventually: Still, ICF blocks now on site, we were able to progress... A day later, and we were looking at a decent amount of the external walls done (3 courses, most of the way around), and we were starting on the exciting 45-degree wall between the hallway and the garage: 3 courses turned into 4 courses, and all of the window openings started to be formed: (The ladder was our only means of getting into the basement now, but TBH we didn't really care about down there - we just wanted to get the shell completed and progress to watertight as quickly as possible... Regrettably, that was going to be more problematic than anyone could have envisaged at this time!) Anyway, the walls were flying up, even with all the steel reinforcement having to be put in. At least above-ground we only had a single face of steel to worry about (and our builder-turned-consultant pointed out that we didn't really need any steel at all except in lintels, because: the concrete mix we were using was so strong, and because you don't put steel into brick / block walls, which are perfectly acceptable for building houses with But we did it anyway, just in case we ever decided to move the entire house to Jupiter (where 300mph winds area apparently possible, and where, therefore, our level of reinforcement would come in handy). 🤔 (In case you are wondering, the vertical steel isn't in as of this picture - they were all placed once the ICF walls were finished being assembled!) 4 more days on site (although 2 weeks had passed - remembering that I was only part-time at site, and I only had a mate helping me out on weekends), and we were putting up the bracing system again. Here's our exciting 45-degree wall inside the garage: Isn't it lovely? You can also see the fantabulous set of steps I made from a couple of the many many 10" core ICF blocks we had left over, thanks to a considerable over-estimation by Logix. (I needed the steps anyway, because I am a short-arse and couldn't reach to put steel in above 3 courses!) Some more pictures of the ICF going up: Another week passed... And here, at the end of January 2018 is where it got... hmm, let's say interesting... it was time to put in the lintel blocks for the 6m bifolds in the kitchen... It took me 3 days (so 2 weeks in calendar time) to get those blocks up and to sit square, and there was no way on earth they were going to stay like that with all the steel in them... time for some supports to be introduced to the opening! Size 1 acrows every 1m across the opening. They're bearing off the concrete wall below, so no problem taking the weight. We put a single 250x38mm timber across the entire 6m opening, with 11mm OSB cut to 330mm rips on top of that (to support the ICF blocks fully). On the inside, the bracing system stopped the OSB from moving. On the outside, we screwed timbers down from the webs to trap it. Then we jacked up the acrows approx 10mm at a time until everything was perfectly level / square / plumb. For some curious reason, I don't have photos of the steelwork in this wall, but it was prodigious - 2x25mm steel rebar in the bottom of the bottom course of blocks, 2x 12mm steel rebar in the top of the bottom course of blocks, and 2x20mm steel rebar in the top of the top course of blocks. 8mm rebar links every 200mm across the entire opening, plus onto the columns. I lifted and placed nearly all that rebar on my own (because my mate Paul had some family event on, he missed one Saturday, and I figured I could handle it)... big mistake! 7.5m lengths of 25mm rebar are very very unwieldy! I trashed one ICF corner block just resting the first 25mm bar on it while I got up on the scaffolding! Still, 5 hours of sweating and swearing later, plus some help from a more glamorous assistant in the form of Kim, and it was done...just in time for Paul to arrive and see how I'd gotten on! 🤬 Now, for the most part, the ICF walls had gone up fine. Even the 45-degree wall was a doddle. But those of you who were following the basement wall pour will probably remember that we had a couple of places where the basement walls went a little wobbly. This caused us a bit of a headache, because blocks wouldn't sit down properly in those areas. As it turned out, there was also an issue with the blocks not being level in those places either. This led to ever-increasing gaps between joints as we went up above those points, as you can see here: Solving this was quite a problem. We ended up using about half a can of PU foam in the 3 places this had happened, followed by some serious strapping across both faces of the wall to keep it together. I spent several weeks trying to get everything braced (making bucks for the window and door openings), and plumb, and before I knew what had happened, it was the end of March 2018, and time for another concrete pour... Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment!
  23. 3 points
  24. 3 points
    Had a very nice unexpected surprise this evening. Came home to letter from SSE.... what do they want? Well it was a cheque for just under £1000 to me, three years after the connection was done. Costs incurred were less than the invoiced amount! References all square up to my paperwork. Merry Christmas
  25. 3 points
    A quick CAD model (cardboard aided design). An E/W split, with both halves tilted south a bit as well, viewed from the south. Might still achieve the objective of longer usable generation with the tilt hoping to improve winter performance. Anyone care to suggest how to model that on PVGIS?
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