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  1. 16 points
    So last blog had seen me doing my first icf pour, and it was a proper baptism of fire, 3 blokes running around trying to do 4 mens jobs bloody nightmare. So next stage was to get some scaffolding up and build up the next bit, I decided to buy some scaffolding as I’m building this myself I knew it would be a long term project and renting scaffolding was going to be a complete non starter, so 4 grand later I own a load of scaffolding. As usual the walls flew up fairly quickly, until you get to a gable or a window so for some unknown reason when I designed this place it ended up with 7 gables with 2 different pitches and 17 windows. That really slowed things down a bit. from what we learnt on the last pour we knew we needed to add a bit of bracing around the windows So it all got a bit messy looking with random bits of ply every then it decided to snow so I had to bring out one of my all time favourite sayings. IN CASE OF RAIN OR SNOW TO THE PUB YOU MUST GO. So for the next couple of days not a lot happened. With icf you can fit additional structural parts as you go up even if you don’t need them yet, as when you cast the concrete core it locks in any fixings you have in place, one of these things was our roof support timbers or pole plates, these where fixed to the face of the blocks with temporary screws and anchor bolts poked into the hollow core ready for the concrete to encase them. if you look at that long timber halfway up the wall that’s our poleplate for that side of the house, all bolts are in place and restraint straps embedded into the inside of the blocks ready for concrete. Above the pole plate you can see a funny wooden box, this is shuttering to form a cantilevered beam that supports the roof, there are 6 of these in total with the longest sticking out 1900mm from the main structure, so lots more reinforcement in these and then ready for concrete. The second concrete pour went without a hint of any trouble, and we even pushed the boundaries of sensibility a few times by pouring the concrete to a depth not recommended in 1 pass without a hitch, this sounds like a recipe for disaster but we had little choice, let me explain. It is recomended that you pour aprox 1-1 1/2 courses at a time in a single pass, so starting in the middle of a wall go all the way around the house up to your 1.5 block depth or 600mm aprox, you then go around again starting at the same place this gives the concrete just enough time to just start curing very slightly, this will Norma get you to a point of having an empty truck, perfect it gives you chance to vibrate anything you need to and have a quick cuppa, then the second truck turns up and you go around again, 2 trucks of concrete or 15m and your up 3/4 of your first pour, and then so on. Well with our second pour it didn’t work like that, as we had lots of windows and funny gables the actual concrete amount was fairly small 11m but with that 11m of concrete we had to lift 5 courses of blocks, so 2 passes around the perimeter of the house meant we had to come up 2.5 courses at a time, which was a bit bum twitchy but was perfect it worked a treat. one of the beams after the last pour. feeling rather smug.
  2. 14 points
    A busy November saw all the trades coming good, albeit some were cutting it fine for the moving in day – 30th November – However, we have moved in with all the services up and running. Having said that, BT and Openreach have missed the deadlines and as a result we are without any internet, phone line or TV for at least a week! Also the master bedroom built in wardrobes are still be fitted. The landscapers have finished their work, providing us with a patio area and a driveway area which will see plenty of activity. Look closely and you should see the hedging that has been planted. 330 separate plants in all. This was a planning condition and the hedges are a mixture of Hawthorn, Beech, Holly and Maple. Locally referred to as native hedging. The turf will be laid next Spring. Our Air Tightness test was conducted by a guy from Perth - a good couple of hours away. We never set out to achieve such low levels because we didn’t want the capital outlay of such a system as well as the infrastructure it requires. Our score was 4.9 which in our eyes is very good. There are a number of minor jobs which I need to do such as touching up the paint work here and there; re-oiling some wood in places but all that can wait until we have given the whole place a deep clean. The main external jobs outstanding are the erection of the oak framed porch and the downpipes. Both of which should be completed within the next 10 days or so. Anyway, this was not a self build in the true sense of the words but it was project managed by myself and built using a main contractor and sub contractors after the TF had been erected. I hope you have not only enjoyed reading about our project but have found some useful bits of information within the blogs in order to assist yourselves with your projects, whatever that may be. Overall my experience has been a good one. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, such as additional unforeseen expenditure and additional expenditure as a result of our mistakes, or due to us changing our minds! Such examples include ordering the wrong door frame - we failed to realise we hadn't ordered a threshold suitable for level access - a mistake that cost us £1k. Changing our minds over the 3 toilets we had ordered. They simply looked lost in their respective environments so 3 new ones were ordered at an additional cost of £850. A failure to get a full grip of the scaffolding cost an additional £1k and a failure to budget correctly for the foundations and dwarf wall for the carport cost an additional £4k. Final facts and figures - Build schedule – 6 months from the day the TF arrived. Cost per sq metre - £1850 – includes everything, and I mean everything - from the scaffolding through to the landscaping and it includes the car port and porch [ still to be erected] but not the land or fees. Only two skips were used throughout the build – everything else was removed by us to the local dump or burnt on site – best investment was a £25 oil drum which we used as an incinerator. Thanks for reading - Paul.
  3. 14 points
    And so almost another month has gone by but progress is still being made on the build and, just as importantly, hubby and I got away for a week's holiday in northern France just as the warm weather hit. After our abject failure at R&R over Christmas, it was wonderful to have a really relaxing break without illness or stress and come back refreshed for the final push on the build, which is just as well as there's a busy time to be had over the coming weeks. In the last blog entry, I detailed some of the painting and kitchen fitting that had been going on and there's been more of this recently. I've been getting the colour coats onto the walls upstairs but haven't managed to complete a room yet apart from the kitchen, but I'm generally pleased with the neutral colour choice. I say generally, though, because in the lounge, the different light in there makes the wall colour bring out the warm tones of the internal window frame finish which makes them look a slightly odd peach colour. It's not awful and I'm not going to change it now, but if we ever redecorate (hah!) it will be something I check before committing. For the more vertiginously challenged amongst you, you may wish to look away now, as here's a view from the top of my internal scaffold tower when I was putting the colour coat on up to the vaulted ceiling above the gable window in the guest bedroom. And here are the colour choices. The purple will be on one wall only. It looks a bit garish at the moment but once the room has its furniture and soft furnishings in, it should tone well and add a bit of life to the room. Cutting in and painting up to the high vault was a bit of a challenge, but I got there. I really didn't want to get any colour spatter onto the white ceiling so opted to use paint pads rather than a roller and I was pleased with the outcome. They give a good finish over the sprayed mist coat and are far less physically demanding than a roller. I was painting upstairs as the flooring guys were in downstairs putting in the karndean (same choice as upstairs) and it kept me productive but out of the way. Given all the work that went into making the dropped section of the ceiling in the lounge area, I wanted the floor to echo this but not in too obvious a fashion and so the team took a laser reference from the inner square of the lounge feature and reversed the direction of the planks, using a feature strip to create a subtle border. First, though, they had to screed the floor with a latex self levelling compound. In preparation for this, I needed to turn off the UFH a few days before they arrived to make sure the screed didn't go off too quickly due to the heat of the slab. I turned it off on a Friday afternoon and they started work on the following Tuesday and it was just about perfect. Once the screed was down, the floor was scraped to make sure it was completely level and then primed. After the priming, the planks were put down. Here is the snug - I went in the weekend before the flooring guys arrived to get the mist coats and ceiling painted as it's far easier to do when you only have to mask the windows and not worry about any other area. Here's the long view of the kitchen/lounge area: And here's a close up of the feature border underneath the ceiling feature: Moving on from the flooring and painting, my joiner, Harry has been busy at work on the kitchen. In particular, he was working on the large walnut work surface for the island. I decided months ago that I wanted solid walnut for the island but then, as I'm sure happens to many, I had a last minute dither and started looking at other materials instead. In the end, I decided that granite or other stones really didn't give the colour tones that I wanted and laminates weren't wide enough. I sourced the walnut from Worktop Express as they were very competitively priced for what I wanted, and delivery was quick. I looked at using their online template service, but it was just too tricky to get the different profiles right and, in the end, decided to get Harry to make up the island top on site. It was absolutely the right choice as he's done a lovely job on it. Here's a photo of the finished top with the induction hob surface mounted into it. A word on the hob. You can recess the work surface so that the hob is flush, but I preferred it to be surface mounted, sitting proud of the walnut, purely from a cleaning point of view and so I don't have to spend ages digging out crumbs and bits of food debris from around a flush recess. These are the two worktops as they arrived from the supplier, waiting to be joined together. Harry routed along their length, used a biscuit join and then glued and clamped. The worktops being clamped. They look and, indeed, are lighter in shade than the first photo as they come treated with one coat of Danish oil. Harry put a further two coats on once he had sanded the finished surface. The area where there appears to be a base unit missing and where the surface projects beyond is intended as a breakfast bar area. There will be a supporting leg on the near right hand corner. Because the kitchen and island are large, I didn't want anything to be too matchy-matchy and wanted to break up any monotonous areas. Also, I didn't fancy walnut as the worksurface leading off the sink as I think that's asking for trouble in the long run. So, I went hunting through laminate choices. Way back when I was first considering the kitchen, I had been thinking about using large format tiles with a metallic type finish as the splashback, but it was proving to be a gruelling and not very fruitful search. When I eventually revisited this part of the kitchen a couple of months ago, I came across some laminates with exactly that type of finish, nice long runs (I need a 4m run for the back work surface) and with matching splashbacks. I also wanted to line the recessed area under the island with the same material to make it more durable and give a contrast in materials and textures. I sourced the laminates from a firm called Rearo and dealt with their Newport branch. They were lovely to deal with and very helpful. Here's the splashback applied to the breakfast bar recess. Harry beefed it up and packed it out with some ply and then put the laminate edging onto the ends to give a substantial look. Whilst we were away on holiday, my splendid general builder and neighbour, Drew, got on with putting the rainwater goods up. I'd ordered in soffits and fascias from Fascia.com as they had the width I needed in anthracite grey to match the slates and windows, as well as vented soffits, which save a lot of bother and look much neater. The guttering is all deepflow and was mounted onto black fascia board. I looked at other colours of guttering, but none of them were quite right and black guttering is so ubiquitous that the eye kind of slides past it. Having it mounted on the fascia board also reduces the visual impact of the brackets that can look a bit clunky. Whilst he was up there, Drew also mounted our swift boxes and bat boxes. We were required as part of our bat licence conditions to put a bat box somewhere on site, but this is something that we had planned to do all along. Also, there has been a dramatic loss of habitat for swifts that migrate to the UK to breed in the summer and we wanted to make provision for these too, in the hope that we're lucky enough to attract them to our site. These fabulous birds migrate 6,000 miles to reach their summer breeding grounds and are the fastest birds in level flight. Once they have fledged, the only time they ever land again is to sleep and recover from their migration flight and to feed their young. They are the most fabulous birds and I would urge anyone to make provision for them wherever possible. If anyone wants details of where to buy some brilliant swift boxes, PM me and I'll send you the details. Here are the boxes, all sited on the western corner of the north facing wall. Finally, today marked a milestone in the house progress - the scaffolding is coming down. Our foul and surface water drainage works start on Wednesday and the site needs to be clear to allow access for that. Any remaining work at height can be done from ladders apart from the cladding, but I will hire a separate mobile tower of some sort for that work once I've had a chance to identify what will be most suitable. The stone cladding arrived a couple of weeks ago, ready to go up once the drainage work is done, more details of which will follow in the next post. Here's the south face gradually being revealed. The crates to the right of the picture are the stone cladding. Here's the east face slowly coming into view. And another view of the same. Work planned for this week is more plastering, more painting (if I get the chance as I'm the plasterer's labourer this week), groundworks and starting to move some young trees to the site that we've been nursing in pots at home for 12 months. Next week, the en-suite bathroom will be started, the kitchen finished and the utility room kitted out. Plenty to do yet. TTFN.
  4. 13 points
    Sorry for the delay since the last blog. Things have been very hectic keeping a track of everything that is going on with the build and holding a job down ! As we approach end of January and move into February there are lots of things going on simultaneously on site including battening the roof in preparation for the roofers, finishing of fitting the smartply in preparation for blowing in the insulation and fitting the windows and doors. The first window goes in on 30th January. Many of the side reveals to the windows have splays to help spread the light from the window. We are using Green Building Store Progressions windows and Green Building Store Ultra doors. The Progression windows are expensive, but the narrow sight-lines give a lovely contemporary look and very little of the frame is visible outside, so it should be as maintenance free as you can get and seems like a good investment. The Ultra doors look very similar to the Progression doors and are of a similar thermal performance but are more cost effective to purchase. From the 12th - 15th February, the Warmcell insulation is blown into the frame. I hadn't realised, but you can do this before all of the windows are fitted, as long as the boarding out is completed inside and out. By 21st February all windows and doors are fitted. A lot of time has gone into ensuring the windows are fitted properly and are as airtight as possible. In parallel, the brick plinth is built. Whilst you won't see all of this once the ground levels are built up, I am really pleased with the quality of the job. Next job is and fitting the Aquapanel in preparation for the rendering. The roofer we had lined up pulled out at the last minute, but we are able to get a local firm with a good reputation to take their place at short notice. We took a lot of trouble selecting the roof tiles and we are particularly looking forward to seeing the tiles laid. The roofers are on site beginning of March after a small delay due to rain to do the counter-battening and lay the tiles. The roof is a pretty simple shape so the roofers make quick progress. We are using plain clay smooth machine-made tiles made by Dreadnought tiles and supplied by Ashbrook Roofing. We found out about them at a self build show we attended and have had great support from both Dreadnought and Ashbrook. We are using two colours - 70% staffordshire blue and 30% blue brindle mixed randomly. Before you know it, the roof is in place. Big Day on 8th March as it is our first Air Test. We'd put 0.3 air changes per hour (ach) @ 50pa into phpp so we were hoping for something similar or better. Results were: 0.08 ach @ 50 pa 0.11 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa Absolutely delighted with the results. Given building regs are 10 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa and Passivhaus standard is 0.6 ach @ 50 pa, this is over 90 times better than building regs and over 7 times better than Passivhaus standards and a great testament to the attention to detail shown by the build team. Flashings between the wood cladding and the render are fitted. These were made by a Herefordshire based fabricator. Work continues fitting the cladding. We are using Douglas Fir, supplied by Ransford which is literally 5 minutes down the road. Once the roof has been laid and the weather allows, the rendering starts. We are using the Weber system, with a base coat applied first followed by a thin silicon based top coat which will be sprayed on. The roof and detailing around the dormer window are completed Once the cladding is complete and before the scaffolding comes down, we need to treat the cladding. The gable ends need a fireproof coating due the proximity of other houses, so it's one coat of primer, two of Envirograf and two of Osmo. The front and back of the house get one coat primer and two of Osmo. It's one of those jobs that costs more and takes longer than expected. We hadn't planned on having to to apply so many coats of product and in my naiveity I thought it would be a layer or two of fireproof coating on each gable. The wood looks a little orange at the moment but that is typical when new and it does weather down nicely which is what I plan to allow the wood to do. Hopefully to osmo will help even out the weathering but I have no plans to keep on applying it. The guttering is attached whilst the scaffolding is still up (Lindab galvanised) The scaffolding on the house comes down and goes up on the garage to allow the roof to be completed on the garage. The second coat of render is sprayed on and the shell of the house is now complete.
  5. 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.
  6. 12 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.
  7. 12 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.
  8. 12 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.
  9. 11 points
    So, I know I promised tales of cladding and roofing in the last instalment, but I have reviewed my photo stream and in fact realised that the window install was the next thing. At the end of November (as we all know, winter is prime building time), we finally retrieved our bargain basement windows from storage and brought them to site. Ah, the bargain basement windows, a tale of joy, horror, stress, fury, confusion and eventual revenge all in one. I should explain. When we had secured the plot and had initial drawings from the architect and were waiting for engineering/calcs/building control drawings/services/everything else, we passed the time by getting hilariously large quotes for every aspect of the design. It kept us amused. So, after reading a lot on fabric first design and passive homes, off we trotted to our local Internorm dealer. Lovely showroom, excellent coffee, charming, if slightly oily salesperson. There was much discussion about our options - I asked about passive standard 3G timber aluclad. After a while, a large figure was mentioned. A very large figure. So large, in fact, that I actually was convinced that the salesperson was having a little joke with me. He wasn't. No further coffee was offered. We gathered our coats, emptied the complimentary biscuits into my handbag and prepared to leave shamefacedly, and preferably without admitting that we were FAR TOO POOR to afford these lovely windows. On the way out, the salesman commented off handedly and rather insincerely "Sorry we couldn't help you today. Unless you want to buy the ones in the basement, ha ha ha." Reader, I have little-to-no shame when it comes to sniffing out a bargain. I cannot be humiliated. So, I was accompanied to the basement of the showroom, whereupon I was greeted with a £100,000 wonderland of window-related (expletive deleted)-ups. Results of inaccurate measuring, bankruptcy of developers, incorrect specifying, just general inefficiency. Of absolutely (expletive deleted)-all use to anyone, of course. Apart from someone who had not fully finalised their house plans. And a salesperson who is uncommonly keen on crystallising some value from said (expletive deleted)-ups. It was a partnership written in the stars. Details of hard-nosed negotiating aside (and there was someone in the room close to tears, and it wasn't me), we came away with 15 brand new windows (including 3 large sliders), a fully biometric ex display front door with side lights, a utility door, and a large panel of glass. All pretty much passive standard, some with built in blinds, some alu-clad timber, some Alu clad UPVC. For not much money. At all. A very satisfyingly small amount of money. The architect was somewhat perturbed by this moderately unconventional approach of designing the house around already purchased windows, to say the least. For a while, I had a Quooker tap and approx £80,000 of windows as my only purchases for the house. However, he came up trumps and designed the house in such a way as you would never know that he had any design restrictions at all. The man is a quiet genius. We had cherry picked the best stuff - so all our sliders for the bedrooms are approximately (but not quite) the same size, they vary by about 30mm here and there, but they are all on different elevations of the house so you never see them right next to each other. We wanted to use one particular window in the bathroom as it had built in blinds, but it was a little too big, so we sank the bath into the floor to allow the window to have opening clearance. It looks amazing and like an intended "design feature". So, we purchased the bargain basement windows, and following our cynical, but realistic architects advice - we got a trailer and got them the hell out of that warehouse. They stayed wrapped up and palletised for approx 2 years until that fateful day in November. Now, what we should have done was quit while we were ahead, taken note of the surpassingly large number of (expletive deleted)-ups and run like the wind away from that warehouse. You will not be surprised to learn that this did not happen. We still needed our large feature window - a 5m wide, 2.7m high alu clad timber lift and slide window and matching fixed panels above. This was not cheap. Very very not cheap. But it was lovely. We decided that as we'd saved so much money with the rest of the windows, we could justify this lovely thing. We got a good, although still bloody expensive price on it, paid a 50% deposit, and were instructed to let them know when we were ready to have the window produced - as we hadn't been through building control fully yet, so didn't want to press "Go" just then. So, all well. We got on with what we needed to do, engineering, building control, life etc and gave no more thought to it. We get our building warrant. We phone up the showroom to say "yay! please make our very highly priced window!". Only, there's a disconnected tone. Odd, we think - must have misdialled. We try again, same thing. We google. Website down, emails bounce. A light sweat breaks out. The insufferable shits went bust. No one told us. It may or may not be directly related to the basement of (expletive deleted)-ups. Internorm had never heard of our order and had not received our deposit, so couldn't help. Now, thank christ that I am naturally untrusting of salespeople and INSISTED on paying £101 of the VERY LARGE deposit on a credit card. Section 75, how I love thee. We got the whole lot back. Eventually. After a lot of paperwork and phonecalls. But now we have a load of second hand windows, some with bits missing and no-one to fit them. And no-one to order our lovely slider from Help was on the way from an unexpected quarter though. Our house build is being filmed for TV, and we happened to have a filming day a couple of weeks later. Someone on the crew gave us the details of a helpful person within Internorm, who passed us on to another dealer who honoured the original price for the sliders, came up from England to fit the windows, supplied all our missing bits and were generally wonderful. So, we come to November. There are two access points to our site - one at the rear, which we can just about fit an articulated lorry up, and one at the front, on the extremely busy main street, that is cobbled and 2cm narrower than a transit with the wing mirrors folded, and only just as tall. The Internorm dealer had already made a site visit to review the access and made many sucky-teeth noises, but said "it's ok, we'll get a robot handler up from Leeds that can hold the window at 45 degrees while we drive it up." "Ooooh", we think, "A robot! Technology will save this whole scenario". The day started relatively badly when it transpired that the artic driver, instead of turning right when he should have, so he could drive straight down the street and have the windows on the correct side for unloading, had in fact, turned left and was now in the middle of fully reversing down a medieval street so long that it takes approx 8 minutes to walk from one end to the other. At 9am. Also, he was (I think) Romanian, with no English, and there were no Romanian speakers amongst the installation crew. So, when he finally arrived, after monumentally pissing off approximately 14 million local residents, the windows were on the wrong side and no room to turn. So we had to unload the rest of his lorry, stack it up on the street, taking up virtually every parking space in the place and drive the telehandler across the street, blocking all the traffic to get the window off. It is massive. Securing it on the tele handler is not a quick process. There was a lot of shouting. Also, did I mention I'm 6 months pregnant at this point? So, once unloaded, we look around eagerly for the promised technology laden robot. Looking a bit sheepish, the install crew confessed that it hadn't been available, but "don't worry, we brought something else". Great, I think! No problemo. The "something else" appeared, to my untrained eye, to be a couple of skateboards. So, we ended up with our massive window being rolled up the close on a couple of skateboards, being held at 45 degrees by a telehandler and 10 or so guys not all of whom shared a common language. To be honest, it went better than it should have done. The only hairy moment was when the tyre of the telehandler hit a drainpipe and it cracked with a noise EXACTLY like breaking glass. I was at the street end and couldn't see the window, just heard the cracking noise and a lot of a shouting. I was pretty convinced I was about to HAVE the baby. Terrifying. But, all in all ... TADAHHH! Over the next couple of days, all the windows were fitted and we were (nearly) watertight. Exciting progress.
  10. 11 points
    Well, it’s been a month since my last blog update. We've witnessed out first concrete pour and now have floor joists so we are all set to build the next floor. The bracing plan we have from JUB looks like we have the potential to pour the second floor and gables in a single pour. This is a decision I'm only too happy to leave to the builders who continue to impress us with their ability to get on with a job regardless. In my last blog we had got on really quickly and had the ground floor pretty much ready for a concrete pour. We needed to wait as there was no rebar on site for the cantilever lintels for the first floor. Our structural engineers had provided a revised structural plan toward the end of February, but it did not have a bar schedule. One was requested and sent through quickly. So far so good, we had the second lot of blocks scheduled for delivery on the 24th March. The original schedule allowed the pour and joists to be in place prior to the block delivery. At the same time as this was progressing the pricing for the next phase was finalised and we gave agreement to proceed. A hiccup with the joist delivery delayed work on site. On a small site the second block delivery pretty much took up all the available space. ICF blocks and a cramped working site are not good news. The ICF is pretty dense but it’s easily damaged when it gets in the way. We ended up playing shuffle the blocks to get the remaining work done and for the first pour. Our builders did a splendid job and just took it all in their stride they were careful with the blocks and didn't complain about the site restrictions once. We had been warned that pours are not for the feint hearted, thankfully in the end ours went pretty well. The only real surprise was the bottom courses of blocks on one side of the build started to move outward on the raft. Fortunately it was spotted and the pour was suspended while Mike and the other lads added some more shuttering. With the new shuttering in place the pour continued and was completed without incident. Apparently it's unusual for the bottom row of blocks to move, but given they are not keyed into the raft and are subject to the greatest concrete pressure it's not entirely surprising. The blocks on the second floor will be keyed into the existing blocks so they should not suffer. With the pour done it was time to get the ledger beams in place to take the first floor joists. Our structural plans had the ledger beams fixed by bolts at 500 centres with the joists at 400 centres. Sounds OK but in practice it’s not ideal as it means you get clashes of beams and bolts, so the plan was revised and the bolts put in at 400 centres so they would not clash with the joist. Ledger beams in place the joist went in pretty quickly, transforming the house. Once you get past the ground floor you need to get scaffold in place for an ICF, not to build from but to prevent possible accidents if someone were to fall through the blocks from the inside. Our builder wanted us to arrange the scaffold, not sure if this is the norm, I suspect it’s liability related. We have used a local firm ROM Scaffold. Their guys arrived on Wednesday and pretty much had completed their work on the Thursday. The scaffold will also allow for our window installation and rendering. Looking forward to getting the next floor up and starting work on the roof.
  11. 11 points
    With the 2019 season now here, I've spent the last couple of weekends doing a bit of tarting up around the outside of the wee house. Little things that you don't think really matter, but the end result looks far more 'finished'. I was never very sure how to complete the gable ends of the house- whether to box them in or not- but eventually decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the space for a log store. I think it looks pretty good, and it's tempting to do the same on every side of the house, although those elevations do see a lot more wind and rain. My current obsession with processing my log pile is all down to a fantastic book I was given: 'Norwegian Wood- chopping, stacking, and drying wood the Scandinavian way'. Highly recommended, and an absorbing read even if you never intend to ever light a fire. The other bit of work has been to create a gravel path around the side of the house, and so properly edge the gravel area underneath the house. The only downside of all this work is that it makes the lumpy lawn look even worse than it did before
  12. 11 points
    The Timber Frame company arrived on site on a very wet mid-January morning. Very quickly wagon loads of components started to arrive and before long every space around the slab and up the drive was dotted with Ikea style flat packs, assorted timber and steelwork. The first job was to floor out over the basement to form a flat working platform for the main house erection. The original specification called for pre-stressed concrete floor panels, these were changed to Posi-joist, as this gave us space within the joist to locate services, ducting, electrics and waste etc. With the basement floor in place, the sole plate was positioned, levelled and fixed ready to attach the wall panels. With every panel, piece of timber, beam and noggin precut in the factory and numbered and with a full set of drawings, the house started to take shape quickly. Four weeks later and the roof timbers were in place and the next job is to fit the roof.
  13. 11 points
    It's 3 weeks since my last blog entry and, as usual, things have been moving at a pace. The difference with the most recent round of work, though, it that the building is starting to look like a liveable house rather than a construction site. This is largely due to the glory coats of plaster and paint, but far more than that has been keeping everyone busy. The boarding started in earnest before Christmas and so the plasterers were in bright and early in the new year. We've got through an astonishing amount of board of various types - I thought I'd calculated reasonably well and had a mahooosive delivery of the stuff a while back, but it all seemed to disappear and the building was hungry for more. I bought all the board from Sydenhams as I found their price to be competitive. I've used standard 12.5mm plasterboard on all external walls, 15mm acoustic on all ceilings and internal walls, moisture board for bath/wet rooms, and pink fire board for the garage walls and ceiling. The garage is attached and so building regs require a fire door (FD30, sourced from Enfield Doors, though I've since found cheaper suppliers when looking at other stuff) and fire board throughout the garage, but only a single layer as there is no habitable space above it. I've had a board lifter on hire as it really helps the team position the boards up onto the ceilings without dropping anything on themselves or damaging either themselves or the boards. Here is the board going up on the lounge/dining area towards the kitchen area. The orange frame is the plaster board lifter. The black thing outside the window is my sewage treatment plant tank, which will be installed in a couple of weeks(ish). Looking in the opposite direction towards the lounge area: There have been plenty of plasterboard offcuts and so we have followed @JSHarris's tip of stuffing as much of this into the stud walls before boarding over. Double bubble - increasing the heat retaining ability of the house and no paying expensive disposal fees on waste plasterboard. As well as the boarding and plastering, Nick has been working away on first fix, getting all the wiring, sockets and switch positions in and running vast amounts of cable through the building for all sorts of stuff. It's not just a case of chucking the cable in, he's done a great job of working out the flow of the building and the people in it, and how the building's circuitry should function best to suit them. It's a pity that it isn't more visual, but suffice it to say that at the last count, something like 2.9km of cable has gone into the building. It's in there somewhere! The room that forms the greater part of the ground floor is the kitchen/dining/lounge area and it's a very large space. From the outset, I've wanted to achieve some form of visual separation of the living area but without putting physical barriers in the way. It seems a waste to have gone to such great effort to create a lovely large space like that to then chop it up and close it in. I had inspiration for the solution from a couple of sources, the first of which is a tiny, crappy image on Pinterest when I was browsing cinema rooms. The second came about from chatting to another BH member, @Dreadnaught and a suggestion someone made to him to vary the heights of the ceiling throughout his proposed build. From this, I decided that I wanted a dropped section, like a frame, on the ceiling above the lounge area, with lighting recessed into the inner lip of the dropped section. Everyone pulled together really well to meet the challenge, and worked out what was needed from the carpentry, boarding, plastering and electrics contingents. The full ceiling was boarded out first, then the studwork frame put over it. The electrics were run through, then the frame was boarded and eventually plastered. Here's the completed framework and the first of the plasterboard going up. They're a cheerful bunch in their work! One thing I haven't skimped on is hire equipment to make the job of the plasterers and others easier. I figure it's a false economy to not get equipment like platforms and board lifters in as it will just cost me extra labour as the guys won't be able to work efficiently and possibly, not as well either. We had scaffold towers upstairs in the bedrooms for plastering and downstairs, we had a really big platform. I wouldn't do it any other way as the quality of the boarding and plastering is second to none. Once the studwork was boarded out, the inner ceiling section was plastered. The inner lip of the frame had an upstand added to it to make it appear more substantial (thanks for the idea, Nick) and to hide the rows of LED lights behind them. We're going for a range of lighting intensity here, achieved by increasing amounts of lights, rather than dimmers. There will be 3 rows of LED lights hidden up there and we've used a car headlight analogy for want of better descriptions - the selection is dipped lights, main beam and rally lights. These are the only ceiling lights in this area as we plan to have floor lamps for specific task or reading lighting. Once the inner ceiling was plastered, the framework itself was done the following day. This photo is some way on from that, as you can see. By this stage, the whole of the downstairs main room has been done and recesses formed for the spotlights at the other end of the room. Not too long after this, the kitchen arrived from DIY Kitchens. Lovely quality units and everything is going together well. It did mean, though, that I had to get on with the painting up the kitchen end so that a start could be made on installation. A paragraph or two on painting is appropriate here. I put a brief post into the main decorating section here on BH regarding spray painting, but it deserves repetition. I've planned from the outset to do the painting myself. I'm competent and it's nice to get some hands on involvement in the build. But, and it really is a big one, there is a vast surface area to cover in this house, and the vaulted ceilings upstairs are really quite intimidating for a vertically challenged person such as myself. Mind you, I think a vault of 4.7m would make most people ponder their method of attack. I decided that by far the most effective approach for me was to spray the mist coats to seal the plaster and continue with white for the ceilings. I wasn't sure at that stage whether I would also apply the colour coats by spraying, so adopted a 'wait and see' approach. First off, masking takes ages, even with a relatively empty house, as that spray will get everywhere and anywhere. Once the masking is done and you've familiarised yourself with the sprayer itself, though, the speed of coverage is astonishing. I was able to comfortably do one large room per day - both mist coats and a couple of extra ones on the ceiling to get it opaque and full white. It was messy. Really messy! Especially as when I first got going I had the spray pressure a little too high, the mad angles of the vaulted ceilings meant that my nozzle was never going to be held at a constant 90 degrees to the surface, and it's just a messy process regardless. In addition, there is a vast amount of moisture in the air, particularly as we had plaster drying at the same time. I hired a commercial dehumidifier for a couple of weeks to help with this and it was very effective. I bought all my paint from Brewer's Decorator Centre, who are mainly based along the south coast of England. I opened a trade account with them and got 20% off the entirety of my first order, so I put everything I could think of onto that, including my antinox floor protection mats. Very useful they were, too. I used their contract matt white for the mist coat and ceilings. It's white, but not brilliant white and it's lovely. Very chalky, easy to sand and gives a nice highly matt finish. Also cheap as chips. Here's one of the bedrooms, masked up and sprayed. Here's another bedroom with that ceiling. My scaffold tower came into its own for reaching up to those heights. Then, finally, the kitchen area with its mist coat. The sprayer is the little beastie sitting on the plasterboard. I popped over on a weekend to also put the first colour coat on over at the kitchen area, whilst I could still get in easily before the kitchen started going in. I'm having splashbacks between the wall and base units, hence the odd looking finish level with the paint. These were all the kitchen units as they arrived, prior to painting. Everything was really well packaged and came with the doors on and drawers in. The delivery crew were pleasant and efficient, so all in all, a good experience. Moving away from painting and plastering, Nick marked up the ceiling plan for the lights, speakers and smoke detectors on the floor before the boards went on so that there was no guesswork involved in what was running where. Here's his marking plan: This is what the kitchen units look like at the moment. I made a cock up in ordering, purely out of ignorance, and I'm waiting for a few end deco panels to arrive. These didn't even occur to me as they will go between units and appliances to give a better appearance from face on. It made perfect sense when it was pointed out to me, so things have halted temporarily until those and my worktops arrive shortly. In the meantime, it's looking good: We also now have spotlights in place: Finally, for the curious, this is what karndean flooring looks like. It has been laid upstairs and the downstairs will be finished in a couple of weeks. Upstairs, it was all laid on ply that was feathered in at the edges and downstairs will have a latex feathering coat to level the floor and provide an even base. Next up is more of the same. The final session of boarding and plastering, lots more painting, the end of first fix and moving onto second fix. Outside, we need to get cracking on the rainwater goods, perimeter drain and exterior cladding. The cladding is due to arrive next week, so it will be interesting to see that and figure out the system. I hope to be able to report back on over height doors soon, as well, and my endeavours to find these at a reasonable price, but that's all for now. There's painting to be done.
  14. 11 points
    Yesterday was air tightness test day and MBC's final day on site getting everything prepped for the final test and then finishing off a few details. For those not so familiar with this kind of thing, a few details of the process follow. Our house isn't a passive house as it hasn't been designed with that in mind - it was the design first and then build to passive standards, so no accreditation or anything like that. That said, I wanted a low energy house and hence the choice of the passive system offered by MBC. Part of this system is that as well as the building and foundation being highly insulated, it also leaks very little air, as this is one of the major sources of heat loss in buildings and houses. The leakiness of a house is measured in terms of the number of times the volume of air contained by the building passes out of all the various gaps in one hour. As mentioned on this forum elsewhere, a modern well-built house without any special air tight measures would probably change its volume of air between 3 and 5 times per hour. The final part of MBC's construction method is to tape over anywhere there is likely to be a gap and make the building as air tight as possible; the target is to have 0.6 or less air changes per hour. One exterior door into the house is chosen as the point of measurement and this is where all the kit goes. Note that the air tight test is testing the quality of MBC's work and whilst it will highlight gaps elsewhere, it's not MBC's remit to correct leaks caused by others, only themselves. The point of measurement for my house is the door between the garage and the utility room, where the FD30 rated door was recently installed. The door is sealed up with a membrane that's supported and held in place by an adjustable frame: The hands are those of Steve, of Melin Consultants, who carry out most of MBC's air tests. This is the frame/shield being put in place in the doorway. I really did try and get a photo without builder's/air tester's bum, but to no avail. Those with delicate sensibilities should look away now and skip the next photo. After the frame, the fan is put into the hole in the shield, drawn tight and any gaps between the frame and door frame are temporarily sealed up. The rate of air flow into and out of the building is altered by both the speed of the fan and the number of vents that are opened up on the fan. The building is de-pressurised first, then re-pressurised and the readings taken. Because of environmental factors such as wind, this is done 10 times to get a data set and the average is taken for the final result. When this test was done yesterday, it was a windy day with the wind coming from the north east, the direction that the garage door faces. As the test progressed, it became clear that the house is well sealed and so it needed a smaller fan. The red shield was swapped over and the smaller fan put in place. The rest of the readings were taken and we got our final reading. Darren and his MBC crew aced it - with a target of 0.6 ac/h it came in at 0.25. Brilliant. Darren is a calm chap under all sorts of pressures but the air test was about the only time I've seen him display (slight) signs of nerves. He was equally understated in his satisfaction with the result even though it turns out that this is one of the lowest numbers they've had in 7 years. Well done, Darren and crew. If you're wondering what all that foam is doing on the floor, that's left over from Nick doing the foul wastes over the weekend and foaming them in before putting air tight tape around them to make sure he didn't do anything detrimental to the air test result. We have a few very minor leaks, mostly gaps between the panels in the windows that have several sections. No surprise and these are due to be siliconed once we've finished most of the pretty stuff. There is also a bit of air flow through the keyholes but I've been advised that a good coating of vaseline on the key and in and out of the lock a few times should seal it up well enough. I daresay that would seal most things. The gaps were temporarily sealed up with a bit of low tack plastic for the air test, so the result assumes this has been done. All the battens are in now and the downstairs was finished off yesterday, and concrete was put into the remaining recess that had been formed for the lift and slide doors to get a level threshold. I am, of course, delighted with the air tight result and really pleased for MBC as well, as they have worked really hard and whenever there has been a problem, come up with solutions. I know that others have had varied experiences but for my own, I have found MBC to be a pleasure to work with right from the start. At the design stage, David worked his socks off liaising with my architect to get all the details right and to work out how to build the design using their system, and this has been the case with any third parties I've asked them to speak with directly. The communication from Trish has been great - I've always know what was going to happen and when and been kept informed when timings have had to change. The guys on the ground have worked like machines; I'm astonished at how hard they work, to be frank, and throughout the whole time I've never heard any rows or arguments. That's not to say that there haven't been any, but if there have, they didn't take place in front of me. For me, this has been a really good experience. What next? There's still plenty to do but the next main contractor is Nick from Total Energy Systems who is largely doing all of the internal systems, plumbing and wiring. He's done a reasonable amount already in terms of the MVHR ducting and manifolds but will kick off in earnest on 3rd December once the cellulose has been blown in upstairs. The cellulose is arriving on Friday 30th, along with Gordon, who will put it into the walls and ceiling. All 520 bags of it! Before then, my Ryterna garage door is due to be installed next week so I'll report back on that. That's being supplied and installed by Joe from Dorset Garage Doors Ltd, just up the road from me in Lydlinch. There's a lot of work to be done outside, too, but I'll be thinking through that today and get my plan of action together. Whatever else happens, Nick is going to get some gentle heat into the slab this week, using a couple of Willis heaters. It's getting pretty chilly on site now and it will be nice to get the house drying out properly and check that side of things is working properly. A good week and, hopefully, more to come.
  15. 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.
  16. 9 points
    Since our last entry we've been concentrating of getting the standing seam roof covering on. It's one of those jobs where it would be nice to do someone else's roof before doing your own. We're using a roofing system from Blacho Trapez, broadly similar to the Tata colourcoat. It requires no crimping and minimal special tooling. It's around half the price of Colorcoat. The HPS200 coating we chose comes with a forty year guarantee. Our first impressions is that it's a quality product that's really well thought out. I'll raise a topic thread on the roof system with detail information from our install.. Here's a link to the Blacho documentation for more info: https://www.blachotrapez.eu/pl/26/instrukcje It was another Buildhub find. Back in April we came across an entry where one of the members @Patrick Who wanted to buy his roof abroad and was looking for someone to share transport cost. Enter Patrick, we exchanged emails and found we were going to need a roof on a very different time frame as Patrick is still in the site clearance phase and we were going to be ready to start in around six weeks. Lots of emails were exchanged and there was much head scratching over which components to order, In the end it turned out that three Buildhub members wanted roofs making sharing transport even more attractive. Patrick had been in contact with Blacho for some while, he's multi lingual himself and has a Polish wife. Without their help it would have been just too complex to sort our way through the parts catalogues even with the help of google translate. Having managed to get a list of parts we thought would do the roof, it occurred to us it would be good to get the guttering from the same source. It proved to be a step too far, we decided against it as the chances of getting all the required components correct the first time round was just too daunting, All is not lost though as it now looks as though there may well be an opportunity to get some steel guttering from them in future to replace the UPVC we have. Back to the roof and installing it. The three roofs were ordered and transport arranged to collect them from the factory on 03rd and deliver them to the UK on the 6th. The other Buildhub member ordering a roof is Greg, who is a builder with a yard with plant to unload and was happy to store the roofs ready for collection. The initial plan was to have all three roofs delivered to Greg's place and then we would collect, again Greg could help out as he has a lorry. The only slight problem was some of our roof sheets are 7.2M long and too long for the lorry. More negotiation with the transport company and they agreed to do a second drop off for a an additional 200Euros. All set for an 11:30 delivery on the 6th, we had arranged to have help to unload, no machinery just bodies. To our surprise and dismay we turned up on site at 7:40am on the 6th to find the delivery lorry already waiting...with just Pat and I to unload...by hand. Help was at hand in the form of the two guys who had come that day to do our roof insulation spray foam. They were brilliant, and between the four of us we had the roof sheets off their palettes and safely stacked on site. In addition to the sheeting there where also two smaller pallets for the other roof components, such as barge boards, eaves edges, screws etc. The lorry driver was getting a little fraught by this stage as it was all taking longer than it should have, not aided by lack of a shared language and the delivery documentation all being in Polish. Having unloaded and sent the driver on his way we started to look at the delivery documentation, this time under less time pressure. It turned out we had most of Greg's and some of Patrick's accessories. No big deal as we had already arranged to follow the lorry to Greg's yard to say hello and to borrow some roof tools that he had kindly offered to lend us. Meanwhile the delivery of the materials for our render arrived, 72 x 20kg sacks plus 20 x 25 kg tubs all to be shifted onto site..Just got that cleared when our MVHR system arrived, hotly followed by a soffit board delivery. Once done we set about loading the roof bits, only to find the length and volume of bit's overwhelmed the Jazz and we had to borrow a van great for volume but not so good for the 2M lengths and required me driving with my seat fully forward. Two and a half hours of agonizing cramp we arrived at Greg's, said our hellos and exchanged parts so we had the bits we needed to complete our roof. Finally got home around 10pm, oh the joys of a self build. A day to draw breath and it was time to start putting the roof on. The sheets themselves are 540mm wide and supplied to the customers required lengths up to a maximum of 8M, Being just 0.5mm thick steel they are not heavy but they are fragile, picking up a long sheet badly will result it it creasing, so care is required handling the sheets. The sheets had been packed at the factory front to front with polystyrene packing spacers which had stuck to the surface of the sheet requiring it to be cleaned prior to installation. After a bit of head scratching we decided to use a ladder to support the sheets. With the ladder tied to the scaffold we loaded each sheet, one person pulling the sheet from the top and another raising the bottom of the ladder we managed to slide the first sheet onto the front of the roof. All a bit “Heath Robinson” but it worked. Each sheet was then fixed in place and the process repeated. Soon we had a good part of the front roof in place. Cleaning loading and fitting was taking about an 90 minutes a sheet. Doing uninterrupted areas of roof with decent access proved straight forward and the front part of the main roof was done in a couple of days. Then we started on the rear of the house. This part of roof has two large roof lights and requires sheets to be joined as the roof length 10M exceeds the 8M max sheet length. The roof has two sections one slightly shorter at 7.2M, the largest of the sheets we had ordered. It quickly became apparent that there was no way we could get a 7.2M sheet onto the roof from the rear of the house. At this length the sheet is very fragile and requires multiple supports to stop it from folding. We quickly abandoned any hope of using them. Fortunately we had ordered some surplus material, so not the end of the world. We decided to start on the side of the roof with the roof lights to allow us to minimise sheets cuts. Partick had kindly volunteered to come over to get some first hand experience of the Blacho system. We started framing the roof lights. All did not go to plan and found that we had a 10-15mm alignment problem, nothing to do with Patrick just a bad datum line. No easy way to correct this so we removed the sheets and started again from a more accurate datum line. Second time round was a better result all round and we were able to continue across the main roof section. A lot of work but worth it..now we just need a good downpour to validate the flashing. . By good fortune a thunderstorm provided a test for the flashing, all was nice and dry round the roof lights. Sigh of relief all round, the roof is now on.
  17. 9 points
    If plasterers were musicians, mine would be Elvis (except my plasterer is still alive, obvs!) or some arena-filling brain-melting rock god, because that's how good his plastering is. Just ask Nick - he's been trying to coax him away for the last 3 weeks and he's had to accept failure as he doesn't travel (far). Anyhow, Ian the Plasterer has now left the building apart from a teensy last bit in the hallway that can't be done until the new stairs arrive, so 99% there. The week just gone saw the most challenging part of the plastering, which was the drop down the stairwell and the box section along the floor/upper ceiling run, which isn't one for a person with the slightest touch of vertigo. To get this done, the temporary staircase had to be removed and a compact but tall scaffold hired in to allow access. A youngman board was run across from the landing to the scaffold stage so that the width of the area could be accessed. As the last of the plasterboard was going up, we packed in as many of those pesky offcuts as we possibly could as this was our last chance to dispose of this within the walls of the house. It looked like some random form of plasterboard modern art as it was going up. Clearly, you can see that the stairs have been removed. Also moved temporarily was the UFH manifold that's been sitting comfortably under the stairs, as we didn't want any damage to come to that whilst Ian the Plasterer was doing his thing. Here's a not very good shot of the boarded stairwell and a peek at the edge of the PB lifter putting the board onto the hallway ceiling. The stairs are now on the floor in the lounge. Whether they will return to their original position depends on how long the permanent staircase takes to arrive, which is unknown right now as I need to have a chat with a couple of people about a couple of things, but I should be ordering it early next week. In the meantime, here's the stairway to nowhere. Back to the plastering, things are looking very different now that it's all done and drying out. The building instantly feels more solid and less like a construction site. The utility room is all done now and I intend to get in there next week with Jeremy's trust paint sprayer and then emulsion. There isn't that much going in the way of units going into the utility - just 4 in total. It will house a fridge, freezer and washing machine, then the units will continue along the same wall and have a work surface running above them. I've deliberately kept it less full as it's useful to have some empty space for all the things that fill up dumping grounds voids that most households naturally have. This is the other end of the utility, going through to the garage. Lying on the utility floor there, you can see my Howdens primed MDF doors, which are destined for upstairs and one between the utility and the main house. I hope to get started on painting these soon. The doors for most of the downstairs are currently in production over in the Netherlands, due to arrive around the 5th April, and these will be fully finished so no need to paint or anything, just add hardware and hang. After some research and a little back and forth, it turns out that the Netherlands is a great place to go for over-height doors. This is because what we consider to be over-height is entirely standard to them and you can get pretty much any size up to 2300 with no bother at all. Very handy for those large doorways of mine downstairs. We've planned to have low level lights in the hallway for some time now and Nick suggested ones that can be put in flush with the plasterboard and then plastered in. It sounded like a good idea so I ordered them and they arrived a few days later. Cue panic on my part as they appeared enormous and were way deeper than I was expecting. I had to measure them several times and be convinced that they wouldn't come out of the wall behind them. As it was, only a screwdriver point did that. The lights weigh a tonne - they are moulded plaster of Paris and very odd looking things, but look good once they go in. Here's the side view of the light that needs to be lost in the cavity of the stud wall. What a whopper! And here they are once they've been plastered in. Finishing off on the plastering, here's a view of the bottom part of the scaffold tower that I've hired for the occasion. Even though the stairwell is plastered, I've kept the tower as I need to paint the stairwell and the prep for this means masking the long window, so I need the extra height for this. Ian the Plasterer was cursing the weather that day as the sun was beating in and that long window faces almost due south. He was bemoaning the fact that you could see every single ripple in the plasterboard and even the slightest imperfection stuck out like a sore thumb. Overly critical of his own work as he is, he was very relieved when it was pointed out to him that there will be a brise soleil in front of that window eventually, which will smooth out his ripples in a jiffy. The last bit of plastering is a slight change of plan in the bathroom. Originally, the slanted wall opposite the door was going to be tiled all the way to the top and the MVHR extract hidden with a false panel covered by a tile. After some discussion, it was decided that this would look horrible as the side walls are only going to be tiled part way up. We still needed a work around for where the wall protrudes to house the cistern for the wall mounted loo and decided that continuing the theme of niches in the bathroom, a large portrait-style one above the loo would look good. I suggested that the MVHR outlet could then come down via the 'ceiling' of the niche, but Nick went one better and it will come out on the right hand side of the niche wall, above the bath, and so be virtually invisible. As ever, a sharp bit of plastering from Ian. Plenty more has been going on inside, but let's step outside for a breath of air as it was busy there, too. The next set of groundworks have started. These comprise the surface water and foul water drainage, the driveway between the garage and the lane and the hard standing to the side of the garage. In addition, the surface water will now all be diverted to the pond, which overcomes the potential issue of how to deal with this on our heavy clay site. I've swapped groundworkers for this stage of the works. Sadly, my previous groundworker came through with a ridiculously inflated quote for the drainage work and as I already had another firm waiting in the wings as I have to install a dropped curb between my drive and the lane, I decided to use them for all the work as they were far more reasonable. I'm afraid there are no thrilling photos of the groundworks as it looks very similar to how the site has looked since the onset of winter - wet and boggy, with a few trenches here and there. However, I'm delighted that the drainage works are progressing, albeit with being called off for a few days due to the awful storms we've been having, as it means that as soon as they are done we can press on with the cladding and get the building properly watertight. As well as the groundworks, the balustrades for the balconies started going in last week. The east balcony is completed and the supports and railings are in on the west with the glass to follow shortly. There was a problem with a couple of panels not being the right size so I'm waiting on those, then the guys will be back to finish the installation. When I first ordered the balustrade, I had a minor panic shortly afterwards. I had requested that all the metal work should be powder coated in RAL 7016 to match the windows and be close to the colour of the slate. The panic was due to my wondering whether I should have gone for brushed steel or something a bit brighter. Come the day, however, the darker shade of anthracite grey was the right choice as it blends seamlessly with the windows and slate cladding on the upper storey, so much so that standing in the lane, the railings disappear and only the glass is obvious. Phew! Here's the balustrade viewed from the balcony. The same from the top of a pile of wood chippings in what will be the garden: And, finally, from the lane. The building looks very austere at the moment, but once the stone cladding goes on, it will be transformed again. It's a bit chilly outside, so let's go back indoors. Work has been continuing on the kitchen and the laminate worktop is in situ now, as well as the sink. Photos on that to follow next week once the clamps are off. I had been pondering the support post for the overhang on the island worksurface, and how to overcome my dislike for most of the ready made options out there. I really didn't want a metal post as it would look incongruous against everything else in the kitchen and so in one of those late night flashes of inspiration that occasionally come along, I decided to ask Harry the Carpenter to clad some timber with the laminate splashback to make a post that matched the underside of the breakfast bar part of the island. Harry did his thing, and I'm pleased with the result. Much as with the balustrade against the slates, it largely disappears into the background of the recess under the walnut worktop. I've been busy sanding and painting and all things decorating. The snug has now had its 2 coats of vinyl emulsion and I'm working my way through the prep for painting my ready-primed MDF skirting and architrave. I hate prep. Tedious, boring, and there's no way to get out of it. However, it will be worth it once all the 'woodwork' is all white and pristine. One thing that has become apparent since I painted the snug is the difference a paint base makes. The neutral colour that I'm using everywhere is called Borrowash, from Brewer's Albany paint range. In the snug and low traffic areas, I'm using standard vinyl emulsion but for the hallway and lounge, I'm using durable vinyl. All in the same shade, just a different base. So what, you may ask. Well, here's the thing. They come out different colours. I chose the colour on the basis of the standard vinyl - this is how it appears in the colour chart and sample pots, and it's a warm grey/beige, more beige than grey. The durable version, however, is much cooler and more grey than beige. I painted the lounge first with the durable stuff and a little while back did one of the bedrooms with the standard emulsion. I commented at the time how the light made them appear to be different colours except, as I now know, they really are different. It's not a problem as I like them both and they aren't next to each other in the same room, but it's worth bearing in mind if you plan to use the same colour in different bases. Here's the snug all painted up, looking out to the hallway. And another of the same. Finally, as I started the blog with Elvis, it seems appropriate to finish it with a bit of a light show. Team Blackmore worked hard on the ceiling feature in the lounge but up until now, it's been uncertain just how well (or not) it would work out with lights. Nick, the little devil, couldn't bear to wait any longer and so one evening last week, he temporarily rigged up some LED strip lights on the feature. All I can say is that Team Blackmore had a smile on its face when it saw this. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the ceiling lights. p.s. I was on site to do a clean up today whilst it was nice and quiet there. There had been plenty of cursing during the week as Nick started to tackle the en suite shower for the master bedroom. Foul things were coming out of both ends of him the day after his curry night and the recalcitrant shower wasn't doing much to improve his mood. I noticed this today, written on a piece of board in the base of the shower recess.
  18. 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.
  19. 9 points
    Since the last blog entry we've been working away at co-coordinating the paperwork for the building warrant . But progress is slowly being made. Last week we heard we've been lucky enough to get a 50% grant towards our grid connection costs, which is a big help. Anyone else who's thinking of applying, feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about it. I think you need to sit within SSE's (North Scotland) area. As part of our build we're removing quite a few conifers, the condition being that we replant with a load of native trees. One of the constraints on this is that the conifers sit quite close to a HV line, in particular within what the DNO call the red zone (where if the tree went the wrong way it would hit the line). For a while it was a bit difficult trying to figure out how we'd get these down, but in the end we were lucky enough to take advantage of a line shutdown by the DNO a couple of weeks ago. So now most of the conifers are down (only a few remaining), we just need to get them extracted. In other tree related news, we also arranged to mill a few of the hardwoods that were felled a year or so ago. Pretty pleased with the results, these will now air-dry and then probably need putting in a kiln just before we use them. Action shot of SWMBO taking it out on a tree: The aftermath: Logs ready to mill: And some of the results:
  20. 9 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.
  21. 9 points
    ....if the weather man says it's raining! So goes the old song and me, too, by the end of this week. The roof itself has been watertight for a couple of weeks now, but there was still significant water ingress from the gulleys hidden behind the parapets formed at the top of the ground floor. However, my flat roof guys have been back on site this week and are working hard. Today they were finishing off the long, east facing balcony and also moving onto the south facing parapet; they will continue around the building and should have the main part of the house all finished off if not by Friday, then certainly early next week. This is a great relief as even though I know that the building would dry out, there is something deeply distressing about seeing puddles of water lying on the slab after rain, despite the main roof being on, so I shall be very happy to have this part of the build completed. Photos of the gullies and balconies to follow later this week. Stepping back to last week for a moment, some of the window snag list was ticked off, primarily the shattered panes of glass. One was in the south facing ground floor lounge area and the other was a unit in the north east bedroom. Norrsken were back exactly when they said they would be and got the main jobs completed so that things are set for the return of MBC. The remaining snag list are a few adjustments to the windows, for example where one of the lift and slide windows is too tightly fitted against the seal/brush and the frames rub when it's opened or closed, and then a few cosmetic issues such as shallow dents in the frames. We've agreed to complete the rest of the list once we're getting into second fix rather than get in the way of all the frame completion and first fix work. Last week also saw the return of Darren from MBC to fix my wonky wall, for which the solution was low tech but effective. A sleep deprived but determined Irishman with a very, very large hammer who was prepared to beat the crap out of a steel beam, and that's precisely what he did. So the problem wasn't so much the wall above the window, but the section that housed the apex steel that sat above the window and that, it's now been decided, has a kink in it. The wall above the steel section and the one below it are both plumb but the inverted V-section above the window isn't due to the kinked steel inside it. I'm assured that everything is structurally fine and that there's no danger of anything shifting in a detrimental fashion and after Darren did his stuff the top of the triangular window section is now only 3mm out, where it started at 12mm and more further up. I can easily live with 3mm and it will easily be lost in the cladding. There is now a kick on the inside, but Darren will put some packers behind the service battens to make sure that the final internal wall is plumb for boarding out and everything else that comes after. And so back to this week, where the first few days have all been about activity on the roof. As already mentioned, the flat roof guys were back on Monday and also back were the solar PV guys. The solar guys had to start by removing the optimisers from where they'd previously left them on the roof as they are all going into the loft space. The idea behind this is that the solar panels themselves are highly unlikely to fail but if any of the optimisers do, it will be an expensive job to get to them to make any repairs. It would involve dismantling part of the roof as well as expensive scaffolding to gain access. Instead, the cables have come through a penetration in the roof and the optimisers will sit in the loft space along side some MVHR equipment, meaning that things are far more accessible in the future. The inverter will be in the garage and the cable has been run down along the roof, going through the parapet and through the garage ceiling, into the garage where it will live with all the sunamps and other kit. This is the route it's taking, to the side of the roof window and underneath the membrane that will line the parapet gully and, eventually, the garage roof. My velux windows arrived last week, which was another relief. My roofer, Dylan, gave me a call to confirm that they were in and the days that his team would be back. We'd already agreed that they would be on site on the 30th to co-ordinate and work around with the solar guys and they all worked really co-operatively, as they have done all along. I'm biased, of course, but I think that my roof is looking really great and the solar panels are pretty smart looking, too. Here are the panels from the other side of the flat roof over the stairwell. And a closer view of the trays and panels. This is the velux window that's over the shared bathroom. It's very low down coming onto the flat roof, but Terence and the other roofers, Pat and Mike, had already discussed this and decided how to solve the potential issue by using some more membrane and glueing the s*&t out of it all. This is the same window from inside. The light from this will be the only natural light source in the bathroom once all the walls are in place, so it's good to see that it floods in from its west facing orientation. We have another 2 velux windows, one is in the already well-lit south east bedroom, which I'm claiming for my own room to do stuff in, so I'm delighted to have it full of so much light. You can also see the prep on the balcony with the membrane being put down. The other roof window is the north east bedroom which will benefit from the additional light given its aspect. Here's a pic of the guys putting the trays into position on the main south facing roof. The pole that's in the foreground of the picture is the one that until recently carried the electricity supply cable. That has now been buried and back-filled today and Openreach will be around on Friday to remove their equipment so I will be able to dispose of the pole in due course. This is towards the end of the day when most of the panels were on and the slates had been put around them. There's plenty more work to come this week. The flat roof team are continuing and the pitched roof team will be back on Friday and possibly early next week to finish everything up there. My groundworker, Keith, is on site now as well, and we're moving all the shrub and hedge related debris from earlier in the year. I'm currently thinking that bonfire night seems an appropriate time to light up, so I may have to buy some sparklers for the occasion. My fire rated door was delivered today from Enfield Speciality Doors and my neighbour, Drew, will be installing that for me. He works in construction and having seen the tidy work he's done on his own place, he'll be doing a fair bit of internal work for me as well as, possibly, the tier cladding on the outside in due course. It's worth noting that I paid a premium to Enfield Speciality Doors to jump the queue in their production schedule to make sure that I got the door in time for the return of MBC. It's the one to go between the utility and garage so it has to be in before MBC return and I was prepared to pay an additional 10% to make sure this would happen. I was chatting with another BH member recently and it seems that fire rated doors really are tricky things to get hold of, let alone within a reasonable timescale. If you also want one that's insulated and looks good, be prepared to take a few months over this, assuming you find anything. I'm fortunate as mine is only between the garage and utility and doesn't need to be pretty. I may add extra insulation later but, for now, I just needed the fire rated door. Nick will also be back towards the end of the week to sort out some soil pipes and other bits before MBC hit, then we can really take the brakes off and go at first fix. Yesterday's buzz of the week was the Hercules.
  22. 8 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.
  23. 8 points
    So, I just remembered that I actually had this blog. I'm killing time waiting for a phonecall, so, updates! Over a year later! Stuff has happened. Lots of stuff. Lots of money. Many tears. Some moments of "FFS, what?!", many moments of "HOW MUCH?" and "how the feck does this bloody shower fit together?" and a few, rare, beautiful moments of "woah, that looks awesome". The last entry ended on a lovely "woah" moment of the successful pouring of our beautiful concrete floor throughout the ground floor plan. It pissed down the next day, obviously. Then MBC went away, laden with cakes, pies and phone numbers of eligible single ladies from the area. A week later, they came back. My new job is a long commute away, and I had to work that day. On my way to the station (hideously early), I saw a truck drive past, laden with bits of house. "That's our house", I thought to myself, I just knew it. I text my husband to share the momentous culmination of our wonderful joint enterprise and was mercilessly mocked that it probably wasn't our house, as it was far too early. Ha! How I laughed when the driver called him approximately 10 minutes later to say he was stuck in the narrow road outside our site, couldn't turn the lorry sharp enough to get into the access point and was blocking every single (extremely angry) person in our medieval town from getting to work. That was a brisk drive to site for him. There were many people in hi-viz, a lot of shouting and gesturing, a lot of sharp intakes of breath, a few calls to the police to track down owners of badly parked cars and a huge amount of car horn tooting. Oh, and a LOT of apologising. But, the truck made it into the site. Just. To the never-ending delight of my small son, there was also an absolutely ENORMOUS crane. I was later informed this in fact this is an embarrassingly tiny crane, the smallest one that you can possibly hire and really hardly worth the bother. I feel like the driver may have had some adequacy issues with his crane size. So, whilst I was in a meeting, they just wacked the house together. At lunchtime, I called for a catchup FaceTime and the ground floor was pretty much finished! I mean, WHAT? The speed was insane. By the time I got to site later that evening (about 7.30pm), all the ground floor panels and internal partitions were in. My husband and I just walked around rooms, giggling insanely to ourselves at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The next day, second storey on. Unbelievable. By the end of the week (in fact, I don't even think it was full week) the whole frame was up. We were a little shellshocked, to be honest. There was a lot of head scratching about how to run the falls on the roof. This had been discussed and obviously designed in, but our roofer had some input whilst MBC were on site. They were very good and spent a lot of time working out the best way to make it work for what we needed (singly ply membrane roof, adequate falls, hidden box gutters) and did a lot of extra work in conjunction with the other trades. Our roofer also risked the wrath of his wife by coming to a site meeting on a saturday and was subsequently late for a family BBQ oops. Oddly, once the frame was up and see could feel the room sizes in 3D, they suddenly felt absolutely massive again. Such a convincing illusion - it's very hard to visualise 3D space from a 2D footprint. Next up? The joys of roofing and zinc cladding And winter
  24. 8 points
    Apologies for the lack of updates on the blog. Things have been quite taxing over the past couple of months, coming to terms with my Dad's unexpected passing. I have struggled to find my feet, and to get anchored in the present again. My beautiful wife Kim and my (mental) kids have been amazing, and I think that I am ready to carry on in earnest. Long story short, I am getting my mojo back a bit now, so expect a big update in the next 48h - there might even be a bit of skin on show! 😉
  25. 8 points
    Most of the internal work to date has focused on insulating the suspended timber floor and with this completed our joiners could come back and put down the sub floor. We considered two different materials for the subfloor: 22mm OSB or 22mm Chipboard. We decided to use chipboard as it was 25% cheaper then OSB. Plywood would have been another option but this would have been more expensive than the chipboard as well. To do this job we needed just over hundred sheets of chipboard, 2800 Spax screws and 6 bottles of expanding PU foam glue. Whilst our joiners were on site they also attached some ply and osb boards to the internal load bearing walls. This will provide additional racking strength to the house. As I can walk around all part of the house here are some photos: The porch and utility room The kitchen/dining room Living room which has a part vaulted ceiling and the eventually the French doors will lead onto a decked area. When this is framed it will be a bathroom, hall & stairs Master bedroom and en-suite And upstairs: Two bedrooms on the gable ends. A key feature of these rooms is a PK10 top hung velux. The middle sections between the gable bedrooms will be a wardrobe, WC and a storage cupboard. This area has three PK10 veluxs. Having a floor down feels like a big step forward for us. One of the benefits for me is that I now have space to store materials within the house, as previously it was very awkward as often these had to be shifted around numerous times to complete a single job. The next job is back to insulating, this time in the rafters.
  26. 8 points
    Our blockwork started three weeks ago. This was always going to be weather dependent and it was mixed for the first two weeks in November but since then we have had a really good weather window where its been calm, sunny and not too cold which allowed the remaining work to be completed. Our brickie was fitted a temporary gutter which could be taken off when required. This gable end is where the prevailing wind comes down off the mountains, we have shelter belt here but its nice to know that we now have a solid concrete wall. Next on the list is fitting the concrete windows cills which should be next week. The sections that don't have blockwork will be fitted with the remaining Siberian larch cladding in early December.
  27. 8 points
    Water tight I hope
  28. 7 points
    Da Dahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
  29. 7 points
    We’ve just done our final concrete pour, in fact two pours in one week. From ground floor to gables in two weeks with Easter in the middle is quick, a little too quick to enjoy. We can now get a real sense of how the house will look. Next week we are ready to start work on the roof. Before building the first floor, a temporary floor was laid around the room perimeters using 12mm OSB. This was done to provide a working area to build the blocks from and allow bracing to be put in place without damaging the final floor. 12mm board seemed awfully thin to walk on! . With our builders now familiar with the wall plans the blocks went up very quickly indeed. In practice it takes longer to do the bracing and shuttering than to do the building. Not having to cut blocks on site is a major advantage, not just from an accuracy point of view but it also makes the site much cleaner. Some ICF sites look as though it’s been snowing with polystyrene. As mentioned in out last blog entry we had the option to do a single pour combining the first floor and gables. We’re really glad it was done in two stages, attempting it in one pour would almost certainly caused major bracing issues and risked the block work due to the higher pressures resulting from the depth of concrete. Never thought I would be happy to shell out £1000 on a pump. Having no experience of other build methods it’s not easy to evaluate the pro’s and con’s of each system. For us, the need to use concrete pumps has to be the worst aspect of ICF. It just seems like you’re never quite ready and there’s another dozen details to attend to before it starts. With multiple companies involved for boom pumps and concrete delivery, it’s both expensive and difficult to get people to turn up when you asked for them. Our last pour was scheduled for 11am and the concrete lory finally arrived a 3:30pm...To add to the entertainment the pump has to be vented after use. This involves a set of guys you probably won’t see again and want to be elsewhere dumping large volumes of concrete on your site. After three pours we have somewhere in the region of three tons of set concrete to break up and pay to dispose of. Some of the last lot got dumped on next doors newly block paved drive. Lots and lots of cleaning up. It’s not too much of a surprise that the builders don’t include this in there list of responsibilities. Definitely the Achilles heel of the ICF build method. Enough moaning, it’s been a long couple of weeks with many disturbed nights worrying irrationally about being a lego brick short at the end of the build. We now have a house, no roof, but hey we have to do something next week.
  30. 7 points
    Bang on schedule the raft components arrived on Monday morning. We knew it would be quite a big volume of material on a small site and getting it unloaded and put somewhere it would not get damaged or need moving was s little tricky. JUB insisted on sending the raft on pallets. Our builder was not that impressed with this as unloading the lory requires a folk lift which is something we don't have on site. So we had to hire a set of folks for the digger. With the raft safely stored at the back of the plot the work to prepare the site progressed. The drainage had been marked in the site setting out exercise along with electrical and water ducting. Trying to keep raft punctures to a minimum but also allow for future needs was a concern. In the end we kept it to a minimum with electrical conduit for the rain and foul water pumps and two for water. Along with the raft we received a letter from our neighbours complaining that I had put our water meter box on their garden wall. In retrospect a valid complaint, it was one of those decisions made in expediency without enough thought. Our water supplier Portsmouth Water will now only make new connection when an above ground water meter box is installed. I duly bought the one box they permit (so much for choice), water pipe and water conduit. Not having a house on which to mount the box, I made the required connections and left the box mobile so it could be put in place in due course. At which point I called in the Portsmouth Water, regrettably they said they could not make the connection until the box was in situ. Having explained our situation and the need to get water on the site it was suggested I could mount the box on the wall by our property. At this stage I should have thought about it rather than simply get on with it, my mistake entirely. The wall it outside my boundary, by millimetres true , but still NOT ours. Our neighbours were not impressed so Monday was spent moving the box and apologising to my neighbours. I shuttered and cast concrete into the wall footings and backfilled with type 1 MOT to repair the wall. Having done this I then putting in two concrete posts 200mm inside our boundary and mounting the water meter box on them. This is what I should have done in the first place. Slightly different subject, the Groundbreaker Water box, this is the only box that Portsmouth Water will connect to. At around the £150 mark it's a pretty hideous piece of kit both aesthetically and in product design terms for installation. Given their current monopoly and the fact that all new connections will require one it made me consider looking into producing an alternative. A swift kicking from the boss and I was reminded to get on with the house...maybe later once the house is done. . With the drainage in place the MOT type 1 sub base was spread over the raft area, levelled and compacted. Our builders ICF-homes did this with considerable care and we ended up with a good surface to spread the sand layer which was again compacted before putting down the membrane. Our structural engineers had specified a Radon barrier, we ended up using a standard plastic DPM as Radon is not a problem in our area. The DPM gets glued to the side of the raft sealing it and providing some additional protection for the polystyrene. . With the membrane down the work of setting out the raft. The perimeter is all keyed together It took a while to get the corners located precisely but once this was done the raft slotted together very well with a really solid interlock. The raft was then completed by adding the rebar, four layers around the perimeter. All in all a lot of steel, Pat and I spent most of Saturday morning helping get the rebar in place and wire tying it to make is solid before the concrete pour. Our raft is now complete and this week the surface water drainage will go in. Along with the problem with the water meter box our neighbours also bought up the "Party Wall act". Doing a self build is nothing if not educational. The act came into law following problems with basement excavations in London. It dictates that excavations in close proximity to your neighbours 0-6M have to be notified and agreed. In our case we were within notifiable distance, but fortunately were not excavating to a notifiable depth. Our builders were not familiar with the act and no mention had been made by building controls. The act did effect our other neighbours and I contacted them letting them know what work has been done. Fortunately all the excavations were made and backfilled without incident. Hoping for a less eventful week to allow us to regroup before our first block delivery next Monday. As this is the first build for JUB in the UK the factory are sending someone on site to assist with the build and wall bracing. It's very positive to see the house taking shape, we have our EPC which suggests we should require in the region of 68wats/K to heat the house which is great, but we still only come out as a "B" energy rating! the rating system is bonkers.
  31. 7 points
    In Part 22, I detailed my decision making process in relation to my choice of a pre-plumb Mitsubishi Ecodan 8.5kW ASHP based DHW and heating system. I now have a full set of data covering 12 months so can provide figures in respect of how the system, and our house has performed. My baseline requirement was to maintain 21.5C in the house 24/7 throughout the heating season (October to April), and a supply of DHW water that would allow multiple showers to be drawn off without a drop in the temperature of water delivered at the tap. The Mitsubishi FTC5 master controller / thermostat is set to 21C, and is located in the hall next to the vestibule. DHW is set to and stored at 50C. Over the 12 months March 2017 – March 2018, heating COP ranged between a February low of 3.3 to an October high of 4.6 over the course of the heating season, with an overall SPF of 3.7 DHW COP ranged between a February low of 2 to a summer high of 2.5, with an overall SPF of 2.3 Based on a kWh electricity unit price (inc standing charge) of 12.3p, I paid 3.32p per kWh of delivered heat, and 5.34p per kWh of DHW (inc losses). It should be noted that DHW cylinder losses do slightly reduce my heating demand, albeit at a higher cost than if delivered via UFH. For a reminder of our layout: In winter, with a set temperature of 21C, the house sits at a comfortable even temperature, the main living section of the house tends to sit at 21.5C, the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms at 21C and the master bedroom at 20.5C. I suspect that the slightly lower temperature in our bedroom is due to the fact I set the MVHR vent at a higher supply rate than the other bedrooms. This would tally with my experience of doing the same in our last house. The two biggest factors that impact on our heating demand are wind speed and solar gain. In modelling our heating requirement, I took both into account, along with incidental and household gains. The weather data set was based on a combination of met office and local home weather station information. Our average wind speeds are significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, and combined with the effect of storm force wind speeds (which we get a fair bit of) we do have a higher heat demand when compared to the same house being located in a sheltered inland area. The impact of wind speed, and the differential in pressure it causes is illustrated here: http://www.wanz.co.nz/ConversionChart A doubling of wind speed sees the pressure increase by a factor of four. Average winter wind speeds of 15-20mph (which equates to the standard air pressure test) are common if not the norm here. Average storm wind speeds of 40-50mph gusting to 70-80mph are also common. The impact of the pressure differential that such wind speeds cause was illustrated to me during the build whilst I was decorating. Having masked off the windows with polythene it was noticeable that when wind speed exceeded 40mph, the polythene would inflate on the windward side of the house, and be sucked onto the glass on the leeward side. Whilst we’re not aware of any drafts and the house isn’t any way uncomfortable, looking at the daily heating requirement when wind speeds are high, you can see an increase in the amount of energy used. Part of that will be air leakage (as evidenced by the effect of pressure differential on the windows) part is the unbalancing of the MVHR (gusting wind from a particular direction can cause the fans to struggle), and part is the lack of solar gain on such stormy days. In terms of solar gain, the vast majority of any gain manifests in the public areas. In winter this provides a useful uplift in internal temperatures. Depending on how clear it is, and how long the sun is out, the uplift sometimes compares to having a WBS stove on and really is quite pleasant. More generally, with mixed winter weather, the gain is less noticeable in terms of a temperature spike, but does have the benefit of reducing our heating energy use. In summer, the gain can be significant and does require a cooling strategy. Without any active cooling, the house has at times risen to 25C in the public areas and 24C in the bedrooms. Alongside the MVHR summer bypass (set to activate when extract air is 22C or more) we cool the house down to a more comfortable 22C using cross ventilation, opening windows / taking account of the prevailing breeze. We also have a velux window upstairs, which when opened in combination with a downstairs window, creates a chimney effect that is very effective in exhausting hot air. The biggest downside in using cross ventilation is that it doesn’t work when the ambient temperature is high (not a very common), nor when there isn’t a breeze (again, not very common). You also have to factor in the unexpected as we had to recently as our neighbour undertook ground works, which created vast clouds of dust in the dry weather. Opening windows simply wasn’t possible on those days. Overall the predicted impact of solar gain is as I modelled it using data from the following two sites: https://www.susdesign.com/ http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php PVGIS provided daily average data, and from susdesign I was able to work out a peak solar gain multiplier to determine what the maximum likely amount of solar gain would be on a clear, cloudless day. Modelling solar gain for both heating and cooling requirement was a very worthwhile exercise as I was able to determine what our worst case requirements were for both, and what strategies would work. I’m fortunate in that the prevailing weather conditions here mean cross ventilation is a viable and workable strategy to deal with overheating. I am however in no doubt that had we built our house in a sheltered location in a warmer part of the country, that we would have a very real overheating problem and would have to use a very different strategy, most likely combining solar films on windows and active cooling. I do have the option of actively cooling my house using our ASHP, via the UFH and if I wanted by retrofitting a duct cooler into the MVHR system, although haven’t felt the need to do so yet. One plus point of the Mitsubishi Ecodan ASHP is that activating cooling is simple (changing a dip switch setting to enable the master controller). All in all, I’m very happy with the way the house is performing in terms of retaining heat and providing a comfortable environment in both winter and summer. The performance and running costs to date are certainly more than satisfactory. Of particular value to us is having sufficient heating capacity to deal with spikes in heating demand (resulting from especially stormy weather) as and when needed, without having to resort to auxiliary heaters or peak rate top up, and the simplicity of use of the master control system. Whilst I could if I so wished set flow temperatures and heating curves, the onboard auto / adaptive program requires one user input – internal set temperature, and the controller works out the lowest temperature way of delivering it. Whilst I had a very good idea of what our heating curve should look like, using the auto / adaptive mode saved a lot of trial and error, and having monitored flow temperatures, have not seen them exceed 32C. For those not comfortable with developing their own programming or control systems, this is a very big plus. Having looked at a variety of options, I concluded that an ASHP would be the most cost effective solution (even after taking into account the cost of replacing the outdoor unit after 10 years) to meeting our requirements, and 12 months on, I have absolutely no doubt that I selected the right system for our requirements. Whilst I have no hesitation in recommending the ASHP system I have, it is important to recognise that low energy or passive type builds really do need to be modelled and individual requirements identified to determine what type of heating, cooling and DHW provision is required.
  32. 7 points
    Having got all of the groundwork out of the way, it was time to build the timber frame. We were carrying out a stick build, ie: we purchased the i-beams and glulams and the carpenters cut and assembled everything onsite like a huge jigsaw puzzle. We had looked into using a timber frame manufacturer, but we had a good team of carpenters who had experience of stick building a frame, so it didn't seem to make any sense changing a proven formula. Initial jobs were to get the scaffold up and sole plate down. First i-beams were installed on 3rd Dec and by the end of the day, the main i-beams for both gables were up. The work is not helped by the weather which is cold and wet. You need to be pretty resilient to be work outdoors in this weather, nevertheless good progress is made and by 6th Dec the walls are up and parallam beams and ledgers have been fitted. Big day on Dec 10th as we finally manage to get the electricity switched on. No more generators which should make everyone's life a little easier on site. We now have water and electricity on site and only need to connect to the mains drains at some stage in the future. First floor joists together with the MVHR ducting that needs to pass through these joists is next to be installed and state of play on Dec 12th is as pictured below. The first floor is glued to the joists on December 14th. The view from the top of the scaffold isn't bad either. There is no way the big heavy glulam ridge beam is going to be manually handled up to the top of the roof, so on the 17th Dec a crane is hired to help out with this operation. It is the only time during the build that a crane is required. Everything else has been manually shifted into place. The i-beam roof rafters can now be put into place and on the last day before the teams Christmas break, most of the rafters are in place. Following a couple of weeks break for Christmas, the rafters are quickly finished off and by January 9th the skeleton of the house is in place. Over the next couple of weeks the house is clad with panelvent on the outside and smartply on the inside and then wrapped in membrane so that by the 22nd Jan, the house is looking like this.
  33. 7 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.
  34. 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
  35. 7 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.
  36. 7 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 😂
  37. 7 points
    Just a quick update to stay on track, nothing special happening really just lay some blocks, have a cuppa, lay some blocks, have a cuppa, I can’t believe I used to do this to earn a crust the most exciting thing is putting the floor beams in place, I love messing with big machines or fancy tools, the local farmer has been very obliging with his big telehandler, after an hour with the forklift you can start to see some real progress whilst we have him on site it’s handy to get him to shift a few pallets of blocks about, I don’t think we have had to move many further than a couple of metres from where he put them. So next week we go from bloody heavy concrete blocks and concrete beams, to great lumps of polystyrene as the ICF blocks have just turned up. Lets hope it all goes together as good as the Youtube vids make out.
  38. 6 points
    We are now working our way through first fix for the self build. Our electrician has been busy drilling holes and threading many reels of cables around the house. The other area where we have made some progress is the ducting system. I’ve never ordered ducting before and it took me some time to order all of the parts and then have them to delivered to Skye. This came into two deliveries, both times some of the items were dented and buckled. Some were easy fixed but others required replacements to be sent. I wonder now if this is a common occurrence with others that have ordered ducting online? Once the last parts arrived, I was able to lay it all out to check back to the plan. My plumber will be fitting the ducting which should happen soon. Our brickie will also come back to construct the blockwork for the stove. My next job will be painting the house as the render has now had sufficient time to allow any impurities to be washed away. Although I have been busy with the house and work over the last few weeks, I was lucky enough to be given a wee boat. It was a group effort taking it down the croft and felt great to be on the loch after a few years. Might be the start of a new hobby.
  39. 6 points
    Having originally planned then dropped the idea of Solar PV (a combination of budget constraints and drop in FiT rates) I recently acquired a number of Solar PV panels (a pallet bought in conjunction with @ProDave from Bimble Solar via Ebay). Having recently collected the panels, lengths of mounting rail and various other bits and bobs @ProDave had kindly sourced, I fitted the system over the last two Saturdays. First off was mounting the rails on my rear, SW facing garage wall. I decided to mount the panels vertically simply for ease - a ready made structure to fix the rails to, and easy access to a consumer unit for the grid connection. There is a penalty in terms of a reduction in annual generation compared to a sloped array, however simplicity won out. The following picture shows the garage wall with rails fixed; To start I nailed packers to the cladding to ensure I had a drainage gap behind the rails. I then fixed the rails (Unistrut - a tip from @Onoff) through the cladding, cladding battens into the timber frame of the garage using timber drive bolts I happened to have. As the lengths of Unistrut I had were offcuts (only way I could transport them) I used joiners secured to the channel with bolts/channel nuts. Finally, I added hanging brackets for each panels to help carry the weight of each panel / so I wasn't reliant purely on bolts clamping the panels in position. I fitted the panels, sitting them on the hanging bracket and bolting them around 300mm from top and bottom as pictured; The ends were secured using Z brackets I cut down using a grinder (thanks @JSHarris) so that they clamped only the frame and did not overhang the panel itself; Long M6 bolts with large washers were used to secure the panels into the rails where they met with each other; The channel nuts (also known as Zebedees) into which the long M6 bolts were secured; I used M8 bolts and channel nuts for the joiners, end and hanging brackets. My electrician connected the system up, wiring the panels to a DC isolator, into the Inverter which in turn is wired into the garage CU via a meter and AC isolator. 2 hours work for him. Switched on, the Inverter ran through all its self tests and everything okay. Sadly at that point it clouded over and the heavens opened so only a few watts being generated. Fortunately, today has been a bright and sunny day (albeit a bit hazy) and my 1.5 kWp system is as we speak, generating 1.2kW. The following shot was taken yesterday just before the rain came on, but all in all, I'm pleased with the way it looks (panels mounted so they read visually with house windows). Cost wise the system (1.5kWp plus a spare panel), mounting rails, nuts, bolts, brackets, isolators, meter and electrician (@Prodave was kind enough to give me the DC cable he had left over which was just enough for the job) total £550. I already had the inverter. Final job within the next 28 days is to notify the DNO of the installation.
  40. 6 points
    We had lived in the 1920s timber framed bungalow for the last ten years, which although small, allowed us to live comfortably enough while doing the self build. After we moved into the new house we had three months to demolish the bungalow, which was a planning condition. We found out that the bungalow was stick built in the 1920s for farm workers as a Home for Heroes after the First World War. The main part consisted of four rooms and was constructed from 4"x2" timber, lined with Chrysotile asbestos boards and the outside clad with feather edge timber. It was built on a small concrete ring beam. In the 1950s the outside cladding was obviously deteriorating so was battened out and expanded metal mesh was added which was then rendered in pebbledash. At the same time a brick built extension housing a bathroom was added at the rear. In the 1980s a porch was added along with a full width rear extension housing a kitchen and bathroom. An oil fired central heating system was also added. We decided to dismantle the bungalow rather than knock it down as the site is small and the bungalow was less than 0.5m from the new house. This meant dismantling the bungalow in 'layers' and disposing of the materials before moving onto the next part. We took out the carpets, wiring and plumbing and disposed of that. We put all the doors and secondary glazing on Freegle and they were soon taken. While we were waiting for quotes for the asbestos removal we took off the pebbledash. We only realised how poor the state of the bungalow was when we started to dismantle it. The sole plate had rotted completely in places as had the bottom of some of the studs. We then had the internal asbestos boards removed and at the same time I took the asbestos slates off the roof. I was doing that when we had a very hot spell and the glue melted on the soles of a pair of my trainers and working boots, so they went in the bin. I was glad when that job was finished as were the asbestos removers inside the bungalow. Once the asbestos was gone we took off the sarking boards and feather edge cladding. The sarking boards were in quite good condition and went quickly on Freegle but the feather edge was shot so we cut it up and took it to the local tip. The rafters on the main part of the bungalow were 4"x2" and long and straight and went on Freegle for making chicken runs and animal houses. The rafters on the extension were 6"x2" and went to make a pergola. The main frame and studwork was taken by a couple of people for different things. The flooring went to someone with an old basement who wanted old timber flooring. The chimney breast and plinth wall yielded nearly 1600 bricks which someone took for a garden wall. We got homemade jam and some eggs in return. The last things to go were several hundred concrete blocks so now we just have a pile of mixed rubble left. We are wondering whether to crush it on site and use it for the driveway and shed base or have it taken away and buy in some type 1. We're pleased to have been able to dispose of most of the bungalow in a useful way by recycling the materials. It has also helped us by not having to pay for any of the demolition with the exception of the asbestos removal. It has been interesting stripping back the layers and seeing how it was constructed and altered over the years.
  41. 6 points
    One of my favourite jobs when it's going well. I even used up the scraps to gain some brownie points when I was doing my step flashings.
  42. 6 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........
  43. 6 points
    Winter is coming, the White Walkers are on the way and, in the meantime, grey snow arrived in my house on Friday. Allow me to explain. It seems that much of the artificial snow that you see on film sets is, in fact, made from blown cellulose, particularly to cover outdoor areas without damaging flora and fauna. I now know this after having some cellulose insulation inadvertently blown into the garage on Friday when the insulation found a gap in a board and made its way through. No big deal, it was spotted early on and most was re-used, but it struck me that, apart from the colour, it looked a lot like freshly fallen snow. As you can probably guess from all this, the cellulose is being blown into the house at the moment. Gordon and Keith arrived on Friday morning - a pair of very nice Welsh guys who do all the cellulose blowing for MBC and other passive type house builders, a job that keeps them busy as evidenced by the fact that they've been working on my place all over the weekend and will still be there on Monday morning. The cellulose delivery arrived ahead of Gordon and Keith as a palletised delivery. Not surprising, given that there were 570 12kg bags. That's a lot of cellulose. At this stage, Gordon can't say whether it will be too little, too much, or Goldilocks cellulose and just right, as it's ordered in by MBC on his behalf. Here's the delivery with the curtain sides just being opened on the lorry: One of the pallets toppled off the forklift so the driver and I hauled the bags into the house and stacked them inside and I got a couple of photos of the packaging detail for anyone who's interested. The process of putting the cellulose in is pretty straightforward. The bales of compacted cellulose are fed into a machine housed in Gordon's van that fluffs the stuff up. This then blows it along a tube terminating in the metal tube that goes into a hole that's been cut in the airtight board. As he goes along and the sections are filled, numbered cork bungs are put into the holes. The holes are only temporarily sealed with the bungs in case the cellulose settles or takes a little while to work into all the nooks and crannies, but once Gordon's happy that this has been done, the cut out disc of airtight board is put back in place and taped up with airtight tape. Because the cellulose is blown in under pressure, it will find any gaps or holes and do a good impression of fake snow. The leakage in the photo above came into the garage via a loose board right at the top, above the cassette of the twin wall, after it forced the gap open. It looked like loads - the entire floor was covered, there was a fair bit on the walls and a nice pile below the leaky board. it looks like more, but this is barely about 1 bagful. The guys have worked their way around the house, downstairs and up, getting the bulk of the cellulose in and leaving the fiddly bits over to Monday morning when they should be finishing up. One job that absolutely had to be done ahead of the cellulose going in was a bit of first fix work for the brise soleil. The brise soleil is a set of vertically arranged horizontal timber fins. The timber fins are fixed to a steel framework that, in turn, is fixed to the face of the building, around the opening for the window in front of the stairs. There are 6 fixing plates, 3 each side, and these need something behind the board of the frame for the coach screws to bit into and spread the load once they penetrate the frame. Reasonably straightforward, unless the cellulose has already filled those cavities. So come Friday morning, my all-round handyman and builder, Drew, was in cutting holes into the building to pack out the fixing points with some sturdy pieces of timber. Everything was taped back up again and ready for the cellulose and, in a couple of weeks, the steel frame for the brise soleil. Also in on Friday were the flat roof guys, finishing the final part of the garage roof. This is the last part of the flat roof work and I'm glad that it's all finished. I have to admit that I completely underestimated the amount of work involved on the flat roof side of things, not least the parapets that were fiddly. As a result, I've spent a lot more on getting this done than I had estimated before my quote came in and it also edged up with the amount of carpentry work that had to be put in ready to receive the membrane. However, I haven't busted my contingency on it and costs are still comfortable. Here's a photo of the finished garage roof. Skipping back to the beginning of the week, I had my garage door installed on Monday and I'm very pleased with it. I find it hard to get excited by a garage door, but in so far as it functions well and looks quite nice, I'm pleased. The door is made by Ryterna and I dealt with Joe at Dorset Garage Doors Ltd, just up the road from the house in the next village. He is a really nice guy to deal with and his team were very nice, too, so I'd be happy to recommend them. They also offer Hormann doors, but the Ryterna came in at about £1k cheaper, so that was the one for me! Joe reckons the major difference is that the mechanism on the Hormann door is slightly smoother. Personally, I'm not at all fussed if the mechanism on my door makes a little more noise for the sake of £1k. The door itself is a sectional one and the exterior is powder coated in the ubiquitous RAL 7016 to match the windows. We've had a bit of a tidy up on site this week, as well. It was badly in need of it and I knew that I'd need the space in front of the house for the cellulose coming in and, once that's done, all the other deliveries for the internal workings of the house. There's plenty more tidying to be done, but we'll wait for the rain to stop for that. Speaking of rain, it was awful weather here last week, as it was for much of the country, and the storms lashed Dorset. I'm still getting some water ingress via the windows, but it's not the fault of the windows. I understand water ingress much better now having gone through so many different forms of it during the build. The current one is because the south southwest face of the building gets the brunt of the weather and the cladding isn't on yet. As a result, the blue paper membrane is saturated and the water seeps in around the edge of the window frame and the window opening and comes into the building. It's not a vast amount and will dry out quickly enough and I'm not stressing over it as my upstairs slate cladding starts going on Monday. My only concern here is that I need some first fix done for the motorised external roller blind that I'm having on the upstairs south window (this is the one with the worst of the water ingress) and my supplier was caught out by this. I've been telling him for a couple of months that his stuff needed to go on as first fix and before the cladding, but he decided that this wasn't the case and put things off. When he finally came down to measure up, he agreed that it did need to be done as first fix, but I don't think he will have his order from the factory before that wall is ready to be clad. I may have to do a bit of juggling, but it's really annoying when people don't listen to what you're saying because they think they know better, without even having looked properly. So tomorrow sees the site getting really busy again. The (pitched) roofers are back in to do the vertical slate cladding. The slate is the same stuff that's on the roof and will be riveted in. The only part of the upper storey that doesn't have the slate is the surrounding of the brise soleil window, which will be the Tier cladding. Also in is Nick and team who will be working on first fix for all the systems going in. Drew will be helping out with boarding and general carpentry work that needs doing so that equipment can be properly position up in the loft space and elsewhere, and I daresay the alarm system guy may be along at some point, too. My groundworker, Keith, is due in at some point next week and we're aiming to get Paul's pond dug out. This will be an ideal test to see just how well that clay of ours holds water with the winter rains coming in and it will, hopefully, confirm our thoughts that we don't need to line it. Judging by the moat around the house right now, we're feeling reasonably confident. More to follow next week.
  44. 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...
  45. 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.
  46. 6 points
    Having got all my water issues out into the last post, it's time to move on to happier things and talk about other progress. Actually, that's a little unfair because there is a lot of work in all the flat roof stuff, far more than the pitched roof, and aside from the wet stuff it's going well. At the end of the penultimate post, the solar PV panels were just going on and the pitched roof was also still a work in progress. The building was still a shell with no power and plenty of work left for MBC to do, and outside was largely untouched apart from the buried mains cable that was terminating in the garage, into the meter moved by the meter fairies. Let's start at the top and work our way down. The solar panels are all in now and all the slates around them are done. All the velux windows are in and the ridges were done last week. We have a dry ridge system. I had to ask what this was and was told 'that means there's no gunk underneath the ridge tiles'. So technical that even I could understand it! Here's the stuff that they line it with. When they roll it out, it has a corrugated wave shape to it and each side is sticky - one for the roof ridge surface, the other for the ridge tiles. This is Mike, one of the roofers, bringing the final tiles right up to the ridge before putting the dry ridge stuff over it. And here's a view of the ridge tiles in situ, fixed to the sticky stuff and clipped together. We have 3 ridge lines on the roof, all meeting somewhere over the north east bedroom. A plate of good old school lead was shaped to cover the meeting point of the 3 ridges, creating a neat flashing for the centre. Here's Terence welding the lead to create the flaps going down each gully. Here's Terence putting it into position on the roof: And here's a close-up of the same thing. You can see the fixing for the dry ridge system unrolled next to it. Staying with jobs going on outside, there were some groundworks that week, too. I needed to get the electricity supply cable trench back-filled and whilst we had the plant on site I decided to get a few other jobs done. The Openreach guys turned up that week and the old redundant BT cable was removed, so that old electricity pole is all clear now. My neighbour has already bagsied it, so there's no problem with disposal. One of the groundworks jobs was to open up the ground between the garage and the lane. I'm not getting the driveway done quite yet but I did need to get it clear because my sunamps will live in the garage and it will be a lot easier to get them forklifted straight into the garage from the lane rather than trying to drag them all through the house. Keith got onto it, clearing around the side of the garage a little, too. There is an area of concrete there that used to have a shed on top of it. For the time being, I'm keeping that there as it's nice to have a surface that isn't clay. And then this is the view from the lane up to the garage. This is, in fact, where the pedestrian entrance to the old bungalow was, hence the gate that is still there. Once we've got rid of the scaffolding, we can clear the remaining few feet of the entrance and make the proper driveway. Keith will be doing most of the work on this, but I need to get someone with a ticket to do the dropped kerb between the lane and the verge. It's outrageously expensive for what it is - just for the 6m stretch of opening and 2m back, tarmac surface, that will be the princely sum of £1,200 plus £285 for the licence from the council. And that's the cheapest quote out of 3!!!! I will be continuing the tarmac for the driveway, and also around to the side of the garage so that there's hardstanding for a couple of vehicles next to it. And Keith's final job for that week whilst the plant was still on hire was to scrape the grass from what will be Paul's pond. I marked out the original perimeter and he took out the line for this but then I did that typically female thing and told him it was no good and I wanted it to be bigger. Naturally, he obliged. Not that we had much doubt, but for the sake of interest, Keith dug out a small trial pit within the pond perimeter, about 1m deep. It has filled up nicely with the subsequent rain and shows no sign of draining any time soon. I may have cursed our clay for its giving the need for piles, but we certainly won't need a pond liner. That's most of the outdoor stuff for the time being, so let's step inside and see what MBC have been up to this week as they've starting on the prep work prior to the airtight test. This is scheduled for next Tuesday, 20th November. The velux windows have all been boxed out and they've been drawing the airtight membrane up around the web joists forming the roof/ceiling. This will be the main/shared bathroom and it's only natural light source is the velux. It's rather nice to think I can lay in the bath looking at the stars. Assuming it's not raining. The green tubes on the far wall are for the MVHR. A close up of some of the MVHR tubes to show the careful taping around them where they come through the membrane. This is the main bedroom that has been battened out now. I've wedged some bits of timber under the membrane that's underneath the window to dry out the water that came in at the weekend after the tanked balcony incident. All the battens have been screwed on, much to the chagrin of Darren. It's probably not so necessary somewhere like a bedroom, but in bathrooms and the like where the weight of tiles and mirrors can be considerable, I wanted the peace of mind that the battens weren't going to move for anything and so requested screws rather than nails. This is the north east bedroom, below where the three ridges meet. The guy putting up the plasterboard will be cursing me here. Heading downstairs, the insulation changes a bit here. Instead of being all blown cellulose held behind the membrane, there is celotex in certain places. This is beneath the parapets and the balconies and it's been used here because less depth is required than for the cellulose, allowing the ceiling to be level throughout the ground floor. If blown cellulose had been used, the entire outer edge of the ground floor rooms would have had a step down to allow for this. That's pretty much it for now, but the next lot of work has been scheduled. The vertical slate cladding is booked in to start on 3rd December and this is being done by my roofers as it seemed logical given that they're using the same materials as on the roof. I'm nagging and cajoling them to see if they will do the stone board cladding on the stairwell walls as well; they may say no eventually, but I'm working on it as that will be pretty much all the stuff at height done other than rainwater goods. It would also protect the south west corner of the building nicely, as that's the direction for the prevailing weather. I'm aiming to get some more groundworks done in early December; at some point I need to get the sewage treatment system set in and also the rainwater storage tank. There is, of course, the rest of the pond to be dug out and that will need some muckaway. I'd rather get it done this side of the winter as we can then let it fill up with rainwater and see how it settles. Internally, Nick is on site later this week to sort out the soil and waste pipes and do a bit of stuff with the MVHR. Once MBC have completed their air test next week, we can really go at it with first fix, so I need to make decisions on external electrics. On order is the big brise soleil for the floor to roof window in front of the stairwell. The plans for this look great but I'm waiting on a production date at the moment as the framework is a first fix item. The wooden fins can go on any time after that. Similarly, I have a guy coming to measure up for the external motorised roller blinds for the other large south facing windows. As long as sufficient clearance is left with the cladding, these don't need to be installed as part of first fix so we're not so reliant on a production date for these. They have a lead time of 3 to 4 weeks. There's plenty that I've omitted, I'm sure, but it will all follow in due course. It will be great to get past the air test and make some good progress in doors. No aviation buzz this week, but the hunt was out today. I stood on the top lift of the scaffolding late this afternoon watching the horses and riders galloping over the distant fields down near the river and could hear the hounds baying and the horn being blown. I'm not sure what they were hunting but it all seemed very evocative on a late autumn afternoon and really brought home just how rural our place is.
  47. 6 points
    Yes, now that the first fix has been completed, the plaster boarding has started with the upstairs being done first. The builders will move downstairs an a weeks time or so. Whilst they have been boarding out, I have been installing the insulation for the partition walls, loft space and ceilings downstairs. The insulation being used in the loft space is 140mm - two layers laid at right angles to each other if that makes sense. The insulation used for the partitions is 100mm and the plasterboard for these walls has sound proofing properties, weighing in at 6 kilos more than the standard boards. You will see from some photos that we have also managed to install two full length oak beams. One for the sitting room and the other for the kitchen/family room. They look great even if I say so myself. They are not structural just aesthetic. Outside, the stone mason and labourer have been cracking on with the stone work. They intend to get the house done at head height before moving up as additional scaffolding will be required. They start the back of the house later this week. Enjoy the photos and I will be back in a couple of weeks, hopefully with a full boarded out house. Thanks for reading.
  48. 5 points
    Plus one to that. I've used gas all my life and would never consider electric - until induction. It's quicker than gas It's more controllable than gas - I have never been able to get a proper simmer on gas without moving the pan half off It's much much much much easier to clean It looks so much neater than a gas hob It's safer - it only heats the pan so the surface only gets hot where the pan is and even then it's nowhere near hot enough to burn if just touched. You have time to remove your hand before you are burned It's safer - when you remove the pan it automatically switches off it's safer - handles don't get hot, even metal ones. When I used the same pans I am using now on my gas hob I couldn't pick the pans up with a holder, now there is no problem.
  49. 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!
  50. 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.
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