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  1. 27 points
    Well, folks, that's it. The last nail in the last joist. Its been hammered in HARD. Here's why. For reasons only known to the inexperienced self-builder, I put the floor joists up working from both ends of the room to the middle. 400 centers. That makes a gap between joists of about 328ml. The middle three joist are longer than the others - they had to be inserted closer than the others: 310ish. Tight. Well tight if you are my size. Arms and head above the top chord of the joist - beer gut wedged firmly between the POSIs, but swinging the hammer now like a demon (900 nails down and just a few more to go - all because of you @Pete). Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. Well yeah, until it came to turning round to reach that sodding wedge to help nudge the top chord a mil or two higher. Christ this is tight. Turned a few degrees. Couldn't reach the wedge. Bugger - - Hand in my pocket - - maybe there's a spare wedge in there? Nope. By this time there is a semi painful wedgie though.😳 Dropped the hammer. "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" Stumped, and firmly wedged, I realise I am going to have to wriggle out of this. Up? No way Jose. Not strong enough to overcome the effects of the beer years. Starting to sweat a bit now. More from annoyance than anything. Down? No choice. Only way . Now, those of us whose work trousers 'need' braces because our trousers have half a ton of tools hanging off them (all lies girls, just lies) will realise that descending through a really tight space has an inevitable effect on your braces. That partially painful wedgie now got worse. A lot worse. You see the back clip of my braces caught fast on the bottom chord of the joist. The front of my work trousers started to pull hard. My eyes started to water I think. By this time, my hands were in the air, and my head altogether too close to the gap between the joists. And suddenly with one bound (as it were) I was free. PING - THUMP The clip of the braces parted company with the waist band - shot up inside my clothing and hit the bottom of my shoulder. No wedgie pain now, just shoulder pain instead. All of this was happening dear reader at the same time as my T shirt, gillet and windproof were slowly making their way past my beer gut on the way to my my head. Couldn't see a thing. But sure as Hell, I could feel my shoulder. A few seconds later, there I was topless on the scaffold boards. Cold? No. Furiously hot. Just a matter now of jumping down to the floor. Yep, I suspect you are ahead of me......... The jump was elegant. Feet and knees together (just like I wuz taught) Thump. I stopped. My trousers didn't. Normally that wouldn't matter. No need to fuss over a small thing like that. Standing in the doorway way my best friends wife with a grin from ear to ear. I wouldn't have minded but her dog went mad.
  2. 20 points
    There was not much in the way of progress from the last entry as we were already close to moving in. The plumbing was completed in the last entry and connecting some final electrical fittings was done soon after. After a decade since putting in outline planning it was time. Our furniture delivery has taken longer than anticipated and we are living with a bean bag for the living room seating and a mattress on the floor for our bed. But we are here. The first few days were spend getting used to living in a new space. As a family four we had spent the last six years living in a relatively small space, it is now great to have a room for each of our children and an extra bathroom. I am pleased with how the house is performing from an energy use point of view. We don’t typically get really high temperatures here and the external average temperature has been about 12c over the last few weeks, the house temperature has remained a comfortable 20c. I have been monitoring our electricity units on a daily basis and we are using between 9 to 10kw which is promising as my hope is that we can go six months or so in the year without heating. The real test will come in the winter as the electricity usage will probably be double, but we plan to make good use of our centrally placed wood burning stove. Once we are furnished, I’ll post some more photos. For the moment just enjoying the new house with the family. The next jobs are: - Ordering decking for a small decked area and for our access ramp - Spreading gravel around the house site - Gardening - Putting more material on the access road - Order some down pipes Thanks for reading.
  3. 16 points
    So it’s almost 5 years since I bought my little corner of the national park and for the first time this evening after another weekend of slog I looked back at the house and thought.......shit......it’s actually beginning to look close to being finished. Then I remembered that tomorrow sees the delivery of another 120 tonnes of top soil (that’s over 500 tonnes now!) and the landscaping needs another month of graft. Oh and then there’s seeding and planting, the culvert needs building, driveway....OK just loads still to do 😂 But for just a brief moment in the evening sun I could see the finish line in the distance.
  4. 16 points
    Will be leaving the technical speak to@Nickfromwales and @PeterW From my perspective: heating working in all rooms - tick! solar working - tick! rooms heating rapidly (as opposed to taking 24-36 hours to increase the temp by about 3 degrees) - tick! enough hot water to fill a bath / shower - (even the big bath) tick! extension connected up - tick! able to run hot water without the heating being on - tick! TS not emptying itself of hot water within about 30 mins without the boiler being on constantly - tick! Plus everything has been labelled to within an inch of its life. A magnaclean filter has been fitted, various new pumps etc have been installed. I have a new outside tap, the loo in bed 4 now works and various other things have been done, including them sorting through the endless pile of shite here helping me understand what I should keep vs things to throw away. Massive massive thanks to @PeterW and @Nickfromwales, and @PeterW‘s mini-me Will (who consumed his body weight in Tunnock’s tea cakes). I can’t believe that Nick and Peter have never met before as they seemed like guys who had worked together for years. These guys put in more hours to fix the things here than I could have imagined possible, fuelled by bacon, beer and coffee, and some good humour, with lots of banter. 7am and they are already up swapping some things over when they didn’t finish until gone midnight last night. And Will is going to come up again to finish the other bits and pieces here when I will finally be able to say that my build is completely finished. It’s been a pretty long haul after everything that happened here. Buildhub rocks! I could never have imagined when I initially posted about my vat claim 2 months ago that it would also be the key to sorting my heating woes and other unfinished bits and pieces.
  5. 15 points
    Hi Some pictures of various parts of the house, with a little bit left to do Kitchen and flooring to be bought and fitted John
  6. 13 points
    First all my apologies as this blog entry is about about a year late given that we moved in August 2019, but better late than never as they say ! Moving on from finishing the shell, we moved onto completing the inside. We knew from previous experience this would be the most intensive part of the build and had tried to make as many decisions up front as we could regarding bathrooms, kitchens and flooring, nevertheless there were still a lot of decisions to make. Everything went broadly to plan with the electricians, plumber, carpenters and decorator all working well round each other and coordinated by the builder who had put up the shell. There was an awful lot of work ordering everything and making sure that material was on-site at the right time. There was the occasionally thing that didn't go to plan, most notably the kitchen where i had the bad luck to have my kitchen delivered with many missing and damaged components and a supplier who took 8 weeks to sort everything out. The trades were proactive and happy to suggest how we might achieve what we were looking for which was a great help, but by the end of the project we were both fit to drop. Self build is a very rewarding but exhausting business. Here are some pictures of the finished house. There is still a little bit of landscaping work, the fencing and some furniture to sort out and I guess at some stage we will sort out some blinds to replace the high-tech cardboard that is doing the job at the moment. Following the build, we sorted out the VAT refund - 500+ invoices and a £32,000 refund for VAT. I ordered just about everything and given the number of invoices I got someone to prepare the submission to HMRC this for me which was money well spent. The electrical certificate, certificate for the unvented cylinder, building certificate and warranty were sorted out and finally the last submission for the CIL exception was made. The Dog seems to like her new home ! Still a bit of work to do in the garden View from the study window
  7. 13 points
    Well folks 11 months of living in this house with hellish low humidity not to mention other problems caused by poor mvhr set up finally seem to be sorted. A week on from the change to enthalpy exchanger and rebalancing the system to the guildlines from you guys in here the house feels good to live in for me for the first time since moving in last April. Humidity in living areas running at 39-40 and bedroom at about 42. Temps pretty constant at 22.5- 23. Co2 levels up to between 500-600 as now not overventilating (I never knew there was such a thing!) The house feels much warmer and ufh is not kicking on as much. We are running on my system Level 2 (absent) which is 70% building regs and using Level 3 (living) which is 100% building regs, as bathroom boost. Level 4 blow your socks off rate is now not used. For the first time I now get what you all have been talking about with the MVHR benefit. Got the same people coming back in a few weeks to help sort out the UFH which has never been set up properly. Thank you lovely people I’m grateful for your help.
  8. 11 points
    it's been a bit quiet on our blog so I thought I should update it. While we've been waiting for the groundworks to start we've been busy getting the site ready. This has included getting the new entrance to the plot created, getting the sub-base for the driveway in place and then topping it off with a layer of 6F5 as a hardstanding for the construction vehicles (after the build I can then remove the top layer to reveal the, hopefully, still in good condition sub-base to put the final layer on top of. well that's the plan at least!) and putting up the site toilet. Obviously the last job was the most important. Our new entrance to the plot is over a culvert and as it's connecting to an adopted road it had to be done by an insured contractor and so I had to fork out the cash to get it done. but they did a very good job and we're very happy with it. the culvert in situ with enough concrete on top to take the lorries and cranes for the build a nice base layer of tarmac finished, which will see us through the build when they will come back and put a nicely finished top layer on. nice sand-bagging. 😉 once, they'd finished the entrance we moved on to the driveway and hardstanding but, first, an observation....it's funny how things don't look as big on paper as they do in real life. that's exactly the conclusion I came to after I looked at the plans and thought "that driveway isn't that big I'll just dig it out myself and save myself a fair chunk of cash" and then went on to dig it out. it was only after I'd finished the 120m2 area did I realise how big the driveway is going to be (I swear it doesn't look that big on paper!). oh well, it's done now, at least we'll have plenty of parking. maybe I can rent it out and do a 'Park and Ride' in to the local town to recoup some of the costs. 😊 a big hole dug and covered in Terram (or an equivalent to be exact) 100 tonnes of beautiful primary Type-3 granite aggregate all compacted by that beast of a roller. Don't really care what everyone else thinks but I think I did a darn good job for my first driveway sub-base. Sadly it all got covered by another layer of Terram and then a load of 6F5 got dumped on top and it now looks like a building site hardstanding area (which is what it is!). here's a photo of the lovely lady of the house helping out on the roller. it was a bit cold out that day. And finally we get to the most important job, the building of the site toilet. Friends of ours got it from a local freebie site and used it for their self-build, we then dismantled it, transported it to our site, erected it, put a new roof on it and plumbed in the toilet and sink to our existing STP. we think it's a very luxurious WC for site use. it's even got a couple of windows so you can watch the work progress while you're doing your business. and that's it for this blog post. we are extremely excited as tomorrow is the day we've been waiting for and the groundworks starts in earnest. They'll be on site to set up and start digging out the big hole for the basement as the basement contractors are due to start on the 3rd May so we should start to see some real progress now! finally!! thanks for reading. 🙂
  9. 11 points
    It has been 3 weeks since the last Blog post and in some ways it feel an eternity and in others it seems only yesterday since Plot 1 TF was done - which is where we left the story. So lots and lots has happened since then so this entry will cover 'lots of stuff' in one go. Our main aim is to get both shell buildings up and then get them wind and watertight as soon as possible. The heavy rain we had just after Plot 1 was finished showed that the MBC OSB roof is not in any way watertight as water poured in through the roof and down the stairs - so we tarpaulined this one and then it hasn't rained since - typical. Anyway a huge push to get to a point where we can (hopefully) draw breath in two watertight houses - hence LOTS OF STUFF (good, bad and ugly!) PLOT 2 Timber Frame So MBC finished Plot 1 and moved over to Plot 2 - another big crane day and the lower floor went up in one day and the joist went on the next and then the boys left us for a long weekend back to Ireland as we fitted the UFH pipes. Having done it once already the UFH pipes went in just fine and this time we didn't have to cut all the metal plates so it was a bit easier. Then the MBC team came back and fitted the floor deck and the sole plate for the top floor and then the crane came back for the top floor walls and roof. The wind came up and so we had to have the crane back the next day to finish off as wind is not your friend when you have to lift big panels up and over a three story building! The boys cracked on and decided to work the Bank Holiday weekend and try to finish by the Sunday. We had already had some comments on the noise and weekend working and had talked to our BCO so we posted a polite notice to say because of CV19 guidance we were trying to reduce travel of our contractors so they would be working through. A couple of neighbours were supportive and sympathetic and one of them even invited the boys for a socially distanced beer after work. We had them stop work for 2 minutes at 11:00 on VE day so exactly at that point one of the neighbours switched on his pressure washer - you cant make this stuff up!. Everything pretty much went to plan and after a heroic effort the MBC crew finished on the Sunday evening as promised and both houses finished to shell level in under 5 weeks - and they look amazing. We did our best to look after the MBC crew as they were in local B&B without the Breakfast (or any food component) - its never ceases to amaze us how well simply treating contractors like human beings goes down. We guess that some of their clients must treat them badly - but why on earth would you want to? After MBC left we had a call from Environmental Health and it seems that some noise complaints had been received - it seems that the latest Government edict on allowing longer working hours on construction to get the economy moving only apply to Planning and not Environmental Health so we were suitably humble and promised to be good in the face of some very vague guidance. Given that we have been working on site since August and these are the first noise complaints its obviously not a serious problem, and as we are self building under loads of pressure we will continue to do DIY at weekends - though as quietly as possible. Yet again we find we really do have one or two vile neighbours. Roofing As we have a flat roof to keep the roof height at the same level as the original bungalow it has an EPDM (plastic / rubber single ply) membrane roof. This sits on a 24mm plywood deck on top of the MBC flat 12mm OSB roof and the MBC firring strips - which slope the roof slightly to get the water to run off. Sounds pretty simple but as with all these things its not so simple. First you need airflow in the gap between the two deck layers so there is no condensation to rot the timber - for this you need plastic soffit vents around the edge to stop the bugs and birds getting in so Joe and Chris fitted all these. Then you need to think how you get over 4 tonnes of plywood 9m up and onto the roof (plus all the rolls of membrane etc) and our roofers said they would do the roofing but not the lifting. Simple solution here was a tele-handler which is a huge forklift that makes short work of this kind of thing - just hire one - simple. But then you need a driver - again simple: one of Joe's colleagues Andy drives one all the time on musical festival sites and is qualified and was happy to come over to help out. So Andy and the roofers turned up and after a bit of delay the first pallet of ply was lifted onto the roof and they were away. Again a good crew who worked really hard and seem to be doing a great job. They have spent a week and plyed and membraned the main part of both roofs so we almost have a dry roof. It was really hot on the roof with no shade so ice-cream went down really well (and for us as we were up there working as well). They still need to do all the fiddly bits like rooflights and soil stack, plus all of the top of the oversail roof but the bulk is done. One wrinkle here is that the rear bay on Plot 2 has the same oversail detail and MBC couldn't fit this because the scaffolding is in the way, but we couldn't take down the scaffolding because we needed it for roofing the main roof on the floor above. So when the main roof is done we will have the scaffolders back to take down the back corner and then MBC will fit the roof and then the roofers will come back and fit that section of membrane roof. Oh how it all gets really convoluted and complex really quickly. Finally to add to the simple / complex plan we had the roofers and the window fitters start on the same day - what could possibly go wrong! Windows The EcoHaus Internorm surveyor came out and lasered around and said that the rear bay window on Plot 1 was 30mm too low and the three windows wouldn't fit. Some checking and it was an MBC error that they happily agreed to fix and Brendan popped over and spent a morning cutting 30mm off the underside of the 3 sided glulam frame in situ and in mid air with a skill saw. We were apprehensive about the sort of job he would do but skill saw is an understatement when it comes to Brendan: two saw cuts one from each side that met perfectly in the middle - truly fantastic work. So one week after MBC had finished EcoHaus Internorm arrived to fit the windows (same day as the roofers - but the windows arrived first!). Their plan was to fit all of Plot 1 windows and then move to Plot 2 - but they were all over the place fitting windows at what seemed like random. We had some of the scaffold moved to make space for them and they seemed happy - and we said if they needed anything at all just to ask. So we were working around the back of the house when we heard an almighty crash and ran to see what had happened. They had asked Andy to lift a huge pallet of windows up above the garage level (about 2m) so they could load them through the window opening. During the unload one of the fitters stepped off the scaffold onto the pallet. The load slipped and the windows fell. Included in this fall was the fitter who had stepped onto the pallet. Ongoing discussions with EcoHaus preclude us from saying much more about this except to say that mercifully the fitter was only bruised and a load of windows were damaged (no glass broken though) and will need replacing - it could have been much much worse. They carried on and then discovered than one of the huge panes of glass for Plot 1's rear slider was cracked in transit from Austria, and also that there were no bolts to fit Plot 2's Juliet balcony. Finally, and this is my fault; the front door for Plot 2 is handed wrong and will need a new frame. So they finished fitting what they could but we have three gaping holes awaiting replacements and a bunch of other stuff that needs rectifying. We have to say that the quality of the actual windows is fantastic, but the experience has not been good so far. Just to contrast this with another MBC issue: we discovered that the kitchen window on Plot 1 didn't fit and there was a 300mm gap above the head of the window (window surveyor didn't spot this one). Well after MBC had left site we discovered a 300mm panel that didn't seem to have a home! Quick call to MBC and yes this was the missing piece, they apologised and Mike came over the next day, apologised some more, fitted the panel and problem solved. If only all the people we deal with had the same attitude then it might all be simple! Rooflights, gutter, soffits and facia Since we have been on a cost cutting mission we have taken on much more of the 'doing' ourselves and keep trying to cut costs where we can. One of these is the guttering etc. the original plan was powder coated aluminium. However this would have been about 3x the cost of plastic, and given the really complex oversail roof detail this would have been really expensive to have fitted. So, and with some real reluctance, we have gone for plastic gutter and soffits and facia. We would be the first to admit it doesn't look as good and will not last as well as aluminium but it is 9m in the air and nobody will examine it in detail. Its likely we will compromise and fit metal gutter to the rear bay (when its finished) as this will be almost at eye height and will look much better. So a mad rush as the three of us have been busy fitting all this and trying to keep half a step in front of the roofers who need the gutter fitted before they can membrane the oversail roof. The reality is that the plastic looks really OK - though we are somewhat mystified by the physics of fitting a flat gutter all the way round the roof - anyone done this? We had to call a stop on Saturday as the wind was really strong and the plastic panels wanted to take off and it really wasn't safe. Also as part of the roofworks we have 4 rooflights on the roof :- 3 fixed pyramid lanterns, 1 on Plot 1 over the stairs and 2 over stairs and landing on Plot 2, plus one flat sliding opening rooflight over the en-suite on Plot 2. The fixed lanterns were flat pack so we have just brought all the parts up onto the roof and built them in-situ ready for the roofers to flash the membrane roof around them. The sliding light was ready built and is really heavy and a 4-man lift so MBC helped unload it and store it and the roofers moved it to the tele-handler and we hoisted it up to the roof and they moved it to a point where its a really simple install. We have had to build the upstand / kerbs for all of these so they fit exactly into place - and we were able to test this with the empty frames. We have just placed the completed unit above the landing and it really looks great - the one above the stairs will look great but at the moment the hole is covered with ply as there is a 9m drop below it and we dont want to leave that open for obvious reasons! MVHR Joe decided he was going to fit his own MVHR system as its not too big and complex and he is desperate to save every penny as he doesn't imagine he will be back on live music lighting until next year so has no income and a lot of time. We have all worked on this install and its not too hard, but the sheer volume of ventilation pipework is mind boggling and routing it is a real challenge. Plot 2 is more complex and since we no longer have an M&E person will get CVC in to install and commission - though having done one we could probably do this one as well! As you can see a lot of stuff in the last few weeks - and a real mix of good, bad and ugly! And still not wind and watertight as planned, but certainly a lot drier! Next steps will be to sort the insulation (Plot 2 is really complex) and screed - which needs doing before MBC can test for air tightness and we can start first fix, and also to get the render done so we can get the scaffold down and finally see the houses for the scaffold. On the insulation and screed front we has planned on 150mm of PIR insulation and 100mm of screed, the thick screed to get some thermal mass and delay into the heating/cooling system. In the interests of cost reduction it looks like 100mm EPS + 90mm PIR + 60mm pumped screed will be much cheaper and have similar U value but lower thermal mass - any thoughts on this plan? Or even 200mm EPS + 50mm screed - which has slightly worse performance but lower cost? One nice moment last week was when we were up on the scaffold and a couple walked past, stopped, looked at the build and said 'wow that looks amazing!' . So nice to hear that others agree with us; it really is starting to look amazing!!!!
  10. 11 points
    Well, just over 4 years since breaking ground I have moved in at last. Covid 19 was the kick in the rear I needed to get on with it. Still a long way to go but liveable. Upstairs nearly finished. No kitchen but utility fine. After all the trauma of the last 4 years has it been worth it? Oh yes, it is heavenly.🤗
  11. 11 points
    Four days in and the front part of our drive is done Myself and my good lady have worked hard in the heat Better than rain Just about
  12. 10 points
    Building controls have issued our “Completion Notice” a big milestone for any self build and definitely called for a celebration. A big sigh of relief from both our councils building control and us.🙄 Our many thanks to all the contributors at BuildHub, we certainly could not have done it without the support of the forum members. Particularly Jeremy Harris @Jeremy Harriswho’s broad knowledge and good advice...goodness knows where he’s disappeared to but the forum is a poorer place without his input. It’s been a while since we first broke ground in January 2019 and it certainly has had it’s moments and a good few sleepless nights. There is no doubt in our minds when doing a self build that you have to be doing it for yourselves. We’ve ended up with a house that we could not have gone out and purchased and learned a whole lot on the way. Our initial vision was something small, manageable and future proofed. Hopefully we have achieved this and have added a decent quality house to the housing stock. When we started we visited the building research establishment (BRE) and looked at the Zed Factory house that was there. We decided to take a look at that route. ZED provided either a shell or turnkey solutions, both of which were within our budget. The cost per square metre in the ZED literature at BRE indicated a very competitive turnkey price in the region of £1,350 a square meter. As with all things the low price came with compromises as it was a “cookie cutter” solution and the finish was not all that we would have liked. What we have ended up with is our own vision at a comparable cost of around £1,400 a square metre built to our specification. Sounds like a great result, that is until you factor in the fact that we did the majority of the labour. It’s easy to see why the prices from ZED increased to more like £1,600 a square meter when we asked them to quote. From a design point we still need to live a full year in the house to know if we got our energy sums correct. Early indications are that we should need very minimal input in winter but may have too much solar gain in spring. Our east facing windows are great for the clear winter morning but a little too warm for April sun. In the big scheme of things it should be easily fixed by adding blinds. Our EPC rating came out as a “B” marked down from a due to our use of gas for heating and water, a bit daft given it’s the lowest CO2 emissions at 0.184kg per kwh compared to electricity which is in the 0.233kg region. It would be simpler and better just to do EPC on a kwh per square meter basis, putting the emphasis on input reduction. The MVHR is certainly helping, here's a screen shot from the duct temperatures on a frosty morning. We’ll draw our blog to a close at this point, just got to dust off our resumes and add house building to the skill set 🤣.
  13. 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 ago and I already knew largely how I wanted the building to function, as a result of reading so much here on BH. About the same time as PP was granted a BH contact was looking for consultancy work and I offered him some on this build. Although he had no prior experience in this area all mostly went okay and plumbing and heating systems were integrated into the build plan and were executed satisfactorily until the second fix and final stages. 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. 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. One note with the benefit of hindsight is that having an MVHR unit directly over habitable rooms, in our case bedroom and ensuite, should only be considered if the unit is going to be thoroughly sound-proofed. Ours was never given the promised sound-proofing measures and it's hellishly noisy without them, but we will be rectifying this soon. 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, MBC were asked 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.
  14. 10 points
    Or, perhaps, run it in reverse in a small, well-sealed, cupboard. You could call it a "refrigerator"... 😏
  15. 10 points
    Today was d-day for us as far as planning permission is concerned as it was the decision deadline. Approved, no amendments, exactly how it was submitted. I had hoped for the best and prepared for the worst and got the former. Now the real work begins!
  16. 10 points
    Waiting in line at the local BM. An organisation that hasn't changed from the 1990s when I first set foot in Lancashire. But I suspect it probably hasn't changed much since time began. A powerfully built but small white haired man get to the head of the queue. No neck, just muscle, shoulders the size of an American oarsman's coach. His frame must have been put together before steroids were invented. Several staff are chatting behind the counter - there's a queue, no, audience of at least 10. All builders (except me) Roofer: Riaaat mate ah want sum roofing felt: cuppla roles laaak BM You mean Vapour Control felt: how many rolls d'ya wunt? Noooo mert, ah want sum roofin felt, just'a culpa rolls laaak. The BM shop assistant, spotty, super-clean hair do, biro tattoos : 'Mum' and 'Hat', one on each forearm looks flummoxed. Well we've got [................... A series of trade names.............] Silence. Complete silence. 10 builders (and me) , Hearts almost stopped. The roofer eyes the sprog behind the counter, and cold as ice and says Maaate if yer wanna know why wimmin dunt ever cum in 'ere, it cos o' twats laaak thee mekkin me feel laak a reet prat. Ah been cummin' in ere since long afore yer dad wuz born orderin' fookin roofing felt. '..... Kin rooofin felt 'assss all. An if yer can mek me feel laak a reet prat, yer can do 't same fer wimmin. Nay wonder ya never see a wun in ere. The shop door opens, all eyes swivel (just like a pub entrance door) and in walks a large female, in dirty dungarees, severe hair cut with purple and red highlights, forearms the size of my thighs , most things pierced - the list would be too long - sporting a chunky paint-spattered watch. And clogs - proper Lancashire clogs. Two days later my tongue is still sore where I bit it .
  17. 9 points
    just a quick post to share some of my issues which in hindsight are entirely self inflicted, hopefully this will help others not to make the same mistakes. 1. Put your waterpipe in the duct from the outset, soo much easier than pulling it through later. (I did consider it but dismissed it as wasn't sure exactly where my duct was going to come up at the time) - don't be like me! I tried pushing 30 odd metres of mdpe through a 63mm duct, got 25m through then nothing. I dug two holes to find it, ended up having to attach rope to car - not gonna lie, it was a griz and I was hating life. 2. When laying your hardcore sub-base for an insulated slab do the foul drain runs at the same time. I was under time pressure to get ready for concrete so I just left stubs poking out to connect to later - dont do it, I've made life so much harder for myself having to dig through hardcore to do it. 3. If you ignore no.2 and just leave stubs make sure you leave a good length - i didn't! The stubs i left only just poke out from under the slab, god only knows why I did this. I have spent all day yesterday and today digging them out so I can put an extension length on to bring them out to roughly where the ICs will be. Digging through the hardcore really sucks ass. Yesterday wasnt too bad, today was on another level. The trench kept collapsing in on itself and my 600mm trench ended up about 1.5m wide - a very bad day today. Dont be a plonker like me. I've made other rookie errors so far but fairly painless. These have been a right PITA.
  18. 9 points
    I made some concrete worktops for the kitchen and utility, 40mm depth, two with under mount sink. Kitchen sink worktop is 3.6m, utility 2.4m and the island 1.2m x2m with hob. Major challenge was the weight but they are in. Tiles are temporary. I had a quote for 5.4K so thought I would give it a go.
  19. 9 points
    This week has been hard work, but for all that, there's a lot to show for it. This post is an update - much more detail to follow when things have settled down in a week or so. First of all, what's the end in mind? Have a look at this. Its roughly 10 by 10 with an internal garden (on the left hand side - the dark area is open boarding to allow air to circulate freely) The Piggery (of which more later) is the small (wire-frame image) building on the right of the image. We are using an ICF called Durisol. This shot shows a corner detail with our (as yet roofless) Piggery in the background. The blue marks show where the blocks were cut to size: and where the gap is a little bigger than finger width. A little foam was injected into those gaps. Here's a more general shot taken at about mid morning. As yet all hand laid, dry, no concrete. You can see the main contractor (Dan) framed by the the front door framework. The house fairly shot up... Here's where we'd got to by Wednesday And here's where we are today. A couple more window gaps to make, the final pour of concrete and that'll be it for the main build. Everyone walking past says something like 'Where did that come from then?' I always take the time to talk to anyone who expresses an interest. It's important to explain to locals what's happening. There's a very big anti-build atmosphere centered on the Local Plan - it has identified the A6 corridor (100 meters away) as the main area on which to achieve Wyre Borough's housing target. Why the A6? It's a little higher than the local flood plain - ie. the area west of the M6, but East of Blackpool. Lot's of development has already taken place on known flood plain area round here; and justifiably, the LPA is taking stick for it. I'm knackered. Lot's of challenges, lots of hard work, lots of satisfaction. It didn't all go smoothly. Next post, much more detail and an analysis of what issues we faced and how we solved them. The good bit? Needing to buy an SDS+ drill. (The term 'need' is correctly applied in this instance @Ferdinand )
  20. 8 points
    So this isn’t like for like, you need to add the cost of a typical gas boiler, the installation of a gas supply and then the annualised servicing etc of both. That gives you the Total Cost of Ownership. Comparing the two as you have doesn’t work unless you do this as you have compared Capex to Opex. Average life of a heat pump is far in excess of 10-12 years as there is very little to go wrong inside. As they don’t create anything corrosive or products of combustion they also don’t need anything like the servicing of a gas boiler. You can also do it yourself if necessary unlike gas. We’ve done this before .. a heat pump will support as much hot water as you need. Sizing the system is the issue, it’s when installers don’t survey the property and assume the 180 litre hot water tank is “enough” for a 4 bed house. What isn’t understood is that the tank is acting as a buffer for usage in a gas fired house, and the boiler will be kicking in pretty quickly once 2 showers are running. If you don’t believe me, turn a standard boiler set up off (Usual 25kW boiler/210 litre tank) once the tank is at temperature and get 2 showers running. You’ll be out of hot water in about 8-9 minutes. The boiler kicks in and is essentially acting as a 25kW instant hot water heater into the tank. The downside with ASHP (unless you go very big) is they can’t provide the speed of recovery as it’s 25kW vs 12kW, so will need twice as long to recover. That is why you oversize the tank. 400 litre tank is £2-300 at most more than a 210 litre tank so in the scheme of things is negligible. Back to Capex - you’ve paid for it as part of the build so what’s the issue ..? If they U.K. standard for new housing was the same as Southern Ireland and the zero carbon targets then we wouldn’t have this issue moving forward. I guess this was a retrofit under one of the “schemes”..?? A lot of these were done by people who used to fit solar panels, cavity wall insulation before that .... and they are neither heating engineers or specialists. I’d hazard a guess it was poor design that was the issue here not the heat pump. Bit like complaining your Ford Focus can’t beat a Ferrari off the lights ... In the lab yes, on test rigs yes, they have less than 3 years real world data of actual usage and the biggest change is changing the jet on the boiler. Been doing this for 40 years with LPG so it’s a no brainer but .... it’s not as clean as you think it is...!! Burning anything in pure oxygen is fine, it’s 2H + O = H2O plus some nice heat. Then add all the other stuff in air, the nitrogen compounds are still there, just ask TfL about this with their hydrogen buses. Your other issue is the problem of transportation and detection. You add mercaptan to natural gas to make it smell, and the reason is so you can find leaks. Our natural gas network is leaky ... but the volatility of natural gas (the nice methane mix) is much lower than hydrogen. So we will need to work out how to stop that lovely hydrogen leaking out as it’s a tiny molecule not the massive long chain hydrocarbon - welcome to the situation where you “could” use hydrogen in a standard boiler with a new jet and a pressure change, but 80% of the infrastructure to get it there would need updating. Assertion.. Assumption..? Or a blind guess ..?? If you size the heat pump and the radiators to the heat load and heat loss of the building, then any building can be heated with a heat pump. If you don’t believe me then you may want to check what an aircon unit is and how they heat places such as exhibition centres with them and not gas boilers (hint, they are heat pumps) Are they ..? 9kW heat pump with all the bits is change of £4k, cheaper if you buy non-inverter. The £10k you’re usually quoting .? That’s the “MCS Premium” for installation to get RHI and it’s not rocket science to install a heat pump. As a balance, I’ve seen quotes of £3,500 to install a gas boiler into an attic plus £1500 for a new hot water tank so they are comparable in price when you consider any plumber can fit a heat pump, to work on gas you are required to be GSR. On what basis are they “bad for the environment”..?? Burning of fossil fuels is bad for the environment, and you’ve completely missed the “how to create hydrogen” issue as you need energy to split the water in the first place to fuel your hydrogen generation. So you are going to take clean energy I take it (ie no fossil fuel based generation) and then use it to inefficiently split water (which you will have to purify first, possibly even use reverse osmosis) then inefficiently compress the hydrogen (using energy generated from..??) then add the smells etc, and finally transport through an upgraded network to a property where you will inefficiently burn it to produce heat and create combustion products ..? That is environmental impact of a massive scale in terms of creation, storage and transmission of a volatile gas that still hasn’t got a fully proven long term benefit. Just so you can use that lovely box on the wall you have always been told is the only way to heat water...?? Or alternatively I can use a transmission network that currently exists to move electricity from existing generation plants that could be produced from any source, to power a heat pump that creates no emissions without having to change anything in the grid infrastructure. And you call my heat pump bad for the environment ..??
  21. 8 points
    Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Coming up on 2 years since we first instructed our architect and over 8 months from submitting our planning application, we have finally been granted permission. It's been a tale of missed bat season, incompetent planning officer, excruciatingly slow conservation officer, numerous complaints and all capped off with some pretty ridiculous pre-construction conditions. But we're there! In the time it's taken us, I've done back to brick renovations on 5 projects plus a couple of loft and rear extensions plus we've had a child and a global pandemic (which I blame on our resident brown long-eared bats) Oh and we've also completed our permitted development outbuilding/yoga studio/stealth shed All I'm hoping for now is to get the foundations in before winter.
  22. 8 points
    Friday was a near perfect day for concrete pouring. A little cold at first, but by the time the concrete lorries arrived it was warming up nicely. The pile caps are all tied together nicely. The first lorry arrives. Disapointingly they didn't pump the concrete because of equipment availability. One of the snags of living on an island! The concrete was poured into the dumper, then the digger used to bucket it in to the beam. Half the long run done. Plenty of "watchers" on hand to use the poker to get the air out. The Driveway will take a bit of cleaning up now! The finished ring beam. Order says the house is a postage stamp and thinks the kitchen is way too small. Another view of our tiny new house. And now the start of the celebration for completing stage 1. Only three more to go.
  23. 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.
  24. 8 points
    Well, some you win. See below. Dear Mr & Dr Simpson, I refer to the above matter (our claim) and all previous correspondence., and all of you for making the process a little less painful.Having now completion addition enquiries I am please (sic!) to confirm Insurers acceptance of the claim. The amount claimed was set out your email of 26 July in accordance with the estimate from Durisol UK in the sum of £1,298.34 inc VAT. Labour was confirmed to be free. The policy carries an excess of £250 and so the net settlement is £1,048.34. There was an element of luck in our claim, I think. Lancaster University has a full scale weather station (if you use the M6, you will have seen the windmill as you drive past the university grounds: the weather station is there). The guy who maintains the data has an office round the corner from Debbie's. His brief email (below) was important. [The wind] seems to have been averaging up to 11 m/s (~25mph) during the night. We no longer measure gusts but looking at some older data with the wind in a similar direction, you can be pretty sure it would be regularly gusting at least 1.5 times the average. From memory, it was particularly gusty, so the highest speeds may have been more like double the average. This is pretty unusual for July - especially from that direction. (Signed Dr. xyz) And the advice given in this thread. So, a big thank you to @Barney12, @JSHarris, @Stones, @Russell griffiths @Onoff and all of you for making the process a little less painful. As well as putting some lead in our pencil. A moment's reflection Without your support this claim would not have been made - we felt like shrugging and carrying on - head-down-keep-going-itis Without supporting data we would not have been able to demonstrate exceptional weather circumstances - and how many of us have direct access to a fully qualified meteorologist : and if we did would we also be in line of sight of a national level weather station? Durisol did not think hard enough before drafting their website content I'm thinking that we are lucky. Most people without access to the level of support itemised above might well have either not claimed or not had access to data to support their claim. And so failed in their application. That's why the companies win: lack of verifiable, objective data on the part of the claimant. The sheer luck of living within sight of a full-blown weather station...... I'm off to buy a decent dash cam. Any recommendations?
  25. 7 points
    A lot of people ask me about the detail of how my house is built so I thought it worth a thread to explain things. First off, I didn't want an "ordinary" timber framed house with a cavity then a brick or block outer skin. That outer skin just costs a lot of money and adds nothing to the insulation of the house, it's just an expensive rain shield. I still wanted the traditional Scottish look of a white rendered finish but I want all elements of the wall make up to add to the insulation and air tightness of the property. The solution is a timber frame, clad with 100mm thick wood fibre external wall insulation boards (I used Pavatex, but other makes are available), and the render goes straight onto the wood fibre board. Here's a picture to make it clear: In that picture I only have a few of the fixing screws in place. A lot more were added and then driven fully home. The board is fixed to the frame with long screws with big plastic spreaders to stop the screws pulling through the board. There are a few twists to the frame however. First thing you will notice is that it is not an "ordinary" timber frame. For a start it's built with much thicker timbers than normal to allow more insulation in the walls. But secondly people keep telling me i have put the frame up "inside out" The OSB racking layer is on the inside of the frame. That's done for vapour permeability reasons with the least vapour permeable layer on the inside. With this build method you can either fill the frame with blown in insulation from the inside once the wood fibre cladding is fitted, or in my case I have chosen to use Frametherm 35 as it's less than half the cost of blown in insulation but gives the same U value. So I am fitting the insulation from the outside as I fit the wood fibre cladding. Insulating only that bit of frame I expect to get clad in that day as I don't want the insulation left exposed to get wet if it rains. The render is a lime based system from baumit.com. It has 3 layers, a base coat that is mixed from dry powder, then a primer that is painted on, then the top coat comes pre mixed in tubs. A fibreglass mesh gets pressed in to the base coat before it is dry. Overall benefits of this approach Vs an ordinary timber frame with blockwork outer skin: Simpler foundations (no need for provision to support the outer brick or block wall) More insulation for a given wall thickness More of the job can be DIY done, perfect for self builders. And an unexpected one, because there is no cavity, there is no need to pepper the wall with weep ventilators, so you get a clean render finish with no "warts" And here is what the finished and rendered front of the house looks like.
  26. 7 points
    ...and still working on the landscaping.
  27. 7 points
    Today was the day - after a lot of taping etc two years ago we found out today how good it all was. I've not had the paperwork through yet but the tester said the Q50 reading was 1.29 - not sure what this means but the air changes per hours came out at 1.1. Well pleased with that. Not too sure what others on this forum have achieved. I suspected it must be Q good because the house keeps warm with very little heat input. The weak points were french doors (bad - need to see how to adjust them) - 2 pairs of these. And there is a leak somewhere on an internal wall (?) but I've decided that we are not going to try to find them. Just need to move in now. Hope everyone is well, CC
  28. 7 points
    We have seen huge changes on site in the last couple of days. The SIPS team have worked very hard to keep things on track. I can't fault anything they have done. All the walls are in place now and we're waiting for the scaffolding to have the last lift built so the roof lift can happen, planned for early afternoon on Monday. Craning the roof panels into the assembly area. The small part of the L shape roof that goes over the master bedroom sitting waiting to be lifted. The front gable end is nearly completed. The rear elevation as seen from the lower part of the tiered garden. This is the veiw we'll get when driving in to the driveway. It gives a good view of the lounge and front door. Steico joists, a few steels and glulam beams for the ceiling of the first floor. The racking walls are waiting for covering. This leaves me with one or two sections of stud wall to install myself to complete the first floor layout. The master bedroom. We now have a view on what the vaulted ceiling is going to be like in here. The other side of the bedroom half round window, looking at the racking wall to support the far end of the purlin. Here's hoping the scaffolders will show up promptly on Monday morning having been allowed to go to the pub for the first time in an age!
  29. 7 points
    ... for our visiting hedgehogs 🦔
  30. 7 points
  31. 7 points
  32. 7 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.
  33. 7 points
    I had hoped we would be finished by now and I would do a photoshoot of the house, but it is dragging along. We are mainly doing landscaping and snagging. We finally have a driveway, the resin bound top still has to go on. They seem very intent on us taking a specific colour and we are suspicious that is just what they have readily available so have refused to install it until we see more samples. I hated the untidy bush along the road in front of the house, I thought it really let the place down, so I applied to build a new fence and then we tarmaced the pavement. Hopefully the neighbours are enjoying their nice new pavement. The lights are connected up on the stairs and I think they just look fantastic. Driveway, gates are also going in. Pavement and hedge before we tidied it up New pavement and fence Stairs
  34. 7 points
    You know when you are getting old, when you kneel down to do something, then ponder, "what else can I do down here before I get up"
  35. 7 points
    An update - photos speak for themselves........
  36. 7 points
    I only really started just after Christmas and today I finished it. A little quicker that another famous forum member. Strictly speaking it's not completely finished as I have not found the right glass screen to go between the shower and the bath. More pictures on my blog at http://www.willowburn.net/ look for the entry "main bathroom complete"
  37. 7 points
    Well that took a LOT longer than expected. I shan't bore you with writing the details of all the balls ups I had with getting the rest of the slates I needed but finally the back is slated. Now It's just the little mono pitch to slate, lead work, ridge, cast the cils, fit the windows and doors and I will be officially watertight ?
  38. 7 points
    To all you wonderful beautiful intelligent patient kind supportive blokes... I thank you! (Sorry for the rubbish photo)
  39. 6 points
    Not sure what to say, very unusual to be stuck for words. Anyway, I’m Mark. I live in Cornwall and after a recent life changing event I decided to follow the dream (well mine at least) and create an off grid property and workshop to live my life and run my small business (I’m an electrical/mechanical maintenance engineer), to be honest I was toying with the idea of buying a canal boat and running away slowly but I’m a bit big for boats and I’m a hoarder of old machinery and electrical equipment. So this tied in with a good friend of mine sending me a text along the lines of “do you want to buy a bunker”, I’ve been involved with bunkers for almost 40 years so I know a thing or two about them and I went to have a look. Looking at it, meeting the farmer who wanted rid of it was another life changing event and so here I sit in a concrete room with my feet up drinking tea and writing this intro. It’s been quite a journey and there is much further to go so I thought rather than keep making it up as I go along I’d be better joining this forum. All I can say is the off grid bit works well (I don’t slum it) and I have no idea what the weather is doing outside. Cheers
  40. 6 points
  41. 6 points
    It's been a little quiet on site over the last 10 days or so which hasn't been a bad thing as I had a nasty cold last week so it gave me an added incentive to stay at home and get some more forward planning done. One of the downsides, though, is that I only today spotted an issue with the west facing upstairs gable that's only really visible from the top scaffolding lift. When I first saw it, I thought 'oh bugger, another window problem' and promptly got on the phone to the guys at Norrsken to ask what they thought of the photo I'd just sent them with a clear image of the problem. This is what I sent: And this is what it's meant to look like: Can you spot the difference? You're buildhubbers, so of course you can. In the first photo, the apex of the triangular window sitting on the French doors and side panels clearly protrudes by some distance. It's about 3cm. At this point, and as before, what I most need to know is a) is it a problem? and b) how do we fix it, if it is. And at this point, as before, Norrsken were hot to trot and the installations manager, Mark, along with his very bright and shiny new spirit level, did a swift dash up to north Dorset to come and see for himself exactly what the problem is. I should explain that this window consists of 3 elements. There are the central French doors, a glazed panel each side of the doors and then the triangular window that sits on top of all this. When fitting, the installation team set everything up with a laser to make sure it's all dead on, and they took great care to make sure everything was right. Because of this, I wasn't entirely surprised when Mark from Norrsken established quite clearly that the fault isn't with the windows, but with my MBC timber frame. Directly above the triangular window, there is a steel with an apex in it, that is then boarded over. You can see in this picture from a previous entry how these are put into place by MBC, and this is the section that has caused the problem on the west side: So, first off, is this an issue? This was my first question to Mark and, in particular, does the fact that the window frame is so proud of the wall compromise the thermal properties or insulating quality? Thankfully, he assured me not, so I'm happy to accept this. The next issue, is the physical problem of the top of the window protruding by about 3cm from the timber frame exterior wall. It's fairly standard practice to have 25mm counter batten on the exterior, to which is attached whatever outer skin is covering the building. Fortunately for me and MBC, I have planned all along to have 50mm battens on the outside so that a decent sized service cavity is created to run any exterior wires and cables through. It's possible that I could have got away with 25mm but I preferred to spend a bit more on the larger battens and make life a bit easier when installing stuff on the outside. This means that the slate cladding on the upper floor will be able to largely cover the error, but it will quite probably be tricky to get a decent finish between the window and the cladding as I had been planning to use powder coated aluminium to do this job and it won't be the easiest thing to fit with such a variation in the gap. I'll tackle that when I get to it, but any suggestions are welcome. Okay, so all in all, it's not a disaster but a pain. I am, however, annoyed because MBC didn't know that I was planning 50mm battens and, aside from anything else, it's really disappointing that having done a good job on the vast majority of the build, this error slipped through. There were enough spirit levels on site throughout the build that it shouldn't have been so difficult to run one up against this fairly fundamental section of the build, particularly as there was a whopper of a window going into this wall, to make sure that everything is true for the parts of the build that follow on after. In the meantime, a few other things have gone on at the build. A start has been made on putting in the ducting for the MVHR and shoving some of the UFH pipes and manifold towards where it will end up. The UFH manifold for the upstairs is going up into the loft section. In the original plans, the upstairs landing was vaulted, but the decision was taken early on to board this out and create a loft space that could then be used to stash away all the MVHR kit and other ancillary equipment, including the upstairs UFH manifold. There is another bit of kit going in there that is a heat pump but used to cool rather than heat air going through the MVHR system and thus provide active cooling in the summer to complement my shading from the brise soleil and exterior roller blinds on the south facing windows. Here's a photo of the MVHR ducting and UFH pipes coming up through a cut-out section in the floor and up into the loft space. The stud wall that you can see divides the landing from the en-suite for the master bedroom; it is planned to be a twin stud wall and so, once done, all the pipework and ducting will be hidden in the cavity of the twin wall. More of the same: The plenums for the MVHR will sit at the far end of the bedrooms, i.e. near the windows. The idea is that this will achieve a proper through put of fresh air through the entire room, rather than just circulating around the door and landing areas. You will see that the plenums are quite a bit lower than the central glulam beam supporting the vault. The plan here is to introduce a central flat section along the ridge, low enough to cover the ducting and the glulam and the plenum will then just pop out of the plasterboard. Whilst this means extra cellulose being required for the increased volume of the roof section, it will make detailing it and covering it in far easier for MBC when the time comes to do that, so there's a decent quid pro quo there. A major benefit of stuffing the MVHR ducting into the ceiling section that will be filled with cellulose is that the pipes up there don't need to be insulated, which would normally be the case. The ones for the ground floor are currently getting their NASA-style coats and I'll show some photos of those in the next post. This also means that it's given a reduction on the cost of all the MVHR kit as the insulation for the ducts isn't particularly cheap. Aside from the window/wonky frame drama, it's currently a time for figuring out and juggling details. My flat roof guys should be back in a couple of weeks and I really need to get the parapets and east balcony finished off as until these are done, the main house won't be watertight. I need to check with the team at County Flat Roofing, however, as I also have my balustrade to go onto the balconies. The balustrade has posts that are fixed onto the parapets by way of a square/rectangular base plate, about 10mm thick. These can go either on top of or underneath the roofing membrane, but I need to check which will give the best finish and then press the button for whoever goes first. I know that if the plates go under the membrane are too thick, it will look bumpy and not very nice but, more importantly, might not give a good seal. I shall check and report back, but I suspect that we will end up putting the plates on top of the membrane and sealing it up again afterwards. Although the balustrade hasn't been installed yet, I've been chatting to the guys at Balustrade UK, including the lovely Trevor, and they've been very understanding with my needs for flexibility on timing, so all is okay there. Moving onto brise soleils, who would have thought it would be so difficult to track down a firm to do these? Certainly neither me nor my architect. We tried a couple of local firms, including one that is on the same industrial estate as me and OH, but it was like tumbleweed blowing down mainstreet in an old cowboy film. Nada. In the end, I contacted another Birmingham firm, Vincent Timber, who mentioned them on their website. In the event, the only supply the timber for them rather than the whole thing, but they passed my enquiry onto a firm in St Albans, Contrasol Ltd, and they came back with a fully specced brise soleil for the stairwell window which is just the thing. Not cheap, mind, but not far off what I thought it would be. The metal supports will be powder coated aluminium (RAL7016, of course, the same as any other bit of metal on the building) and the fins will be red cedar that will be allowed to silver. When OH and I originally discussed this, we were hoping to get something that would retain its colour but this has proven to be tricky and we have no intention of painting anything on the brise soleil fins every 8 years or so to retain its colour. It can go grey with dignity, just like us. I was out on site today getting the trench dug for the re-routing of our electricity supply cable. Currently, it comes in via an overhead wire and a dirty great pole that's right next to the building. We've planned from the outset to have this buried and the SSE guy, Dave, will come along next week to lay the cable and, in due course, run it into the garage. It's a long old trench, mind you. It took just under 4 tons of sand to put the blinding layer down and it won't take much less than that to cover the cable once it goes in, before back filling. Still, another job to tick off the list. I need to get another couple of bits of groundworks done in the coming weeks. First off, I need to get the spec from the Highways Agency as to how they want the new driveway onto the lane to be constructed. My sunamps will live in the garage and it will be very tricky getting them in through the house as they're hefty things, so I may as well crack on and get the driveway done. The only slight hitch is that there is some scaffolding in the way right now, but I'm hoping that by the time we get around to making the new opening, I'll be able to do away with a fair bit of the scaffolding. The other groundwork task is to start digging out the pond. OH has decided on the shape and size and I used a couple of cans and left over EPS to mark out the perimeter this morning. Before anyone asks, these are the answers: no swimming, no fish, no fishing, no duck shooting. It's a wildlife pond and that's it. But it is a bloody big pond and I'd like to get it dug before we get some serious weather in as we can then start to get a feel for just how well or not our clay soil will retain water and start to plant up the margins once we have a better idea of what we're dealing with. It's hard to see the line marking, but this is the view from the top lift of the scaffold. That's all for now, the next post should hopefully have a bit more interior detail and a lot more roof action. Stay tuned.
  42. 6 points
    How time passes and some jobs get bumped to the back of the queue! I'd tried to get the mdf to bend and nearly had it but would have required a lot of attention to sort. Until Craig announced he'd bought curved skirting. I confess to having rolled ze eyes a bit. Until the time came to fit it. CT1 and a sharp knife. Easy as can be, tiny bit of filler required to finished the tiny gap. Jobs a good'un! I don't know how much it was and maybe don't want to know... Anyway, for future curved wallers, this is brilliant!
  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
    Our flat roof guys have been great. Though they worked very short hours compared to MBC (doesn't everyone). With a flat roof you apparently need at least 18mm OSB to lay the roof membrane onto. The standard MBC spec is less than that for a flat roof so we had to stump up some money to upgrade the roof deck to 18mm. We have three different roof decks. Here is one roof deck with the roof lights (more on those in a separate post one day). The upper roof deck And a view of the lower roof deck and garage Some lessons learned: OSB is not weather proof despite assurances from MBC that it would be OK. It holds out for a short time and then water floods through the joins. It was a pretty sunny summer. But the downpours were bad. Wish we had plastic sheeted the whole roof. To be fair to MBC, the house is fine (as they said it would be) despite being flooded more than twice. However, the stress for us, and the clearing up, could have easily been avoided. We insect meshed all the gaps before the roofers started. The parapets are edged with this smart design. We drilled some drainage holes through the parapet walls for the roof drains. Burned out the drill. Got that as a wedding gift 18 years ago so him indoors was delighted to upgrade. This is the membrane going down, on a felt underlayer. And the finished look (though the front of the garage isn't finished and can't be until the render is done). Learned from the building inspector that we don't have a high enough upstand on this roof / door combination so it will likely not get included in our warranty. That was news to us and is one of the issues caused by not keeping on our architect. We have definitely missed stuff like this so could have probably avoided a few problems. So that's it. Probably one of the easiest bits of the build so far. However, we still made some cock ups like not allowing enough space to fit a window into an L shaped corner area. This is the view from above and the window has to sit on the OSB bit. Unfortunately that bit of roof sticks out a bit far. We had to trim it on site and the roofer guys are going to come back and fix it another day....... A big lesson for us has been the ability to fix things on site. Doesn't stop me losing sleep over them, but I think I am losing less sleep than I was over the "problems".
  45. 6 points
    Still going. @Nickfromwales and @PeterW woz ‘ere.
  46. 6 points
    There was an extensive and involved thread on this last year: https://forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/2376-principal-designer-role/ And a good summary of the thread by @recoveringacademic, here: https://forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/2514-cdm-2015-and-the-domestic-client/
  47. 6 points
    The weather's been dry and warm for a while now so I thought I'd take advantage and finally finish the front garden. The paving went well and it didn't take long laying the turf and it's easier cutting grass than weeding! We added some tubs with lavender to finish off. I'll have to finish the bathroom now, no more excuses.
  48. 6 points
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