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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. 13 points
    One final push today saw all the furniture and curtains put in place- a big group effort with much input from the in-laws. I'm very fortunate to have a MiL who is an ace seamstress and who has a bit of a thing about Harris Tweed. To say I'm chuffed is a bit of an understatement. It's been over four years since the concept of this project first appeared, and three years since work began in earnest. Today we finally saw the culmination of all that effort as the building site was transformed into a home. It's exactly what I imagined: cosy, welcoming, stylish. We'll be listing it on the booking websites tomorrow (most likely a combination of AirBnB and Booking.com) so that will give me the impetus needed to tackle the lengthy snagging list and major outstanding jobs, most of which are on the outside. Some of the cladding details (corners and window reveals) aren't finished yet, the soffets need to be completed, and the biggest job of all is the decking. There's also the creature comforts of WiFi and TV to sort out. I know people come to Skye to get away from it all, but I bet the first thing they will ask for is a WiFi password Once again, huge thanks to everyone in the BuildHub community who has held my hand throughout this whole project. It's a lot smaller than many other builds, but it's been exceptionally hands on with me personally tackling almost every trade, from drafting the plans to building the kit; I even got an excuse to do some digger driving a couple of weeks ago.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 7 points
    The flint work .only 150m2 to do in the garden
  7. 7 points
    A few photos of the stone work that has now started on site, whilst others continue to prepare the upstairs for the first fix. I have also included an image of the "biscuit screed" laid upstairs over the UFH pipes. Close observers and those who have read previous entries, will notice that the windows have been corrected with fire battens fixed. Anyway, the stone is called a local blend and is made up of Perthshire stone, Cumbria stone and Borders Buff. The Quoins have a hint of lilac to them, to have blend in with the colour palette of the stones. The Red things seen in the photos are glass fibre Fire Socks - They fill the cavity at the corners and other strategic locations. Either these can be used or indeed 45mm x 45mm battens.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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".
  11. 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.
  12. 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. Nick of Total Energy Systems has made a start 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.
  13. 6 points
    An update - photos speak for themselves........
  14. 6 points
    During 2017 we carried out some works in the garden so we wouldn’t be hit with a long list of jobs when the house is finished. The first job was to replace the fence between our property and the neighbours. It was falling down and for two winters I had nailed battens across the posts to stop the panels being blown down. It was put up in the 1980s so had done well. What we discovered was that the posts had been put in holes around 700mm deep with concrete around the post at the bottom. At a later date the posts had rotted at ground level and angle iron had been screwed to the post and a lot more concrete poured around the angle iron. The posts took a lot of digging out which was made worse by the fact that our oil tank had been installed right next to the fence. Fortunately there was no one living next door and the neighbour was happy for me to work from his garden. It was very overgrown, so I cleared a metre wide strip to allow me to put up the new fence. I managed to move the oil tank about 0.8m which made it an easier job. It was painted with Creoseal when finished. Our planning application showed the garden area with hard landscaping and planting plan. So we dug out the areas for paving and laid 100mm compacted type1 sub-base. This was for a patio area at the rear of the house connected to the area under the side verandah. There is a separate paved pathway from the driveway to the front door which slopes up to the front door to meet building regulations. The paving is Indian sandstone, which is calibrated, square cut and honed, it is a mixture of pinks, greys, creams and browns. We bought two pallets in a sale and had just enough to do the areas we wanted done with three slabs left over. It's interesting to see how the colours are brought out when the slabs are wet. Another job we did was to replace the temporary edging for the grassed area with galvanised steel edging. When we had the front of the driveway laid, the edging used was ExcelEdge AluExcel 150mm. This was very expensive and so for the rear of the driveway and for the front grassed area and side border we used EverEdge Halestem. We planted a Star jasmine and a couple of planters with lavenders. We also dug over and graded the soil and laid turf at the front of the house.
  15. 5 points
    Me plastering the kitchen and dinning room LINE_MOVIE_1559307156544.mp4 LINE_MOVIE_1559310773535.mp4
  16. 5 points
    In my last post we were waiting on two items arriving from our suppliers: Velux flashing kits and a metal roof to be fitted at the back. The velux flashings arrived first and we were able to make good progress and finish this side. Our joiner then came back on site to fit the metal roof. Unfortunately as mentioned in my Terrible Thursday post the flashing arrived at the incorrect angle, the plan was then to use the lead, but thankfully we decided not to and we managed to get a replacement flashing sourced quickly, which allowed the rest of the slating to be done. Last bit. And then finally ridge tiles. To be honest the roof was a bit harder than I thought. Various different materials, which can all take a while to arrive on site. If one supplier delivers late or supplies an incorrect part it can hold up the entire roof fitting. As with the entire build, except the blocks and concrete the materials are all organised by us, so perhaps it would have been less stressful to leave it to a single contractor. We had a great roofer who did the work in all conditions and a joiner who came on site quickly when we needed him.
  17. 5 points
    The firework instruction phrase "light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance" comes to mind. It's been a real baptism of fire, however our builder says it's the worst time and it should settle down now. All in all it's been a productive week and almost all work has moved us forward. The digger arrived to dig out the raft area at 8am as requested and work got under way. We had muck lorries scheduled for Tuesday and it quickly became apparent that we did not have enough space on site to build a significant spoil heap. After a bit of phoning around found a local company who could supply vehicles. Our builder had asked us to take care of paying for the muck lorries which was fine by us, getting the lorry company to accept that it should be a zero rated VAT service was more difficult. Contacted HMRC and had a discussion and they were adamant that it should be zero rated and that if VAT was charged I could not reclaim it as it would have been at the wrong rate... Managed to resolve the problem in the end. Now we had lorries arriving and clearing the soil we were able to make real progress. Tuesday the rainwater harvesting tank arrived, we knew it was big and boy was it big! The tank needed to get dug in just 2.5M deep and 4M long, a very big hole. Fortunately the ground conditions were good and a nice clean hole was achieved without the need to grade the sides. By Wednesday we were ready for site setting out. An interesting activity and an example of technology being used because it's there rather than essential. Making sure the house position is millimetre perfect seems a bit over the top when string and triangulation would get it positioned within 10mm. Where it really does help is positioning services and getting drainage levels set. A second visit on Thursday had all the levels set and perimeters marked, by the time the guy left the site I had changed my opinion and consider it money well spent. More and more lorries to take muck away, the tally now sits at twelve loads and we are mostly done thank goodness as at £240 a 12 ton load for the clay it was making a bit of a whole in the budget, a quick calculation of the volumes validated the figures, so it really should not have been a surprise. In hindsight I'm surprised our builder didn't ask me to organise in more lories in the first place. If I do this again I'll order the lorries in advance rather than madly phoning round for spare capacity so that work can continue. The foul water pump arrived on Wednesday, having the levels all sorted from the site setting out I was able to cut the input to the tank, so it's all ready to get dropped into a hole once it's been dug and a concrete base is in place. The next task was to get all the drainage runs under the raft in place. With the raft due Monday and the builder having to go to another job on Friday to supervise another ICF concrete pour we were running out of time. Hopefully resolved the problem by getting a crew in on Saturday to get the drainage done. Stone for the raft substrate should star arriving first thing Monday, so fingers crossed we should have the raft ready for concrete which is booked for Thursday...we shall see.
  18. 5 points
    This was one of the days that I was most excited about, the raising of the roof trusses. Our joiners used our trusses as a template for constructing the gable end panels. The trusses then just went in one by one. 3 lengths of Kerto were spiked together to form our central ridge beam. The middle section of the 1st floor is being hand cut on site by our joiners. Our children will have a room on each gable. The middle section on one side will consist of a cupboard and WC. The other side will be partly vaulted above the living room and this required a steel beam which was fitted by our joiners.
  19. 5 points
    MBC arrived on site, laid Type 1 and soil pipes pretty quickly and 50mm sand blinding and then set to constructing the EPS raft that is now our slab. Its been said many times on this site, but I will say it again. These guys work hard. They arrived before 7am each day and left at 6pm or later each night. They hardly stopped. And after a week it was assembled. Ready for concrete.
  20. 5 points
    Having promised my wife Debbie that I’d get people in to do most of the Work associated with the new house, i contacted two local demolition companies and got prices to demolish the old timber bungalow. The prices were £6,000 and £12,200. Being tight I demolished it myself, it cost the price of three skips, £540, The bonus for me was over £1,000 in payment for the scrap from the house, things like a hot water copper cylinder and piping, lead off the roof, the old cast iron AGA and two baths, the oil fired boiler, taps, light and socket fittings etc. The problem in demolishing a timber frame house is the amount of timber! So I saved as much of the timber as possible and cut up the rest into firewood sized pieces, I used leftover builders bags to store it and we’re burning it very slowly in the cabin, the problem is the cabin is so well insulated we only managed to burn half a builders bags worth last year!. An even biggest problem was the cedar shingle roof, it had been re-covered during its life so the shingles were two layers thick. I ended up cutting the roof up using a reciprocating saw, a lot less dangerous than a chain saw! The roof as then burnt on site, The roof being stripped. It’s going slowly! Progress. Finally clearing up the plot. All told it took me six months to dismantle the old bungalow and clear the site. luckly my time is free and I did save £6k and taking the scrap value into account I’m £7,000 in pocket to spend elsewhere.
  21. 5 points
    Firstly, for all you lot waiting with baited breath for my next blog update, my apologies! Since the house was opened up for guests I've needed a bit of time to switch off from what was a very full time project for the last few years. When we first opened to guests the house was missing its decking. I had gone through various ideas for the design of this, and in the end decided that less was more, and made it a fairly minimal affair, just somewhere to allow access to the big sliding door and give space to sit and enjoy a cuppa or glass of whatever, whilst looking out over the views to the loch and the sunsets. Due to the big change in height, I decided to make the seating integral and do dual duty as part of the step down as well. This has worked pretty well, I think, with the advantage of dropping the height of the decking and preventing the handrail from obscuring the view from inside the house. There's still some tidying up to do- paths around the house, and some cladding trim to finish off the decking itself- but it's a big improvement on how the place looked a few weeks ago.
  22. 4 points
    Been a busy few weeks. Following the groundworks, the slab was set out and poured. It was a bit of a warm day, and there was a definite sense of urgency as it went off fairly fast. Now we've got a local joiner putting a frame up for us. It's being built from I-beams on site. I'd planned this all as best as I could, expecting our posi's next week based on what the supplier told us about lead times. It now turns out it will be another 4 weeks. While I'd rather not leave the frame exposed longer than we need to, we can't do much about it now, so we'll have to wrap it up as best we can. At least it's not winter. In the meantime, the tedious business of burying the water pipe continues...
  23. 4 points
    I have this hankering to start a standalone blog, and maybe write an e-book. It needs thinking time. Back in a month or so, though I will keep an eye on messages.
  24. 4 points
    It's been a quiet few weeks on the house site waiting for the contractors to come back, but we have done the following: Building control and quantity surveyor inspected the works carried out to date The plumber supplied our the internal drainage. Anchor straps fitted. Alum clad, triple glazed windows order finalised and placed Attic trusses design reviewed and finalised We are now commencing the final stage of the foundations. In filling the solum is the first job. The solum has now been infilled and whacked with the aggregate. A finer layer is now being added on top. Plenty of diggers and dumpers here. Last day of the foundations. DPC was put down and then the concrete wagon came back on site. We used around 25m3 of concrete and as the photos show through the last few blog posts, we had fantastic weather conditions during this foundation. I was also pleased with the amount of the rubbish that is going to the dump, just four cements bag full of plastic waste.
  25. 4 points
    I didn't realise quite how long a while since the last blog entry so time for an update as I'm on an admin day today, not least for the electricity supply which I'll come onto later. So, what's occurring? I'll start at the bottom and work my way up: Groundworks - the groundworkers arrived on site the day after the last May bank holiday, 29th May. They took the roof off back in April to sort out any potential bat issues and now they're back doing the main job. The old concrete garage block came down first. The roof panels have asbestos and have had to be properly disposed of, which has been done at a reasonable price of £650 rather than the c. £1300 I was looking at a couple of weeks ago. All done properly and I have my disposal certificate but without having to resort to sending stuff all the way to Swindon and get charged for 2 tons when it was just over one. A small result; still expensive but less than it could have been. My ground worker arranged this with one of his contacts; PM me for details if anyone local needs the details. The concrete sides of the block are all down but we've left the floor in place as it's a ready made hard-standing for everything that will be arriving on site over the coming months. It's mainly parking, portaloo and site cabin taking it up now. I will need to get some hardcore compacted down going further into the site as I'm not sure it will stand up to all the heavier construction traffic that is due. Demolition of the building will be finished this week, but there's still the old septic tank to be dug out and a bit more concrete from where there were sheds in the past. Next up is digging out for the insulated slab, drainage and services, not to mention the piles. I have my groundworker until the end of next week before he's due on another job, so we should get a fair bit done by then. I reckon the initial excavation will be a little rough until we've established the levels, which seems a bit chicken and egg to me at the moment. How can you mark out how deep you need to go when there's a whole lot of earth in the way? Fortunately, there are some useful markers on the site that I can use as references for the setting out of the perimeter but I will get everything checked out before the piling guy arrives and have any remedial excavation done for that. Speaking of piles....I've ditched the idea of the helical screw piles. Not because they weren't lovely enough, but because they were outrageously expensive compared with other, more traditional systems. The initial design drawn up by my SE would have cost more than £42k for the helical screw piling system which seemed like mad money to me, probably because it is. I had a chat with a contact and he said that very little of this kind of thing is done now, certainly on house projects. When it first came out it was embraced with open arms by the telecoms industry for ease and speed of use, but they have dropped it almost entirely now on cost grounds, and I can see why. My initial quote for CFA (continuous flight augur) piles came in at just over £15k which was far closer to what I was expecting. I reckon that in the end, with SE fees and everything it will come in at around £20k for the piles. As mentioned in a previous entry, the alternative was to dig to at least 2m depth over the entire footprint, which in itself is an expensive exercise due to the cost of muckaway (I estimate an additional 15 tipper loads), so swings and roundabouts, the piles aren't as extreme an option as it first seems. I've used Mini Piling Systems Ltd for the piling system - nice people, easy to deal with, based in Bath, will travel. I should add that because these are mini CFA piles, as long as the ground is dry and reasonably level when they come to put them in (July), there is no need for a piling mat as the rig isn't considered a large one. Moving upwards, the other thing that has slowed is getting drawings from holy trinity of architect, SE and MBC to the sign-off stage. The SE has been very efficient and have turned things around very well. The architect and MBC have been slower, but I'm going to hold back some criticism because were I in the shoes of the architect, I would probably be doing this amount of nit-picking on behalf of my client and I'm sure that I will be glad of it. As ever, just because an architect designs a house and it gets planning permission, that doesn't necessarily mean that it can actually be built. In my case, there have been delays in getting the small details that can be glossed over in the desperation to see physical progress and having something coming out of the ground, and this is what the architect has been pushing back on. They are determined to make sure that the proportions of rooms are consistent with the original design. For instance, the ground floor ceiling height has been raised so that the large open plan downstairs doesn't feel oppressively low due to its large area. As a result, most of the ground floor windows will also need to be increased in height as will the front door. This all has a knock-on effect, hence the delays. There has also been back and forth over the balconies and warm or cold roof construction and the parapet wall around them; we're not quite at the end of this but pending a response from a supplier, we are close. The issue is that the common solutions to ventilating the cold roof would look ugly. Everyone has gone to a lot of effort to make the house as good looking as it can be and it would be a shame to rush through this detail and then sit looking at ugly vents on the balconies for ever more. But, tick, tick, tick, more time passes. By far the biggest issue is that until these details and corresponding drawings are signed off and I pay a stage payment to MBC, my manufacturing countdown doesn't start. Standard time for MBC to get on site is minimum 6 weeks, this time of year more like 8 so I'm realistically looking at end of August or early September. Then there are the windows to go in and roof to go on. I really, really want the build to be weather-tight before the weather breaks in the autumn, as it will. Moving on to making the building work as a home, and for construction to actually take place, I'm sorting out the electricity supply at the moment. There is a live supply to the site as there was an existing dwelling there. Last year I contacted the DNO and had a service alteration done, which basically chopped the wire running into the bungalow and moved it all into a box on the pole with the overhead cable running down it. I rang the supplier at the time and advised them of the changes being made and arranged for one of their bods to come along and collect their meter. Sadly, they didn't turn up for the appointment, so now their meter is buried at the bottom of a pile of builder's rubble in the local landfill site. This put all sorts of twists into their collective knickers and it's taken the best part of a day to sort out how to re-establish the connection. It turns out that what's needed is a temporary building supply and this is always done through the commercial team. I've been quoted up to 12 weeks for the whole thing, but this is if you are applying for an entirely new connection, not just to get a meter installed. Even so, it could take around 4 weeks. We shall see. In the meantime, I've (for the time being) decided on getting my kitchen from DIY Kitchens. I've planned it all out and know what units I want and where, so I'm not going to think about that again for a while. I do, however, need to start thinking about lighting schemes and bathrooms/wetrooms as I've made very few decisions on these. Needless to say, there is a huge amount of other small detail going on but little of which can be done until the final drawings are in. Never a dull moment, though, my groundworker has just called to tell me that they have bent over a water pipe to stem the healthy flow of water that was coming out of it when they went to remove it, despite Wessex Water having sworn faithfully to me in February that the water was all turned off at the meter and that nothing should be coming out of anywhere. Off to make some more calls and demo photos to follow soon. Ta ta for now.
  26. 4 points
    It's been a long journey, but our little cottage is finally up and running as a holiday house. First guests just checked out and left us with some very kind words having thoroughly enjoyed their stay. Of course it's not exactly 'finished' but it's certainly usable. I'd have liked to have had a few extra days to tidy things up, but all the essentials are in place. There's decking still be be built out the front, I'm hoping to get this done in a gap between changeovers soon. I must say it feels pretty good to get to this point.With over three years of very hard work behind us, and a lot of faith that it would all be worth it, we are finally seeing money coming in. And having had to down tools I am going to have this curious thing called 'free time' again... although I'm sure I'll manage to fill it all
  27. 3 points
    The sparkie had done his bit and we were now waiting on the plumber. Not much to see here just your standard first fix plumbing. We had a couple of dust sheets removed before the scaffold went down. It was great to have our kitchen view back it had been almost a year. Moving onto the ducting I had previously ordered. A 45 degree bend was deemed easier to fit so now I got to get that ordered. We also had our brickie complete the stove blockwork. We were keen to incorporate some meaty concrete blocks around the stove. Next up is plasterboarding and the end of first fix.
  28. 3 points
    More slates going down 2hrs work on house today
  29. 3 points
    So for the larger ground floor room, we got a professional screeding company to come in. They were due to start Monday morning so I took the day off work. For some unknown reason, over the weekend both my wife and I had we had an uneasy feeling they weren't going to turn up, but there was no logical basis for that. By about 0930 I had a suspicion, and sent a text asking roughly what time they thought they would arrive. A few moments later the phone rings and its the owner apologising saying their forced screed mixer broke down on Friday and he'd gone down South for a second hand one but it didn't seem to be working properly when he got it back. He called again a bit later to say he'd found a solution and his guys would be there tomorrow (Tuesday). Cue me ringing work and offering to work on Saturday if I could take Tuesday off too. So, Tuesday and 0830 the guys turn up. I'm pottering about but notice a distinct lack of noise and by 1030 they tell me that they cannot get the mixer to run and away they go. So another day taken off work for nothing..... I'm back to work on the Wednesday but my wife was at home. She rang me to say that the team had turned up at 0715 (!) and had the machine working. By lunchtime they were done, and the result is excellent. When I got home I even texted the owner of the firm to say how pleased we are. Last night, (Friday) I discovered they'd dumped a barrowload excess mix on my topsoil pile out of sight of the house! Now in front of the future garage is a hole I need filled so if they;'d only asked instead of sneaking out of sight with it they could have actually done me a favour - instead I've now got to take a pickaxe to it and break it up then barrow it back to where it can actually serve a purpose. What a shame to let themselves down like that after doing a good job. So..... next objective is to finish the downstairs bathroom.
  30. 3 points
    Another day, yet another little gem of learning. I've been getting a bit worried because although I got the bat licence last week, my glacial paced architect had done nothing about getting the pre-commencement planning conditions discharged for several weeks, even though everything was in place for some time. But that's another grumble for another day. Anyhow, I've got to get the roof off by the end of April, which is why I was getting my proverbial knickers in a twist over the pre-commencement stuff, so I decided to cut out the middle man and rang the planning officer to ask whether, pleeeease, nice Mr Planning Officer, would you mind awfully, as you're such a nice chap, if I sort of, kind of, well, take the roof off the bungalow to make sure no pesky bats come back? Pretty pleeeeeease? Nice Mr Planning Officer said 'no problem at all, no need to grovel, you are entitled to re-roof your house any time you like. Just because you don't get around to putting new tiles back on, that doesn't stop you taking off the existing ones to begin with. Now stop grovelling.' He didn't really tell me stop grovelling, but his tone implied it, along with the strong impression that he couldn't care less about the bats. Either way, result. Fate being the fickle creature that she is, but no more so than the aforesaid architect, I got an email from the architect's admin person late this afternoon to say that they had submitted for discharge of the initial planning conditions. I prodded them with a very sharp stick on Monday morning - the architect has possibly just taken this long to notice. I'm waiting to co-ordinate availability of ground worker and bat guy over the next 2 weeks, then off comes the roof. Followed by the rest of the house shortly afterwards, with luck.
  31. 3 points
    Original house contained cheap UPVC windows that were ill fitted and would not match the new windows in the two extensions. So the decision was made to fit new windows throughout with the original plan to go for alu-clad wooden, nut resorted to UPVC due to cost and worries on how some of the alu-clad windows were constructed. Surprising how difficult it was to get quotes that were in an affordable category. Some companies needed numerous follow-up calls which was very frustrating in view of the fact that I would be spending approx £20k on their product. In the end, although I would have preferred to buy local, I ended up sourcing windows from abroad which ended up costing a lot less than anything UK-sourced and also meant they were passivhaus certified! Pity how many sectors in the UK shoot themselves in the foot by atrocious service which is partly down to them not wanting to deal with end clients/self-builders. There was a lot of email ping-pong, but I think that would have been the case with UK windows too, but they were at least keen to do business which didn't seem to be the case with many of the UK ones. The only area I was hesitant about was measuring the window openings which was further complicated by the fact that I was using special EWI brackets which would position the windows outside of the window opening itself. So I had to take into account the bracket measurements in addition to the window openings. I must have measured each opening at least 15 times before submitting my final order. Glad to say everything seems to fit (just 3 doors to fit now). Unloading some of the units was a bit precarious especially the 800kg 4.6x 2.3m slider using a standard forklift and then travelling 200m down the road! I got a local window company to help me fit the windows and of course they had no clue how to fit them with the EWI brackets. It took a while for them to admit that the client knew best in this case as he'd actually read the bloody instructions. Means I'll have to rectify their first window later on. External view: Next stage on the exterior, is to EWI all walls with circa 100mm insulation. Note the brackets above (this is the first window and the bottom bracket aren't fitted correctly, so will need to be fixed before EWI). The brackets will cause minimal thermal bridging at least and certainly be better than having a timber frame constructed all round the window frame. The external aluminium cills (sourced from Germany, cheaper and thicker than UK suppliers) will fix onto that bottom mini (grey) cill at the bottom. EWI will tuck in under frame (well all sides of frame of course): and will marry up with the insulation I plan to add under the internal cill also: My next job is to get started with the internal plastering, so I'm looking at how to detail the internal reveals and cills. My plan is to insulate under the cill also. Cavity wall will most likely be filled with PIR where I can force it down or EPS beads (with a bit of PVA). I'll then fix 60mm PIR board to the now insulated cavity wall using PU adhesive. I'll have to channel out a bit of the PIR to accommodate the window brackets so the board sits flat: I should have enough clearance then to fit a wooden cill on top of the PIR. Not sure how best to affix that to PIR. Maybe the plasterboard reveals will sit on top of the cill and help pin it down. Probably overkill with the EWI, but my intention was to also insulate the reveals (see grey EPS example above) with 20-25mm PIR board and then plasterboard over the top. Just need to leave sufficient space to get at the internal beading in case the glass ever needs replacing (sons and footballs....). The other consideration is to decide where to stick the air tightness tape. Initial thought was to stick that on face of window frame and onto brickwork before I stick down the PIR board. But how well does the stuff stick to clean brickwork? I could add a further layer of tape from window frame and stick to top of PIR board before the final cill goes down. I'll try and post some drawings up here later on. Not great, but some of the intended detail:
  32. 3 points
    I had the offer of some help from a neighbour so decided to crack on with the roof sheets. These are corrugated sheets 4x1m and in the thicker 0.7mm spec, so fairly heavy and awkward things to handle. I did get the first sheet up and fixed by myself but am not daft enough to turn down an offer of help when it appears! When I bought the roofing, I had recently read @ProDave's less than glowing review of Jewsons' plastic headed roofing screws, so made a point of asking what would be supplied. The guy at the BM was adamant that everybody these days prefers the plastic headed stuff, quicker to install, no caps to come loose, just a question of getting the right bit to drive them in with. He even did a straw poll of the people in the shop at the time... Anyway, how do the screws work in real life? They certainly do not self drive, not by a long shot. And so far I have stripped the heads off two of them, although in both cases I was able to back the screw off and remove it using pliers. So it seems you need a decent hole punched in the sheet, which slows down installation somewhat. Getting the sheets up on the roof wasn't too hard once I figured out a method- I built a 'stretcher' to hold each sheet, and this is then run up a pair of wooden guide rails onto the roof. Doing the last sheet will be a bit tricky as we will have to pull the 'stretcher' out from under it, instead of moving the sheet to the side as we have been doing so far. In other news, the hole for the flue is now made- a bit daunting cutting a whopping great hole in the roof! I'll write another blog post about that as part of the stove installation,
  33. 2 points
    We wanted a modern design staircase that looked as though it were free standing but at a reasonable price. After a lot of searching we found an Italian company called Fontanot. They produce spiral and winder staircases from steel and wood. We visited their distributers at Rotherham and chose the Genius 030 winder staircase with white power coated steel work and natural beech treads. We tweaked the design a little and then placed the order. We were given a four week lead time but it was delivered in three weeks. The whole staircase came in a 1.2m x 1.0m x 0.6m crate. Then it was a case of putting together the biggest kit I've built. There was a DVD with the instructions which was helpful but gave the impression that it could be built quickly, which it most certainly wasn't in our case. The parts of the spine. The rest of the kit minus the treads. To build the staircase you start at the top. First tread is screwed to the side of the stairwell. Then you work your way down. The base of the spine is bolted to the floor. On the landing the balusters are fitted into cups that are screwed and bolted to the floor. Finally finished and the treads were covered with a protective film.
  34. 2 points
    Working around the joiners as they completed the internal fit out, the electrician returned to complete second / final fix. I won’t bore you with endless photographs of sockets and light switches, but will describe the most notable electrical installations: LED lighting – after obtaining various samples and some electrical testing, I purchased a quantity of slimline 6W recessed fittings from https://hartingtonheath.com/product-category/led-recessed-lights/non-dimmable/ I bought mine via their ebay outlet which gave me an additional 10% off. The electrician was a little dubious, primarily on the issue of the cut out size required being greater than a standard downlight. We went ahead and fitted them in the kitchen, utility, staircase and upper floor. Each light comes with its own driver so to wire up to the mains, a connector block enclosed in a 'choc' box was used. This did increase the amount of time required to install each fitting, but the actual cost of the fitting was significantly lower than the more traditional alternatives we had previously looked at. The light they give off is fantastic and they really do seem to disappear into the ceiling, far more so than many standard downlight designs I’ve seen. Apologies for the quality of the pictures! The slimline design was especially helpful when fitting in the coomb ceiling as there was no requirement to hack into the insulation as the fitting sat comfortably in the service void. Chatting to the electrician, he commented that they had now adopted this type of downlight because of the flexibility it offers. Our next luxury was a 5A lighting circuit - fitted in the main room so we can switch off all the occasional lamps used from a master switch. Simple, effective home automation! To future proof the house we installed Cat 5E data points to every room, with the hub located in the meter cupboard next to the BT master socket. I've located my BT router there and currently hard wire direct from an ethernet port on the back of the router to the port on the hub for the data point in use. There are still 2 ethernet ports left on the router, however, if I want to make any more than three of the data point live, I'll need some additional equipment (not really sure what would be required so following various current topics with interest). Whether we end up using all or indeed the majority of the data points, I have no idea, but it certainly made sense to put all the cables in. The last electrical item of note was a CO2 detector – a wonderful (Scottish) building regulation designed, I think, as a way for large developers to avoid having to fit a mechanical ventilation system, because householders have a means of monitoring air quality and therefore a way to manage it – by opening windows etc. At £200 they are not cheap (but from a developers point of view, a lot cheaper than an MVHR system). Here is the link to the relevant requirement - look up part 3.14.2 http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/publications/pubtech/th2015domcomp No doubt this regulation will creep in elsewhere in the UK. I did have quite lengthy discussions about whether we could use a CO2 sensor in the MVHR to actively manage our ventilation. The idea of doing so was certainly very positively received and thought to be a far better / more sensible approach, but unfortunately, there was no getting round the installation of a stand alone detector as the Vent Axia sensor that you could integrate with my MVHR didn’t have the specifications required in the regulations. At £350, it was also significantly more expensive. If you read through the specification, you’ll notice that one of the requirements is that the sensor alarm must be capable of being switched off, which does make you wonder, why bother? Next entry: MVHR final connections and commissioning.
  35. 2 points
    Preparing the documents for the planning application was simple enough. We paid a nice man to come and prepare an "arboricultural impact assessment". Basically, he looked at what trees were on and around site, asked which we'd like to keep, and went away. 3 days later a nice 22 page report appeared, and remarkably it said good things about only the trees we had expressed fondness for. Then another nice man came around and dug very narrow, but very deep holes in a few places on site. Here's a photo of his contraption: The boreholes only went down just over 6m, because we were having a basement rather than a well. Still we got fairly good results - the clay was stupendously stiff. At one point we had the borehole man (who didn't want his photo taken) and myself hanging off the lever arm, trying to withdraw the thing from the ground! 🤣 So, we submitted our application. Job done, I thought. A week came and went, and we had a nice sunny day, so the missus and I thought "let's just peg out the layout of the rooms on the plot, and walk around it". Genius. We bought a builder's line and a stack of short bamboo canes and went to site. I spent about an hour pegging out the dimensions of each room on the ground floor layout, and thought it looked fantastic. "It isn't big enough", says Kim. Now I know where your imagination is going here 😈 but she was talking about the kitchen. Back to the drawing board, and about another week elapses. I redraw the house from top to bottom, and now we have a kitchen that is 30' wide and 16' deep. New plans submitted, but we keep the original planning application in the process, just in case... Things went from bad to worse... The Trees Officer for the Council came around, and said "the Tree Impact Assessment is fine, but you can't get on-site now until August". Puzzled, I enquired as to why. He pointed to the hedge: "There's birds nesting in there - I can see a nest! You'll have to wait until August to cut the hedgerow down for access". 🤬 So, we've lost some time with solicitors losing paperwork and being generally unable to handle negotiations where there are more than 2 parties involved. We've lost more time, having to submit a second set of plans because Kim thought the kitchen was too small. We've lost our builder because of the delays. And now we can't get on site for 3 months anyway (other than a tiny pedestrian access), because the front of the plot is blocked by a hedgerow... All the while, we're paying our self-build mortgage. Can things get any worse?
  36. 2 points
    I just wanted to include a brief post explaining from a self-builder perspective why we have decided not to use an Unvented Cylinder (UVC), Thermal Store (TS) or combi-boiler for our domestic hot water (DHW) in our new build. Instead we are using 2 × SunAmp PV heat batteries heated by E7 tariff. So why? We decided that we don't need gas to be installed avoiding the Gas connection charges, per day supply charge and the maintenance costs on gas appliances. Big saving here. We don't have the room for a TS and we've heard too many horror stories about the problems of heat losses in a passive-house class new-build like ours, so no TS. We didn't want to get into all of the regulatory crap around installing and annual maintenance contracts for an UVC. So strike this one as well. So what is the alternative? The SunAmp is a thermal battery with an in-built heat exchanger (a bit like a combi boiler) which can store ~5kWh of heat for delivery in water typically at 50-65°C. Here is a simplified schematic of the store. (Note that I've left off all of the essential safety features such as the expansion vessel pressure relief and overflows to simplify this down to the functional essentials.) The guts of the device are a couple of Phase Change Material (PCM) cells which act as the thermal store. It in essence it works in one of two modes: Discharge Heating, where the CW supply flows through the two PCM cells and is heated to between 55-65°C and then blended with a CW mix in a TMV down to a preset output temperature. Recharge. When fed with an external electricity supply (typically PV or E7 off-peak tariff power), water is circulated internally through the cells and a 2.8kW heater to bring them up to an internally preset maximum temperature. So the SunAmps can only be charged by electricity, and there is no alternative form of heat supply. The form-factor is very small – two SunAmps side-by-side take up (d × w × h) 530 × 600 × 740 mm. The rectangular packaging also facilitates the use of internal vacuum pack insulation panels so the total standing heat loss is ~ 1kWh / day which is a lot less than a typical TS. The exact choice of PCM is specific to SunAmp, but the linked Wikipedia article lists the common ones with a phase change at around this 55-65°C range. However in terms of the physics of how this all works, it is easier to describe another common PCM that we are all familiar with and which has its phase change at 0°C: water. There are three material properties that you need to consider when looking at how a PCM works: the specific heats of the solid and liquid phases, that is how much heat you need to supply to heat 1 kg of water by 1°C and the latent heat of fusion that is how much you need to convert 1 kg of water at 0°C to ice at 0°C. I could give you the figures but a good way to think about is that you need the same amount of heat: To heat ice at -158°C to ice at 0°C To melt ice at 0°C to water at 0°C To heat water at 0°C to water at 80°C. OK these ratios and the fusion temperature differ for different PCMs (as well other properties which reflect the long term stability of the using it in cells, etc.), but that is all the proprietary stuff (discussed in the detailed below from Andrew Bissell). Even so, the bottom line is simple: the systemic heat losses are far less than alternative solutions, and Weight-for weight you can store roughly four times as much heat in a SunAmp PV store as a conventional DHW cylinder. As to why we have chosen the 2 × SunAmp PV approach, there were 2 main drivers for us: 5kWh isn't enough to meet our typical daily use, and 10kWh is so we will be able to charge our stores overnight at E7 rate and only need daytime top-up in exceptional circumstances. The pressure drop across the store in Bar is roughly 0.0142×f1.81 where f is the flow rate in ltr/min, and if you crank the numbers one store doesn't give us enough flow rate. Even so if we look at our planned use (I'll go into the figures in a later blog post), our household of 3 people has had an average use of 280 ltr/day averaged over the last 6 years. Most of this is hot water -- say 80% or at an average lift of 25°C, this amounts to 5,500kgK = 6.4kWh/day or 7.4 kWh/day allowing for heat loses. This will cost us £194 p.a. at my current electricity tariff for my household's DHW. Will I really realise the payback from additionally investing in gas or ASHP based DHW systems? I think not. PS. Slightly amended wording to reflect the earlier comment of Andrew Bissell quoted below.
  37. 2 points
    We now have planning permission - Scottish Borders Council Planning Reference Number 16/00648/PPP. Scottish Power wires still to move but we're hopeful that this will happen within the next few months... Shortlisting main contractors at the moment. Should have tender documents ready to send out by the end of April. Quietly hoping we'll be on our way with the build by October....................watch this space. Lucy
  38. 2 points
    Wow, I cannot believe its 4 months since the last blog entry. Life has just been busy, busy, busy and for a while, there didnt seem to be much to report, even though we have been busy. The bedrooms have been plastered and painted, skirting fixed and the bedrooms doors have been bought and are awaiting fixing. The best thing was finally gettitng the bathroom fitted. Its been a while since we had a working loo and while the 'portaloo' in the cellar was adequate, the new one is fab! Fist we had to rebuild the walls which was a shame as the middle room has looked great with all that space. Then we addede 9mmply (I think) which covered all the chipboard joins and gave it rigidity. Sealed with pva and screwed down. Although there are joins on the left hand side, these are going to be under the units and bath so we arent worried about them. The main part is all one for the lino to cover. The bath was one of the smallest we could find, 150cm long and we extended the side wall into the middle room to fit it in without having to dig into the exterior wall to fit it in, although fitting it was a PITA. AS always, the OH soon had it all fittd and I could start the tiling. having looked round at showrooms, we went for couple of vertical mosiacs, one opp the loo so you can see your relection!, and the other above the bath, along the shower line. They look smart although I did have some issues as they are a thinner tile than the rest and it took a bit of time to get it right. The loo was a bit of a pain as we didnt really have many options for its location due to the plumbing already in place, but then we had to get the waste through the floor avoiding the floori beams, which of course were directly where he wanted to go. So he had to use a side bendy thing to mive the waste a few inches to the left. Its not perfect but it works and once the sink was in, it was not too noticable. We're quite pleased with the final look - sorry about the photo's - its hard to get a decent picture of such a small room. But its almost finished, just a couple of little touch ups with the sealant and a glass screen. Even the radiator is up and running. still needs a door! but a curtain works for now. Upstairs the walls were plastered and painted and I'm very pleased with the look. The lounge has also been done and the ceiling repaired from the foot through it - you cant see where it happened. Am very happy with the plasterers apart from the mess they make! I spent a couple of hours cleaning the stairs, ready for painting the edge, only for the OH to paint the walls and not bother cleaning off the excess off the wood, so I had to do it all over again! But after filling and rubbing down the wood, I have undercoated the sides of the stairs ready for the final coat and the carpet. Its not briliant but as the wood is probably over a hundred years old, the buyer will have to accept the odd bump and crack that I couldnt cover. Here are before and after shots. So what else? Here's the lounge with the lights fitted and working. the skirting is cut and just needs to be fixed and I ahve the coving to put up - going for a polyeuythene one from Screwfix which had excellent reviews as its very lightweight and easy to cut. I shall let you know how it goes as i have ever done coving before. We had a chap in yesterday to come up with a plan for the kitchen. As it is such as small space, we wanted to get some ideas to add to the layout that we have come up with. We have gone for Howdens as they are very reasonably priced and they have a sale on now so hopefully we can get a really good price. But thats for the next blog post - I'll have finished the garden wall then too so more photo's. Its all coming together now but still seems to be taking ages to get to that finishing line. I guess we'll ge there, when we get there, no good rushing and making a mess.
  39. 2 points
    It has been a while since I posted and things are progressing, so expect a flurry of posts in the next few months as things are decided before we go to contract, however I have been working on some minor detailing. I have decided that I want to extract toilet smells directly from the pan (see JSHarris blog part 32) I have 6 toilets in the house, in 3 pairs (see the plans on blog 02-The Planning Saga) so can use 3 extract runs, one to each pair, the simple bit. I then need to work out how to connect to the MVHR system and the toilet cistern. The MVHR ducting will be Hybalans+, thought the design/supply/install is still be to sorted out. So I have 3 issues to work out: 1 connecting to the cistern, 2 connecting to the MVHR, 3 connecting the two together. Connecting to the cistern. After much research looking at low flush toilets and attempting to get information from suppliers (as soon as you go for non-standard ideas they all clam up) I discovered the Geberit Duofresh with build in odour extraction and started enquiring with Geberit about getting the connecting pipe from cistern to pan and using it on a standard cistern. Trying to get this bit. The issue being that the bit I want is not available as a part and is solvent welded to the cistern, however after much toing and froing of e-mails and finally a call from the technical department it was agreed that by using the Duofresh cistern (available without the filter and fan unit) I could cut through the pipe and connect it to the MVHR system. The plan is to cut the vent pipe (it is 50mm) and put on a solvent weld joint with reducer and 40mm push fit adaptor (reason for 40mm push fit later). I was also planning to seal up the feed into the cistern (vertical pipe) however this is square post the transition bend so not going to be so easy (can’t use a 50mm plug) so I may end up just filling it with expanding foam to seal it. I have decided on the Geberit cistern as the ability to service them once installed appeals and the Duofresh cistern is only about £10 dearer than the standard cistern. Connecting to the MVHR. I then needed to work out how to connect the pipe to the MVHR system, the pipe coming from the manifold will be either 92/75 or 75/62 (external/internal dimension) and connect it to two 40mm pipes. I then realised that soil pipes are 110mm standard and the vent terminals are between 100 &125mm so there was some potential there. My solution (still to be tested) is to use a vent terminal adaptor onto a solvent weld pipe, my reasoning as follows: The 110mm soil pipe has an outside diameter of approximately 110mm and the solvent weld socket has an outside diameter of 121mm. The straight vent connector has a diameter of 125mm, the 900 one 118mm, however the vent inserts show a diameter of 114mm, so I suspect the 125mm is an external and the 118mm internal. The straight vent connector has a diameter of 125mm, the 900 one 118mm, however the vent inserts show a diameter of 114mm, so I suspect the 125mm is an external and the 118mm internal. I should be able to connect the vent terminal adaptor over the plain pipe with a push fit sealing ring on it and solvent weld a plug into the other end. Then insert two 40mm push fit boss adaptors into the bosses on the pipe. I should now have an adaptor that connects the 92/75 MVHR pipe to (1-4) 40mm push fit waste pipes. Connect the MVHR adaptor to the cistern connector. With 40mm push fit sockets on both ends it is a simple job to connect up the two ends either with flexible 40mm pipe or rigid with a length of flexible 40mm pipe at each end: So now I have a plan to connect the toilets to the MVHR. The Geberit parts number is: 111.353.00.5 (Geberit Duofix frame for wall-hung WC, 112 cm, with Sigma concealed cistern 12 cm, for odour extraction with recirculating air) The normal cistern is: 111.383.005 (Geberit Duofix frame for wall-hung WC, 112 cm, with Sigma concealed cistern 12 cm, wall anchoring and connection bend)
  40. 2 points
    phone died but got an old one from a kitchen drawer so don't expect David Bailey standards. Any how here are some pics of how it looks at the moment. I've inserted another dozen or so in entry number one!
  41. 1 point
    This post is a brief interlude in my "Accessible Ablutions" mini-project, and will be followed by one more post reporting the costing and sourcing detail of the project. I found that I needed to hold a hinged shower screen firmly in place against a slopoing ceiling, and needed a custom part. Through the good offices of Buildhub and @Temp, that was able to be done in a few days to the custom design required. This is a short description of the process, taken from the thread. The Problem I have repurposed the former hinged bath shower screen as the end screen of my walk in shower, as it is under the stairs. A side benefit was to be that the narrow 450mm entrance gap would you be opened a little wider for horizontally more extensive people, or putting a shower seat inside more comfortably etc. Due to a need to reposition the shower closer to the stairs, there is now such a minimal gap that I need to fix the screen in place, rather than let it move. So I need a part with a 42 degree upper surface and a slot to fit over the top of the 6mm hinged screen, which I can then glue or silicone in place. Pics and a diagram are below The Answer We came up with a design incorporating a toblerone shaped 3d-printed "thing", which could be glued to the top of the glass screen, and glued and screwed to the ceiling. After creating a "prototype", which was nearly but not quite right due to a measurement inaccuracy, it works beautifully. The full story is in this thread:
  42. 1 point
    The SE suggested digging 900mm deep because the soil survey said we had clay. And we have trees. I used the NHBC foundation depth calculator and did alot of reading around foundation digs. Overthinking it all, alot. BC said to dig to 700mm and see what was there. Guess what? No clay (well, only a tiny patch amongst loads of gravel). So the SE suggested a new depth of 200mm. But we are already at 700mm I said. No problem he said. Fill it back in, with crushed concrete and then Type 1 on top. So £5K for muck away and another £7K to fill the hole we didn't need to dig. Did I mention our contingency was gone? But we have extra secure foundations. BC happy. And we have moved on. A photo blog seems like the simplest way to show what has happened. So here we are digging it out. We even shovelled a bit by hand late one night. We laid some ducts. Thanks @JSHarris for swift assistance on getting those in properly. For about 10 days we got up at 6am, worked on site for 2 hours, went to work, got home, worked on site til 11pm or later. Couldn't have MBC turn up without it being ready. Then we put the crushed concrete and Type 1 back in the hole and compacted it to level. Just in time. MBC arrived the following morning. Its now 4th July.
  43. 1 point
    So we’ve got planning for a new house. Middle of February and it’s just starting to sink in, I told the misses I was going for a walk around the lake to gather my thoughts and get a plan started. after a walk I made the executive decision that the little hedge would need to go before bird nesting started. So I grabbed the digger and a box of matches (I do like a bonfire) this won’t take long I thought, soon have it ripped out, bit of smoke won’t hurt it’s a very overcast day. I asked on here before for people’s opinions on what to do with the old cabin sell it dismantle it sail it down the river Severn to @Nickfromwales house well i can be accused of being lots of things, but a dithering bloke is not one of them so the next day the little ol cabin had a slight accident two skips turned up one for the insulation and one for the plasterboard, 2days later I had this. sorry Nick.
  44. 1 point
    Hello, A piece of 'legislation' I wasn't aware of. https://www.righttobuildportal.org/?utm_source=Custom+Build+Strategy+Main+Database&utm_campaign=f0c0a00506-NOV_2017_PROFILE_1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c5b24ee15a-f0c0a00506-176850693 This info came on an email today, I guess via the people behind Buildit magazine and the Custom build strategy team ( NSB+RS) in Swindon.I assume that's all Castle Media! All very interesting and poignant. I did send them a copy of my book 'Self build home...the Last Thing you need is an Architect' but sadly not a peep. Perhaps they are inundated with literature, or believed the book to be full of b+ll-sh+t., but no 'Thank you, but no thanks'...No matter, it is selling anyway. I freely admit it's not a technical book (there's enough out there, including their own establishment, not to mention, 'The green building forum' if you really want to get into sums and err 'Dense definitional Thickets' to quote Amory Lovins.) The book is more a design check-list, don't forget and why don't you consider? thinking about space, ;light, circulation...all things architectural, and getting more wow factor value and character...and a few references and reviews of great design books.
  45. 1 point
    Two years on from starting the hut I'm fitting a gravity water system...I have a wash hand basin in the toilet and sink in kitchen both of which have taps. I connected the waste pipe ages ago which drains to the soak away but never go around to providing the taps with the one thing that kinda makes them useful! To be honest the hut isn't in any way uncomfortable to live in. We have a standpipe less than 30m away and just fill up 5l water bottles for drinking and washing. However, I've got some free time and good rioja so why not go and play around up at the hut? I'm putting this tank on some posts made up from small tree trunks, against an outside gable wall. This is case of bursts caused by freezing if I (or a less thoughtful wife or teenager) forget to drain the system between visits in winter. First made a box for the second hand tank someone gave me. The hole at the top is for a garden hose which I'll fill from the standpipe...will know when it's full when the overflow indicates ? Bottom pipe will feed both taps. I'm teeing off just under the taps and connecting to both hot and cold. Whalah we should soon have some slow running water for washing...not much need for that but most handy when brushing teeth. Don't like the toothbrush in a cup thing and not having a tap to wash away the spit.?? I'll post a little photo diary as I progress
  46. 1 point
    In my previous post, I explained how we came across our plot when out walking close to where my mother-in-law had moved over from Dublin. It came with full planning permission for a modern house built into the hill, as shown on the boarding on site. Interestingly, the boarding was from a local builder (which I’ve blurred out here) This is the image shown on the boarding: Here’s another sample image of the house: “Our” house would be the one on the right – the plot on the left had been purchased separately and the owners had instructed their own architect and builders to build a different style of house. At that time (January 2015), we were looking to move from our old Farmhouse to a more maintenance-free life and bought into the idea of a new house. Whilst we knew our existing furniture would not necessarily “fit” within the contemporary style, we were both agreed to look into things further. At this point, we knew absolutely nothing about self-building. So, towards the end of January 2015, we contacted the number on the site boarding to enquire further. The builder advised us that there were 2 build options: A house purchase process, where we’d effectively pay them a fixed price for the plot and house as advertised (they also provided a spec-sheet), but where we’d pay what was then called Stamp Duty. This would involve an up-front deposit then staged payments Purchase the plot from the existing owner (the owner of the architect company who designed the house) and then engage with the builder to undertake the construction of the house. We were obviously attracted to option 2, as it would save on the considerable stamp duty, and going with that builder would also result in additional savings due to the sharing of mobilisation costs, shared project manager, economies of scale etc, as the neighbouring plot had already been sold and work was due to start in May 2015. We continued dialogue with the builder, and over the following days and weeks, got more details about the site. Here was another 3D model of the approved home: Here's the site layout showing our plot as the only one available: And the floorplans We also got elevation views: However, it was during these discussions that we started getting concerned about two specific areas around the plot: There was a train line running along the back of the plot, serving the local coal power station. We emailed the power station to ask for the timetable, and their response was that due to "strict policies and security we are unable to release any information" regarding the train timetable. We had a chuckle at that and instead spoke to local people who told us there were around 4 scheduled journeys per week. I made sure that information did not fall into nefarious hands. The was a pipeline running along the border of our plot* and the plot to the east of us (the one where the build was due to start in May), which imposed a 3.5 meter “no build zone” either side of its centre line. (*) This turned out not to be the case, but I'll come back to that in a future post. You can see the latter on another site plan we received: Another benefit of going with the builder aligned to the plot was that they already had a relationship with the pipeline owner (BP) and were in the progress of getting their structural engineer get agreement from BP on the foundation design –this was (understandably) a planning condition from Fife Council. However, after much soul-searching and many discussions, and 3-4 weeks after first viewing the plot, we decided the risk was too much for us and contacted the builder to say we’d not be taking things any further. We then resigned ourselves to finding another home on the existing housing market. In the next post, I’ll explain why we changed our mind and bought the plot, and start introducing the challenges the pipeline has placed on our life.
  47. 1 point
    Having rented all my life, desperation set in after being gazumped, shafted and outbid in the so-called 'property game'. But it's no game if there's no fun! Finally, after getting lucky with an honest and reliable estate agent, I came across a place on the fringes of a small Kent village.The empty property was snapped up by us as soon as we laid eyes on it. Overgrown, but cared for, it dates from the early 1950s and was (is!) structurally sound. Lots of vegetation on the plot and lots of it too close and too big, right next to the building. Loose gutters, heavy concrete roof tiles. It had it's issues being dated, oil central heating and a bit cramped with only 2.5bedrooms. It was also badly laid out with only 2 bedrooms looking out to the rear 1/2 acre plot. Things needed re-jigging, and in doing so, we would also extend the place.
  48. 1 point
    Work continues on site with our foul and surface water drainage now installed; Following an initially negative assessment of the treatment plant design by the digger driver, its installation worked out far better than he or I expected, causing him to take back everything negative he had said. A hole was dug out to the required depth and the conical shaped treatment plant lowered in. Naturally it pivoted about on the point of the 'cone', but all it required was four lengths of timber to prop it in place, then backfill with a dry mix concrete / fill the plant with water. Our foul water and surface water soakaways were dug out and filled with aggregate, in the case of the surface water, mixed size aggregate I had picked off the spoil heap on site, and for the foul water soakaway, clean aggregate bought in. Slab laying followed the completion of drainage works, and we now have a 600mm riven slab path running right round the house, as well as the landing/access area at the main door; The slabs were laid on a dry sand / cement mix, mixed on site using a mixer scoop fitted onto the loadall; The slabs give us a nice clean edge to landscape up to. The digger is due back shortly to finish digging out / creating our driveway and turning area, and to do the basics of landscaping / earth moving ready for final landscaping in the spring, once the winter weather has done its job and everything has had a chance to settle: Inside, the joiners have finished off plasterboarding, fitted the kitchen units and staircase. The kitchen has been fitted at this stage as it's being 'built in' with enclosing partitions; The staircase; The joiners have built some shelving underneath the stairs, and created a solid balustrade using MDF and plasterboard, topped with an oak handrail. As you can see, I've primed the newel post ready to paint in to the adjacent plasterboard, the idea being we will have a seamless appearance. I'm not sure yet how we will fill the join between newel and plasterboard - flexible filler or caulk. Oak veneered MDF shelves have been made and will be fitted into the unit once decorating has been completed. Oak veneered MDF faced with a solid oak apron has also been used for the shelves you can see in the kitchen, and for all our window cills. This next picture shows the stairs after a coat of osmo oil. We had initially been thinking of painting the stringers and risers white so that the oak tread would 'float', but in the end decided to go with the two tone appearance. I spent half a day sanding it all down, and have now applied two coats of oil. The final couple of pictures show the mezzanine area accessed by the stairs and the view down into the main room; Where we have solid balustrades, they will be topped with oak to tie in with the other internal finishes and stair balustrade. The decorator has started and will have the bedroom and link section of the house taped, filled and sanded for me by the middle of the coming week, which will let me get the first half painted while he tapes and fills the other half of the house.
  49. 1 point
    Thirty years ago my company wanted to relocate my group to Milton Keynes. I was working in the West End, and Jan and I were living in Croydon at the time. We had just started our family, so the opportunity for a paid relocation out of a terraced house in suburbia into a larger family home in the country was just too good to miss. We ended up buying a somewhat run-down farmhouse in a village between Milton Keynes and Northampton. Jan said: “Think of the potential!”; to which I replied “Think of the work; this is going to be a 10-year project!”. Well, it took us nearer to 20 years to finish the place. We were always cash limited, so we did nearly all the work ourselves, but it proved a beautiful home to raise our family: we had lots of room and a large garden. Today, two of our kids have 'flown the coop' and set up their own homes with their partners; one briefly flew, and then returned. A large rambling 300-year old farmhouse might look beautiful, but it is now far too big for us; the house and garden are high-maintenance, and it is expensive to heat in the winter. This burden is only going to get worse as we get older, so it is now time for us to downsize. But where and to what? We have friends locally, and we like area. We want a smaller house, an energy-efficient low-maintenance one, but also with enough space to include a bed-sit for our son, and to be able to put our other two kids up when they regularly visit for their mum's excellent cooking and free booze. However, when we started looking at local properties, the choice wasn't to our taste or they were just too expensive for what you get. Our garden has enough space at the opposite end from the house for an infill development – it's now probably the only such plot remaining in the village as all of the other plots, the two timber yards, the bus business, the garage, the DIY place and even the old Methodist Chapel have all been bought up and developed. We have been approached a few times over the years by builders offering to buy the end of the garden, so we thought: why not do this ourselves? We could build a new house for our own use and then split the plot. So at the beginning of this year we started exploring costs and options, and the more that we looked at this, the more compelling the case became. We discovered this site during our searches. We have found it – and especially Jeremy's The House at Mill Orchard blog – extremely informative, so we felt that we should also follow his example and write up our experience for the benefit of others who are considering the same path. I will cover how our requirements and site have constrained our design choices in my next post.
  50. 0 points
    Tonight we have moved in to the house, it’s not what my idea of moving in would be there’s stuff everywhere and still no staircase as we await it’s arrival sometime in the next few days, but we have a bed a sofa and a fully functioning kitchen and toilets hopefully I’ll get sorted out before Xmas! The move today had to happen as we spent a sleepless night last night in the caravan with minus whatever degrees and the gas stopped functioning properly, I’m told it doesn’t freeze but stops doing what it’s meant to so the decision was made to just move in. our other problem just now is the pellet stove, that’s a fortnight it’s been on and has used half a ton of pellets, the installer having been very good at the beginning suddenly more or less left us to it in terms of how to operate it most economically and didn’t install the controller saying we’d need to get our spark to put it in and we’ve not been able to pin him down as he’s so busy, I’m hoping @Declan52 is going to read this and come back to me with some advice on operating, we had the stove set at 70 degrees which was what the installer left it at but it just kept on burning up more and more pellets very rarely going off, we decided to lower it to 60 but although this saved on pellets the water wasn’t hot enough for a bath. We haven’t been heating the house to a great heat only 16 degrees with the ufh but tonight we had to up it and turn the radiators on upstairs as there seemed to be cold coming down into the ground floor from the mezz, don’t get me wrong I’m warm enough but I’m worrying about the cost of the pellets as we could end up using a ton a month at this rate! Any advise gratefully received!
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