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  1. 16 points
    So last blog had seen me doing my first icf pour, and it was a proper baptism of fire, 3 blokes running around trying to do 4 mens jobs bloody nightmare. So next stage was to get some scaffolding up and build up the next bit, I decided to buy some scaffolding as I’m building this myself I knew it would be a long term project and renting scaffolding was going to be a complete non starter, so 4 grand later I own a load of scaffolding. As usual the walls flew up fairly quickly, until you get to a gable or a window so for some unknown reason when I designed this place it ended up with 7 gables with 2 different pitches and 17 windows. That really slowed things down a bit. from what we learnt on the last pour we knew we needed to add a bit of bracing around the windows So it all got a bit messy looking with random bits of ply every then it decided to snow so I had to bring out one of my all time favourite sayings. IN CASE OF RAIN OR SNOW TO THE PUB YOU MUST GO. So for the next couple of days not a lot happened. With icf you can fit additional structural parts as you go up even if you don’t need them yet, as when you cast the concrete core it locks in any fixings you have in place, one of these things was our roof support timbers or pole plates, these where fixed to the face of the blocks with temporary screws and anchor bolts poked into the hollow core ready for the concrete to encase them. if you look at that long timber halfway up the wall that’s our poleplate for that side of the house, all bolts are in place and restraint straps embedded into the inside of the blocks ready for concrete. Above the pole plate you can see a funny wooden box, this is shuttering to form a cantilevered beam that supports the roof, there are 6 of these in total with the longest sticking out 1900mm from the main structure, so lots more reinforcement in these and then ready for concrete. The second concrete pour went without a hint of any trouble, and we even pushed the boundaries of sensibility a few times by pouring the concrete to a depth not recommended in 1 pass without a hitch, this sounds like a recipe for disaster but we had little choice, let me explain. It is recomended that you pour aprox 1-1 1/2 courses at a time in a single pass, so starting in the middle of a wall go all the way around the house up to your 1.5 block depth or 600mm aprox, you then go around again starting at the same place this gives the concrete just enough time to just start curing very slightly, this will Norma get you to a point of having an empty truck, perfect it gives you chance to vibrate anything you need to and have a quick cuppa, then the second truck turns up and you go around again, 2 trucks of concrete or 15m and your up 3/4 of your first pour, and then so on. Well with our second pour it didn’t work like that, as we had lots of windows and funny gables the actual concrete amount was fairly small 11m but with that 11m of concrete we had to lift 5 courses of blocks, so 2 passes around the perimeter of the house meant we had to come up 2.5 courses at a time, which was a bit bum twitchy but was perfect it worked a treat. one of the beams after the last pour. feeling rather smug.
  2. 14 points
    And so almost another month has gone by but progress is still being made on the build and, just as importantly, hubby and I got away for a week's holiday in northern France just as the warm weather hit. After our abject failure at R&R over Christmas, it was wonderful to have a really relaxing break without illness or stress and come back refreshed for the final push on the build, which is just as well as there's a busy time to be had over the coming weeks. In the last blog entry, I detailed some of the painting and kitchen fitting that had been going on and there's been more of this recently. I've been getting the colour coats onto the walls upstairs but haven't managed to complete a room yet apart from the kitchen, but I'm generally pleased with the neutral colour choice. I say generally, though, because in the lounge, the different light in there makes the wall colour bring out the warm tones of the internal window frame finish which makes them look a slightly odd peach colour. It's not awful and I'm not going to change it now, but if we ever redecorate (hah!) it will be something I check before committing. For the more vertiginously challenged amongst you, you may wish to look away now, as here's a view from the top of my internal scaffold tower when I was putting the colour coat on up to the vaulted ceiling above the gable window in the guest bedroom. And here are the colour choices. The purple will be on one wall only. It looks a bit garish at the moment but once the room has its furniture and soft furnishings in, it should tone well and add a bit of life to the room. Cutting in and painting up to the high vault was a bit of a challenge, but I got there. I really didn't want to get any colour spatter onto the white ceiling so opted to use paint pads rather than a roller and I was pleased with the outcome. They give a good finish over the sprayed mist coat and are far less physically demanding than a roller. I was painting upstairs as the flooring guys were in downstairs putting in the karndean (same choice as upstairs) and it kept me productive but out of the way. Given all the work that went into making the dropped section of the ceiling in the lounge area, I wanted the floor to echo this but not in too obvious a fashion and so the team took a laser reference from the inner square of the lounge feature and reversed the direction of the planks, using a feature strip to create a subtle border. First, though, they had to screed the floor with a latex self levelling compound. In preparation for this, I needed to turn off the UFH a few days before they arrived to make sure the screed didn't go off too quickly due to the heat of the slab. I turned it off on a Friday afternoon and they started work on the following Tuesday and it was just about perfect. Once the screed was down, the floor was scraped to make sure it was completely level and then primed. After the priming, the planks were put down. Here is the snug - I went in the weekend before the flooring guys arrived to get the mist coats and ceiling painted as it's far easier to do when you only have to mask the windows and not worry about any other area. Here's the long view of the kitchen/lounge area: And here's a close up of the feature border underneath the ceiling feature: Moving on from the flooring and painting, my joiner, Harry has been busy at work on the kitchen. In particular, he was working on the large walnut work surface for the island. I decided months ago that I wanted solid walnut for the island but then, as I'm sure happens to many, I had a last minute dither and started looking at other materials instead. In the end, I decided that granite or other stones really didn't give the colour tones that I wanted and laminates weren't wide enough. I sourced the walnut from Worktop Express as they were very competitively priced for what I wanted, and delivery was quick. I looked at using their online template service, but it was just too tricky to get the different profiles right and, in the end, decided to get Harry to make up the island top on site. It was absolutely the right choice as he's done a lovely job on it. Here's a photo of the finished top with the induction hob surface mounted into it. A word on the hob. You can recess the work surface so that the hob is flush, but I preferred it to be surface mounted, sitting proud of the walnut, purely from a cleaning point of view and so I don't have to spend ages digging out crumbs and bits of food debris from around a flush recess. These are the two worktops as they arrived from the supplier, waiting to be joined together. Harry routed along their length, used a biscuit join and then glued and clamped. The worktops being clamped. They look and, indeed, are lighter in shade than the first photo as they come treated with one coat of Danish oil. Harry put a further two coats on once he had sanded the finished surface. The area where there appears to be a base unit missing and where the surface projects beyond is intended as a breakfast bar area. There will be a supporting leg on the near right hand corner. Because the kitchen and island are large, I didn't want anything to be too matchy-matchy and wanted to break up any monotonous areas. Also, I didn't fancy walnut as the worksurface leading off the sink as I think that's asking for trouble in the long run. So, I went hunting through laminate choices. Way back when I was first considering the kitchen, I had been thinking about using large format tiles with a metallic type finish as the splashback, but it was proving to be a gruelling and not very fruitful search. When I eventually revisited this part of the kitchen a couple of months ago, I came across some laminates with exactly that type of finish, nice long runs (I need a 4m run for the back work surface) and with matching splashbacks. I also wanted to line the recessed area under the island with the same material to make it more durable and give a contrast in materials and textures. I sourced the laminates from a firm called Rearo and dealt with their Newport branch. They were lovely to deal with and very helpful. Here's the splashback applied to the breakfast bar recess. Harry beefed it up and packed it out with some ply and then put the laminate edging onto the ends to give a substantial look. Whilst we were away on holiday, my splendid general builder and neighbour, Drew, got on with putting the rainwater goods up. I'd ordered in soffits and fascias from Fascia.com as they had the width I needed in anthracite grey to match the slates and windows, as well as vented soffits, which save a lot of bother and look much neater. The guttering is all deepflow and was mounted onto black fascia board. I looked at other colours of guttering, but none of them were quite right and black guttering is so ubiquitous that the eye kind of slides past it. Having it mounted on the fascia board also reduces the visual impact of the brackets that can look a bit clunky. Whilst he was up there, Drew also mounted our swift boxes and bat boxes. We were required as part of our bat licence conditions to put a bat box somewhere on site, but this is something that we had planned to do all along. Also, there has been a dramatic loss of habitat for swifts that migrate to the UK to breed in the summer and we wanted to make provision for these too, in the hope that we're lucky enough to attract them to our site. These fabulous birds migrate 6,000 miles to reach their summer breeding grounds and are the fastest birds in level flight. Once they have fledged, the only time they ever land again is to sleep and recover from their migration flight and to feed their young. They are the most fabulous birds and I would urge anyone to make provision for them wherever possible. If anyone wants details of where to buy some brilliant swift boxes, PM me and I'll send you the details. Here are the boxes, all sited on the western corner of the north facing wall. Finally, today marked a milestone in the house progress - the scaffolding is coming down. Our foul and surface water drainage works start on Wednesday and the site needs to be clear to allow access for that. Any remaining work at height can be done from ladders apart from the cladding, but I will hire a separate mobile tower of some sort for that work once I've had a chance to identify what will be most suitable. The stone cladding arrived a couple of weeks ago, ready to go up once the drainage work is done, more details of which will follow in the next post. Here's the south face gradually being revealed. The crates to the right of the picture are the stone cladding. Here's the east face slowly coming into view. And another view of the same. Work planned for this week is more plastering, more painting (if I get the chance as I'm the plasterer's labourer this week), groundworks and starting to move some young trees to the site that we've been nursing in pots at home for 12 months. Next week, the en-suite bathroom will be started, the kitchen finished and the utility room kitted out. Plenty to do yet. TTFN.
  3. 13 points
    Sorry for the delay since the last blog. Things have been very hectic keeping a track of everything that is going on with the build and holding a job down ! As we approach end of January and move into February there are lots of things going on simultaneously on site including battening the roof in preparation for the roofers, finishing of fitting the smartply in preparation for blowing in the insulation and fitting the windows and doors. The first window goes in on 30th January. Many of the side reveals to the windows have splays to help spread the light from the window. We are using Green Building Store Progressions windows and Green Building Store Ultra doors. The Progression windows are expensive, but the narrow sight-lines give a lovely contemporary look and very little of the frame is visible outside, so it should be as maintenance free as you can get and seems like a good investment. The Ultra doors look very similar to the Progression doors and are of a similar thermal performance but are more cost effective to purchase. From the 12th - 15th February, the Warmcell insulation is blown into the frame. I hadn't realised, but you can do this before all of the windows are fitted, as long as the boarding out is completed inside and out. By 21st February all windows and doors are fitted. A lot of time has gone into ensuring the windows are fitted properly and are as airtight as possible. In parallel, the brick plinth is built. Whilst you won't see all of this once the ground levels are built up, I am really pleased with the quality of the job. Next job is and fitting the Aquapanel in preparation for the rendering. The roofer we had lined up pulled out at the last minute, but we are able to get a local firm with a good reputation to take their place at short notice. We took a lot of trouble selecting the roof tiles and we are particularly looking forward to seeing the tiles laid. The roofers are on site beginning of March after a small delay due to rain to do the counter-battening and lay the tiles. The roof is a pretty simple shape so the roofers make quick progress. We are using plain clay smooth machine-made tiles made by Dreadnought tiles and supplied by Ashbrook Roofing. We found out about them at a self build show we attended and have had great support from both Dreadnought and Ashbrook. We are using two colours - 70% staffordshire blue and 30% blue brindle mixed randomly. Before you know it, the roof is in place. Big Day on 8th March as it is our first Air Test. We'd put 0.3 air changes per hour (ach) @ 50pa into phpp so we were hoping for something similar or better. Results were: 0.08 ach @ 50 pa 0.11 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa Absolutely delighted with the results. Given building regs are 10 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa and Passivhaus standard is 0.6 ach @ 50 pa, this is over 90 times better than building regs and over 7 times better than Passivhaus standards and a great testament to the attention to detail shown by the build team. Flashings between the wood cladding and the render are fitted. These were made by a Herefordshire based fabricator. Work continues fitting the cladding. We are using Douglas Fir, supplied by Ransford which is literally 5 minutes down the road. Once the roof has been laid and the weather allows, the rendering starts. We are using the Weber system, with a base coat applied first followed by a thin silicon based top coat which will be sprayed on. The roof and detailing around the dormer window are completed Once the cladding is complete and before the scaffolding comes down, we need to treat the cladding. The gable ends need a fireproof coating due the proximity of other houses, so it's one coat of primer, two of Envirograf and two of Osmo. The front and back of the house get one coat primer and two of Osmo. It's one of those jobs that costs more and takes longer than expected. We hadn't planned on having to to apply so many coats of product and in my naiveity I thought it would be a layer or two of fireproof coating on each gable. The wood looks a little orange at the moment but that is typical when new and it does weather down nicely which is what I plan to allow the wood to do. Hopefully to osmo will help even out the weathering but I have no plans to keep on applying it. The guttering is attached whilst the scaffolding is still up (Lindab galvanised) The scaffolding on the house comes down and goes up on the garage to allow the roof to be completed on the garage. The second coat of render is sprayed on and the shell of the house is now complete.
  4. 12 points
    So after a month or so in the house, the time has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and what if anything, we would change or could have done differently. In truth there is very little if anything that we would change. The rooms flow, the doors open in the right direction and the lights can be switched on and off in the appropriate places. Even the WBS has proven to be a worry that wasn't worth worrying about, as it's position within the hearth is no longer an issue due to it being vented through the back as opposed to the top. Some jobs have been completed such as the down pipes and a few jobs remain outstanding but nothing that has an impact upon our daily lives. One such job is the porch that needs to be slated. Thankfully I still have some financial leverage over those various trades so I know they will return. Our satisfaction I suppose, has to be routed in the preparation work, the research and being a member of this superb forum. None of these elements should be underestimated. Therefore I would like to sign off this blog with a heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed, not only to my issues over the past couple of years, but to all the other threads, as they too are just as relevant / enlightening. I have also attached some images which complete the project, namely the WBS chimney installation and the erection of the much mentioned porch. For a final time, thanks for reading, and given the date, seasons greetings to you all. Paul.
  5. 12 points
    Like all Self builders we found we had a limited number of options for living accommodation during the build, given that we needed to demolish the bungalow to clear the plot for the build. The options were, rent locally or a caravan on site. Renting locally wasn’t an option due to the high rental costs, so we looked at the caravan option. The main problem was access, an 8 feet wide drive with a hairpin bend half way up, a dry stone wall, 80 feet tall trees and limestone outcrop put paid to that idea. A local crane company visited the site to look at the feasibility of craning the caravan over the trees, the narrowness of the road, a road closure and 4 mile diversionary routes for vehicles, a licence from the local authority soon put paid to that idea. Then a brief conversation with a neighbour and a lightbulb moment, we can up with the idea of a timber framed tiny house built in an orchard that formed part of the plot. The day before submission of the planning application a sketch of a small 7 x 5m cabin was added to one of the drawings. Thankfully we got planning approval. The construction of the cabin allowed us to practice our woodworking, insulation and other construction and trade skills. This is where we currently live. This what it looks like on a wet autumn day. Not the power cable over sailing the cabin. Happily the DNO installed taller poles to increase the clearance.
  6. 12 points
    So the piles are in, 29 steel tubes, smashed into the ground, down to a depth of 7.5 m, all filled with concrete so what’s next A RING BEAM. this is basically a steel reinforced beam that spans from pile to pile, so spreading the wall, floor, roof load down on to the piles. Piles in pic. So the ringbeam consists of a square of 450mm by 450mm reinforced concrete, the traditional method and one I have used in the past consists of cutting ply to the desired size and nailing and screwing for the next millennium until you have a mold in which to place you reinforcement and then concrete to form the beam. Whoo there boy, this is 2018, plywood is so last year so in 2018 what are we using. PLASTIC, BLOODY PLASTIC I have a love hate relationship with plastic, it is so clever, it can be extremely strong, but it also goes brittle and cracks, I find it very hard to recycle it so this is what the BLOODY PLASTIC looks like. To be perfectly honest it was terrific, all folded to the exact dimensions of the beam 450x450 it has a steel mesh core to keep it ridgid, it cuts nicely with a cordless grinder, i priced up to do it in ply and it was about ply £650 plastic fantastic £1100 but the labour saving was absolutely bloody huge, 2 of us had it all installed in 6 days, I think I possibly saved about 10 days in labour for 2 men so a massive saving. The plastic also stays in place after the concrete is poured, so a degree in waterproofing to the ring beam also. steel reinforcing, so over the years I have used more than a few tonne of this stuff, but I’ve never brought it in ready fabricated well blow me over what a breath of fresh air this is. All cages pre fabbed to your dimensions, a steel layout showing where it all goes, and a luggage label on everybit of steel. PERFECT the only Sod’s law bit to hit us yep you guessed it cage one is on the bottom of that bloody great pile of steel. This is the largest reinforcement project I have done on my own without a big bunch of lads as backup and it went so smoothly I had to do a little jig around the site. If anybody wants details of the suppliers pm me I would thoroughly recommend both companies. this is what it basically looks like, round pile poking up in middle of pic, steel reo sitting on top, plastic shutter to hold the concrete in place, back fill around the plastic to hold it in place CAREFULLY. this is is an example of a junction of 2 walls. So in this pic are 3 cages, 2 joined as a lap splice and one coming in from the side, all tied together and sitting on top of a pile. so 6 days of sweating, a minor amount of swearing we are ready for conc 24 cubic metres, one concrete pump, 3 lads, 28 degrees, all finished by 10.30am. 100 m of hessian soaked for 2 days in the water butt. That will do, off to Spain for a week to smash it up, give it large, and generally get drunk and fall about on the dance floor.
  7. 11 points
    So, I know I promised tales of cladding and roofing in the last instalment, but I have reviewed my photo stream and in fact realised that the window install was the next thing. At the end of November (as we all know, winter is prime building time), we finally retrieved our bargain basement windows from storage and brought them to site. Ah, the bargain basement windows, a tale of joy, horror, stress, fury, confusion and eventual revenge all in one. I should explain. When we had secured the plot and had initial drawings from the architect and were waiting for engineering/calcs/building control drawings/services/everything else, we passed the time by getting hilariously large quotes for every aspect of the design. It kept us amused. So, after reading a lot on fabric first design and passive homes, off we trotted to our local Internorm dealer. Lovely showroom, excellent coffee, charming, if slightly oily salesperson. There was much discussion about our options - I asked about passive standard 3G timber aluclad. After a while, a large figure was mentioned. A very large figure. So large, in fact, that I actually was convinced that the salesperson was having a little joke with me. He wasn't. No further coffee was offered. We gathered our coats, emptied the complimentary biscuits into my handbag and prepared to leave shamefacedly, and preferably without admitting that we were FAR TOO POOR to afford these lovely windows. On the way out, the salesman commented off handedly and rather insincerely "Sorry we couldn't help you today. Unless you want to buy the ones in the basement, ha ha ha." Reader, I have little-to-no shame when it comes to sniffing out a bargain. I cannot be humiliated. So, I was accompanied to the basement of the showroom, whereupon I was greeted with a £100,000 wonderland of window-related (expletive deleted)-ups. Results of inaccurate measuring, bankruptcy of developers, incorrect specifying, just general inefficiency. Of absolutely (expletive deleted)-all use to anyone, of course. Apart from someone who had not fully finalised their house plans. And a salesperson who is uncommonly keen on crystallising some value from said (expletive deleted)-ups. It was a partnership written in the stars. Details of hard-nosed negotiating aside (and there was someone in the room close to tears, and it wasn't me), we came away with 15 brand new windows (including 3 large sliders), a fully biometric ex display front door with side lights, a utility door, and a large panel of glass. All pretty much passive standard, some with built in blinds, some alu-clad timber, some Alu clad UPVC. For not much money. At all. A very satisfyingly small amount of money. The architect was somewhat perturbed by this moderately unconventional approach of designing the house around already purchased windows, to say the least. For a while, I had a Quooker tap and approx £80,000 of windows as my only purchases for the house. However, he came up trumps and designed the house in such a way as you would never know that he had any design restrictions at all. The man is a quiet genius. We had cherry picked the best stuff - so all our sliders for the bedrooms are approximately (but not quite) the same size, they vary by about 30mm here and there, but they are all on different elevations of the house so you never see them right next to each other. We wanted to use one particular window in the bathroom as it had built in blinds, but it was a little too big, so we sank the bath into the floor to allow the window to have opening clearance. It looks amazing and like an intended "design feature". So, we purchased the bargain basement windows, and following our cynical, but realistic architects advice - we got a trailer and got them the hell out of that warehouse. They stayed wrapped up and palletised for approx 2 years until that fateful day in November. Now, what we should have done was quit while we were ahead, taken note of the surpassingly large number of (expletive deleted)-ups and run like the wind away from that warehouse. You will not be surprised to learn that this did not happen. We still needed our large feature window - a 5m wide, 2.7m high alu clad timber lift and slide window and matching fixed panels above. This was not cheap. Very very not cheap. But it was lovely. We decided that as we'd saved so much money with the rest of the windows, we could justify this lovely thing. We got a good, although still bloody expensive price on it, paid a 50% deposit, and were instructed to let them know when we were ready to have the window produced - as we hadn't been through building control fully yet, so didn't want to press "Go" just then. So, all well. We got on with what we needed to do, engineering, building control, life etc and gave no more thought to it. We get our building warrant. We phone up the showroom to say "yay! please make our very highly priced window!". Only, there's a disconnected tone. Odd, we think - must have misdialled. We try again, same thing. We google. Website down, emails bounce. A light sweat breaks out. The insufferable shits went bust. No one told us. It may or may not be directly related to the basement of (expletive deleted)-ups. Internorm had never heard of our order and had not received our deposit, so couldn't help. Now, thank christ that I am naturally untrusting of salespeople and INSISTED on paying £101 of the VERY LARGE deposit on a credit card. Section 75, how I love thee. We got the whole lot back. Eventually. After a lot of paperwork and phonecalls. But now we have a load of second hand windows, some with bits missing and no-one to fit them. And no-one to order our lovely slider from Help was on the way from an unexpected quarter though. Our house build is being filmed for TV, and we happened to have a filming day a couple of weeks later. Someone on the crew gave us the details of a helpful person within Internorm, who passed us on to another dealer who honoured the original price for the sliders, came up from England to fit the windows, supplied all our missing bits and were generally wonderful. So, we come to November. There are two access points to our site - one at the rear, which we can just about fit an articulated lorry up, and one at the front, on the extremely busy main street, that is cobbled and 2cm narrower than a transit with the wing mirrors folded, and only just as tall. The Internorm dealer had already made a site visit to review the access and made many sucky-teeth noises, but said "it's ok, we'll get a robot handler up from Leeds that can hold the window at 45 degrees while we drive it up." "Ooooh", we think, "A robot! Technology will save this whole scenario". The day started relatively badly when it transpired that the artic driver, instead of turning right when he should have, so he could drive straight down the street and have the windows on the correct side for unloading, had in fact, turned left and was now in the middle of fully reversing down a medieval street so long that it takes approx 8 minutes to walk from one end to the other. At 9am. Also, he was (I think) Romanian, with no English, and there were no Romanian speakers amongst the installation crew. So, when he finally arrived, after monumentally pissing off approximately 14 million local residents, the windows were on the wrong side and no room to turn. So we had to unload the rest of his lorry, stack it up on the street, taking up virtually every parking space in the place and drive the telehandler across the street, blocking all the traffic to get the window off. It is massive. Securing it on the tele handler is not a quick process. There was a lot of shouting. Also, did I mention I'm 6 months pregnant at this point? So, once unloaded, we look around eagerly for the promised technology laden robot. Looking a bit sheepish, the install crew confessed that it hadn't been available, but "don't worry, we brought something else". Great, I think! No problemo. The "something else" appeared, to my untrained eye, to be a couple of skateboards. So, we ended up with our massive window being rolled up the close on a couple of skateboards, being held at 45 degrees by a telehandler and 10 or so guys not all of whom shared a common language. To be honest, it went better than it should have done. The only hairy moment was when the tyre of the telehandler hit a drainpipe and it cracked with a noise EXACTLY like breaking glass. I was at the street end and couldn't see the window, just heard the cracking noise and a lot of a shouting. I was pretty convinced I was about to HAVE the baby. Terrifying. But, all in all ... TADAHHH! Over the next couple of days, all the windows were fitted and we were (nearly) watertight. Exciting progress.
  8. 11 points
    With the 2019 season now here, I've spent the last couple of weekends doing a bit of tarting up around the outside of the wee house. Little things that you don't think really matter, but the end result looks far more 'finished'. I was never very sure how to complete the gable ends of the house- whether to box them in or not- but eventually decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the space for a log store. I think it looks pretty good, and it's tempting to do the same on every side of the house, although those elevations do see a lot more wind and rain. My current obsession with processing my log pile is all down to a fantastic book I was given: 'Norwegian Wood- chopping, stacking, and drying wood the Scandinavian way'. Highly recommended, and an absorbing read even if you never intend to ever light a fire. The other bit of work has been to create a gravel path around the side of the house, and so properly edge the gravel area underneath the house. The only downside of all this work is that it makes the lumpy lawn look even worse than it did before
  9. 11 points
    The Timber Frame company arrived on site on a very wet mid-January morning. Very quickly wagon loads of components started to arrive and before long every space around the slab and up the drive was dotted with Ikea style flat packs, assorted timber and steelwork. The first job was to floor out over the basement to form a flat working platform for the main house erection. The original specification called for pre-stressed concrete floor panels, these were changed to Posi-joist, as this gave us space within the joist to locate services, ducting, electrics and waste etc. With the basement floor in place, the sole plate was positioned, levelled and fixed ready to attach the wall panels. With every panel, piece of timber, beam and noggin precut in the factory and numbered and with a full set of drawings, the house started to take shape quickly. Four weeks later and the roof timbers were in place and the next job is to fit the roof.
  10. 9 points
    Since our last entry we've been concentrating of getting the standing seam roof covering on. It's one of those jobs where it would be nice to do someone else's roof before doing your own. We're using a roofing system from Blacho Trapez, broadly similar to the Tata colourcoat. It requires no crimping and minimal special tooling. It's around half the price of Colorcoat. The HPS200 coating we chose comes with a forty year guarantee. Our first impressions is that it's a quality product that's really well thought out. I'll raise a topic thread on the roof system with detail information from our install.. Here's a link to the Blacho documentation for more info: https://www.blachotrapez.eu/pl/26/instrukcje It was another Buildhub find. Back in April we came across an entry where one of the members @Patrick Who wanted to buy his roof abroad and was looking for someone to share transport cost. Enter Patrick, we exchanged emails and found we were going to need a roof on a very different time frame as Patrick is still in the site clearance phase and we were going to be ready to start in around six weeks. Lots of emails were exchanged and there was much head scratching over which components to order, In the end it turned out that three Buildhub members wanted roofs making sharing transport even more attractive. Patrick had been in contact with Blacho for some while, he's multi lingual himself and has a Polish wife. Without their help it would have been just too complex to sort our way through the parts catalogues even with the help of google translate. Having managed to get a list of parts we thought would do the roof, it occurred to us it would be good to get the guttering from the same source. It proved to be a step too far, we decided against it as the chances of getting all the required components correct the first time round was just too daunting, All is not lost though as it now looks as though there may well be an opportunity to get some steel guttering from them in future to replace the UPVC we have. Back to the roof and installing it. The three roofs were ordered and transport arranged to collect them from the factory on 03rd and deliver them to the UK on the 6th. The other Buildhub member ordering a roof is Greg, who is a builder with a yard with plant to unload and was happy to store the roofs ready for collection. The initial plan was to have all three roofs delivered to Greg's place and then we would collect, again Greg could help out as he has a lorry. The only slight problem was some of our roof sheets are 7.2M long and too long for the lorry. More negotiation with the transport company and they agreed to do a second drop off for a an additional 200Euros. All set for an 11:30 delivery on the 6th, we had arranged to have help to unload, no machinery just bodies. To our surprise and dismay we turned up on site at 7:40am on the 6th to find the delivery lorry already waiting...with just Pat and I to unload...by hand. Help was at hand in the form of the two guys who had come that day to do our roof insulation spray foam. They were brilliant, and between the four of us we had the roof sheets off their palettes and safely stacked on site. In addition to the sheeting there where also two smaller pallets for the other roof components, such as barge boards, eaves edges, screws etc. The lorry driver was getting a little fraught by this stage as it was all taking longer than it should have, not aided by lack of a shared language and the delivery documentation all being in Polish. Having unloaded and sent the driver on his way we started to look at the delivery documentation, this time under less time pressure. It turned out we had most of Greg's and some of Patrick's accessories. No big deal as we had already arranged to follow the lorry to Greg's yard to say hello and to borrow some roof tools that he had kindly offered to lend us. Meanwhile the delivery of the materials for our render arrived, 72 x 20kg sacks plus 20 x 25 kg tubs all to be shifted onto site..Just got that cleared when our MVHR system arrived, hotly followed by a soffit board delivery. Once done we set about loading the roof bits, only to find the length and volume of bit's overwhelmed the Jazz and we had to borrow a van great for volume but not so good for the 2M lengths and required me driving with my seat fully forward. Two and a half hours of agonizing cramp we arrived at Greg's, said our hellos and exchanged parts so we had the bits we needed to complete our roof. Finally got home around 10pm, oh the joys of a self build. A day to draw breath and it was time to start putting the roof on. The sheets themselves are 540mm wide and supplied to the customers required lengths up to a maximum of 8M, Being just 0.5mm thick steel they are not heavy but they are fragile, picking up a long sheet badly will result it it creasing, so care is required handling the sheets. The sheets had been packed at the factory front to front with polystyrene packing spacers which had stuck to the surface of the sheet requiring it to be cleaned prior to installation. After a bit of head scratching we decided to use a ladder to support the sheets. With the ladder tied to the scaffold we loaded each sheet, one person pulling the sheet from the top and another raising the bottom of the ladder we managed to slide the first sheet onto the front of the roof. All a bit “Heath Robinson” but it worked. Each sheet was then fixed in place and the process repeated. Soon we had a good part of the front roof in place. Cleaning loading and fitting was taking about an 90 minutes a sheet. Doing uninterrupted areas of roof with decent access proved straight forward and the front part of the main roof was done in a couple of days. Then we started on the rear of the house. This part of roof has two large roof lights and requires sheets to be joined as the roof length 10M exceeds the 8M max sheet length. The roof has two sections one slightly shorter at 7.2M, the largest of the sheets we had ordered. It quickly became apparent that there was no way we could get a 7.2M sheet onto the roof from the rear of the house. At this length the sheet is very fragile and requires multiple supports to stop it from folding. We quickly abandoned any hope of using them. Fortunately we had ordered some surplus material, so not the end of the world. We decided to start on the side of the roof with the roof lights to allow us to minimise sheets cuts. Partick had kindly volunteered to come over to get some first hand experience of the Blacho system. We started framing the roof lights. All did not go to plan and found that we had a 10-15mm alignment problem, nothing to do with Patrick just a bad datum line. No easy way to correct this so we removed the sheets and started again from a more accurate datum line. Second time round was a better result all round and we were able to continue across the main roof section. A lot of work but worth it..now we just need a good downpour to validate the flashing. . By good fortune a thunderstorm provided a test for the flashing, all was nice and dry round the roof lights. Sigh of relief all round, the roof is now on.
  11. 9 points
    If plasterers were musicians, mine would be Elvis (except my plasterer is still alive, obvs!) or some arena-filling brain-melting rock god, because that's how good his plastering is. Just ask Nick - he's been trying to coax him away for the last 3 weeks and he's had to accept failure as he doesn't travel (far). Anyhow, Ian the Plasterer has now left the building apart from a teensy last bit in the hallway that can't be done until the new stairs arrive, so 99% there. The week just gone saw the most challenging part of the plastering, which was the drop down the stairwell and the box section along the floor/upper ceiling run, which isn't one for a person with the slightest touch of vertigo. To get this done, the temporary staircase had to be removed and a compact but tall scaffold hired in to allow access. A youngman board was run across from the landing to the scaffold stage so that the width of the area could be accessed. As the last of the plasterboard was going up, we packed in as many of those pesky offcuts as we possibly could as this was our last chance to dispose of this within the walls of the house. It looked like some random form of plasterboard modern art as it was going up. Clearly, you can see that the stairs have been removed. Also moved temporarily was the UFH manifold that's been sitting comfortably under the stairs, as we didn't want any damage to come to that whilst Ian the Plasterer was doing his thing. Here's a not very good shot of the boarded stairwell and a peek at the edge of the PB lifter putting the board onto the hallway ceiling. The stairs are now on the floor in the lounge. Whether they will return to their original position depends on how long the permanent staircase takes to arrive, which is unknown right now as I need to have a chat with a couple of people about a couple of things, but I should be ordering it early next week. In the meantime, here's the stairway to nowhere. Back to the plastering, things are looking very different now that it's all done and drying out. The building instantly feels more solid and less like a construction site. The utility room is all done now and I intend to get in there next week with Jeremy's trust paint sprayer and then emulsion. There isn't that much going in the way of units going into the utility - just 4 in total. It will house a fridge, freezer and washing machine, then the units will continue along the same wall and have a work surface running above them. I've deliberately kept it less full as it's useful to have some empty space for all the things that fill up dumping grounds voids that most households naturally have. This is the other end of the utility, going through to the garage. Lying on the utility floor there, you can see my Howdens primed MDF doors, which are destined for upstairs and one between the utility and the main house. I hope to get started on painting these soon. The doors for most of the downstairs are currently in production over in the Netherlands, due to arrive around the 5th April, and these will be fully finished so no need to paint or anything, just add hardware and hang. After some research and a little back and forth, it turns out that the Netherlands is a great place to go for over-height doors. This is because what we consider to be over-height is entirely standard to them and you can get pretty much any size up to 2300 with no bother at all. Very handy for those large doorways of mine downstairs. We've planned to have low level lights in the hallway for some time now and Nick suggested ones that can be put in flush with the plasterboard and then plastered in. It sounded like a good idea so I ordered them and they arrived a few days later. Cue panic on my part as they appeared enormous and were way deeper than I was expecting. I had to measure them several times and be convinced that they wouldn't come out of the wall behind them. As it was, only a screwdriver point did that. The lights weigh a tonne - they are moulded plaster of Paris and very odd looking things, but look good once they go in. Here's the side view of the light that needs to be lost in the cavity of the stud wall. What a whopper! And here they are once they've been plastered in. Finishing off on the plastering, here's a view of the bottom part of the scaffold tower that I've hired for the occasion. Even though the stairwell is plastered, I've kept the tower as I need to paint the stairwell and the prep for this means masking the long window, so I need the extra height for this. Ian the Plasterer was cursing the weather that day as the sun was beating in and that long window faces almost due south. He was bemoaning the fact that you could see every single ripple in the plasterboard and even the slightest imperfection stuck out like a sore thumb. Overly critical of his own work as he is, he was very relieved when it was pointed out to him that there will be a brise soleil in front of that window eventually, which will smooth out his ripples in a jiffy. The last bit of plastering is a slight change of plan in the bathroom. Originally, the slanted wall opposite the door was going to be tiled all the way to the top and the MVHR extract hidden with a false panel covered by a tile. After some discussion, it was decided that this would look horrible as the side walls are only going to be tiled part way up. We still needed a work around for where the wall protrudes to house the cistern for the wall mounted loo and decided that continuing the theme of niches in the bathroom, a large portrait-style one above the loo would look good. I suggested that the MVHR outlet could then come down via the 'ceiling' of the niche, but Nick went one better and it will come out on the right hand side of the niche wall, above the bath, and so be virtually invisible. As ever, a sharp bit of plastering from Ian. Plenty more has been going on inside, but let's step outside for a breath of air as it was busy there, too. The next set of groundworks have started. These comprise the surface water and foul water drainage, the driveway between the garage and the lane and the hard standing to the side of the garage. In addition, the surface water will now all be diverted to the pond, which overcomes the potential issue of how to deal with this on our heavy clay site. I've swapped groundworkers for this stage of the works. Sadly, my previous groundworker came through with a ridiculously inflated quote for the drainage work and as I already had another firm waiting in the wings as I have to install a dropped curb between my drive and the lane, I decided to use them for all the work as they were far more reasonable. I'm afraid there are no thrilling photos of the groundworks as it looks very similar to how the site has looked since the onset of winter - wet and boggy, with a few trenches here and there. However, I'm delighted that the drainage works are progressing, albeit with being called off for a few days due to the awful storms we've been having, as it means that as soon as they are done we can press on with the cladding and get the building properly watertight. As well as the groundworks, the balustrades for the balconies started going in last week. The east balcony is completed and the supports and railings are in on the west with the glass to follow shortly. There was a problem with a couple of panels not being the right size so I'm waiting on those, then the guys will be back to finish the installation. When I first ordered the balustrade, I had a minor panic shortly afterwards. I had requested that all the metal work should be powder coated in RAL 7016 to match the windows and be close to the colour of the slate. The panic was due to my wondering whether I should have gone for brushed steel or something a bit brighter. Come the day, however, the darker shade of anthracite grey was the right choice as it blends seamlessly with the windows and slate cladding on the upper storey, so much so that standing in the lane, the railings disappear and only the glass is obvious. Phew! Here's the balustrade viewed from the balcony. The same from the top of a pile of wood chippings in what will be the garden: And, finally, from the lane. The building looks very austere at the moment, but once the stone cladding goes on, it will be transformed again. It's a bit chilly outside, so let's go back indoors. Work has been continuing on the kitchen and the laminate worktop is in situ now, as well as the sink. Photos on that to follow next week once the clamps are off. I had been pondering the support post for the overhang on the island worksurface, and how to overcome my dislike for most of the ready made options out there. I really didn't want a metal post as it would look incongruous against everything else in the kitchen and so in one of those late night flashes of inspiration that occasionally come along, I decided to ask Harry the Carpenter to clad some timber with the laminate splashback to make a post that matched the underside of the breakfast bar part of the island. Harry did his thing, and I'm pleased with the result. Much as with the balustrade against the slates, it largely disappears into the background of the recess under the walnut worktop. I've been busy sanding and painting and all things decorating. The snug has now had its 2 coats of vinyl emulsion and I'm working my way through the prep for painting my ready-primed MDF skirting and architrave. I hate prep. Tedious, boring, and there's no way to get out of it. However, it will be worth it once all the 'woodwork' is all white and pristine. One thing that has become apparent since I painted the snug is the difference a paint base makes. The neutral colour that I'm using everywhere is called Borrowash, from Brewer's Albany paint range. In the snug and low traffic areas, I'm using standard vinyl emulsion but for the hallway and lounge, I'm using durable vinyl. All in the same shade, just a different base. So what, you may ask. Well, here's the thing. They come out different colours. I chose the colour on the basis of the standard vinyl - this is how it appears in the colour chart and sample pots, and it's a warm grey/beige, more beige than grey. The durable version, however, is much cooler and more grey than beige. I painted the lounge first with the durable stuff and a little while back did one of the bedrooms with the standard emulsion. I commented at the time how the light made them appear to be different colours except, as I now know, they really are different. It's not a problem as I like them both and they aren't next to each other in the same room, but it's worth bearing in mind if you plan to use the same colour in different bases. Here's the snug all painted up, looking out to the hallway. And another of the same. Finally, as I started the blog with Elvis, it seems appropriate to finish it with a bit of a light show. Team Blackmore worked hard on the ceiling feature in the lounge but up until now, it's been uncertain just how well (or not) it would work out with lights. Nick, the little devil, couldn't bear to wait any longer and so one evening last week, he temporarily rigged up some LED strip lights on the feature. All I can say is that Team Blackmore had a smile on its face when it saw this. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the ceiling lights. p.s. I was on site to do a clean up today whilst it was nice and quiet there. There had been plenty of cursing during the week as Nick started to tackle the en suite shower for the master bedroom. Foul things were coming out of both ends of him the day after his curry night and the recalcitrant shower wasn't doing much to improve his mood. I noticed this today, written on a piece of board in the base of the shower recess.
  12. 8 points
    At the end of my next two blog instalments, you may all be shouting OMG YOU FOOL at the screen a couple of people asked for a no frills no BS account, warts an all they said. Ok it’s coming i think there are more than a couple of people on here that will probably need a Prozac and a lie down if they even considered going the route I have. Well time will tell. If I come back with a blog of how my house fell down or is full of cracks, I will stand here and allow you to all tear chunks of me. So after all the extra concrete had gone from my build site I was left with a bare patch that looked like the Somme. and then it rained,and rained. So we have worked out we are on bad ground, and some form of extra measures will be needed, 1. Ground investigation survey. £1500-£2500 2. Engineer to design slab ,foundations. £2500-£5000 these where the prices quoted from two different companies that turned up to have a look. Both companies stated that I would need some form of piles no matter what type of foundation I placed on top. Raft, ringbeam whatever it would need a pile of some description. So being the bloke I am I put my hi vis jacket on and drove over to the site down the road to talk to the piling team, I found out more about piling in 10 minutes than I had in a lifetime unfortunatly they thought they would be too expensive as they are a nationwide company and deal in multiple houses on big sites, so of to google a couple of local companies i got two companies out to talk to me and this is where it gets a bit interesting. This is how the first conversation went. Me. Hi piling guy, now to be referred to as pg. hi. Me. So I’ve had a quote for a ground investigating survey and there a bit shocking. Pg. yea piss takers pg. So looking at the drawings you sent me I have done some very rough calcs and you will need 29 piles spaced around the perimeter and two rows through the centre. He produced a CAD drawing with a piling layout showing which piles would be carrying a higher load due to floor loading etc i was more than slightly impressed. Me. So if I get the ground investigation done, you will work from that. Pg. what for I just told you what we will need to do. Me. Yea but, we need to pg. If you want to spend two grand being told your soil is crap that’s up to you, I thought you just told me it’s crap me. I did but won’t we need it for the engineer pg. what engineer, I’ve just done it for you, all your loadings have been given to our in-house engineers and that’s who designed that cad drawing your looking at. Me. Oh. Pg. I don’t mind if you want to pay some plonker in a BMW £5000 to tell you you’ve got crap ground and you need piles driven to 7-8 metres that’s up to you, Me. Oh. Me. So you design each pile to take a design load of the wall that’s going on top of it, plus floors and roof and, er, er pg. yep. Me. But I will need the engineer to design the ringbeam that ties it all together pg. Nope. We do that all in one design package, piles ringbeam, steel bar schedules everthing this bloke said is exactly how I envisioned it done if I was the piling company, no knobs in suits with their pinstriped trousers tucked in their wellies, good solid blokes, no bullshit, no messing been doing it 30 years, exactly as I am, take it or leave it. I was starting to like this guy, in a manly way you understand. Pg. so that’s it lad I will have a quote over to you in the next day or two. so 3 days after the quote arrived I laid a piling Matt for the rig to sit on, nothing fancy as the piling rig only weighs around 5 tonne. So. No ground investigation, no separate engineer and I was just on the verge of instructing both at a cost of about £6000 all in. Every differant saying was rushing around in my head. FOOLS RUSH IN WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. 3 weeks later this lot turned up bloody hell that’s a lot of steel, 58, 4m steel tubes making 29 driven piles all going in the ground 8m. The next day a couple of lads turned up with the piling rig. For the next 4 days they proceeded to upset everthing within a 300m radius bong,bong,bong, the piling rig looks a bit unassuming but it has a 500kg weight that is lifted to the top of the mast and dropped down the steel tube, the ground shakes for a good 25m around it, over half the piles went down to there design SET, the rest stopped at REFUSAL somwhere between 6-7m. So thats it thats how I roll.
  13. 8 points
    So, I just remembered that I actually had this blog. I'm killing time waiting for a phonecall, so, updates! Over a year later! Stuff has happened. Lots of stuff. Lots of money. Many tears. Some moments of "FFS, what?!", many moments of "HOW MUCH?" and "how the feck does this bloody shower fit together?" and a few, rare, beautiful moments of "woah, that looks awesome". The last entry ended on a lovely "woah" moment of the successful pouring of our beautiful concrete floor throughout the ground floor plan. It pissed down the next day, obviously. Then MBC went away, laden with cakes, pies and phone numbers of eligible single ladies from the area. A week later, they came back. My new job is a long commute away, and I had to work that day. On my way to the station (hideously early), I saw a truck drive past, laden with bits of house. "That's our house", I thought to myself, I just knew it. I text my husband to share the momentous culmination of our wonderful joint enterprise and was mercilessly mocked that it probably wasn't our house, as it was far too early. Ha! How I laughed when the driver called him approximately 10 minutes later to say he was stuck in the narrow road outside our site, couldn't turn the lorry sharp enough to get into the access point and was blocking every single (extremely angry) person in our medieval town from getting to work. That was a brisk drive to site for him. There were many people in hi-viz, a lot of shouting and gesturing, a lot of sharp intakes of breath, a few calls to the police to track down owners of badly parked cars and a huge amount of car horn tooting. Oh, and a LOT of apologising. But, the truck made it into the site. Just. To the never-ending delight of my small son, there was also an absolutely ENORMOUS crane. I was later informed this in fact this is an embarrassingly tiny crane, the smallest one that you can possibly hire and really hardly worth the bother. I feel like the driver may have had some adequacy issues with his crane size. So, whilst I was in a meeting, they just wacked the house together. At lunchtime, I called for a catchup FaceTime and the ground floor was pretty much finished! I mean, WHAT? The speed was insane. By the time I got to site later that evening (about 7.30pm), all the ground floor panels and internal partitions were in. My husband and I just walked around rooms, giggling insanely to ourselves at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The next day, second storey on. Unbelievable. By the end of the week (in fact, I don't even think it was full week) the whole frame was up. We were a little shellshocked, to be honest. There was a lot of head scratching about how to run the falls on the roof. This had been discussed and obviously designed in, but our roofer had some input whilst MBC were on site. They were very good and spent a lot of time working out the best way to make it work for what we needed (singly ply membrane roof, adequate falls, hidden box gutters) and did a lot of extra work in conjunction with the other trades. Our roofer also risked the wrath of his wife by coming to a site meeting on a saturday and was subsequently late for a family BBQ oops. Oddly, once the frame was up and see could feel the room sizes in 3D, they suddenly felt absolutely massive again. Such a convincing illusion - it's very hard to visualise 3D space from a 2D footprint. Next up? The joys of roofing and zinc cladding And winter
  14. 8 points
    Apologies for the lack of updates on the blog. Things have been quite taxing over the past couple of months, coming to terms with my Dad's unexpected passing. I have struggled to find my feet, and to get anchored in the present again. My beautiful wife Kim and my (mental) kids have been amazing, and I think that I am ready to carry on in earnest. Long story short, I am getting my mojo back a bit now, so expect a big update in the next 48h - there might even be a bit of skin on show! 😉
  15. 8 points
    Most of the internal work to date has focused on insulating the suspended timber floor and with this completed our joiners could come back and put down the sub floor. We considered two different materials for the subfloor: 22mm OSB or 22mm Chipboard. We decided to use chipboard as it was 25% cheaper then OSB. Plywood would have been another option but this would have been more expensive than the chipboard as well. To do this job we needed just over hundred sheets of chipboard, 2800 Spax screws and 6 bottles of expanding PU foam glue. Whilst our joiners were on site they also attached some ply and osb boards to the internal load bearing walls. This will provide additional racking strength to the house. As I can walk around all part of the house here are some photos: The porch and utility room The kitchen/dining room Living room which has a part vaulted ceiling and the eventually the French doors will lead onto a decked area. When this is framed it will be a bathroom, hall & stairs Master bedroom and en-suite And upstairs: Two bedrooms on the gable ends. A key feature of these rooms is a PK10 top hung velux. The middle sections between the gable bedrooms will be a wardrobe, WC and a storage cupboard. This area has three PK10 veluxs. Having a floor down feels like a big step forward for us. One of the benefits for me is that I now have space to store materials within the house, as previously it was very awkward as often these had to be shifted around numerous times to complete a single job. The next job is back to insulating, this time in the rafters.
  16. 7 points
    Da Dahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
  17. 7 points
    We’ve just done our final concrete pour, in fact two pours in one week. From ground floor to gables in two weeks with Easter in the middle is quick, a little too quick to enjoy. We can now get a real sense of how the house will look. Next week we are ready to start work on the roof. Before building the first floor, a temporary floor was laid around the room perimeters using 12mm OSB. This was done to provide a working area to build the blocks from and allow bracing to be put in place without damaging the final floor. 12mm board seemed awfully thin to walk on! . With our builders now familiar with the wall plans the blocks went up very quickly indeed. In practice it takes longer to do the bracing and shuttering than to do the building. Not having to cut blocks on site is a major advantage, not just from an accuracy point of view but it also makes the site much cleaner. Some ICF sites look as though it’s been snowing with polystyrene. As mentioned in out last blog entry we had the option to do a single pour combining the first floor and gables. We’re really glad it was done in two stages, attempting it in one pour would almost certainly caused major bracing issues and risked the block work due to the higher pressures resulting from the depth of concrete. Never thought I would be happy to shell out £1000 on a pump. Having no experience of other build methods it’s not easy to evaluate the pro’s and con’s of each system. For us, the need to use concrete pumps has to be the worst aspect of ICF. It just seems like you’re never quite ready and there’s another dozen details to attend to before it starts. With multiple companies involved for boom pumps and concrete delivery, it’s both expensive and difficult to get people to turn up when you asked for them. Our last pour was scheduled for 11am and the concrete lory finally arrived a 3:30pm...To add to the entertainment the pump has to be vented after use. This involves a set of guys you probably won’t see again and want to be elsewhere dumping large volumes of concrete on your site. After three pours we have somewhere in the region of three tons of set concrete to break up and pay to dispose of. Some of the last lot got dumped on next doors newly block paved drive. Lots and lots of cleaning up. It’s not too much of a surprise that the builders don’t include this in there list of responsibilities. Definitely the Achilles heel of the ICF build method. Enough moaning, it’s been a long couple of weeks with many disturbed nights worrying irrationally about being a lego brick short at the end of the build. We now have a house, no roof, but hey we have to do something next week.
  18. 7 points
    Bang on schedule the raft components arrived on Monday morning. We knew it would be quite a big volume of material on a small site and getting it unloaded and put somewhere it would not get damaged or need moving was s little tricky. JUB insisted on sending the raft on pallets. Our builder was not that impressed with this as unloading the lory requires a folk lift which is something we don't have on site. So we had to hire a set of folks for the digger. With the raft safely stored at the back of the plot the work to prepare the site progressed. The drainage had been marked in the site setting out exercise along with electrical and water ducting. Trying to keep raft punctures to a minimum but also allow for future needs was a concern. In the end we kept it to a minimum with electrical conduit for the rain and foul water pumps and two for water. Along with the raft we received a letter from our neighbours complaining that I had put our water meter box on their garden wall. In retrospect a valid complaint, it was one of those decisions made in expediency without enough thought. Our water supplier Portsmouth Water will now only make new connection when an above ground water meter box is installed. I duly bought the one box they permit (so much for choice), water pipe and water conduit. Not having a house on which to mount the box, I made the required connections and left the box mobile so it could be put in place in due course. At which point I called in the Portsmouth Water, regrettably they said they could not make the connection until the box was in situ. Having explained our situation and the need to get water on the site it was suggested I could mount the box on the wall by our property. At this stage I should have thought about it rather than simply get on with it, my mistake entirely. The wall it outside my boundary, by millimetres true , but still NOT ours. Our neighbours were not impressed so Monday was spent moving the box and apologising to my neighbours. I shuttered and cast concrete into the wall footings and backfilled with type 1 MOT to repair the wall. Having done this I then putting in two concrete posts 200mm inside our boundary and mounting the water meter box on them. This is what I should have done in the first place. Slightly different subject, the Groundbreaker Water box, this is the only box that Portsmouth Water will connect to. At around the £150 mark it's a pretty hideous piece of kit both aesthetically and in product design terms for installation. Given their current monopoly and the fact that all new connections will require one it made me consider looking into producing an alternative. A swift kicking from the boss and I was reminded to get on with the house...maybe later once the house is done. . With the drainage in place the MOT type 1 sub base was spread over the raft area, levelled and compacted. Our builders ICF-homes did this with considerable care and we ended up with a good surface to spread the sand layer which was again compacted before putting down the membrane. Our structural engineers had specified a Radon barrier, we ended up using a standard plastic DPM as Radon is not a problem in our area. The DPM gets glued to the side of the raft sealing it and providing some additional protection for the polystyrene. . With the membrane down the work of setting out the raft. The perimeter is all keyed together It took a while to get the corners located precisely but once this was done the raft slotted together very well with a really solid interlock. The raft was then completed by adding the rebar, four layers around the perimeter. All in all a lot of steel, Pat and I spent most of Saturday morning helping get the rebar in place and wire tying it to make is solid before the concrete pour. Our raft is now complete and this week the surface water drainage will go in. Along with the problem with the water meter box our neighbours also bought up the "Party Wall act". Doing a self build is nothing if not educational. The act came into law following problems with basement excavations in London. It dictates that excavations in close proximity to your neighbours 0-6M have to be notified and agreed. In our case we were within notifiable distance, but fortunately were not excavating to a notifiable depth. Our builders were not familiar with the act and no mention had been made by building controls. The act did effect our other neighbours and I contacted them letting them know what work has been done. Fortunately all the excavations were made and backfilled without incident. Hoping for a less eventful week to allow us to regroup before our first block delivery next Monday. As this is the first build for JUB in the UK the factory are sending someone on site to assist with the build and wall bracing. It's very positive to see the house taking shape, we have our EPC which suggests we should require in the region of 68wats/K to heat the house which is great, but we still only come out as a "B" energy rating! the rating system is bonkers.
  19. 7 points
    In Part 22, I detailed my decision making process in relation to my choice of a pre-plumb Mitsubishi Ecodan 8.5kW ASHP based DHW and heating system. I now have a full set of data covering 12 months so can provide figures in respect of how the system, and our house has performed. My baseline requirement was to maintain 21.5C in the house 24/7 throughout the heating season (October to April), and a supply of DHW water that would allow multiple showers to be drawn off without a drop in the temperature of water delivered at the tap. The Mitsubishi FTC5 master controller / thermostat is set to 21C, and is located in the hall next to the vestibule. DHW is set to and stored at 50C. Over the 12 months March 2017 – March 2018, heating COP ranged between a February low of 3.3 to an October high of 4.6 over the course of the heating season, with an overall SPF of 3.7 DHW COP ranged between a February low of 2 to a summer high of 2.5, with an overall SPF of 2.3 Based on a kWh electricity unit price (inc standing charge) of 12.3p, I paid 3.32p per kWh of delivered heat, and 5.34p per kWh of DHW (inc losses). It should be noted that DHW cylinder losses do slightly reduce my heating demand, albeit at a higher cost than if delivered via UFH. For a reminder of our layout: In winter, with a set temperature of 21C, the house sits at a comfortable even temperature, the main living section of the house tends to sit at 21.5C, the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms at 21C and the master bedroom at 20.5C. I suspect that the slightly lower temperature in our bedroom is due to the fact I set the MVHR vent at a higher supply rate than the other bedrooms. This would tally with my experience of doing the same in our last house. The two biggest factors that impact on our heating demand are wind speed and solar gain. In modelling our heating requirement, I took both into account, along with incidental and household gains. The weather data set was based on a combination of met office and local home weather station information. Our average wind speeds are significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, and combined with the effect of storm force wind speeds (which we get a fair bit of) we do have a higher heat demand when compared to the same house being located in a sheltered inland area. The impact of wind speed, and the differential in pressure it causes is illustrated here: http://www.wanz.co.nz/ConversionChart A doubling of wind speed sees the pressure increase by a factor of four. Average winter wind speeds of 15-20mph (which equates to the standard air pressure test) are common if not the norm here. Average storm wind speeds of 40-50mph gusting to 70-80mph are also common. The impact of the pressure differential that such wind speeds cause was illustrated to me during the build whilst I was decorating. Having masked off the windows with polythene it was noticeable that when wind speed exceeded 40mph, the polythene would inflate on the windward side of the house, and be sucked onto the glass on the leeward side. Whilst we’re not aware of any drafts and the house isn’t any way uncomfortable, looking at the daily heating requirement when wind speeds are high, you can see an increase in the amount of energy used. Part of that will be air leakage (as evidenced by the effect of pressure differential on the windows) part is the unbalancing of the MVHR (gusting wind from a particular direction can cause the fans to struggle), and part is the lack of solar gain on such stormy days. In terms of solar gain, the vast majority of any gain manifests in the public areas. In winter this provides a useful uplift in internal temperatures. Depending on how clear it is, and how long the sun is out, the uplift sometimes compares to having a WBS stove on and really is quite pleasant. More generally, with mixed winter weather, the gain is less noticeable in terms of a temperature spike, but does have the benefit of reducing our heating energy use. In summer, the gain can be significant and does require a cooling strategy. Without any active cooling, the house has at times risen to 25C in the public areas and 24C in the bedrooms. Alongside the MVHR summer bypass (set to activate when extract air is 22C or more) we cool the house down to a more comfortable 22C using cross ventilation, opening windows / taking account of the prevailing breeze. We also have a velux window upstairs, which when opened in combination with a downstairs window, creates a chimney effect that is very effective in exhausting hot air. The biggest downside in using cross ventilation is that it doesn’t work when the ambient temperature is high (not a very common), nor when there isn’t a breeze (again, not very common). You also have to factor in the unexpected as we had to recently as our neighbour undertook ground works, which created vast clouds of dust in the dry weather. Opening windows simply wasn’t possible on those days. Overall the predicted impact of solar gain is as I modelled it using data from the following two sites: https://www.susdesign.com/ http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php PVGIS provided daily average data, and from susdesign I was able to work out a peak solar gain multiplier to determine what the maximum likely amount of solar gain would be on a clear, cloudless day. Modelling solar gain for both heating and cooling requirement was a very worthwhile exercise as I was able to determine what our worst case requirements were for both, and what strategies would work. I’m fortunate in that the prevailing weather conditions here mean cross ventilation is a viable and workable strategy to deal with overheating. I am however in no doubt that had we built our house in a sheltered location in a warmer part of the country, that we would have a very real overheating problem and would have to use a very different strategy, most likely combining solar films on windows and active cooling. I do have the option of actively cooling my house using our ASHP, via the UFH and if I wanted by retrofitting a duct cooler into the MVHR system, although haven’t felt the need to do so yet. One plus point of the Mitsubishi Ecodan ASHP is that activating cooling is simple (changing a dip switch setting to enable the master controller). All in all, I’m very happy with the way the house is performing in terms of retaining heat and providing a comfortable environment in both winter and summer. The performance and running costs to date are certainly more than satisfactory. Of particular value to us is having sufficient heating capacity to deal with spikes in heating demand (resulting from especially stormy weather) as and when needed, without having to resort to auxiliary heaters or peak rate top up, and the simplicity of use of the master control system. Whilst I could if I so wished set flow temperatures and heating curves, the onboard auto / adaptive program requires one user input – internal set temperature, and the controller works out the lowest temperature way of delivering it. Whilst I had a very good idea of what our heating curve should look like, using the auto / adaptive mode saved a lot of trial and error, and having monitored flow temperatures, have not seen them exceed 32C. For those not comfortable with developing their own programming or control systems, this is a very big plus. Having looked at a variety of options, I concluded that an ASHP would be the most cost effective solution (even after taking into account the cost of replacing the outdoor unit after 10 years) to meeting our requirements, and 12 months on, I have absolutely no doubt that I selected the right system for our requirements. Whilst I have no hesitation in recommending the ASHP system I have, it is important to recognise that low energy or passive type builds really do need to be modelled and individual requirements identified to determine what type of heating, cooling and DHW provision is required.
  20. 7 points
    Having got all of the groundwork out of the way, it was time to build the timber frame. We were carrying out a stick build, ie: we purchased the i-beams and glulams and the carpenters cut and assembled everything onsite like a huge jigsaw puzzle. We had looked into using a timber frame manufacturer, but we had a good team of carpenters who had experience of stick building a frame, so it didn't seem to make any sense changing a proven formula. Initial jobs were to get the scaffold up and sole plate down. First i-beams were installed on 3rd Dec and by the end of the day, the main i-beams for both gables were up. The work is not helped by the weather which is cold and wet. You need to be pretty resilient to be work outdoors in this weather, nevertheless good progress is made and by 6th Dec the walls are up and parallam beams and ledgers have been fitted. Big day on Dec 10th as we finally manage to get the electricity switched on. No more generators which should make everyone's life a little easier on site. We now have water and electricity on site and only need to connect to the mains drains at some stage in the future. First floor joists together with the MVHR ducting that needs to pass through these joists is next to be installed and state of play on Dec 12th is as pictured below. The first floor is glued to the joists on December 14th. The view from the top of the scaffold isn't bad either. There is no way the big heavy glulam ridge beam is going to be manually handled up to the top of the roof, so on the 17th Dec a crane is hired to help out with this operation. It is the only time during the build that a crane is required. Everything else has been manually shifted into place. The i-beam roof rafters can now be put into place and on the last day before the teams Christmas break, most of the rafters are in place. Following a couple of weeks break for Christmas, the rafters are quickly finished off and by January 9th the skeleton of the house is in place. Over the next couple of weeks the house is clad with panelvent on the outside and smartply on the inside and then wrapped in membrane so that by the 22nd Jan, the house is looking like this.
  21. 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.
  22. 6 points
    Having originally planned then dropped the idea of Solar PV (a combination of budget constraints and drop in FiT rates) I recently acquired a number of Solar PV panels (a pallet bought in conjunction with @ProDave from Bimble Solar via Ebay). Having recently collected the panels, lengths of mounting rail and various other bits and bobs @ProDave had kindly sourced, I fitted the system over the last two Saturdays. First off was mounting the rails on my rear, SW facing garage wall. I decided to mount the panels vertically simply for ease - a ready made structure to fix the rails to, and easy access to a consumer unit for the grid connection. There is a penalty in terms of a reduction in annual generation compared to a sloped array, however simplicity won out. The following picture shows the garage wall with rails fixed; To start I nailed packers to the cladding to ensure I had a drainage gap behind the rails. I then fixed the rails (Unistrut - a tip from @Onoff) through the cladding, cladding battens into the timber frame of the garage using timber drive bolts I happened to have. As the lengths of Unistrut I had were offcuts (only way I could transport them) I used joiners secured to the channel with bolts/channel nuts. Finally, I added hanging brackets for each panels to help carry the weight of each panel / so I wasn't reliant purely on bolts clamping the panels in position. I fitted the panels, sitting them on the hanging bracket and bolting them around 300mm from top and bottom as pictured; The ends were secured using Z brackets I cut down using a grinder (thanks @JSHarris) so that they clamped only the frame and did not overhang the panel itself; Long M6 bolts with large washers were used to secure the panels into the rails where they met with each other; The channel nuts (also known as Zebedees) into which the long M6 bolts were secured; I used M8 bolts and channel nuts for the joiners, end and hanging brackets. My electrician connected the system up, wiring the panels to a DC isolator, into the Inverter which in turn is wired into the garage CU via a meter and AC isolator. 2 hours work for him. Switched on, the Inverter ran through all its self tests and everything okay. Sadly at that point it clouded over and the heavens opened so only a few watts being generated. Fortunately, today has been a bright and sunny day (albeit a bit hazy) and my 1.5 kWp system is as we speak, generating 1.2kW. The following shot was taken yesterday just before the rain came on, but all in all, I'm pleased with the way it looks (panels mounted so they read visually with house windows). Cost wise the system (1.5kWp plus a spare panel), mounting rails, nuts, bolts, brackets, isolators, meter and electrician (@Prodave was kind enough to give me the DC cable he had left over which was just enough for the job) total £550. I already had the inverter. Final job within the next 28 days is to notify the DNO of the installation.
  23. 6 points
    We had lived in the 1920s timber framed bungalow for the last ten years, which although small, allowed us to live comfortably enough while doing the self build. After we moved into the new house we had three months to demolish the bungalow, which was a planning condition. We found out that the bungalow was stick built in the 1920s for farm workers as a Home for Heroes after the First World War. The main part consisted of four rooms and was constructed from 4"x2" timber, lined with Chrysotile asbestos boards and the outside clad with feather edge timber. It was built on a small concrete ring beam. In the 1950s the outside cladding was obviously deteriorating so was battened out and expanded metal mesh was added which was then rendered in pebbledash. At the same time a brick built extension housing a bathroom was added at the rear. In the 1980s a porch was added along with a full width rear extension housing a kitchen and bathroom. An oil fired central heating system was also added. We decided to dismantle the bungalow rather than knock it down as the site is small and the bungalow was less than 0.5m from the new house. This meant dismantling the bungalow in 'layers' and disposing of the materials before moving onto the next part. We took out the carpets, wiring and plumbing and disposed of that. We put all the doors and secondary glazing on Freegle and they were soon taken. While we were waiting for quotes for the asbestos removal we took off the pebbledash. We only realised how poor the state of the bungalow was when we started to dismantle it. The sole plate had rotted completely in places as had the bottom of some of the studs. We then had the internal asbestos boards removed and at the same time I took the asbestos slates off the roof. I was doing that when we had a very hot spell and the glue melted on the soles of a pair of my trainers and working boots, so they went in the bin. I was glad when that job was finished as were the asbestos removers inside the bungalow. Once the asbestos was gone we took off the sarking boards and feather edge cladding. The sarking boards were in quite good condition and went quickly on Freegle but the feather edge was shot so we cut it up and took it to the local tip. The rafters on the main part of the bungalow were 4"x2" and long and straight and went on Freegle for making chicken runs and animal houses. The rafters on the extension were 6"x2" and went to make a pergola. The main frame and studwork was taken by a couple of people for different things. The flooring went to someone with an old basement who wanted old timber flooring. The chimney breast and plinth wall yielded nearly 1600 bricks which someone took for a garden wall. We got homemade jam and some eggs in return. The last things to go were several hundred concrete blocks so now we just have a pile of mixed rubble left. We are wondering whether to crush it on site and use it for the driveway and shed base or have it taken away and buy in some type 1. We're pleased to have been able to dispose of most of the bungalow in a useful way by recycling the materials. It has also helped us by not having to pay for any of the demolition with the exception of the asbestos removal. It has been interesting stripping back the layers and seeing how it was constructed and altered over the years.
  24. 5 points
    Progress this week. More photos than words for now. HQ is set up, including the shower. After felling the trees on site, a few big machines visited to get the logs out. Leaving the site looking like this: The last few days have then involved a lot of muck moving and getting decent material out for the tracks and base, leaving us looking something like this: Next stop, foundations!
  25. 5 points
    The last entry was back in February when we put down some much needed flooring and we have made some progress on both the interior and exterior of the build. The first job was insulating the first floor. Two layers of 80mm quinn therm was then fitted between the rafters leaving a ventilation gap to the sarking/breathe membrane. A final layer of 25mm quinn therm layer on top with a service void. For the flat ceiling we used a couple of layers of frametherm 35 with an airtightness membrane and Quinn therm 25mm layer. We still have some work to do around the windows. Downstairs was a lot quicker. This already had frametherm fitted between the studs so the Quinn therm 25mm went on top. Now for the outside. We had been waiting for good weather for rendering the blockwork. The first step was rendering beads and mesh. Then a scratch coat coat was added. Then finally the rough casting. The rough casting will now be left and painted in July. The next step is getting the electrician and plumber to do first fix.
  26. 5 points
    Me plastering the kitchen and dinning room LINE_MOVIE_1559307156544.mp4 LINE_MOVIE_1559310773535.mp4
  27. 5 points
    We have been living in the house for almost a year now, how time flies. The Genvex Combi 185LS has performed really well, providing hot water and supplementary space heating. The MVHR system is part of Genvex Combi 185LS. One advantage of the Genvex ventilation system is that having an EASHP built in means that the supply air temperature is always slightly above room temperature even if it is not in heating mode. A standard MVHR unit would deliver air at a few degrees below room temperature, hence feeling cool, unless a post heater were fitted. I recently realised I had forgotten to write up the process we went through when setting up the ventilation. When we commissioned the ventilation system we set it up for the building regulations rates which were quite high. After the house had been signed off we changed the air flow rates to Passivhaus levels. The Genvex has four ventilation levels and the speed of the supply and extract fans can be altered for each level making it relatively easy to balance the system. To set the flow rates I used a Testo 405i anemometer fitted into a piece of flared ducting held over the supply or extract valve. The Testo 405i has a bluetooth link to a portable device running an app which stores and outputs the results. This makes the process much easier than having to write down results each time. I created a table of room volumes along with Passivhaus air change rates and from that calculated the flow rate and hence flow velocity. I then adjusted each of the room valves for the extract side starting with the room closest to the Genvex unit and then the next room further away until all the rooms were finished. This process was then repeated along with adjusting the fan speed until the required flow velocities were correctly set up for each room. This was then carried out for the supply side. We found that the set up procedure was very sensitive to wind speed, so we carried out the commissioning on a calm day.
  28. 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.
  29. 4 points
    We have a lot of roof and the only planning condition we have, is that we use local slate, 18 tonnes of it at a cost of £22k. So here’s the front roof of the house. And the rear roof of the house. A total of 18 separate roof planes in all! Why oh why did I let the architect talk me into this design? Once the Timber Frame company left a local roofer started to batten our the roofs for our random width, diminishing course roof. Everything was going swimmingly, however he complained of feeling dizzy whilst on the three storey section, so i sent him to the doctors. He’s very old school of farming stock and would probably be more comfortable going to the vets! The upshot is he was signed off sick and needed hospital tests. The doctor has told him no more roofs. So that’s it, he’s told me to find someone else! I’ve wished him a speedy recovery, he is a really nice local guy and I’m gutted for him as he’s no pension, so relies on local roofing and small building jobs. He’s irreplaceable, but somehow I had to find a replacement. If only I had a magic wand, I’d wave it for him.  Gutted!  Went to seek the advice of a neighbours regarding good local roofers. The upshot being, I’ve was told to hunt down a guy known locally as “Old Fruit”. I asked the neighbour “don’t you know his real name” the answer, “NO” I’ve only ever known him as Old Fruit” So I have no phone number and only a vague idea where he lives.  As luck would have it, the third house I tried was Old Fruits parents house. So I now know he’s called Chris and having looked at the job and agreed an hourly rate, he’s start battening the roof out. Fast forward a couple of weeks and he’s back and this morning the slates started going on in the pouring rain, Old Fruit is keen to get on with the job! More to follow........
  30. 4 points
    Hello folks, finally about to start my new build in Aberdeenshire so thought I would try and document it. I’ll do my best to keep it updated. It's been a long road to get here but the builders are due to start very shortly so the site has been stripped ready for them. Electricity is due to go in mid July, Scotframe kit in August and water will be getting dug in after herst. Below is a photo of the site plan so you have an idea of whats happening. Couple of photos to show the progress so far Site fenced off Sept 2018 Clearing the entrance and making a road in/turning area. Site strippped and ready for the builders to make a start. Next will be the sub build and electricity connection in a few weeks. I'll do my best to keep it updated but I normally forget to take photos
  31. 4 points
    Today our roof lights were installed. We are pleased with the finished product and how they fit. The blue sky and sunshine helps of course. Almost helped take the edge off the unexpected contract lift costs (£1380 in the end, but we have managed to avoid the additional VAT and we got him to lift some roof trusses off the scaffolding which saved a job). Their man on site today admitted that it had taken a long time to get to this point. Not wrong! The photos will hopefully do them justice. Already they make such a difference to the light inside the house. And the feature window (circular on the top, octagonal currently from inside) in the full height entrance hall is really fantastic. Any thoughts on how to get the internals finished on this octagonal light? I was wanting to make it circular (and the window company advises this so that we don't get any issues with condensation on the visible frame (which would be covered by the insulation if we did make it circular).
  32. 4 points
    After the rock 'n' roll plastering at the start of the month, the last 2 weeks have been all about getting stoned outside. The only drugs involved were caffeine and sugar, however, and the stone was for the perimeter drains around the house along with a few other bits. Inside, I've been busy decorating, of course, but photos of white rooms are getting a bit samey now, so they will be limited for the moment. I've been using Richard Moore Contractors for this phase of the groundworks, and they've been a pleasure to have on site. Really nice guys who know their stuff and got on with the job with a minimum of fuss and hassle. One of the big advantages for me of using a larger firm for this part of the work is their access to all their own plant and equipment - everything they needed was on hand when and where they needed it and I didn't need to organise anything for hire or delivery. A financial advantage of this is that the cost of the equipment is, effectively, free of VAT for me as everything is zero rated within the cost of the works. With a job this size, that can make a sizeable difference when compared with using non VAT registered labour only for jobs. This is at the start of the work, with trenches still being dug out and making sure the services that run around the perimeter of the garage are all staying in place. At this stage, everything was still in its post-winter boggy state, and the reduced dig left around the house was still looking like a very mucky moat. The moat was showing no sign of emptying so the guys pumped it out once they were ready to get started in there. Although the water around the house needed to go, we wanted to retain as much run-off from the roof as possible and divert this to the pond. To this end, all the guttering runs get collected into drains running around the western side of the house then to the pond via a drain that's been buried and comes out towards the top of the south tip of the pond. The outlet has been kept high where it exits to the pond to make sure that it doesn't flow back towards the house if the pond ever gets that full; there is also a decent fall on the pipe itself. This is part of the storm water drain that goes around the lounge, facing west. As well as putting the drains in, I asked the team to stone up for 1m beyond the building. This needs to be done anyway, but I also needed to get this done so that there is a firm base around the building for the next part of the team to put the stone cladding on, and also, once that's one, for the Contrasol guys to fit the brise soleil rails and fins outside the stairwell window. Here's the stoned up pathway along the front, going around to the west face. Whilst we're looking at the front door, I'm delighted to be able to post the following photo. For a few months now, the front approach to the house has been a bit on the wet side of things as the concrete that was spread there last autumn has gradually deteriorated with the lorries, vans and cars that have travelled over it on a daily basis. As well as having to walk the plank over some particularly deep puddles, the trigged up pallets and boards bridging the moat directly in front of the door was becoming increasingly perilous. Danger no more, however, as we now have solid ground in front of the building - luxury! A peep a little further around the corner shows the continuation of the path and the sewage tank going in. Prior to the tank going in, the old septic tank had been desludged - a nasty little hole in the ground that no one wanted to fall into. This was back-filled with stone and rubble then covered over when the spoil from the site was re-distributed. When we originally bought the site, the garden for the old bungalow ran to the north, parallel with the lane. The land has a slope to it going from the field down towards the lane, but there was pronounced hollow running the length of the garden that we had wanted to level out as this should make the area more useable in the winter, when there is a tendency for everything to get waterlogged. There was still some spoil left over from the pond, as well as everything that was dug out for the drains, so that was used to backfill. We have kept the topsoil that was scraped off the pond area, too, and this will be spread over the clay to give something decent to plant into. We are having an area of hardstanding next to the garage because, knowing what we're like, we will only be able to fit one car into the garage by the time we've filled it up with all the other stuff that can be put into an area like that, so we will need somewhere decent to park the cars. It's also useful for the sewage lorry to be able to pull in there and sling a hose over to the sewage treatment plant for de-sludging without blocking the lane. The guys have done a lovely job around there, and it's all nicely edged with kerb stones that flow into the edges of the driveway and down onto where it meets the lane. The amount of stone that's been put down on the site is large, over 100 tons, but then there's been a lot to do and we've also stoned up on the corner between the stairwell and the lounge where will we will form a patio of some sort. Here's a view of the hard standing going in, taken from the balcony. You can see where all the stones have been concreted in. And another taken from ground level. The hard standing merges into the driveway in front of the garage. The roadside edge of this has been increased in width by 2 kerb stones each side, on the advice of Matt, the groundworker. Besides looking better, it gives a much easier sweep up to the garage as there is quite a height difference between the garage floor and the lane, so turning in will be much easier with the more open drive. Here's the first of many lots of stone going down to build up the level. More of the same from the lane: Then with the kerb stones concreted in. And finally, with the kerbs along the lane/drive border. Everything there is ready and waiting for the final layer of tarmac, which will go down some time next week. Meanwhile, I've been doing yet more painting indoors, as previously mentioned. The large airless paint sprayer I borrowed from Jeremy is a little poorly at the moment and will be in the sprayer hospital tomorrow to have its tubes cleared out and should be back in service very shortly. I will need it again as I still have one bedroom to spray and I need the power of the large machine to reach up to the vaulted ceilings. However, I still needed to get the mists coats done on the landing, stairwell and hallway last week, as it was the ideal opportunity to get these high traffic areas done since I was the only one in the building. I was a bit stumped initially, but I had noticed the little electric sprayers in Lidl on Monday and then Weebles mentioned that they had bought one from Aldi. I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained and for £25 it was worth a shot. So I dashed down to the nearest Lidl in Blandford and got one of these little beauties. As it turned out, it was perfect for the job. The stairwell, in particular, is a little confined and with operating off a youngman board balanced between the scaffolding tower and a trestle on the landing, it would have been tricky to manoeuvre the larger machine around there. The little hand held sprayer did the job nicely and was much easier in the tight space, here: The results from the little sprayer are very different from the big airless system and you get a much more textured finish, but pleasant and perfectly acceptable. It is a pain having to refill the reservoir all the time, but not difficult. I poured the contract white into a big bucket and diluted in there, pouring into the reservoir. I confess that I didn't strain the paint and found that it was fine. The only time it gummed a bit was if I'd left it open overnight, but wherever there were any splatty spatters I just left them to dry and sanded them the day after. Sanding was quicker and less messy than straining many litres of paint. A couple of not very exciting photos of the hallway all masked up and misted: You can see from the masking you have to do that it would be tricky to get this part of the painting done if there were others working in the building at the same time. I've now put the vinyl coat on these areas too, but I was too knackered to take photos of that as I only finished them yesterday, so that morsel of excitement will have to be eagerly anticipated. I've also been painting the Howdens primed MDF doors and I'm pleased with how they turned out. I used a small fine textured roller and eggshell acrylic on top of 1 layer of white primer and very nice they look, too. Next week, Harry the carpenter (he's much too young to get all the Harry Carpenter jokes, we gave up ages ago) is back so he can get the kitchen finished off as the last of the laminate splashback arrived last week. He can also get on with some door hanging and then the utility units arrive next week. Nick is due at some point early next week as well, and he has it all to do given that everyone else is in the final stages of works now. The bathrooms and loos need to be done in their entirety, the MVHR unit needs to be installed in the loft and all the plant needs to be put into the garage. For my part, I have what feels like miles of skirting and architrave to get on with, some paint snagging to do and I need to organise timings on the cladding and brise soleil. I can't think too much beyond that right now, but I know there's plenty more to do after that - isn't there always?! Stay tuned, folks!
  33. 4 points
    Plaster boarding at least
  34. 3 points
    Here are a few photos of the refurbished bathroom when done, including the 'ease of use' items such a shower seat, except for a few finishing touches. (There are a couple of 'before aids added' photos which I have left in.) There is one more post to follow in this series, which will talk about a couple of final touches, and detail the costs of the project. [Edit: Added bonus video from the "Recommendations for Bathrooms for Elderly / Disabled" forum thread created for this project]
  35. 3 points
    With our final concrete pour over last Friday, we breathed a sigh of relief. The worst of the messy work was done and it we could start work on the roof. It was a heck of a week and loads got done, on a very busy and noisy site. Good for us but not for our neighbours. It’s a problem every build faces, maybe worse for a self build where you have known your neighbours for years and been on good terms. We’ve done what we can to keep noise down and not to work antisocial hours, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. Our last concrete pour should have started at 11am, the concrete lorry didn’t turn up until 3:30pm and as a consequence we were still working on site at 8pm. Then two days of incessant hammer drilling didn’t help. When you already feel like you’ve been put through a mangle, being confronted by an angry neighbour telling you they are at their wits end and that you’ve got to stop is not a good feeling. I think we are now past the worst of the noise but there is plenty of sheet to be cut and nailed down before we return to relative peace. Our plan for the week was for two experienced roofers to start work on Monday and have the roof done by Friday. As always it didn’t quite work out the way. First problem, the steel purlins (the beams that span the roof to support the rafters) were not in place. The sockets for these should be cut in the nice soft ICF and shuttered prior to the last pour, in our case this did not happen as the builders ran out of time preparing for the pour. With the concrete being new and not fully hardened we were told it would be a straight forward process to cut the purlin sockets. Good news as the lifting gear to place them was scheduled for Tuesday. At the same time as the purlin sockets were being cut work was being done to get the pole plates in place to take the floor joist for the loft. Getting the floor in place would make working on the roof much simpler and safer just by reducing the working height. To their credit the roofing team Jimmy and Sam did not sit around but worked with our other builders to get the flooring down on the first floor. To do this all the bracing from the pour needed to come down and the temporary 9mm OSB floor removed along with all the shuttering bits from the pour. Lifting the beams into place on our site is awkward, the front of the house is less than 5M from the pavement making reaching into the site difficult. We had thought we would need a crane to cover the angle and distance rather than a tele handler. Cranes are expensive, over double the cost of a tele handler even if you have an unsupervised lift. After a bit of phoning around we found a HIAB lorry with a massive reach. This turned out to be a very good option, far less disruptive than a crane as it did not block the road. Our beams are all less than 150kg so well within the full reach capability of the lorry. The lorry turned up on time mid day Tuesday, and what a lorry it was. It turned out to be a show vehicle with stunning paint work, apparently it’s been on TV on multiple occasions. There were still two purlin sockets to cut. While work continued on those, the HIAB lifted in the other three beams into place. We only hired the HIAB for half a day and we were running out of time. After a bit of discussion the remaining two beams were lifted onto the gable walls by their sockets, so they could be manhandled into the sockets later. With the purlins in their sockets it was pretty obvious that they needed packing to bring them to the correct levels and set them straight. It had already taken a day and a half to cut them out, so still more work. Our lesson from this is that while it seemed reasonable to cut the sockets after the pour it really is NOT. The sockets are much rougher and cutting their depth with a hammer drill is far from precise, noisy and time consuming. It’s quite surprising just how quickly the concrete hardens of. By close of day on Wednesday we had the floors done ready to start work on the roof. With just two days before the lads headed back north it was agreed they would also work Saturday morning. Just to add to the entertainment we had two very large 2400 x 1200 roof lights each weighing around 200kg scheduled for delivery on Friday. The roof lights sit on OSB sheeting on the rafters not a complex fit but the roof aperture needed to be constructed. Our builder wanted to stick to the schedule, but by late Thursday there was still a lot to be done and we decided to postpone to the next Wednesday. By then we should have a decent chance of being ready and have hired the HIAB again so we can get them into place safely. Work on the roof progressed at a pace and by 11am Saturday we had most of the rafters in place, just one complete section untouched. Our builder does not have any joiners or roofers, so we are now scrambling to find help to finish the roof next week.
  36. 3 points
    It's been a week of mixed emotions, we've made good progress on site but hit our first major budget overrun. First the good stuff, blocks got delivered on Monday. JUB will only ship them on pallets which sounds OK but in practice, but causes several problems on site. For a start we didn't have a fork lift on site and fork lifts don't tend to do well on soft ground. In the end we got in a tele-handler for which a single days hire is a significant cost. It should have been a small unit, but in the end the hire company delivered an 8 ton far too heavy and large for our site. It was so heavy it ended up damaging the new dropped kerb work done for the build. Besides unloading the blocks, other problems with having them on pallets soon became apparent. It's a small site with limited space for storing materials we needed to store the pallets on the raft leaving room for bracing to be put in place once the walls are built. Each pallet had a manifest of the blocks loaded onto it. No cutting is required so it should just be a case of selecting the blocks and putting them in place. JUB provide a nice block plan for the build giving a cross reference of block type and location. 646-2018 WALL - Assembly plan 1of2 A1.pdf It quickly became apparent that finding the right blocks would be a challenge. There are a fair number of types, some quite small, all carry an identifier in the form nnn-tt-nnn but it's not that easy to read, so we thought it would be a good idea to use a marker to add wall position. Not such a good idea as the same block has multiple wall position numbers which further complicates finding blocks as a no 5 is in fact just the same a no 11. I've now looked at the wall assembly plans a couple of times and the logic for the labelling escapes me. It would be a lot simpler on site if each unique block type was allocated a single number for a given kit and the number was used consistently throughout the kit assembly plans. This is a first for JUB in the UK so I expect the kit process will get refined. In any event the block assembly went very well and by Wednesday the blocks were up to the first floor and the bracing was in place. First impressions of the JUB systemare very favourable. One other item completed was the connection and testing of the sewer pump station. The pump has to be connected with “class C” 63mm MDPE pipe which is designed to withstand the pressures associated with a pump. The pipe is referred to as flexible but it's anything but especially over short distances. The result was that making a connection required the use of an angled connector, just a single 45 degree, but we would have preferred no connections. The 63mm run is very short less than 1M and has good access from the pump meaning it can be easily rodded. Now the less pleasant news, budget overrun. In hind site this is a self inflicted wound and I should be old enough and wise enough to have avoid it. Back when we started our project we had a budget offer from our shell builders Intelligent Building System. The budget included the raft and associated concrete and steel but not the ground works. From various items on the build hub and other web sources I had come up with a figure in region of £15K for the ground works. I didn't verify this with the builder or get a phase 1 statement of works prior to the work starting. Sounds a very basic error and I still wonder just how I ended up in this position, my only excuse is that I got carried away in the practical aspects of the build. The phase 1 works came in at 34K added to this was 4.4K for the insulated raft which I had to purchase directly from JUB, so 38.4K total. The original budget offer was 14.3K a figure which included an insulated Isodom raft, assuming this would be about the as the JUB raft brings the figure down to 10K. Some analysis of the costings showed the labour had changed from around 5K in the initial offering to 15K in the costings. There were also additional materials costs which are much easier to understand, we also added items like a very big hole for the rain water harvesting tank and soak away . I had discussions with our builder over this but they are adamant it's correct. My own fault for not getting the work properly defined before starting. I'm still on talking terms with the builder, whom I'm generally very happy with and would recommend to other self builders. They have been very proactive and helped considerably with getting JUB to engage with the build and many other items.
  37. 3 points
    Cladding now installed on the utility and porch. Unfortunately, the rest of the cladding will need to wait until the start of the block work starts in a month or so. I have also been busy nailing away and fixing what felt like a million truss clips.
  38. 3 points
    More slates going down 2hrs work on house today
  39. 3 points
    After reading every post on this forum on the subject of sound insulation and in particular Rockwool I wanted to document our experience. Until the delivery arrived and we opened the packets we really didn't know what we were going to be working with. Here is the best description I can give. We ordered the following from Insulation4Less. They told us the lead time was about 4-6 weeks (nationwide shortage) but actually it all came within a week leaving us with a literal mountain of rockwool to store around site. It was wrapped but needed to be lugged into the house out of the rain. Big job. The 50mm deep packs were orginally intended to go in the ceilings where there were lots of pipes to fit around. We chose RWA45 rather than the more expensive Flexi. Having not seen the Flexi I can't give a really accurate comparison. But the RWA45 is flexible and can be pushed into spaces and compressed a little anyway. And it is cheaper. It is not rigid / solid like Celotex (which I had first thought it might be). Here are some open packs. It is pretty easy to cut using an insulation saw like this. https://www.screwfix.com/p/bahco-insulation-saw-22-560mm/7498k But it does shred easily too. Mask and gloves absolutely essential. The 100mm deep stuff looks like this. So although it comes in these "batts" which have a form to them, you can trim to to the size you need. We are trimming almost everything because the 600mm wide batts don't fit into the 560mm gaps between the 600mm centred studs. But there are plenty of places to stuff the offcuts and the puzzle of how to use every offcut as efficiently as possible is keeping us both amused somewhat. We are fitting this into all the stud walls (internal) and the ground floor ceiling. No need for any insulation on the external walls or top floor ceilings as that has been pumped in by MBC (more of that in another blog). Hubby used our MVHR builders straps to fit up a load in the ceiling. He is now using cheap pallet strapping and a staple gun! It is fair to say that we have been doing this sound insulation on and off now for well over a month. It is a big job. Ceilings harder than the walls. Time consuming. A bit (alot) messy. Requires us to ply the walls first (where ply is needed) and then insulate. For the stud walls that don't need ply we will work as quick as we can in the evenings once the the plasterboarders are on site (due next week) filling in behind them as they plasterboard one side. Going to be a busy week. But progress is satisfying and physically working on our build again is fun.
  40. 2 points
    I uploaded my draft floor plans a while ago and I have lived with them a while and am fairly content that they will meet our needs. We have one elderly parent left who we could easily argue needs to move in with us ( that is closer to the truth than I like to think about as it is my MIL not my own mum). That gives us the need to a downstairs bedroom and en-suite. Everything else is fairly normal but of reasonably generous proportions in line with most self builds. We hope to have a comfortable, energy efficient home that we can live in for as long as possible. Our need to move as we get older and frailer will be more to do with the lane that we live on and our inability to get the 1 mile down the track to the nearest corner shop than the house with luck. Low maintenance is a biggie for us of course - we have no wish to be doing regular maintenance as we get older. We have appointed an architect technician to look at my floor plans and check that it is buildable but we have given them permission to come up with better ideas if they can. The house will run from east to west - the longest wall faces south and I have planned an overhang from the floor above along the entire length of that wall to keep the ground floor cooler in the summer. The only window I have planned on the first floor facing south is on the stair well. The east and west balconies will again give shade to the bedroom windows hopefully helping to keep them cool in the summer aswell - a woman of my age needs no help at all to get to hot, especially overnight. I've posted these plans before but as this thread is going to be all about the design i thought it would be a good starting point so that we can see the progression up to and including planning consent being granted (note the confindence in that sentence ). My intention was to have a flat roof so the house would have a very modern look - all render and block like with maybe a little wood cladding as a feature to break up the render in a couple of places. The architects are trying to talk me out of the flat roof as they believe we will struggle to get the plans approved as they are not in keeping with other houses in the area. It's a bit hard to know what other houses they may consider as our nearest neighbours are horses on each side who do have stables but tend not to object to planning permission so long as they get a carrot or apple in payment. Neither plot is likely to get planning appoval for a house in my lifetime (one side has tried and failed). Very few plots down the lane have lawful houses on them but there are a few plots occuplied by one of more travelling caravans, most of which have enforcement notices served on them. So finding what is "normal" is a little tricky. The SSSI which we are close to is a hill that is home to a number of reptiles. We have walked up the hill many times and you cannot see our house from anywhere on the hill, you can see the end of the plot, but not the house. I understand that flat roofs have inherant issues that require careful detailing by good roofers - I have been reading @pocster's thread today to remind me of how badly things can go. I don't like flat roofs. However I like the look of PV panels even less but I know that I want them. We have considered putting the PV panels in one of the paddocks on a ground mount system but the dogs love rompng up and down like idiots. Having space for them to run was one of the big drivers for our move so filling up ground with panels is not something I want to do. A flat roof to me would be the lesser of the two evils and it means I can have PV panels facing any direction that I want. So here are the opions I am seeking from the collective: Is a flat roof a sensible compromise to allow PV panels to be hidden from my view? Is it worth having PV panels facing east, south and west to get the optimum solar generation? What limits are there on PV generation - I saw something today mentioning 4kw and not sure what dictates that? I know we won't be getting the FIT tariff so is there anything stopping us going above the 4kw limit (if that is what it is) and just "wasting" the excess if that is possible so that we don't overload the network? As you can probably tell, I know very little about PV but am reading whatever I can find. I've been meaning to put this thread up for a while now and seeing @Russell griffiths post about solar panels reminded me to pull my finger out and ask the questions. Thank you
  41. 2 points
    The wet room is getting there and the back of the house
  42. 2 points
    I've started the plastering the office is finished and the oak for the doors and kitchen is in their
  43. 2 points
    With spectacular timing, our window order went in too late to beat the summer factory close down, resulting in a 4 week delay on top of the normal 6 - 8 week delivery time. Better late than never, our windows arrived a fortnight ago, all the way from Poland. Having a passionate hatred of UPVC windows, we specified 3G aluminium clad timber windows. I obtained a few quotes from different manufacturers / suppliers, but in the end, after pushing hard on price, we went with Rationel, (supplied in Scotland via ADW Ltd). Without seeing them in person, it is difficult to appreciate the quality of the windows, but we are absolutely delighted. They appear very well made, so much so that all of the joiners working on our build have so commented, and my builder has switched to Rationel as his supplier of choice. Performance wise, we have a combination of 4-20-4-20-4 and 4-20-4-18-6 triple glazed windows, with U values ranging between 0.7 and 0.9 depending on the size of window and an overall project U value of 0.8. Price wise, including the extra delivery costs relating to our location, we've paid £290 per sq metre for our windows and doors. Fitting the windows took a couple of days. Whilst the majority of the openings in the ICF blockwork had remained true, one or two were slightly out which meant the odd packer here and there to ensure the windows were level and plumb. The windows have all been positioned such that they protrude 20mm beyond the outer face of the ICF block: : and are secured in place internally be metal straps fixed to the window frame and the timber openings: The standard Rationel installation detail is a little odd (as has been experienced by ProDave) in that they want a gap left between the edge of the alu cladding and the window reveal / ingo, so as not to block the drainage channel that forms part of the alu cladding. We deviated from this detail, primarily because neither I nor my builder had any confidence in it. We were both of the view that if left exposed, such a seal was bound to fail within a relatively short period. In fairness, Rationel do say that it is up to the installer to fit the window to suit local conditions. http://www.rationel.co.uk/media/1614084/Installation-Drawings-ALDUS.pdf Rather than using expanding mastic tape (compriband) we are using a Soudal sealant to seal the timber window frame to the timber opening. External insulation is then brought hard up to to the aluminium window cladding. This keeps the drainage channel on the alu cladding open but completely conceals the main line of sealant behind. The window reveals / ingos will be finished with render or timber clad hard up to the alu cladding. In the case of render, a stop bead will be used at the alu cladding junction to ensure a good finish and an effective seal. The window cill which you can see pictured above was sourced independently of Rationel / ADW Ltd. For reasons I cannot quite fathom, Rationel do not supply cills. This is the responsibility of their agents who in the case of ADW Ltd source them and have them painted to match the windows here in the UK. Unfortunately, they were unable to supply me with cills deep enough for me needs, so I had them fabricated and painted by a company in Glasgow - MSP Scotland Ltd. I paid just under £250 for all my cills. Again, we are delighted with the quality - 2mm folded cills, which fit snugly into the preformed cill groove on the underside of the Rationel windows. Two depths of wall insulation have been fitted to our house, 100mm to the section to be timber clad, and 140mm to the section to be rendered. The main reason for restricting extra insulation on the timber clad section to 100mm, was to facilitate the subsequent fixing of battens to carry the timber cladding. To facilitate precision cutting of insulation, a hot wire cutter was used: The external insulation was fixed using a combination of expanding foam and mechanical fixings. Foam was applied to the back of the insulation sheets which were then positioned on the wall. Mechanical fixings (pictured below) were then used to firmly secure the sheets, in the case of the timber clad section (100mm insulation), the long screw and black washer which fixes into the plastic ICF block formers in the core of the block, and in the case of the rendered section (140mm insulation) a plastic type plug drilled into the concrete core of the block. The insulation itself came in different sizes. The 100mm insulation was supplied in interlocking 1200 x 600 mm sheets. The 140mm insulation came in 2400 x 1200mm sheets. Opinion on site was split between the pros and cons of each size with advantages and disadvantages to both. Fewer joins when using bigger sheets, but smaller interlocking sheets were easier to work with. A couple of pictures of how it now looks: All being well, the scaffolding should be removed shortly, ready for the render system to be applied. The joiners have started fitting battens to the section to be timber clad so it's all systems go.
  44. 2 points
    A scaffold tent is a shelter completely encompassing a build, or part of a build, to allow 'indoor' working whatever the weather. Recently a ran across a 16C barn inside one when I was taking the scenic route from Canterbury to Lewes to buy scaffolding. The project was a builder restoring his barn, after a Planning Process that had taken more than a decade.
  45. 2 points
    When we first started on this path, we wanted a hands off, almost turnkey project. I'd heard of SIPS and seen lots of positive stories about energy efficiency so all was set. Then we spoke with a mortgage advisor and our world started to tumble down. I am now 56, Peter is 57. We will need a mortgage to build this house but because of our ages, we know that the mortgage providers will all keep the term of the mortgage down to 15 years max which will make the repayments large. Drastic action needed to be taken so we have now decided to build using a method where we can do this ourselve. We have no experience of actual building work but let's face it, how hard can it be 😲 - famous last words. Our previous house was built using traditional methods. We did have underfloor heating and a MVHR system but we struggled to get through the air-tightness test. We have learnt a lot since then. We nearly built that time round using ICF but I chickened out. This time, it looks like it is going to win. We have looked at the various types of ICF. The majority are of course the polystyrene type blocks and these do have real advantages for self builders. They are light and easy to manage. Our main issue with them is the fixing ability at the end of the build. Once the plaster is on, finding the fixing lines becomes harder and harder and so other ways of fixing heavy items to walls need to be used. Looking at various websites and you tube videos, it is also apparent that blow outs are more likely using the polystyrene and more bracing is required during the pour. The concrete is of a stiffer consistency that with the woodcrete ICF. The woodcrete type ICF blocks solve the fixing issues - you can attach anything to it. We have looked at three types of this type of ICF, Velox, Durisol and Isotex. Each has pros and cons and we have yet to decide which type to use. All three appear less likely to blow on pour day without significant bracing but of course it can still happen. We can't get a price without plans so at the moment the comparisons are being made purely on preference but without the benefit of a cost comparison. The concrete for this method is of a very runny soup like consistency. VELOX This method uses two flat panels that are clipped together as you build. The panels are large - 2000mm x 500mm so will go up quickly. One panel has the insulation attached to it. The system comes with a variety of options for the depth of the wall giving different u values. I have found getting information from the website quite difficult - the website is clunky and parts of it are not in English. The way the panels fit together, you end up with a completely solid concrete wall inside the formwork. I believe this gives a better chance of airtightness from the actual structure of the walls. The UK supplier seems to be a little difficult to get hold of sometimes - maybe this is the result of too many enquiries but it does ring alarm bells to me. The system has products for both internal walls and floors. The internal walls are two panels glued together, this takes the weight to 68kg - we struggled to lift a panel off the floor so raising it above shoulder height would be impossible for us. The size and weight of the panels pretty much rules this system out for us as it is simply too heavy for us to manage ourselves. It is however, my favourite product. DURISOL Durisol blocks are more like a squarish 8 with the top, middle and bottom bar at less than full height to allow a honeycomb concrete wall to form during the pour. The blocks are all 500mm x 250mm with the external walls coming is two depths - 300mm with a u value of .23 or 365 mm with a u value of .11. There are 3 different types of blocks. A standard block with the reduced internal height connectors. A facing block which has one end at full height - this is also used for lintels. A corner block for ...... turning corners! Because of the way the blocks work, the second row and above will all need a cut to ensure that your keep the "brick bond" in place. This is particularly pronounced if you choose the 365mm blocks as it is the width that causes the issues. QUESTION - couldn't you fix the problem by making the cut on the first row instead and increasing the size slightly so that every other run works properly? That didn't cross my mind at the training. The blocks have male and female ends so that they lock togehter prior to the concrete pour The blocks are rough and gloves are definitely needed. The blocks do shed while you are working as well so care needs to be taken to butt the blocks up properly as the debris can move things apart a little. The design of the blocks means that there are the 3 woodcrete bars, each end of the block buts together with only a small amount of concrete bonding the blocks together. The blocks are produced in this country so less likely to suffer with issues to do with Brexit. Lead time is in weeks. Free training is provided (we have done the one day training course) and they will come to site to help you get the first row laid, ensuring that you get a nice level row. Purchase of the blocks over £10k gives you one free site visit (need to check if that is the initial row or if you also get the first pour day). Other visits are by negotiation but they rely heavily on facetime calls to see your site without actually being there. The anecdotal evidence that I have is that Durisol will discount heavily but they do not talk about a standard price - you only appear able to get a price from the drawing that you provide. I believe this will be our third choice of block based on properties but is probably the cheapest of the three. It is also the one we are most likely to use due to the price. ISOTEX Isotex is a very similar produce to Durisol. The blocks are mainly 500mm x 250mm but there are "pass" blocks to match the block depth that you have chosen. This gets around the issue of "brick bond" issue. The blocks come in depths of 300mm with a u value of .23. 330mm with a u value of .19. 380mm with a u value of .15 and 440 with a u value of .11. There are more options for shape of block - not sure how much that will help on site - will it be more difficult to find the right type of block while doing tricky areas? The shape of the blocks is like an H but with 2 horizontal bars not one. This means that the blocks allow a freer flow of concrete between the blocks than you get with Durisol. It will still be a honeycomb but less so, there is roughly a third less woodcrete in the way of the concrete wall. Butting the blocks together mean that they just sit together without the benefit of the locking togethre - this means that there are two short unsupported parts of the block holding the concrete - does this make a blow-out more likely? Insulb the UK supplier provide similar training to Durisol - we are attending in February half term at Swindon NSBRC. The blocks are slightly smoother than the Durisol ones and seem less likely to shed. Jamie has made it quite clear that the price is non-negotiable. £55m2 for the 300mm block (I think I wrote down the correct block size but not 100% certain) against £62m2 for the 440mm block. I believe that this will be our second choice block based on properties and probably second choice one price comes into play - time will tell.
  46. 2 points
    Well with just days before we start we have our house block plan. All the bricks have ID's so all we have to do its put them in the right places. The blocks are coming loaded on pallets, each with it's own manifest. The scale of the kit is a bit daunting and having done my bit of Lego with the kids in the past I can't help remembering the fun of looking for that special brick that seems so illusive. Fingers crossed we don't end up with one left over after the last concrete poor. With site works just about to commence some of the details we thought were sorted are coming unravelled. Our rain water harvesting tank (RWH) which was nicely located on the edge of the property has had to be moved as the builder is concerned over the size of the hole next to the public highway. At 2.5M deep and 3.2M long. I can only agree, just a pity it didn't get mentioned until the week before we start digging. The tank is being moved to the rear garden along with all the associated changes to surface water collection drainage. While sorting this out it was spotted that the tank overflow was connected to the sewer, the sewer company takes a dim view of the idea of connecting surface water the sewer system. The fact that the tank capacity is very over specified and the overflow will probably never see any water is irrelevant. One of the main reasons we are an RWH was to take care of surface water as our plot is small and we could not get the 5 metre separation required by the building regs. There is a surface water drain in the road outside the plot but it's very deep which will make connecting to it prohibitively expensive. Just another detail to sort out that we would rather have handled before we started. Still no ones hurt so it's not serious... An 8 ton digger is scheduled for delivery first thing Monday and site setting out scheduled for Tuesday faternoon. Lots of lorries for waste and MOT. With the raft components being delivered the following Monday it's going to be a busy week. Hopefully we'll find no bodies on the site...
  47. 1 point
    I am annoyed this morning. Once again my washing-up water - the first hot water I have used in the kitchen today - is running warm then cold then hot. And the cold water is running warm then cold. This probably means that the last people, who renovated the house, did not insulate the water pipes where they pass through the zone where there is underfloor heating, and the water standing in the pipes has heated up. A small annoyance due to lack of sweat applied to the detail. But one that is noticeable and about which I can do nothing practically. Boo !
  48. 1 point
    A little bit of lead welding today. 5 hrs work on the house this week
  49. 1 point
    Under floor heating going in up stairs
  50. 1 point
    I spotted this inside a local cafe this week. Liquorice Allsort chic is not quite my taste, but the door is not as obvious as could be the case. It is an a sample of how to incorporate an element into a stronger pattern than the outline as a means to de-emphasise it. Here it could have been further concealed by choosing a different handle, or concealed hinges. It could also have been made full height.
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