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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. 11 points
    Four days in and the front part of our drive is done Myself and my good lady have worked hard in the heat Better than rain Just about
  5. 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.
  6. 11 points
    Well, it’s been a month since my last blog update. We've witnessed out first concrete pour and now have floor joists so we are all set to build the next floor. The bracing plan we have from JUB looks like we have the potential to pour the second floor and gables in a single pour. This is a decision I'm only too happy to leave to the builders who continue to impress us with their ability to get on with a job regardless. In my last blog we had got on really quickly and had the ground floor pretty much ready for a concrete pour. We needed to wait as there was no rebar on site for the cantilever lintels for the first floor. Our structural engineers had provided a revised structural plan toward the end of February, but it did not have a bar schedule. One was requested and sent through quickly. So far so good, we had the second lot of blocks scheduled for delivery on the 24th March. The original schedule allowed the pour and joists to be in place prior to the block delivery. At the same time as this was progressing the pricing for the next phase was finalised and we gave agreement to proceed. A hiccup with the joist delivery delayed work on site. On a small site the second block delivery pretty much took up all the available space. ICF blocks and a cramped working site are not good news. The ICF is pretty dense but it’s easily damaged when it gets in the way. We ended up playing shuffle the blocks to get the remaining work done and for the first pour. Our builders did a splendid job and just took it all in their stride they were careful with the blocks and didn't complain about the site restrictions once. We had been warned that pours are not for the feint hearted, thankfully in the end ours went pretty well. The only real surprise was the bottom courses of blocks on one side of the build started to move outward on the raft. Fortunately it was spotted and the pour was suspended while Mike and the other lads added some more shuttering. With the new shuttering in place the pour continued and was completed without incident. Apparently it's unusual for the bottom row of blocks to move, but given they are not keyed into the raft and are subject to the greatest concrete pressure it's not entirely surprising. The blocks on the second floor will be keyed into the existing blocks so they should not suffer. With the pour done it was time to get the ledger beams in place to take the first floor joists. Our structural plans had the ledger beams fixed by bolts at 500 centres with the joists at 400 centres. Sounds OK but in practice it’s not ideal as it means you get clashes of beams and bolts, so the plan was revised and the bolts put in at 400 centres so they would not clash with the joist. Ledger beams in place the joist went in pretty quickly, transforming the house. Once you get past the ground floor you need to get scaffold in place for an ICF, not to build from but to prevent possible accidents if someone were to fall through the blocks from the inside. Our builder wanted us to arrange the scaffold, not sure if this is the norm, I suspect it’s liability related. We have used a local firm ROM Scaffold. Their guys arrived on Wednesday and pretty much had completed their work on the Thursday. The scaffold will also allow for our window installation and rendering. Looking forward to getting the next floor up and starting work on the roof.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 11 points
    It's 3 weeks since my last blog entry and, as usual, things have been moving at a pace. The difference with the most recent round of work, though, it that the building is starting to look like a liveable house rather than a construction site. This is largely due to the glory coats of plaster and paint, but far more than that has been keeping everyone busy. The boarding started in earnest before Christmas and so the plasterers were in bright and early in the new year. We've got through an astonishing amount of board of various types - I thought I'd calculated reasonably well and had a mahooosive delivery of the stuff a while back, but it all seemed to disappear and the building was hungry for more. I bought all the board from Sydenhams as I found their price to be competitive. I've used standard 12.5mm plasterboard on all external walls, 15mm acoustic on all ceilings and internal walls, moisture board for bath/wet rooms, and pink fire board for the garage walls and ceiling. The garage is attached and so building regs require a fire door (FD30, sourced from Enfield Doors, though I've since found cheaper suppliers when looking at other stuff) and fire board throughout the garage, but only a single layer as there is no habitable space above it. I've had a board lifter on hire as it really helps the team position the boards up onto the ceilings without dropping anything on themselves or damaging either themselves or the boards. Here is the board going up on the lounge/dining area towards the kitchen area. The orange frame is the plaster board lifter. The black thing outside the window is my sewage treatment plant tank, which will be installed in a couple of weeks(ish). Looking in the opposite direction towards the lounge area: There have been plenty of plasterboard offcuts and so we have followed @JSHarris's tip of stuffing as much of this into the stud walls before boarding over. Double bubble - increasing the heat retaining ability of the house and no paying expensive disposal fees on waste plasterboard. As well as the boarding and plastering, Nick has been working away on first fix, getting all the wiring, sockets and switch positions in and running vast amounts of cable through the building for all sorts of stuff. It's not just a case of chucking the cable in, he's done a great job of working out the flow of the building and the people in it, and how the building's circuitry should function best to suit them. It's a pity that it isn't more visual, but suffice it to say that at the last count, something like 2.9km of cable has gone into the building. It's in there somewhere! The room that forms the greater part of the ground floor is the kitchen/dining/lounge area and it's a very large space. From the outset, I've wanted to achieve some form of visual separation of the living area but without putting physical barriers in the way. It seems a waste to have gone to such great effort to create a lovely large space like that to then chop it up and close it in. I had inspiration for the solution from a couple of sources, the first of which is a tiny, crappy image on Pinterest when I was browsing cinema rooms. The second came about from chatting to another BH member, @Dreadnaught and a suggestion someone made to him to vary the heights of the ceiling throughout his proposed build. From this, I decided that I wanted a dropped section, like a frame, on the ceiling above the lounge area, with lighting recessed into the inner lip of the dropped section. Everyone pulled together really well to meet the challenge, and worked out what was needed from the carpentry, boarding, plastering and electrics contingents. The full ceiling was boarded out first, then the studwork frame put over it. The electrics were run through, then the frame was boarded and eventually plastered. Here's the completed framework and the first of the plasterboard going up. They're a cheerful bunch in their work! One thing I haven't skimped on is hire equipment to make the job of the plasterers and others easier. I figure it's a false economy to not get equipment like platforms and board lifters in as it will just cost me extra labour as the guys won't be able to work efficiently and possibly, not as well either. We had scaffold towers upstairs in the bedrooms for plastering and downstairs, we had a really big platform. I wouldn't do it any other way as the quality of the boarding and plastering is second to none. Once the studwork was boarded out, the inner ceiling section was plastered. The inner lip of the frame had an upstand added to it to make it appear more substantial (thanks for the idea, Nick) and to hide the rows of LED lights behind them. We're going for a range of lighting intensity here, achieved by increasing amounts of lights, rather than dimmers. There will be 3 rows of LED lights hidden up there and we've used a car headlight analogy for want of better descriptions - the selection is dipped lights, main beam and rally lights. These are the only ceiling lights in this area as we plan to have floor lamps for specific task or reading lighting. Once the inner ceiling was plastered, the framework itself was done the following day. This photo is some way on from that, as you can see. By this stage, the whole of the downstairs main room has been done and recesses formed for the spotlights at the other end of the room. Not too long after this, the kitchen arrived from DIY Kitchens. Lovely quality units and everything is going together well. It did mean, though, that I had to get on with the painting up the kitchen end so that a start could be made on installation. A paragraph or two on painting is appropriate here. I put a brief post into the main decorating section here on BH regarding spray painting, but it deserves repetition. I've planned from the outset to do the painting myself. I'm competent and it's nice to get some hands on involvement in the build. But, and it really is a big one, there is a vast surface area to cover in this house, and the vaulted ceilings upstairs are really quite intimidating for a vertically challenged person such as myself. Mind you, I think a vault of 4.7m would make most people ponder their method of attack. I decided that by far the most effective approach for me was to spray the mist coats to seal the plaster and continue with white for the ceilings. I wasn't sure at that stage whether I would also apply the colour coats by spraying, so adopted a 'wait and see' approach. First off, masking takes ages, even with a relatively empty house, as that spray will get everywhere and anywhere. Once the masking is done and you've familiarised yourself with the sprayer itself, though, the speed of coverage is astonishing. I was able to comfortably do one large room per day - both mist coats and a couple of extra ones on the ceiling to get it opaque and full white. It was messy. Really messy! Especially as when I first got going I had the spray pressure a little too high, the mad angles of the vaulted ceilings meant that my nozzle was never going to be held at a constant 90 degrees to the surface, and it's just a messy process regardless. In addition, there is a vast amount of moisture in the air, particularly as we had plaster drying at the same time. I hired a commercial dehumidifier for a couple of weeks to help with this and it was very effective. I bought all my paint from Brewer's Decorator Centre, who are mainly based along the south coast of England. I opened a trade account with them and got 20% off the entirety of my first order, so I put everything I could think of onto that, including my antinox floor protection mats. Very useful they were, too. I used their contract matt white for the mist coat and ceilings. It's white, but not brilliant white and it's lovely. Very chalky, easy to sand and gives a nice highly matt finish. Also cheap as chips. Here's one of the bedrooms, masked up and sprayed. Here's another bedroom with that ceiling. My scaffold tower came into its own for reaching up to those heights. Then, finally, the kitchen area with its mist coat. The sprayer is the little beastie sitting on the plasterboard. I popped over on a weekend to also put the first colour coat on over at the kitchen area, whilst I could still get in easily before the kitchen started going in. I'm having splashbacks between the wall and base units, hence the odd looking finish level with the paint. These were all the kitchen units as they arrived, prior to painting. Everything was really well packaged and came with the doors on and drawers in. The delivery crew were pleasant and efficient, so all in all, a good experience. Moving away from painting and plastering, Nick marked up the ceiling plan for the lights, speakers and smoke detectors on the floor before the boards went on so that there was no guesswork involved in what was running where. Here's his marking plan: This is what the kitchen units look like at the moment. I made a cock up in ordering, purely out of ignorance, and I'm waiting for a few end deco panels to arrive. These didn't even occur to me as they will go between units and appliances to give a better appearance from face on. It made perfect sense when it was pointed out to me, so things have halted temporarily until those and my worktops arrive shortly. In the meantime, it's looking good: We also now have spotlights in place: Finally, for the curious, this is what karndean flooring looks like. It has been laid upstairs and the downstairs will be finished in a couple of weeks. Upstairs, it was all laid on ply that was feathered in at the edges and downstairs will have a latex feathering coat to level the floor and provide an even base. Next up is more of the same. The final session of boarding and plastering, lots more painting, the end of first fix and moving onto second fix. Outside, we need to get cracking on the rainwater goods, perimeter drain and exterior cladding. The cladding is due to arrive next week, so it will be interesting to see that and figure out the system. I hope to be able to report back on over height doors soon, as well, and my endeavours to find these at a reasonable price, but that's all for now. There's painting to be done.
  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. 9 points
    Since the last blog entry we've been working away at co-coordinating the paperwork for the building warrant . But progress is slowly being made. Last week we heard we've been lucky enough to get a 50% grant towards our grid connection costs, which is a big help. Anyone else who's thinking of applying, feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about it. I think you need to sit within SSE's (North Scotland) area. As part of our build we're removing quite a few conifers, the condition being that we replant with a load of native trees. One of the constraints on this is that the conifers sit quite close to a HV line, in particular within what the DNO call the red zone (where if the tree went the wrong way it would hit the line). For a while it was a bit difficult trying to figure out how we'd get these down, but in the end we were lucky enough to take advantage of a line shutdown by the DNO a couple of weeks ago. So now most of the conifers are down (only a few remaining), we just need to get them extracted. In other tree related news, we also arranged to mill a few of the hardwoods that were felled a year or so ago. Pretty pleased with the results, these will now air-dry and then probably need putting in a kiln just before we use them. Action shot of SWMBO taking it out on a tree: The aftermath: Logs ready to mill: And some of the results:
  13. 8 points
    Our architectural company just rung us today, the Council contacted them to apologise for the delay, they have approved planning and the materials and the full report will be with us at the end of the week (they have a backlog). Couple of conditions (which they think will relate to the ecology, bat boxes etc) but I so pleased the Council ignored the ridiculous comments from the consultancy stage from the Canal and River Trust who basically didn't like anything about the plans! Once we get the report we can then start to look at tendering and crack on with some major research, building reg plans etc and finding a builder for next year...... It's almost 12 months since we approached different companies, architects etc....
  14. 8 points
    Pending a blog update, here's a picture of my new brise soleil that had the rails and fins fitted today. Details will follow, but it's too pretty not to post a picture.
  15. 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
  16. 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! 😉
  17. 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.
  18. 7 points
    Guttering complete, scaffolding away, MVHR complete. photos!
  19. 7 points
    Da Dahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 6 points
    One of my favourite jobs when it's going well. I even used up the scraps to gain some brownie points when I was doing my step flashings.
  26. 5 points
    I know it's been a while but I have decided to go back to working on the stairs. Annoyingly I just couldn't get enough usable timber out of the elm tree to do everything but I managed to get enough for the stairs. 🙂 I'll probably just use ash for the landing handrails.
  27. 5 points
    Reading this and other Sunamp threads, one could be tempted to conclude that Fischer's customer support may be carp, but at least they have customer support 🤔
  28. 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!
  29. 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.
  30. 5 points
    Me plastering the kitchen and dinning room LINE_MOVIE_1559307156544.mp4 LINE_MOVIE_1559310773535.mp4
  31. 5 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 5 points
    Plus one to that. I've used gas all my life and would never consider electric - until induction. It's quicker than gas It's more controllable than gas - I have never been able to get a proper simmer on gas without moving the pan half off It's much much much much easier to clean It looks so much neater than a gas hob It's safer - it only heats the pan so the surface only gets hot where the pan is and even then it's nowhere near hot enough to burn if just touched. You have time to remove your hand before you are burned It's safer - when you remove the pan it automatically switches off it's safer - handles don't get hot, even metal ones. When I used the same pans I am using now on my gas hob I couldn't pick the pans up with a holder, now there is no problem.
  34. 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.
  35. 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........
  36. 4 points
    Re the siting of isolation valves. I wanted each appliance to have it's own isolator in an easy accessible place. But I wanted to achieve this without making the pipe runs, especially the hot pipe run any longer than they have to be. What I settled on was a central distribution point, which has ended up in the space above the ceiling in the utility room. This puts all the isolators together, and it will be finished with a mini loft hatch to lift out to get to them. As this is just the utility room I don't mind having this little loft hatch there.
  37. 4 points
    Units are never included in the data set, other than as a header to tell the CAD package what they are. All entities are just expressed numerically. Back when we first got CAD at work (AutoCad, running on a DOS PC, pre-Windows by a few years) we used the new CAD/CAM system in the workshop at our parent establishment for manufacture. Our drawing office designed a new form of Mk46 torpedo tail nut (which includes the motor exhaust valve) using the new CAD system. They were really proud of the thing, which was to be machined from stainless steel. It's dimensions were such that it should have comfortably fit in the palm of the hand. A few weeks later we had a phone call, saying that there was a truck with a delivery for us, and did we have a forklift available to unload it. Lots of scratching of heads, wondering what the thing was, until the pallet was unloaded. There, in all it's glory, was a beautifully machined tail nut around 3ft in diameter, weighing around 1/4 of a ton. The CAD file had been transmitted to the workshop minus the unit header, so mm had turned into the AutoCad default of inches, making every dimension 25.4 times too large...
  38. 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
  39. 4 points
    I can empathise with your feelings. Part way through our build my father in law died. We were both hoping he'd live long enough to see our house finished, but it wasn't to be. I did put a small memorial to him, and my late father (who died back in 1972) right up at the very top of our house:
  40. 4 points
    Things take a while when you are self building don't they? So, back to this circular rooflight internal finishes joinery. I thought you'd all like an update, particularly @Onoff who I was expecting on site back in November 😉 Here is what has been done. Firstly, there was a slight thermal bridging issue with the metal frame for the roof light being inside the thermal envelope. Got some drips earlier in the year when plaster was drying out and condensing up there. Not a huge amount we could do easily but I have at least stuck some aerogel (left over and lying around) on those areas. Those are the silver triangle pieces. Hopefully there will be less moisture (than plaster drying out) when we are living in it. Back in Jan the tackers said they would have no problem with that rooflight meaning that HWMBO was left with stud wall construction only. And this week was the week for them to do it. They turned up with a flexi 6mm board (that they also said was moisture resistant). They used some plasterboard to batten out slightly from the square bits of the hexagon, some 25mm battens a little bit further out and then some creative battening across the corners and then they bent the 6mm board into shape and fixed it. Today they did the top bit (no photo, too dark when I got home). But they have left the plasterboard about half an inch short of the glass and made sure that the black edge is covered (in case the finished skim isn't quite circular - otherwise the absolutely circular black edging would show it). I'll post again after the plasterer has been in on Monday - hopefully he'll have no issue with it. But so far so good. Did have to hire a huge tower scaffold though. Ours only goes up about 3m and they needed the platform for this work at over 5m. Its still pretty hairy standing on a step ladder on top of the platform but even I can reach the roof light from the top. Bodes well for painting.
  41. 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!
  42. 4 points
    Plaster boarding at least
  43. 4 points
    @Tennentslager I thought it looked like an old carpet from 70s, hopefully it will be warm. It was very itchy and scratchy to handle. @Redoctober UFH is an option for a suspended timber floor. I think @ProDave has done this on his I believe you use a dry screed mix on top of the subfloor, don't know whether the system differs. At the moment our heating is going to be electric and our stove. I want to utilise the firewood on our croft and hopefully next year make a peat stack. The house is classed as a crofter's cottage, so looking to use the croft to heat the house where possible. I want to use the electric radiators really just as a quick boost early in the morning. Hopefully the amount of south facing will provide sufficient solar gains for most of the day. Although it can be windy here, generally the temperatures are fairly mild through the winter and the recent snow was fairly rare. The house is well sheltered from the prevailing wind coming off those mountains behind the gable end and from those cold north winds behind the house. Here is a couple more that my wife took when I was working overtime in the office 😞
  44. 4 points
    So, our ground floor walls are up, and ready for a concrete pour... almost! Despite our use of Logix ICF blocks, I had fallen in love with the simplicity of the joist hangers used by NUDURA. Essentially, all you do is slot metal plates through slits in the ICF blocks, hook them onto a bit of rebar in the wall, and pour the concrete. Then you wrap the end of your joists in a folded metal U-plate, and put tek-screws through the metal plates, through the U plate and into the joist. The shear strength of the metal plates and the tek-screws is what holds the joists up. So, before the pour, you end up with this: Some people choose to put battens under the joist hanger plates before the pour to stop them moving during. We didn't bother, because the steel rebar was holding them fairly well anyway, although most of them were also screwed to the blocks (we'd finagled the joist spacing to fit the stupid imperial measurements of the Logix blocks, which meant at least one plate for each joist was able to be screwed to a web in the ICF. So, the pour was uneventful in the end, apart from one tiny issue. Under that lovely 45-degree wall at the back of the garage, the block and beam floor was running under the angled wall. Which should be fine, but there must have been a small gap between the blocks somehow. After about 5 minutes of pouring concrete into the internal wall, we were getting a bit confused as to why the concrete level wasn't rising... ... It transpired that a 7N concrete block was now floating inside the wall, and the concrete was pouring through the resulting gap and under the block & beam floor in the garage, filling the void beneath. 🤬 We only realised how far it had flowed under the garage when we started lifting floor blocks. In total, in those 5 minutes, we'd poured just under 3m3 of concrete into the void beneath the garage floor - the void had reduced from an average 750mm height to under 150mm in places! On the plus side, at least it didn't fill the void completely, given we still have to run services under there! Here's a photo showing how much it filled up: Still, the garage walls aren't going to shift anywhere now! And it only cost £300 in spilt concrete... Anyway, the rest of the pour went really well - no big bows (that we could see) and no bursts, despite all of the silly joints we had. Even little bits of PU foam seemed to withhold the weight of the concrete: (No, the string isn't supposed to be tight to the blocks - it was set so that a piece of CLS fit perfectly behind. And yes, that upright should have been screwed to the ICF blocks... except the observant among you will have noticed the webs don't line up between the courses. This was a deliberate decision made by me because of an alignment problem with the joist hangers above the bifold opening, and this seemed to fix it) So, concrete poured, and walls looking good: The internal walls (garage, kitchen and stairwell) were kept 1 course lower so that they could act as a bearing surface for our upstairs floor joists. Seemed like a good idea to me, anyway! Time for another ICF delivery... The big RSJ is for the 6m span between kitchen wall and garage wall, and will carry the load of the first floor joists in the middle 1/3 of the house. All well and good, but the massive trees at the front meant that getting a crane on site wasn't going to happen, and the cost of a crane that could clear the trees from the street was more than a little prohibitive... Time for some back-breaking lifting, because that beam weighs more than 1/4 of a tonne! Some swearing, and the death of a couple of ratchet straps, and the beam was lifted up into place... And the length was perfect - we had less than 10mm tolerance once you allow for the required bearing on the concrete walls! Timbers sailed past the end at the garage - I was too lazy to cut them at the time (and that came laziness back to bite me on the ar$e later in the build!) Say hello to the front of the house! Hallway window, nice doorway and the integral garage all present and correct Before we can carry on building the walls, we need to put the floor joists up and get a floor deck down: And time to start boarding it out: Which would have been easy if it weren't for the fact that the tolerances on the board joints wasn't so woeful: These boards were in the same pack, and the tongues varied by over 3mm. Biggest tongue we found across the lot was 20mm, and the smallest was 12mm. This meant we had to try mix-and-match for the floorboards, which took days longer than it should have... 🤬 Nevertheless, 7 days later, and we had the floor down, and were building walls again. 3 more days, and we were cooking on gas - first floor walls were 2/3 up and we were erecting the bracing again: Time to put some lintels in for the windows (you can see the ICF cavity closer under the rebar links): It was at this point that we realised we had a bit of a problem... our house was too tall! Our planning permission showed a street scene, which had the ridge line of our house lower than next door's house. The drawing had been produced by asking the neighbour to measure the height of his eaves when he was clearing out a gutter - he'd used a tape measure, so I had no reason to doubt his figures... ...But we were out by nearly 600mm on the height. I had to go back one night, and put a laser on a staff, just to see how bad it was. Here's the picture, showing the laser line from the top of a 2.4m staff, shining on the neighbour's chimney: The upshot of this was a third planning application, and lots of sleepless nights, because we had to get a height increase approved (we first tried to use a minor non-material amendment, only to be told by the LPA Planning Services Manager that "a minor non-material amendment was not appropriate for securing an increase in height"... only to find out that the same Planning Services Manager had personally approved an increase in height on Chorley Nissan's planning application using a MNMA only 10 months prior! I wonder who had a nice Christmas present from Chorley Nissan that year?) Still, while we waited for approval (so that we could order the roof trusses) we could crack on with bracing up the first floor openings. And we had a ground floor that was giving us a sense of what it'd be like when it was finished: We were old hands at bracing openings now, having done it for the previous 2 floors of the house! Anyone else think it looks like something from an early 80s arcade game?
  45. 3 points
    No. I'm going to mount it horizontally and moan about it at every chance I get like the stubborn git that I am
  46. 3 points
    FGS don't buy a curtain to match that blind!!!
  47. 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.
  48. 3 points
    And here it is fully boarded. Plastering of it starts Monday. So far so good.....
  49. 3 points
    Now spending 3 hrs + a day on the house
  50. 3 points
    More slates going down 2hrs work on house today
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