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  1. 27 points
    Well, folks, that's it. The last nail in the last joist. Its been hammered in HARD. Here's why. For reasons only known to the inexperienced self-builder, I put the floor joists up working from both ends of the room to the middle. 400 centers. That makes a gap between joists of about 328ml. The middle three joist are longer than the others - they had to be inserted closer than the others: 310ish. Tight. Well tight if you are my size. Arms and head above the top chord of the joist - beer gut wedged firmly between the POSIs, but swinging the hammer now like a demon (900 nails down and just a few more to go - all because of you @Pete). Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. Well yeah, until it came to turning round to reach that sodding wedge to help nudge the top chord a mil or two higher. Christ this is tight. Turned a few degrees. Couldn't reach the wedge. Bugger - - Hand in my pocket - - maybe there's a spare wedge in there? Nope. By this time there is a semi painful wedgie though.😳 Dropped the hammer. "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" Stumped, and firmly wedged, I realise I am going to have to wriggle out of this. Up? No way Jose. Not strong enough to overcome the effects of the beer years. Starting to sweat a bit now. More from annoyance than anything. Down? No choice. Only way . Now, those of us whose work trousers 'need' braces because our trousers have half a ton of tools hanging off them (all lies girls, just lies) will realise that descending through a really tight space has an inevitable effect on your braces. That partially painful wedgie now got worse. A lot worse. You see the back clip of my braces caught fast on the bottom chord of the joist. The front of my work trousers started to pull hard. My eyes started to water I think. By this time, my hands were in the air, and my head altogether too close to the gap between the joists. And suddenly with one bound (as it were) I was free. PING - THUMP The clip of the braces parted company with the waist band - shot up inside my clothing and hit the bottom of my shoulder. No wedgie pain now, just shoulder pain instead. All of this was happening dear reader at the same time as my T shirt, gillet and windproof were slowly making their way past my beer gut on the way to my my head. Couldn't see a thing. But sure as Hell, I could feel my shoulder. A few seconds later, there I was topless on the scaffold boards. Cold? No. Furiously hot. Just a matter now of jumping down to the floor. Yep, I suspect you are ahead of me......... The jump was elegant. Feet and knees together (just like I wuz taught) Thump. I stopped. My trousers didn't. Normally that wouldn't matter. No need to fuss over a small thing like that. Standing in the doorway way my best friends wife with a grin from ear to ear. I wouldn't have minded but her dog went mad.
  2. 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.
  3. 14 points
    A busy November saw all the trades coming good, albeit some were cutting it fine for the moving in day – 30th November – However, we have moved in with all the services up and running. Having said that, BT and Openreach have missed the deadlines and as a result we are without any internet, phone line or TV for at least a week! Also the master bedroom built in wardrobes are still be fitted. The landscapers have finished their work, providing us with a patio area and a driveway area which will see plenty of activity. Look closely and you should see the hedging that has been planted. 330 separate plants in all. This was a planning condition and the hedges are a mixture of Hawthorn, Beech, Holly and Maple. Locally referred to as native hedging. The turf will be laid next Spring. Our Air Tightness test was conducted by a guy from Perth - a good couple of hours away. We never set out to achieve such low levels because we didn’t want the capital outlay of such a system as well as the infrastructure it requires. Our score was 4.9 which in our eyes is very good. There are a number of minor jobs which I need to do such as touching up the paint work here and there; re-oiling some wood in places but all that can wait until we have given the whole place a deep clean. The main external jobs outstanding are the erection of the oak framed porch and the downpipes. Both of which should be completed within the next 10 days or so. Anyway, this was not a self build in the true sense of the words but it was project managed by myself and built using a main contractor and sub contractors after the TF had been erected. I hope you have not only enjoyed reading about our project but have found some useful bits of information within the blogs in order to assist yourselves with your projects, whatever that may be. Overall my experience has been a good one. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, such as additional unforeseen expenditure and additional expenditure as a result of our mistakes, or due to us changing our minds! Such examples include ordering the wrong door frame - we failed to realise we hadn't ordered a threshold suitable for level access - a mistake that cost us £1k. Changing our minds over the 3 toilets we had ordered. They simply looked lost in their respective environments so 3 new ones were ordered at an additional cost of £850. A failure to get a full grip of the scaffolding cost an additional £1k and a failure to budget correctly for the foundations and dwarf wall for the carport cost an additional £4k. Final facts and figures - Build schedule – 6 months from the day the TF arrived. Cost per sq metre - £1850 – includes everything, and I mean everything - from the scaffolding through to the landscaping and it includes the car port and porch [ still to be erected] but not the land or fees. Only two skips were used throughout the build – everything else was removed by us to the local dump or burnt on site – best investment was a £25 oil drum which we used as an incinerator. Thanks for reading - Paul.
  4. 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.
  5. 14 points
    Well, finally an update. We won the appeal. The inspector pretty much confirmed what we were saying all along about "overdevelopment" and visibility ("intent observer" wouldn't be able to compare the houses in the row due to vegetation) and the neighbour's houses not being the limit the plot can take. Happy days. Big thanks to everybody for the support and advice during this process. On the back of a recent post by @Big Jimbo and following a quick conversation with Mr Luxton at one of the shows I am seriously considering putting in another application that utilises space behind the existing attached garage to form a gym (ground floor only). I do want to bully the bastards who pretty much stole a year of our time - if I can. More questions to follow :-)
  6. 14 points
    We have just finished a self-build and as we went along I made notes of the things I had learnt during the process. What follows are those notes and I hope they will be of some use to people who are just starting out on their projects. I must of course add the caveat that all that follows is only my personal opinion. Although I now have some experience I am no expert and it is of course up to everyone building their own home to seek professional advice about their project. RED'S ADVICE FOR SELF-BUILDERS 9th September 2018 GENERAL 1. Try to work with everyone on your project via email as much as possible so that you have an audit trail of what has been said to people. If you must have a meeting, confirm everything in writing, right from the start. 2. You are about to be on the receiving end of a lot of documents, mostly in electronic form. I kept all ours and it amounted to 1,132 files (in 169 folders) consuming 2.8 Gb of data. Decide early on how and where you are going to store your documentation (electronic and paper) and stick to whatever system you are using. DESIGN 3. Make sure the house is of a specification that is appropriate to the size/type of home you are building. A big expensive house must have a high specification or else you may find its value is disproportionately affected when you come to sell it. 4. Check the local vernacular for design ideas – it can be nice to reflect local building techniques or features and you will get fewer objections from the local community and council. Imposing your personal taste on an area is unlikely to make your life easier. 5. Keep basement walls as simple as possible – they don’t have to exactly reflect the above-ground level walls. Angles and corners increase cost, sometimes unnecessarily. 6. From the design phase onwards, ask that ALL drawings of plans and elevations include a metre scale so that when measuring things you can see how big they are. Sounds obvious but they were not included on ours. 7. Drainage issues can present huge problems in the future if you’re not careful. Look at your plans and see how close your sinks, baths, showers and toilets are going to be away from the soil and vent pipes (probably in the perimeter walls). The longer the distance the more difficult things get and the more likely you are to be plagued by blocked drains in the future. Additionally, be aware that the higher the volume of water, the steeper the gradient of the pipe and the larger its diameter should be. Otherwise you can end up with gurgling sounds, low water exit flow and blockages. This is all in BS5572 and is not that difficult to understand. In short, if you possibly can, keep plugs close to soil and vent pipes and make sure you can access/rod the pipework when it gets blocked! 8. Think twice before selecting fancy plug fittings for sinks. Ask yourself “How is anyone going to be able to fix this when it’s installed and covered in limescale/dirt/etc?" 9. With all fittings/equipment that may need servicing at some point in the future, will you know who the manufacturer was and will you be able to get spares? 10. Decide early on what type of cupboards you are going to have – don’t leave it until later on in the build. Ikea do a great range of cupboard carcases. If you want to go for these cheaper, pre-made type then the rooms can be sized to accommodate the standard sizes these units come in. 11. Be prepared for the fact that contractors involved in the building process rarely have any visibility of or interest in innovation. You may hear them say that that have been in the business for x years and have a wealth of experience but the problem is that what they actually have is a lot of experience doing the same thing over and over again – they tend not to be interested in new products, techniques or materials. Although it’s boring, the more standard your design is the easier your build will be. 12. In your design pay attention to the direction doors open and the positioning of light switches. 13. Ask how your architect/designer/builder wants you to provide information on the locations for items in rooms, e.g. sockets, switches, lights, etc. What symbol scheme should you use? 14. Check that the sanitary ware works together properly. Our toilet flush buttons are (annoyingly) hidden by the seat when it’s up. 15. A good rule for exterior tile and brick colours is ‘dark at the top, lighter at the bottom’. 16. Don’t use small stones on the driveway – it gets picked up on shoes and taken into the house. 17. Wood-effect porcelain floor tiles are very good – very hard-wearing and they look realistic. 18. If you're running water supply pipes some distance from the road, pay a bit extra and have the largest diameter fitted (63mm outside diameter?). Whilst static pressure may not be affected by narrow pipes when the water is not flowing, the pressure may drop substantially once flow starts. Trying to fix poor water pressure is expensive - fitting a large diameter pipe is cheap. Note that the connection to the main at the road will be a 'standard' size and will certainly be smaller than 63mm! PLANNING PERMISSION 19. The planning process is not nearly as hard as it sounds. Consider doing it yourself – don’t pay someone to do it if you feel you can. 20. If there are any trees that need to be cut down for your development, do it before you apply for planning permission but of course ensure that there are no Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) or other restrictions in place. 21. Check that there are no restrictive covenants covering your property. You can check this to some degree of certainty by ordering the electronics deeds to your property (you can download them from the web for a few pounds). You can get restrictive covenant protection insurance just in case someone surprises you! It is reasonably cheap. All covenants are for the benefit of someone – and it is these people who can make a claim against you if you break the terms of the covenant. 22. Try to work with your local planning department rather than against them. Their aim is to build as many houses as possible (to meet government targets). Believe it or not they are on your side but they have the local residents at their throats trying to stop any building in their area. Give them reasons to allow your development. 23. Make your design a little bigger than you want and negotiate down. 24. During the planning process, all the documents that you submit to the council are likely to be published on their website. This in turn will be indexed by Google and other search engines. If you have submitted electronic copies this will mean that details such as your name and address will be instantly retrievable by anyone in the world. Therefore, if you want to retain some degree of privacy, always try to submit paper, hand-written copies of all documentation. 25. Keep records of everything that appears on the Council website – particularly the letters written by local residents. They will probably get deleted after a few months but having them in your possession can be extremely useful. 26. Planning departments express opinions on planning decisions to be made by councillors based on local and national policy. Highways departments do not have opinions – they have rules which allow them to provide planners with information about the way that a scheme will or will not meet Highways requirements. However, note that planners are allowed to ignore this guidance if they wish. 27. Back up everything you agree in person or on the phone with the planners with an email. PROJECT PRICE 28. Your project is going to cost you a lot more than you thought. There are several reasons for this: - Your contractors will not be motivated to watch your costs as closely as their own and so will find that things are more expensive than they thought they would be; - Contractors are not necessarily perfect at planning – they may be genuinely unaware of costs that emerge during the build and this ends up costing you money; - Prices tend to rise rather than fall; - You can’t remember everything and there will be things that you decide you want that you hadn’t budgeted for. 29. We found that ‘PC Sums’ (see Explanatory Note below), i.e. the non-fixed sums that amount to whatever the builder has to pay, were nearly always over the estimate, between 20-60% (and that’s without any extravagance!). If you decide that you want a more expensive option than a ‘normal’ item which would represent ‘par’ for the project then it is fair that you should pay more. However, on a fixed-price job, make sure you agree that PC sums are not allowed to escalate when you only want the ‘standard’ level of item. My recommendation here is: - Try to get rid of as many PC sums as possible. - Obtain some sort of agreement that the PC sums will remain within control. It is very important that they have some focus on giving you a REALISTIC idea of what your costs are likely to be rather than just minimum figures. Note that it not in their interests: -- to price up to a reasonable amount for PC sums (because it reduces the chance of getting the contract) -- to expend work to reduce over-spends on PC sums. - Set default prices for items of the most basic specification which could be installed for the PC sum if you have run out of money. For example, ask for a price for a specific fireplace that you would be happy with if you were running out of money. - Make a rule with your builder that whenever an item is quoted for against a ‘Prime Cost’ (or PC) sum item, that the PC sum is also given, otherwise you end up being asked “Is x thousand pounds ok to pay for item y?” when you don’t know how much the PC cost was for that item. 30. For an expensive product which is relatively easy to specify, get lots of quotes. This is more difficult with a custom-designed object like a staircase – you are really buying into the company that will design and make it for you and this may be a long process. 31. Ask your builder if they intend to charge an additional sum for some amount they have to pay to the builders’ association or something similar. This can occur if you ask them for a more expensive item, e.g. a better roof, and the cost of installing it is higher than you expect because the builder has to pay a premium to an association based on costs. 32. A significant cost will be the various charges and levies that the council will make against your project. Planning permission will be granted subject to the council receiving this money. 33. Check to make sure that ALL the costs are included in the price. We had to pay thousands of pounds extra for things like fitting a new gas connection, air circulation system and digging up the road for the water main. Make sure there are no (predictable) hidden costs. 34. Ask what the contractors will add on for anything that they buy (often 10%). You might be able to save money by ordering some things yourself. ARCHITECTS 35. Undoubtedly architects can assist a self-builder but we didn’t use one. There were several reasons for this: - We knew pretty much exactly what design of house we wanted - Architects are generally VERY expensive - They often have their own vision of the house which they try to impose on the client. A frequent complaint from clients is that they feel that they have had to persuade their architect to give them what they want! - By having a contractor and a separate architect you run the risk of being caught in the middle of disputes between the two. If there is only one contractor then everything is down to them. In hindsight I am very pleased we didn’t use an architect (we created our own drawings and an architectural technician drew them up for us ready for the structural engineers). SELECTING CONTRACTORS 36. When selecting a builder, ask them to bring all the process documents and templates that you would be expected to be involved in or provided with to a meeting. If they bluster and make excuses about ‘working on an individual basis with each customer’ you know that they don’t have any processes. This is NOT good and it means they will probably repeat all the mistakes they made on the last job on yours. 37. Have your house built on the basis of a contract with your builders for which they are responsible for EVERYTHING. If you allow a situation to arise where a builder can blame someone you hired then you are heading for problems. 38. If you are planning to specify a particular company to perform a special task in the build, make sure right from the outset that they are prepared to meet any associated contractors on site and go through the plan, stating who will do what and when. Make sure that the overall project manager will take responsibility for co-ordinating the various parties. 39. Make sure that concrete form-worker contractors are chosen with care and ensure you know exactly what they are promising in terms of quality before you start. 40. Avoid situations where two or more contractors are responsible to you for the delivery of an item. 41. Above all, when you build a house, the selection of the main contractor will create a relationship where you have to place a lot of trust in them so you must convince yourself that they are worth that trust. I think we were very lucky to have our builders. BEFORE THE BUILD 42. Satisfy yourselves that you understand who is liable if something goes wrong with your house. For example, if an architect specifies some material to cover a wall, what happens if it falls off? The architect may blame the builder for not using the correct adhesive, the builder may then claim that he did or that he wasn’t told. In cases like this, who pays to have it fixed? What happens if a foundation shifts due to ground movement? Whose responsibility is it to fix it and pay for it? 43. Before the build starts state explicitly what trees, etc. that you don’t want damaged. Digger drivers must be briefed on what to avoid. Sensitive areas MUST be taped off at least. If it can possibly be damaged it will be – watch Grand Designs! 44. Agree a length of time that you must be given to make a decision from first hearing about it. You don’t want to walk on site one day and be asked how big the window sills have got to be with an answer to be given within hours. 45. Agree a process for dealing with serious issues. Note that an issue which is serious to you may not seem serious to your builder and vice versa. This could lead to accusations of either over- or under-reacting to a perceived problem. If you agree a process before you start the build this should not be a problem. 46. There are guides for good practice in the building industry. For example, the LABC have an excellent manual and there are British Standards such as BS5572 (Code of Practice for Sanitary Pipework). The problem is that the British Standards documents can be expensive to buy (e.g. over £200) but they are often available for free on the Internet as PDFs. Ask to see the standards to which the tradesmen are working. Seek assurance that a) the tradesmen have a copy of the relevant standards and b) will stick to them. If you have a copy of the standards it isn’t difficult to go around and check simple things. 47. Make sure that your contractors agree that any concrete surfaces or steps will have a slight slope on them so that water will run off them and that they will fix any which don’t, no matter how difficult. 48. Ask your builders (in writing) if they have any interests in/relationships with any suppliers. This is not necessarily a bad thing – it may work to your advantage. Anyway, it’s worth knowing what the relationships are. 49. Agree what happens to materials that leave the site, e.g. waste wood. Will it be sold? 50. Ask yourself where you are going to store the things you buy for your house along the way, e.g. taps, electrical equipment, etc. Consider buying a small, secure container and putting it on site for the duration of the build (you can easily sell it again on eBay) or ask your builder if they can provide you with storage. 51. If your builder hires a contractor such as a painter or architect to work on your build then (unless they provide a transferable guarantee of some kind) they are not answerable to you at all – they are only responsible to the builder. Keep this in mind in terms of your agreement with your builder and any guarantees or indemnity that you may in future rely on. 52. Regarding stage payments, it would be good to agree that if faults are found in a stage that has already been paid for, then an amount from the next stage payment is withheld until the problem is fixed. If you don’t do this, there is no real incentive to fix problems when they arise. 53. Agree in writing with your builder that they will tell you if an item that you are deciding upon has any criticalities – e.g. will the flooring have to be less than a certain thickness, does a fireplace have to be of a certain type, etc.? Also agree that they will not allow you to drift into a situation where you get the blame for something like this. 54. Plan for the fact that concrete screed can take months to dry to the point where wooden flooring can safely be laid on top. 55. Make sure the builders are signed up to pay for any heating and electricity that they use prior to you moving in. Our bills for electricity and gas came to nearly £1,000! If they won’t agree to this, make them agree to cap the spend at a fixed amount. 56. Tell your contractor that you want all of the documentation for every item that is installed into your house. It is best to get it as you go along – when the house is finished all the people working on it will evaporate and the last thing on their priority list will be finding the paperwork that came with your shower mixers. DURING THE BUILD 57. Builders are not always right. Keep checking what they are doing! 58. Watch for quality issues involving techniques that your builders aren’t experts in. This will be anything that is slightly out of the ordinary. With us it was (surprisingly) the concrete basement. They didn’t know what to look for in good concrete or what standard to demand from the concrete suppliers. I was surprised to see unmixed concrete coming out of the lorry so I videoed it. Our supplier denied that there was a problem until they saw the evidence. In the end, several areas of bad concrete had to be hammered out of the walls and redone. Keep an eye out for this sort of thing if you can. Incidentally, the reason the concrete wasn’t mixed very well was probably because the concrete plant was only a couple of miles from our site and the materials hadn’t had enough 'spinning' on the journey to properly mix them. 59. If you have valuable items of your own on site, make sure there is adequate security and that rules for the site are established and adhered to, e.g. keeping gates locked. In my experience builders are not very good at shutting gates. 60. Be prepared to make decisions. I know this sounds obvious but there will be thousands. Ask for a decision schedule and stay ahead of it. Work hardest on the big decisions – floors, bricks, windows, tiles. Don’t get overwhelmed – just start working your way through it and you’ll get there in the end. 61. One often hears builders complain that the client doesn’t know what they want or that they won’t make a decision. However, this isn’t always the whole story and knowing what you want isn’t always enough. If the contractors shrug their shoulders and say that they’ve no experience of some product or technique that you want they may not show much interest in finding out. This can make choosing features/fixtures difficult. 62. Keep looking – or have someone you trust with an engineering background to look – at the important parts of the structure and be satisfied that they ‘look right’. Amongst several serious faults that we noticed we averted an extremely dangerous, possibly fatal structural error when we discovered that a load-bearing element had been mounted on a non-load-bearing support. This was a genuine mistake but it showed that another set of eyes can reveal all sorts of things that the builders may have missed. I was also amazed (and very thankful) for what others spotted that we missed. 63. It is possible (for reasons that are not foreseeable) that a change may be necessary to the design/spec of the building and that new prices will have to be obtained. For example, if electric garage doors were specified but these cannot be fitted for some reason and ordinary garage doors have to be fitted instead. A quote will have to be obtained for the ordinary garage doors and the difference between that cost and the cost of the (more expensive) electric ones should be removed from the amount you will be paying for. You should agree with your builder that prior to obtaining the quote for the new doors, that the actual cost for the original ones is disclosed so that you are sure to get a proper rebate. 64. Be prepared for the fact that the suppliers of building materials have not moved with the times when it comes to quality control. In fact in some cases, technologies that have been with us since before Roman times seem to have advanced little! Take for example bricks – you cannot pick brick colours from a board of brick ‘slip’ samples and then expect to get the same colours delivered. Ask any bricklayer. The only way to guarantee colours is to go down to the brick yard, select the ones you want and take them away with you. The same applies to exterior tiles. The quality control is nowhere near the standard applied to other areas of modern production (e.g. farm produce at supermarkets). The quality of concrete is incredibly variable in both consistency and mix. If you are looking for ‘fair-faced’ concrete surfaces, i.e. ones that are good enough to be visible, it may be a good idea to have a back-up plan in case it goes wrong. Note that the choice of concrete is often limited to those plants that are nearby – your builders may have little choice on which one they can use. 65. If you are working from samples then keep the samples of the things that you used to make choices and make it clear that the colours shown are the ones you expect to see delivered. If the supplier can’t guarantee that then pick another supplier. 66. Take lots of photographs of everything, no matter how boring. When the structure is finished and you need to know what’s behind a wall you’ll be grateful. Particularly useful is where pipes and other services are running behind walls and under floors. 67. Make sure that you decide and say where you need wood behind the plasterboard to support pictures, curtain rails and televisions, cupboards, etc. and then take photographs of where it is before the plasterboard is put on. 68. Keep a VERY close eye on what you are paying out. It’s a very good idea to create a spreadsheet which documents all the costs and then when they have been paid. AND FINALLY SOME OTHER NOTES… 69. In my experience professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Engineers are only there to protect their members, not the public. In my experience they will always maintain that their members are right and you are wrong – the member is the one paying them – not you. Always have in the back of your mind that you cannot rely on any professional body to protect you from their members. 70. Don’t expect the Local Government Ombudsman to uphold any complaint you make against the local authority. In my experience they rarely take any complaint seriously. Take a look at their website and try to find a dispute that has ended up in the resident’s favour. Even those labelled as ‘upheld’ often don’t force the local authority to do anything to rectify the matter. 71. If you are using a home automation system which controls the lights, make sure you put an ordinary light switch in the cupboard/room where system is. If it goes wrong you’ll need some light to fix it! Also, think carefully before using mechanical retractive light switches. For a simple on/off they should be fine but for special uses (e.g. double tapping for switching a light scene off) they are not very easy to use. Consider the touch-sensitive (capacitative) type - they are far easier to use. 72. Don't allow things which will need replacement or servicing to be boxed in with decorative panels, etc. Make sure it is easily accessible. 73. If you're building a basement in impermeable ground (e.g. clay) remember that basements can easily 'float out', i.e. rainwater can flow down the sides of the concrete, collect under it and then cause the basement to float. Yes, it sounds incredible and yes, basements are very heavy but so are battleships and the Archimedes' principle holds true for both of them. Make certain that a) that your builders have spoken to the engineer about this and fully understand and will mitigate the risks, b) that there is adequate drainage from the bottom of the basement during the build to prevent water collecting around the concrete 'ship' and c) obtain written confirmation from your engineer, backed up by his professional insurance, to confirm that the weight of the house's structure above will be sufficient to keep the house firmly in the ground when the project is finished. 74. I started with this but I’ll say it again – get all decisions in writing. If you make a decision verbally with anyone, back it up with an email. Explanatory Note: A PC Sum (Prime Cost Sum) is an allowance made by an architect or a builder in the price for a specialist contractor or specialist supplier. In most cases a PC Sum is allowed for electrics, plumbing, heating, kitchens, windows, etc. It is allowed on a lump sum provisional basis and the client is responsible for the actual end cost of the item plus a small percentage for the main contractor. It is in the contractor’s interest in the tender process to keep this figure as low as possible as it makes his overall figure lower even if it is well known that the provisional cost is insufficient.
  7. 13 points
    Well folks 11 months of living in this house with hellish low humidity not to mention other problems caused by poor mvhr set up finally seem to be sorted. A week on from the change to enthalpy exchanger and rebalancing the system to the guildlines from you guys in here the house feels good to live in for me for the first time since moving in last April. Humidity in living areas running at 39-40 and bedroom at about 42. Temps pretty constant at 22.5- 23. Co2 levels up to between 500-600 as now not overventilating (I never knew there was such a thing!) The house feels much warmer and ufh is not kicking on as much. We are running on my system Level 2 (absent) which is 70% building regs and using Level 3 (living) which is 100% building regs, as bathroom boost. Level 4 blow your socks off rate is now not used. For the first time I now get what you all have been talking about with the MVHR benefit. Got the same people coming back in a few weeks to help sort out the UFH which has never been set up properly. Thank you lovely people I’m grateful for your help.
  8. 13 points
    Had the air tightness test & EPC done this week. Not really ready but had to do it to meet the deadline for the FIT. House nowhere near finished, just plastered, have 2nd fix to do & MVHR not on yet. Air test result was 0.41 & EPC A rated at 99. (Of course if I fit solar thermal at a cost of £4000 it could score 101 & save £64 a year. What nonsense.) Huge relief. My husband would have been so chuffed.
  9. 13 points
    So the floors in and it’s time to start putting up this icf stuff now there’s many ways to build stuff and I chose to build the icf up from the footing blocks and incorporate the block n beam floor in the process, thus locking the ends of the beams in place this first course of blocks would then get filled with concrete up to finished floor level. With the height difference between the foundation blocks and my block n beam floor, this meant I had to cut the first row of blocks with a step in them, the inner face half the height of the outer face. OMFGG. What a shit choice that was, I think I am possibly the worlds expert on icf cutting, what I thought would be a couple of days work took 6. Cutting leveling, plumbing up, more cutting the static generated by cutting the blocks is ridiculous, the little bits stick to your face arms, hands anything that it fancies. This is a pic of the stepped block, inner leaf cut smaller than outer to allow next course to come up level from that. So 6 days of cutting the bloody stuff and it’s all the way around the footprint,fill it with concrete and that’s another bit done. The random spacing on the reinforcement bar relates to pillars that will be between openings we have a lot of openings and not a lot of wall between them we also have some very substantial reinforcement over the windows to compensate for the lack of wall structure around the openings Tadar that’s that done. So anybody going to start an icf build with block beam floor let me know and I will tell you exactly how to do it. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FOLLOW THESE PICTURES. unless you want 6 days of frustration. 🤪🤪🤪🤪 Bugger me we thought we where down sizing.
  10. 12 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.
  11. 12 points
    We have just finished the drive 410 mtrs of paving 30 ton of sand My wife has pulled most of the paving on her little truck A monumental effort considering she is on 9 stone wet through
  12. 12 points
    So after a month or so in the house, the time has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and what if anything, we would change or could have done differently. In truth there is very little if anything that we would change. The rooms flow, the doors open in the right direction and the lights can be switched on and off in the appropriate places. Even the WBS has proven to be a worry that wasn't worth worrying about, as it's position within the hearth is no longer an issue due to it being vented through the back as opposed to the top. Some jobs have been completed such as the down pipes and a few jobs remain outstanding but nothing that has an impact upon our daily lives. One such job is the porch that needs to be slated. Thankfully I still have some financial leverage over those various trades so I know they will return. Our satisfaction I suppose, has to be routed in the preparation work, the research and being a member of this superb forum. None of these elements should be underestimated. Therefore I would like to sign off this blog with a heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed, not only to my issues over the past couple of years, but to all the other threads, as they too are just as relevant / enlightening. I have also attached some images which complete the project, namely the WBS chimney installation and the erection of the much mentioned porch. For a final time, thanks for reading, and given the date, seasons greetings to you all. Paul.
  13. 12 points
    Like all Self builders we found we had a limited number of options for living accommodation during the build, given that we needed to demolish the bungalow to clear the plot for the build. The options were, rent locally or a caravan on site. Renting locally wasn’t an option due to the high rental costs, so we looked at the caravan option. The main problem was access, an 8 feet wide drive with a hairpin bend half way up, a dry stone wall, 80 feet tall trees and limestone outcrop put paid to that idea. A local crane company visited the site to look at the feasibility of craning the caravan over the trees, the narrowness of the road, a road closure and 4 mile diversionary routes for vehicles, a licence from the local authority soon put paid to that idea. Then a brief conversation with a neighbour and a lightbulb moment, we can up with the idea of a timber framed tiny house built in an orchard that formed part of the plot. The day before submission of the planning application a sketch of a small 7 x 5m cabin was added to one of the drawings. Thankfully we got planning approval. The construction of the cabin allowed us to practice our woodworking, insulation and other construction and trade skills. This is where we currently live. This what it looks like on a wet autumn day. Not the power cable over sailing the cabin. Happily the DNO installed taller poles to increase the clearance.
  14. 12 points
    So the piles are in, 29 steel tubes, smashed into the ground, down to a depth of 7.5 m, all filled with concrete so what’s next A RING BEAM. this is basically a steel reinforced beam that spans from pile to pile, so spreading the wall, floor, roof load down on to the piles. Piles in pic. So the ringbeam consists of a square of 450mm by 450mm reinforced concrete, the traditional method and one I have used in the past consists of cutting ply to the desired size and nailing and screwing for the next millennium until you have a mold in which to place you reinforcement and then concrete to form the beam. Whoo there boy, this is 2018, plywood is so last year so in 2018 what are we using. PLASTIC, BLOODY PLASTIC I have a love hate relationship with plastic, it is so clever, it can be extremely strong, but it also goes brittle and cracks, I find it very hard to recycle it so this is what the BLOODY PLASTIC looks like. To be perfectly honest it was terrific, all folded to the exact dimensions of the beam 450x450 it has a steel mesh core to keep it ridgid, it cuts nicely with a cordless grinder, i priced up to do it in ply and it was about ply £650 plastic fantastic £1100 but the labour saving was absolutely bloody huge, 2 of us had it all installed in 6 days, I think I possibly saved about 10 days in labour for 2 men so a massive saving. The plastic also stays in place after the concrete is poured, so a degree in waterproofing to the ring beam also. steel reinforcing, so over the years I have used more than a few tonne of this stuff, but I’ve never brought it in ready fabricated well blow me over what a breath of fresh air this is. All cages pre fabbed to your dimensions, a steel layout showing where it all goes, and a luggage label on everybit of steel. PERFECT the only Sod’s law bit to hit us yep you guessed it cage one is on the bottom of that bloody great pile of steel. This is the largest reinforcement project I have done on my own without a big bunch of lads as backup and it went so smoothly I had to do a little jig around the site. If anybody wants details of the suppliers pm me I would thoroughly recommend both companies. this is what it basically looks like, round pile poking up in middle of pic, steel reo sitting on top, plastic shutter to hold the concrete in place, back fill around the plastic to hold it in place CAREFULLY. this is is an example of a junction of 2 walls. So in this pic are 3 cages, 2 joined as a lap splice and one coming in from the side, all tied together and sitting on top of a pile. so 6 days of sweating, a minor amount of swearing we are ready for conc 24 cubic metres, one concrete pump, 3 lads, 28 degrees, all finished by 10.30am. 100 m of hessian soaked for 2 days in the water butt. That will do, off to Spain for a week to smash it up, give it large, and generally get drunk and fall about on the dance floor.
  15. 11 points
    Scaffold down and windows in...big dose of euphoria....feels like a real milestone. We can now get a sense of the completed project. With the scaffold removed the house now looks far more suited to the plot and we hope our neighbours will be as relieved as we are. The window install went well. Our windows are Velfac and we opted to use an approved installer as it extended the warrantee to six years. It cost a bit more but the standard of install was good with great care being taken. A few grubby hand prints on the render but nothing we could not clean of with soapy water. One aspect of doing your own build that we had not considered, is the fact you start out with something perfect and new. It will slowly age and degrade. It’s akin to the feeling of the first mark on a new car. Pat and I have restored a couple of cars in the past and avoided going the whole hog of a concourse restore as it can spoil your willingness to use and enjoy the car. We just need to keep the same mind set with the build. With a house we can lock, our intention is to let the dust settle. We’ll come back to the project with fresh enthusiasm in October.
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 11 points
    It seems that quite a few of us have had our turf laid this week. My wife loves it, it is so nice looking out on grass and not mud. The guys have done a lovely job. There are just a couple of snagging points left to do and we are done. We also need to have the garden walls rendered and copes put on. We also had a local company round to put various granite and marble shelves on, I was reticent as I thought it would be a pain to organise, but they were a pleasure to deal with. Finally this means that my built in barbecue is in, very excited for barbecue season, actually it is very nice today, we could probably have had one. Front of house Front coming in the driveway Back of house, looking towards pool Terrace off the kitchen Built in barbecue(Still a bit dusty) They used a Dekton top as they said this is the most heat resistant material Marble around Optimyst fire Back of house looking out from kitchen Front looking from kitchen Dressing room Furniture finally delivered for our bedroom, just waiting on a new bed now Decided to frame the hole in the wall fire as it looked too plain just sitting in the wall on its own
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 11 points
    Yesterday was air tightness test day and MBC's final day on site getting everything prepped for the final test and then finishing off a few details. For those not so familiar with this kind of thing, a few details of the process follow. Our house isn't a passive house as it hasn't been designed with that in mind - it was the design first and then build to passive standards, so no accreditation or anything like that. That said, I wanted a low energy house and hence the choice of the passive system offered by MBC. Part of this system is that as well as the building and foundation being highly insulated, it also leaks very little air, as this is one of the major sources of heat loss in buildings and houses. The leakiness of a house is measured in terms of the number of times the volume of air contained by the building passes out of all the various gaps in one hour. As mentioned on this forum elsewhere, a modern well-built house without any special air tight measures would probably change its volume of air between 3 and 5 times per hour. The final part of MBC's construction method is to tape over anywhere there is likely to be a gap and make the building as air tight as possible; the target is to have 0.6 or less air changes per hour. One exterior door into the house is chosen as the point of measurement and this is where all the kit goes. Note that the air tight test is testing the quality of MBC's work and whilst it will highlight gaps elsewhere, it's not MBC's remit to correct leaks caused by others, only themselves. The point of measurement for my house is the door between the garage and the utility room, where the FD30 rated door was recently installed. The door is sealed up with a membrane that's supported and held in place by an adjustable frame: The hands are those of Steve, of Melin Consultants, who carry out most of MBC's air tests. This is the frame/shield being put in place in the doorway. I really did try and get a photo without builder's/air tester's bum, but to no avail. Those with delicate sensibilities should look away now and skip the next photo. After the frame, the fan is put into the hole in the shield, drawn tight and any gaps between the frame and door frame are temporarily sealed up. The rate of air flow into and out of the building is altered by both the speed of the fan and the number of vents that are opened up on the fan. The building is de-pressurised first, then re-pressurised and the readings taken. Because of environmental factors such as wind, this is done 10 times to get a data set and the average is taken for the final result. When this test was done yesterday, it was a windy day with the wind coming from the north east, the direction that the garage door faces. As the test progressed, it became clear that the house is well sealed and so it needed a smaller fan. The red shield was swapped over and the smaller fan put in place. The rest of the readings were taken and we got our final reading. Darren and his MBC crew aced it - with a target of 0.6 ac/h it came in at 0.25. Brilliant. Darren is a calm chap under all sorts of pressures but the air test was about the only time I've seen him display (slight) signs of nerves. He was equally understated in his satisfaction with the result even though it turns out that this is one of the lowest numbers they've had in 7 years. Well done, Darren and crew. If you're wondering what all that foam is doing on the floor, that's left over from Nick doing the foul wastes over the weekend and foaming them in before putting air tight tape around them to make sure he didn't do anything detrimental to the air test result. We have a few very minor leaks, mostly gaps between the panels in the windows that have several sections. No surprise and these are due to be siliconed once we've finished most of the pretty stuff. There is also a bit of air flow through the keyholes but I've been advised that a good coating of vaseline on the key and in and out of the lock a few times should seal it up well enough. I daresay that would seal most things. The gaps were temporarily sealed up with a bit of low tack plastic for the air test, so the result assumes this has been done. All the battens are in now and the downstairs was finished off yesterday, and concrete was put into the remaining recess that had been formed for the lift and slide doors to get a level threshold. I am, of course, delighted with the air tight result and really pleased for MBC as well, as they have worked really hard and whenever there has been a problem, come up with solutions. I know that others have had varied experiences but for my own, I have found MBC to be a pleasure to work with right from the start. At the design stage, David worked his socks off liaising with my architect to get all the details right and to work out how to build the design using their system, and this has been the case with any third parties I've asked them to speak with directly. The communication from Trish has been great - I've always know what was going to happen and when and been kept informed when timings have had to change. The guys on the ground have worked like machines; I'm astonished at how hard they work, to be frank, and throughout the whole time I've never heard any rows or arguments. That's not to say that there haven't been any, but if there have, they didn't take place in front of me. For me, this has been a really good experience. What next? There's still plenty to do but the next main contractor is Nick from Total Energy Systems who is largely doing all of the internal systems, plumbing and wiring. He's done a reasonable amount already in terms of the MVHR ducting and manifolds but will kick off in earnest on 3rd December once the cellulose has been blown in upstairs. The cellulose is arriving on Friday 30th, along with Gordon, who will put it into the walls and ceiling. All 520 bags of it! Before then, my Ryterna garage door is due to be installed next week so I'll report back on that. That's being supplied and installed by Joe from Dorset Garage Doors Ltd, just up the road from me in Lydlinch. There's a lot of work to be done outside, too, but I'll be thinking through that today and get my plan of action together. Whatever else happens, Nick is going to get some gentle heat into the slab this week, using a couple of Willis heaters. It's getting pretty chilly on site now and it will be nice to get the house drying out properly and check that side of things is working properly. A good week and, hopefully, more to come.
  24. 11 points
    Scaffold finally down and new window fitted although windows still not finished.
  25. 11 points
    Moving on to day 2 of the timber frame erection, I make no apologies for this photo-heavy post as the pictures speak far more eloquently than I can on the subject matter. Especially as I don't know the right words for much of it. It rained overnight here in Dorset, but nothing disastrous and it was all gone by a couple of hours into the morning. Here's how I left the team yesterday evening: This morning, another day, another crane. This one, I think, was even bigger, but it hurt my neck to keep looking that high, so I can't swear to it. Along with the crane was the next lot of timber frame components, but also the steels for the ground floor ceiling/first floor. There's a lot of steel in my building and whilst being very good for the structural integrity of the building, it's pretty rubbish if you want to stick an MVHR duct through it. At the production stage, my MVHR guy liaised with MBC to request penetrations through the steels for the ducting so that we didn't have to try and deal with this after the event. Here's one such steel with the right holes in the right places. Again, the crane did its thing and shifted all the posi joists into the interior the building and helped position the internal stud walls. All the steels were craned into position as well. The posi joists were man-handled up onto the steels: This is the run of the posi joists, looking from the eastwards from the west facing window. This is looking from the end of the living/dining area towards the kitchen and utility. This is looking back towards the building from the field. The silver box is the attached garage which will not be part of the thermal envelope; we haven't yet decided whether to put any insulation into this, but that can come later. The interior of the garage looking out to the field: A shot taken from the scaffolding. I'm standing at the west side of the living room (where the field is) looking over the lane and the fields beyond. For those of you who know north Dorset, that's Hambledon Hill near Blandford Forum in the distance. And finally, this was resting on the joists upstairs. It pleases me greatly.
  26. 10 points
    Okay, so I know that I promised another blog post soon way back at the beginning of December but it was busy on the build. Crazy busy, details to follow. As for Christmas, well, that didn't turn out as planned, and I had planned it so well. Both OH and I were proper knackered by the time we got into December - me with the build, OH running our business by himself, so we planned some quality R&R by running away to Gran Canaria on Christmas eve for a week. A fly and flop, turn ourselves into zombies for a week then return all bright eyed and bushy tailed for the new year. You just know this isn't going to end well, don't you? You'd be right. 2 days after we got to Gran Canaria, Paul started to feel off-form, then he felt crap, then he felt like death would be a more comfortable option. Turns out he developed real flu, not man flu, but real, proper, can't get out of bed to pick up a £20 note that someone has dropped on the floor flu. Not great, but it got worse. On Thursday, I learned the hard way why all-inclusive buffet style food has such a poor reputation and I mulled on this whilst turning myself inside out and wondering whether, in my sickly state, I had the necessary co-ordination to take care of everything with only one WC and no handy plastic bowl available. Thankfully, I did and whilst recovering the following morning I thought that the worst was over. You just know this is going to get worse, don't you? It did. We just about managed to get home (thankfully flying into Bournemouth) with OH in an increasingly sickly state. Ever the prima donna and insisting on trumping my food poisoning, flu became something between bronchitis and pneumonia and OH was a very sickly boy to the extent that tomorrow will be his first day back at work. I banned myself from the build for a few days in the new year as I'd caught a cold, but I couldn't be self indulgent about it given my patient was worse. So, if there's any justice in the world, we should be good to go for the next and final stint on the build but I'm all to aware that life isn't fair, so we shall see. Enough of plague and pestilence, let's get onto the plastering bit. Actually, I'll come back to that because although in real time we are mid way through the skim now, a vast amount has gone on since early December when the cellulose was blown in as first fix got started in earnest and at a break-neck pace. The plastering has only started in earnest in the new year and I'd like to cover the first fix stuff that happened in December, given that this is the heart and circulatory system that will make the building function as a comfortable home. We received our planning permission just over 1 year and one week ago and I already knew largely how I wanted the building to function, as a result of reading so much here on BH. Serendipitously, about the same time as PP was granted, Nick popped his bicep. This was disastrous for a plumber but brilliant for me as it meant that I was able to drag him on board to design the systems for my building from the outset. Every cloud, and all that. Things have moved on and been formalised since then, but suffice it to say that all my plumbing, heating, MVHR and electrics have been seamlessly integrated into the building and designed alongside the technical and engineering drawings from MBC by Total Energy Systems Ltd, headed up by Nick. Other systems firms are available, of course. Here is Nick and team. You will see that in the true spirit of accuracy, Nick doesn't have the sun shining out of his posterior, but a laser beam shining out of his head. The nature of the first fix work means that it's hard to photograph the amount of effort that goes into it, but there is plenty. Initially, the team is focussing on getting all the MVHR pipes through the metal web joists and, in time, insulating them. Then there are all the underfloor heating pipes to be run through to the right places and the manifolds. We're having UFH upstairs as well as downstairs - the ground floor manifold is in the very useful cupboard under the stairs, the upper one in the loft space along with all sorts of other interesting things. Here's a nice selection of the MVHR pipes, some insulated, as well as the clipped up UFH pipes that are insulated where they are tied together and in contact with one another. And here's a close up of the insulated UFH pipes. Neatly done. Much thought has gone into how air will flow around the building with the aid of the MVHR system. In particular, in the large open plan lounge/diner/kitchen area, and how to ensure that none but the stinkiest cooking smells make it out of the kitchen area. As a result, there are long runs of the MVHR pipework leading to plenums at the far end of the lounge area where air will flow into the room. The exhaust pipes for this area are (almost) directly over the hob on the island at the far end, so the airflow should ensure that all the cooking smells get sucked up and out over the kitchen area. Here's a photo of the inlet plenums either side of the window at the far end of the living area. Originally, the architect designed the entire upstairs to have vaulted ceilings, including the landing. Whilst MBC were still drawing up their engineering drawings, we asked for the landing area to be boarded out to create a loft area as this would be an ideal space to stuff a load of plant, including the MVHR manifolds. On reflection, this was also a good decision as I think the proportions of that area would have looked very odd and felt like a vertical tunnel due to the height of the ceiling at that point (4.7m). The MVHR manifolds have been neatly attached to racked out sections in the loft area, making sure that room is left for the upstairs UFH manifold and, in time, the PV inverters. Here's the loft area back in December: And the one on the west wall. You can also see the UFH manifold and the black cables from the PV panels that will be connected to the inverters. There were also the soil pipes to tackle and these were planned to get sufficient fall on them as they came through the web joists: For anyone tackling a similar build, I can't stress too much the advantage of having your systems people involved from the very start. It means that any holes that need to be put through steel beams to accommodate pipework can be designed in and made at the fabrication stage. Even then, things can go awry and a couple of the steel penetrations were either off kilter or not in the right place, but the majority were where they needed to be and made life much easier. An example of this kind of thing is the stud wall between the landing and the en-suite for the master bedroom. In order to be able to hide the various pipes that travel up to the loft space, Nick asked MBC to make this into a twin stud wall and specified the depth so that it would carry the pipework. Here it is. A bit tricky to see, but you can easily see the benefit of being able to conceal this bulky pipework into the fabric of the build. Speaking of concealing things, all the loos in the house are wall-hung with the cistern concealed in the wall. All you see is the loo and the flush plate, and so the framework needs to be put in before walls are boarded and plastered. Here's one such frame: I'm on a bit of a catch up now so stay tuned for the next exciting episodes of ponds, brise soleil and vertical slate cladding. Ta ta for now.
  27. 10 points
    Or, perhaps, run it in reverse in a small, well-sealed, cupboard. You could call it a "refrigerator"... 😏
  28. 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.
  29. 9 points
    Well it Looks like weve got a fixed deadline now. Better get a wiggle on hadn't I.
  30. 9 points
    Exciting weekend for us, the scaffolders dismantled all of the scaffolding on the house and garage, finishing at lunchtime yesterday. Our first view of the house as it is (mostly) supposed to look. Interesting downpipe detail at the moment... The groundworkers were back on site yesterday reviewing the long list of external work still to do, including another retaining wall to keep the drive away from the house.
  31. 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.
  32. 9 points
    We make a start on 15th October with the diggers arriving on 16th October. By the 17th October, state of play is as per the picture below. The gabion wall on the right of the plot was put in by the vendor as part of the infrastructure works. The trench on the left is for a gabion wall that we are putting in on the other boundary. As there is quite a slope from back to front, we are putting another gabion wall across the plot to act as a retaining wall. All OK so far, but there is a surprising amount of muck that came out of the trench for the gabion wall which will need to be taken off-site. On the plus side, the plot had already been stripped of topsoil and as we are using a passivhaus foundation there was not too much extra muck on top of this. The builder we are using has been involved since the early stages of the project. We didn't go to competitive tender but worked with the Architect to look for someone with experience of the build method we are using who we felt would be able to build to our budget. We are living around 3 hours drive from the site and made a decision out of necessity to continue working in our day jobs throughout the build, however we are purchasing all of the materials ourselves or via our own accounts which we expect will make the build more cost effective. This arrangement works to my strengths as whilst my practical building skills aren't great, I should be OK tracking costs and getting good prices on the materials. Original plan was to get the gabion cages in place and fill them as time allowed, but the Passivhaus foundation could not be delivered for the requested date of 24th October, so once the drainage is complete, filling the gabion cages becomes the main task to keep the team onsite busy. By 26th October, the majority of the drainage and gabion walls are complete The following week is spent finishing of the gabion walls, landscaping, groundwork and preparing the grit base for the Passivhaus foundation. There is however a further delay on the Passivhaus foundation, so a decision is made to push on with the garage to keep everyone on site busy. At the end of the week (2nd November), the slab for the garage is laid The garage progresses quickly the following week and the Passivhaus foundation arrives on 8th November. There are some small dimensional inaccuracies with the Passivhaus foundation base that need to be corrected, but I am thankful this is spotted before the concrete pour when it is relatively easy to fix. It is however another delay and distraction we could have done without. On the bright side however, there have been no nasty surprises with the groundwork / drainage. Work continues on the garage w/c 12th November with prep for the house slab starting at the end of the week. DPM and steelwork for the house slab go in on the 19th and 20th and following a review of the weather forecasts, we go for the 23rd November for the concrete pour. The concrete and concrete pump are ordered again, the rain holds off, temperature is ok and the pour goes to plan. Garage has also now been boarded.
  33. 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:
  34. 9 points
    Following on from finishing our blockwork a few weeks ago, our brickie came back the next week and fitted the concrete cills. We then had a short wait before before our joiners could come back on site and fit the remaining Siberian larch cladding. Here are some photos. The next exterior job will be rendering, but with the winter weather it might be some time before this can be done. Our attention will now be concentrated on getting the house to 1st fix, fitting the insulation is the first job on the list.
  35. 9 points
    Back on the subject of washing...... Consider mounting your washer and dryer higher up if you have the room. Makes it so much easier on the back! You need to design the carcass/units well as it’s subject to a fair amount of vibration if you’ve got your big pants on a 1400 spin Heres mine and I don’t think I could go back to ground mounted.....
  36. 9 points
    ....if the weather man says it's raining! So goes the old song and me, too, by the end of this week. The roof itself has been watertight for a couple of weeks now, but there was still significant water ingress from the gulleys hidden behind the parapets formed at the top of the ground floor. However, my flat roof guys have been back on site this week and are working hard. Today they were finishing off the long, east facing balcony and also moving onto the south facing parapet; they will continue around the building and should have the main part of the house all finished off if not by Friday, then certainly early next week. This is a great relief as even though I know that the building would dry out, there is something deeply distressing about seeing puddles of water lying on the slab after rain, despite the main roof being on, so I shall be very happy to have this part of the build completed. Photos of the gullies and balconies to follow later this week. Stepping back to last week for a moment, some of the window snag list was ticked off, primarily the shattered panes of glass. One was in the south facing ground floor lounge area and the other was a unit in the north east bedroom. Norrsken were back exactly when they said they would be and got the main jobs completed so that things are set for the return of MBC. The remaining snag list are a few adjustments to the windows, for example where one of the lift and slide windows is too tightly fitted against the seal/brush and the frames rub when it's opened or closed, and then a few cosmetic issues such as shallow dents in the frames. We've agreed to complete the rest of the list once we're getting into second fix rather than get in the way of all the frame completion and first fix work. Last week also saw the return of Darren from MBC to fix my wonky wall, for which the solution was low tech but effective. A sleep deprived but determined Irishman with a very, very large hammer who was prepared to beat the crap out of a steel beam, and that's precisely what he did. So the problem wasn't so much the wall above the window, but the section that housed the apex steel that sat above the window and that, it's now been decided, has a kink in it. The wall above the steel section and the one below it are both plumb but the inverted V-section above the window isn't due to the kinked steel inside it. I'm assured that everything is structurally fine and that there's no danger of anything shifting in a detrimental fashion and after Darren did his stuff the top of the triangular window section is now only 3mm out, where it started at 12mm and more further up. I can easily live with 3mm and it will easily be lost in the cladding. There is now a kick on the inside, but Darren will put some packers behind the service battens to make sure that the final internal wall is plumb for boarding out and everything else that comes after. And so back to this week, where the first few days have all been about activity on the roof. As already mentioned, the flat roof guys were back on Monday and also back were the solar PV guys. The solar guys had to start by removing the optimisers from where they'd previously left them on the roof as they are all going into the loft space. The idea behind this is that the solar panels themselves are highly unlikely to fail but if any of the optimisers do, it will be an expensive job to get to them to make any repairs. It would involve dismantling part of the roof as well as expensive scaffolding to gain access. Instead, the cables have come through a penetration in the roof and the optimisers will sit in the loft space along side some MVHR equipment, meaning that things are far more accessible in the future. The inverter will be in the garage and the cable has been run down along the roof, going through the parapet and through the garage ceiling, into the garage where it will live with all the sunamps and other kit. This is the route it's taking, to the side of the roof window and underneath the membrane that will line the parapet gully and, eventually, the garage roof. My velux windows arrived last week, which was another relief. My roofer, Dylan, gave me a call to confirm that they were in and the days that his team would be back. We'd already agreed that they would be on site on the 30th to co-ordinate and work around with the solar guys and they all worked really co-operatively, as they have done all along. I'm biased, of course, but I think that my roof is looking really great and the solar panels are pretty smart looking, too. Here are the panels from the other side of the flat roof over the stairwell. And a closer view of the trays and panels. This is the velux window that's over the shared bathroom. It's very low down coming onto the flat roof, but Terence and the other roofers, Pat and Mike, had already discussed this and decided how to solve the potential issue by using some more membrane and glueing the s*&t out of it all. This is the same window from inside. The light from this will be the only natural light source in the bathroom once all the walls are in place, so it's good to see that it floods in from its west facing orientation. We have another 2 velux windows, one is in the already well-lit south east bedroom, which I'm claiming for my own room to do stuff in, so I'm delighted to have it full of so much light. You can also see the prep on the balcony with the membrane being put down. The other roof window is the north east bedroom which will benefit from the additional light given its aspect. Here's a pic of the guys putting the trays into position on the main south facing roof. The pole that's in the foreground of the picture is the one that until recently carried the electricity supply cable. That has now been buried and back-filled today and Openreach will be around on Friday to remove their equipment so I will be able to dispose of the pole in due course. This is towards the end of the day when most of the panels were on and the slates had been put around them. There's plenty more work to come this week. The flat roof team are continuing and the pitched roof team will be back on Friday and possibly early next week to finish everything up there. My groundworker, Keith, is on site now as well, and we're moving all the shrub and hedge related debris from earlier in the year. I'm currently thinking that bonfire night seems an appropriate time to light up, so I may have to buy some sparklers for the occasion. My fire rated door was delivered today from Enfield Speciality Doors and my neighbour, Drew, will be installing that for me. He works in construction and having seen the tidy work he's done on his own place, he'll be doing a fair bit of internal work for me as well as, possibly, the tier cladding on the outside in due course. It's worth noting that I paid a premium to Enfield Speciality Doors to jump the queue in their production schedule to make sure that I got the door in time for the return of MBC. It's the one to go between the utility and garage so it has to be in before MBC return and I was prepared to pay an additional 10% to make sure this would happen. I was chatting with another BH member recently and it seems that fire rated doors really are tricky things to get hold of, let alone within a reasonable timescale. If you also want one that's insulated and looks good, be prepared to take a few months over this, assuming you find anything. I'm fortunate as mine is only between the garage and utility and doesn't need to be pretty. I may add extra insulation later but, for now, I just needed the fire rated door. Nick will also be back towards the end of the week to sort out some soil pipes and other bits before MBC hit, then we can really take the brakes off and go at first fix. Yesterday's buzz of the week was the Hercules.
  37. 9 points
    You had better be, because once MBC turn up on site, it's fast and furious and everything has to fit around them. Things happen at an incredible pace and no matter how much you read about it, how many videos you look at, it doesn't quite prepare you for the reality of that speed, or not in my case. Some surprises are good, and this was one of them. I'll get to the photos shortly, but first a few comments on what else has been happening since the slab was finished on the 9th August, or thereabouts, as some is preparation and others are running in parallel. First off, immediately after the slab was finished, I confirmed that everything was still good to go with the scaffolders and that they would be here the week before the timber frame was due to be certain it was all in place. I understand that scaffolders have quite a negative reputation in general and I can only speak of this, my one experience of dealing with them, but so far the firm I'm using have been professional and polite throughout, from the manager to the guys actually putting the scaffolding up. Long may it continue. You may recall my post about my little problem with the overhead electricity lines and my concern about being able to put sufficient scaffolding up for the MBC team to do their thing. The scaffold guys came around as far as they could with it, but there isn't much around where the garage will be and I will admit to having some qualms over this and whether it would cause massive problems for MBC. It turns out that it didn't. At all, not in the slightest. Nada. Phew. You'll see the detail of it later, but it was a weight off my mind to see the garage actually going up. So what's happening with the electricity thing, then, I hear you cry. Currently, it's a waiting game. There is a viable and acceptable solution in play, which is to replace the poles that support the lines which oversail my property with taller ones, an increase in height of about 3m. This is fine with me, as I don't object to the lines being there, after all, I bought the property with them in situ. The wait is down to planning permission, but not mine. It seems that because the proposed increase in height of the poles is greater than 10% of their current height, the DNO has to apply for planning permission to replace with the new, taller ones, and the DNO is no different from we mere mortals who also have the statutory 8 week wait for the planning decision. So, we wait. Sadly, the DNO are showing no signs of paying for the work so far and the quote for the work, inclusive of VAT, is around £8k. Let me state at the outset, I have no intention of paying £8k for this, particularly as the lines running over my property are then on a voluntary basis, with my consent (the wayleave agreement). I have done some reading around the subject and, in particular, the level of compensation that DNOs typically pay to householders if a wayleave or its more permanent cousin, an easement, is granted to the DNO. In the case of an easement, it's anywhere between 1% and 2% of the value of the property with all the legals at the DNO's expense. I haven't had a chance to talk through this with the wayleave officer, but I suspect and hope that we will reach agreement on the logical course of their doing the work at their own cost and I will grant them an easement. It seems a fair exchange and an efficient way to give a good outcome. Whether they take the same view remains to be seen, but I shall update once I know more. With regards to other tasks, I'm basically thinking ahead to once the structure is weather tight and secure. This stage of the timber frame should be done in a couple of weeks, so let's say 14th September. My solar PV is all booked and ready to go shortly after that but I need to get the velux windows and a roof course of the tiles up so that the PV installation can go ahead. I'm waiting for quotes right now and hope to have this sorted by early next week. Once the solar PV is in, I won't call the roofers back straight away as I need to wait for the glazing installation, which is due on 24th September, so the rest of the roof will get done most likely in early October. What else? Well, my UFH, MVHR and all the kit for that is actually starting to get sorted this week, from tomorrow. MBC are pushing off to another job for a couple of days to give my plumber time to get the UFH stuff sorted for the first floor. What? UFH upstairs? Yes. I'm a girl and I function best at temperatures a couple of degrees higher than you boys. It may be that we don't need it, but it's easier to put it in now than for hubby listen to my teeth chattering for the next 30 years. Okay, okay, I'll get to the action stuff now. So, bright and early the day after the bank holiday, the first enormous flat bed lorry stacked with timber frame arrived. The crane was already on site, as were the MBC crew. Actually, I think I've got 2 crews, a total of 7 guys yesterday, which explains the blistering rate of progress. It was a really tight squeeze getting that lorry up the narrow lane to the site and the drivers really prove their mettle getting in and out of there. This is yesterday's crane. They have an incredible reach and are quite something to see in action. I couldn't get the whole thing in a shot. Before anything happens with the walls, the team go around string marking where the beams are and putting down sole plates for the walls to lock into. The black stuff is the DPM which overlaps the EPS underneath. Space was getting a bit tight on the site, but between the hard standing and the inside of the house, everything found a spot. Once all the marking out was done and sole plates were down in the right places, the crane hauled the walls up and they were guided into position. Here's the view over the field from what will be one of the living room windows. At the end of yesterday afternoon, all the external walls were up and they starting marking out for the internal stud walls. There's more to follow from today, but I'll put that into a separate post. This one's busy enough.
  38. 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....
  39. 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.
  40. 8 points
    At the end of my next two blog instalments, you may all be shouting OMG YOU FOOL at the screen a couple of people asked for a no frills no BS account, warts an all they said. Ok it’s coming i think there are more than a couple of people on here that will probably need a Prozac and a lie down if they even considered going the route I have. Well time will tell. If I come back with a blog of how my house fell down or is full of cracks, I will stand here and allow you to all tear chunks of me. So after all the extra concrete had gone from my build site I was left with a bare patch that looked like the Somme. and then it rained,and rained. So we have worked out we are on bad ground, and some form of extra measures will be needed, 1. Ground investigation survey. £1500-£2500 2. Engineer to design slab ,foundations. £2500-£5000 these where the prices quoted from two different companies that turned up to have a look. Both companies stated that I would need some form of piles no matter what type of foundation I placed on top. Raft, ringbeam whatever it would need a pile of some description. So being the bloke I am I put my hi vis jacket on and drove over to the site down the road to talk to the piling team, I found out more about piling in 10 minutes than I had in a lifetime unfortunatly they thought they would be too expensive as they are a nationwide company and deal in multiple houses on big sites, so of to google a couple of local companies i got two companies out to talk to me and this is where it gets a bit interesting. This is how the first conversation went. Me. Hi piling guy, now to be referred to as pg. hi. Me. So I’ve had a quote for a ground investigating survey and there a bit shocking. Pg. yea piss takers pg. So looking at the drawings you sent me I have done some very rough calcs and you will need 29 piles spaced around the perimeter and two rows through the centre. He produced a CAD drawing with a piling layout showing which piles would be carrying a higher load due to floor loading etc i was more than slightly impressed. Me. So if I get the ground investigation done, you will work from that. Pg. what for I just told you what we will need to do. Me. Yea but, we need to pg. If you want to spend two grand being told your soil is crap that’s up to you, I thought you just told me it’s crap me. I did but won’t we need it for the engineer pg. what engineer, I’ve just done it for you, all your loadings have been given to our in-house engineers and that’s who designed that cad drawing your looking at. Me. Oh. Pg. I don’t mind if you want to pay some plonker in a BMW £5000 to tell you you’ve got crap ground and you need piles driven to 7-8 metres that’s up to you, Me. Oh. Me. So you design each pile to take a design load of the wall that’s going on top of it, plus floors and roof and, er, er pg. yep. Me. But I will need the engineer to design the ringbeam that ties it all together pg. Nope. We do that all in one design package, piles ringbeam, steel bar schedules everthing this bloke said is exactly how I envisioned it done if I was the piling company, no knobs in suits with their pinstriped trousers tucked in their wellies, good solid blokes, no bullshit, no messing been doing it 30 years, exactly as I am, take it or leave it. I was starting to like this guy, in a manly way you understand. Pg. so that’s it lad I will have a quote over to you in the next day or two. so 3 days after the quote arrived I laid a piling Matt for the rig to sit on, nothing fancy as the piling rig only weighs around 5 tonne. So. No ground investigation, no separate engineer and I was just on the verge of instructing both at a cost of about £6000 all in. Every differant saying was rushing around in my head. FOOLS RUSH IN WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. 3 weeks later this lot turned up bloody hell that’s a lot of steel, 58, 4m steel tubes making 29 driven piles all going in the ground 8m. The next day a couple of lads turned up with the piling rig. For the next 4 days they proceeded to upset everthing within a 300m radius bong,bong,bong, the piling rig looks a bit unassuming but it has a 500kg weight that is lifted to the top of the mast and dropped down the steel tube, the ground shakes for a good 25m around it, over half the piles went down to there design SET, the rest stopped at REFUSAL somwhere between 6-7m. So thats it thats how I roll.
  41. 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
  42. 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.
  43. 8 points
    Our blockwork started three weeks ago. This was always going to be weather dependent and it was mixed for the first two weeks in November but since then we have had a really good weather window where its been calm, sunny and not too cold which allowed the remaining work to be completed. Our brickie was fitted a temporary gutter which could be taken off when required. This gable end is where the prevailing wind comes down off the mountains, we have shelter belt here but its nice to know that we now have a solid concrete wall. Next on the list is fitting the concrete windows cills which should be next week. The sections that don't have blockwork will be fitted with the remaining Siberian larch cladding in early December.
  44. 8 points
    Just had the air test done and we achieved 0.6ach. This is with a temp front door albeit sealed as best we could and the Internorm sliding doors leaking like a sieve. We have one large set that did not leak at all and the two sliders joined together where atrocious. We are obviously very pleased with this result and hope to improve on that as we need to do another one at the end.
  45. 8 points
    Thats it the last pour this afternoon. As usual, there's a twist..... We (Debbie and I) had about a tonne of concrete to mix, haul up to the parapet and pour by hand to finish the house. As usual it took longer to prepare for it than to do it. But hey, used to that. All tested, all checked. Thoroughly. It rained last night didn't it? Tidy drop of rain in fact. The rope on the pulley was wet. Hemp rope. Got a suspicion yet? Me, up on the gantry, her indoors hauling the pulley (I'm not stupid) First 50 kilo bucket hauled up by one of the fittest wimmin in Lancashire. Helluva lass. On an Italian pulley system that automatically locks when you let the rope go. Well bugger me, 50 kilos of concrete went straight back down from whence it came. Cue old-fashioned look. Cue lively discussion. Several hours later, it came to me why the brake system wasn't working. The rope was wet. I'm really quick like that. The big big BIG mistake I made was, just as we were finishing the job, to tell her why the pulley brake wasn't working. Anyway, doesn't matter, no more concrete to be lifted. Might have a drop of giggle water tonight.
  46. 8 points
    I Thought I would do a little montage of pics, showing this summers progress.. another day on the sofa and I think I will go mad, I’ve been allowed to venture down to the garage for an hour, before I get summoned and told to be polite to more bloody relatives descending on us.
  47. 8 points
    Yep, I have everything I need down here - now. It helps that the other house is only 20 m away so if there s anything I need it's easy enough to go and get it. My son stayed last night. He brought a pizza and a bottle of fizz. Had to go back to the old house to cook the Pizza as my oven is not connected down here, but no big deal. By 3 am we had added 4 bottles of my Christmas fizz to the mix. We both slept like logs despite no curtains - and I have done very little today lol
  48. 8 points
    Today is the day, I am moving my body! I have been taking car loads of stuff down every day this week and today some friends are coming to carry the beds and sofas down so tonight I will be sleeping under my new roof for the first time. Not even excited any more, I am just so fed up of it all. Electrician and Plumbers were both supposed to be coming this week to do a few bits - surprise, surprise, neither has turned up. The UFH has air in the system; I have had to top the water up twice already. It is running way too hot and doesn't seem to be controlled by the thermostat, with thermostat set at 15 degrees, the temp was up at 24 degrees, so I have just been putting it on for an hour or two each day whilst I have not been living there. Oh and my 'smart' meter says I have used £1.20 of fuel today, that is with nothing running at all and the boiler switched off.
  49. 8 points
    It did turn into a DIY demolition, as much by accident as design... We removed the roof tiles and slid them down scaffold planks that were laid on ladders, it worked very well, and they remain stored on site because we couldn't give them away. I"m sure we'll be able to use them to make some paths through the mud that is now EVERYWHERE on the site. The roof timbers were removed and are stored on site. I'll use them for various things, such as a frame for a shed etc. Then I started getting overtaken by events... A friend of mine owns a skip firm and, despite my protestations to the contrary, he was convinced that he would be able to get a 20 yard ro-ro skip up the VERY narrow lane to the site. He gave me a call a few weeks ago and told me one of his drivers would be round in a few minutes to have a look. Well, "have a look" actually meant squeezing his lorry up the lane, I had to climb up the back of the cab to lift a telegraph pole stay over the top of the ro-ro mechanism. He had inches to spare on each side but somehow he got to the end of the plot and completed a 98 point turn so he could drop the skip, the problem was that we had nowhere prepared for the skip to go so it just went straight on to the grass and after another 98 point turn he headed back out of the lane (with me lifting the telegraph pole stay again) so, after him "having a look" I had a chuffing great skip in my garden - I was somewhat bewildered but grateful. I then asked another friend who has a mini digger if he could come and lift some of the paths around the edge of the bungalow. He arrived and promptly started pushing the bungalow over, completely ignoring the footpaths! At this stage I realised that it was probably too late to worry too much about the Method Statement for the demolition which I still haven't submitted. We started loading the bungalow into the 20 yard skip and made a call to get the skip replaced. It was another nerve wracking creep up and down the lane for the skip lorry and, of course, since the first drop the weather had taken a turn for the worse and now there was much slipping and sliding of the lorry. The only solution I could see was to throw bits of bungalow under the skip lorry, which did the trick. We only had 20 minutes between the skip lorry departing full and returning to dump another empty skip during which time we threw loads more bungalow onto the grass to provide some hard standing for the skip and the lorry to manoeuvre. Yes, onto the grass, I should have called a halt. Stripped the top soil, then thrown the bungalow onto the garden and then got the skips back but I didn't, not until later, but by then the damage was done. Anyway the bungalow is now gone and the plot looks like Passchendaele.
  50. 8 points
    ..after moving end of August 2016 ! Our independent inspector has been very patient but we were just about at the end of a 3 month final notification period so were still under pressure to get the remaining items sorted, mostly glass balustrade around the external entrance to the basement. Can now start the VAT reclaim, also able to get the warranty issues (looks like Elite will honour our policy even though the underwriter has gone into administration) and our buildings insurance is now valid Still some work to do on landscaping but don't foresee much more spending on materials. Nice milestone, and as ever, would not have achieved it without the support of eBuild / Build Hub.
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