Nelliekins

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Nelliekins last won the day on December 30 2018

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  1. Nelliekins

    Walls, walls, walls!

    If only that was as bad as it got... That water was simply rainfall over a period of about 2 months, because the basement was still somewhat open to the elements, and would remain that way until the roof was on.
  2. Nelliekins

    Walls, walls, walls!

    It's just dense EPS. Snapping with your hands isn't easy but possible, about the same difficulty to snap as a 38x25 roof batten I'd guess. Depends on the type of block, and the manufacturer. The Logix XRV blocks that we have used above ground are 70mm internal, and 102mm external face. Depends who you ask... Logix say it is slightly more thermally insulative, but our builder (who is very clued up on ICF) says its essentially a con and just a coloring agent...
  3. Nelliekins

    Heating system for an ICF house with UFH

    Right, I have finally arranged for a plumber to come and connect up the boiler. As of Weds, we should have the boiler connected to both the gas and the cyli^H^H^H heat bank. 😁 I have a F&E tank ready to plumb in above the heat bank, and a manifold ready to connect to the hot water outlet (although that's not needed prior to the boiler being commissioned). I've got a single cylinder stat (a Drayton HTS3) to be positioned approx 6" above the bottom inlet on opposite side of heat bank (as per suggestion by @PeterW), although am still considering having a second stat... I don't seem to be able to find any information on the hysteresis for the stat, but presumably I want it to trigger a demand for heat at around 50C (when the PHE can no longer provide DHW at a high enough temperature), and to tell the boiler it is satisfied at around 65-70C? Do I need 2 stats to achieve this? Once the hot water is working, I need to progress the UFH side of things, which will be done using the coil in the bottom of the heat bank. I'm thinking of 2 pumps - one for the basement+ground floor, and one for the first floor. That separates the 2 types of emitters, and pretty much balances the length of pipe being serviced by each pump (because the basement offsets the integral garage area which isn't heated). So, from the coil, I am thinking we want to have a tee, so that the 2 separate "zones" are parallel. From each leg of the tee, there will be a motorised zone valve followed by a pump, followed by the manifold. Questions: Will the 2 pumps be sufficient? We're only looking at a relatively low flow rate, with a low flow temperature (25-28C), but it's a lot of pipe to pump through... We've got Wilo Pico glandless pumps following the earlier recommendation If we close both zone valves, we'll have effectively sealed off the coil - I presume that since the coil will still be getting hot, we will need a small expansion vessel and a PRV - is that correct? Do we need an expansion vessel for the rest of the UFH circuit as well? IIRC we are intending to run the UFH at 1 bar. I presume that since there is a drain cock fitted to every manifold, we don't need to add additional drainage points for the UFH - is that correct? On the subject of drain cocks, I presume we will need one on the DHW side of things, so we can drain down the heat bank? Anything else I need to know / do?
  4. Nelliekins

    Walls, walls, walls!

    Lol...if I write too fast, I'll catch up with real time, and then you'll have to wait more than a few days between updates! 😉 Don't worry, I'll cover the concrete pour in the next post tonight / tomorrow! In the meantime, I need to get some assistance from @PeterW and @Nickfromwales on my heating system - I have a plumber coming tomorrow to connect up the boiler to the heat bank, and no idea what I am doing!! 🏳️
  5. Nelliekins

    Walls, walls, walls!

    Right, Christmas came and went - I had spent enough time with my family and friends, recovering from the previous 3 months. It was time to resume on site! ☺️ So, first up - inspect what the basement looked like, now that it was largely enclosed... Big mistake, because it was horrendous: You can see that the water level is approx 2/3 of the way up the first course of blocks, so about 250mm deep. You can also see the bit of EPS that were chipped away to make the 95mm bearing surface for the floor beams, just floating around. Still, nothing that couldn't be remedied, and at least the basement was holding water - that suggested it might be able to keep the water out, too! Now, we were starting to do things that required real tools to be kept on site. When the groundworkers were on site, we had hired a proper site cabin - hot and cold water, cooking facilities, drying room, toilet, etc etc etc. However, now that we were above ground, it was going to be just me and the occasional mate helping out. Kim had off-hired the site cabin, and swapped it for a porta-loo. Can't really keep much in the way of tools in a porta-loo if you don't want them nicked... So we decided to buy a van! It had a few dents, but it was nice enough, and it would hold the tools, generator, etc, safely overnight. Cha-ching! Now, another reason we hadn't made much progress over the holidays was because we were lacking some fairly necessary items to carry on building - the wall blocks. The ground floor ICF blocks were due for delivery the week commencing 11th December 2017. They actually arrived on site on the 12th January 2018, so just over 4 weeks late. This was something of a running theme with Logix, TBH... if you recall, the internal wall blocks for the basement were a few weeks late too (and you'll find out just how late the rest of the blocks were delivered later in the blog!) Still, they turned up eventually: Still, ICF blocks now on site, we were able to progress... A day later, and we were looking at a decent amount of the external walls done (3 courses, most of the way around), and we were starting on the exciting 45-degree wall between the hallway and the garage: 3 courses turned into 4 courses, and all of the window openings started to be formed: (The ladder was our only means of getting into the basement now, but TBH we didn't really care about down there - we just wanted to get the shell completed and progress to watertight as quickly as possible... Regrettably, that was going to be more problematic than anyone could have envisaged at this time!) Anyway, the walls were flying up, even with all the steel reinforcement having to be put in. At least above-ground we only had a single face of steel to worry about (and our builder-turned-consultant pointed out that we didn't really need any steel at all except in lintels, because: the concrete mix we were using was so strong, and because you don't put steel into brick / block walls, which are perfectly acceptable for building houses with But we did it anyway, just in case we ever decided to move the entire house to Jupiter (where 300mph winds area apparently possible, and where, therefore, our level of reinforcement would come in handy). 🤔 (In case you are wondering, the vertical steel isn't in as of this picture - they were all placed once the ICF walls were finished being assembled!) 4 more days on site (although 2 weeks had passed - remembering that I was only part-time at site, and I only had a mate helping me out on weekends), and we were putting up the bracing system again. Here's our exciting 45-degree wall inside the garage: Isn't it lovely? You can also see the fantabulous set of steps I made from a couple of the many many 10" core ICF blocks we had left over, thanks to a considerable over-estimation by Logix. (I needed the steps anyway, because I am a short-arse and couldn't reach to put steel in above 3 courses!) Some more pictures of the ICF going up: Another week passed... And here, at the end of January 2018 is where it got... hmm, let's say interesting... it was time to put in the lintel blocks for the 6m bifolds in the kitchen... It took me 3 days (so 2 weeks in calendar time) to get those blocks up and to sit square, and there was no way on earth they were going to stay like that with all the steel in them... time for some supports to be introduced to the opening! Size 1 acrows every 1m across the opening. They're bearing off the concrete wall below, so no problem taking the weight. We put a single 250x38mm timber across the entire 6m opening, with 11mm OSB cut to 330mm rips on top of that (to support the ICF blocks fully). On the inside, the bracing system stopped the OSB from moving. On the outside, we screwed timbers down from the webs to trap it. Then we jacked up the acrows approx 10mm at a time until everything was perfectly level / square / plumb. For some curious reason, I don't have photos of the steelwork in this wall, but it was prodigious - 2x25mm steel rebar in the bottom of the bottom course of blocks, 2x 12mm steel rebar in the top of the bottom course of blocks, and 2x20mm steel rebar in the top of the top course of blocks. 8mm rebar links every 200mm across the entire opening, plus onto the columns. I lifted and placed nearly all that rebar on my own (because my mate Paul had some family event on, he missed one Saturday, and I figured I could handle it)... big mistake! 7.5m lengths of 25mm rebar are very very unwieldy! I trashed one ICF corner block just resting the first 25mm bar on it while I got up on the scaffolding! Still, 5 hours of sweating and swearing later, plus some help from a more glamorous assistant in the form of Kim, and it was done...just in time for Paul to arrive and see how I'd gotten on! 🤬 Now, for the most part, the ICF walls had gone up fine. Even the 45-degree wall was a doddle. But those of you who were following the basement wall pour will probably remember that we had a couple of places where the basement walls went a little wobbly. This caused us a bit of a headache, because blocks wouldn't sit down properly in those areas. As it turned out, there was also an issue with the blocks not being level in those places either. This led to ever-increasing gaps between joints as we went up above those points, as you can see here: Solving this was quite a problem. We ended up using about half a can of PU foam in the 3 places this had happened, followed by some serious strapping across both faces of the wall to keep it together. I spent several weeks trying to get everything braced (making bucks for the window and door openings), and plumb, and before I knew what had happened, it was the end of March 2018, and time for another concrete pour... Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment!
  6. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    The overspend became unavoidable as soon as the banks of the excavation started to break up, so about 3 weeks in. The sheet pulling and additional muck away was nearly £14k of the increase, and that led to much more cautious groundworks (which is entirely understandable but not ideal when paying them on a day rate!) Maybe that's the lesson here - don't put projects of unknown duration on a day rate! To be honest, it would still have cost £20k, but we would have wiped £75k or more off the final value of the house. We have a 300m2 back garden, a 150m2 front (Inc driveway) and 300m2 of total floor area that would have been 230m2 without the basement. Mind you, the build would have been finished in just over half the time too!
  7. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    Rainwater harvesting doesn't have to be expensive... We had about £2k in the budget to do it, but now think that we an build an entire system for about £350-400 using IBCs... See @Bitpipe's thread on it.
  8. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    Our basement is approx 70m2 across 3 rooms, with 9' ceilings. Yeah sure. Muck away was £14,000. Steel reinforcement was approx £2,500. Concrete was just over £9,000. Concrete pump hire was £2,160 over 3 sessions. Backfill around the basement was approx £5,000. Drainage for the basement perimeter was £2,000 (terram, dimpled membrane, etc). The rest of the £58k was labour and plant hire, and sheet piling. I could have saved £2k on the muck away if I had shopped around. I could have saved £500 on the concrete pump hire, because 2 of the 3 sessions didn't need a boom pump, only a line pump.
  9. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    Lol, the blog is being written retrospectively, but i am sure it'll all come good in the end... 🙂
  10. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    Yeah that'd have been nice... I project managed the groundworks but was only on site 3 days a week so couldn't be a labourer too much... Once we got to the point of building ICF walls, I was much more involved. The site is almost perfectly flat, so nowhere to put 1440 tonnes of spoil!
  11. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    We have 5.1m above ground and 3.3m below ground, all ICF.
  12. Nelliekins

    "It's Christmas!"

    And Christmas is a time for reflection, mostly because it was cold and wet and nobody would go to site with me to work! So, in addition to planning some stuff in my head for the upcoming few weeks, I took the opportunity to review the budget... ... And promptly started to cry. We had budgeted £22k for groundworks, based on the estimate from the company doing the works. We had agreed to pay them on a day rate, with 6% overage for the foreman they were supplying - I thought that was a good deal. At the point of completion of the block & beam floor, we had spent £40,231.28 on payments to the groundworks company, and a total of £58,085.79 including materials (backfill stone, concrete, steel rebar, heave protection, etc etc). So, before even laying the first above ground wall block, we were over budget to the tune of £36k... The projected build cost was £250k in total, with a contingency of £25k. So we now had to find a way to reduce the remaining expenditure by £11k, or the build wasn't going to be finished. No pressure then! 😬 It was at this point that I started looking at cheaper windows (since we had £20k in the budget for them) and internal joinery (Kim wanted oak everything but that was clearly not going to happen now). Oh well, Howden's finest for us then! 🙄 I am not sure what the lesson here is... Maybe don't build a basement? Wot, no pictures? Nothing happened on site for nearly a week, so no (I thought about a gratuitous picture of me in a paper hat, but someone would probably come out with a quip about site safety). If you want pictures, just wait for the next instalment - walls!
  13. Nelliekins

    "What hole?"

    Certainly did! 😭 We broke ground on 9th October 2017, and the basement was effectively complete structurally as of 22nd December 2017. That's about 11 weeks all told... We were told at the start by the groundworks team that it would take approximately 4 weeks, so quite a difference! Not even remotely. Because the banks were falling back into the hole, we ended up taking out 74*32 tonne wagons of spoil instead of the predicted 52 wagons. We were paying day rates to the groundworks crew, with a 7 week overrun. We had to sheet pile parts of the excavation for a number of weeks, and hire twice as many pumps as we predicted to keep the dig as dry as possible. We ended up spending 57k on groundworks, and had about 22k in the budget. Our contingency for the entire build was 25k (10%)... I will cover this in more detail in the next blog post, now that we are out of the ground 😬 Not long to wait, will try to get it done tomorrow! 👍
  14. Nelliekins

    "What hole?"

    That's why it was just myself and a mate who works in the trade and accepted the risk in the hole. We had mitigate risks with ladders within 6' in both directions to escape the excavation if need be, and a banksman watching at all times. I am fairly anal when it comes to ladder safety, and my wife is responsible for safety of a lot of people at her work. We knew the risk, mitigated the risk, and cracked on with the job. That was the safest place right there... He is between concrete walls and sheet piles - zero risk there! The banksman and my mate pulled me out from up top, because there wasn't any way to get me out otherwise! Yeah, I figured that out fairly quickly that day! I lost a boot, but came out unscathed otherwise. I always keep my mobile with me on site, even now.
  15. Nelliekins

    "What hole?"

    Agreed. But at the time, they were happy to do it all apart from about 15' of pipe across the back wall. There was no access to get sheet piles installed there, and no other way to shore up the excavation. Plus, there was always plenty of warning when it was going to collapse, which is why we had acrows propping the back up for so long.