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Bitpipe last won the day on November 30

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  1. Our original home, pre demolition, had some very 'interesting' service configurations. Only when the place was being pulled down did some of them finally make sense. Thank goodness they did not have home brew automation in the 1950s. Does make a serious point, even our very vanilla approach to services in the new build (no automation here) would still require some explaining to the next occupant wrt heating, lighting, ventilation, internet etc. Bought 6 Ikea motorised internal blinds for our sliders (by a stroke of genius the internal reveal is exactly* 3x the width of their widest blind). Was relatively easy to set up their home automation (once the gateway was left overnight to get a s/w update) and now Alexa happily moves them all up and down on command. *well, 5mm out on one side but nothing a bit of penknife on plasterboard couldn't sort.
  2. We moved in Aug 2016 when the house was internally complete and had services (water was the last service to be completed). However we did not get BCO sign off for another 2 years as the external landscaping, and internal and external balustrade etc needed doing. CT was payable as soon as we moved in and we were paying 50% on the caravan until it was off site (despite being disconnected from all services). During those 2 years time we completed all the external groundworks, drives etc. Most of that was zero rated but a good chunk was reclaimable materials. Ran up to the wire on BCO sign off but only when that was done did we process the VAT reclaim which went through uncontested. Only wrinkle we had was activating the warranty which requires completion cert, they backdated it to when we moved in so we 'lost' the first two years coverage. Regarding the transition from site to home insurance, there is no formal trigger for that and we did so as soon as we moved in, however the insurance company may decline to cover an event if it believed the building was still under construction. Best to be honest with them as insurance is always easy to get but that's no guarantee it will be claimable against.
  3. Make sure it's well sealed. We visited a few builds with polished concrete floors that had oily stains where food or similar had been dropped and not cleaned in time. We also looked at microscreed which can give the same effect and is only a few mm thick and settled on resin - similar /m2 price. We also changed our design to use a suspended timber floor over the basement vs concrete lid, so choices were limited
  4. Credit cards are an expensive way to take payment (merchant is charged a % of the transaction as a fee plus ongoing monthly costs for the facility, delayed time to payment and chargebacks if customer is not happy. It's justifiable if you're in a retail environment where everyone else offers it and customers won't buy unless they can use it but it's rare to see when there are much larger sums involved.
  5. Regarding blinds - if they are the solid up/down variety then I agree that they need some degree of automation to be effective. However if they are the Venetian style (like mine) they are always down so provide a good degree of shading which can be optimised by tweaking the angle of the slats manually.
  6. The networking rule of thumb is that things that don't move (TVs, consoles, etc) should be wired and leave WiFi for the genuinely mobile things. Ethernet cat 6 is relatively cheap and while you're building, easy to put everywhere it could possibly be needed. There is no obligation to actually connect it up but even terminating each run to a simple patch panel is not expensive. You then get an ethernet switch with the necessary number of ports and patch all active circuits into that. Then you patch your router (likely one in the same as your DSL modem) into the switch and it will share your domestic internet service across all your active circuits. In my case, the home DSL / WiFi is in the study and a few devices plug straight into that. The spare port is connected to an ethernet wall plate which runs up to the switch (with all the others) and is patched in. I would not be too concerned about the health aspects of WiFi, you are exposes to lots of electromagnetic radiation sources with your mobile probably the most common but the power output is very low. If you were to stand in front of a high power microwave transmitter then yes, you would come to some harm but luckily they are generally not accessible to the general public. I would not bother automating blinds - we have electric Venetian style ones external to the house and just tweak them with a wall switch if we want to reduce glare or let more light in. They do the job of preventing overheating without any adjustment.
  7. Like anything, a personal recommendation is always useful. There will be good and bad in every profession. The good thing about planning is that all of the law and govt policy is in the public domain so you can do a lot of due diligence yourself and many here have successfully gone through planning without any recourse to professionals. Equally, qualified and experienced professionals will not impart their hard earned skills free of charge but you can usually pay a fixed amount for specific advice and take it from there. Unfortunately there is a degree of risk and uncertainty at every stage of a self build - if you are extremely risk adverse then it may not be for you. A degree of healthy scepticism is useful though.
  8. Having power and water nearby can help but it's up to the utility companies as to how they supply you, from where and at what cost. A planning consultant or experienced local architect would be a good first port of call - don't bother with your local authority as the days of a friendly chat with a local planner are sadly long gone. They only respond to formal planning and pre-planning applications.
  9. Welcome. At a high level, you normally start by working with an architect to come up with some 'sketch' schemes for the plot with a view to what meets your needs, your budget and is likely to get planning. This normally focuses on external size, appearance, position on plot, access, parking etc etc. You may need to pay for a topological survey of the plot and street scene and also acquire map data on the surrounding area to build your plan upon. Once you have a good scheme the architect can work on the detailed design to get to the planning approval stage. You may or may not get planning immediately and if not be required to go around the loop again. Once you have an approved plan you can think about how to get it built. Some choose to stay with the architect who will then to take you through the next stage and use in structural engineers etc to create a set of detailed drawings that you can take to tender. Services (power, water, sewage, telecoms) also need to be considered if they do not currently exist on site - some of these can be very expensive (10s of thousands) so best to get early quotations on these as it may make or break your build. Many package builders can take your planning documents and create their own detailed design from those, using their in house SE etc. You may stick with the architect or part ways at this stage but there are still jobs like discharging planning details etc that are required. You may need to design the foundation system, separately (again, this is primarily a SE job but requires information on the ground conditions which can require a survey). Some frame companies will include this in their package. At this point you should have a good idea of the frame cost but that is only a fraction of the build - you will need to spec and cost up the rest of the build which may require a project manager or a quantity surveyor. Once you have all of that, you should have a budgetary cost and perhaps even trades identified to do the work. You then need to finalise your finances and then contract to get it done. These are the preliminaries ....
  10. I'm self employed and recently needed to provide a SA302 which is proof of tax paid (therefore proof of income), normally available a few days after the tax return for the previous year is submitted. Bank were not interested in company accounts as what's important is your personal income. Now this was for a residential re-mortgage so may be different for a new build one (I used ecology for that).
  11. It's when you have a foul or other large service run flush to a wall (usually external) and then build frame work over them for plasterboard. Worst case you end up with an odd corner to a room or ceiling, we managed to be creative with a few. One pipe entered the living room from ensuite above, we dog legged it to the foul exit and then had the joiner build a faux fireplace nook around it - looks quite smart.
  12. Looks great, I see the basement did not make the final cut Only observation is that your wet services on ground and first floors looks to be on opposite sides of the house - i.e. your master ensuite is above the office, the fam bathroom and guest ensuite are above the living area and your kitchen utility have no wet services above them. While this is not an issue for supply it may make for some complicated foul runs and these have the biggest impact due to diameter, falls etc. We ended up with quite a bit of structural steel in our build and had some tricky problems as we did not plan for penetrations for MVHR or fouls - worked it out in the end but required some creative boxing out to get the fouls where they needed to be. Have you done a draft M&E design to plan where MVHR (large bore to outside and 75mm bore to inside, double runs for wet rooms) and fouls will run? Manifold for hot & cold supply, hot return path etc. to minimise runs & heat loss? Make sure you have that before you move to structural design as you may have to spec steel penetrations to get wider bore services through.
  13. Completely agree - overheating is often overlooked with an obsession on heating spec. We have a passive standard build, MBC 2.5 storey TF build ontop of a passive basement. Located in Berkshire. We installed low temp UFH on the ground floor (suspended timber over basement) and aside from electric UFH in the bathrooms (just to warm tiles) and towel rads that is it. Nothing in basement, bedrooms or room in roof. Gas boiler (as we're on mains) and it's mostly used for DHW, 4k of solar on roof with diverter to immersions when we're exporting. Pre price hike, gas usage was about £1/day and most of that was h/w I would guess. UFH is rarely on outside of coldest months but overheating can occur not just in summer but anytime the sun is low in sky and can shine directly into house. We specced external blinds for the east windows and east and south facing velux. I've just installed some IKEA internal motorised blinds on the west facing sliders. Do wish we'd made provision for split air con to run in summer (for free using PV) but I struggle to see where we could locate one, especially the external unit.
  14. Well done, we ex-s/w engineers do not make natural house builders as of all the engineering disciplines, s/w has the worst habits (you can't re-start building a bridge half way through and the client wouldn't think to ask). Good luck with the dungeon.
  15. It's not 'foam' it's high grade, rock hard, EPS which is designed to take the point loading of the full structure above it. The SE will spec the grade of EPS once the full structure design is known. We built a 120m2 RC basement (with a TF house on top) built upon a raft of 300mm EPS 200 blocks. They were laid on 150mm compacted type one and 50mm blinded sand. Covered it with a gas membrane and the crew built the RC slab on it as if it was solid ground. We applied 200mm EPS 70 to the exterior of the basement walls so effectively the same structure as ICF minus the internal layer of EPS. I would not worry about rodents, only an issue if you have exposed insulation at ground level and this is easy to avoid with various flashing solutions. What would your external finish be? As for chemical attack, acetone can dissolve EPS but you'd need a lot of it flowing around your entire slab so not sure the circumstances where that could happen.