Simon R

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Simon R last won the day on May 28 2020

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About Simon R

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  • About Me
    Retired form the computer industry. Like getting involved in projects, between my wife and I we have restored cars, built a boat, a done limited house renovation, new electrics, central heating and plumbing.
  • Location
    Lee on Solent - Hampshire

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  1. Yes indeed, the drilling was fun. We managed to find reinforcing mesh and were not as well prepared as you. It took ages to get through the steel and ruined a couple of good metal drills in the process. It's only mild steel and should have been easy to get through, but the mixture of concrete grit just destroyed the drill tips. What's the tread covering on your steps?
  2. Yes, we're pleased with them and they didn't break the bank. At one end of the spectrum are Stair Box and from there the prices get silly very quickly. Our three stair cases, two internal and an external galvanized spiral came to 8K (not including vat).
  3. Thanks, we've benefited immensely from the build hub ourselves, don't think we would have got this far without all the help and advice members have provided.
  4. Totally agree, we specifically paid the premium to use the Jub ICF system as there was no cutting on site and all the apertures for windows etc were properly formed. Our contractor talked us out of using their roof system, something we would reconsider if we were to do it again. It all comes down to detail.
  5. We’re getting there! flooring, kitchen and stairs, just bathrooms to go. It’s great to see it all taking shape as the finishing jobs get done. Not that it’s all gone to plan. The first job we tackled was to get the floor down. We wanted to get it done before installing the kitchen rather than having to work around the units. As the kitchen is part of the open plan living area on the first floor it meant doing the whole area some 70m2. It’s a lot of flooring and we needed something that was easy care and tough. After a fair bit of looking at the options, we opted for lose lay vinyl. There seem to be three vinyl options, adhesive plank, click and loose lay. I didn’t fancy sticking down such a large area and we have a couple of floor access panels that I wanted to keep access to. The click version is not dimensionally stable and requires an expansion gap and it’s not designed to have heavy objects such a kitchen units on it. Loose lay ticked the boxes, dimensionally stable, OK with heavy objects and as it turns out the simplest to lay. Karndean and Amtico both have loose lay options but they come in at £30-£40 per square metre. By lucky chance we found a commercial flooring supplier Quadrant who have a loose lay flooring system Salto with a spec pretty much identical to Amtico Access but at £22 per square meter. The planks get laid onto a three metre grid of tackifier, a non setting glue that just stops the tiles from sliding rather than actually gluing them down. If a plank gets damaged you can simply lift it out and replace it. Laying the floor could not have been simpler. In a couple of places we found that the tackifier was just not enough and we ended up fixing one or two end of row planks with a patch contact adhesive. With the floor down we could then start on the kitchen. With no stairs in place we used our electric winch to get the cabinets and appliances to the first floor. We bought the winch to get the 80kg MVHR unit onto the second floor and it has been invaluable in getting flooring, doors and many other heavy bits safely upstairs. With the units all upstairs we made a start putting the kitchen together. We had gone through a couple of design iterations and of course the one we settled on meant that the electrical sockets we put in when plaster boarding required moving to meet the 300mm minimum distance requirement. It’s easily fixed with a splash back so not a real problem. Our appliances are built in, a first for us. So we started out by getting the fridge freezer into its tall unit. There certainly is not much clearance, having carefully got the fridge correctly located I discovered I could not fit the hinges with the fridge in situ, so had to drag it out of the unit. Unit doors fitted and fridge shoe horned back into the unit. You then have to connect the fridge doors to the unit door, a bit fiddly but it all working nicely. Pushed the unit into place only to find the lead was a couple of centre metres short of the spur socket installed for it. Dragged the fridge out, made another hole in the carcase and re-routed the cabling, put fridge back in unit, push unit back into place only to remember the unit had not been secured to the wall after the second cable hole had been made…needless to say there was a bit of cursing as the fridge was dragged out again! A least if we ever have to fit another we’ll know how to set about it. The kitchen has a long set of linear units, which should have been a doddle to install against a nice straight wall. Unfortunately the wall they were getting installed against was the one that didn’t get braced properly on the final pour. Needless to say the units all required spacing out from the wall to form a line. A task not made simpler by the design which has two rows of bridging units over the hob. These are mounted on a wood frame constructed to fill the gap, which of course I cut before remembering the wall was not true. It didn’t take much work to re-jig it thank goodness. We also had to construct the shelving unit as this was a bespoke piece, to make the position of the boiler housing correct. With the linear section of the kitchen built, it was time to build the island. As it turned out this was a much more straight forward proposition as it didn’t involve and dodgy walls. It did involve cutting down a unit by half and cutting the composite worktop. We discounted doing an under-mount sink as we were cutting the worktop and any router chatter would ruin the worktop look. In any event the island went together nicely and the kitchen looks the part. One by-product of having the kitchen done was the completion of the electrical circuits. We duly called back in our electrician to do the final checks. With a couple of minor changes it was all passed. A significant mile stone to pass regarding building controls. Our electrician has been brilliant and supported our work through the build. Not something that all electricians are prepared to do and we were fortunate to find such a good one. It’s been cold and despite the high level of insulation in the house we were getting uncomfortably cool and decided it was time to get the gas boiler connected. We calculated our structure requires about 68w/degree input so very minimal heating should be required, making heat pumps not cost or energy efficient, hence the gas boiler. The boiler feeds two towel rails, no radiators. All the pipes had been put in place long ago before plastering and painting. A bit of a risk but we pressure tested everything before we put the plaster board up. When we finally got round to filling the system and pressurising it we found we had a leak and water was running down behind a radiator. Careful removal of plaster board revealed the cause, I had put a plaster board screw straight through the pipe! With the damaged pipe cut out and fixed, plasterboard and plaster re-done. I put the radiator back up and pressurised the system again only to find another leak. This one took a little longer to find. Again it turned out to be pipe damage, this time on the other radiator, and was one of the radiator mounting screws. Not impressive and something we’ll conveniently forget. At this point the system was holding pressure and all looked good, time to call in a gas safe man to commission the boiler. Called a couple of local gas fitters only to discover they were not prepared to commission a boiler they had not installed. Tried “check a trade” and one of the gas fitters replied saying he wanted to see the installation before taking the job on which is fair enough. Well, he turned up looked at the installation and said he was prepared to do the commissioning, he also pointed out that pipes within 1M of the boiler should be copper and not push fit fittings. We’ve been reciting building regs in our sleep since starting this project and had completely missed this requirement. We had done the gas pipe in copper of course, but why the water pipes? Still no point in arguing….so out comes the carefully installed kitchen cupboard and pipes replaced. Pressurised the system and guess what a leak, this time in a push fit with the new copper pipe. The pipe had caught the o-ring and cut it in two. Easily fixed but none the less annoying when you can’t see any benefit from changing the last meter of pipe to copper. All fixed time to call the gas man in, only to discover his colleague had a covid contact and they were all waiting on test results. Two weeks elapsed before he could come back and the boiler was commissioned at last. Bliss watching the room thermometer slowly creep from 9C to 18C. It certainly makes turning up on site a lot more welcoming. Last but not least we got our stairs in. We had bought the stairs from Fontanot last year and had agreed that the manufacturer would store them until we could take delivery. So they had been sitting in packing crates in Italy since last June and we didn’t get them delivered until October. They were well packed and all we did at the time was a superficial check of the contents, no damage, all present and correct. The stairs are modular and very minimalist, they give the impression of floating in air. Each stair tread support is connected to the next with an M20 bolt through the steel tread supports and spacing shims. It gets built from the top, so you start by installing the head bracket, then each tread until you get to the bottom step where another bracket secures the foot. On the ground floor this is fine, on the first to second floor it isn’t as the stairs don’t terminate on a horizontal floor. The manufactures representative had been on site so was well aware of this, the drawings also showed this but the stair kit shipped was identical to the lower stair. We contacted the supplier who was very responsive and would get back to me with a solution. Time ticked by with no word, so we contacted them again. They rather sheepishly admitted they had no “stock” solution and would have to make up a special bracket. Time ticked by again and we contacted them for progress. What they came back with was not elegant to say the least and would have spoilt the line of the stairs which are a feature of the build. We took a look at alternatives and realised that modifying one of the standard head brackets and mounting it inverted would provide a much better looking solution. New head bracket ordered from Italy along with a tread support. The tread support was modified to bolt directly to the head bracket. Progress at last. Modified bits arrived and unpacked, modifications just perfect, but they were the wrong colour...doh! So we are not out of the woods yet. It will get resolved just it is proving a rather painful process. Back to installing the ground floor stair. Working from the top, the steps adding one at a time using hand rails rods to maintain positioning. The bolts get torqued to 140nm, even so the stairs moved around rather worryingly. Every third step we put a wooden prop to support the construction. By the time you get the bottom step there is a LOT of weight in the structure and it did not feel at all firm. The bottom tread support bolts in to the floor. In our case this is an insulated concrete raft, which is fine as it is strong and plenty deep enough. However it does have a lot of re-enforcing rod, needless to say we found it on two of the four holes. Drilling through with a masonry drill should be possible, but we didn’t manage it and ended up ruining two good quality 12mm HSS bits to get through it. I’m sure there are better ways to do it, over an hour per hole. At last we could bolt down the bottom step. With all the steps secured we left the props in and installed the had rails and four stabiliser brackets. With some trepidation the supports were removed and a tentative test at climbing them was made. They were solid as a rock! Result.
  6. Brilliant, thank you so much, easy when you know how.😀
  7. I've got a Halstead wireless thermostat to use on our Intergas boiler. Wiring up should be no problem, but so far I've not managed to find wiring for the receiver. What I'm trying to confirm is that the "M" connections is 220 ac mains and not say DC 24v so I don't fry it! Does anyone on the forum have experience of these thermostats and can confirm the connection to "M". Thanks
  8. After a slightly odd but pleasant summer on our narrow boat we returned to site at the beginning of the month to resume work. We started with a simple job, putting our doors. We had done one last spring and had four more to do. It’s a simple and rewarding job, the Horman doors have a very solid feel to them. Next on our work list was completing the window reveals, a task we had started back in May and had completed two windows. While we were still fresh we had decided we would tackle the reveal on the staircase window, a job we have been dreading. This is a BIG window with the top over 8m from the floor and a frame height of 5.3m combined with awkward access. After a bit of head scratching and a lot of measuring we decided to make the frame in a single piece on the first floor and manoeuvrer it into place through the stair void. To further complicate the frame the reveal was a taper on both verticals due to an error when bracing the ICF wall which meant one wall was 100mm out of line at roof level. The ply reveals are an exacting job and would not look good it they don’t make very good fit with the window. After some experimentation cutting the long tapered sections we bought a track saw, a couple of hundred, but worth every penny. Without it a difficult job would have been a nightmare. With the frame cut and assembled it was time to move it into place. Fortunately the measurements were OK and the window just cleared the purlin allow it to be rotated into place. With a bit of huffing/puffing and knee tremors due to the working height, the window reveal positioned and screwed into place. With the most difficult window done we started work on the remaining nine window reveals. They are now done and it’s transformed the look of the windows. Not all went smoothly, some of the other windows were also out of line, again due to bracing errors during the pours. This meant the reveal boards needed to be cut with fine tapers, more work for the track saw. One point it bought home is that errors early in the build add significant work. If we were going to do another build we would definitely get the builder to allow more preparation time for the pours. Recovering from poor preparation has cost us several of weeks remedial work. The floor was next to allow us to get on with some of the ‘clean’ tasks. Again this transformed the look of the rooms… does look like we’ll be pretty much finished by February next year. Before we stopped work we had ordered most of the bathroom furniture and fixtures but not the kitchen. The design had been sorted out regarding appliance placing etc but not the cabinet style or colour. This is not an area of comfort for me and I’m only to happy to leave it to the boss. However kitchens are an area where pricing discussions tend to open with what’s your budget. It does not take much research to find out that kitchen prices can be plain bonkers. Our working method is get three quotes and if they are within 20% of each other that’s what it costs. With kitchens its multipliers rather than percentage, yes, they are different qualities but all essentially the same materials. We ended up getting quotes from a local bespoke kitchen supplier (high end), one from Howdens (mid range) and finally from Discount Kitchens. DIY kitchens have come in for quite a lot of praise in the Buildhub but we had to discount them. Our design used contrast between the carcase and doors, our carcases are a light wood finish, not an option provided by DIY kitchens. In all probability any of the three options would have worked for us. In the end we opted for Howdens, their design was the best and they could deliver before Christmas. More pricey than Discount Kitchens but within our budget at 8k. More on the kitchen next month.
  9. Simon R


    I agree with Russell, don't spend a lot. I love good woodworking tools and this article I found salutary I would never have considered these cheap chisels but apparently they are fine.
  10. It's tricky, not all ICF is the same. On our build we had intended to use MBC, but got cold feet and decided that ICF was a lower risk. When I looked at ICF for our build most of the systems required the builder to cut apertures for windows, doors, gable angles etc. We found that JUB did and ICF where they produced a factory cut kit, so no cutting on site. Less flexible but zero waste on site and a very accurate build. It's difficult to be entirely objective as you always suffer some confirmation bias for a product you've selected. Yes, it seemed a little more expensive at first sight but they did a lot of up front work and the blocks are very well made with tough nylon skeleton which makes fixing stuff like plasterboard or battens a breeze. Ours was their first UK build, there is a thread on the buildhub which goes into a little more depth:
  11. We were faced with the same dilemma regarding automation. In the end we decided to use conventional ring main for power on the grounds that most of the stuff/appliances that we may want to control have wifi built in. For the lighting we have two 2.5mm T&E run to a central enclosure and radial wires to all the lights using 1.5mm T&E. This makes any future changes a lot easier, so when something good comes along we hopefully implement it with the minimum of rework. Initially we thought all our lights would be low voltage, but we already have three lights that are mains! all LED but with their own transformers built in, so using T&E for the low voltage was a fortunate choice. I agree is seems a little unnatural to use T&E for low voltage. We have no wired light switches but have used wireless switches. The ones we are using have glass front and capacitive switches, nice and minimal looking and not a culture shock for visitors. It's proved an acceptable low cost interim solution. Not sure about long term reliability, but we ordered some spares just in case.
  12. Plenty of detail yet to go, but we're working on it. Thanks for the encouragement.
  13. Thank you, encouragement is always welcome. Pat is the one with the eye for design. We have some pendant lights to add to spotlights in the kitchen area once we get the design nailed down and the island position fixed.
  14. With the lock down continuing it’s been hard to keep our enthusiasm levels up without the required supplies to continue any major projects. It’s been a case of “what can we do today” picking off tasks. The gas boiler needed to be plumbed in, nice easy job as screwfix and toolstation were operating click and collect. Good to get a job ticked off. Our electrics had got to pretty much second fix stage, so we ordered an 12 way RCBO consumer unit, sockets and isolator switches and set about wiring it all up. We had been in contact with a very helpful electrician Lee, who had agreed to do testing and certification of our wiring. Lee came round a couple of months ago and did a visual inspection of our first fix work before agreeing to take the job on. Happy with what we were doing he agreed he would come and do the testing and certification. The testing went well and it only took half a day to test all circuits and get the consumer unit connect. Boy it’s good to say goodbye to the temporary supply and extension leads. Our lights wiring consists of two 16amp supplies to a central area and from that all the lights wiring is radial. After a bit of indecision we had decided to not have any “wired” switches. There are lots of options out there for simple wireless solutions and for wi-fi. Using wi-fi did not appeal, having it all controlled from you phone was a step to far so we have used battery powered wireless switches located where we would have place wired switches. Simple to use and we can move them easily if we find out the positioning is not ideal. We had thought all the wiring after the wireless switches would be low voltage, but we installed mains 1.5mm cable to give the option of using 220v to the fitting. This was a fortunate choice as we already have four circuits that are using 220v. The lighting is working out well, we have about half the lights in and it’s bringing the house to life at night. With the painting done we decided to install one of the doors we had ordered from Germany, always a bit concerning distance ordering and dimensions are not a good combination. The doors we ordered are from Hormann and the architrave/frame and door come as a single unit. As well as specifying the width and height you have to specify the wall thickness. The frames are easily assembled and have to be foam fixed into the wall door opening, taking care to keep everything square. It’s very satisfying to be able to put up a house door with what are automotive tolerances, lovely solid feel to the doors. It was not all plain sailing though. Our doors are all the same size with the exception of the attic storage/plant room, this door need to be smaller to allow for the roof pitch. It turned out not to be the size ordered, after a few phone calls it looks as though it was a picking error on Hormann’s part as the paperwork on their system agrees with the ordered size. We’re waiting on a resolution, I expect Hormann will replace the door and we’ll have to pick up the shipping. Next job...We’ve been planning on framing the window reveals with ply having seen the rather nice results shown on the buildhub Buildhub has been a god sent for us, well mostly, the post should have come with a “don’t try this at home” caveat. Throwing caution to the wind we decided it looked a nice idea. After a bit of phoning around we found out a timber yard in Southampton was operational, so we measured all our window reveals, simple depth, width, height etc. At this point it dawns on you just how many windows you have and the fact that a they are all set at different depths, not to mention not being 100% on the plane of the wall. Once we had done our measurement and produced a cut list. We contacted the timber yard. It’s amazing how much material you can get through on a job like this, there is the main reveal board, then two 20mm edging/framing strips. The framing strips came out at 230m total. A whole 1524x3050 sheet! An awful lot of sawdust added to the 34 reveal boards. The quote was pretty much what I had anticipated, the 1200 x 2400 sheets were £56 each and the 1524x3050 sheets £101. Bill for sheets £530, bill for cutting £30 which was a surprise, even with some clever electronic saw gear I consider that very reasonable. We’ve done just two windows so far, it’s an exacting task, but the results look good. Plaster board lifter coming in for more abuse very helpful for getting the frame into place.