Red Kite

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About Red Kite

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    Wilts / Glos border

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  1. As per the last post - we live in interesting times and its not getting any easier! The only real upside is that the weather has improved finally. We had the scaffolders in last week and they have built round three sides to roof level and it looks HUGE as it surrounds both houses in one continuous run. It doesn't look it but it is in fact the houses will have the same roof height as the old bungalow (fractionally lower in fact) - we did suggest to the planners that since we have 2 and 3 story houses on either side we could come up to their ridge height with a pitched roof but they were insistent on keeping our roofs at old bungalow level - hence the flat roofs and the deep dig. We cant wait until we have the timber frames up to finally see how they look on the plot. If you look at one of the photos you can see on Plot 1 that the platform steps down which matches the split level heights of the front and back sections. The plan is to get the Beam and Block floor in next week with a crane and then have the scaffolders back to do the front of Plot 1 and the section between the two houses in preparation (hopefully) for MBC Timber Frame the following week. It is still very tight and could easily go off track if one of the steps fails or goes off schedule, or if the guidelines change and non-essential construction is halted. But we have our fingers crossed and are ploughing ahead as fast as is possible and safe.. From the video you can see that the guys (no gals scaffolding on this one - sorry) seem to be maintaining social distancing and its a wide open site with few people and no enclosed spaces so it seems OK from that standpoint. We have managed to take delivery of a few key items for the preparation for MBC - our local builders merchant has been doing a great job but has decided to close as of Friday so little chance of getting anything else. This same picture seems true of the M&E (heating and ventilation) supply but Nick (from Wales) seems to have secured all we need for first fix. The thinking being that even if we get shut down then when we re-start we are all ready to move forward again as that re-start period will be total chaos as everyone tries to source materials at the same time. If you thought panic (or prudent) buying was restricted to toilet rolls .....We hear it from everyone - its a crazy world out there. On a lighter note we decided to pump out the foundation bays which had filled with rain water to about 6 inches (they dont drain as its waterproof concrete!). We dropped the pump in and were just starting to pump when we spotted a load of frog spawn. We stopped and jumped in to collect it in a bucket to take it to a more suitable location when we discovered two (common) frogs - presumably mummy frog and daddy frog. Amazingly they had survived in what was essentially a sterile concrete pond that was impossible for them to get out of. We managed to catch them in a clean bucket and repatriated them, with their spawn to a nearby field pond. Hopefully they are enjoying their new home as ours will be covered over with a beam and block floor and be dry and very inhospitable for frogs! As they say no newts is good newts! We have kind of lost the Week xx thread on the posts - so the latest is called Scaffold plus all the older ones can be found here :- https://www.dropbox.com/sh/th9f6e3cel5dm1q/AAAfsWdAH184J75bCNUUtzVra?dl=0 Our internet is a bit slow at the moment so it may take a few hours (or even days!) to sync up to Dropbox so if you dont see the Scaffold time lapse video pop back in a day or so - its quite fun to see something starting to take shape above ground.
  2. We had always heard that self build was not only exciting but difficult and stressful, and it was living up to its reputation as we worked through all the issues of foundations and sub structure to get ready for the Timber Frame. There was a hiccup in the Beam and Block floor supply that pushed the schedule out a week but it was all looking good for B&B on the 27th March and MBC Timber Frame on the 6th April. This was a really tight but achievable schedule, and the Internorm with windows on the 11th of May would have been great - heading to wind and watertight by end of May. Then the world went crazy!!!!! Right now we are pushing ahead, and have been amazed at how committed and flexible our suppliers have been, but who knows what will happen tomorrow - things change hour by hour. Today we have the scaffolders on site preparing for the TF, we have a somewhat tenuous commitment to deliver the B&B floor and crane onto site on 1st April (the irony of that particular date has not escaped us). our groundworks lined up to fit the blocks and prepare the plinth, and MBC on site on the 8th. This all sounds possible - but it is so finely balanced and inter-dependant that one element in the critical path will bring the whole project to a standstill. And we get the feeling that this could happen at any minute. Guidance seems to allow work on site and as long as the folks are safe and able to maintain distance then we are happy to have them working. We are keeping our site visits down to a minimum but as self builders we believe that we are OK to follow the guidance for the construction industry and are able to travel to site - anyone out there been challenged on that? Our intent is still to try to get to a shell, but there is certainly an argument to pull back and sit it out - however we are in rented accommodation so that adds another element of pressure to the equation. Added to this is that most of our build budget is invested and shrinking by the day so funds are tight to the point that we will need to get stuck in and do the unskilled labour to even get close to finishing. Internorm just pushed out the installation of our windows out by about 4 weeks, and subject to review, so if we get the TF up then it will sit without windows for ages - a situation we have been trying hard to avoid. We have a roofer 'pencilled in' but who knows if he will be able to work, or if he can get the materials to site. So , this is not in any way belittling the major world wide disaster that is unfolding around us all - more to just to let you know that we are doing our bit to keep our project afloat and keep the very squeaky wheels of the construction industry turning. While there is some criticism of the construction industry continuing to work, our position is that, providing its safe to work, then if we dont pay the guys then they dont have money to feed their families. We are painfully aware as our Son lost 16 weeks work as a self employed lighting designer when they cancelled his David Gray WW tour as it hit production rehearsals and he lost all his income from that and the summer festival season. Hats off to anyone else who has been attempting the impossible over the last few weeks - and commiserations to anyone who has put their project on hold on these 'interesting times'. As we seem to have some more time on our hands we will get round to the time lapse video and keep our blog up to date
  3. The SAP assessor got back and said he had used TF70 R=0.022 (not the better K103) for the calcs as this was worst case, so going ahead with this will be fine from a SAP point of view. He said he didn't think it would make a difference to the SAP calcs either way - which sounds a bit odd, but well possible. So this is the way we will go because in the current climate funds are very stretched. If, and its a big IF, we get a TF then we will go with seconds, IF we can get delivery in these crazy times.
  4. Hi, we are in the process of ordering insulation for our floors and the Architect has specified 150mm of Phenolic Kingspan K103 with and R=0.018. However this is really expensive so there is an option of 150mm of PIR Kingspan TF70 or similar with and R=0.022 which is much cheaper (about half the price). Does anyone know if this change in material will make much difference to the SAP rating - currently A96? We would like to keep an A rating so we could potentially go down to A92. Given the vagaries of SAP I have no idea what effect, if any, using cheaper insulation will have on the calcs - or if anyone will ever know! From a practical point of view I dont believe going for PIR insulation will make much noticeable difference as there will be a very airtight and highly insulated MBC timber frame structure, but I may be wrong? Changing the insulation depth is not an option, but already looking at Seconds & Co which seem to be OK and much cheaper (much bigger price difference for seconds vs first for Phenolic than PIR)- under 100mm of screed I cant see that a bit of variation will make much odds. Any thoughts from the wise on this? Thx
  5. Red Kite

    We have a leak

    This blog & video from Charlie Luxton shows leak testing on his flat roof (prior to green roof) - might be work looking at? https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/leak-testing-the-flat-roof/ He used Thornton Consultants https://thorntonconsulting.co.uk/ to test the membrane - but with consultant in their name they may be expensive!
  6. We have 30 frames a second and 30 second interval on our Brinno. We edit the footage to take out when the guys are not on site Hope that helps
  7. We will look at what ours is when we are on site tomorrow. Have a look on the blog to see if its the speed you want. We use Energiser Ultimate Lithium Batteries which do seem to last longer. One of our SD cards was a wireless one and used a lot more batteries - we now have a mains connection though.
  8. We had these all ready to order following several discussions with Roofmaker. They called on Friday to say they have stopped doing the opening ones. We would like an opening one to allow access to the flat roof occasionally to look at the solar panels and ventilation. Does anyone know of anyone else who does an opening one ? Thanks
  9. Thanks, it sounds like we will give it a miss
  10. Hi It would be great if you could share if you think it is worthwhile going. we have tickets and were planning to go during the week. dont think we can afford much !!
  11. What sort of ground conditions do you have? If its not rock or boulders I would check out temporary sheet piles rather than permanent concrete contiguous piles - might be cheaper if they will do the job. We held back about a 4m wall of wet clay with them (and the driveway + vehicle traffic) OK and then built the RC walls and backfilled with clean stone and removed them. So far everything seems to be staying put. Cost will depend on steel grade / how thick sheet you need and how deep you need to go. 10m sounds a lot - I think the rule of thumb for sheets is about as much in as out, but I think with steel you may get some gain vs concrete because they all interlock. Also depends what sort of machine you need for the hammer (we used the big digger already on site with a high frequency hammer). Might be worth talking to a specialist. Our sheet piling was about £15k for the duration (installation, hire and removal) - dont know how this stacks up with the concrete piles? Also depends if you are into re-use - I think steel piles get used many times over. Not sure if the nuisance factor for sheet is worse than concrete piles - but the vibration was a bit epic! It might be a factor if for any reason you care about your neighbours. This photo is our 'short' side not fully dug yet (went down to about 4m) but you get the idea - and note the water - we needed to run a pump almost continuously, The bit further on was not piled and sat OK having been terraced / battered for the duration - but our clay was pretty stable and has a reasonable repose angle - I suppose there has to be some benefit to clay in that it sticks to itself, and pretty much anything else it touches! And this is the shuttering in behind the sheet pile which held back the driveway to the right - gives you an idea of the space you need to work in
  12. Its the almost in that sentence that gives me the shivers!!!!
  13. Welcome Mark, we are with you on thinking basements are great and we are building a basement which is fully in ground at the back of our sloped plot and out of the ground at the front. So, not wishing to prescriptive or 'know it all', and you may have already thought it all through, but here are some of our thoughts - hope they help :- Your most important element with a basement will likely be waterproofing: and for waterproofing you will need (for building regs, BS 8102 etc) 2 out of 3 methods :- (i) external tanking, (ii) waterproof concrete and (iii) internal drainage/waterproofing. We went for external tanking and shuttered and reinforced structural waterproof concrete (btw steel reinforced concrete is often shortened to RC) as it seems like admitting defeat letting the water in and then draining it internally and pumping it out again. However internal drainage is often preferred by warranty and lenders since you can see it (and fix it) after you have finished. We will have a 20 year guarantee for our waterproofing from Cementaid / Caltite and they seem to be very thorough in checking the work our contractor is doing. Our contractor - who is a specialist groundworker / RC expert and is fantastic - reckons our external tanking is unnecessary except to get the warranty as the concrete is 100% waterproof on its own (providing it is properly done). Interestingly our structural warranty provider (LABC) was not prepared to cover the basement element. With ours - since we are out of the ground at the front, hydrostatic pressure in not a big issue - which it can be when you are fully in ground - so is much less critical and we have an externally drained French drain around the outside. Odd though it may seem, one of the issues is that in-ground basements tend to want to float (if you are below the water table at any time of the year) so you need to watch that! Not sure what your need for a contiguous piled structure is (retention of some form?) - you may well be able to use the basement walls for this structural element (if they have enough steel and concrete) - and perhaps temporary sheet piles while you do the dig and construction - we have done some of this and it has worked fine - and it may be cheaper that permanent piling plus basement walls. But you certainly don't want everything to collapse into your nice newly dug hole, and the last thing you want is one of your contractors buried in it (btw not a joking matter - holes can be very very dangerous place). Also you may want to consider having a basement footprint that matches the house above - depends on cost/budget - but can simplify things and may not be that much incremental cost. There can be an issue that if you mix a basement with traditional foundations they both need to go down to the same depth to avoid any differential movement - but talk to Structural Engineers on that. Tip: if you want to build extra basement, but dont have PP, then the extra bits you build are technically an 'undercroft' that you might convert at a later stage (subject to PP / PD). Our advice would be to first consider the use you want from a basement - storage (easyish) or fully habitable (much harder). Then look at the warranty and funding side and see if this constrains you on the methodology. Next step is a topo survey plus a good soil survey (this will be money well spent - and if a basement contractor is prepared to quote without seeing a soil survey then they are likely clueless or naive) and some careful thought about site drainage (while building and on-going) - which is really important if you are below ground. Armed with all that then talk to a few Structural Engineers and/or Architects and see what they think is best - they may not focus on cheapest but you likely will! Also talk to a few of the competing basement product providers for you chosen waterproofing - they should have approved contractors you can talk to. You may also want to look at ICF as it can be a good option for basements and is probably your only option if you want to do it yourself - we are not experts in this area but there are some on the Forum who are, and have done it all themselves (hats off!). You may also want to consider a few other things - like fire protection and exits (note that 3 story buildings get much more complex from a fire standpoint and basements have a few fire quirks all of their own), natural light, foul and grey water drainage, access, insulation, and of course how your SIP structure will sit on the basement (and link to the basement insulation without cold bridges). Also consider muck away - we generated 600m3 and this is really expensive if you cant 'loose' it somewhere. Site access may be a big issue on a small site as you will likely need lots of machines and lorries - oh and look at any overhead cables and underground services - these can cause havoc and delays that you might not believe - we can tell you the saga of the sewer if you ply us with drink! So best of luck with the project and welcome to the forum - we have found that there are lots of amazingly knowledgeable and generous folks out there. If you want then take a look at our week by week video Blog ( Self Building two in North Wiltshire) but be aware that we are building two houses and the below ground elements are really complex - PM us if you have specific questions or want to chat or visit. If you want we can ask our contractor if he is interested in a job in Herts but this may be too far for him - though he does cover a big area, and ours is a smallish job for him!
  14. As you can see there has been some progress on site and things are looking good - not all plain sailing but as we keep telling ourselves - we are getting there. Blockwork walls are going in and we can finally get a real feel for the basement rooms and the layout. Lots of back and forth on waterproofing and insulation/ thermal break under the walls and real problems locating 100mm high Marmox blocks - these are specialist lightweight composite insulating blocks that help prevent thermal bridges and keep the house warm - we dont need many but there are few substitutes (Foamglass being the only one we found). These are made in Egypt and due to some big orders in early Jan there are none in stock in the country until mid Feb which is too late for us so we went for the 65mm thick which are not quite as good - but hopefully good enough. We will need some more for other areas later but for now these will do the job and keep the guys on site busy. The design is complex and in hindsight we should have made much more effort in simplifying the design (or persuading our professionals) much earlier on - our advice would be that if the design looks complex on paper then this is the time to question everything and try and remove the difficult or odd bits. For example we have multiple floor levels and a combination of 155 and 215 high concrete beams for the floor - if we had known how difficult this would make things we would have changed it beforehand. Its the small details like this that make life very hectic as we finalise the exact construction and are constantly running round trying to keep the guys on site busy. We also have some steel in the basement that an MBC steel frame bolts down onto and needs to be exactly right as concrete and steel have very little wiggle room, and in the process we uncovered an error that would have impacted all the way through the build - luckily caught in time. And as it needs to be in place before the blockwork can be completed its on the critical path. So now steelwork and Beam and Block are on order, as is a crane to fit them all - not sure exactly when but it will be another big day when we get the B&B floor in. The guys are doing really well, and despite the weather, are making good progress and are cheerful - amazing what difference giving them cookies, doughnuts and fruit make when its wet and miserable. One of those frustrating and ironic parts of the build is that you bemoan the lack of progress and everything seems to be in limbo for weeks, and then suddenly everything hits you at once. The MBC drawings are 95% done but not signed off, but we have construction starting on site on 30th March - so plenty of time to make sure the groundworks are ready and we can sign off the drawings and get the frame into production. MBC estimate 2 weeks for Plot 1 and 3 weeks for Plot 2 - perfect. But then Internorm finally come back with some dates and they want to check the window and door apertures on site on March 31st, and start install on April 20th! Strangely there wont be any window apertures the day after MBC start, and they will still be on site on April 20th. So now we will have to push back Internorm and juggle dates and work on site, but at least we will get the windows in pretty soon after the frame is finished which will be a great relief - we have all seen the TV programs where the windows take months to arrive - we seem to have the opposite problem! Good problem to have but ..... On the video front see https://www.dropbox.com/sh/th9f6e3cel5dm1q/AAAfsWdAH184J75bCNUUtzVra?dl=0 for the weekly videos
  15. Over the long Xmas (much needed) break we turned the e pump off for a few days and even though it was not raining the level went up about a foot - so back to pumping to keep the water at bay. When the guys came back it was dry so they cracked on with more black tanking, external sheathing and backfill - which is what the video shows. They built a French drain around the outside which is a big black perforated pipe laid in gravel, covered with geotextile membrane which allow water through, but not the clay fines. Then lots of free flowing clean stone up towards the top of the wall. Finally we can get around the outside of the wall without walking in clay, and you begin to see where the ground level will come. Now the backfill is in place they can start to take out the sheet piles as the clay is held back by the walls and the backfill - surprisingly the clean stone doesn't seem to need compacting - but there is a lot of it! Removing the piles is more work than it was putting them in as the clay has stuck to them and even with the high frequency vibration hammer and the big digger its a slow process. They get really hot and steam as they come out - and I am told that they can friction weld to each other if you dont have lots of wet clay to cool them down. You can see just how tall they are with Ian stood next to one as it comes out. So on that front good progress - but in other areas less so - the bad news is that some of the concrete wall is too high by about 220mm. The contractors missed it, and so did we, that there is a step down in the back wall where the small house sits. We have been focused on a recovery plan as cutting the top off the wall is not an option!!!! Luckily its not as bad as it seems - after a very productive meeting with the Contractor, the SE and the Architect it seems as simple as building an additional blockwork wall inside the rear wall so the Beam and Block floor sits on this and luckily it at just the same height as the intended wall should have been. There is a lot of blockwork to do so a bit extra should be no big deal. In hindsight there should have been some really simple drawings of each RC wall - rather than the really complex drawings where its hard to spot! We have signed off the windows and are waiting for a delivery date - but it seems unlikely they will arrive too soon. Sadly we have still not signed off the Timber Frame for a number of reasons that come down to making absolutely sure that the interface between the concrete sub-structure and the Timber Frame will fit exactly. Its a really frustrating pain - but something that really does need to be right, and the above issue might have had a huge impact. So onwards and upwards - blockwork and beam and block next - and still lots of complex details that seem to need a huge amount of handholding.