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About DarrenA

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  1. Yep 290. My wife Christine painted the stone months ago. Also did a painting of the house and 3 different cardboard models. It's so exciting to actually get on site and do some real work. We're building in brick and starting with the garden 😊. First job is to plant the transplanted trees that are very unhappy with the move and now the weather and putting up our welfare greenhouse. We're keen to sow the grass for the garden but it won't last long on a wet day when the telehandler is around. You can tell this is our first build. Sure we will bump into each other soon.
  2. Snowcrete is just a trade name, I'm actually planning to use whatever white portland cement the builders merchant has. From the Tarmac website... Blue Circle Snowcrete Tarmac Snowcrete Cement is a white Portland cement suitable for architectural uses, and provides attractive and durable concrete, rendering and mortar. Strength Higher early and later strengths than Portland Cement CEM I 42,5
  3. Thanks all. I'll give blonde light yellow sand, snowcrete and lime a go when the bricks arrive and report back.
  4. Just one more thing. I'm not looking for toothpaste white mortar. The Cemax product and Stebah white product is a very light grey. I'm sure Dulux would have a name for it in their off-white paint range.
  5. I hope this is good forum etiquette, I received some very helpful suggestions in my Introduce Yourself post and would like to follow them up. I'm just starting my brick and block build. I've ordered the bricks, they are called Karma White by the Bespoke Brick Company. I have the samples and they are extremely white. More of a blue white like you get from led bulbs. There is no hint of cream or warmth about them. Bespoke Brick Company recommend a mortar called Stebah White 104. It is a German product and not effective to import. Cemax make a very similar mortar but my quote came in at over £300 a ton (I need 15 tons). Tarmac also do a white mortar but it is premixed in Colchester and expensive to transport to Bicester in Oxfordshire. Their price was £196 per ton and £600 per shipment. We don't have space to store 15 tons and also the shelf life is 4-6 weeks so would require multiple shipments. Local Oxfordshire building sand is very dark yellow but I can get blonde light yellow sand delivered from not too far away. We've tried mixing this with regular mortar and it's getting lighter and lighter. Darker than the white mortar and grey greenish tint but not bad. We made this a week ago and it might dry lighter yet. This from my other thread sounds very interesting though... If you buy white sand, white cement and lime and mix the mortar on site so no storage issues. I think you should be able to produce an acceptable colour without any grey and if you shop around the cost should not kill you. Firstly what is white sand? Is it silica sand and if so is that suitable for mortar? The local builders merchants can't suggest anything better. As for white cement, our bricklayer says he doesn't like Snowcrete as it goes off too fast. Does that sound right? Is it an issue with just snowcrete or is all white cement harder to work with. And finally, whenever I hear the word lime I think of that Grand Designs episode where they are building in lime in Scotland in the winter and have to keep restarting due to frost. Is lime in cement mortar something different entirely and not to be afraid of 😀. Basically I'm really keen to get this right so all thoughts appreciated.
  6. Actually these are very pretty houses and a decent spec. They might be passive houses iirc. But our one is bigger plot, better location and significantly larger. If they get £413k, it gives me confidence that ours will be in the £550k region. I'm not touchy about this, believe me we've been through the same thought process. It's going to be a lot of work for minimal equity but I do expect to end up in credit. Someone very sensible is pricing the plots. They are right on the limit and if a plot is slightly larger, it costs more. Bigger GIA, better view, quieter street, more desirable location on the site - they all cost appropriately more. There are no bargains 😀
  7. The Aston Martin man/luxury Moscow woman house is definitely unfinished and empty. One of the later episodes with the lift and lady in a wheelchair (very nice house I thought) might be empty. This is based on the fact that the level entrance isn't done so surely they can't be there. I can't remember the other one and maybe I'm mistaken. I'll check next time I go for a walk.
  8. That's my take too. The soil is pure clay and most sites are gently sloping. All have excellent access. Ours was trench fill with beam and block. Admittedly, our foundation costs included optional extras like underground ducting and drainage (manholes, connection to mains, etc), leveling the area around the slab for a gravel mat, hardcore for the mat and driveway and an awkwardly large pile of topsoil (way more than we expected). But we are still looking at £40k+ for a fairly simple 11m x 9m slab.
  9. The purchase contract enforces a build time of no more than 2 years and I'm not aware of any one going over that yet. But effectively the site has only been running for 2 years so that might change. The Grand Designs houses were started much earlier under different contracts. I would say (by walking past) that 3 of the 10 aren't completed or lived in. These are probably 4 or 5 years old now so that does look like a problem. On the main site though I don't think there are any abandons yet.
  10. This is my first build admittedly but I'd like to think of myself as a hands on builder. I'd say half the self builders on site are in the same category. We were drawn here by the instant community mainly. I think a lot of people like the relaxed planning rules. There are 9 houses on our street and 4 are being built by architects for themselves. There are restrictions on the GIA, build height and location of the house on the plot (none too onerous and all available on the plot passport prior to buying) but not rules on design. If we want to finish ours in pink corrugated cladding we can. Rumour has it someone has designed a castle. On our road the 9 houses are similar sized but all extremely different. Hopefully the project is a success and if so should be widely rolled out. I disagree with the Golden Brick policy of prebuilding the foundations as it is very expensive and doesn't save much time or trouble. But I love the fact that plots are sold with services on site immediately and the Plot Passport planning system. Our planning cost nothing (included in the plot price) and was approved first time 2 weeks after application.
  11. I think they've priced the plots as high as they can get away with. If you build really carefully you might end up with a small amount of equity but no one is going to make a fortune building at Graven Hill. As a guide line, a 5 bed "executive" detached new build in Bicester by a mainstream developer is around £500k. Hopefully a stylish, unique self build will be worth more. 🤞
  12. Yes, it is white bricks and mortar. We have samples and the bricks are very bright. Have 13000 arriving soon so I hope we like them! The white mortar is proving a headache to source and store. So we are thinking about using very light building sand instead and accepting a light grey mortar instead. This will also save a few thousand pounds. Unfortunately it is too late to change the cavity size but I did cost PIR insulation against Drytherm slabs and we shouldn't be out of pocket our way. We are going with separate lintels per leaf though and using cavity closers to help with bridging and airtightness.
  13. Thank you, loads of useful tips here. Could you please explain the party wall comment about the garage, not sure what you mean.
  14. The solar panels are pencilled in on the second floor terrace. Hadn't thought about shadows but I think moving them up to the very top of the house would solve this and free up more roof terrace. But to be honest, I can't see the solar panels making the cut financially so these will probably be left for another time.