Incipiens Mox

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  1. Can anyone recommend a contractor with ideally a specialism in or at very least a great amount of experience in basement construction? I'm looking for someone who can serve the East Herts area. I'm currently dealing with a structural engineer who has drawn up plans which I'd ideally like independently reviewed and potentially I'd also be interested in receiving quotes for excavating and constructing the basement. So even if you know of someone good who may not be local to the Herts area, if they are prepared to carry out the review remotely, that would still be a great help. Many thanks.
  2. Soil survey findings implications

    The report goes into a large amount of detail (> 177 pages) hey found two areas with contamination: o Asbestos was detected within a sample from [area on the driveway]; and o An elevated lead concentration was detected within a sample from [area on the back lawn]. Three of the near-surface soil samples were analysed for asbestos. Amosite was detected within one sample, [area on the driveway], J1, taken at a depth of 0.15-0.65m. The lead I'm not so concerned about since it's on an are that won't be disturbed, but the asbestos will definitely need addressing as it's right on the footprint of the house/basement. They have put in a gas monitoring standpipe but have detected no significant issues with gases or issues with the water table. As regards the lead and asbestos (only found in two of the samples that they took) they have stated: it is recommended that additional shallow sampling of the made ground is undertaken to allow for a better assessment of the extent of the lead / Asbestos which should include quantification of the Asbestos to allow for a better assessment of the risk posed by the presence. Alternatively, if the Made Ground is to be removed as part of the construction works, this can be disposed to a licensed wastecentre (with appropriate waste acceptance testing) then hazard is removed. Consideration may be given to leaving areas with elevated Lead and presence of Asbestos in situ if these are to be left under permanent hardstanding such as permanent concrete driveways to the front of the property I'm not aware of any previous industrial use and am assuming that this most probably came from a previous asbestos walled garage (it's right next to the existing brick garage) though I've no evidence that one existed. The current building has stood there since 1930's Made Ground is from 0.01 – 0.20mbgl to 0.40 – 0.70mbgl
  3. I recently received the results back of a soil survey which I commisioned as a stipulation of planning acceptance. The survey repoort comes to >170 pages and I asked the surveyor to summarise whether there were any issues found. He said that there were no showstooppers, but that within the made ground there was asbestos detected in one sample and lead in another. Since this is a brownfield site and the plan is to demolish the house and build a basement as part of the new structure, I'm wondering what the implications of this are. Does anyone have experiience of problems like this? I'm wondering what cost / delay I may have to factor in.
  4. Anyone know how much sway Parish Council has?

    Completely concur. It was the same for me and I was told by a friend who is an experienced commercial developer that planning officers very rarely take any notice of parish council objections. Thinking about it, some of the reasons may stem from small-scale politics, the need to be seen to be objecting etc. However, there's a case that they could raise issues at a local community level - loss of amenity perhaps - that may not be raised by individual householder objections. Sounds in this case like a local councilor has had his ear bent by Mr Angry rather than anything of real substance.
  5. Do i need to comply with party wall act?

    I think I'm right in saying that you don't need a party wall agreement if your neighbour is fine without one. However, simplistically speaking, if you are doing any work within three meters of your neighbours buildings (not boundary) then you do need to serve your neighbour with a party wall notice. They can then come back and either assent to it (meaning you'll agree to foot the bill for any damage and there's no need for them to appoint a surveyor) or dissent, in which case they appoint someone to act on their behalf for which you pay (as well as your own surveyors fees) It sounds to me that although the work you are carrying out near their property is minimal, you would probably need to go through this process, though your architect / structural engineer should be able to give you a firmer idea. If in doubt, I'd advise getting professional advice - in writing. If you really get on with your neighbour and they're happy to take a few snaps of their house for reference and you give a written assurance that you'll put right any damage caused by your works then it could save a bit of money. Personally, I'm inclined to the pessimistic view that relations can easily turn sour over the most trivial of matters and any legal costs and delays could very easily outweigh the money you saved by not having the party wall but this is speaking without much experience of party wall issue (just going through it myself with sniffy neighbours!) The link below may be of some help.
  6. Building Regs / Funding chicken and egg

    First of all, a massive thank you jamiehamy for taking the time to give me such a detailed response. I'll be using this in my discussions with the SE. As I mentioned earlier, I moved from using an architect to the current SE after the architect pulled out. I don't believe there's a Building Warrant as such but you're right that most of these items should have been addressed in the submission, not flagged by the BCO. To be clear, the list of missing / unaddressed items was supplied by the BCO in their rejection letter. The only thing that I've heard from the mortgage broker is that the underwriters will not consider my application any further until I provide them with approved PP and BC. I'm hoping that this will be the last serious issue to overcome in funding, but optimism and self-build rarely go hand in hand! I agree with you 100% about the SE in that I'm so close to starting the build that I don't want to shake things up right now particularly unless other, more serious issues arise. I don't expect any other SE would be that much better and as he's been paid in full, I'd like to pressure him a bit to deliver the goods before moving on. I'll probably be popping in for a 'friendly chat' in the next week or so.
  7. Building Regs / Funding chicken and egg

    I just spoke to the building contractor to clarify why the SE hasn't attended to all these points. He believes that the SE is snowed under and has taken on too much work. That doesnt really explain everything or excuse his tardiness and lack of communication. Nevertheless, since he agreed to do it and I've already paid him for it. I will be pushing him hard to get this resolved within the next 2-3 weeks. If that's not possible then we'll be looking elsewhere. Thanks again for all the helpful responses. By the way, what does BW stand for?
  8. Building Regs / Funding chicken and egg

    Many thanks for all the really useful feedback. Especially Jamie's point by point assessment. This is far more help than I've received from any of the professionals so far. One of the problems is perhaps that the original architect decided he didn't want to deal with it anymore. The job was dragging on and he was close to retirement. This happened just after PP was obtained and the SE was commissioned for the building regs drawings. The architect would not release the originals so he had to start from scratch. That said I think that he could have answered most of the points assigned to the architect and to say that he's dragged his heels is an understatement. I'm not quite at the point of sacking him but will be speaking to the builder, and a frank meeting of all parties seems on the cards. The main point is though that I need to address the points blocking initial approval so I can get on with the funding application. Thanks again.
  9. Building Regs / Funding chicken and egg

    The build is actually in Hertfordshire. As far as I can gather, it's a question of the SE not providing enough information to the BCO despite having had months to do so. The SE is OK, but I've got frustrated with him recently and the lack of progress. He would have preferred me to go with a private BC contractor, but they were nearly three times the price and the builder is more than happy to deal with the LA and has a good relationship with the LA BCO. I think there's no love lost between the SE and the BCO. I need to reach out directly to the BCO to find out what needs to be addressed before the start of the build and what can / must be addressed at each stage. Here's the list: A site investigation report (including soil analysis) should be submitted for the site. This should include recommendations for dealing with any contaminants therein. Please provide a SAP Carbon Dioxide emission calculation for the new dwelling to demonstrate that the predicted rate (DER) will not exceed the target emission rate (TER). Proprietary details are required for: a) Basement waterproofing; b) Roof trusses, and c) Precast concrete floor beams. Types, heights and proximity of trees and shrubs should be shown: minimum foundation depths should then be indicated, using an appropriate design guide (e.g. NHBC Standards Chapter 4.2 - Building Near Trees or the Zurich Building Guarantees Technical Manual). Provisions should be made for protection against possible heave of the subsoil. Details are required of Means of Escape from rooms in basement. Full foul and surface water drainage layouts / specification are required. Clarify ventilation provision for "Boxroom". The drawings show cavity wall construction while the specification notes refer to solid walls. Please clarify. In order to avoid confusion, irrelevant specification notes should be deleted. Full compliance should be shown with Approved Document M. This should address site topography, entry to the dwelling, door widths and bathroom access. Suitable elevation drawings are required. Suitable section drawings are required. Suitable site / block plans are required, showing distances to proposed boundaries. Please confirm that external doors and accessible windows will meet the security standards outlined in Approved Document Q e.g. tested and shown to meet BS publication PAS 24:2012. An access point and internal network termination point (linked by a through-wall duct) should be provided for communication networks. Suitable mains-powered and interlinked smoke detectors should be provided in the basement, hall and first floor landing. Full details are required of chimneys, hearths flues etc. Carbon Monoxide alarms should be provided in the rooms containing the solid fuel appliances. Will the installation of solid fuel appliances be covered by an approved Competent Persons Scheme (e.g. HETAS)? Durable notice plates should be provided in relation to the safe operation of new hearths or flues. Information on them should accord with Diagram 16 and clause 1.57 of Approved Document J and they should be sited next to the chimney, the electrical consumer unit or the water supply stop-cock. Confirm that new windows will achieve a U-Value of not more than 1.6 W/m2K or a WER rating of band C, or better. The specification refers to secondary glazing achieving a U-Value of 2.0 W/m2K – where is this? Adequate mechanical ventilation is required in the Utility Room. Full details and specification are required for the new stairway. These should include headroom and guarding. Adequate structural calculations are required to justify the design details submitted. Full details are required of roof construction, including provision for insulation and ventilation. The opening between the garage and the house should be fitted with a self-closing FD30s door with minimum 100mm threshold. All new habitable rooms at first floor level should be provided with a window that is suitable for emergency egress, having an unobstructed openable area that is at least 0.33m2 and 450mm in width and height. The bottom of the openable area should be no more than 1100mm above floor level. The developer will need to organise for an air leakage test to be carried out on completion in order to justify assumptions made in the Carbon emissions calculation. A suitably qualified person i.e. a member of the Airtightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) must carry this out. For this reason, it is essential that the building be constructed using design details and building techniques that can be expected to achieve a minimum standard of air tightness. The TSO Robust Details document, 'Limiting Thermal Bridging and Air Leakage' gives guidance. Details are required of the corner porch support for the Catnic lintels above. The specification refers to 55 x 38mm timber studs at 600mm centres. These appear to conflict with what is shown on drawings and, in any case, would not be structurally adequate. We will require the submission of a water efficiency calculation prior to issuing a completion certificate for the new dwelling. This should indicate the estimated consumption of wholesome water, showing that it will not exceed 125 litres/head/day. Appropriate fittings are required to restrict the temperature of water supplied to the bath to 48oC. A commissioning checklist (Benchmark Certificate) must be completed by the person or company installing the new boiler and a copy submitted to Building Control prior to completion. As well as health and safety, this should also deal with energy efficiency issues. Regulation 25A requires notice to be given to the Local Authority not more than one day before commencement of work to confirm an analysis of the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of using high-efficiency alternative systems for the production of energy for use within the new building has been undertaken. Such an analysis should be documented, as a copy of this study may be requested for verification purposes during the course of the works. We recommend this analysis is undertaken in consultation with an energy assessor and that notice is deposited with the CO2 emission rate calculations required. You should note that this is not necessarily an exhaustive list and that further items might come to light while checking the application.
  10. I'm hoping to begin a major build in around three months from now but am still waiting for initial building regs approval which is a precondition of the mortgage that I need. The plans were rejected just before Christmas though the inspector commented that this was mainly because otherwise he would miss a deadline to respond back. However, he had raised around 36 issues that needed to be addressed. When I spoke to the structural engineer about this (who to be honest has been dragging his feet terribly and caused a lot of delay) he told me: final building reg approvals is normally achieved well into the contract as relies lots on sub contractors input I can see where he's coming from but I can't start the build without some kind of approval as it'll hold up funding. Does anyone have any experience of this?
  11. Employing builders / labourers

    Quite. This has been going on for far too long. Speaking of VAT, my belief is that a lot of builders prefer not to be VAT registered as it would instantly push their rates up making them uncompetitive compared with unregistered competitors. There's also the paperwork which is not inconsiderable but a necessary part of a business with a growing turnover. Please correct me if there's more relevant reasons. However, builders can apparently avoid charging VAT completely for labour or building materials in the case of new builds (see this website) so wouldn't that negate the extra cost argument, or am I missing something?
  12. Employing builders / labourers

    Thanks for the advice - even if it wasn't really what I wanted to hear. I've already had the discussion about tax liabilities, i.e. they will be met in full and no discussion about cash etc will be tolerated. Even so, I suspect that I would be directly employing the guys which, as you've mentioned, provides great scope for me to get it wrong on the tax front somehow and leads to all sorts of other questions about H&S etc. Strictly speaking, the guy is a project manager with a team of regulars rather than a traditional builder per-se, but I would feel more comfortable if he took on the payment of the contractors and I paid him. I appreciate all the feedback and I will speak to him, though Plan B beckons.
  13. I have a main contractor who I'm planning to use to manage my build. He's suggested to me that is easier for him if I pay the guys that will work on the job directly rather than paying him and him passing it on. The reason given is that it takes him over the VAT threshold. Can anyone comment on this kind of set up? I don't think there's any specific reason why this might be a problem. He would manage the guys on site on a day to day basis, though clearly I would be responsible for ensuring that they were paid correctly and the appropriate tax paid etc. And if I get it wrong, I'm on the hook. Can anyone suggest whether this is ok and where I can get more information about my liabilities and responsibilities?
  14. Self build mortgages for contractors

    Just had a conversation with Mowbray. Very sketchy at the moment and no guarantee that they'll take me on. However, I feel I've got at least as far in a 25 minute phone call as I have in the last 3 months with the broker.
  15. Self build mortgages for contractors

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll certainly try making enquiries with the lenders mentioned. I have generally used a broker in the past as they often get a wider choice and somewhat better rates (even from lenders who had rejected me when I went direct) though that was for a standard house purchase - not a self build. I've never had a broker act so lethargically before and I'm anxious that I might start to get close to the demolition / build date without even an agreement in principle. Regarding the 75% of LTV / 75% per stage restriction, I wasn't sure whether this was normal for self-build in general or whether I was getting a bad deal through lack of competition. It doesn't sound great to be honest but it emphasises how careful I will have to be with stage estimates.