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  1. We've mostly dug down for the beam, although the ffl has also been raised a bit. The plan is to get the foundation masonry done and then fill in and grade the ground to slope away from the house. They'll also stone around the house at that point to give a firm base for the scaffold. Drains wise there are 4 internal SVPs. Current plan is to drop these out through the masonry at the top of the beam (which will be 375mm below ground level) and then drop these down further for the runs. This is in the hands of the ground workers so tbh I'm not exactly sure how this will work.
  2. No problem at all. Yes it was the piling company we were talking to last year. It took a long time to get our planning conditions discharged and then for the ground workers to become available. The piling guys were happy to wait until we were ready and I got the impression could mobilise on a new job within 2-3 weeks.
  3. Ha, the piling lads called it the moat. They mentioned that their boss had recently bought them all new wellies. However the strong implication was that he was a bit cheap as every single boot had a least one hole in it. You don't want freezing cold moat water in your boots. Work is starting on the foundation masonry on Monday, they are pretty pleased that they won't have to bend down so much as the beam is out of the ground. I'm planning to be nice and go and pump out the moat at the weekend to make things as dry as possible for them.
  4. Time for another blog post as we now have 50 piles completed and a nice shiny ground beam linking them all together. The pilers took 6 days to drive the 50 bottom driven steel cased piled into situ just before Christmas, this was two blokes and a fairly shiny new looking piling rig. The rig, in its simplest form, was a 500Kg weight on a string that was capable of being raised and dropped repeatedly. It had some very fancy hydraulic outriggers and a track that could vary its width, but ultimately it was a weight on a string. The pilers said our required loading on each pile (150kN) was fairly modest and explained how each pile would be driven to set. This involved piling away until either a new 2m section was needed to be welded on or the pile started to move less with each blow. When they felt it was getting there, they sprayed a vertical line on the pile and used a welding rod held at one end, to draw a series of 5 lines on the pile, one after each blow. If the spread of these lines was less than 100mm then the pile would be capable of taking the 150kN load. Interestingly I only ever saw this done when I was on site and watching, not one of the piles done when I wasn't there had the vertical white line and marks - I'm sure that's fine.... From a cost point of view, the piles were £1,200 for mobilisation then £127 per pile down to 4m, anything beyond that was £30 per meter per pile. In the end we had 27 piles at 5m, 2 piles at 5.5m and 21 at 6m, which was a total add-on cost of £2,160. So the total piling cost was £9,710. After Christmas the lads returned and were joined by another crew of 2 and the 4 of them started work on the ground beam. The original plan had been to excavate a trench for the beam and just set the steel reinforcement into the trench. When the pilers first saw the site they said this wasn't going to work due to the water and soft ground and we'd need to dig down to the bottom of the ground beams, so they could shutter the beam. After having a concrete blinding delivered and placed level around the route of the beam, they spent the next week placing and tying the rebar along with positioning the shuttering. By the Friday morning it was ready for our first building control inspection. As we are having a Protek structural warranty, the idea of combining the warranty and building control inspections appealed to me. Protek assigned a private building control firm to oversee the inspections, so our approved inspector, a diminutive Welsh lady duly arrived to look at the work the piling lads had done. Happy with everything we were good to pour the ground beam the following Monday. Monday arrived and the concrete pump and wagons arrived at 9.00am, ready to go. The pour was uneventful, but I was badly unprepared for the splatter so had to pop home and get changed into some clothes I didn't mind getting covered in concrete. In total, I think it was about 35 cube of concrete, so a fair amount went into the piles and beams. The lads returned the following day and took down the shuttering and much to my surprise took away pretty much all of their rubbish. That left us with the ground beam in all of its glory. The ground beam was the most costly aspect of the endeavour. The cost for beam itself was £100 per linear metre, of which our beam was 124LM, for a cost of £12,400. The shuttering was unexpected (well not completely, but you can hope) and an additional £4,000. So the overall cost for the ground beam was £16,400, giving a total spend with the pilers of about £26,000. I'm including the costs in the blog as they might be useful for others as comparison. I'm really pleased with the job that they did, the whole thing is obviously very solid and I know we have a decent foundation for the house. It's so substantial it feels like it should be able to be seen from space.
  5. I use a similar strategy, I'm pretty good at scruffy anyway but I make sure I take my wife's 5 year old permanently filthy car when meeting someone for a quote.
  6. These details might help too -
  7. With my 7kW charger I could pump in 28 kWh in four hours at a total cost of £1.40 (5p per kWh and ignoring losses). My Tesla model S will do 3 miles per kWh at normal speeds, so that’s 84 miles / 1.66p per mile. Btw I owned an old Leaf for about a year and 220 Wh/mile would need very steady driving, forget going faster than 55mph. The figures above for the Tesla are perfectly doable at 70mph on the motorway.
  8. I tried to submit ours twice. The first time was about 6 months before we started work and during the time we were discharging the pre-commencement planning conditions. The CIL people emailed back to remind us that we still had undischarged planning conditions and it might be better to submit the notice once this was done. I didn't fancy picking a fight with the CIL people so duly replied that was what we would do. The second time was after the conditions were discharged but about a month and half before work actually started. This time I just got the confirmation email back saying they had received the commencement form and reminding me to submit the next form (Form 7) within 6 months of building control sign-off, otherwise the exemption will lapse and the full CIL payment will become due. I have printed a few copies of this email out and keep them in safe places 🙂
  9. There's a handy brook just the other side of the mounds of soil on the left of the photo. (This photo was taken a little while before the ones above, hence no mounds of earth).
  10. Here's the after photo. I've spent most of the day pumping water out. I feel like King Canute but I keep telling myself it all helps. Just need to make sure the piling contractors are happy to keep going next week so we can get the remaining 30 piles done before Christmas.
  11. The joys of doing foundations in December, I have an unwanted swimming pool.
  12. Andrew

    First Blog Post

    Piling contractor arrived first thing and spent all morning waiting for Travis Perkins to deliver the stone required for the bottom of the piles (they forgot to order it yesterday). It finally turned up about midday. After an agonising wait the first pile was driven and reached set at 5m. The next 4 went in pretty easily and all set at about the same level. Pretty happy so far, especially when the guy piling told me they had to go to 32m on their last job 😮
  13. Has anyone ever had a low voltage electricity pole removed and if so can you recall what plant was used to remove it? The pole itself is very similar to a BT pole in size and height. The DNO are going to be routing a low voltage cable underground on our plot and removing a pole. I want to make sure there is still sufficient access for whatever they may use as the foundations / piling is cracking along. Thanks.
  14. Andrew

    First Blog Post

    Not exactly sure but at least a couple of years. Didn’t price a raft as our structural engineer was really against it. Spoke to another couple of engineers recommended by the timber frame company about a raft and they both also were very negative. I can’t remember the exact details but differential movement came up a lot. I’m sure these opinions were purely based on their lack of experience but by then I’d been scared off. Too late now anyway the first pile goes in shortly.
  15. Andrew

    First Blog Post

    It's a bit overdue but this is the first post of our build. The start was a long time coming, the idea to do a self-build struck in May 2017 when I spotted a plot on Rightmove which happened to be exactly equidistant between my family and my wife's family. With a young child and ageing grandparents the idea of relocating to be nearer to family appealed, as did the idea of building a house. Purchasing the plot was not without challenges and the legal side took about 9 months. Most of this was down to the useless solicitor we had instructed but we got there in the end. That took us to early 2018. The plot had detailed planning permission (won on appeal) for a 5 bed very traditional looking house. We knew it wasn't what we wanted but thought we could get by with a few amendments to the planning permission. We spoke the architect the vendor of the plot had used for the original planning application but he was very old school and liked to do a lot more talking than listening. Instinctively we knew he wasn't for us. After a search on the internet and telephone calls with a few other architects and architectural technicians found the practice that seemed right for us. They listened to our ideas and seemed on our wavelength. They convinced us that a new scheme, taking into account our needs and wants was the way forward so we worked with them through early 2018 to put a design together. This was submitted to planning in June 2018 and took until December 2018 to get approval. The council did ask for a couple of amendments to the design which we largely complied with and extra ecological reports which were supplied. There were a number of pre-commencement conditions attached to the approval. So in January 2019 we engaged a structural engineer, energy assessors and noise surveyors to do the work required to discharge the conditions and get in position to start on site. We also started the work of selecting a timber frame supplier. After speaking to half a dozen and getting quotes, a localish timber frame company came out on top. Their quote was competitive but more than anything they were on the right wavelength and seemed very open to listening to our concerns and questions. We hoped to get started on site in the spring / summer but unfortunately our planning condition for surface water drainage (SUDS) resulted in the council asking for a land drainage consent. This particular piece of bureaucracy was relevant as we want to discharge surface water and treated foul water into a brook adjacent to the plot. In addition to a further ecological report regarding voles and otters which I commissioned, they also needed design details of the headwalls we were using and discharge calcs for the roof run off. Reluctant to spend any more money on consultants I used the building regs info to do the calcs myself and submitted. Deafening silence followed for 8 weeks until I reminded them of their statutory obligation to respond within 8 weeks. Soon after this reminder the approved consents arrived. Discharge of the planning conditions followed shortly and we were free to get started. Unfortunately by the time this happened in early September our groundworkers were on another job and didn't become free again until early November. We did look around but couldn't find anyone who could start sooner that didn't want significantly more money for the job. So they started on site on 20th November 2019, two and half years after I spotted the plot on Rightmove. Since starting they've cleared and levelled the site, although there's still some spoil to be taken away. We have difficult ground conditions with clay / sand soil and a low bearing capacity. Due to this the SE has specified piled foundations, a ground beam to link them all together and suspended block and beam floor. I've had a piling contractor lined up since the spring and they visited site for the first time after it had been cleared and levelled and proclaimed there's no way that dug trenches would suffice and that the ground beam would need to be shuttered (another £4k). That means the ground workers needed to excavate to underneath ground beam level which they've done and also have provided the piling contractor with a bed of stone as a rudimentary piling mat. This was completed last week and the nice man with the total station has been out and precisely marked the position of each of the 50 piles. The piling contractor was due on site yesterday. However they have been delayed by a couple of days and are meant to be starting tomorrow. It'll be a big day as they have quoted to pile down to 4m, after which it's £30 / pile / metre - fingers crossed we don't have to go down too deep.