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About Phaedrus

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  • Birthday October 3

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  • About Me
    Civil engineer/Project manager taking first steps into self-build
  • Location
    Near Norwich, Norfolk

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  1. Many thanks for the comments and suggestions. I'm narrowing in on a final specification for my solar pv system but still have some questions about inverters. The Enphase microinverters that are suggested to maximize system performance cost more than the solar panels themselves! My system will be on a roof that is <5deg off due south and shading shouldn't be an issue so am I right in thinking that a two string system to a conventional inverter is the way to go?. Sofar, Growatt & Solis all do suitable 6kW inverters in the £300-400 range. Fronius & SolarEdge are £800+. Which inverter would you recommend & why?
  2. Unfortunately no gross internal area was quoted. Let's say for arguments sake that it was a 375m2 property then £1000/m2 does seem a stretch given the extensive steel frame, curved everything and fancy finishes. When enthusiasm was high at the start in 2013, staff from the self-builders' company flooded the site when they had no marquees to erect or dismantle. There was no suggestion that the cost of labour such as this was allocated to the build. The gatekeeper's lodge and plot were bought at auction in 2011. The price paid was not quoted and the £65k was just a nominal allocation which was clearly complete fantasy economics.
  3. Series 10 Episode 5 Devon (10 miles from Exeter with views over Exe estuary) This was an extension/re-hash of Series 6 Episode 8 The Self-builders: Graham & Nicky (Run a marquee hire company). Two children (Evie & Bailey). Setting the Scene: Mar 2013 - Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans Bought gatekeeper’s lodge with plot at auction in 2011. Assign nominal plot value of £65k. £250k build budget which Charlie thinks is “ambitious” (i.e. Building the Dream code for totally unrealistic). £1.0M expected value Very large four bedroom house with three storey “barrel turret” with guest suite accessed by spiral staircase. Charlie suggests removing spiral staircase to allow guest suite to be screened off. Cinema room in basement. The Build June 2013 – Foundations (beam & block) complete July 2013 – ICF walls erected by self-builders after two-day course. Helped by loads of staff from the marquee company. Sept 2013 – Steel frame for barrel turret arrives 10 weeks late & wrong Oct 2013 – Three months behind schedule. Ground floor ICF walls poured Jan 2014 – First floor ICF walls poured. Structural engineer ceased trading – new structural engineer not happy with section of concrete cantilever. Move on to third structural engineer and everything’s thankfully ok. Mar 2014 – Charlie visits Apr 2014 – Floor joists installed. Fibreglass roofing being installed by self-builders after going on another course. Claim to have reduced costs from £31k to £8k. July 2014 – Windows delivered for installation by self-builder. Want curved bi-fold doors but can’t afford them. Choose flat fixed panes instead of bi-fold doors – saved £12k Dec 2014 – Still not watertight. Feb 2015 – Watertight. Bathrooms fitted. Moved in to camp out on upper floors. No stairs so use ladders which Graham thinks amusing – I think it’s downright dangerous and irresponsible. March 2016 – Sold house to free cash for the build. Kitchen fitting. Nov 2016 – More fitting out. Graham says “With curves it’s a nightmare, everything costs more!”. Buildhubbers all sigh and think what a pl**ker. Jan 2017 – Interior complete. Ground & polished concrete floor. Charlie revisits with exterior not close to completion (Note that this was the end of the Series 6 Episode 8 programme). Actual cost at that time quoted as £350k excluding cladding & render with an actual valuation of £1.5-1.75M. The Build contd July 2018 – A terrifying wildfire comes near to destroying the self-build dream. Felt like this was over-egged somewhat. June 2019 – Finally completed landscaping. Planning to add a swimming pool supposedly for fire-fighting/insurance purposes. Graham sets himself up as a builder and even claims to be making money at it. The “final” figures: Actual build costs £375k (including a £20k overspend on the kitchen) giving “total” costs (usual caveat) of £440k.
  4. You and your parents have my deepest sympathy. I am myself wrestling with a similar planning issue with my parents (aged 79 & 76) also involved. I well recognise the dilemma of not wishing to alienate the planning officer but also feeling you're being mugged off. The catalogue of basic administrative and procedural errors you describe is well worthy of complaint and you're not being unreasonable or unfair to the planning officer in complaining. Taking a deep breath and assessing the possible pros/cons of different approaches is sensible. As no-one is picking up the phone, an email to the planning officer (cc their boss & head of planning) setting out your concerns and requesting a timeline for a decision seems appropriate. Does the planning officer have the delegated power to approve/refuse the application? If so and they are just not moving things along, another tactic to think about is to make an informal representation to your local councillor. They can "call in" the application for decision by the Planning Committee. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, getting your application on the agenda can focus the mind of the planning officer and speed things along. I hope you get a satisfactory response to your complaint and ultimately approval of your application.
  5. This is the best advice you've received in this thread in my opinion. 200m2 is generous for a four bed home (certainly by developer standards!) so if you haven't got £400k build budget then either look at a smaller build or find more money. Cashflow is also something to look at as self-build funds are only released once certain stages are complete and you're also paying VAT on materials which you can only claim back upon completion.
  6. I've been wrestling with the same issue and still don't have a definitive solution so many thanks for posting the wall/floor junction detail. I was advised that 100mm insulation (presumably PIR?) was woefully inadequate and that 300mm EPS under the slab was the way to go. Now I'm thinking that a course of Marmox block (or similar) as shown in purple would reduce the cold bridging. Would appreciate any of the experts wading in with their views.
  7. Hi & welcome to the forum. Exciting stuff - are you going for Passivhaus certification? It would be great to see a blog on your project. See Redoctober's for how it's done 😜
  8. Series 10 Episode 4 Somerset (5 miles from Yeovil) The Self-builders: Tom (Landscape gardener) & Laura (Travel consultant). Two sons (Milo & Rufus). Setting the Scene: Sept 2016 – Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans Transform dilapidated barn on farm Tom’s family has owned since 1832. Purchased barn/plot for £50k and secured planning permission for conversion to a bungalow. 78m2 footprint but permitted development rights preserved so planning a Stage 2 later. Tile roof, glazed gable & mezzanines at each end. £225k build budget. £500k expected value for completed house. Plan to start end Nov 2016 and complete by end Dec 2017 Charlie is surprised that the self-builders don’t have proper plans. He suggests that the room arrangement needs changing to capture the evening light in the lounge. Also that the windows are too residential and should be made more “barny” by dropping them all the way to the ground. The Build Dec 2016 – Partial demolition of barn and groundworks commence. Feb 2017 – Block & sandstone (Hamstone?) walls underway. Need to sell current house to release funds for the build. Offer accepted but buyer pulls out. May 2017 – Stonework largely complete. Erecting hand cut roof. Aug 2017 – Roof erected & tiled. Some windows installed. Gable glazing being installed. Sept 2017 – Charlie returns to site, his suggestions to drop the windows down to ground level have been ignored but they did go with his layout revision. £92k spent to date with Tom doing plenty of work. Forecasting completion of Stage 1 in Feb 2018 & Stage 2 Aug 2018. The Visit to Another Self-build: Four bedroom single storey barn conversion in Bradford-on-Avon. Completed in 2007. Concrete floor throughout. 4m long island with concrete worktop. The Build contd Dec 2017 – Insulation & plasterboard done. First fix done, plastering underway. Apr 2018 – Current house finally sold. Laying UFH & screed with flagstone pattern imprinted. Aug 2018 – Family living in caravan. Veneered ply kitchen unit carcasses delivered. Nov 2018 – Decorating & fitting staircase treads. March 2019- Charlie visits home. Stage 1 complete but Stage 2 not clad or fitted out inside. The “final” figures: Actual build costs to date £173k with further £70-90k spend required to complete Stage 2. Giving “total” costs (usual caveat) of £313k. Expected final valuation including Stage 2 of £600k (2019 prices).
  9. Even in Highland I would be wary of relying on rainwater harvesting for all your water needs. Usually the systems are restricted to washing machines, toilet flushing and outdoor use and have a mains top-up which kicks in when the storage tank drops below a certain level. You could mimic this with a borehole supply with the water treatment downstream of the diversion to the rainwater tank. Have you done any investigation into the feasibility of a borehole?
  10. Welcome to the forum I would recommend getting the Housebuilder's Bible to give you a decent summary of all the steps included in planning and building your own home. It contains a "Pitfalls" chapter that includes warts and all information and tips on finding, assessing and buying sites; access & services; planning issues; and costs. If you're still up for the challenge after reading that then explore more here and at sites such as Homebuilding & Renovating. Redoctober's blog is excellent at showing all the stages of a build and there are many other Scottish based self-builders around to offer advice.
  11. I'm beginning to get a bit worried that the quote may be too good to be true! Just tried Midsummer Wholesale's pv builder with Longi 360W panels & Growatt 1500 inverter & price is £3507 exc VAT. Perlight, Longi, Q Cells & Trina panels all look to be similar prices. Panasonic & LG are twice the price. Any views on which are best technically and/or best value? Also, should I be bothered whether the panels are mono or multi/poly crystaline?
  12. They have a somewhat annoying approach that they don't want to formally approve pv export before the self-builds are connected. However, we are paying our share of local transformer upgrade and have received verbal assurance that pv export will not be a problem
  13. Due to the overwhelming response to my Series 10 summaries, I've decided to provide a bonus edition for Series 9 Episode 9. Enjoy! Series 9 Episode 9 Norfolk (East Harling) The Self-builders: Tony (a builder who now hates building) & Ness (online marketing business owner). Two children. Setting the Scene: July 2016 – Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans Secured planning permission for four bedroom house with 7m high round tower and curved zinc/sedum roof in garden of bungalow purchased in 2004. Nominal value of plot £250k. £300k build budget (Charlie says he’ll quit architecture if they build it for that!). £750k expected value for completed house. Targeting completion in 6-7 months (Charlie thinks 1-2 years) Charlie suggests not fitting out one wing of the house to save money. Also to eliminate a section of glazed roof and to reconfigure the master suite. The Build April 2018 – Don’t start for two years as unable to sell bungalow/money problems and new baby. Foundations in and lower sections of ICF walls (in shocking purple) being concreted. Multiple blowouts at corners require remedial work. June 2018 – Services connected. ICF walls progressing. Suddenly Tony is enjoying this building lark 😊 Aug 2018 – Self-builders lift 50kg posi-joists into position. Nov 2018 – Flint cladding to tower. Final ICF concrete pour – no blowouts Jan 2019 – Charlie returns. Self-builders need £150k to finish the build but don’t have it. They are still targeting to move in in 3-4 months! The Visit to Another Self-build: Five bed industrial look home in Leicestershire which the visitors found to be absolutely stunning with ooohs & aaahs at every turn. Brick piers with dark timber cladding and metal roof. Wraparound glazing. Polished concrete floor. Steel cantilevered staircase. Double aspect feature fireplace. Yes, I loved it too. Self-builder was Naomi Page if interested in looking it up. The Build contd Feb 2019 – Confirmed that they will not get a self-build mortgage. Weepy scenes but the self-builders cheer themselves up by fitting a section of rubber roof (having both gone on a training course beforehand). March 2019 – First fix electrics underway. Installing below screed floor insulation – more shocking purple stuff. Apr 2019 – Self-builders secure £25k personal loan having refused a bridging loan option (presumably on a punitive interest rate). Bi-fold doors (from Norwich based IDSystems) installed. Stoneworker doing more flint cladding. May 2019 – Charlie visits again. House not nearly finished. £190k spent to date and self-builders believe they are on track to complete for £300k. Charlie doesn’t quit architecture due to a delayed schedule get out clause. The “final” figures: Projected build costs £300k giving total nominal cost of £550k. Revised expected valuation of £1.0M (2019 prices). Fair play Ness (& Tony), fair play.
  14. I can get up to 18 panels on the south facing roof of my self-build and I'm looking to finalise my solar pv system specification and pricing. Below is the first quote I've received for supply of a 6kW system in response to my outline specification (i.e. up to 18 panels, all black, in-roof mounted): Would appreciate advice on the suitability of the specification and the items included. Anything in here that I should definitely not use? Does the pricing look reasonable? Where else should I be looking to buy the solar pv system from? TIA
  15. Series 10 Episode 3 was shown on More4 tonight. Below are my show notes: Location Hampshire (Harbridge 15 miles north of Bournemouth) The Self-builders: Ryan (Digital Consultant) & Jenny (Self-confessed Townie) Setting the Scene: Sept 2016 – Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans 120 year old barn stripped with scaffold enclosure up Purchased for £305k with planning permission for three bedroom conversion/refurbishment. Spanish slate roof and larch cladding. £230k build budget. £850k expected value for completed house. Plan to complete within 18 months Charlie suggests front elevation is too symmetrical and double height glazed entrance/statement window should be moved to one side. Likes their double height entrance but suggests turning stair to give more room to front door. The Build Nov 2016 – Foundations being underpinned. 200Te of material removed. Jan 2017 – Remainder of steel frame installed. Ryan moves to static caravan on site but Jenny stays put in flat in Bournemouth. Apr 2017 – Roof installed. Formwork erected for concrete staircase. May 2017 – Concrete staircase cast. Glass arrives – door frame 20cm too small due to Ryan’s error Aug 2017 – Charlie returns to site, his suggestions to relocate entrance and not to go for a concrete staircase have been ignored. Windows installed. Larch cladding almost complete. £250k spent to date with Ryan doing plenty of work. Overspend on kitchen, windows and concrete floor. Forecast another £50k to complete by April 2018. Lots of reclaimed brick. Exposed pine ceiling timbers painted white without any noise insulation – not sure how this meets building regulations? The Visit to Another Self-build: Four bedroom, Victorian detached in Beckenham bought for £1.3M in 2013 and refurbished with an industrial look. Created different wall textures using wooden panelling and stripping back plaster to brick & painting white. Pocket sliding doors with glazing above. Quartz island with herbs growing in cut-out. Lots of large bulb pendant lighting. The Build contd Nov 2017 – First fix nearly complete. Plastering underway. Dec 2017 – Kitchen assembled. Second fix electrics underway. Cladding ground floor internal walls in reclaimed timber. Feb 2018 – Steel balustrade being fabricated. Sept 2018 - Charlie visits completed home. The “final” figures: Actual build costs £300k. Giving “total” costs (usual caveat) of £605k. Actual valuation of £950k (2019 prices).