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About Phaedrus

  • 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. After some final catching up with Building the Dream, I've prepared these show notes for Series 10 Episode 8 Leicestershire (Donisthorpe). The programme was shown on More4 on 16 June 2021 and looks like being the final one of the series. The Self-builders: Lloyd (former soldier retraining as a teacher) & Caroline (Travel consultant). Daughter (Grace). Setting the Scene: Apr 2015 - Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans. £85k plot and £200k build budget. £350k expected value. Expecting to complete March 2016. Three bedroom house with three storey tower. Timber frame with hempcrete (hemp + lime based binder) exterior walls. Charlie suggests straightening up entrance door on curved tower. Master ensuite is too small (“like going to the toilet & shower on an aeroplane”) so needs to be reconfigured. The Build Apr 2017 – Build underway after complex timber frame issues delayed the start. Aug 2017 – Structure substantially erected. Hempcrete walls being installed using volunteer labour. Oct 2017 – Problems with the timber frame halt progress. Feb 2018 - Charlie revisits. £150k spent to date, about £35k over budget. Aiming to move in by end of summer. The Visit to Another Self-build: 1930s semi in West Norwood, London, renovated by architect David Parsons. Mezzanine snug with office under. Lots of use of plywood. The Build contd Mar 2018 – Glazing quotes too high so windows not ordered. Owners move into caravan on site. Dec 2018 – Slow progress due to insufficient funds. Lloyd quits teaching due to poor pay and lack of challenge and is now working in software management. This allows a PM (Duncan) to be hired. Windows finally fitted. Mar 2019 – First fix complete & plasterboarding underway. Woodburner installed; kitchen units delivered for fitting. Owners move in with Caroline’s family. Lloyd & pals handcraft a steel stair column for triple height spiral stair. Apr 2019 – Fitting roof insulation; plastering & decorating. May 2019 – Charlie visits. Hempcrete not yet rendered & interior not yet complete. The “final” figures: £180k spent to date with a further £70k remaining. House valued at £290k in current state. Expected final valuation of £425k against total spend of £335k (2019 prices). Sept 2019 – Owners move into house.
  2. It was the quote I got from a timber frame company. It was for a comprehensive set of building regs drawings and notes covering all aspects of the build (e.g. drainage, electrics, heating etc) not just the timber frame. I did not accept the quote and our architectural technician is providing the same service for the lower amount.
  3. Timber frame company quoted £2500 for216m2 house. Architectural technician is doing it for <£1800
  4. After more catching up with Building the Dream, I've prepared these show notes for Series 10 Episode 7 Cornwall (Falmouth). The programme was shown on More4 on 9 June 2021. The Self-builders: Sam (Inventor) & Esme. Two children (Evie May & Isla). Setting the Scene: Sept 2016 - Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans. Plot is a very steeply sloping former quarry adjacent to owners’ workshop. Plot value of £100k. £150k build budget which Charlie thinks is “ambitious” (i.e. Building the Dream code for totally unrealistic). £350k expected value Triple storey upside down house to be built against cliff face. Charlie concerned about use of timber cladding in “damp” Cornwall so suggests they look at plastic or cement board alternatives. Also suggests opening out staircase to improve light to corridor. The Build Oct 2016 – Groundworks commence and immediately hit problems. Slope needs stabilising to support road above and £10k is spent on engineer’s fees before an acceptable scheme is signed off by highways in Sept 2017. 45 ground anchors are drilled in to 6m depth & covered with mesh. 250Te (owner says 250,000kg??) of rock is removed & 23Te of concrete is sprayed onto the mesh to complete the slope stabilisation. Apr 2018 – Foundations, blockwork & steel frame erected. Sept 2018 – Timber frame for top two floors arrives. Oct 2018 – Charlie visits. Timber frame erected. Kitchen/diner area is looking a little small so Charlie suggests a reconfiguration. Now expecting to complete in April 2019 sufficient to camp out in the build. £55k spent on groundworks & £125k overall. £37k budget remaining. The Visit to Another Self-build: Four bedroom upside down house overlooking the Somerset Levels. Built in 2012 by Graham (Architect) & Emily (Interior designer) Bisley. French oak flooring & wall cladding. Glazing above staircase. Moroccan tiling & stainless steel splashback in kitchen. Pocket door to separate off master suite (“Never used but it’s nice to have the option”). House name is Beacon View. The Build contd Feb 2019 – Windows delivered. Select copper tiles wrapped around cement board for cladding. 800 hand-made by Sam. Mar 2019 – Windows fitted. Self-fitting first fix plumbing & Earthwool insulation. Apr 2019 - £196,755 spent. £12.5k budget remaining & further £10k to be borrowed from family. Go with a budget stair – three flights for £1200. May 2019 – External rendering. First fix electrics not completed (Sam’s been working on them for 8 weeks). The “final” figures: Charlie revisits in May 2019 with the house not nearly complete. Actual build costs to date £217k with further £35kto complete. Total costs of £352k against revised expected valuation of £450-500k (2019 prices). In a post-script video, house is complete one year later. Extra Observations Timber frame was supplied by Perkins & Perry, a Cornish based timber frame supplier. Membrane used was Juta Vista Easy Trim.
  5. Apologies for the delay in posting the show notes, I've been a bit busy with self-building! This show was shown on More4 on 2 June 2021. Series 10 Episode 6 St Andrews The Self-builders: Ben (Baker with family firm) & Olwen. Son (Rory) & daughter (Mathilda – arrived during build in April 2018). Setting the Scene: Sept 2016 - Charlie visits to meet the self-builders & review site and plans Bought plot without planning permission at rear of family bakery business. Quoted cost is £100k + £60k for two garages to provide access. £350k build budget with £900k expected value. Bought £50k of wrongly sized Internorm windows for £4k. Modern four bedroom ecohouse with flat rubber roof. Charlie suggests eliminating kitchen island as dining area is too small. Master bedroom in mezzanine also needs to be closed off with balustrade and glass wall. The Build Sept 2016 – Drainage materials delivered to site. Work then stops due to challenges connecting to sewerage and water. Sept 2017 – Site ready for timber frame delivery. Looks like an MBC frame with 300mm double stud wall and air-tightness board. Nov 2017 – Timber frame erected. Fitting MVHR ducting. Feature wall glazing panels delivered & installed. Jan 2018 – Charlie revisits. £200k spent to date, about £10-15k over budget. The Visit to Another Self-build: Three bedroom home in Edinburgh built in 2012. Three storey copper tower. Polished concrete floor. Double height sitting room. The Build contd June 2018 – First fix underway. Zinc cladding being fitted. Aug 2018 – Plasterboarding nearly complete. Reclaimed Victorian brick cladding underway. Feb 2019 – Struggling to progress build with new baby. Steel staircase being fitted. Kitchen delivered for fitting – have retained island Charlie wanted removed. Some units damaged and/or incorrect – replaced after negotiation. Apr 2019 – Jura limestone tiles selected for bathrooms. Owners love the 150M year old fossils in them. May 2019 – Charlie visits. Master suite not finished and landscaping to be completed. The “final” figures: Actual build costs £340k to date with expected spend of £375-400k at completion. £1.4M expected final valuation (2019 prices).
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 ?
  13. 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).
  14. 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?
  15. 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.
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