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  1. Interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Seems that heat pumps are the great hope for getting the population off burning fossil fuels, but there isn't much take-up for some practical reasons. From what I've read, getting an air source heat pump installed along with changing all your radiators in an existing property can easily cost over £10k (which a government grant can help with). You're then left with what seems to be a fairly large, potentially noisy piece of equipment, that is slower to heat up, can't produce hot water on its own, and will probably still cost more in electricity than a gas alternative. I've heard they're anecdotally more likely to break down. I've heard that there are new refrigerants being used that can get water much hotter, but then the COP seems to fall. At least this might avoid having to change all the radiators, but obviously ongoing costs may be higher. It looks like ASHPs make some sense on new-builds where you can insulate the hell out of them from the get-go and put in underfloor heating, but that doesn't really help with the pre-existing 30,000,000 homes or so in the UK. Are we anywhere near a point where the average punter would consider getting an AHSP installed on purely cost/ease-of-use considerations? Or is it unlikely the technology can get to the point of this any time soon without vast government support?
  2. Sometimes questions are raised as to whether it's worth increasing insulation levels and often there seems to be confusion as to what the "ideal" level of insulation is, or even what a "good" or "reasonable" level of insulation might be. I'm not sure whether or not the non-linear impact of improving insulation, in terms of the effect on the heating requirement, and hence running cost during cold weather, is widely understood. I've heard comments like "it's not worth improving the insulation from 0.16 W/m2.K to 0.12 W/m2.K because it would be 30% more expensive and only reduce the heat loss by 25%". Most of the time this is incorrect, because homes have heat sources all year around, from the occupants, incidental heating from appliances, solar gain and even pets (a medium sized dog is probably a four-legged 40 - 50W heater). So, I thought a really simple example might help some gain a better understanding of this non-linearity, and illustrate better why some are so evangelical about trying to improve insulation levels (and reduce ventilation heat loss, too, but I'll get to that another time). Let's build a pretend house, that for simplicity has no doors or windows and is a rectangular single storey box with a flat roof. For simplicity we'll assume it's on raised piles, with an air space underneath, just so we can use the same insulation level on all six sides and to make the sums simple. All I'm doing here is making a comparison, so this is a valid way of illustrating this effect. In our rectangular box house we have an average of 100W of incidental heating, coming from things like internet kit, a PC, a cordless phone base station, a TV, a phone charger, a few lights and a handful of intermittently used kitchen appliances. This is a pretty low figure - I struggle to keep our house background load below about 200W, without any lights on. The box houses two adults, giving out around 80 - 100W each and a dog, so lets say there is 220 W of heating coming from the occupants. The box also has a heating system that can deliver whatever power is needed to maintain a temperature of 20 deg C inside, and its night time, so there's no solar heating of the walls. Outside it's 5 deg C, a chilly winters night. This rectangular box is 10m long x 10m wide x 2.5m high inside, so has a total wall, floor and roof area of 300m2 and an internal floor area of 100m2, so fairly average in size (a bit bigger than our current 3 bed bungalow). So, we have a temperature difference between the inside and outside of 15 deg C (20 deg C - 5 deg C), an internal surface area of 300m2 and a constant incidental heating level of 320 W (220 W from two adults and dog, 100 W from electrical appliances and lights). First, lets see how much heat we need to put into this box from the heating system, if we have U values for the walls, floor and roof of 0.2 W/m2.K (K is degrees Kelvin, the same units as degrees Centigrade when only temperature difference is being compared): The total heat loss power, in Watts, can be calculated from the U value, the area and the temperature difference, so for this first example we get 300m2 area x 15 deg C temperature difference x 0.2 W/m2.K U value = 900 W. There is 320 W of heat coming from the occupants etc, so the heating system would need to deliver 900 - 320 = 580 W in order to keep the house at 20 deg C under these conditions. If this were by direct electric heating, then the heating cost would be about £2.09 per 24 hours. Next, let's see how much heat we need to put into this box from the heating system, if we have U values for the walls, floor and roof of 0.1 W/m2.K , in other words, we've made the insulation twice as "good", so might think we've halved the heating cost: The total heat loss power is now 300m2 x 15 deg C temperature difference x 0.1 W/m2.K U value = 450 W. This is what we'd expect, double the insulation effectiveness and halve the heat loss. However, when we now take away the incidental heat gain from the occupants, etc, of 320 W, the heating system needs to deliver 450 - 320 = 130 W in order to keep the house at 20 deg C under these conditions. If this were by direct electric heating, then the cost would be about £0.47 per 24 hours. So, by doubling the insulation level we've decreased the heating cost by about 78%, not the 50% that might have been expected. This is a very simplistic example, but it does illustrate why doubling up in insulation can give a far greater benefit than might be expected. It also shows why, when you improve the level of insulation you can reduce the heating requirement down to such a low level that for a lot of the time you don't need any heating. In that last example, turning on a few extra lights could heat this imaginary box home to a comfortable temperature on a cold night, whereas with only half the insulation it needs something that delivers 446% more heat.
  3. Evening, So we are hoping to start getting an architect on board soon to get some plans drawn up, size of build and budget is high on the agenda the moment as are the cost of the preliminaries. Ideally our house would be: 200m2 ICF construction two storey dwelling £200,000 build budget, ex fees etc Vaulted ceilings 4 Bedroom House Master Bedroom with en-suite, walk-through wardrobes etc 3 further bedrooms capable of growth. Family Bathroom Remote or attached storage area/plumbers workshop? Attached 2/3 berth garage Attached hair salon / utility Open plan kitchen dining and living space Separate lounge room Ground floor wc Pantry/utility space Dry store of the kitchen Additional storage on both ground and first floors In an ideal world the build work completed would be done by the following people: Who’s doing what??? (in theory) Ground work: Me + Labourer / Chargehands Underground Drainage: Me + Labourer Foundation: Me + Labourer ICF: Me + Labourer Roofing full: Sub-contractor Windows/Doors: Manufacture install UFH/Boiler : Me Plumbing : Me 1st Fix electrical : Me Above ground drainage: Me External brickwork: Sub contractor (friend) External cladding: Me Internal joinery : Sub-con (friend) 2nd fix plumbing : Me 2nd fix electrical : Sub-con (friend) Dry lineing : Sub-con (friend) Me Plastering: Friend Decoration: Me Snagging: Me Landscaping: Over time / me Speaking with several lenders, (Buildstore / ecology) once we line up all our ducks its looking like we will be able to borrow between £250-£350k, the maximum we want to borrow is £280k as after all this is a loan we have to pay off before we retire, 30 years on a repayment with a general bank remortgage once its built Im going to be looking about £800-900 a month which is at the top end of what I would want to spend on a mortgage. Out of the 280k we would need 40k to pay off our outstanding mortgage on the plot, 40k contingency budget & 200k for the actually build. I've been looking into the cost of getting this project off the ground and what sort of money we need to put in from the start. Attached is my schedule and its looking like most of it is going to be needed to be paid upfront out of our own hard earned cash before the build commences, I am sure that we have missed some unforeseen cost's such as lending / broker fee's so any advice would be greatly appreciated if their are any hidden fees that I may need to add it would be great to know? and I am yet to be given an estimate for building regs plans yet? Another concern I have is about the land itself, we are in a local high risk coal mining area and although there are no pits nearby and we are building replacement dwelling, the neighbouring self builds and private developments have all had to have invasive ground investigation reports done and some bore holes drilled to check the land quality. I have had this priced up and am of the thinking it maybe wise to have this done first to ensure that we would be able to continue our build knowing that we will be able to afford the foundation type (strip or raft) as I cannot see us being able or wanting to pay 40k + for pile footings? After all we are not millionaires and this is not grand designs so we want advert the expensive why! moments and hopefully have a fairly straightforward build. Financially our project plan is Move up to ou
  4. I’ve had varying conversations and trawled hundreds threads of built cost /m2 to try and rationalise my budget and reduce my overall anxiety towards price and also to be realistic. I think it’s important to be prepared upfront and if its not going to work reduce the house size from the outset. I’m shooting for £1200/m2 because it suits my ‘ideal’ budget of 240k for a 200 m2 house, which I believe to be a decent size, to suit my family, I have also allowed the obligatory 10% in reserve which will be ring fenced and only come into play if required. So theoretically you could say I’ve allowed £1320/ m2 But my concern is that it is my 1200 is driving that budget and house size. I’m aware that I wont know until the end that actual costs which could be much less going by some peoples build…but also could be much more. (I doubt I would breach 1700/m2). As much as I’d love an answer to exactly how much it costs I know those answers are purely subjective. But what I do want to understand is how others have approached this from the outset? Did you wing it and pray for the best? Did you plan thoroughly and then knowing you wouldn’t meet your budget reduce the house size before starting or did you plan to use that contingency? For context. My plan is to use a kit supplier to supply and erect a closed panel system, whether it be SIPS or Valutherm, get it wind and watertight then proceed with managing my own subcontractors. I don’t want the build to last years…ideally no more than 12 months. I will also correctly plan the build, schedule, cashflow and take the time to do this before even thinking of breaking ground to ensure we can derisk and identify as many problems beforehand rather than on the fly. I work full time, so it will be very difficult and we are prepared for this, ideally I’d use a main contractor but I want to avoid this to save costs…or is this just a false economy? So really….I’m asking how long is a piece of string??! I suppose my worry/anxiety/ panic is based around…what happens when it costs more…how did you deal with it. If you’d been naïve and hoped it would cost less but it cost more how did you remedy that situation?? Any pearls of constructive wisdom…greatly appreciated.
  5. On a number of previous posts I have been very pleased with what I was paying with a fixed price quote and contract in place. Variations allowed for unforseeable items only - so I thought! Initial estimate from builder was 75 - 85k to be looked at in more detail when Building Regs drawings were available. I had a quote from another builder that was in much greater detail and substantially more expensive. I asked builder 1 to quote to this spec, without prices, so that I could compare like for like (My first big error). The new quote included electrics in great detail. That was the only major thing that was specified not covered by estimate from builder 1. Building regs came in, and as discussed elsewhere on here with ridiculously extensive foundations,(double depth, double width and other details) Extra cost came in at 13k - and builder was very keen to get this as low as possible for me and took some of the hit believing he could make it up later I think, and of course the weather put paid to that.. Then I also had to cough up another 3k for a pump as no easy access to sewers - being under the property and garage of a less then friendly neighbour. Out of the ground I believed we were in the clear and not much else could be unexpected. 3 weeks ago, money going out the budget in a steady flow, I stopped the builder and said that I didn't think there was going to be enough left in the budget to finish and he said he would have a look. 3 days later I get an email, detailing 2 largish variations (6.5k and 1.7k) for work already done but not included in the quote and a list of other things not included and not yet done The main ones being; internal walls: internal doors; external windows and doors; soffits etc and that only half the drive was covered. Uh oh. I do believe it wasn't deliberate but it doesn't alter the fact that this was a huge shock. I asked him to get me the cost of these asap. This was just before Easter and he promised he would do this over the weekend. Nothing happened, I spoke to him as he left the site on Wednesday lunchtime. 'I've had no internet access but I am going home to do 8 hours of paperwork now' he said ' your prices are priority'. Still nothing. On Friday evening I got an invoice for the weeks work, with a comment that he had just got internet access back. I normally pay his invoices more or less immediately as he is a small business and has to pay the team. I was busy Friday evening as my sister arrived for the weekend. Wine started flowing rather early and I wasn't having a confrontation then so told him I was out. On Saturday, I told him that, I hadn't been retaining the 3% agreed in the contract and that I was now going to retain 3% of the whole amount paid so far (less than 2k but I had to do something to make him focus. He then started saying he couldn't quote because he hadn't had enough information. At this stage I had still paid nothing towards this bill. Technically I have 5 days to pay. I really don't have access to any more money, so I wasn't sleeping or eating and was feeling constantly sick. To cut a long story short it had the desired effect but really put his back up. Along with the 'variations' I got a long rant about all the things I have allegedly done wrong. (Like asking questions and complaining about the length of breaks taken at times) It was hard but I ignored the rant. I could counter every point and make more of my own but I have an unfinished shell and now is not the time to fall out. Having got the prices I paid the weeks invoice as I always intended to. The extra costs however came as another huge blow. Whereas I was worrying about it possibly being 15k it came in at 45k. Whoah! We had agreed to talk them through on Monday morning and whilst there could be some saving made I still had (and have) no idea where I am going to get the extra cash from. We agreed that we wanted to maintain a working relationship, we agreed that we both wanted a finished house that looked good and that we were both feeling upset and disappointed. He won't admit any responsibility. In my view, as the builder, he should have ensured that we made sure everything was covered before work started. I know the cost would still be there but there are things that I have chosen the more expensive route which I wouldn't have done if I had any idea about this. I accept some responsibility for giving him quote details to match BUT a builder should have spotted missing things than me doing this as a 'one off'. BIG LESSON Having now had some time to go through it (eleventy billion times to be exact) I have got some suggestions for him. I have also been getting external quotes for some of the things not covered although I will have to have him do some of them as they are part of other things that are quoted. Saga to continue - I have another meeting with him later today
  6. I have a feeling I'm being taken for a ride. The chap we've used for around 15 years or so to service our boiler retired a year or so ago, and now the house is up for sale I've been advised that I need to provide evidence of an up-to-date service, which is fair enough. I've witnessed every service on this boiler, and on average it's taken under an hour, and has essentially been a visual inspection inside the boiler, a flue gas check, gas pressure check and a quick test to make sure the controls are working. If asked the chap would also have checked and cleaned the Magnaclean and topped up the inhibitor, but I usually do that every year anyway, so that's never been included. I can't remember what we used to pay, but I'm pretty sure it was well under £100. I asked around last week to try and find someone to come out and do a service and check, and those that have come back so far are looking for well North of £200. I reckon this is OTT, but maybe I've just been getting a good deal from the chap I've been using for years. The boiler in question is a wall mounted and easy to access Vaillant EcoTec Plus 831, with just a single wired programmable thermostat. Everything is easy to access, and nothing needs to be moved to get at either the boiler or the Magnaclean, which is mounted on the wall next to it. Am I just out of touch with boiler servicing costs?
  7. Hi All, Just joined and hoping i can offer some great advice and answer all questions cost and estimate related ! Thanks, TheQSguy
  8. vivienz

    Reality dawns

    After feeling like I've had dozens of different plates spinning in the air at the same time, they are gradually starting to come down to earth and some more gently than others. This relates to how much it's all going to cost or at least getting an idea of it. We started out with our budget and a target price per m2 but there's been a lot of theory around that. In fairness, I had my quote from MBC but that was about it. More costs are becoming clear now and it's a little intimidating as it mounts up so quickly. Sort of like a large brick wall with a giant £ sign on it hurtling towards me. I'm confident that we're comfortably within budget at the moment, with contingency, but there's a lot of guesswork going on at the moment. I think that the next big brain task is to get to grips with SPONS and try and hang some more figures off things so that I can get a clearer idea of what my cashflow needs will be in order to organise the funds. In truth, I will probably need most of it in from May - July. In that time, MBC and the glazing firm need paying and these are the two most expensive single areas. Because of the nature of the build, all the other internal stuff will follow on pretty quickly afterwards and then tail off towards the autumn. In the meantime, I'm eagerly shopping around for everything (see previous post re. south coast inflation) and trying to find the sweet spot of value that sits somewhere between cost and quality. Also in the meantime, I'm still waiting for sign off from Natural England to get the roof off the house and deal with the bat summer roost.
  9. I need to commission a soil survey on our plot so that the timber frame/foundation company (probably MBC) can do their calculations for the foundations. Can anyone give me an idea of what the going rate for this should be?
  10. Please can anyone give guidance on the cost of installing a data network? I had asked to be installed twin data sockets in LR and 3BRs, and my contractor has put in an additional cost for the labour that seems to me to be exorbitant. The plans were not specific on this matter, and the sparkie had given an overall cost that did not break down items. The cable is inexpensive and I had provided the hardware. I had had put in the cables as a contingency, particularly since it had been suggested to me that e-transmissions through insulated walls are poor, so I wanted to be able to wire phones and the like if necessary; tho actually the wifi seems to transmit ok.
  11. Here it is: as accurate as I can get it. No pretense of getting it done cheaper than anyone else. Just the raw numbers and a few words to explain context if necessary (why did I buy a chain-hoist for example). Yes, you'll probably get it cheaper. That's excellent. The point is openness and telling it like it is. March 2014 Home Building and Renovation Show NEC: £100, including fuel and tickets Phone calls about £15:00 extra, and about £70:00 fuel. July 2014 Land: already owned Planner: £1050, plus £70 initial consultation fee, (in cash). LPA Outline Planning Application fee £770 Phone calls: about £15:00 extra, and about £50:00 fuel. August 2014 Ecologist: £1390.15 (works out at about £1 per Great Crested Newt – a further £2000 budgeted for. But see below June 2016) November 2014 Topographical Survey: £540 January 2015 Trips to Timber frame companies and various local suppliers : £50 fuel Subscriptions to various magazines: £70(ish) February 2015 Architect: £4000 (design plus all other matters up to and including submission for Full PP application) QS: £630 – feasibility study Legal: £360; altering title LPA fees: £385 Structural Engineer: £1782; foundations calculations Land registry Fee: £40 Contamination Desk Study and Geophysics : £1260 (plus possible indeterminate decontamination costs) Phone calls: about £20:00 extra, and very little fuel. March 2015 Discharge of Conditions Fee £97.00 Health and Safety Services are being handled for free by a colleague: I’m coding his website in exchange. Notice: no site insurance yet……. :huh: I’m just too mean. Projected cost £568.65 (May 2015) August 2015 Architects fees £2000; from award of Outline PP to Full PP (6th of August) and £40 for bottle of champagne to thank our him: his judgement in relation to what would pass was exactly right. Read paragraph 9 of the Delegated Report (here) Trip to Swindon to visit the NSBRC Fuel £36, overnight stay £85 Strimmer: Polycut head, and set of knives for strimmer £46.60. (No lawn for Salamander Cottage: at last, no mowing…… bliss) September 2015 Legal Fees; alteration to title status £232 October Purchase a four wheel trailer (new) £2500 Purchase a Mutts Nuts (Nick’s term, not mine) Bosch Laser Level £250 First Aid Course (ref. H+S policy) £80 Chainsaw Course £130 December Off mains drainage legal agreement Legal fees and £1000 for access to the land to discharge to stream (wayleave?): £1862 (£300 over budget) Cladding Preparation for processing the wood; Serious Stihl saw (660) and ancillary equipment £2000 (resale value £1000) Trips to open passivhauses £50 + Off – road parking (ground matz) £2800 (resale value £2500) January 2016 SPONS Architects and Builders’ Price Guide 2016. Can’t do without it. And there’s an App that goes with it. £150 Small shipping container (for tools) £300 (resale value £400) Base for container: 4 tons of 20 mm to dust from my mate: £35, yep £35 New wheelbarrow £97 (French made Hammerlin: two flat tyres (in 2 weeks) and a stupidly forward C of G so the damn thing tips forward ON ITS OWN... sodding thing) Local Oak trees (for the shakes and cladding) £1200 (1 square meter of oak shakes retails for £100!) T.K Knipe Allithwaite. £100s of pounds worth of free advice. 1 Sweet Chestnut tree (high tannin content) £140 5 local oak trees £100 (they were going to be cut up for fire wood - I kid you not) Another container (you can't have too many): £1000 (resale value £1000) February 2016 Small hand tools and boys toys £1500 May 2016 2.5 tonne Mini Digger = £14,000 (PV Dobsons, Levens) EPS Licence £1200 (I still haven't paid the bill - because of some really unprofessional behaviour.) Red Diesel £15 120 meters of Temporary Amphibian Fencing (TAF), 80 stakes (37 by 37 by 700) £267.37 Lifting gear: a 2 tonne chain block and tackle 2 shackles, and two beam clamps £181.03 (to run on the RSJs below) 2 RSJs, (6 meters long to span between the two containers) £230 +VAT Filing frame to assist sharpening my chainsaw chains £97 Site signage (ebay) £10 for several (more needed) Plastic Barrier Fencing Safety Mesh Fence Netting Net With Metal Pins £50.95 (for the edge of the car park and pedestrian walkway) Three stillage cages to store material on the site (one cage fitted inside the container) £50 Another two stillage cages today. £25 And £80 worth of 2 inch wire mesh so I can weld it to the stillage cages: slows light fingers down Two (full-on-big-boys) deck brooms £24 A grease gun for my digger and two cartridges of grease £22 Another High Security Digital padlock and hardened, sheathed, hardened chain to secure the buckets (that aren't hooked up) for my digger £55 A 2 Tonne x 1.5 meter Leverhoist £79.95 2 off 2 tonne Beam Clamps £25.98 4 off 2 Ton Alloy Bow Shackles, with Safety Pins £11.96 The above is initially for lifting trees and heavy objects safely off the trailer (on my own) Later the hoist and clamps will do the same job, but in a small purpose-built workshop. 100 meters of 16 amp electricity cable. £71.89 Building Control Fees £600 Red Diesel £18.21 June 2016 Two more stillage cages £25 A Douglas Fir tree and a Larch tree. £40 (Fir tree £10) Will produce stock worth about double that (conservative estimate) 20 8" coach screws £4. 4 sheets of reinforcing mesh £20 (16 by 8 foot for welding to the stillage cages to slow down thieves ) Structural Engineer £1774. And worth every penny (so far) First Aid Kit (10 person HSE Approved) £7.57 (tried getting one locally, couldn't get one for love nor money) Security marker pens £1.99 (a requirement of the Site Insurance: all scaffolding poles must be security marked - not the digger or the saws!) "Curiouser and curiouser" Wood for lining my container £81 HERAS panels, feet, clips, struts, pins for the struts £200 Some steel stock to practise welding £12 (making a small tool table for my SuperJaws clamp: cost on the open market £30) Four Point Lifting Chains ('shorten-able') £139. Fed up of worrying about the webbing strops - they are quite worn already Site H+S sign. £24 ( and I begrudge every penny: it's expensive wallpaper... why do I say that - read on - last but one point) 2 tins of Hammerite for the rust spots on the container. £28 The ecologist had the good grace to halve his bill given the less than prompt approach to fulfilling his contract. £900 July Builder's Merchant bill: £704 - bits and bobs, sand 25mm water pipe and stuff like that August Builder's Merchant bill: < £100 all sorts of tiny things September Builder's Merchants bill £1379.24, Ply wood for the stillage and to make some internal storage in the container, a DeWalt nailer (luxury beyond compare) It starts to get serious now........... Piling will be about £6000, Groundwork price yet to come in, site clearance - I've hired a lumberjack who's coming from Canada - muscles coming out of his ears - off mains drainage and site drainage.... Off to Harrogate next week. (4th of November)
  12. A visit to the NSBRC taught me that I should ask the various Utility companies to come out and mark their services for me - rather than poke around below ground myself and see if there was smoke in these pipes or wet stuff in those. Got the paper work sorted out, got the official map for the water pipes. Asked for Mr Water Utility to pay me a visit, which he promptly did. Me: Hi, I'm keen not to put a digger bucket through your pipes - would you be kind enough to tell me where the water pipe is? Mr Utility: Sorry mate, can't do that. Have you got our official map? Me: Yes, I have: it's a bit vague. But you high-tech Utility people have got things like CAT scanners and stethoscopes and diving rods and all sorts like that. And, the key thing is you know what you are doing. I don't. Mr Utility: Nahhh, we don't do that, 'aven't got a scanner and I gave away my last pair of diving rods the other day (I am not taking the pi55 here) Me: so what are you suggesting then? Mr Utility: Just dig an 'ole son. (I'm an old codger of 63 you know!) Me: But the point of me asking you here today is to get an authoritative opinion on where your water supply runs. What happens if I discover a pipe which isn't a water pipe, and, as a result of the misidentified pipe, I dig through yours? Mr Utility: Ah, well..... Just dig an 'ole..... it'll be reet.... Two days later, I get a receipt from United Utlities thanking me for prompt payment for £50. Deducted from my account. Is my crossness justified?