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About Me


  1. Hi everyone, im still at the dreaming stage of my build and my enthusiasm is not yet lost . I hope to start building this time next year . I have a small plot in Devon with full planning for a 1.5 story 3 bed. However I don’t like the design as reduced headspace on first floor is restricting. This is due to ‘overlooking privacy’ with a nearby building, I’m still 4.5m away from it but the architect said due to this and another garden, first floor windows needed to be Velux 🤷🏻‍♂️ anyway my thought were you could do a Clerestory roof have a row of windows letting in the light on the first floor and increase the headspace on the outer sides of the rooms 🤷🏻‍♂️ . I think I may build with ICF maybe Durisol… budgeting to do a lot of the donkey work, can use a straight edge, dot and dab, run plumbing, flooring decoration etc . Shall give up work to complete the build and budgeting for around the £1500 m2 excluding plot …. What could possibly go wrong 😂
  2. I know the answer is ours and ours alone to make. Testing my thinking is what this post is about. Am I too involved; missing the wood for the trees, too cross to make a sensible judgement? And if I am minded to go it alone, can I follow through? Writing about it will help me think too. Our builder is being evasive. Over promising. Disorganised or absent paper work. Withholding vital information until a few seconds before disappearing from the site. Some aspects of the work have been excellent, others not. He struggles to retain staff. Some are oafs. (Oaves?) Others the opposite: accurate workers, polite, funny, interesting. We've had some meteorological bad luck. But that hiccup has been overcome to the extent that the replacement blocks are here. Calm analysis and talking to the loss adjuster has been reassuring. I have (until now) had a misplaced faith in the value of a promise. I had a verbal agreement to pay, and did so when I said I would. I accepted that detailed invoices to substantiate the charges would follow. They haven't. In simple terms, we've paid a good deal on account. We are now at least a month behind schedule. "... We'll be down towards the end of the week..." Right. That's been said so often now, it's hollow. I know enough about Durisol to - with the help of this community - to build the shell myself. On my own. Very often there's a gale at the beginning of September. And I do not want the rest of the 'unpoured blocks' on the floor. That's the real driver Do I sack them and get on with it? In an instant I would if I could get one reliable, thoughtful, fit building partner. I'd be pushing it on my own. But it can be done. Just. What needs to be done? Blocks laid to just above first floor: skill level - very easy And then poured. (tricky, but I've seen it done three times now and I am not stupid) Rest of the blocks laid and poured : skill level easy to tricky (trimming the gable will be interesting), but not impossible. If I do it slowly and carefully its well within my fitness and competence level If I do that I will have taken this mess by the scruff of the neck and got on with it. Yes, it's our decision. But poke my thinking, ask uncomfortable questions. My deep instinct is to get on with it, while seeing if I can recruit someone to work with me - for safety as much as anything.
  3. Hi All, I have multiple Durisol blocks left over from a self-build extension, would suit anyone looking to build small garden building, retaining walls, or similar. I was planning to build a sunken hot tub but plans have had to change. D365/120S-PIR = Qty.143 D365/100S-PIR = Qty.57 D365/100C-PIR = Qty.20 D170 Face = Qty.6 D170 Standard = Qty. 27 D250/180 Standard = Qty.40 D250/180 Face = Qty.48 Please get in touch if these could be useful to someone. I'd rather rehome them than break up and destroy. Tks.
  4. Is Durisol suitable for a garden wall - say a 2m high wall enclosing a back garden, either on the boundary or as a divider? In the past all sorts of materials have been used for garden walls which are then rendered over and capped at the top. I am wondering if Durisol could be used for such a purpose, as it is inexpensive, fast, easily incorporates reinforcement, and is suitable for render. The full above ground sections can probably be done as a single pour after an earlier pour for the foundations, and perhaps the copings can be plonked straight on top of *that*. Compared with the cost of a traditional brick or stone wall, that looks attractive. Does anyone have any thoughts? Ferdinand
  5. But never mind I haven't paid the bill yet.... (despite having followed proper procedure) I have a strange feeling that Aesop is sitting on my shoulder. Bless 'im! This is my fault; naivety coupled with just enough money, and a general bias towards optimism. Let me tell you a story. Sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Our house is built using Durisol. Cheap, cheerful, targeted at noobies like us. Common on GD. Good U value, easy to handle yadda yadda yadda. By a quirk of fate (the Planners asked us to chop the front of the house off), part of the insulated front of the house is inside the house. In other words, inside the heated envelope. Well ! Guess what! I had a brainwave (can you hear the punch-line building yet?) Don't need the insulation inside the house? Well, chop it out then! Yo Sushi ! Go Team Salamander ! Check with the manufacturers, and the SE (very nice man, very very nice man haven't had his bill yet), it's all OK. @Stones came by and marvelled, @ProDave came by and marvelled. Look ! part of a structural wall cut out and no need for a lintel. Bit like Look mum, no nickers! Ya should have seen their faces: polite concern writ large. Any road up, SWMBO soon had an idea for the space freed up. And off I went happy as a sand boy to dig the insulation out. Now then boys and girls, look at this , and what do you see? I mean, beyond a Teutonic propensity for taking the wall to bits in neat squares ? I've dug out two columns of blocks (the equivalent of one Durisol block) exposing the concrete behind, and cut off only the face of two blocks (LHS) exposing the insulation. So far so good. Now look at this ... Look at the bottom right hand column Yep, insulation missing. Had I taken it out? - Nope. I'm exposing (cutting the face and insulation off) about 2 full square meters of wall. And so far found four instances of this little piece of laziness. Duplicate that randomly over the whole house and ..... ? Look on the bright side Ian ! You'll know what to do when the black mould spot pops its ugly fizzog on the wall inside the house. 6mm SDS , 300 mm long , squirt squirty with my new-found tool of choice. Insulation foam. Ahhh, isn't that nice children? If it you do it all yourself, you know how to sort out cock-ups. Now then, sit up straight and let's see who can go home early ! Not you @Nickfromwales, I want to see you when everyone's gone. .... Again.
  6. Hi We have just finished building with Durisol. We have 1 full pallet left if anyone is short They are 365 standards x 30 blocks. Still shrinkwrapped. Also we have 2 corner blocks also 365 Thanks Russell and Lesley Contact by pm
  7. I've been avoiding this for about 2 years. Admitting the cock-up, that is. There's nowt for it now, it's long past the time to do something about it. Here's a description of the problem and a suggested strategy for sorting it out. Look at this mess. @TerryE warned me years ago - change your mind just in time, not just too late. Trick is, knowing when ' too late ' is. We got the position of the loo window wrong. The shower head would be just next to the window. Stoopid or wot? Nay borra Jimmie , said the Durisol guy, You can move the window - easy. Out with the stone saw, whisked the front of the Durisol blocks off before I could say ' FFS stop will ya? ' Cue gritted teeth, rictus grin, self control and murder in my heart. And lots of displacement activity. Two whole years later, I've cooked up enough courage to repair it. Question is how? First, make yourself a work platform and a closer look at the mess..... The concrete hasn't been compromised. All that's needed then is a quick clear up, and a think. Cue another sleepless night..... What do you think I should do?
  8. Have a look at this; This is a view into our Winter Garden from way above the roof. The yellow column represents (way out of scale) one of three vertical steels, each of which supports horizontals which in turn support the barn-style cladding. For clarity, I have omitted the other two verticals and all the horizontals. The winter garden is an empty area, outside the heated envelope (see the slats allowing air to circulate) The steel structure is linked to the house : how is my question? We could drill into the ICF and bolt it on that way or we could embed anchors in the ICF and drill the steels to suit on site The first is messier than the second. There is no guidance from the SE (Tanners) on how we should marry the house ICF and the Steels. But, (I have learned to ask), how hard can it be? I mean we could just pop down to Halfords and buy some cheap M6 nuts and bolts eh?........ well perhaps not.
  9. Have a look at this please: The photo shows the joists supporting the (temporary) floor, and the Durisol wall which is at the head of the (currently temporary) stairs. The wall is 100mm short of the level of the top of the joists. I need to build the wall up to that level. There are three ways I can do so With Durisol alone With wood alone With a Dursiol base and timber 'bearer' built into the concrete. My concern is to make the level of the top of this bit of wall exactly the same as the level of the top of the joists. I ask because this is the head of the stairs, and so will be a high-traffic area. And, while I suspect that many of you will mutter ' There 'ee goes overthinking again ' , I'd rather have that than come on here wailing that (say) I wished I'd used a wooden bearer built into the concrete to support the chipboard floor..... The problem with Durisol alone would be that fixing the chipboard directly to concrete is not the best idea. The concrete would have to be perfectly flat and the perfectly level. Concrete shrinks doesn't it? So, it's an all wood bearer fixed into the Durisol as is, or a hefty wooden bearer concreted into some Durisol Wadja fink?
  10. Thats it the last pour this afternoon. As usual, there's a twist..... We (Debbie and I) had about a tonne of concrete to mix, haul up to the parapet and pour by hand to finish the house. As usual it took longer to prepare for it than to do it. But hey, used to that. All tested, all checked. Thoroughly. It rained last night didn't it? Tidy drop of rain in fact. The rope on the pulley was wet. Hemp rope. Got a suspicion yet? Me, up on the gantry, her indoors hauling the pulley (I'm not stupid) First 50 kilo bucket hauled up by one of the fittest wimmin in Lancashire. Helluva lass. On an Italian pulley system that automatically locks when you let the rope go. Well bugger me, 50 kilos of concrete went straight back down from whence it came. Cue old-fashioned look. Cue lively discussion. Several hours later, it came to me why the brake system wasn't working. The rope was wet. I'm really quick like that. The big big BIG mistake I made was, just as we were finishing the job, to tell her why the pulley brake wasn't working. Anyway, doesn't matter, no more concrete to be lifted. Might have a drop of giggle water tonight.
  11. Hi all, A bit about our project - we have planning permission for a large-ish double storey side extension for our house in Hertfordshire. There is a single storey infill extension (block and brick) that I built in 2014, attached to and converted one of two detached double garages that were already there.  I’m at the stage now where I’m researching different build types for the extension and am really drawn to the ICF and SIPs style of build, particularly Durisol. The problem I’m having is finding a structural engineer that isn’t going to charge me an absolutely fortune (£8000 the first quote!!) for an existing foundation review and design of a raft foundation so if anyone can recommend a good structural engineer with experience of ICF in particular I’d be eternally grateful!! I really get the impression that the professional services see that you’re a self-builder and add a zero onto their quote!! I’ve attached the existing and proposed elevations and the ground plan that shows the existing foundation make up. The existing flooring on the plan that shows the Family Area is block and beam, the kitchen and garage are a concrete slab on strip foundations and the utility area is proposed ie. hasn’t been built yet!!Any advice would be really appreciated!!
  12. We have an issue with how our windows are to be sealed into the window frame. Today I got round to reading the instructions on how to seal our windows in and was surprised to read the following; The instructions (highlighted in yellow translated above) show that Compriband should have been used between the window and the frame. It wasn't. The installers simply foamed them in, like this; The point made by the installer is that Durisol isn't air-tight enough - and importantly smooth enough - to make a proper seal between the window and the wall with Compriband. The fact that this should have been picked up before is no longer relevant. Shit happens. I have asked for help from Durisol: none forthcoming yet.... This can't be the first time someone has faced this issue. Which products would be likely to compensate for the leakiness and roughness of the Durisol / window interface? I don't want to get to to air-tightness testing to find that the windows are allowing a gale through..... I will have paid for them by then - and nobody will be interested in helping solve the issue at that stage. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- [PS . Craig from Ecowin the Gaulhofer agent) has just rung to say that if there is any air leakage round the windows, then Ecowin would would indeed be responsible, he also suggests that I get a company rep to observe the air tests. That would mean they'd sort any problems out on the spot. Can't say fairer than that now can he? ]
  13. Thanks to the recent discussion about render ( @gravelld's concern about the quality of his render) I have been given the courage to think about mine. Yesterday Gary wrote this ' .... Regarding the thickness As long as every inch is covered you will be fine .... ' here Taking a bit of scaffolding down today to get ready for our flat roof I saw this ... Little holes that I couldn't see when I was working a bit higher up...... And of course that means that I have about a million little holes to fill. Just need to find them now, that's all. Oh the joys of full on DIY self build. Thanks Gary. Appreciate it.
  14. Wallplate fitted, ridge beam fitted (nearly), rafters up, insulation fitted in between. Who's a clever boy then? ? Maybe over-worried about fixing the wall straps through to the concrete, I chased the Durisol back to the concrete and fitted the wall straps direct to it. This is where we are now (looking up from the floor); I need to make good on top of the wall straps. Which ? Foam, Durisol, Sand and Cement? (Can't Avoid.... )
  15. Sometimes you bump into really interesting stuff online..... like this (scroll down to the section headed Wall-Plate) Here's the relevant passage '...In order to make the house air-tight, the wall plates have been installed over a polythene membrane, which is shown tacked down until the construction has proceeded to the point where it can be folded up and over the plywood which will soon cover the ends of the joists. Ultimately it will seal against the plywood decking which will be laid on top of the joists....' (https://edinkist.wordpress.com/diary-of-the-build/) To ensure air-tightness at the wall-plate roof interface, is this method (putting the wall plate on top of a polythene membrane) common? I feel some phone calls coming on.
  16. The wall plate on the south face of our build runs across two sections: Durisol and steel. I'm almost clear about how to fix it to the Durisol. But how do we fix it to the top of the RSJ ? Is a simple bit of M14 threaded bar with bolts top and bottom sensible? (Countersunk bolt and bar at the top). Or is this a question the SE needs to answer?
  17. Back in this thread, I explained how we were going about remedial works to cope with the likelihood of further poor workmanship of our original installer . The strategy relied on installing shuttering: that in turn needed to be tied in with threaded bar. Since that threaded bar was going to be immersed in concrete, those bars needed to be extracted a bit sharpish. Of the 140 odd we installed, a few stuck fast. Today the steep learning curve on how to extract those that remained. The idea was to core from the inside (concrete) from inside - outwards and then just pull the rest of the bar out of the PIR. At first, using a 25mm core, like this I found that I fouled the threaded barrel by drilling slightly off center. So, back to the 38mm core and bingo What did I learn? Don't use a diamond core bit on hammer. You knock the teeth off the core bit. Shutter Durisol no matter what they say on their website. It ain't wurf it, mate, ain't wurf it. ( @jamiehamy, sit back and smile ) Sharp lessons in self-build: at least one or two sharp lessons a week at the current rate.
  18. This photo shows the (now infamous) re-built East face of our cottage (the face with the ladder against it). At the moment it is covered in scaffolding because we need to finish that face first. Why? We need to build the flat roof and at the moment the scaffold is in the way. Which set me thinking. How on earth am I going to maintain the East face of the building (when the wooden cladding has been fitted) after the flat roof is built? Now we have the chance for some creative thinking about how to make the flat roof safe to work from. All I'll need to put on the roof is a simple lightweight scaffold tower . Help me start that thinking process, would you?
  19. Steels are up! After a fashion: with our build, there's always a twist so read on! First have a look at this....... We finished late last night SWMBO is really happy, and, to an extent so am I. The L shaped steel structure is secured to the floor with Thunder bolts, and will be secured to the wall with 16mm threaded bar embedded in the Durisol block. So far so simple. There was a gale last night , and attack of wind if you like : a useful gale, because it made me think hard. The purpose of this post is to ask you to check my thinking and offer relevant comments before I talk to the SE and Durisol. Many of you will remember the hiccup we had recently with the wall collapse (If not read this) And I am quite prepared to accept that that experience is colouring my thinking too much; but here goes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Durisol block, here is a brief introduction - to understand the rest of this, it's worth a quick look (Links to an image search for Durisol: you only need to understand what it looks like) The vertical columns (steels) are attached to walls with threaded bar. It's that 16mm threaded bar connection that concern me. Because I cannot guarantee the continuity of the concrete within the Durisol blocks: it is that concrete into which I drill and attach the threaded bar and secure with Fischer Resin mortar One of the holes I drilled through the blocks showed that there was no concrete there at all. (The drill went straight through and out the other side of the block) Normally that lack of continuity will not not matter one little bit. But it does matter when the integrity of another structure depends in part on the attachment to the wall. Proposed Strategy Talk the issue with the architect (already done - strategy agreed) Talk to you all Think it through again on the light of the above and Ring Tanners (our SE) Ring Dursiol - maybe ask them to visit Agree problem solution : Talk to BC and ask for a visit before doing the following - Proposed problem solution Examine each of the current drilled holes with an inspection camera: checking to see 100% concrete continuity Attach the steel columns to those holes which 'pass' the test Create another series of attachment points by; identifying 5 further attachment points and exposing the concrete behind the insulation by cutting out that insulation entirely verifying the quality of the concrete drilling into it to create five more attachment points (one per hole) replacing some of the insulation and backfilling with cements and PVA mix. Bit of a faff, but I have realised that technical reassurance that (in this case) the structure is self-supporting is not enough. I need to know deep down in my gut that the structure is rock solid. The psychology is as important as the technical stuff.
  20. Just about to build the wall connecting our house to the piggery. The wall has a full-on foundation, piles and all (for which there is no need, but thats another story) This is the junction between the house and the wall. You can see the DPC and radon barrier in the house. The wall hasn't been poured yet. (empty Durisol blocks) You can see the EPS300 butting up to the Durisol block. There's a 100mm + gap to make up the wall to the house DPC level. As it's a garden wall, there's no need for the horizontal DPC is there....? But should I run some DPC vertically between the house and the garden wall?
  21. Reading this post with interest, , it occurred to me that I have about four workbenches of various sorts distributed round the site. And so I wondered what others do.... The workbench , or in my case, the lack of one, was instrumental in sacking our first builder. Here's how. The Durisol blocks we use need cutting to size sometimes. And for speed, the lads would make a small pile of Durisol blocks on which to balance the top block: the one that needed to be cut. That's fine, until in trimming the top block to size they damaged the one below. Perhaps just a bit. But just as perhaps , a bit too much. And before you know it, when pouring concrete in the block with a cut in it, you have a burst. And God knows how much concrete on the floor. Explicit instructions to use one of the four temporary work benches provided were given to everyone in the company. One bollocking followed another, followed by a sense of humour failure on my part. Instrumental in the series of issues leading to a departure stage left for the company concerned. Currently I have two piles of pallets, each a different height an old (20 years) Black and Decker Workmate A Bosch table saw framework with a bespoke OSB insert an old stainless steel restaurant kitchen work bench The most useful is the pile of pallets. Just the right height, adjustable, just the right weight, easy to cramp work to the top level. Very adaptable. What have you used?
  22. I'm about to pour the last bit of concrete before putting in the wall-plate on the piggery. Have a look at this; Once I have poured the last 100mm or so of concrete, (in the holes you see) I will need to fasten the wall-plate to it. Should I run the wall-plate right the way through the gable, or cut the wall-plate flush with the gable and fill that with concrete? The image below should help explain.. I have deliberately not poured concrete into the gable block in line with the wall-plate - just in case your advice is that the wall-plate should run all the way through the gable Maybe it doesn't matter, and both options are reasonable. Just for information, this building isn't subject to Building Regs: it replaces the old piggery which has stood there for about a century or so.
  23. I think I have got my head round the principles of putting the first floor in its place (is that a pun?). I have read the relevant guidance (The POSI Joist Handbook) - and see architects note top left below. I have also read the architects note (bottom -right) which shows me I need to use 200 by 50 treated softwood. Here's our first floor And here's how Durisol recommend I attach the wall plate to the wall So far so good. POSI say I must use a hanger (and the architect says so too) because of air-tightness, and that means I need to..... make sure the fixing for the hanger doesn't penetrate the wall (and so compromise air-tightness) or put air-tightness tape over the masonry hanger fixing. Hanger - to wall-plate: I have a strong feeling I can't get away with 50mm screws for the connection between the hanger and the wall plate can I? What size will those screws need to be? Wall-Plate to wall: Self tapping M10 coach bolts at 400mm centers (architects note above) to attach the wall-plate to the wall? The key thing is that they connect with the concrete isn't it, even if the 400 mm centers guidance happens to fall outside the concrete core (i.e. into the 'wood' of the Durisol block? I think I'll probably need to embed the wall-plate fixing in resin won't I - for air-tightness?
  24. If you haven't read the backstory, it's here. and an analysis of what happened is here Quick Summary One turbulent night a little while ago, our wall blew down during a newbuild. It was unlucky: just the wrong weather at just the wrong moment. Our builder says that there was no guidance on the ICF producer's website. Verbally , the MD implied that the builder lacked common sense in building so high without pouring to stabilise the build. The production company give no specific guidance on how high to build before pouring or propping. The Loss Adjuster visited last week, and today, the Insurance company has sent me this email: in brief, it's the builder's fault. He should have braced the build,or poured. Here, verbatim (anonymised) is the response from the Loss adjuster. Following a review of our Surveyors report I note that the blocks had been dry stacked. The builder appears to have laid out too many course of block, without being filled with concrete or propped in the interim whilst await the concrete pour. Our Surveyor states that the safe working method would be prop any loose block work when dry stacked and that this ought to have been done until the concrete was poured. The policy provides cover on an All Risks basis, subject to certain exclusions. One such exclusion has material relevance to the claim at hand:- 7 Defective Property Loss of or damage to and the costs necessary to replace, repair or rectify the Insured Property: a) which is in a defective condition due to a defect in design, plan, specification, materials or workmanship of which Insured Property or any part thereof Based on the information available to us the only reasonable conclusion is that the wall would not have collapsed had in been propped. Following my verbal explanation as to the lack of policy cover available you advised that further information will be made available to support the claim, specifically weather records from Cambridge (sic!) University confirming a gust of 70mph was responsible for the wall being blown down and a time lapse video to show the wall had been built correctly. Ok, folks if this had happened to you, what would you do next?
  25. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we decided not to trust even one block laid by the original builders. And that means treating the Durisol like, well, the wall at Blackpool sea front. I know, it's tantamount to an admission of defeat. But do we want a wall we can trust or not? Short of scanning each block for integrity (well nigh impossible) there's nowt else we can do. Have a look at those lovely lengths of threaded bar fastening the OSB to a similar support structure the other side of the wall. My God I can cut and trim threaded bar to size at speed now. And in doing so have presented myself with 60 cold bridges. Poo. Here are two ideas that we have come up with to fettle the issue. A few hours after the pour, undo the nut on the outside (insulation side of the ICF) and tap the threaded bar back in (say) 60 mm, and fill with foam. Allow the concrete to cure. Remove the sheeting, and drill back the bar from the inside this time. Fill with foam. Leave it. Allow to cure. Drill out 120 (both sides of 60 bars) to a depth of 60 mm, fill with foam Has anyone got any bright ideas? Please? Hope so Ian
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