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The self-builders guide to the construction phase.   Thought I'd start a thread where we can comment on any books we have found of use.  Kicking it off, I've just finished The Self-builder's guide to the construction phase by Vince Holden.

 

I found it a good read and it has addressed to a degree something I've struggled to find elsewhere - namely a detailed breakdown of the order to do things on site - like scaffold lifts and avoiding unnecessary changes (and thus cost), who does what after who and so on. Certainly for someone of my knowledge level this is helpful and for some reason seems to be skirted around in other self build books I've read, who allude to it, but are short on the detail, which always stuck me as odd given how important it is if you do not know. This book definitely gives you a handle on that issue. It also deals nicely with some of what the various trades will want from you and from each other and who you need to have a 3 way conversation with if managing the build yourself.  I've really enjoyed the read, and  also available by Holden is his guide to project management, although I have not read that.  The one down I have is that this paperback book is 294 pages, can be read in a day, but costs £24.95 at the time of writing. You can look at this one of two ways - either he's split what should be one book (600 pages would not be unreasonable at that price for a specialist subject) into two, meaning just short of £50 for both, or since you will save far more than £24.95 from even utilising one bit of the advice he gives, then it's good value.     

Edited by curlewhouse
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Good topic, thanks.

One of the best known books in this area must be Mark Brinkley's "Housebuilders' Bible" which is now on something like the eleventh edition. My (tenth) edition has some editing problems, in that page numbers don't match the contents page, which is a bit annoying. I find it a useful reality injection to temper the ideas you pick up off Grand Designs. It's quite entertainingly written in places as well.

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Another vote for house builders bible, one of the most useful elements has to be the per m2 cost for almost every task involved in house building - updated yearly accurate pricing on materials and labour. I know people have used it to cost their entire project, I use it more to verify quote I get in are not ridiculous. 

 

The Vince Holden book does sound like exactly what I am looking for though, the order of when to do things is currently a major gap in my knowledge. Heading to Amazon now off the back of your recommendation - thanks!

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I found the Housebuilder's Bible good as our first introduction to the whole subject I guess, but was disappointed by lack of detail (bear in mind this is simply my own opinion based on what I want from a book that declares itself to the "Bible" of self building) for the actual self builder and again a detailed explanation of the proper order if you are managing the project yourself. It is covered, but not in the way it is in The self-builders guide to the construction phase. 

 

Now  the Building Construction Handbook and Building Services handbook I really love and these two books really deserve to call themselves the "Bible" of their specific areas (but don't). If you could read and absorb these two from cover to cover you'd truly be an expert.  They are aimed both at the trade as reference and as course reference for building trade students. At £27.54 for 966 pages the Building Construction Handbook is just absolutely jam packed with technical drawings and information, and I really mean jam packed without a single word wasted. Because the books are a reference for builders and for students they take you from "this is a house"  all the way to cross sections of every part of a building you can think of. Unfortunately Amazon don't have a "look inside" tab on this one so it's hard to get just how comprehensive and well laid out it is. They are not primarily written for self builders and are technical manuals really, but eminently readable in how they are written, even by me who once didn't know a noggin from a stud or a Wide Lady from an Empress ( they are names for slate sizes :D) before getting these. I actually cannot recommend these books enough.  

 

The Building Services Handbook   (£30.19 new) by the same publishers takes you in 756 pages from Water regulations through to things such as calculating drag on long sewer pipe runs, cross sections of how loos, taps and other systems work, water, supply, drains, gas, electricity, earthing, sprinkler systems and fire, wind and solar calculations and so on.  Just for working out my sewer line run and inspection points that will satisfy BC this book has paid for itself.  Similarly to the Building Construction Handbook   it's used as a reference for experts and a course book for students, which sits nicely for us non expert self builders. Even if you are not doing the work yourself, I think having a proper understanding will let you deal with the trades far better and I think being able to drop in some of the technical language and appearing informed  may also prevent you being taken for a ride in some cases!  Amazon does feature a "look inside" on this one, so it's worth taking a look at the contents page.

Edited by curlewhouse
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I have on the shelf in front of me (all borrowed books) The House builders bible, Plans for a dream home. and Building your own home.

 

If I am brutally honest, none have been that much help. I suspect that's partly because  being an electrician I am "in the building trade" so have worked on lots of new builds of different construction methods and different layouts, and this is my second new build so I know from the first one what I got right and wrong.
 

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I've looked at a few of these books (from the library) and like Dave, have never found them to be of much use.  As we are on our 6th build, I have a fair bit of experience of where I've gone wrong and what I've got right.  

 

Preparation and planning are of course important and in this the books may have useful information, but I think there are just too many variables for a perfect or trouble free build.   Having the ability to roll with the inevitable punches, adapt and be flexible are probably as important (if not more so). 

 

 

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Having the ability to take a deep breath and not punch some idiot square in the nose is not taught in any book but it will come in handy in every build.

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As a complete novice when we first decided to build our house, I bought the Housebuilders Bible (10th edition ) and I found it very good to give me a complete overview of the whole building thing.  I really like the budgeting sections and am currently using it for our renovation, to give me an idea of costs.  But I agree that it does not really tell you how to do it - just the things to think about. 

David Snell's 'Building your own home' was very similar and again useful for me as a beginner.  Then I found The Site Managers Bible by Len Sales and I liked that for explaining the process of using builders and contracts as well as other subjects including a useful Health and Safety. 

but a book on the actual 'How to do each bit' would be particularly useful, especially the order in which stuff should be done.  So I may be looking for The Building Construction Hand:Dbook.  The OH can read the technical sections and I'll do the rest.  Thanks for the pointer and idea for an excellent post.

 

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The Architects Handbook is my go to, followed by Building Construction Handbook. 

 

I've got a first fix joinery book somewhere too which was superb at helping with putting a staircase together ..! 

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2 hours ago, Nickfromwales said:

6th? o.O

I have to ask, what was the first one like ? ;)

 

Still standing!

 

I was quite lucky with my first build, as it came hot on the heels of my parents building  their house. We used the same builder as they had, so had already seen the workmanship, triumphs and setbacks.

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The Green Building Bible - currently in it's 4th edition. It's not a how-to build book, but rather an excellent overview of options, explaining them all in sufficient detail for the non expert. I wish I'd found this 3 years ago when we first started researching options as it covers concisely what I've been researching for all that time and would be great for informing the decision making process on your build, power and insulation direction. This one read would have settled it all! It also has sections on green gardens, water saving and harvesting and so on. It is in 2 volumes, with volume 1 (482 ages) starting with the reasons we all need to think green now in our building and then step by step taking you through the learning process of fabric first, CSH and the path towards Passiv (which so many of us self builders are clearly using as an aspiration at least) in a logical order, through power and heating options, the varying build methods from ethically sourced  timber frame right through to yoghurt knitting straw bale construction -  but it also covers the dangers of falling for Greenwash and is in fact very practical -  it is about green building and living, but certainly is not pie in the sky Swampy stuff. It's definitely the most comprehensive overview all in one book that I've seen.  Volume 2 (295 pages) goes into the more technical details of form and function, energy ratings, the technicalities of materials thermal performance, ventilation, the realities of renewables and geography, lighting, heating & cooling, energy monitoring and so on. normally I find such stuff dry as dust and an unfortunate necessity but I'm actually enjoying reading this!    I would say the articles are "bite size", but that would imply they don't give enough information, which is not the case at all. Rather I think, it is like a collection of articles (maybe it is?), which is actually a good way to learn I think.   Both volumes (they come together) also have a few adverts in and suppliers lists, but these do not detract and perhaps have helped subsidise an extremely useful pair of books!  

Edited by curlewhouse
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On 07/08/2016 at 21:31, TheMitchells said:

Then I found The Site Managers Bible by Len Sales and I liked that for explaining the process of using builders and contracts as well as other subjects including a useful Health and Safety. 

 

 

Amazon have this as published June 2006 - is it up to date enough to be worth purchasing/reading?

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On 09/09/2016 at 21:54, readiescards said:

 

 

Amazon have this as published June 2006 - is it up to date enough to be worth purchasing/reading?

I think so as a first time self builder, with no experience of dealing with contractors and builders.  Obviously some of the stuff will be out of date with regards health and Safety but I tink the rest should be fine.  Cant you borrow it from the library first to have a look? 

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This book......"Don't Do It" by Seymour Stress

Edited by Trw144
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8 hours ago, Trw144 said:

This book......"Don't Do It" by Seymour Stress

 

Excellent. I didn't get it the first time I read it!

 

 

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Got 'Housebuilder's Bible' about a year or so ago, but went for the eighth edition as was dirt cheap off Amazon for 1p plus p&p of £2.80 so a bargain. Read up on there that after the ninth edition the quality of the presentation, print, paper quality, etc goes down but the price off the book goes up. That and little changes between editions unless you go years & years back, so a rough idea of prices still similar.

 

Found the book to be down to earth & common sense in evaluating different methods & materials which chimes well with me as I can't stand all the lets throw in all the eco & current trendy stuff regardless of price or practicality approach. Having a voice that is independent of the architecture crazes of daytime TV is good to hear from and you know its from someone who thinks things through from practical experience rather than just recommend the latest fad.

 

That said, some stuff I was already aware off, some was new, and some I was thinking along similar lines to the author. A good read to build up knowledge but once read its really just down to the price comparison tables where the use comes in.

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Am finding Housebuilder's Bible 11th edition very useful - I just need to be able to read faster!

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On 07/08/2016 at 21:25, recoveringacademic said:

SPONS. Saved me more money in the first week of ownership  than it cost. £150.

 

When I looked up SPONS on the internet I found 3 books. Is there one in particular that you refer to?

 

So far I've used the HBB (an electrician friend who converted a chapel recommended it) and I think for a complete novice like myself it is a good starting point. As someone has already mentioned it's easy to read and digest. Of course an actual build will have a many variables but I have found the way it breaks the elements of a build down a really useful starting guide especially for building up cost estimates. I would say however that some of his tables are more 'deliberately' vague in their source numbers than others for anyone seeking to understand this from scratch. I have found supplementing the budget cost pages of the Homebuilding&Renovating website a good supplement and check though note that some of the pages are quite old now so the prices they quote may not always be so relevant.  (sample https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/electrics-cost-guide/ )

 

Tomorrow off to check the two books mentioned by curlewhouse and those by TheMitchels as they seem they look like they will address the next gaps of my ignorance in the actual builds and site management :)

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Am working my way thought the Building Construction Hnadbook.  It wasnt quite what I expected as there are no explanations of anything - just lots of facts or how things should be done.  I think it would be essential for anyone having their their house built by someone else so they can at least check that everything is being done correctly.  Some of it goes way over my head but mostly I can follow things and it also shows the various ways that things can be done. 

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