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Full house build.

Discussion in 'Your Projects' started by Curlewhouse, 22 Oct 2016.

  1. cjard

    cjard

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    Become accustomed to delays; the U.K. Building industry has nowhere near the same level of interest and enthusiasm for building your house, as you do. Forgive yourself too. I self built, and by that I mean I planned it, financed it and picked up the tools for every single job except erecting the timber frame, some electrics, some plumbing and most the flooring/decorating (too busy, and these were jobs that the control freak in me was happy to hand off).. the other style of self building ("man who works in office and doesn't know the thick end of a cordless from the thin, arranges tradesmen to build his house") is what I refer to as self-project-managed. It took a lot longer than I expected, because everything was done right rather than slapdash. Towards the end (I'm not there yet) I hired a guy to help board and skim the loft, who turned out to be brilliant (he went on to tile 2 bathrooms too). He watched in amazement as I was fitting an airtight vapour control membrane around a roof truss that was part of the pre existing building. Took an hour. "Whatcha doing that for?" - I explained about air changes per hour, part L, heating demand of a 280sqm house with a 50% glass roof... and how an air source heat pump wouldn't be able to do it if there was a gale blowing through the place..
    "well, I've never seen that in all my years. You'd have been finished 6 months ago if you hadn't got onto all that fookin *******s"

    I too thought it would take a year. It should, in fact. There's a local road where the houses are typically bungalows that are gobbled up into massive houses. Every day I passed one being built, and no word of a lie, they kicked the crap out of that place in 6 months. That's what budget and motivated trades do for you. Plus having an existing building that was serviced probably helped as the admin for these these really drags. no idea what their budget was, but I recall a Restoration Man episode where an last house was converted, and the conversation went "and how are you for time and budget?" "On time and on budget" "and what is your budget?" "Six hundred and fifty thousand pounds"
    Yeah. That's why.

    4 years after buying the site, me doing 4 ten hour days in the office, 2 ten hour days on site and one day with the family(grown since I started) I'm near enough to move in.

    Next time I build a house I will:
    - Enjoy drawing it myself, not enjoy battling the planners
    - Not use a self build mortgage, because the financiers are the biggest millstone and the most considerable thieves - this being my first house I had no sizeable equity in anything else to mortgage
    - Jobs I'll do myself: foundations, slab, UFH, insulating, air tightness, electrics, plumbing, ventilation, heating system, window install, carpentry, tiling
    - Jobs I'll get someone else to do: erect the frame (one man can't do it fast enough to make it worth it), plasterboarding and skimming (heavy, can't do it fast enough), roofing, decorating (boring)
    - Be retired and bored and able to give more time, less intensely. Right now, I'm only 35 so I can cope with it, but it's tired me out.

    Windows not fitting is easily avoided. All of mine fit, but every hole was measured 5 times and the window schedule they sent through needed 14 revisions. They still managed to **** it up and build one set of bifolds so they opened the wrong way, but that was easy enough to solve. When the company do a window schedule, ensure the document bears the overall size of the frame plus any sill, and if any frames are composite (bolted together-some of mine were 4m high and in 3 parts. They omitted the 12mm joint bars from the first drawing) ensure the dimensions for the whole include any jointing strips or bars.
    Critically, when they send you a doc with 10 windows in and you write back saying "window 7 should be 2130 high, not 2310 high" and they send you a new doc back, do not assume they only changed that window (logical), check them ALL again. Check everything; check that they didn't accidentally delete the sill, or change the handles for gold ones when the rest are chrome etc. They won't want to use your carefully prepared schedule; they'll hand type it all into their own software, feck it up doing so and you'll need to check it all carefully :)

    The best thing to do when it comes to windows is to make up some squares out of slate batten or other rough cheap wood that are the exact size you want the holes to be (tack a strip of 10mm marine ply to two edges) and dead square, and fix them in place (attach bottom to wall and top to a long batten that slopes down to the slab) as the brickies are building the walls. Get the brickies to build to them, then take em out and remove the ply(it's tolerance for the frame), and give them to the window company along with a set of measurements. You might think the 3 hours or so it'll take to make these frames is a waste of time, but every brickie I've dealt with has appreciated having something to build to

    Of course, if you're planning on having the windows on site before the walls go up(not a bad idea) then you have your templates. I'd still attach 10mm to two sides so that you've got your 5mm gap all round to foam up; making that gap too small will make it difficult to foam and seal

    For cost compare, my window schedule was:
    Two 1.2mx4m, casements with floating mullion and central opaque panel
    Two semi circle arches 4m diameter, one with tilt n turn, pvc
    Two fixed nonopening panes, 1.6m x 2.5m
    One bifolding set 4mx2.5m
    Two bifolding set 4mx2m
    Two bifolding set 3mx2m
    Two glazed doors 1mx2.5m
    Twenty roof windows, 0.6mx1.8m
    25k supply only, all aluminium except the arches. Triple glazing quote was 45k. I'll make some external insulated shutters for the saving, if the heating bill is too high
    1.8k fitting for everything bar the roof windows (self fit)

    I too was puzzled about the price hike for TG. I see 20% as reasonable but not 50. Yes, profiles have to be bigger, and theyre a lot heavier so hinges need updating etc, but I think a lot of it is market forces, low demand etc. Have you considered European suppliers? There's a thread about TG suppliers on green building forum, I think you're a member
    Infuriating isn't it? That's what you get with a self build mortgage, and you pay double interest and have to buy an insurance policy that will build it if you don't, so they can sell it and make a fortune off robbing you of your life savings. "Because self build is more risky". ****s.

    And that's how jewsons stay in business, and run huge branches over staffed and unable to budge on price much. I didn't get a lot from jewsons, thou wickes and screwfix have had thousands out of me, chiefly because I appreciated the convenience of their opening hours, the fact that the missus can see before she buys, and their customer service and returns policies are great - buying 5 of everything and taking 3 back months later is very handy. Plus, screwfixes own brand stuff is good quality gear and on par price wise with ebay alternatives


    Sign up for a wickes trade card to get 10% off. There was no verification that I was actually a tradesman. I bought about 100 plumbing fittings one day in screwfix, and the manager said "are you a plumber?"
    "I am! How did you guess"
    "Want a trade card?"
    "Go on then"
    Discount varies, sometimes it's only a few percent, yet my RCBOs were 23% off a tenner to start with. That's cheap.

    You can use seconds insulation for more than you think. I've ordered thousands worth off them and it's nearly all been flat and straight enough to use. Their mixed pallets are priced randomly so be sure to work out the per cubic metre cost of the kingspan on the pallet. Real kingspan is about 100 quid a cube. My seconds was between 30 and 60, but some pallets are priced at 150+ so be careful.. you can also get it for nothing, if you're prepared to hire an artic: https://www.secondsandco.co.uk/product-page/free-pallets-of-offcuts-collection-only-from-ld8
    Gotta love how those guys write their stock descriptions
     
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2017
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  3. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Thanks for that excellent post. Lots of helpful information in there. The window fitting thing seems to come not from the house builder themselves but from the window firms sending the wrong sizes, I've read quite a few accounts of that.
    Yes, I plan to make use of the insulation seconds for all of my internal insulation actually, and given their prices, if I have to cut bits off for bashed corners etc, it should still come out well ahead. Nice to hear from someone who has used them though.

    As for the self build mortgage, well lets just say that after hearing nothing from the agent (I bet you know who they are if you self build) for a month I chased them up and put a rocket under them today - they already have delayed passing the paperwork on so long that we've twice had to send new bank statements and payslips as the previous ones had ceased to be the most recent. When I got a request for a third set yesterday because it turned out that they still hadn't processed the paperwork on to the lender (!) I'd had enough. Today a manager rang me who assured me he'd progress things...... We shall see.
     
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2017
  4. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Well, not so glamorous but very important, 1st stage of drains going in just now. Although we will be using a lot of soil to level the site, I suspect we are going to be left with a considerable amount of subsoil at the end. Fortunately a nearby neighbour actually wants some subsoil with clay amongst it for damming a pond, so fingers crossed the quantity works out just right. But we are a good while away from the landscaping stage yet!

    The SIPs designers are back working on the design again following some corrections made to their first draft by our architect, so it looks increasingly that we may end up with quite a lull in the build but we're not too concerned about that as things are much further on than we dared expect given starting the build in winter! We've been very lucky with the weather so far and never imagined we'd have got so far in 3 weeks. A good bit mud about today, and I'll have to give the road a sweep to be a good neighbour as naturally the wagons coming up a single track road have made a bit of a mess of the edges.

    Our rainwater scheme is a little different, and I did wonder if the building regs folks would approve it, but they've never blinked - basically, our rainwater will go into a pretty biggish pond, and the overflow from that pond will go into a SUDs compliant soakaway. In effect, the only difference really is we've inserted a pond between the roof and the soakaway. Of course in times of low rainfall, that means it may not even reach the soakaway if the pond level is low. I did wonder if the slightly novel approach would raise any eyebrows, but they seem perfectly happy about it. I plan to put a small settling chamber between the house and the pond to catch the worst of any bits and bobs, but nothing more than that. Surface water from the drive etc, will go straight to the soakaway in case of any contamination that might harm the wildlife in the pond.


     
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2017
  5. eddieed

    eddieed

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    It is great to follow this - and I have certainly learnt something about the windows which I will bear in mind once we get to that point. Its amazing how quickly they get on once they start.

    The stories of self build mortgages make me thankful that we bought a bungalow that we are extending and that we have enough equity in the existing bungalow to extend our mortgage to pay for the build.
     
  6. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Services.

    I've included a few links in here if anyone wants to read a little more just click on the blue text.

    Sent off a few days ago to the water company to start off the process of getting a water supply and the foul connection approved. Luckily we are just going into a private pipe first, which saves a lot of money we'd be charged if connecting directly to the sewer main. The mains sewer only comes up the hill as far as my parents house (we are building further up the hill from them), there are 3 houses further up but they have to have cess tanks. The sewer line we are joining used to serve the village school which is now closed of course, so it has bags of spare capacity. Equally fortunate is the fact the mains water pipe runs along in parallel with one of our boundaries only 1 metre away, so the connection charge should be the minimum really, (it costs £112 just to apply, - so that's not the cost of actually connecting you, that's just to read your application form, . and £94 to apply for the sewage connection - though it may be all we have to pay for the sewage connection in our specific circumstances I think ).

    The mains sewer line is way below the level of our site, and it's been a learning experience - too steep a slope on the pipe and "solids" get left behind in the pipe apparently - too low and you'll get blockages. Overall, ours will have to drop about 3 metres over that 80 metre run, so we have to have what's called a "backdrop" chamber - think of it as a waterfall for sewage, where the sewage drops in a manhole however many feet are required for it to continue at a gentle slope again thereafter. So that way you can lose a lot of height in one go without the problems that would otherwise be caused by sewerage accelerating.

    I plan to have water in to a standpipe in place ready for the main building work and hope to do the same for electricity. We are having the electricity come into a standalone (from the house) box from which our sub main will run to the house and one to the garage, which means during the building work, we can fit a second box with an outside socket so there is a supply available. I've seen a few self builders have done that and it seems a really good idea. I'd have to run a sub main to the garage anyway if we waited and had the meter fitted in the house, so this way I just have to run a few more metres to both garage and house, and the meter won't be in the house whether it's a smart meter or not.

    On the subject of electrics, my father is a retired self employed electrician, and I obviously grew up helping out and learning from him. So it would be crazy to pay for an electrician - *but* of course, you have to have electrical work certified under Part P of the building regs. We sort of hit paydirt here too in that my father knows a retired lecturer (electrics) who has kept her own Part P registration (NAPIT I believe) going and still does some work more out of a keen interest I think really. Now the regs say that the qualified person can oversee the work and certify it if they are satisfied and have seen that everything is done according to code. She has agreed to do this for us, which is excellent (funnily enough I got loads of grief on another part of this forum for asking a couple of electrical questions, and since then accused of lying etc!!! Very, very bizarre, and I did consider discontinuing this blog and not coming back to this site as it just left a really unpleasant feeling to be honest, but there's also a lot of nice people on it, so I just blocked the trolls. They are adamant you cannot do what we are doing, even though the building inspector is perfectly happy and it's even covered in the regulations which I posted a copy of for them, but oh no, they know better apparently! Very odd behaviour). Because she is doing this for us as a favour I've tried not to bother her too much (plus being retired they are often away) of course, which is why I posted a couple of questions, but the circuit design etc has had to meet her approval of course and she will be watching us like a hawk (quite properly) during the work! :D
     
  7. penguin16

    penguin16

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    That isn't surprising around here, I'm afraid. There are a number of "experts" who like to find ways criticise everything they see on here. I'm not entirely sure why they visit so frequently if only to be unhelpfully negative at every turn. I suppose there's always a risk that someone might be able to do something themselves correctly without paying them to do it for them.

    Please continue wth your posts though. I, for one, am following with interest.
     
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  8. Ian H

    Ian H

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    Do you need to go into a footpath or road for any of your services?

    And do they make the connections for you or just check your work before you backfill?
     
  9. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Thanks for the comments re the criticisers, and I think your idea for their reasons may be bang on the money.

    No, luckily for us we don't have to go under a footpath or road, which I gather can get eye wateringly expensive in the case of roads where you have to pay the council for a closure order, maybe hire traffic lights (a qualified person has to site them) and so on. The sewer connections we can do because its a private sewer we are entering, but if it was the main sewer it has to be either the water company themselves or an approved contractor. The building inspector has to examine the pipework before you cover it in either circumstance however, and of course it must be tested for leaks first for obvious reasons.

    For the water supply, all the water company have said is for us to have a suitable pipe ready at the boundary for them to connect to at the point they will tell us. I'm awaiting that information as to where they want to place the connection from them. As best I understand it, the building inspector doesn't need to see that one - but talking about this has made me feel the need to double check!

    Electricity is next to apply for - I spoke to their guys a couple of years ago when we were looking into doing this, and they couldn't have been more helpful. I've still got that one to apply for officially this weekend actually (was working yesterday).

    So today a friend is coming over to give me a hand lifting some paving stones from another property in the village who asked if I wanted them. We are not putting any paving down, but I think if I stihl saw them in half, they'll make a good retaining edge for the gravel driveway half buried on edge, and unlike wood will not rot over time of course. I don't think there will be enough, but on Freecycle someone is always trying to get rid of paving stones. I find trying to do this on a budget has made me start closely inspecting skips and the like - to my wife's embarrassment :mrgreen: . I scrounged a length of brand new water supply pipe from a skip the other day (with permission) and am hoping it might just be enough to reach our boundary.
     
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  11. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    I had paid the up front £3000 quoted for the connection of my new supply with the connection to the street cable under my vehicle access. The surveyor came to check all the details and suggested I change the connection point 1.5 metres so that it would be under the grass verge at the side of the vehicle access. This would, he said, save me a ""few pennies"" It saved me 210,000 pennies as the final cost was reduced by£2100 down to £ 900. Grass verges ( owned by the council ) can be dug without traffic control in place. Digging into a vehicle access across council land has to have traffic management in place even if it is to a single dwelling and no vehicles will be using it.
     
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  12. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    I think that's a cracking lesson Bernard - a move of 1.5 metres making £2100 difference! I wonder how many people have missed out on stuff like that.
     
  13. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Thought I'd do a bit more about the joys of the backdrop chambers (I just think they are a simple yet elegant solution to the issue of excessive fall). We're having 2 in the end as to do it in 1 would have been just crazy deep to have been dug - as you'll see in the bottom picture, imagine one chamber at over double this depth and you'll understand why we've gone for 2 , so one back drop chamber takes it down x metres, from the raised land to ground level, then a short run, then another chamber takes it down the remainder to reach invert level of the existing sewer (if you click on the words invert level, it takes you to Wyre council web site which tells you pretty much all you need to know about installing foul drains - I have to say what an excellent council department that must be to put such a lot of helpful information on their web site. I gather Wyre is in Lancashire. They even show a diagram of using 2 chambers like we are. Our council has nothing like that on their web site, so hats off to the folks at Wyre!) .



    So this is where the pipework comes in to the top of the backdrop chamber - the pipe going down can be run down inside the chamber or outside as in our case. We think it's neater externally because the flow then enters the bottom of the chamber in one of the ready made channels rather than dropping onto them with presumably associated unpleasant "splattering" :eek:, which can't be much fun if you have to open the chamber up at some point in the future. This is much neater. The pipe sticking out straight ahead serves 2 purposes - the main one is it gives you the ability to get rods straight into the pipe in case of blockages. Some people cap them off, but if not capped they also have a secondary use of an "overflow" in the case of a blockage in the drop pipe. The only issue with that is you wouldn't really know you had a blockage to deal with in that case as the chamber would just keep on functioning albeit messily inside. But I think this is really just a fortunate side effect as the real reason is to allow rodding.

    Here is the finished effect inside the chamber - so you can see the rodding/overflow pipe near the top, and the main flow comes in directly below it.


    Whoever would have thought drains could be so interesting... or is that just me? :mrgreen:
     
  14. Ian H

    Ian H

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    I love drains too X X

    I like how's it's been done at the change of direction too, 2 birds with one stone.
     
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  15. cjard

    cjard

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    BuildStore then.. ****ing cretins.


    You gotta take the boys in the Electrics sub forum with a pinch of salt. They make out like theirs is the only trade that kills if you get it wrong and while their concerns have some merit, chiefly because they deal with an awful lot of duck eggs whom you wouldn't trust to rewire a cheese cutter, they are quick to jump on the "get a pro spark in you numpty" bandwagon.
    My pro spark had never heard of some of the things the more helpful members of that forum have suggested over the time, so it pays to get consensus. My spark has also never used an angle grinder and couldn't work out how automatic cable strippers function. But he's a nice lad.
     
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  16. sh4d0w

    sh4d0w

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    going to enjoy this!
     
  17. Curlewhouse

    Curlewhouse

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    Water, water everywhere.....
    I've been looking for an IBC for a while as a temporary water store on site until we get the mains in, and with some sort of idea of using it for rainwater collection for watering the garden and the like afterwards. When your looking for stuff on ebay sometimes being so far North in England, in the least populated county has it's disadvantages - so often, some items that there's loads of for sale down South may rarely come up for sale here. Basically, there is just a much lower population up here (thank goodness, it's how we like it :D), so naturally, less of everything comes up for sale - but equally, when it does, you may find yourself the only bidder, which happened when 2 IBCs in immaculate condition, plus their taps came up for sale - I ended up getting both for a total of £22 ! One trip out with a horse trailer and I now own two shiny once-used and professionally cleaned out IBCs! So I've put one up on the garage base to use for a water supply during bricklaying and I've decided to eventually use both at the back of the garage for rainwater collection, one from each gutter. So a nice result.


    I had planned to hire a digger this weekend to do some levelling, but it's rained so much that everything is mud and it would have quickly become a nightmare. Further heavy rain overnight has made it even worse and there is water lying in many of the fields round about as the ground just can't soak up any more. But after lunch the sun appeared and so we started my first ever blockwork! I've just got the one layer to do, then the DPC membrane has to be spread out and has to overlap the first level of blocks (a reinforced concrete floor then goes in on top of the membrane, which lies on top of the beam and block floor).
    Not having done this before, I asked for a Bricky tool as a Christmas gift and finally got to use it today.

    Now for the first layer it's not possible to use all of it, but it will really come into it's own once I'm past the first layer of blocks. But I was able to use the end guide to get the right depth or mortar, and that was an immediate help and sped me up no end. After only a few blocks I was getting the depth right by eye most of the time, and using the guide to check. Now whilst the professional bricklayers may sneer at these, I know lots of people have built stuff with them, having had no prior experience at all, and I'm really pleased with the results we got today. The foundation levels were done by builders, and I've just done the 1st level on top of the beam and block today.
     
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