Slow going - my double storey extension build

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29 Jan 2008
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Hey folks,

Thanks to those of you that are following along, I appreciate I’m not the best at doing timely updates to this thread!

Despite my lack of updates, there has been a fair bit of progress on the house, things are starting to come together now.

In the interior, we prepped for carpets upstairs by finishing up the plastering and building some stud walls in the bedroom for the sliding wardrobes (there are two sets facing each other but just pictures of one side here).

Finishing the entranceway into the new extension upstairs and blending plaster into existing wall.


Studwork for the wardrobes


Plastered and mist coat

Cleaned up and painted. Also out the rad on


Carpet down.I got someone else in to do that…although a bit of a joke. I paid the firm to fit the carpet, and a bloke turned up on his own so I had to help him hoof it upstairs and then he never took the old carpet of off cuts away…so be sure to check what your installer does if you order carpets!


I also installed some new loft hatches, with pull down ladders to make it easier to get into the loft.

The existing loft hatch needed to be enlarged to do this, but was pretty easy with a handsaw.


Getting the new hatch level and square was a bit of a fiddly job up a ladder, but it was too bad. I took a picture before fitting the new architrave, but it look tidy in the end as the architrave covers all the edges.


However the biggest transformation is on the outside of the house.

The guys from Eco Construction Systems came back to finish the porch rendering, which they did for gratis even though it wasn’t part of original quote. Really good guys and I highly recommend them.

With the last of the rendering done, we could finally get the exterior of the house finished by attaching the wood cladding to cover the yellow yorkshire stonework that really dated the house back to the 70s.

I’d previously fitted a 3 x 2 inch frame around the edges and the windows which I fixed in with concrete screws. Then we were ready to fit the cladding.

We went with cedar cladding, which really wasn’t cheap but it looked so much better than anything else, we took the plunge. It was treated with Osmo UV oil before installing so it’ll hopefully keep its colour for a while.


Getting it installed… string lined up to keep the screw holes straight


And finally done. Well I say finally…there’s still loads of work to do inside and outside…


It only took 10 years, but (if the video works) you can really see the difference:

In terms of spending, we got all the paints for the house when 3 for 2 at B&Q but still spend over £200. Stud walls for bedroom and frame for cladding was another £150 (as timber is sill prices) but plaster and plasterboard where leftovers. Another £250 for two loft hatches. Carpets were £1200 installed, which was bedroom landings and stairs as well. Cedar, oil and fixings was a touch over £2k (I said it wasn’t cheap).

So total spend to date iro £88k.

Thanks for reading :)
1 Mar 2022
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Wow that is impressive. Have you got a floor plan showing the previous and new current layout. Looks excellent and even at 88k with prices being stupid that is really good. You should be proud of yourself. You should get a valuation done. Be interesting to see how it has changed over 10 years. I bet some of your neighbours are envious. Your posts have been very helpful.

Would you do it again for the cost saving?
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29 Jan 2008
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Wow that is impressive. Have you got a floor plan showing the previous and new current layout. Looks excellent and even at 88k with prices being stupid that is really good. You should be proud of yourself. You should get a valuation done. Be interesting to see how it has changed over 10 years. I bet some of your neighbours are envious. Your posts have been very helpful.

Would you do it again for the cost saving?
Thanks for your kind words.

There’s a floor plan on the first post. The existing house hasn’t changed apart from a single garage with a small utility room having been demolished to make way for the extension.

It’ll be hard to tell how much value has been added from the extension vs the natural market trends…I think we’ve probably hit the limit for what houses on this estate could be worth.

Would I do it again? Yeah, but differently. We’ve done virtually all of the work at weekends (as we both have full time jobs), which has really dragged the build time out. It was fine for the first year of covid/lockdown as you couldn’t do much else…but after that it’s been a bit of a conflict between making progress with the build or just living life (seeing friends, holidays, etc) which then slows progress down. If I could take 2-3 months off work to build most the project in a more condensed timeframe, then I would do it that way.

My dream (like many others) is to buy some land and build my own home….so I’d probably need to take a career break or early retirement to make that happen :)
29 Jan 2008
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Hey all,

Back with another update. Summer 2022 was project driveway (and side patios) to start getting the outside of the house looking respectable, and taking advantage of the nice weather to do the exterior jobs!

Although this plan seemed like a great idea, but after ordering all the good to be delivered it ended up being the hottest week on record when we needed to do all the ground work, so it was a killer in the heat to be doing a lot of the labouring!

We were widening the existing drive, as it was about 1.5 cars wide, and added side access to be able to get to a new patio alongside the house (which would be behind a gate) where I could store another car. We were also having a patio area on the other side of the house where we’d keep our bins etc. All in, it was around 130m2 of area to be paved.

I got a good tip off this forum to use a hose to mark out the curves of the drive before digging, which worked well.


The mini digger was hired and within about 10 bucket scoops I uncovered a previously buried manhole cover and also dug through my broadband cable. Just a word of warning, that was just buried about 2 inches deep in the soil, and it took virgin Media two weeks to repair!

I needed to dig down a little over 250mm to accommodate the Mot1, sharp sand and the depth of the pavers.

Needless to say, this was a lot of digging - 3 grab trucks worth if soil/sand in the end, so about 45 tons!


At this point I should have done the edging, but with 40 tons of mot1 hardcore coming I wanted to make the most of having the digger there to shift it around.

After levelling the ground (which is mostly sand) the Geotextitle went down next, with plastic pegs to pin it down.

Then came the MOT1. I also got a skip loader to help the shifting.

I also hired a heavy duty wacker as I didn’t think my Aldi one would cut the mustard and there wasn’t the space/time to wack it down in different layers.

You will also see below the matrix of string lines that has to be used at various points to ensure the depts were correct to get a flush /level finish, and ensue the depth of each layer. It was a pain to keep putting these up and then taking down when using the machinery, but I couldn’t think of another way. The lines were at ground level, with suitably cut lengths of wood used to gauge the depths down from the string line.

Next to be made were some foundation pads for the walls/piers that will be at the end of the drive, and the the edging kerbs started to be laid. These were quite chunky kerbs at 250mm deep , but I needed to account for a difference in the height of the grass and the finished drive. These were laid on 100mm bed of concrete, with further concrete haunching laid to the back of the kerbs. (The wooden post in the concrete foundation is a hole to allow water to drain (from the planters im going to build later).


Kerb stones were hard work on their own, and your need to keep the levels correct and in some parts were intermingled with fence post, as here in the bin store area.

While the kerbs allow a gradual curve (splay) you can buy specifically angled kerbs to help with exterior and interior angles.


Eventually we got all the kerbs in (nearly 3 pallet loads of them!) at this point I had also realised I’d over ordered my mot1 and blocks as my calcs of areas had been overly generous. I was left with about 8ton of hardcore left over! D’oh!


As you can see, 11tons of sharp sand arrived for the block paving and 12 pallets of paving had also now arrived.

You can also just about see above some of the special (oversized) recessed manhole covers I needed to buy to replace the 70s concrete manholes. Unfortunately one of the manholes was simply to high to allow the new cover and keep the right height for the ground, so I broke out my evo disc cutter and gave it a trim which was tough and dusty work! Action photo below when partially cut!

That’s my 10 photos for this post…but obviously only part way through this bit of the project. Will aim to post up the rest later :)
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29 Jan 2008
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Ok, so driveway / patios part 2.

So to get started we laid an aco drain against the house across the garage and the main section of the house, which was embedded in concrete. These were connected to the main rainwater drain rather than soakaways, as there wasn’t space at the front for a soakaway.

The main pattern of the block paving was a light grey Marshall argent driveset around the edges, then dark grey (graphite) of the same block in the middle. (The kerbs are Marshall teluga pennant grey if anyone is interested).

Annoyingly Marshalls also have a ‘argent driveset Priora’ block, which is the permeable version of the same blocks. Unbeknown to me, Marshall’s had sent me this Priora style block for the light grey pallet, and I didn’t know/realise the difference until we’d concreted in a lot of the leading edge of these blocks in around the aco drains… then opened the dark grey blocks to see they were a different shape.

Firstly Marshalls claimed that I ordered those incorrect blocks. It was a telephone order due to needing to order angled edging kerbs that you couldn’t get on line, and conveniently for them they couldn’t find the recording of my call! I made the point that it made no sense for me to order 11 pallets of one type of block (non permeable) and then one pallet of a different shape (permeable) block!!

Clearly the chap who took the order selected the wrong item from their order list…but Marshalls maintained that I mis-ordered.

Then their tact change, but it was still my fault, as I should have checked my order more carefully.

Marshalls sell direct to diyers, and having ordered > £7k of blocks, Marshall’s still maintained that I should have noticed this 1 extra word ‘Priora’ in the order and that I should have known there were two different types of block!! And because I’d opened the plastic on the pallet, they flat out refused to accept a return of the unused blocks and I ended up having to pay for another pallet of the correct blocks!

Basically Marshalls customer service is rubbish…don’t use them… or if you do, check your order carefully!! Rant over!


As these wrong blocks had been concreted in, I just decided to suck it up and leave the ones I’d laid in place as I was already behind my timeline for the job. It still bugs me now, but it is what it is.

You can see below the difference in the block shape below. It looked less bad when the silica sand was in, but still not great.

You can also see the process we used for laying the sharp sand layer to pop the block on…basically we used metal conduit, levelled the sand to 40mm, wacked it down, then levelled again back to the 40mm level before the blocks were laid.

String lines still in play, although the cats tried their best to get involved too :)


We left cementing the manholes in until the very end to ensure all the levels were ok, so we ended up leaving circular gaps around the manholes to sort out later. (Once the block paving was done around the manholes I mixed up some 4:1 mortar and laid the manholes and used a level to tap them down flush to the surrounding pavers).

Turns out that Clare is very good at laying the block paving and I was better suited to lugging the piles of blocks into the right locations for her to lay. It was a tough few days of carrying and it took about a week for my back to recover afterwards!


As you can see you lay to the edges of the kerbs with the whole blocks first, then you put the edging in and finally cut the inner blocks to fit the gaps.

Edges in (although I’d not properly done the manholes in the matching pattern at the point the photo was taken).


I’d also bought a new tool by this point. As much as I love my evo disc cutter, these granite pavers were very very dusty to cut…and there were lots of cuts to do! Evolution had recently released an electric disc cutter that you could use for wet cuts (either hose or with a pressurised sprayed). I treated myself to one, and it was brilliant at doing small cuts and suppressing the dust…you have to live with a wet foot though!

Once the edges were in, I popped the rubber mat onto the wacker plate and did a final wack of the pavers into place with Silica sand brushed into the gaps between the pavers. We used a dark grey sand as it looked better with the colour of pavers we used.

Our little furry friends loved the new paving in the sunshine :D


We then started to lay the patio down the sides of the house now, following the same process for levelling the sand, although for the patio added some cement to the sand on a 5:1 ratio.


I laid all the whole slabs first, and then I I did the cuts for the manhole and edges last again, then started to put it the fence (and the gate) on the side where the car may be parked.


We installed new feather edge fences all down both the side of the house too, with a run of paving below the gravel board. These pavers added to the work for the fence as the paving needed to be concreted in. However these pavers mean you can just roll the lawnmower down the fence line without needing to do any strimming…so I think it was worth it in tue long run.


And finally the side where our wheelie bins will be stored. I may end up chopping the fence a bit lower to match the gate height…still undecided.


So that was the summer project…which ran from August to October! (Although not every weekend as we snuck a couple of trips away in over the summer too). It was definitely an expensive period, I don’t think I captured all the costs, fully but spends were roughly as follows:
Patio slabs £2k
Block pavers and kerb stones £7k
Grab truck x 3 £600
Manhole cover £850
Digger and shifter hire £450
Mot , cement, gravel, sand, etc £1.5k
Aco drains, sump, etc £350
Fence timber, posts, post rear and gates stuff £1k
Evo disc cutter and other bits and bobs, £500

So best part of £14k there…but I didn over order with excess hardcore and a few pack of pavers left at the end…so best part of £1.5k spent unnecessarily…but I have a plan to use them in another project. To that’s taken the total spend to date to £102k.

Thanks for tagging along :)

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