Archive for January, 2014

September 2013
The garage brickwork is now finished. The chippies got in straight after to fit the roof trusses, all in the dry weather, so no delays here – splendid!


Is anybody in there?!


Second week of September, the trusses for the main house arrive. These were rather heavy! It took four of us to unload these and find somewhere to store them – awkward to carry, and a bit top heavy!



Off topic! I took a rare few days off to go angling with a good mate of mine. Was nice to get away from ‘the all consuming house build’ for a bit, kickback and relax – until my umbrella decided to leak!


Back to the build. The scaffold was erected inside the house, ready for the chippies to start fitting the trusses.


We had an issue with the first attempted lift of the trusses. The crane operator refused to lift the trusses, even after we’d had a site survey by the crane company, claiming that he wasn’t happy with the proximity of the overhead power cables. This wasted a day on site, not only for the 3 chippies, but we also had to rebook the crane. Before rebooking the crane, we arranged for Southern Electric to meet with the crane company on site. The Southern Electric guy informed us that the cables are all sufficiently insulated anyway, so there was no issue with the proximity of them. We rebooked the crane in, the fight for some form of compensation is still ongoing – watch this space!

My wife and I stained all the ends of the trusses on the garage as these will be part of the open eaves, so they’ll be seen from below.


Total Overspend £300.00 Labour costs + (awaiting compensation)

Next month, attempt 2 at lifting the trusses on to the house………


August 2013

Finally time for the building work on the house to start! While waiting for the block and beam materials to arrive, it gave me chance to run the mains water pipe in to position. We’d already decided the kitchen layout, so I made sure the incoming mains came up directly below the kitchen sink.

We were really lucky with the weather, this enabled the brickies to crack on with the build, before we knew it, the scaffolding was going up as well!



The RSJ’s arrived along with quite a few other materials, so these were secured in the lockup, ready to be fitted at a later date.


Over the course of the next week, (bearing in mind the guys were only doing weekends), they got a lot done. We could really start to see the sizes of the rooms, and it actually felt like we were making good progress, after all the previous delays we’d had.





After looking at the fireplace, we decided it was a bit on the large side, and overpowered the room somewhat. So we had a discussion with the builder, and agreed to make it a bit smaller, this was the only set back at this stage.

The following weekend, they were up to the next lift on the scaffolding, it was actually starting to look like a house now, and really started to sink in what we had taken on!



A few days later, the chippies were there to start fitting the first floor joists. I gave one of the guys a hand lifting them up in to place. One of the biggest joists took some lifting! All of these went in without any drama.



That’s it for the month of August.

Total Overspend £277

July 2013
After a 3 week delay on the materials for the block and beam floor, it meant the builders could only go so far with the house. To try and save a bit of time, they put as much of the garage up as possible.



We were really keen to go for a lighter mortar, to compliment the colour of the stone. Our builder knocked up a ‘test panel’ with the proposed mix. My wife and I loved the result, hopefully the pictures do it justice (it’s nice to look back at these pictures to remind us of the nice weather we had for a change!)



Next, the ground workers got to work on starting the drainage for the house, ready to connect to the main sewer. A reasonably straight forward run, but potential problems when it comes to connecting up – watch this space!!


Drum roll please…………the materials for the block and beam floor arrive! So happy to see these show up, and what a scorcher of a day too! Upon our arrival to site, the ground workers were looking nicely bronzed/pink!


With the block and beam floor complete – the site can now be handed over to the brickies for them to crack on. Smiley face!

June 20th 2013
The concrete for the footings has now been poured, the next stage is to get the block work in place and loaded out ready to lay. You’ll have to excuse the picture quality, they were taken mostly on my phone.


June 23rd 2013
Block work starting to go down, we can now start to see the shape of the house – exciting!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand – no mishaps yet at this stage!


July 1st 2013
More materials arrive, because of the shape of the site, and access only from the front, it means we have to keep the site clear at the front. This meant having to move several tons of blocks and stone to allow space for more deliveries – this was lots of fun, as it had to be done by hand! There might be a few pictures missing from this stage, as I was dying in a sweaty heap on the floor (insert violin here) – taking pictures was the last thing on my mind!



After the delivery of blocks, the stone arrived – more serious work shifting all of this around the site – again, to keep the area clear for the next batch of deliveries.



I managed to rope in a few helpers for some of the work, moving the stones (thanks to all of those that helped!). Apart from the massive amount of work moving the stones, everything to this stage went to plan.

Total Overspend for this stage = £0
The next hiccup led to a lengthy delay on the build, which would set us back a whole month.

Something a little different for my next few blog entries. I’ll be logging the progress of our current project – building our own home. For anybody building their own home, or looking to in the future, I’ll try and flag up where we went wrong, and what we’d have done differently in hindsight, to save time and money.

June 12th 2013
After much back and forth with the council, fighting a hefty Section 106 Agreement, we finally broke ground on our site.



Getting to this stage was a long time coming. So it was nice to finally get underway with the ground works. We’d dug a ‘trial hole’ for inspection to confirm standard metre deep foundations were sufficient. The local building inspector was happy with the ground, so the ground workers went about digging the footings.


After the footings were completed, our LABC warranty inspector came out to do his first inspection of them. Here comes the first problem!! He wasn’t happy with only a metre deep footings, due to old tree roots on the site, so we then had to dig down a further 600mm deep, and add ‘clay boards’ to the sides of the trenches. This was our first additional cost that wasn’t in the budget, a further £4500, to cover extra concrete, clay boards, labour and muck away.


What could we have done differently to have prevented this extra work?
Looking back, it would’ve made sense to dig several trial holes, across the site, and get the warranty inspector out to check them as well as the building regs chap, as the site had once been home to several older trees (originally the neighbours front garden). Although we’d have had to still pay for the extra concrete to fill the trenches, the labour figure would’ve been slightly lower as the trenches could’ve been dug in one go.


Total Overspend for first stage = £4500

So footings now completed, on to the next stage………. (more…)

It shocks me, when I go to a customer’s house to either work on their boiler, or fit a new boiler, how much time I sometimes have to spend just get access to it! I thought it’d be a good idea to jot down a few simple things you could do, as a homeowner, to save some money, before your chosen plumber arrives on site to fit your new boiler.

    1. Ensure the area around the boiler is clear, if it’s in a kitchen cupboard, try and remove the door where possible.
    2. If you have a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard, try and clear as much space in here as possible by removing towels, spare bedding etc.
    3. If the plumber needs to gain access to the loft, get the ladder down for them ready.
    4. Try and move any furniture that is obscuring access to radiators, as these will more than likely need to be worked on.
    5. Ensure there is access to the stop valve (usually under the kitchen sink).
    6. Do you know where your gas meter is? Your plumber will need access to this, so again, make sure he can get to it and it isn’t buried under funny smelling shoes!!
    7. Is the route to the new flue clear and accessible? If it’s down the side of the house, can the plumber get access without having to dig his way through lots of bikes and garden furniture.
    8. A condensate pipe will have to be fitted, if the existing boiler doesn’t already have one. Is this route easily accessible?
    9. Sometimes, as well as a condensate pipe, a new gas pipe will have to be fitted, depending on output of the new boiler, is this route ok to access and work on?
    10. Arguably the most important point – have you filled up the kettle before they turn your water off?!

A lot of that may seem obvious, but, as mentioned, it’s surprising how many people don’t do any of it, and leave the plumber to do it, which will slow them down, and ultimately, cost you money! When you have chosen your plumber, and are happy with their quote, just ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them, before they arrive.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Aqua Tackler

Just a short post following on from my previous entry. If you’re looking to get some work done by a professional tradesmen/women. Please be aware that we’re not all equal! So it isn’t simply a case of getting three quotes and comparing the prices. Experience levels can vary massively in the plumbing and gas trade, so it really is a must to consider this thoroughly before making your decision. It’s not as straight forward as comparing the same book title, for example,from Amazon or Asda, where you’re comparing the exact same product, at two different prices.

They say it’s always best, where possible, to pick a plumber using ‘word of mouth’. Find out if your friends or colleagues have used somebody, if they’re willing to recommend them, that’s always a good place to start. That doesn’t stop you doing your own homework though, have they got their own website you can use, to look at their showcase of completed works?

As well as varying standards of work, you’ll also have to consider the different boilers each of the quotes will more than likely have listed, not only makes, but the type of boiler. Do you want a Combi? A System boiler or a Regular boiler? Confused?! It can easily get too much to take in. Try having a look at the Worcester Bosch Guide to Choosing the Right Boiler for your Home

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog – be sure to keep popping back, as next time I’ll go into what’s involved in having your boiler replaced at home, and a few tips that could save you a bit of money, to prepare the house ready for the installer’s visit.

Aqua Tackler

My first post on wordpress! Welcome to you all, thanks for taking the time to stop by.

I’d just thought I’d jot down a few of my observations about some of these various sites that offer a paid service for Gas Safe Registered Plumbers to buy potential boiler leads. Having browsed some of the plumbing forums in the UK, it appears that a lot of these sites are just out to make a quick buck. Let me give you a quick example of how they work:-

Potential customer signs up to the site looking for a quote or three, to have their old inefficient boiler replaced with a nice new ‘A’ rated boiler. This part is free for the customer. The site then takes the customer’s details and advertises the partial address of the lead for plumbers to view. The plumber can then purchase the lead for a fee (typically £15 or thereabouts). That sounds great – I hear you cry!

Here’s the recurring theme I’ve noticed from a quick bit of research. It seems the customer is just using the site as more of a price comparison site to get a few quotes to mull over and not act upon. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, from the customer’s point of view. But from the plumber’s point of view, they’ve just paid £15 for the ‘privilege’ of it! As well as the cost of their fuel and their time, (travelling to the merchants to get prices, travelling to the ‘customer’s’ house to view the job, writing the quote and delivering). I’ve also read stories of the plumbers paying for the leads, not being able to get in contact with the supposed ‘lead’ and then not being able to get a refund of the £15 they’ve paid for the pleasure! So being left out of pocket this way as well.

The few plumbers that have managed to quote, seem to find themselves being undercut by other plumbers. If there are plumbers out there working for extremely low rates, please, please, please make sure they are fully qualified and registered with The Gas Safe Register . Also ask to check their public liability insurance. According to the Gas Safe Register, there are thousands of ‘cowboys’ doing illegal gas work without qualifications. Training to become a gas engineer isn’t cheap, neither is public liability insurance. Ask yourself the next time you get a really cheap quote, why is it so much cheaper than the others?

In my opinion, these boiler lead sites won’t be around for much longer as many plumbers and gas fitters are rapidly realising how unreliable they are in this current format.

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Work Harder – Be More

Aqua Tackler