Posts Tagged ‘self build’

March 2014 – Part 1

Quite a lot going on this month (now writing in present tense!) As I write this we’re just over halfway through the month. It’s all going on, inside and outside the house. I’ll split March into several blog posts. This post, I’ll split into two sections – inside and outside.

Inside the house

The screed is drying nicely so it’s now ok to walk on. The stud work for the downstairs study, cloakroom and utility has gone up, so we can now get an idea of the final layout of the house. We made a couple of tweaks to one of the sections of stud work, to improve the flow through the house. In the entrance hallway, we were all in agreement to take a corner of the stud work of the cloakroom off. It makes the space a lot more useable, without really sacrificing any space in the cloakroom. I think it’s important to be on site to see these things, as it didn’t seem an issue looking at the plans, but when on site, we mocked up the planned position of the wall, and it just didn’t look right.

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Sean, the electrician was on site doing his first fix, running all the necessary cables. I think even Sean was surprised at the amount of cable that went into the house for the first fix. We’ve opted for LED down lighters in the kitchen, bathrooms and man cave, and standard lighting everywhere else, to try and keep the cost down a bit. We also had a meet up with the guys from Aperio Audio Visual, Craig and Chris and talked through my requirements for the home cinema set up. The set up will also include all the cabling to each TV, along with a speaker system in certain areas of the house that can be zoned.  I’ll try my best to make sure this is all rigged up ready for the house warming party!

More insulation to be done, in all the roof spaces with fibreglass insulation, a horrible task, so I thought it best to delegate that part to my trusty right hand man (thanks Colin!).  Because we’re having open eaves, we had to stuff the insulation into all of those gaps as well. Back up on the top floor, we finished off fixing the ply to the inside of the trusses, this acts as extra bracing, then another 50mm of Recticel insulation was fixed to that ply, ready for the plasterboard.

We ‘dry fitted’ the shower trays so we could fit the waste pipe work to each of them. We’ve just got a days work left doing all the odds and ends ready for it to be dry lined. Hopefully by the time I next write, the rain water harvesting system would’ve been delivered then that’s everything done for the first fix plumbing.

Outside the house

A good tidy up was needed out the front of the property to clear space for the ground workers to return to dig the trenches for the BT and electricity cables to be run. This required moving another few tons of stone out of the way that we’ve got remaining to build our retaining wall out the back.

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The second pic (believe it or not) is the ‘after’ clean up shot. There were a few pallets of stone there before we got stuck in! Our little helper getting stuck in as well.

Once the trench was back filled we could get it looking a little bit more like a house, and get shot of some of the unsightly fencing.

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The drive got it’s layer of scalpings, which made parking a lot less muddy!

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The garage floor was also completed at the same time, so that’ll come in handy as bit of extra storage. It’s slowly starting to look like our home!

Next time – more work on the first fix inside for the cabling for all the TVs and the conservatory gets fitted too.

If you’re interested in building your own home, or need any advice from planning issues to renewable energy, be sure to check out

Thanks for reading – see you next time.



January 2014 (cont.)

On to a bit of plumbing. With most of the stud work now complete, we could crack on with laying the underfloor heating for the first floor. This is made up of an ‘overboard’ system supplied by  Very easy to fit, just a bit fiddly to cut the boards to make the tricky pipe runs.



A sheet of 6mm ply is then fitted over the board and the pipes. Ready for the carpet to be laid later on.

A couple of pics from the attic rooms now, the ‘man cave’ now has all the stud work in place, including the stud wall that will house the TV and all the other electrical wizardry. We also thought it’d be a good idea to put one of the extractors for the heat recovery system in there (behind the stud wall that houses the TV) as it’s bound to get quite warm with all the various pieces of equipment.  My wife has now claimed the other room as hers, so the rooms are all now spoken for!


The Mechanical Heat Recovery and Ventilation Unit is a bit of a beast, it’s going to have a large cupboard all to itself! Should be tucked nicely out the way though – looking forward to connecting that up as I’ve not done one of these units before.

Most of the first fix for the plumbing work is now done, approximately 70% of the way through it. The last bit to do is fit all of the ground floor underfloor heating. But before we can lay all the pipe work for that, we need to lay a thick damp proof membrane, followed by 150mm of insulation, then a vapour check barrier, THEN the pipe work can finally be laid! This will all happen next month – stay tuned as we’ll nearly be up to date – wooooooooooooo.

January 2014

Haaaaaaaaaaappy New Year! Where did that last year go? The same place as the one before, the past! Anyway, I hope you all had a great Christmas. Let’s build a house – crack on!

Where were we? Ah yes, insulating the roof space. After doing a day in here, I started to resemble a snow man! This stuff gets everywhere! 


This was a thankless task, especially trying to fit it in around my own work. Luckily we had a helping hand to save the day (thanks Colin!) A look out of the Velux window soon gave me that motivational kick up the arse, what a lovely view. We can’t wait to be greeted with this every day.



The site got a little bit damp during the heavy rain we had in January (side note – nothing in comparison to those currently suffering in Somerset – Feb’14). This was mainly down to not having the drainage in place yet or the guttering terminating into the storm drain. (This will be done if it ever stops raining).



Back to the inside of the house now. Tom started cracking on with the stud walls. We could now get a feel of the size of the rooms. It’s all starting to take shape.



Tom was very busy this month, him and Clint then got the roof fitted to the bay window, this took some doing, thanks guys! 



Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally, I get to start the plumbing, well, sort of plumbing! Myself, Andy and Ant got all the ducting in place for the mechanical heat recovery and ventilation. Here comes a techy bit! Most of the manufacturers usually supply the ducting in 150mm diameter, this posed a problem for us, as our ‘easy-joist’ system only had gaps of 110mm. Luckily, Dan@AdaptEnergy managed to source a kit with 75mm ducting, so that solved that problem – thanks Dan! That’s the end of the techy bit – phew!



A stairway to heaven (heaven being the man-cave).



I’ll split this blog into two parts – for two reasons:-

  1. I haven’t been very organised, and I’ve not uploaded the rest of the pictures from my phone to the iCloud (whatever that is!)
  2. We’ll soon be up to date and I’ll run out of things to say!! (stop cheering!)

See you all next time!

December 2013

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells etc etc…..

Onwards and upwards! Carrying on with the doors and windows this month. Also the single storey roof was finished, after a few problems with the trusses, our super chippies managed to overcome this with a bit of forethought. A few pics of the first few days progress from this month….

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With the single storey roof completed, the last of the scaffolding could come down, and we could finally get to see what the house looks like – exciting times indeed!

Ta Da!


Both my wife and I were extremely happy with our choices (I may have mentioned this already!) Everything was really starting to come together.

We chose a ‘stable door’ style for the utility. Well, we are in the countryside now!


Nearly watertight! The next decision we had to make was choosing a sealant that would match the mortar, to seal around all the doors and windows (this still hasn’t been confirmed yet!) A few testers that we weren’t quite happy with.


I’ll keep you all updated with the final choice of sealant colour (I’m sure you’ll all be on the edge of your seats until then!) As a side note, if anybody can recommend a colour, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at:

Next was the front door to go in, again, Tom did a great job fitting this, and made sure to put extra fixings in, making it as secure as possible and to minimise any ‘wobble’.

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The bay window next. We weren’t looking forward to fitting this, as we had a couple of issues with the block work. It all went in ok though, we just need to source some infill panels for the sides.



That took us up to Christmas.  It wouldn’t be Christmas in the countryside, without Santa on a tractor. So here you go!


See you next time! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll reply ASAP.

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November 2013

With the roof waiting for the tiles to go on, after the felt and battening, we could turn our attention inside of the house and think about getting the first floor chipboard down. Our chippie/window fitter/all round lovely guy Tom first got a ladder set up to the top floor – it’s a long way up there!


Still waiting for the new tiles to arrive!!


They’ve arrived!! Hooray! They look a lot better than the first dodgy batch of tiles. Next job, get them on top of the scaffolding. The electric hoist was a bit on the heavy side, we managed to convince the delivery driver of the tiles to lift it up on to the scaffold with his crane – thanks Mr Delivery Driver!

Don’t look down!


The hoist in action! Jake loading, me unloading – sorted!


It took us all weekend to load out the tiles for the main roof, I think it was about 2000 in total, from memory.

Tony, the roofer, came back to get the garage roof done, the tiles looked amazing once fitted, we were all extremely happy with the finished result.


Once the garage was completed, they got stuck in to the main roof on the house, with the extra pitch on the rear of the house, it was really looking quite smart, if I do say so myself!


It didn’t take the roofers long at all to get the house finished, we even had a sunny day for me to take a pic of the front.


With the roof now complete, we could now start insulating the trusses from inside. What a messy job this turned out to be!



Next exciting stage of the build for us – the windows and doors arrived! After much discussion and mind changing on the colour of the frames, we finally settled on a colour, ‘Stone White’ from Farrow & Ball. It’s a lovely ‘Cotswoldy’ Green. We really like the colour alongside our choice of stone and mortar.



That takes us to the end of November – a very productive month, and nearly water tight! Next month, the single storey ‘lean to’ kitchen roof goes on (with a  minor hiccup).

Thanks for reading. Feel free to ‘like’ or comment 🙂

October 2013 (cont.)

Roof tiles! This was the next hurdle to overcome. We’d decided on a Chinese Natural Slate as we managed to get a good deal on them. However, after they were delivered and we’d started loading them out on to the scaffolding, it was becoming more and more apparent that there were a few issues. The first issue was the lack of uniformity in thickness of the slates, and the other issue was the quality – a large proportion of them were broken. I think how they were packed was one of the main reasons for the high amount of breakages, the pallets were awful.

After spending the best part of a day loading these out (sore arms from winching them up in a bucket by hand!) We then had to get them all back down, as the roofer said it’d be pointless fitting such poor quality tiles. This obviously delayed us as we had to get these tiles returned, (hadn’t paid for them at this stage anyway) and then source a better quality tile. These were so much better in comparison. We decided to hire an electric hoist for the weekend to get the tiles up to the roof ready to be fitted. This bit of kit was an absolute god send!

Bad quality Chinese slate below:



The wait on the delivery of the better quality tiles, took us into November, a bit of panic started to set in as we really wanted to get the house watertight by now, for obvious reasons. See you next time.

October 2013

All the trusses are on site and ready to go – let’s raise the roof! (see what I did there?!) This is the second attempt at putting the roof on, after the hassle we had the first time round with the crane, this time every thing went as planned – phew! Three chippies + lots of trusses =



The next few pictures are where things start to get a bit more exciting for me. The main reason being – THE MAN CAVE! My lovely wifey has let me have one of the attic rooms as a home cinema/games room/escape from the wife room. So, seeing this take shape really perked me up, as all the stress and long days was starting to take it’s toll a bit, whinge, whinge, whinge. LOOK AT THE MAN CAVE!



The half of the attic closest to the camera will eventually be mine! We’ve not decided what to do with the other half of the attic yet – watch this space!

We originally purchased the plot with detailed planning permission already in place, however we tweaked the plans to suit our needs. One of the changes we made was to make the attic space liveable rather than just a loft for storage. This meant changing the original trusses to attic trusses and increasing the pitch of the roof from the original 35 degrees to 50 degrees. Our (inherited) architect failed to notice the knock on effect this would cause with the corbels on the corners of the house. After increasing the roof pitch angle, it meant the lower part of the roof would clash with the end of the corbels. We had to ask the builder to cut 110mm off the ends of each of the corbels so the roof would fit. This then exposed the two supporting steel rods running down the centre of the corbel, so we then had to pay for a company to come and reface the cut ends to cover the exposed steel. Phew! “You’re so lucky, I’d love to build my own house!” I do smile to myself every time I hear this now :-).



These were to be refaced at a later date. 

Next, more staining of the ends of the trusses, just a bigger version of the garage – no need to stick a pic in here.

The site needed a really good tidy up, so my wife and I got cracking, on a day that gave us a bit of everything, weather wise.





With the trusses complete, it was back in the builders hands to finish the gable ends. The rain delayed play a bit with this, but they managed to get them done as soon as the rain stopped. With the gable ends done, the house was really starting to look quite special.

Look at that chimney! Swit Swoo!





A fair amount of work took place during this month, so I’ll split it into two blog entries. To be continued…..

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…)