Sunday, 31 May 2009

Foundations Update No. 2

We went and had a peek at the plot yesterday. Wow, what a difference! It looks huge!

The steel laying on the ground is the start of the foundations structure. It may not look like much from the surface, but when you consider that 1.8m of the offcuts of concrete columns shown in the third photo are stood vertically under ground and concrete has been poured into the middle of them, and then top soil has been placed over the top, they've been very busy!

In other news, the Council don't want us to use man made slate, it's got to be natural (see the £££ roll! But we did budget for the expensive stuff so that's OK. Lucky I'm so cautious and have a high risk profile!), neither did the Council like the fact we had proposed using aluminium smooth guttering, it needs to be cast (again £££ but we've accounted for that). We also have to set paviours as the driveway rather than patterned concrete. A bit of a pain, but there we are.

Hoping to order wood for the frame this week. Keep your fingers crossed the weather holds for our two weeks off at the end of June, although the plot has no shade at all at the moment so it will be so hot! Who needs two weeks in the Caribbean to get a tan when you can go building in Shropshire?!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Drill Training: Session 1

Now Darran has stopped laughing, I can report on my first training session with the drill and battery driver I had for my birthday.

Score out of 10: 4

It took me over a minute to drill my first hole; Darran had to check the drill was working properly and proceeded to drill the hole in about 5 seconds. The screw gun was in reverse gear when I tried the first screw - but how was I to know?!

In my defence I don't think this was a training session. This was a 'give Katie the tools, a drill, a screw and a scrap piece of wood, stand back and watch' session.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

We Have Water (but no bones)!

A quick update to say that we now have water on site! Phew, one down!

The Historic Officer came and looked in the trenches yesterday and was happy that no remains, bones or otherwise, had been found. As the plot is in the grounds of a listed building and close to the old castle site, it is classed as a site of potential archaeological interest. I would have secretly liked them to have found something, but we're not archaeologically interesting, so I suppose that is a good thing really!

The contractors were hoping to pour the concrete for the base slab yesterday, but as the weather hasn't been that good we're not sure how far they've got.

It's all happening now!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Foundations Update

Just a quick update on the foundations at the end of week one, everything seems to be progressing well.

Our architect thought there may be an issue getting a sycamore tree root out yesterday as it was partly under the old wall and the back boundary fence. We're waiting for an update on this but don't think it should be a problem. The contractors made a worrying discovery yesterday in the top soil; a lot of used hypodermic needles. I was quite surprised when I first heard about it, but when you think the front house and therefore the garden were left derelict for many years, and the plot is 'urban' (if you can call it that!) then it's probably not that unusual. It's just not nice to think our contractors are working with that sort of thing, and now means our top soil will need to be sifted and the sharps removed from site. Anyway, on the bright side, and after we politely declined suggestions for the house names 'Needle Cottage' and 'Dundealin'.......with all those 'additives' in the soil my vegetables should be huge!!

Today the contractors were pegging out and will start digging on Tuesday. They also discovered a lovely silver birch at the bottom of the garden which we're keeping, and a maple tree that is currently in the middle of the garage but that they're hoping to be able to dig out and replant for us to use later. One of the attractions of the plot was that it would have established trees when the house was finished, so we're really pleased with this.

In other news, our water is being connected on Monday. Hooray! They'll be stop-go traffic lights on the main High Street whilst Severn Trent do their work! Our structural warranty application has been accepted which is great news and just in the nick of time as their surveyor also needs to look in our trenches before concrete is poured. BT are carrying out their survey this week too to see whether we will need an overground or underground connection, and electricity seems to be progressing.

One hurdle at the moment is the Conservation Officer at the Council isn't that happy with our brick and slate samples that we submitted for approval. Our planning permission states that the materials chosen have to be 'in keeping' with the main house as it's a listed building. We thought we had chosen well, but it would appear that the Conservationist wants natural slate, even though there are no neighbouring houses with natural slate. Anyway, our architect is on the case and doesn't seem unduly worried. Apparently conservationists can be a bit blinkered and sensitive towards these things, and in some ways they ought to be to preserve the history. Just hoping they won't be too sensitive though or we'll be scavenging reclamation yards for old bricks and slates!

PS - the picture is taken from our actual foundation drawings.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Site Clearance - Day 1

My Mum and Dad went to the plot this evening to take some photos for us. We can't believe the difference in a day! They even managed to salvage the bird box from the old conifer tree that was in the middle of the plot!

It Is Finally Happening!

Today is the day that work starts on our plot. We're feeling a nervous excitement that this is actually happening! After such a long wait, someone is actually starting to build our house for us.

We will be going up to the plot in a few weeks time to have a look and take some photos. The work should be about half way through so there should be something to see.

Still slightly struggling with the services, it's all just wait wait wait! I was volunteered to ring the Gas board today (although I do think this is technically a construction matter = Darran!) to try and get some coherence out of someone called Farooq. Came away still with a clean page in my notebook so rang the shipper of the actual gas who could explain everything and were much more helpful. They also fit meters for free. FREE! Now there's a word we haven't heard for a very long time.

So, that's about all for now. All seems to be going smoothly and as planned, but as with any self build, watch this space!

PS - If you've some across this site by chance and are also a self-builder and own the The Housebuilders Bible, multiply the cost they give you for service installation by four, that will be far more realistic!