The scaffold is down..

Just a single photo and a single update…the scaffold is down at last! Render to be finished this week and then I might get a moment to add a few posts about the last couple of months moving in and and some of the ongoing challenges!!

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More detail as promised!

I will try not to moan too much in this blog post as having a read back it seems that’s what I am doing in the blog. It does however provide a form of therapy, maybe that’s something that should be looked at, therapy for self builders against the inane building trade!! Most of them are fine, occasionally you get the odd one who does your nut in! I’m going to categorise the update based on what’s been done to try and consolidate it a bit. I will try and also keep it in order.

Kitchen

Probably the biggest single milestone in the last month is the kitchen being fitted. It makes a realisation and finalises the space. No major problems here, just a slight challenge with designers expectations of the fitters. It’s all been resolved so no issues there and it’s been hassle free.

Tiling

Steve the tiler did a fantastic job on the bathrooms. We are so pleased with the end result which really makes them look out of this world. Tiling is something that can go so badly wrong it was important to get it right, he has done it with style. This week he has been back to finish the tiling downstairs. Kitchen, utility and toilet floors all done. The toilet walls have also had some unexpected tiling as well but we are pleased with the result.

Stairs

Finally we have had the stairs put in. No more ladders inside, well not to get to the first floor anyway, really pleased with the product from Stairbox. Thankfully we realised before we ordered it that the dining room door had been cut in half in the designs, it meant we had to reduce the size of the half landing a bit which has meant it isn’t quite the feature we wanted it’s still good though and we look forward to it being finished.

Plastering

Finally all the wet trades are complete and there is no more plastering to do. Kevin and Matt have done a great job, even managing to sort out the mess the ceiling was in due to the steel beams being lower than the timber joists. If anyone wants a plasterer in Reading these two come highly recommended, there is no question who will be doing the rendering. There is also hardly any filling or sanding which when you are decorating yourself that’s a godsend.

Windows

Finally all the windows are fitted, and we even have a glass roof…finished…except the guttering. It is a great feature and looks amazing. So pleased we kept it in the design. There is some snagging to do and restrictors to fit however they will be done at the end of the build.

MVHR

This is where you hit the first moan, it’s been one of the biggest issues of the build, and about the only thing we paid a turn key project management fee for. It’s got beyond ridiculous, fitters wasting my builders time. Fitters not knowing what they are doing and finally the MVHR unit not actually fitting in the cupboard it is meant to go in. A ridiculous situation. It was meant to be fixed today. The fitter was onsite this morning just as we were leaving, I came back at 2.30pm just to check everyone was getting on, the fitters gone and the unit is still sat on the floor on the landing not a word from anyone as to why! Arghhhhh!

Front door

This is the biggest moan of the lot, 3 weeks late caused by the timber merchants we ordered it from. A further week late because they didn’t have the right drill for the door in the factory! And then when it did arrive, the frame was the wrong colour, (it should be slate grey to match the windows) the glass wasn’t etched with our house number as it should have been and the general quality of the frame is poor with joinery lines not even matching. We were going to reject it but that would mean waiting 2 months for a replacement. So it was accepted and duly fitted which then threw up the other problem of it not being lockable as they had put the wrong handle on the door. A complaint has been made which is still being sorted 3 weeks later. I have given them 3 options. 1. Put it right onsite with the same warranty – my least preferred option 2. Replace the door with what we ordered, and pay for the fitting and making good – a huge upheaval. 3. Give me all my money back. We will wait and see what happens.

Electric and gas connections

A challenging few days, once again coop energy messed up the meter move and the supply cable was moved with the meter move due to follow the afternoon of the same day. There had also been some issues getting the cable up the ducting that had been laid, it finally got resolved thanks to Colin and Gary. No one turned up to move the meter. A phone call to coop and I am informed that they called me three weeks ago and left a voicemail telling me they had cancelled the appointment…they certainly hadn’t. There was no written communication just this supposed message! Idiots. Then apparently I needed to wait until the end of January. Finally someone with some sense made an emergency appointment and we borrowed some electricity from next door for a morning.

Gas was much smoother and all went according to plan.

Electrics

Gary is doing a superb job, just gets on with it, never complains and clears up after himself, couldn’t ask for a better electrician.

Plumbing and Heating

We seem to be at the bottom of the pile for the plumbers jobs and it isn’t going well. However as of last week we have heating in the house. Not much else has been done though. They tried to blame me, pointing out that the garage floor wasn’t ready when we said it would be. I then pointed out to them that whilst that may have been the case there is still sanitary ware not fitted in the bathrooms. They are starting to delay things and I’m getting annoyed with them. Then to top it off for some unknown reason they have fitted all the radiator valves on sideways and not upright! They will be changing them.

Garage door

Bought and fitted, simple process, no real problems.

Smart home systems

The first fix has been done and a lot of the controllers are in. We just need to get cracking with the second fix which should follow in early January.

Garage

We have managed to get the garage almost finished. We have a proper garage floor and the ceiling is boarded and plastered, an extravagance you may think but it’s actually a requirement for building regs. We had to move the plant area but I think this will actually end up benefitting us. And give us more room in the store area at the front.

Internal carpentry

Lawrence and Pat have been in working on the second fix internal carpentry. We now have doors inside and some skirting and architrave. It’s almost starting to look like a house.

Painting and Decorating

This is our job and it’s taking some time. Glenn and Rob were a major help and gave us two days of their time which given their projects was so generous. I have managed to keep up with getting the mist coats on in front of the trades in most places which has helped. There is a bit of filling and sanding and some second coats but they will be done before the next phase starts.

And I think that is us up to date. The trades disappear on Friday for about 10 days and Georgina and I will be in doing some decorating over Christmas. Other than that it will be a quiet couple of weeks so I’ll be back in January as we start to get ready to move in.

Quick update

It’s been a while again, that’s because it’s been mad at work and on-site. People have been asking for photos and updates. The build has not been without its challenges and they continue a pace.

Money is disappearing from the bank account like it’s going out of fashion and we have had to do some interesting juggling of finances!

I will get to doing a longer update this week however for now I’ll just add some photos. A lot has been done and things are progressing quickly now. Which is a good thing as we handed notice in on the rental and move out the 5th February!

Finished tiling

Downstairs ready for the kitchen

Stairs in

Lots of vans – always a good sign as means lots going on – the front blockwork is also finished

Radiators

Shut the gates and lock it up…

I found this post in my drafts is from the end of October, I’m sure I had posted it.

I am sure there are times on every self build that you just want to lock the gates and walk away and forget about it all. Over the last few weeks it’s fair to say that there has been more than one of these moments.

I have just had to read the blog to remind myself when I last posted and I can’t believe it’s been a month. To be fair a lot has been happening and a lot has been done but it certainly hasn’t been without its issues.

The good news is that upstairs is now completely boarded bar a small section of ceiling which is waiting for…you guessed it me to finish a job!) There is even plaster on the walls and ceilings in the three bathrooms. And the main landing ceiling has also been plastered, enabling us to remove the temporary boarding across the staircase.

We have window cills fitted in all the bedrooms upstairs as well. Basically it’s ready for the plastering. When the plasterers are free to do it!

Downstair has been generally catching up with the first fix and completing all of the Noggins ready for the plaster boarding to take place. This was meant to start tomorrow but will now be Monday. I haven’t decided if some of the excuses I hear from the building trade are genuine or made up. Apparently this delay is because the boarder coming to do our job has slipped a disc so they need to send another one!

The next steps upstairs is to finish the plastering by completing the rest of the rooms and for the tiler to come in and tile the bathrooms prior to the second fix of the bathrooms being done – once again this involves me spending time on the bathrooms floors. I think I am going to be working evenings by torchlight to get it done. I have even threatened to send George in with the sander to get a head start for me. The tiler arrives on the 5th of November. Hopefully by then there will be plaster everywhere else – certainly upstairs and board everywhere downstairs. Paint brushes will be out before we know it. Ideally the bathrooms would have had their mist coat and base coat before the tiler comes – we will see if that happens.

So why is it that I wanted to turn my back on the place – basically it’s the following reasons

  • Contractors that don’t listen and therefore don’t do the job properly
  • Contractors that moan about the job, even though they are capable of doing it and are on a day rate
  • Contractors that don’t turn up
  • Having to put right a contractors work because they haven’t listened
  • Stressing about asking a day rate contractor to do something within his responsibilities and capabilities because he’s going to moan about it.
  • Sadly most of these can be attributed to one person – it’s a means to an end at the moment but if I had had £400 quid in my pocket this morning (what I owed him) I would have given it to him and told him to sling his hook.
  • What else is next, well, next the floor starts going down, that’s my job, likely to be long days to complete it. The underfloor heating follows the next week with the screed being done the following day. And there is another reason I wanted to lock up. Who knew that screed took 1 day per millimetre to dry. Ours is 75mm thick. We were meant to be tiling it mid November. Ensue panic, thankfully after speaking to the screed company they can put an additive in which means it will be dry after 7 days and can be tiled at that point. It’s an extra £5 a square meter but it sounds like it will be worth every penny.
  • We finally had the back window put in, it’s not what we were expecting, we hope the window company will sort it out. They also turned up 5 days later and without the roof…the main thing we needed as we are desperate to get water tight. It could now be fitted today, or maybe tomorrow. The window company may find they are not being paid until the window is sorted!
  • One step forward two back..

    I think it is fair to say that in this process we seem to take one step forward and two back most weeks! We then get moments when people walk in and say yeah no problem you’ll be in for Christmas and we smile, because we have done this. Then it feels like we have taken lots of steps forwards and maybe a couple back!

    The last week has been the worst in the build – and that includes cranes not turning up! The tackers (plaster boarders to us laymen) were in and to be incredibly frank I could have done a better job myself, and actually did because in some cases I had to undo what they had done and redo it! There was no excuse for their efforts! The work was subcontracted by the guy I employed, but I lay him entirely to blame he had totally unrealistic expectations of doing the whole ground floor in 3 days with one man and a labourer. I spent four hours on Saturday putting right their work (particularly bad around the Velux window) and clearing up after them because they had made a right mess and had not cleared up a single thing. 12 rubble bags filled ready to sit on top of the skip! I was away. George took on the task of handling the main contractor and she did a fantastic job, she even told me not to get involved as I would blow up with rage. Thankfully that chapter is over and despite the challenges I actually think we took a couple of steps forward last week. Sadly the way of the building industry seems to be that it’s easier to pay to get rid of people than risk the hassle they might cause.

    As it was left, every room was like this:

    After a good tidy up…

    Thanks to Dad, who has been amazing help he painted the bathrooms with the mist coat before they were tiled. Steve the tiler has been hard at work and has done an amazing job, the family bathroom finished bar the grout (and a slight cock up caused by an electricity cable).

    Both other bathrooms have tiles on the floor and wall tiles starting to go up. Not entirely helped by the wrong tiles coming from the tile shop and it transpire the wrong tiles were sent from the factory in Portugal. I should have volunteered to go and collect them although I think George would have deserved the trip. Thankfully the right ones were sent by DHL and have already arrived!

    As you may have guessed as the tiles have been laid I managed to get all the floors prepped. It wasn’t an easy task, especially as the glue on one floor acted more like a grease, got there in the end though, just in time and only one draw wire pulled out by accident.

    Austin wanted to keep the orange floors:

    Meanwhile Colin has been continuing with walls and the plasterers have finished upstairs, including the staircase area ready for fitting that tomorrow. A day off for the tiler as he can’t get to work!

    After the bad rain on Friday I arrived on site on Saturday to a wet lounge. I’m not sure how it was getting in but Colin has moved his work to that area so the roofers can finish. What they had done should have made it watertight so not sure what has happened. Thankfully no plasterboard has suffered and generally we have been lucky.

    We have had a delay on the front door but that means the chippie can do some other things for me that day. Come the beginning of December it will be all systems go as everything should be watertight and secure!

    We bought paint!

    I don’t think I ever thought that it would happen but today I ordered paint. Partly because it was on offer and partly because the time has come to start painting. There is a desperate need to get a mist coat on the new plaster in the bathrooms before the tiler comes in what with that and trying to get the floors fitted it’s going to be a busy weekend.

    Progress has been made over the last week and the underfloor heating has been fitted downstairs. The plumbers have done a great job and really helped us out last week.

    Colin is back building walls. It hasn’t been without its issues though, having already spent a day having to dig out as the ground workers machine had pushed in one of the walls – it fixed now and ready for the next course.

    The floor screed has gone down today.

    Tiles have been ordered for delivery on Friday as the tiler starts on Monday plus all the kit for the underfloor heating in the bathrooms. The next couple of weeks are going to see some big changes.

    Upstairs will be finished from a plastering perspective except for the landing which needs the downstairs to be boarded before they can do that because they are obviously connected.

    We will also finally get the glass roof fitted. It’s been a long time coming and is much delayed but it will be fitted on Friday at the latest. Except for the glass which will follow but we will be fully watertight with the last of the doors also being fitted downstairs as long as the blockwork is finished.

    I’m in a state of shock that we are actually putting up decorative items. The electrician even suggested to me I may want to order the lighting…whoa hold on a minute let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

    Finally for now we have the stairs being delivered next week and fitted the week after ladders will be a thing of the past to get upstairs.

    More photos added tomorrow when I get to site!

    What have we been buying?

    Whilst all of the building work goes on there has been some significant purchasing in the background.

    • Front doors (finally we found something that met our requirements on price, look and integration to the smart home system)
    • Staircase
    • Internal doors (ish)
    • Tiles
    • Kitchens
    • Bathrooms

    All the decision made a while ago now need ordering. That means deposits and money going for nothing. We should quickly see these being installed.

    P.s. finally got an evening on the holiday to make some updates!

    P.P.S.

    We saw some dolphins off the North East Coast of the UK today. (No they are not floating tyres!)