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



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!


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

    Holiday time

    We managed a holiday, had a great week in Northumberland and the break away from the house has been really good.

    Before we left we had to get the floor insulated downstairs for the plumbers to fit the underfloor heating and then for the screed to go on top. We just about did it but it’s fair to say the plumbers have picked up the slack and finished a bit of the insulation and also the membrane fitting. It was just a stretch too far especially with the days shortening.

    When we get back we should have underfloor heating installed downstairs ready for the screed which has been delayed from being installed today.

    Colin is also back building walls, finally, and we are thankful for that. It’s been a long time coming to the point we nearly found someone else.

    The downstairs boarding whilst being quick has been lacking in standards and has to be fixed, the owner of the company has promised me it will be resolved. I hope it is as some of the workmanship is shocking. The irony being the boarded did nothing but complain about the workmanship of others.

    Lacking in photos today as not been there. They will follow!

    Week off

    I decided to take a week off this week. Partly as I had some holiday to use and partly because the jobs that needed doing before the boarding starts were mounting up. We also have ground workers onsite, the first trade I don’t really know so wanted to be about to try and keep an eye on them.

    If I am honest the week didn’t start particularly well. I seem to have spent about a day moving things around the site again as everything was in the way. The good news is that it meant we were finally able to get rid of the skip that has been full for about 6 weeks but we couldn’t get off the site. The bad news is that I think things will need moving again!

    The ground works team duly arrived on Monday morning and things already look a lot better. They have quite a list of jobs on their hands, and unsurprisingly there is a bill to match.

    • Foul water drainage
    • Rainwater drainage, including installing the harvesting tank and soak-away
    • Digging out the driveway
    • Retaining wall down the side of the property
    • Installing all of the service trenches including water, electricity and gas

    A good start has already been made the driveway has been graded to the garage including all of the mess at the to the side. The path down the side has been levelled ready to be dug for drainage and retaining walls.

    Whilst all of this has been going on Georgina and I have been taking advantage of both the children now being at school and are starting to tick of many of the jobs. I have finally put the bat boxes in place and they are ready hopefully never to be occupied. We did choose a slightly garish carpet to put them off. All the ceilings upstairs have had the vapour control layer fixed and we have been using up some of the OSB boarding by boarding some of the walls to add a bit mor sound insulation to some rooms.

    Evidence of bat boxes in place

    I have also started to wire the data points for the network and wireless. Something that isn’t as easy as I hoped it would be.

    The first fix plumbing is now all finished and the electrics are pretty close.

    Finally we had the arrival of the talking point of the week today.

    George thinks it will make a good piece of modern art. Suggestion such as children’s climbing frame have also been made. The reality is that it’s a 5000 Litre water tank for capturing rainwater from the roof of the house. This will then be pumped to a tank in the loft and used to flush the toilets and wash clothes. First off it needs to be buried in the front garden. Thankfully I don’t have to dig that hole by hand.

    With a decent amount of progress being made I’ll try and update the blog again at the end of the week.