At Last

So finally we have started actually Building. Having delayed the builder a week he is now on catch up. At the same time I am trying to keep up and constantly am transferring money to other people accounts.

Foundations are currently being dug and filled in with concrete. We had some setting out problems but we soon sorted them out.

In the mean time we have ordered the block and beam flooring, pretty much finalised the windows and doors. settled on a plumber, electrician and MVHR company. The roofer has been organised and the quote for materials received.

Things are slowly coming together. who knows we may be thinking about kitchens soon.

Tomorrow I need to find a crane company, order some block and sand and meet the timber frame company for the final time before they come onsite to erect.


What did we do next?

We always knew we had a difficult site and that we would have limited opportunity to do anything about it. We therefore made a decision that would probably, and in some ways already has, come back to haunt us. We decided to make the rear garden as flat as we could.

If you had previously seen the garden you will realise this was no mean feat – it looked something like this:

There were two tiers in the garden already but the top section sloped up and was really unusable. The difference in height was 1.7 metres. We decided that we would retain the original walls and lower most of the rear section down to the existing level, leaving a “Gin Deck” at the top. The demolition company were going to do the work but then decided their machine was too big, so we hired a labourer. The next challenge was what seemed a relatively easy task turned into a mammoth task of clearance, severely hampered by the weather.
The reality being that even now it isn’t completely finished. However good progress has been made and we have a starting point, although there is still a lot of work to do, and what was removal has now turned into putting back.

The joys of living in Emmer Green mean we have hit solid chalk, whilst this is great to build on, the reality is you can’t really plant grass on it!! The ground worker also ran out of time an so it isn’t what I would call finished or clear, with the problem now being how do we finish and clear it. To be honest its a problem I am going to leave for now and will deal with some time in the future. The annoying part is paying to take stuff away when you know you are going to have to pay to bring it back in at some time.

Anyway, some photos below of the process.

So a Retaining wall or two is now needed so we have started building that. This picture shows a days work for me, with a second photo with another angle of the flat part.

The retaining wall is now ready to be built up after the concrete was pumped in. Albeit a bit too much concrete as the trenches without the rebar in were not meant to be filled!


Sorry for the delay in the updates, if anyone out there is still reading. What with being away and the weather it has been a bit of a challenge. I have also wanted to ensure I keep things in order and the cloud let me down and the photos were not available to upload.

Anyway we have made progress – and demolition has happened.

The soft strip was completed and “Bernard the window man” took some of the windows – we know this because he wrote on one of the walls. This is the sort of stuff that makes you smile in a pile of bills. I think they gave up trying to move the bath by hand and waited until they demolished it. I’m not surprised, during the work we did when we moved in I had to take the end panel off and could hardly lift it.

As you can imagine a small bungalow versus a 23 tonne digger and the bungalow didn’t last long, however I was surprised at how gentle they could be with the machine. The site was clear within a week including all the footings having been dug out. I didn’t see them start but did see the last of the demolition. including the size of the lorry they had on the site.

When I returned from Riyadh, in the snow there was only a small corner left. Austin Loved the fact the Digger was Orange – his favourite colour.

Once the snow had cleared and the lorries could get back in it was a matter of days until it was finished.

So that was it, a clear site and a blank canvas to start the next phase…but what was it!

While the cats away…

An early update this week as I have some time on my hands whilst in Saudi, oh and progress has been made.

The build is still not without its challenges now we finally have the bat license it seems that the ecologists availability has become a nightmare, and until he has briefed the demolition contractors they are unable to start soft stripping the roof! However, they have started to do other things and stripping out seems to have made solid progress.

We have a rough plan of action which sees the all go after demolition but we need to fit in some landscaping, hoping that’s something the demolition contractors can do, however we are still waiting on the structural engineers calculations for a retaining wall!

There are some photos of the strip out added as well. Hopefully by the time I get back the building will have gone.

Building a house, from Saudi!

Why is it that everything comes along at once. I haven’t had much work travel for 18 months, and the minute we start to think about starting this build then work decide there is a project for me in Saudi Arabia. Perfect! So that’s on of the reasons it’s been a while since an update, the other reason is that there just hasn’t been anything to update you on. Partly because Natural England are still messing with our lives and have delayed issuing the bat license again. This is one government department that is seriously messed up and needs a rocket up its backside.

We managed to have the Notifiable asbestos removed, but that wasn’t without its challenged. The day before SSE Networks were booked in to move the electricity supply and then following that our electricity supplier was booked in to move the meter to the temporary location. Except they didn’t turn up. When the asbestos contractors turned up there was no electricity on site. Eventually he arrived at 10.30 and moved the meter.

The challenge with the asbestos is that as you have to notify HSE how long it will take and how long you are on the job for you can’t delay or run over. Thankfully the team worked hard and everything was done in time with a slight delay to the final day. It doesn’t help the stress levels though.

The demolition company will start the soft strip on Monday but that’s all they can do until the license arrives and who knows when that will be.

The gas has been disconnected, that’s been the most successful thing so far and went without a hitch. Thames Water who were meant to disconnect the supply and connect the new one arrived 3 days late and for some reason only did the connection. They forgot the disconnection and now have to come back to do that later.

Otherwise everything is ready to go, we just have to wait for this license!

I have added some photos…not very exciting but shows some work has been done. In order…soffits removed, causing chaos for the water connection,and more removed soffits!!

Another update only a day later

OK OK, I got a bit excited today that our house build is causing an impact. Looks like we will cause one part road closure and one set of traffic lights over the next two weeks.

The interesting aspect of all of this is that the flow restriction to one way caused by the gas disconnection is actually in the road. The water changes are in the verge. Goes to show how different organisations treat Health and Safety.

Christmas break and Happy New Year

Well here I am back after the Christmas break. Things had gone completely mad, so we downed tools and did nothing for a week. In some ways it was great, in other ways there was a lot to catch up on when we got back. That and Georgina being very ill meant it has been a bit manic since Christmas and hence no updates.

Well we are ready to go, when I say we are ready that’s everyone except the bats. Natural England are still processing our application which means we can do nothing. However we have signed on the dotted line for our rental house and we have started moving out. The bats are even stopping the mortgage funds being released!

Preliminary works have started. We have a temporary electricity installation which just requires SSE Networks to come and joint the cable and move the meter, which is also booked. The gas disconnection is booked for the same day and Thames Water will disconnect the old supply and connect the new one the following week. All looking good on that aspect.

I was grateful last weekend for the help of my father who spent a day and a half with me in the garden finishing a list of jobs that seemed endless including marking the boundary between us and the neighbours so the builders don’t ruin anything, fixing a temporary post box, clearing a pile of garden rubbish, putting the meter box up, filling in trenches and

Now they are mostly done we can concentrate on the move and settling in. It feels strange moving, knowing we will do it all again in a years time.

Quotes are starting to come in for some of the other works as well and I have spent a bit of time investigating MHVR systems. Initially we had ruled them out but I think it will be worth having it. Interestingly whilst the costs were high so were the costs of the extraction as part of the electrical installation.

Our other nod to the environment is Rain Harvesting. The water can be used to flush toilets, water the garden and in the washing machine. I have identified the system we are looking to use and researched to ensure we get the best deal. Obviously such a system saves on the clean water usage.

We now have everything in place to get us watertight. There are some final checks on the windows but otherwise all going to a slightly delayed plan (yes those bats again) we should be watertight by the beginning of May.

The next stage is trying to sort out some of the things we haven’t even touched on yet, which include rendering, gutters, soffits and facias, staircases etc.

I’ll take some photos of the empty house at the weekend and the garden before it becomes a building site to give something a bit more exciting to look at!