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Posted by eddleetham , 19 March 2015 · 1,363 views

Well I've ordered the timber frame - from Timber Kit Solutions - and I'm now awaiting their detailed design drawings and foundations design. However things are being held up because I've changed my mind about the chimney. It's something my designer put on the drawings without being asked, and as my wife wants a wood burning stove I thought it looked OK so left it in the plans that were subsequently approved.

However closer analysis has persuaded me that putting a stove inside a chimney breast and feeding the flue up the chimney may not be the best or most economical way of doing it. So I've decided to reduce my costs by having a free-standing stove with the flue going vertically upwards and out through the roof. I thought that the planners would have no objection if I simply removed the chimney from the designs. How wrong I was! They have insisted I submit a new application for variation of the original plans, which will delay things by several weeks.

I had a chat with someone building a new house just down the road, which has a chimney, and he told me that in retrospect he wishes he hadn't built one. So if my application gets rejected, then I'll just have to build the chimney as a non-functional brick skin in order to keep the costs as low as possible.

I'm also using this pause before construction starts to work out the most economical way of getting the utilities connected. Normally the advice is to go to each of the incumbent suppliers and get them to make the connections, while digging and reinstating the trenches myself. However getting quotations from them is turning into a nightmare.

National Grid will give you a free online quotation for gas if the meter box is up to 40 metres from the boundary; but if you are just one metre further away you have to pay £400 + VAT for a Non-standard Connection quotation - and that's not reimbursed if you eventually accept their quotation! What a rip-off! My house is 55 metres from the road, so I'm stuck. United Utilities will not give you a quotation for water unless you pay them £141 + VAT, though that may be deductible from their final bill. SP Energy Network have given me a free quotation for electricity, thankfully, but it's more than £3000, which is far more than I was expecting.

I've learnt that the non-contestable works may be carried out by approved contractors, so I'm hoping that a multi-utility contractor can offer me a better price if they connect all three services (or 4 if sewer connection is required) at the same time. Unfortunately very few of these contractors are interested in a single dwelling connection.

As the new house is being built in the back garden of my present house, I'm hoping that the foul water can be connected to the existing house drains, which could save me a sewer connection charge of up to £10,000, I'm told. Unfortunately the existing drains are very shallow, so I'm not sure if there will be enough fall from the new house to the old.

I'm also wondering if the gas, electricity and water can be teed off the current house supplies in order to reduce costs, but I've not yet investigated that option.

It seems that the more time you have during your building project, the more things you think about and investigate, and the more time you spend on the project. Hopefully it will turn out OK in the end...

I had the same challenge on working with existing sewage connections (we're demolishing) good detail here on how to calculate falls etc. Just about managed to reuse the existing main.

Have you had your invert levels surveyed yet?

You can do the ones on your own property but need permission to lift any road covers (if you're even able to budge them).

The downstairs WC seems to be the one that will drive all the subsequent falls

Failing that, could you use a pump in a chamber to compensate?
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I believe that the fall will be OK (I've been told that up to 1 ind 74 will be OK if using 6 inch pipe); the problem is that the existing manholes are so shallow that the connecting pipe may be too close to the surface. It's possible that a pump in a chamber may help, but it would have to be outside my boundary, so is probably not an option.
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If it's marginal, why not consider the landscaping, and perhaps raise the ground level even if just along one side of the house where the drains will run. After all you need to find a home for all the soil that comes out and it's cheaper to use it on site than pay muck away.
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Interesting comments about the chimney. Why is your neighbour regretting having one built? We are looking to have one built to accommodate a WBS so any comments / thoughts would be useful.
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For an efficient WB stove to operate at its best, chimneys should (ideally) be lined anyway so, as Ed has realized, why go to the expense of building one for purely aesthetic reasons?

There is a 10-house development here that was originally submitted without chimneys but which the planning committee insisted should have chimneys "to fit into the local vernacular", one established by terraces of old miner's cottages (circa 1900) and post-war council housing.

I guess it's one of the advantages of Outline Planning Permission with all matters reserved.
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One I thing I have realised about OPP is it gives the planners an opportunity to impose conditions about what they would like to see when the final plans are submitted.

Next time (if ever there is a next time) I would go straight for full plans if possible, thereby denying them the chance to add their "wish list" to my design.
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Is the chimney internal or does it sit outside. If its just an internal chimney you could make it look like a brick block chimney by making a frame on the roof and use brick slips or render to make it look like a real chimney from the outside. That should keep them happy if its just the look of it there concerned with.
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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

I think my neighbour had problems getting it built to the correct spec, and it was also the added expense of a chimney.

The cost is also my concern, as well as a couple of other issues. If the stove sits inside the fireplace, then it means making a very large opening in the timber frame, as it will have to be protected from the heat. So there will be a lack of insulation around the chimney breast. If the stove sits in front of the wall and the flue goes through the wall into the chimney, it will have to pass through the wall at 45 degrees, which is tricky, and then go through another 45 degrees into the pumice liner, wich would be even trickier. A metal flue going straight up and through the roof is both much simpler and much cheaper.

The plans show an outside chimney going all the way up the gable end. So if the planners insist on it staying, I'll get the brickie to throw one up just for show. It will still be cheaper and better than building a functioning chimney. I just need to know which way the planners are going to go, as the foundation design can't be finalised until I know whether it needs to support a chimney.

Connecting the utilities is my other worry, as I can't get anyone (apart from SP Energy Network) to give me even a ball-park figure without paying out up front. If I were going to use the incumbent providers, I would just pay up as there's no choice; but I'm still trying to find out if I canmake a significant saving by using an independent contractor. Unfortunately the use of contractors to do non-contestable works is quite a recent development and few people seem to gone down that route, so advice is very thin on the ground.

One thought I had was to tee off the supplies going into my present house in order to circumvent the new connections, but if no idea whether that would be allowed.
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Look at my post re gas meter the other day.
National grid surveyor advised me to have a meter separate from the house within the 40m range and a feed to the house off that.

Apparently to +40m quotes are mega money as they upsize stuff?!
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oz07, on 20 March 2015 - 08:53 PM, said:

Look at my post re gas meter the other day.
National grid surveyor advised me to have a meter separate from the house within the 40m range and a feed to the house off that.

Apparently to +40m quotes are mega money as they upsize stuff?!

Thanks Oz. That's an interesting idea. In fact my present gas meter is in a little brick cabinet down the garden, near the road. I alway wondered why on earth it was put there, but the guy who built the house seemed to do everything on the cheap, so maybe he put it there to save money?

Anyway, I guess I could do the same. As you say, I suspect that the price shoots up when the distance exceeds 40m, so a nice short run to the meter should save a packet!
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Can't beat a subsidised connection. Bet that stops when you go over 40m!
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