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It All Happened So Quickly!

Posted by eddleetham , 29 June 2015 · 1,179 views

Well everything was under control, or so it seemed, then the builders started work and it's been non-stop trying to keep up ever since. There seem to have been so many decisions to make, while trying to carry out last minute research, that I've not had time to write the next chapter of my blog. It's more than 3 months since my last entry, so I'll try and remember what happened and in what order.

Firstly, I managed to get a satisfactory conclusion to the utlities conundrum. It turns out that the new house will be quite a bit higher than my present one, so there's plenty of fall on the drains and I can connect directly into the existing drains without having to resort to a pumped chamber - and without an extortionate charge for a new connection. Also, I discovered that if I have my gas and electricity meters in a cabinet within 10 metres of the front boundary, I can save thousands of pounds. And by getting the water company to install a boundary meter I have also managed to cut my water connection costs considerably. At one point it looked like the three utility connections would cost me £10,000 or more; but by using this trick I managed to cut the costs to £1430 for water, £200 for gas and £1440 for electricity.

I went to see my timber frame company for a discussion of the final spec and Simon suggested a couple of new products that he's started recommending to his customers. For insulating the walls and roof, there's the Hybrid range from Actis. Hybris is a loose sandwich containing lots of air pockets. It has excellent thermal properties and is much easier to cut that PIR foam. That will get the u-value down to around 0.20, while adding a layer of HControl Hybrid between the frame and the services void will reduce it to 0.17 or so. It's not passivhaus standard, but it's good enough for me. We also decided that as the house is one and a half storeys and I want roof windows high up above the landing, the best way to do it is to have vaulted ceilings throughout the first floor. So I'll also have the same insulation in the roof, which will give me a u-value of 0.16, according to the online calculator at http://hybrid.insulation-actis.com/.

As for the floor, Simon suggested using Tetris, which is a PIR-type material used to replace the concrete blocks in a beam and block floor. Due to its light weight, the beams can be spaced further apart, so fewer beams are needed. Also, as some of the insulation is below the top of the beams, the overall floor thickness can be a little less than with a traditional construction. That should help me with my tight restriction on ridge height.

I have started a build diary, so can refer to that now. A good friend of mine has a building company and has done lots of small repair jobs for me, but he has years of experience and has recently taken on two subcontractors with lots of building experience, so I'm using him for most of the building works, starting with the groundworks. They cleared the site at the end of April ready for the piled foundations which I need, due to the close proximilty of trees. I was amazed at the huge variation in price I was given when requesting piling quotations - the larger firms wanted more than twice as much as the smaller guys, who still quoted me £14,000. Still, building control were insisting on piles, and it meant a lot less much to cart away, so there would be savings in other areas. The pilers wanted a flat site covered in hardcore, which we provided, then they turned up and sunk the piles. We then had to dig trenches for the ring beams and then they came back, put down the reinforcing for the beams and poured the concrete. However digging trenches between the piles was not at all easy; it would have made more sense to dig the trenches first and then sink the piles.

My builder friend was amazed at the price they charged for the piling, so we're looking at the possibility of starting a new business which will do both piling and groundworks. It makes much more sense for all the foundations to be done by one contractor, rather than splitting it between two. Something for the future.

The groundworks took a lot longer than I expected and used up a lot of hardcore. We found that there was a lot of water seeping into the trenches from the new housing development next door, which is higher and used to be a canal dredgings tip. Still, we managed to get it all done and signed off by building control, which was a big relief as I was worried that they would insist on clayboard being installed.

So everything is now ready for the timber frame to arrive.

Attached Image

Ill unashamedly take the credit for those boundary meters!
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Ooh, please elucidate!
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So that's at least 4 of us who have our meters in boxes on the boundary, rather than in or on the actual house.
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