Jump to content

ebuild is sad to announce its closure - it has become too time and resource intensive to develop, manage and maintain.

However, ebuild will remain on-line in archive mode (ie no posting facilties) for several weeks so that users can use it as an information resource.


I Am Not An Ebuilder

Posted by daiking , 21 July 2015 · 695 views

I am not an ebuilder, I’m not even a self-builder. So why am I here? I’m not even sure myself. I bought a small house on a reasonable sized plot, a 72m2 3 bed house, I think ‘bijou’ is the term over here it would be cosy elsewhere, on a 400m2 plot. The house itself is a 1960s brick semi-detached, very conventional with a pitched, gable end roof. The previous owner had not done a lot of work in the preceding 40 years so it was in poor condition.

The wiring was mostly original (rubber insulation) and there were about 7 sockets in the entire house. There was double glazing but it seems to dates from 1996 and despite having gas central heating of indeterminate vintage the 20 year old-ish system boiler required significant repair. After stripping off the wood chip wallpaper much of the plaster was cracked. The carpets were awful and the kitchen a disgrace.

So following the completion of the purchase in February, we embarked on a 5 week programme to overhaul the house and make it livable. At the same time my wife had no patience to wait on building a sizable extension so she lined up a designer and had plans submitted for planning permission within 4 weeks.

The initial works started out as just a full electrical re-wire but soon we added replacement of all plumbing and entire central heating system, replacement of bathroom suite, significant re-plastering as well as complete redecoration and flooring upstairs and down. The areas left relatively untouched were the kitchen and hall/landing as we intended changing these with the extension.

This is pretty much where it started to go wrong. The initial electrician was a cowboy, thankfully we were saved by a commercial contractor called in as a favour from someone. The plumber was not cheap but did an ok job on the heating, less so on the bathroom and I should have known then not to let my wife loose choosing fittings. The plasterers were not cheap either but did a decent job of skimming and working from brick where required. Unfortunately we have got dot and dab on a couple of outside walls as I did not realise at the time it was such an issue. The decorator did a good job but even at a ‘cheap rate’ you realise how quickly you can spend money getting something done properly. The tiler for the bathroom did a so-so job but at least used a proper materials. It says something for the area when even your tiler looks down on your choice of tile as cheap.

We chose carpets upstairs, vinyl tiles for the bathroom and downstairs started with the intention of stripping the floorboards and seeing how things went which was a bad idea but we are still on the boards. Somehow, against all the odds, enough work was done in 5 weeks to allow us to move in at the start of April and no one (me, the wife, and 7 and 3 year olds) has suffered serious injury since, unless you count my water infection. I still have a million and one odd jobs to finish off before I start on genuine improvements.

I didn’t like the position I found myself in at times, throwing money at problems and having to trust people to do things properly when I had seen no-one pay any sort of attention to detail or act like they cared. Despite this we ploughed on with plans to extend. We ended up with a plan to create a single storey extension to the rear opening out the existing small kitchen into a large open plan space to the rear and side and providing a second storey on the side to give us a much needed second bathroom. We also squeezed in a utility area and a fugly but functional downstairs WC. In total adding 50+m2 to the 70m2 house. Bearing in mind the house only cost around £200,000 we’re not budgeting much more than £1000/m2 for the actual build cost.

Again a traumatic experience, actual Architects wanting what seems like a fortune for a design. £3000, £4000, £5000 before costs. We just couldn’t take the risk, no real discussions about build type, only features that added costs. Some people not interested unless we were budgeting £100,000+ which was clearly OTT for our means and the house itself. In the end we settled for a simple conventional design from a local building designer we were introduced to via an acquaintance what the very least incorporated the features we wanted. Since it seems we should have covered far more, the external works, in our planning application

Obviously at this stage, the ‘planning’ drawings were very basic from a construction point of view. Most people must not care how things are put together so builders and designers alike get away with very simple, very common methods. And to an outsider, for that is what homeowners are, any deviation from convention results in a sharp intake of breath and a massive bill.

Although I’m deeply uncomfortable with my lack of understanding and general lack of information afforded to the typical customer, we pressed on contacting every builder anyone would mention without spitting at, looking for someone to start as soon as possible after planning is received.

So anyway, we’re further in the hole after paying the design, for planning, for building control and having lined up a builder. We got planning approved, reasonably straight forward although the plans needed adjusting a little to show parking for 3 cars following the garage demolition. The builder, I went to see some of his work which seemed fine to my untrained eye and I knew we were only getting the absolute basic level of construction. As I had no good reason to hold things up further, I agreed for the work to start.

March 2018

1213141516 17 18

Recent Entries

Recent Comments