House Progress Report

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

Hmmm, better have an update on how things are going with the house before the date clicks over the next higher digit.

The application for the building warrant went in in the middle of July. Once it was in and basically accepted I took over dealing with the council directly to cut out the delays introduced by going through the house designer. He tended not to respond to anything until he had a complete new set of documents leaving me fretting about what was going on and unable to comment on anything.

There weren't any major problems with the house design as submitted but the building control officer had a quite a list of questions on details. About half were easy to deal with; others such as being able to turn a wheel chair round in the fairly small kitchen and the details of the heat recovery ventilation and the rainwater harvesting system took a bit more thinking and drawing.

Anyway, after a number of exchanges of email and two meetings at the council offices the building warrant was issued towards the end of October.

A week or so before that, when it was apparant that there were only specific details to be dealt with on the warrant, I started on getting the steel brackets to go at the base of the main posts of the house and between the posts and the purlin beams fabricated.

This took a while as there were a couple of open questions on details of their design which took a couple of email exchanges with the structural engineer to get sorted out to a stage where I was happy - the SE was pretty slow at responding to my questions.

I wanted to get that in hand before talking to the builder I originally had lined up to do the foundations to make sure that the project was really “shovel ready” at that stage; I messed him around a bit earlier in the year and didn't want a repeat of that.

After a bit of prompting we met at the site and I explained what I wanted done in detail. A change from earlier in the year was that the SE had specified poured concrete for the foundation pads instead of the use of concrete blocks which I and the house designer had originally envisaged.

The builder went away to have a think about the project; I could see he was not completely happy but it was only after our discussion that I realised that really this project would be a lot of hassle for him, as a one-man builder, with coordination of a digger and the concrete pour for not a lot of real work on his part.

When a clear week had gone by with nothing more from him I started wondering if I should start looking elsewhere. I found two small local building firms which seemed possible and got in touch with each, meeting both on site over the following weeks. Both seemed quite possible and both quoted.

The more local and more communicative one was considerably cheaper so the choice was not difficult. I did dither on whether to chase up the original builder but given that, though he'd probably work out quite a bit cheaper as I could do more of the work myself (e.g., at least some of the donkey work with shuttering), the potential for delays at the time of year when grabbing weather windows is critical made it not sensible. If he'd been pushing for the work I'd have thought differently.

Nobody could start until the New Year so we'll just have to see what the weather allows.

In the mean time I got the steel work fabricated. It was actually ready at the beginning of the week of the 8th of December but it was blowing a gale at the time so I arranged to pick it all up (about 650 kg of it) on Monday the 15th and take it to the galvanizers in Elgin (about 200 km each way) on Tuesday.

I thought that would be it until after the holiday as I'd been told they normal take a few days to deal with a job so I was surprised to hear on Wednesday afternoon that they were ready. I went down early on Thursday morning to pick them up and take them to my container.

The base brackets which the main house posts will sit on stacked up in the container. Some pictures of how they and the purlin brackets will be used in the “shuttering” discussion linked above:

The brackets at the top of the posts holding the purlin beams in place, laid out on the ground to check. The six odd ones further away will go on various gable positions whereas the others, a few of which are in the foreground, will go on the posts within the house and greenhouse:

It's nice to have something concrete (well, steel) in hand. Actual concrete soon, I hope.