The latest on site

So what has been going on in the last few weeks… well, quite a lot in fact (to my relief!). I really feel that things are starting to take shape which is so great to see.

  • The sliding glass is in
  • The underfloor heating is fully installed
  • The heating is now on
  • Plastering of the walls is in full swing
  • Bathroom tiling has begun
  • Floor tiles for the open plan space have arrived

Can’t wait for the next developments…!

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Onwards and upwards

Since my last post I can (with a smile on my face) inform you that we have managed to secure an earlier slot for the windows. Thankfully, someone who is also buying from our window supplier is willing to trade their delivery slot of the 16th December with our slot of the 2nd January. It has come at a small cost but well worth it given our kitchen is still scheduled for the 12th December and we will have a secure house over Christmas. Now cue the happy dance…!

And today, as scheduled, we have taken delivery of our sliding glass doors for the extension.

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Some more good news… we have our new roofers on site today and the scaffolding didn’t need to be removed after all – what a relief! It is all go!

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Pictures of the final results to follow!

Things are never simple…

What could go wrong when doing a house renovation you ask…? Well, a lot! Since the episode of the red bricks we have come across a number of “obstacles” which have all tried to test our stress levels, and cash flow!

The latest (and most impactful) is the delay of our windows. Yes, no build project would be complete without an issue around windows! We were hoping for a delivery at the end of October/early November but we are now faced with early January. Reason for the delay lies with our builder, unfortunately the order didn’t go in early enough and we were ‘pipped to the post’ by a very large window order from Ireland. This is a total nightmare as our kitchen is being delivered and installed from the 12th December. Under no circumstance can moisture get to out cabinets as otherwise the wood will expand and contract resulting in an ill-fitted kitchen.

We are trying everything we can to improve on this January delivery; sourcing new suppliers, incentivising our current provider and even asking to buy someone else’s window delivery slot. With Christmas just around the corner, the hope of improving this delivery is looking rather slim. I will of course, keep you all updated on progress.

Meanwhile, our roofers have decided to up their previously quoted price for the zinc roof by +50%. Why you ask? There is no reason. Apparently “your client” (i.e. me) “is very particular and therefore to ensure the work meets her standards, we would need to increase our price”. What a load of rubbish and pure admittance that the work they were planning to do was quite simply going to be a ‘bodge’ job!!!  Well, we are better off without them I say! We have (hopefully) sourced a new roofer and now just waiting for a confirmed start date.

As with most things, this roof delay has had a knock on effect. The scaffolding is still up which will now impede on the installation of our large sliding glass doors which are due to arrive on Tuesday. I have asked if we can push the installation date back but that would need to shift all the way to January. Not an option. We have no choice other than to take the scaffolding down to allow for the glass fitting, and then put it back up after. Agh, what a pain!

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Finally, we have had a few niggles with the lounge stove and chimney. We were originally planning to keep the existing fireplace and just install a new stove with a backwards flue system. When reviewing the style of this verses the style of what we striving for in the house, we felt that the existing red brick and flint fire place was too traditional and not modern enough. We have therefore decided to opt for a much more modern fireplace design that consists of a full height plastered chimney breast. So, work begun taking down the old fireplace and a new one was built.

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My plan is to install shelving and cupboards either side of the chimney breast, similar to the below design.

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Only after building the new chimney breast, were we advised that the stove flue could now be designed to go vertically out of the stove which is a much preferred option for air flow and general stove performance. Plus, the look of this is far better as you can see your flue above your stove closing the gap between the stove and the lintel.

If we had known about this before the fireplace was rebuilt there would have been absolutely no issue, no cost and no trouble to simply install the flue through the wall and then build the block work around it. But, given the block work had already been done, things were a bit more tricky. The flue installers came today and could only install the flue up to the highest point under the lintel. This resulted in the flue having to be at a 45 degree angle which I really didn’t like!

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So, me being me, I couldn’t live with this and had to ask for the block work to be removed so the stove fitters can come back and install the flue higher up on the wall so the 45 degree angle is hidden behind the chimney breast and not on show. (I’m sure I make this harder for myself by being so particular…!!).

This has now been done (all on the same day) and I have arranged for the stove fitters to come back next Thursday to move the flue position. Now breathe…

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Aside from the “obstacles”, first fix of the electrics is almost complete and the plumbers are in full swing with the bathroom pipework and underfloor heating. The balcony for the master bedroom has come down and new structural drawings have been provided so we can proceed with building a new column-less balcony. The roof tiles for Riley’s roof have been laid, fascia’s, guttering and downpipes have all been installed and most of the required plastering has been done. We are getting there, it just feels ever so slow right now, and such a struggle!

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Thanks for reading! x

Red blo*dy bricks!

Sorry for the lack of a build updates recently. Things have been rather tense after coming to terms with the fact that the bricks used on the extension are not a good match to the existing.

The issue with them is that they are too red/orange in colour, looking brand new and unsympathetic to the original bricks on the existing house.

It all became much more noticeable when the fascia of the existing house above the extension was replaced but with correctly matched bricks (i.e. not all red ones). The fact that the brickies could get the right colour bricks simply highlighted that the extension bricks were wrong.

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These are the left over bricks that were meant to be used to complete Riley’s brickwork – they are all red!!
So, yesterday it all came to blow. I had to express my concerns and general disappointment over the lack of colour match with our builders. A site meeting was arranged to discus the issue, what could be done to resolve it and ultimately decide who was going to pay to put things right. Needless to say this was a tricky conversation (it’s never easy to point the finger and for someone to accept responsibility).

Regardless of who’s fault this was, the bricks had to come down and be replaced with new ones. Ones that include a mix of colours to match the bricks on the existing part of the house. Thankfully, we came to an agreement (without dispute) and works started immediately to demolish the extension bricks.

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Our head builder went straight to the merchant’s yard and physically hand picked the right mix of coloured bricks (1200 in total). And today, we took delivery of them for the brickies to crack on with the rebuild.

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Delivery of new (less red/orange) bricks!
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I’ve got to say, I’ve been really impressed with the way our builders have responded to this issue. Not only have we come to an amicable resolution, the speed to put this right has been fantastic. One day on and we have half built extension corners which look much better (and more natural) in colour match to the original bricks. Long let this continue!

I’m just so pleased that I didn’t let this lie as I never would have been happy and would have always wished I had said something. I must say a thank you to my mum who was very supportive on this and in fact very persuasive to ensure I did something about it!! Thanks mum!

A momentous day!

Evening all,

It’s been a while since my last post (18 days in fact) and this is solely because very little has happen during this time. Thankfully, we rectified the issue that was our incorrect plans and were able to proceed with the steels order. Little did I know that the order would take up to three weeks to come through and in that time all works on the house would halt. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to not see any builders on site!!

That however, all changed a few days ago when we had four “brickies” on site to build the side walls to our extension. These went up in a matter of days and was so great to see.

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Yesterday, we had a wonderful (and I’m not being sarcy – it was, honestly, wonderful) delivery of steels to the house. Hooray!

And today, we had a team of eight builders on site working flat-out to get the steels in and up. Whilst working in the office today, I had my trusty web cam link refreshing every few seconds to update me with the latest events unfolding (thanks Dad, I could not be without this camera!). Today was a momentous day and hopefully the footing for us to continue onwards and upwards with this build.

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Our next milestone comes on Tuesday when we have IQ Glass coming to carry out the site survey measurements for the large glass sliding doors. This can only be completed once the steels and frame opening has been completed. With less than a week away, we have our work cut out. Everyday counts!

Good news, we are back on track!

Thankfully we have found a solution to our structural dilemma. Our engineer has confirmed that the external leaf of the new cavity walls for bedroom 3 can be supported on 10mm steel plates. Beams D1 and D2 are to be located in line with the existing partition wall above (and with the inner leaf of the cavity walls).

This is great news as not only can we move forwards, but there is minimal change to the existing steel plans and no need for any ground work to reposition the existing support.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am!

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Utter Dismay

We have suddenly found ourselves in a position that we really do not want to be in. Our plans are incorrect.

On Saturday, as our builder measured up for the new steels, he realised that there was an issue with the plans. One of the existing structural supports in the dining room has been drawn in a different position to where it actually is and where it is on the survey drawings.

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This is a massive stumbling block as we are at the point of ordering steels but unable to proceed as it now looks like this support should in fact be knocked down and rebuilt in a different position.

Conversations today between our architect and engineer, have now centred around whether moving this support, as per the plans, will in fact do the right job in supporting the outer leaves of the cavity walls to the sides of bedroom 3 as beams D1 and D2 will not catch them. Also beam C needs a plate on top it to support the cavity wall above, as it is not wide enough.

Untitled-2The latest recommendation from our architect is to introduce an additional beam supporting the outer leaf between beam B2 and beam C supported on a “shelf” beam located directly on the other side of beam C with a steal plate between the two.

This is now with our structural engineer who now has the correct plans and is able to re do the calculations to see whether our design is in fact still possible.

To say we are frustrated and upset is an understatement.

I will of course, update you all with further news (and hopefully progress).

On the hunt for wood flooring 

Last Friday, Riley and I decided to venture into London town on a quest to find the right type of wood flooring for the house. We visited the recently opened Havwoods showroom in Great Sutton Street which offered us the opportunity to view large samples of their products all in one space. We even managed to get daddy to join us and partake in a spot of lunch afterwards!

We were well looked after in the showroom and even offered a fresh cup of tea and piece of cake on the side.

We managed to whittle it down to a shortlist of 4 types of engineered word flooring (we have to go with engineered wood rather than solid wood as we are having underfloor heating). Our shortlist consisted of all oak woods but in varying finishes, grades and thicknesses.

We are swaying towards character grade (2nd best, Prime being the best), UV-oiled to give a natural look and feel and 13mm in depth rather than 20mm due to a slightly cheaper price and also the 13mm being more than adequate in a residential home.

The question we are circling around is whether to go with a natural finish (sample on the right) or a smoked finished (sample on the left). Matt is routing for the smoked due to it’s richer quality but I’m nervous that this may be too dark throughout the house…?

Below is an image of the smoked wood in situ at Harrods Jazz cafe in London.

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I think we need some more time to think and to do a little more research before we make our final decision but Friday was definitely a worth while trip. Some might say it was a little tiring though….

Thanks for reading!

Week 2

Things are starting to get a little scary…! Windows have come out, walls have come down, supports to hold the house up have gone in and foundations are starting to be dug out.

Despite the progress, we have unfortunately come across our first stumbling block; the foundations to the original part of the house which dates back to early 50’s, are not deep enough to support the new steals that we need to put in for the extension. The current depth is 80cm and we need between 100-150cm. So, there’s only one thing for it, to dig down and around to backfill and strength the existing foundations. This will require an additional 2 days of digging work and result in 100cm of concrete having to go underneath and to each side of the foundations.

That’s it boys, take it all in… we need to ensure our builders keep to the plans!

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Here you will see works have already started on digging down below the existing foundations.

Thanks for reading! x

Week 1

Wow, demolition is quick! It’s only been a week since the builders came on site but jeez, a lot has happened in that time! On Monday we could hardly step foot into the house because it was full of rubble – we had tonnes of the stuff (literally).

Upstairs, all carpets had been removed and everything was stripped back.

All efforts today and yesterday, have been on clearing the house from all it’s rubble and debris, burning anything that can be burned and removing the ceilings from the kitchen/dining areas. Here are the latest pics…

Thanks for reading! x