Welcome to our blog.

This blog will follow the ultimate in home improvement: demolish and rebuild!

This is our starting point: a 1930s bungalow. While not a bad house; it is too small for us with three teenage children so what should we do? A full storey extension versus complete rebuild - ultimately the stronger eco-credentials and more certain finances of a new-build helped to guide our choice.

For a number of years we've been trying to find the right route for us to build an eco-friendly, low energy home. We tried various architects and building companies and have eventually settled with a German prefabricated build. The new house will be nearly to passivhaus standards (but not quite due to budget constraints). In any case, the house will be heavily insulated and airtight.

As a family, we have not built a house before so everything is new and exciting but the risk of making a mess of things is quite high!

This blog aims to outline the day to day steps involved in our build.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Elves have been!

While we were out, doing our usual saturday things, some elves came and mysteriously tidied up the site a bit more! There were rumblings of a large container arriving on site, the excavator being operated but when we got there, it was all quiet again and more of the rubble had gone!

Friday, 29 January 2010


There was a cold wind this morning that did not bode the house any good. It started as a seemingly calm day with the men working on the dodgy tiles in the sitting room.

There was a bit of a light-hearted atmosphere with party hats all round.

Suddenly, things took a turn for the worse before lunch as the excavator got back to work with its pincer action.

Suddenly, just as my youngest returned from school, we were down to the last piece. Guy was about to go to lunch but we asked him not to; we didn't want to miss the last wall! He started the engine again, we each held the camera and....



There was nothing left standing!

A new calm descended on the site.

It was tidy-up time! And even better; the weekend!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Monster Mash!

What can I say? Within an hour of greeting the demolition guys, the site was barely recognisable. The front of the house had gone and we were looking into what was a bedroom.

Then they discovered that the ceiling and floor was riddled with woodworm, it looked like a teabag and crumbled in an instant! So much for the survey we had before we moved in! The demolition wasn't a moment too soon!

All the wood components of the house were separated into the large container. Guy was a dab hand with the grab arm, carefully separating the rubble into glass, metal, insulation, masonry, wood etc.

As Guy controlled the monster, Danny and Ian sorted out the smaller bits of rubble. Then more walls came down! Yippee!

It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it....

How's this for open plan: bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, garden?
Bath anyone?

Then the floor was gone!
It was all looking reminiscent of a sci-fi movie with the invasion of the monster with the killer grab arm, picking its prey. Just as well there was an action man around!

By the end of the day, all that was left standing was the sitting room, and a bit of the back wall with a view to the summer house, oops, site office!

As a little girl said when she scootered past after school,
"Woah! There was a house here, this morning!"

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Lofty Demolition

This morning I caught a rare glimpse of the back of the house. The old extension, that's causing tension, was still standing. The demolition guys need to remove some dodgy tiles stuck tightly to the floor in there.

Meanwhile, the icy air is fairly blowing through the house now, the loft hatch was especially draughty. Incidentally, the loft ladder mysteriously disappeared overnight. Guy was using it to get up there yesterday and today it was gone!

The other thing that was gone by the end of the day was the roof! The chimney is still standing, a lonely pillar amongst the rubble. Note the excavator now has its gripper arm handy. A massive pair of tweezers to take out floorboards and attic joists etc.

Tomorrow may be a bit more dramatic as the walls begin to come down.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

It's Clobbering Time!

They were right, it was a big machine! Bigger than our little house!

It was a strange day, watching the house being dismembered. The house didn't stand a chance against the machine.
Mind you, it was not a rush job because they are saving as much as possible to re-use. The tiles were the first to go.
Guy is the site manager; an expert at the fine art of tile tossing.

It is very odd because I have to watch from the other side of the fence. I was allowed through briefly but it was a bit emotional to see the house in such a state.
The day ended on site with the roof tiles, doors gone; one truck load of materials taken away. Then I returned to the rental house for a three hour meeting with the building company, plumber and electrician to help with detailing all the elements in the new house!

Monday, 25 January 2010

All systems go

This has been a busy day. It started at 7.30 am when I met the SSE power distribution people on site. Unfortunately, our meter box did not fit their criteria (i.e. it wasn't plastic). They agreed to return later on in the day if I bought a plastic one in the meantime.

Before I had a chance to go to tackle the very male-dominated Jewsons, the plumber arrived to do the standpipe. Unfortunately, he could not find the water pipe at first (i think there may be a theme here) and dug a large hole in the line of bushes with no success.

While I was out, SGN sent someone with a tarmac machine and filled in their hole - that was quick work.

The plumber was by then fighting with the bushes to make another hole and then promptly disappeared; not inside the hole but instead mumbled something about parts. Meanwhile I started fighting with my new PLASTIC meter box.

It wasn't easy balancing a meter box on one leg while standing over a trench, and meanwhile trying to screw in the box to a bit of unstable ply. I was not going to give in but I'm very pleased that there wasn't anyone overhearing my colourful language.

Suddenly, while my back was turned, and I was thinking about a late lunch, like buses, everyone turned up at once.

The SSE blokes came to sort out the diverted temporary power supply. I hope they were wearing rubber boots.

Then the plumber returned and sorted out the standpipe.

And the portable loo arrived.

For a while there, we were overwhelming the street. It's a good thing I have kind neighbours. Neighbours, if you're reading this, THANK YOU but I'm afraid there is worse to come...tomorrow the demolition guys are moving in with a (so I'm told) BIG MACHINE.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A moment

Over the weekend, we all went over to the house to check that there was nothing else we wanted to keep.

It is odd how everyone felt a bit upset about our house going. It feels a mixture of relief that we are finally making progress but also quite poignant because it is still a functioning house that was our home. We will just have to keep looking forward.

Where have the electricity cables gone?

We had then to organise (thanks to the electrician) a ground worker to trace the cables from the house until clear of the location of the future foundation, dig a big hole and run a trench to the fence for a temporary supply.

Cue James and Jerry and Jerry, they arrived with a cute digger. Fantastic work!
Thankfully the cables didn't branch off to the neighbours, phew! That would have meant further delays and cost implications.

Disconnection of services

Disconnection of services is not a simple matter of phoning a few people, everything had to be carefully organised (until the snow and the arctic temperature set in).

SGN coping in the snow, good work lads! Thank you also to my neighbour who helped with cups of tea when the hypothermia set in!

The SSE turned up at the same time, they seem to have lost the electricity cables. The SGN guys' hole next to the house, managed to uncover both gas and electricity, but what path did the cables follow to the street?

Somehow during this day, the house stopped being a house and we started referring to it as the site.

The beginning...

Moving out on a snowy day...