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.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Big green machine

Look what appeared during dinner time!

Very apt colour!

Let's see it in action tomorrow.

The calm before the storm!

In Germany today isn't a bank holiday so when Ebi, the project manager, arrived from Germany after an 11 hour drive, he got straight to work! He started laying the bitumen based dpm (damp proof membrane) on the floorslab. After this is cut to size, needs to be set in place.

 With a stroke of luck, the four workmen from the company arrive from Germany in a brand new shiny van!
They very quickly lend Ebi a hand. They light the flame thrower and heat the bitumen on the underside of the dpm product so that it melts and binds to the concrete.

The position of the walls is marked with chalk lines on the floorslab.

A quick check of the plans.
The levels are measured and small pads are put in place every foot or so to compensate for the (very) slight differences in the floorslab levels. Meanwhile the workmen are surviving only on coffee!
The floorslab is ready, totally unsuspecting for what will happen tomorrow! 
Just when the workmen have finished and are getting ready for a good meal, Brian and Malcolm arrive to check out where they will put their camera to film the whole proceedings.

The heras fencing is extended and cones are placed on either side of the road. The safety sign goes up so it is now a hard hat and hi-vis jacket area! The van is left in front to make sure that no one else will park there.

It's just so exciting now, I don't think any of us will sleep tonight!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Loading time

The trailer is nearly ready now, while in the background another trailer is being packed.
The roof elements are loaded on a big lorry. All the elements have to be loaded on the correct vehicle so they can be off-loaded in the correct order when they get here.
Such a cool BIG LORRY! Can't wait till Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Malcolm the cameraman has been on site taking footage of the floorslab, don't worry it will be more exciting next week!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

All action here and in the factory

This is a busy day for our project both here and in Germany. Doru starts the day removing hedges, small shrubs and a small tree nearly gets the better of him, but not quite. With great effort Doru wins!

Just take a look at the heap of vegetation that Doru piled up!

The site is beautifully neat and tidy, the heap of earth from the site is flattened by Doru doing a dance across the front garden in the cute digger. That way they can reuse it to back fill the foundations later on.

The floorslab is then 'black-jacked' which I understand to be the application of bitumen based paint to waterproof the slab sides and top of the foundations.

Now we're all set to go.

Meanwhile, over in the factory in Germany things are hotting up. Over the last couple of days more of the elements of the house have been completed.

Like these long roof elements, looking like they're on the starting blocks ready to race out into the sun.

Those Juliet balconies are looking good.

 How's this for a cool staircase? We decided to have open tread so that we could allow the maximum amount of light in. It has bars between the treads for safety. The banisters are all wrapped up to keep them clean until the project is finished.

These have to be the best pictures yet. The panels are hoisted across the factory onto the waiting trailer!

 Room for another bit?
It won't be long now before I see the house myself; just over 4 days to go! Watch this space!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

From dreams to reality

Welcome to our house! Well the front door anyway! It has been constructed today in the factory.

This is one of the wall panels under construction, waiting for its insulation. (If you look at earlier blog entry 'Visit to the factory' the process is described there).
Here are more wall panels waiting for action. They definitely have our name on them but don't ask me what part of the house they are...maybe internal walls?

Kitchen wall.

The long wall of the sitting room/dining room that will face the garden.

Competition time, have a guess which wall panel this is? ...Maybe back of garage or an upstairs wall?

As we close the back door on today's blog, we are very excited to think that this time next week the house will be over here!

Monday, 24 May 2010

The last jobs on the floorslab

The shuttering around the drainage ducts is removed by James and the sand taken away so that there is a bit of 'give' for the ducts for ease of installation of services later on. The ducts will then be sawn down with plywood on top so that they are not a trip hazard during the construction process.
Doru tidies up the manhole for the foul waste, re-laying the loose brick work and smoothing down the insides. It looks as good as new! No tree roots here!

After a long, hot day in the sun, James and Doru have melted away but they were very tidy in the process! Only a bit of earth moving and we're ready for the house!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Inspection Day

On this potentially tense day, Ebi arrives from Germany to check the specification of the floorslab. If he is happy, manufacture of our house will take place in the factory next week!

Here Ebi is with Helmut, the UK agent for the housebuilding company, resorting to using a tape measure as the weather is too bright and sunny for the laser level!

While I'm waiting, I can't help but admire the work that's been done. How are these for some cute right angles on the beautifully smooth floorslab?

Happy with the length measurements, Ebi and Helmut check the levels.

Ebi and Helmut trying to find the laser level red dot! It must be there somewhere!

Finally Helmut and Ebi are happy; singing James' praises for an A1* super floorslab.

The company's eco-friendly sign goes up complete with a picture of our new house!

All systems go!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Shutters away

Hooray! Floorslab is looking good!

The shuttering has been removed, revealing beautifully smooth sides.

Thankfully, none of the neighbourhood cats have got stuck in the slab or left little paw prints.

It's really exciting ...just waiting for the inspection from the building company and then the arrival of the house!

Not long to go now!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Someone left the slab out in the rain!

Floorslab day is here!

It is drizzling.

James, Jerry and Andy are already on site when I arrive.

The concrete is pumped in, covering the cage.
The concrete mixer pours its contents into the pump. Watch out for those trees with that pump hose!

Those dark clouds don't bode well.

Trevor in charge of the remote control concrete pump. It looks like fun.


Jerry avoiding the ductwork

Andy levelling out.

James checking the levels.

Jerry fine tuning the direction of the concrete pour.

Nearly finished, a moment of reflection...don't stay too long, you might get stuck!

Taking a well deserved break.

Floorslab with porch pads in place. It's fantastic to see it down, the house looks like it will be huge again.

The day ends as it began...raining but we are all happy!