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.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Another step closer

The house is getting closer and closer to being complete. We still have a pile of sand out front and an interesting arrangement of grey stone whackered down by Gerry and Phil. We need to do the fence to the side of the house first and then we can look at finishing the front so it's going to have to stay like this for a while.

Surprisingly, the man came for our wood-burning stove today. He needed to drill a hole through the house so that he could install the fresh air duct. We have been dreading that moment, fearing that the render my crack. Instead it all went according to plan. He then sprayed the flue and its connectors with black spray. It looks rather like modern art. I'm longing to check it all works but it was just too warm today.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Muck truck

A favourite view of mine; a digger in the front garden. Now that we're settling in, we have to settle the house into its surroundings. The level of the ground at the front is too high.
Gerry loads the muck into the truck.

Some type 1 stone is laid and whackered down. Finally, the house begins to look rooted in its surroundings. There is a bit more work to do but things can progress more slowly now.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

We're back!

Finally, we have contact with the outside world!

Now we are happy in our new home.

The last two weeks since we moved in weren't without incident.

The move itself was great, only one wine glass was broken. The house has still got lots of boxes in strange places as we've been too busy to unpack as much as we'd hoped.

We also need to have a big tidy up as we've carted a lot of things around with us that we didn't need in our various recent moves. This time I'm going to get rid of it but the best bit is- we're not moving again so I can take as long as I need.

Here you can see the corridor and the sitting room behind it, viewed from the hall.

A well known cable company caused us lots of tension. We arranged the installation on the day after our move but the best laid plans and all that...!

Anyway, they couldn't get their cables through the dedicated conduit so the electricians managed to drill a new hole through the wall and floorslab. It was a very tense moment. Thankfully, they managed to avoid any underfloor heating pipes, the render or the aluminium drip strip under the wall panel, phew! Well done!

Things weren't plain sailing from there, unfortunately, but I won't bore you with the details here, I'm sure you all know what it's like. The good news is the internet now works.

Even before we had unpacked, we had our blower door test done. It was very interesting to see all the draughts that we still managed to get in our airtight house. The good thing is that we had a fantastic result. We needed to get less than 10m3/hr air leakage for building regs and we got less than 2m3/hr! It means our mechanical heat recovery unit will work efficiently.

A few days after we had moved in we noticed a dreaded problem that we'd had before in the bungalow: the loos weren't flushing properly! We had a horrible discovery outside. The new drains and chamber weren't draining away. We called in the professionals but they couldn't decide what was going on. There was only one thing left to do...who's got a shovel?

A digger appeared again on our sandy site, so Jerry and his brother Phil dug up the drains. It became apparent that the cast iron drain (on the left) was to blame. The join was misaligned and the section of drain had silted up, especially after the months of not being used had made it rock solid. The clay pipe that joined onto it was also full of small fractures, which could have been, amongst many things, the roots of the trees and bushes that had been on site. It was definitely time to replace those bad drains.
We decided that it would be a good idea to get another chamber on the run between the house and the main sewer but fortunately, Jerry and Phil found this! It was a pre-existing man hole in just the right place, it hadn't even come up on any survey but it was most welcome.
So now we have drains that work! It is a real blessing. We've learnt how much water we normally use and won't take if for granted.

I want to thank all our friends, neighbours and the leisure centre for all the showers, clothes washing and the use of the internet in the last few weeks, it was fab! You are all very much appreciated!