House Walkthru

Friday, 27 August 2010
Our build has been on the go for four weeks and we can now confirm that the brickwork for the ground floor looks like it has been completed. Upstairs, not much brickwork was left, to be honest!

And to celebrate the downstairs construction, we have a special "walkthrough" video clip:

(sorry about the brightness)

A professional would have added captions and titles and voice-overs to the walkthrough. The excitement means that I didn't have the time to do that. In short, however, the walkthrough takes the following route:
  • Back Living Room/Kitchen/Diner
  • A look-see into the Utility room
  • The front Living Room (or dare we call it a lounge? Prentitious? Possibly)
  • From the hall, we swing round to look into the downstairs WC
  • We then look at the guest bedroom and take a peak at the ensuite
  • And finally we enter the study before moving out into the hall again

Hope you like it!

12 Courses Completed

Tuesday, 24 August 2010
I like brick-layers. Brick-layers make startling progress!

Here's the view of the extension, 12 courses high already:

And from a different angle, we can see the new windows at the back of the house in place either side of the chimney breast:

Looking inside the "kitchen" window, we can now see the larder at the far end of the room:

And, of course, the work continues out front with the new "porch" taking shape nicely.

It's all very exciting but we mustn't forget how early we are in this process. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of things still to consider, such as:
  • Underfloor heating (which will probably be electric)
  • The velux-style windows in the roof of that porch (as I can't remember if that feature made it into the final plan)
  • Stairs... we definitely need to go and get an idea of stairs ASAP

Men At Work

Monday, 23 August 2010
So far, I've been able to go to the house in the evenings and see the progress that has been made. Today, however, I got to be onsite while work was underway.

It was raining. It was mucky. But it was great to see the blocks being laid:

And the purpose of the visit? To confirm that a small window at the back of the house can be sited up against the chimney breast and that I was comfortable with that approach. And the reason for it being so tight against the chimney? We need an adequate number of blocks to carry the weight of the steel that will span the doors to the garden.

Demolition is exciting. But seeing construction in action is pretty good too.

The Brickies are Coming..

Sunday, 22 August 2010
Exciting news that the brickies are arriving tomorrow - we will hopefully see some progress in an upward direction!

Underfloor heating

Sunday, 22 August 2010
Am looking at underfloor heating options. Electric or wet?

Had initially thought we would be going for the usual gas fired wet system, however have discovered that there would be advantages to having an electric system. Thinner profile, faster warm up time, more efficient as uses 100% of energy provided, no cold spots. The downside - living in Northern Ireland with electric at 13-15p per kwh (compared with 6-8p in England) it appears that it could work out at £2000 per year to heat the house! Having said that the electricity prices here may well reduce now that NIE has a bit of competition.

Haven't worked out the gas cost but I believe it would be less. The wet system has its downsides too - less efficient use of energy, possibility of cold spots and has more "parts" to maintain also there is more work required to install it. I really fancy the electric option if it was a bit cheaper to run!

A Modern Fireplace

Friday, 20 August 2010
Raised voices could be heard last night in the vicinty of Glengormley as I desperately tried to explain to my wife how we would go about implementing the multi-fuel stove in our new home. Of course, being the husband in the marital arrangement means that I was no doubt in the wrong and I'm more than happy to accept that this was the case. It was my fault for being incapable of explaining some very basic concepts.

Panic ye not, though... resorting to caveman style grunting and sketching with sticks in the sand resolved all the issues! The result of the sketching:

Steel Work Deployed

Monday, 16 August 2010
The latest pictures of the house are quite exciting as we can now see some proper structure in place for the extensions. The steelwork has been erected out front, and the base has been laid out back.

More steel beams are resting in the garage just now. It's hard to tell where they are going but I can hardly wait to find out.

Foundations Dug

Thursday, 12 August 2010
The workers keep on working and the progress being made is just fantastic.

Foundations have been dug front and back and the true scale of the extension can now be seen. From one angle, it looks quite small. From another, it looks enormous. The true extent is probably somewhere in between, I guess.

The blocks for construction have also turned up on site and the site has been secured with fencing. I've also notice that my builder has put a sign up stating that he is performing the building work so I can safely announce that the builder is W&R Moore.

In other news, my insurers have thrown the toys out of the pram stating that the work being performed is greater than they were expecting and have decided to cancel my insurance. I find this quite strange - after all, I entered into an agreement with them to insure my property and was up-front with all the facts. They knew the property was vacant and they knew there would be renovation work and they knew that value of the house post renovation. When I phoned to say that the work was about to start, I thought I would be considered a good citizen but the insurers have taken the opportunity to cancel my policy instead.

Getting insurance for 12 months is not like signing a contract at all... the insurers can perform minor miracles in order to get out of paying out on the policy and can cancel as and when they see fit. Staggering really. My faith in the insurance "game" has been well and truly shattered.

Carnhill is currently a building site and my builder has adequate insurance but I will have to source replacement insurance before next Friday. And because it is a building site, I am (of course) still living in my current property which will be put up for sale very soon. But therein lies another problem... getting estate agents to accurately value the house and define a decent strategy for selling.

There is quite a discrepancy between the lowest valuation and the highest valuation and none of the four valuations we've had thus far come close to what friends and family would expect the house to fetch. Are friends and family being too kind? Are estate agents desparate to price the property at a price point that they know will generate interest regardless of the house's worth?

Buying and renovating introduces you to solicitors, builders, architects, plumbers, salesmen, bankers, insurers, estate agents and all other manner of "professional" people. Most of them have lived up to the standards that I expect, thankfully.

Week One Completed

Friday, 6 August 2010
One week down, twenty-nine (or so) to go!

It's amazing how quickly things can be "removed" and I'm sure the builders have had a lot of fun this week with their sledge-hammers and diggers. Today, the internal stud walls were removed and the back of the house is now clear ready for the foundations for the extension to be put in place.

The site looks strangely reminiscent of 1982, don't you think?

No More Windows

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tonight's visit to the "Dream Home" revealed that the windows and doors have gone - all bar one. The roof has completely gone and the back of the house has been knocked through. All ceilings have been ripped out and the garden basically completely flattened.

Passers-by now stop to have "look-see"!

And here's how it looks... an empty shell!

It is fair to say we are some way off moving in but the builders seem to be making great progress which is positive.

Heavy Plant Onsite

Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Well it seems that machines can do the job of many men...

The heavy plant has turned up on site and the roof has completely gone. The front of the garage has completely gone. The overgrown shubbery has completely gone. The property looks properly dangerous now! Click on the images below to see how much one machine can get through!

A Room With A View

Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Further progress today although the real action starts tomorrow when the diggers move in.

For now, take a look at what will be one of the bedrooms...

Ultimately, this dormor will just be completely removed and replaced with Velux style windows but once slates are removed, it's amazing to see how flimsy a house actually is!

Demolition Day

Monday, 2 August 2010

Day 1 for the builders it may be, but we've been waiting a year for this moment. Twelve months have passed since we decided to buy Carnhill and extend it. The extension has turned into a refurbishment, remodelling, roof heightening, landscaping and all manner of improvements taking our original budget estimation of £50K - £100K and multiplying it by a factor or three!

The builders set about their task by not exactly building anything. Instead, they set their sights on demoilishing anything that was going to get in their way. First task? Remove the roof. Second task? Demolish the garage so that the heavy plant can get access to the rear of the property in order to start the digging of foundations.

The result wasn't as shocking as I was expecting (though I do feel sorry for the neighbours who may have had to suffer quite a noisy day).

It's amazing what a squad of hard-working individuals can get through in a day! And when I say squad, I mean squad... the cul-de-sac had its first ever traffic jam this morning when van after van turned up.

Of course, now that the house is officially a building site, it will attract the unsavioury elements in our society. In fact, they turned up last week to leave their mark on the empty shell.

The scrawls on the windows gave away their political persuasion:

"We run this show"
"Keep out"

Lovely language, but it is a miracle that they didn't provide us with this poetry before now! The house has been empty for over 2 years after all. Ah well... the windows will be removed soon enough.