Well I finally started the build after all this time. Even I was beginning to think I would never write a blog about the actual build!!

I looked at a few options for the ground-works stage. The quickest, easiest and most efficient way would have been a ground-works specialist. However this was a rather expensive option. In the end my builder Jack was happy to take on the task with a small team. The digger driver was an experienced ground-worker so would be able to help and guide where required.

Looks like a Building Site

I am discovering nothing ever works out as you expect in self-build. I rang the digger driver just two weeks before the planned start date and he informed me he had just started another job. He reassured me he was still okay for my build but refused to give a firm start date or even an approximate indication. Sadly it was evident this was not someone I could rely on. It was disappointing as he had been to the plot for meetings been given plans and seemed keen on the project. Luckily Jack found a replacement at the last minute. Not a ground-worker by trade but an all rounder with a great deal of experience and crucially a lot of enthusiasm for the project.

Early Works In Progress

The basic stages of the ground-works are:

  • Site Clearance and Levelling
  • Temporary Hard Standing
  • Temporary Access Widening
  • Location of Services
  • Digging Out House Footprint
  • Locating Foul Drain and Laying Diversion
  • Laying Private and Rainwater Drainage
  • Create Soakaway
  • Digging and Pouring Strip Foundations
  • Bricks and Block-work to DPC level
  • Block and Beam Floor

One of the biggest expenses so far has been spoil removal from site. It is surprising how quickly the clay dug out mounts up. So far we have removed around 250 tonnes of clay and rubble and are likely to double that by the end of the ground-works stage.

The first trench

I had another builder help out for just a day and one of the things he did was to locate the pot end of the underground electricity supply to the plot. Much to my embarrassment, when the electricity board came out a few days later, they informed me it was not an electricity cable but an old gas main! The electricity cable has now been located and luckily the local electricity team have a good sense of humour and are coming back to put in a temporary building supply soon.

The first pour

When I have not been at work I have either been on the phone organising things for the build or on-site making decisions. I have got stuck in and tried to help out when I can as well. While this has been a lot more work than a turnkey option it has been good to be fully in control of the budget and involved in the whole process.

I hope you enjoy the photo’s above. I have included the first foundation pour. Seeing the first few drops of concrete hit the bottom of the trench for me was the moment the build began and the self-build dream became reality.

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