I hadn’t been on site for a few days due to work commitments but when I did pop round the scene that met my eyes was vaguely reminiscent of the Somme….there were trenches, holes, piles of rubble and soil everywhere I looked! The groundworks crew were busy putting the drainage in!

As building novices we were fascinated to see how it all worked and just what does need to go on underground to ensure that water drains away from the property correctly. The Building Inspector is very happy with the job being done by our groundworks guys and we have been very impressed with the speed and efficiency of their work. They tell us that the good weather has really helped them. Unlike the Somme our trenches aren’t constantly filled with rain water and they have been able to crack on with pouring concrete into the footings and getting the drainage installed.

They were on site a total of 8 days and in that time they have done all the external demolition, dealt with the notorious water tank mentioned in our previous blog, created the footings, built up to dpc level and created the block and beam floors for the extension, lobby and utility room, done all the external drainage, laid new water mains for us and our neighbour, and then cleared and levelled the site ready for the brickwork team to begin work.

Everyone who has visited the site has commented on how tidy it all is and how efficient the team are. One of the things that we were told several years ago when we started doing smaller scale property renovation is that a good way to judge a tradesman is by looking at how tidy his work site and tools are. Tidy sites generally indicate a well organised and efficient workman. In the lead up to starting this project, when we were looking for trades teams to work with we spent lots of time talking to people who had done builds or renovations, Will made a point of dropping in to building sites in our area and talking to the trades guys, the project managers and owners. We spoke to local building suppliers and got recommendations from them. We created a shortlist of groundworkers, carpenters, brickies, plumbers, electricians, roofers….then we met them, discussed our project with them, and invited them to quote. We had 2 or 3 in each trade area on our shortlist and we picked based not just on price but also on recommendations, visiting jobs they had been or were working on and also on how well we thought we could work with them. The electrician and plumber we chose because we had used them before on other projects and both had proved to be efficient, flexible and easy to get along with. Importantly we also found that they were happy to help us learn – sharing tips and techniques, answering our questions and explaining why things need to be done in certain ways.

Will in particular is on site much more than me and comes home each day with something new that he has learned from the guys on site. Our advice – talk to the trades guys and build good working relationships. We’ve seen those programmes on TV where the owners have a really antagonistic relationship with their builders and we were determined not to let that happen to us. So far, so good anyway!

We very much hope that all our other chosen tradesmen will be as good. They have a lot to live up to. A huge thank you to Don and his team – we would certainly recommend them.

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