Our Building Journey – Month One – July

28th June as I sat on the sofa enjoying sleepy cuddles with William, I heard a ton of crashing in the garden. Never have I been so excited at the sound of so much noise. Finally the builders were on site and our work had started. The sound was them removing all the slate from our outbuilding roof and smashing to the ground below. Sadly, as quickly as it started it was over. They found a nest of bees in the roof of the empty outbuilding they were demolishing so work came to a halt and I had to arrange for the bees to be taken away before it could continue.

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Monday 9th July.

This part of the project, the demolition and ground work was being contracted out and so communication was a little sketchy, I didn’t know when they’d be back to continue the work which was started a week previously but then on my way home from shopping I turned the corner to find the corner of my hedge missing, diggers and trucks in the front garden and the side building completely demolished. I’m pretty sure at this moment I squealed in delight.

Following the demolition of the outbuilding that morning they started work in the garden during the same afternoon, working to bring the tiered levels down to ground level, using our driveway to store all the dirt and rubble. By the end of the first week they had completely flattened the garden, ready for the construction of the house and eventually, landscaping so we have room to dine and play outdoors!

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Monday 16th July

Beginning of week two started with the footings and in one day they were completed and our first inspection passed. We got the OK to move forward but building control wanted to change the spec of the footings and introduce more steel into the build so that the extension wasn’t supported by our old cottage but its own framework.  Tuesday we were builder free and as we stood in the garden that evening, looking back at the house and standing in what would be our new kitchen both Jamie and I voiced our concerns over the size of the footings, the house felt small. Was all this work and money going to be worth it, was it going to be what we imagined, was it going to give us the space we desperately needed. Allan told us that everyone feels like this when they see the footings for the first time and not to worry, and seeing the house now, he was absolutely right. We now stand and look at the house and I can’t believe we ever had those doubts. By Wednesday the concrete was being poured and William and I stood and watched what felt like a really big step forward.

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Since pouring the concrete there was no progress in work. Firstly we had issues with our water pipe. Being the end terrace meant the mains water supply for the entire terrace finished with us and when digging the foundations we found that the pipe would be sitting above ground level and due to its age and condition, would somehow need to be replaced. After much deliberating they found a way to replace part of the pipe and fit it below ground level but this issue combined with building control changing the build spec cost us nearly two weeks, it wasn’t until the end of the month that the builders returned to continue with work. It was such a frustrating time, we were so excited to see progress but it was a slow road and it felt like there was one issue after another and we hadn’t really got going yet!

Monday 30th July

Finally the builders were back but unfortunately it was to do more digging and they had to tear up our entire garden! This was the first point throughout the build that I wanted to cry a little. Watching the diggers take away the final part of our garden, something which we hadn’t wanted to happen, was hard to watch! Another downside of being the end terrace was that the overhead power cables which supply all the other house with their electricity was attached to the side of our cottage. In order to build the extension the overhead power cables had to be moved underground and this meant digging a trench from top to bottom of our garden. It was heartbreaking but trying to keep perspective, I’d tell myself that if we didn’t have this end terrace then none of this would be possible anyway! Every cloud and all that!

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Suddenly we were one month in to our build, already behind schedule but feeling very excited about the next stage. We were finished with all the groundwork and now the fun could really begin, the actual build and I was assured this would be a much quicker process.

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