Diary of a House Build


Glenn J Crankshaw


self-build-house self-build-conservatory self-build-house-driveway
self-build-land self-build-construction

Over the last 15 years I had been interested in a self build project but for the past few years it had not been possible (or so I thought) because of my job which kept me away from home the whole week, only spending weekends at home. Then in Sept 93 came a holiday in Kent and during our travels, my girlfriend Yvonne and I saw some beautiful houses which rekindled the passion for self build.

October 93 As soon as I got home I was contacting all the estate agents to see if there was any building plots in our area (previously plots had been very scarce). The land we actually purchased was found rather quickly and we fell in love with it immediately. The location was wonderful (if you could imagine it with two houses on, landscaped and in a few years time when the trees and shrubs would have had time to mature) next to a river, surrounded by mature trees and with no other houses around, only the odd farm in the distance.

Now comes the problems, the plot was rather large (1 acre with DPP for two houses), had no mains services onto the land, had no road to the land and was too expensive for us.

We were contacted (the 10th of October) by another party which were interested in self build and we entered an agreement with them to jointly purchase the land and build two houses. An offer was put in for the land and accepted. Now we started contacting service providers, planning officers, National rivers authority, solicitor, building society and architect to see if it was feasible, sensible and practical to build. The general opinion was yes but it will cost a lot of money. We went ahead.

The finance for the project will have to be sorted out so I contact lenders to see who will be sympathetic to my cause. I agree to the Bradford & Bingley Building Society who will lend me the required monies, in a stage payment mortgage, which means money will be released in five stages during the build, starting at land purchase.

December 93 Disaster, the other self builder pulls out because he cannot raise the required capital for the project. Now a dilemma, do I go ahead with the project on my own (and risk running out of money) or do I forget about this piece of land. On one hand thereís a little devil in my head saying go for it and the other there is some of my family saying "your taking on too much". With a little persuasion from Yvonne I decided to go ahead on my own.

The solicitor I am using is a really nasty man, every time I go to see him he tells me I am making a mistake and I am going to have a lot of trouble with tradesmen (I have always wondered if he wanted the land once I had found it).

January 94 I get real scared, the time has come to put down a deposit of 10% on the land. This is the time for final decisions-yes or no. Well obviously it had to be yes and the land became legally mine early Feb 94.

I had at that time taken out a stage payment mortgage on one plot of land and paid for the other in cash (the only way the Building Society would allow me to do it).

As I said earlier, there was already DPP for two houses on the land. I had now decided to build the first house, move in for a year and then sell it to fund the building of the second house. The plans for the first house were for a four bedroomed, double garaged house of about 2000sq ft which I decided to change to five bedrooms and also add an office downstairs (this was after visiting a showhouse of exactly the same design).

February 94 What do I do now ? Well besides faxing every builders merchant for prices, itís time to start erecting fences to persuade the local dog owners to stop walking over my land (note I say persuade, I do not want to annoy the local people, I want them as my friends). Visits are made to all the quality show houses in the area, the idea is that Yvonne and myself can get ideas to create the "perfect house". One thing that strikes me immediately is how the builders have under specified the houses to cut costs.

I have decided to buy a JCB (I have never driven one before) and I am classed a madman by some of my friends (I must admit I agreed with then the first time I tried to use the back actor). The JCB has to be used, so I try it out and get stuck in the mud on the first day.

April 94 Now I have waited about two months for the land to dry out before I can retrieve the JCB from the mud (minus all the glass from the windscreens which have been smashed by vandals). The next task is to trench the 150m to the road to get services onto site (Gas, Water, Telecom, note that Electric will be using an overhead route).

To get to the location of the house we now need about 17 lorry loads of quarry bottoms hardcore to construct a driveway (using the JCB again). Tiger the lorry driver delivered most of the hardcore and sand (local haulier and farmer).

May 94 There is now a need for storage of building materials (especially the materials I have been purchasing over the last few months and storing them at my house, most of these items were purchased cheaply from the Loot). So off to the auction to finally bid on an ex Norweb site cabin (bid accepted so I get it towed to my site the following week).

I will have to decide which build route to take, do I employ a builder to complete the whole works? or do I manage the build myself?, well I do not think there is any doubt in my mind, I will manage the build using sub-contractors, while purchasing the materials myself. This is going to be an exciting challenge for me.

The DPP for the house stated that it should be built with Bradstone and concrete tiles, but in this location that would have looked totally wrong (I still wonder how planning permission was allowed with these materials). An appeal was made to the planning officer to change the build materials to natural York stone and Welsh blue slate (she actually laughed at me and said that would be no problem at all). I am also quite a traditionalist and have decided that the house will be built with thermal insulated block inner wall and stone outer wall, and will be heated with a gas fired conventional boiler with a wet radiator system fed with 15mm copper pipe.

June 94 Back to the civilised world, I have sold and moved out of my house and living in Yvonnes house at weekends. Its getting quite full because Yvonne has two boys (Matthew + Andrew) and my two boys (Dale + Ryan) live with me at the weekends, all these people in a two bedroomed house!

Now it is possible to approach the house site, so build materials are planned to be delivered for the start of the house build in July. It has been interesting measuring the drawings to find out how much materials are required and drawing up accurate details of the stone sills and mullions. I will soon find out how precise I have been and what mistakes have been made.

I dug out the foundations (using the JCB again).Concrete pour planned for July 1. All is now ready for the fireworks, foundation building starts on July 4 (American Independence Day).

The builder I have chosen to use is Phil, a tradesman who has only built one house before but is a NHBC registered builder. He employs a couple of stonemasons (the older one is a real character) one of whom sets out the site. Because the builder is NHBC registered they are the body I will use to "guarantee" the house, I think that they will also work out the cheapest at about £500. By talking to the NHBC and Phil we have decided to use a lime mortar for the stonework to allow for drying out movement and no cracking.

July 94 At the end of the first week the footings are up to about floor level, ready for the concrete beams to be put in position. A minor hiccup is that vandals have attacked the footings and some have to be rebuilt. This will be at extra cost to me, so I decide to advertise for a security guard, to look after the house during the evening (until it goes dark). A guard is employed and proves to be very successful because we have no more damage (he also does some labouring jobs while looking after the house).

Now that the house is up to ground level and we can see the layout, there seems to be a problem, the house is too small. Where did we go wrong, on the drawings everything seemed to be ok! Anyway we cannot change anything now-Too Late.

The build progresses to first floor level (too slowly for my liking, maybe Iím too impatient) and at last I can contact the Building Society for the second stage payment, the funds have certainly got low. The valuer comes along and values the work at only about a third of the money value (£10000) that I have actually paid out. Its going to be tight to the next stage payment, at the moment I am paying out about £1000 a week in cash (labour only).

August 94 Enter now a suspect bunch of people called scaffolders (hereinafter called "cowboys"). The scaffold, if that is what you call it, was erected so that the builders could progress to just below roof height.

At weekends I was very busy either loading all the blocks and stone onto the scaffold (JCB used again) or actually using a hammer and chisel to trim back the stone into its correct size (stone company had made a mistake and delivered it too wide). Other tasks were getting estimates for materials and paying some of my bills. Also I was still shopping around for the cheapest and best materials on offer and had to use my trailer sometimes to bring these material, Iím surprised the police didnít stop me because of the loading on the trailer.

During the build period we were having plenty of visits from the building inspectors and NHBC inspectors, with no major problems only a bit of advice.

Back to the build and still progressing slowly (I think) but have got to the stage where we need the "cowboys" back. What a problem this proves to be, they will only come back after I promise them cash on the day (so they can pay for the scaffold they are going to hire). Scaffold up, the stonework progresses to roof truss height.

September 94 Now at roof truss level I have to change my mind, the house is not too small after all, it now looks enormous. Even some of the local people had passed comments about why I was building a "shoebox" in such a wonderful location.

The challenge is on to get the house watertight before the bad weather starts. I assist a joiner and a labourer in putting on the roof trusses during a weekend. The joiner will also be putting on all the soffits and barge boards, which I have already stained so they do not need any more work on them when they are in position. "Cowboys" came back to do the third scaffold lift but would not come back to do the fourth, for the stonework on the gable (I ended up doing the fourth lift myself).

The roofer now starts on felting and battening ready for the slates. Again this seems to take forever to complete (maybe something to do with the amount of time that he spends in the pub).

Another problem now, somebody has broken into my site cabin and stolen a generator, chainsaw and numerous other electric tools. Luckily I am covered by insurance and I am paid out so that I can replace the equipment.

Phil the builder left site by the end of September, so three months from concrete pour to the shell being completed.

October 94 After about 75% of the roof has been covered with slate, the roofer calls me at about 10 in the evening to say that some scaffolders are going to turn up next morning to take down the scaffold. This is a slight problem for me because I am 300 miles away, so itís an early night, up at 3am and a very fast drive.

Half awake at 8am I drive my JCB and position it across the drive so that nobody can get within 150m of my house. I now leave site and arrive back later to find a lorry trying to tow my JCB out of the way (they have no chance). I now start to have a heated discussion with the owner of the scaffold company (note that this is the people who have rented the scaffold to the "cowboys" and they have not paid them). There is no contest between 7 burly scaffolders and myself so I have to come to a compromise (because they were already dismantling the scaffold). What they leave is just enough scaffolding for us to complete the slating.

Now that the roof is becoming quite watertight, I install all the door frames, window frames (these have already been stained and the end grain sealed so that they need minimal work after installation) and board up the windows (so that the glass will not get smashed).

December 94 At last fully watertight before the onset of the cold and wet winter months. Third stage inspection takes place and some welcome funds arrive into my bank account (£13000). Steve the plumber installs the first fix pipes for the water systems and central heating.

Now I start installing the electrical wiring (I am an electrician by trade so this is no problem). When installing the wiring I made sure there was plenty of socket outlets throughout the house (just take a look at most new show houses, there is generally only one single socket per bedroom). There was also installed a TV outlet and telephone socket in each room (this is so much easier at this stage and at only minimal extra cost). In most homes there is usually some sort of cables on the top of skirting boards or hidden under the carpet, this is the time to get rid of that problem. So I started thinking and planning. In went the burglar alarm cables and also speaker cables to the Kitchen and even the Bathroom (I can now relax in the bath and enjoy my favourite music from recessed ceiling mounted speakers).

January 95 A van has been hired and off I went to pick up a lot of the timber needed for the interior work, all the floorboarding, skirting board, architraveís, door frames and dado rail. I also picked up a second hand staircase that I had seen advertised in Loot, it was made out of better timber than the new ones supplied today. The price quoted for the floorboards was very competitive and I worried about the quality of the timber. No need to because it was absolutely first class, so much so that I decided to lay the floorboards myself. What a joy it was to lay them, I enjoyed every minute.

When I say I laid them myself it was not entirely true, for most of the work during the build I have been assisted by my two sons Dale and Ryan ages 8 and 7. Ryan was also busy collecting samples of building materials to take to school for a project.

Looking at the plans of the upstairs layout, I decide that it is not entirely to my liking, redesign time for myself. For three of the upstairs bedrooms it is possible to fit built in wardrobes (in my mind this is a lot neater and you can also claim the VAT back on this but not normal wardrobes). This also gives me the opportunity to build an airing cupboard (handy for keeping towels out of the way and also it houses my alarm panel and TV outlet distribution board).

I am really getting busy now because I progress on to the upstairs studding work.

These are the dank dark days of winter and all I can hear is the humming of the generator (it lives in the bricked up fireplace so nobody can steal it).

The weather is nice so I fit the garage roof trusses, because they are smallish it is possible for me to fit all but one, which is a double one. I commandeer Yvonne to help me with the double one, it nearly kills her walking up the ladder with the weight of the truss. Now it will be possible for Tony to start the garage slating.

February 95 I have been to pick up some 4x3 plasterboards from the local timber merchant (he will not deliver them for the price I paid, I think that the plasterboards are a loss leading line, but good quality). I will use this size of plasterboard for all my work, walls and ceilings, because of the good price and ease of handling. Armed with mouthfuls and pocketfuls of galvanised clout nails, I attack the partition walls and ceilings.

After first fixing the interior (electric, gas, water, central heating, timber) it is now time for the fourth stage inspection. I meet the inspector on site and he has a good look around. At last he now values it somewhere near to the true valuation and my bank account has an extra £30000 added to it (I think on the previous valuations the Building Society was erring on the lower side to cover themselves in case I did not complete the house). This good payout will now allow me to complete the house without needing the final fifth stage payment.

April 95 At last now there is considerable money in the account I can pay the second part of the electric installation cost (no electric will be put in until I pay this). Story time-remember I said earlier that the electric supply would be coming overhead, well the electric company could not get wayleave rights to cross somebodyís land, so they now wanted to come underground which meant me having to trench the 150m to the main road all over again. What was even worse was that the original cost had gone up from £6000 to £9000 (this is the problem with service providers, they have a monopoly on the market, I could not shop around to find a better price).

Geoff the plasterer starts now, his job is to plaster all walls, ceilings, partitions and put up coving to most of the rooms. He is quite a nice man but has some strange habits, usually starting work at about 6am and finishing by 2pm (pubs are open at that time) but I have no complaints because he does a very good job and finishes in about two weeks. I purchased all of my plaster from a popular DIY warehouse, because of the reasonable price (the plasterer did not believe the price when I told him).

May 95 Phil the builders task was to connect up the pipes to the sewer, not dig to Australia. I never actually saw the hole when he dug to the main sewer (sewer size 900mm) but by all accounts when a normal sized ladder was placed at the base of the hole it would not reach the top.

Now that I have trenched the driveway, laid the electric ducts, backfilled the trench and paid the electricity company, they will now start their work. What they need to do is to trench the farmers field to the nearest electric pole, lay ducting and then pull a cable through all the ducting that has been laid. The trenching will be carried out by contractors during weekdays while I am away. Miraculously when I arrive home the following weekend there is about 100 tons of rubble dumped on my land. Obviously the contractors will move it before they finish on the job, or so I thought! About a month later I contact the electric company to complain about the rubble and a meeting is planned on site between the electric company, the contractors and myself. The contractor totally denies any knowledge about the rubble and says it has been fly tipped (and weíre talking about five large wagon loads) but I have no proof, so the contractor agrees to pay a nominal £50 to assist me in getting rid of the rubble. Itís only later in the week when I actually speak to the farmer does he tell me that he saw the contractors dumping the rubble on my land. Back to the electric company with the proof and a week later all the rubble is removed by the contractor (with landfill taxes having risen so much, itís amazing to what levels some people will go to avoid paying these charges).

Anyway back to the house. Again there is a flurry of activity, joiners final fixing, plumber final fixing and Terry the tiler-fully tiling the main bathroom and en-suite and partially tiling the downstairs toilet. Poor me, I end up final fixing the electric fittings, TV outlets and telephone outlets.

Next job to tackle was the downstairs flooring, well off I trot to a floor reclamation yard in Warrington. When I see the timber I am sold on the idea of Maple floors in the kitchen, utility, toilet, porch, main bathroom, en-suite and a Mahogany coloured timber for the dining room (to this day nobody has been able to identify the wood).

June 95 There is a stone wall on the driveway which over the years has had some of the stone stolen from it. It was a condition of planning permission that I had to rebuild this wall, to a condition to be approved by the council (this meant using new stone and building the wall to about 3m high). A gang of three men (hereinafter called "bodgers") had approached me, offering to rebuild it for an agreed price. They eventually completed the task in an adequate manner. This is not the last time you will here about these people.

July 95 Now I concentrate on ceilings, I am a natural wood freak and love Pine clad ceilings. I have found supplies of very good Pine cladding at B&Q Warehouse and now decide to put Pine ceilings in the main bathroom, en-suite, kitchen, downstairs toilet and porch (this is now my job). The rest of the ceilings in the house are going to be artexed and I am recommended a real artist for the job. Andrew the artexer comes to site and I allow him to decide which patterns to use in each area, the results are stunning, he has transformed a shell into a house. Andrew does artexing as a sideline, he has a good full time job, when I quiz him as to why he does it the reply was "I like to make peoples houses look nice".

From day one I had decided that I wanted to fully complete the house before moving in (if I did not it would never be completed) so I employed Mick the decorator. His task was to fully paint, varnish and wallpaper the house. Internal decoration colours and wallpaper was left up to Yvonne to sort out, it proved to be a very difficult task to choose all the wallpaper in such a short time.

August 95 Benny the kitchen fitter was busy installing the kitchen and utility units, which had been purpose made by a local company.

The "bodgers" are back working on kerbing the driveway and building a garden wall, they mess up both of these jobs so I decide to stop their work, only after it has cost me a lorry load of concrete worth about £300.

The staircase has now had the Mahogany spindles, handrail and accessories fitted.

September 95 The electric is connected, do I dare turn on the consumer unit? Yes no problems we have lights and power. There is no more noisy, smelly generator humming the nights away. Decoration now finished, looking good. Gas on so the central heating is working.

I now lay about 60 ton of hardcore on the drive to bring it up to a reasonable condition after the service providers have finished their final connection work.

October 95 The final house making items are being fitted, fire surround and marble, curtain rails, mirrors, bathroom fittings, appliances in the kitchen, outside lights and carpets. We move in on the 12/10/95 which is "as near as damn it" to two years after finding the land. This may seem quite a long time but because of the work involved, the work I have done myself and the traditional construction I am quite happy with the result.

December 95 I said that I wanted the house complete before we moved in. I would say it was about 99% complete, the main thing missing was a wardrobe for the main bedroom. This was now purchased and fitted by myself.

There was a large dead Elm tree in the corner of my garden so during the Christmas holidays Milton and Malcolm came and cut down the tree. The cutting down consisted of climbing the tree and lopping off branches before finally felling the tree. Milton cut this down for free because besides using some of the branches for firewood, he drys out the timber and then uses it to make into bowls etc.

January 96 After our first Christmas in the house life is good and we have now decided that we want to reap the benefits from living here so the building plot next to our house will be put on the market.

The bank account is now rather depleted and will benefit soon from an injection of funds from the VAT people. Every week during the build I have collected all my receipts, added them all up and kept them together, this also had the added advantage of knowing how much you had spent from the start of the project. I put my VAT claim in just before Christmas and received £4800 back a few weeks later (I made it as easy as possible for the VAT people and this seemed to work).

Now that I have had my Christmas rest its back to work, the project is not finished yet. I hire a van and trot off to Newcastle, a mate of mine has a forest and there are plenty of self seeded trees that I can dig up for my landscaping work. After a hard days work I end up getting about 250 trees consisting mainly of silver birch with some larch, oak, holly, beech and pine. These trees are then planted during the following weekends.

February 96 There is a need for a wall in front of the house by the side of the drive to stop soil from falling onto the drive, this will be quite a task because it needs to be about 50m long. I employ Jim, a builder to construct the wall with me concreting the foundations.

While not concreting I am engaged in putting down hardcore and laying a block paving pathway around the house. This is mainly to please Yvonne because after the children have been running around outside in the mud, most of it is usually deposited in the porch.

March 96 More trees are now purchased (about 300) so these have to be planted before the growing season starts.

This is quite a milestone for me because in this month we have our first (of many) barbecues. It seems a long time since the summer of 1993 when we used to have barbecues most weekends (weather permitting). Looking back it seems strange, but at the start of 1994 one of the first things I bought for the new house was a barbecue.

April 96 The "bodgers" had started building a stone wall at the boundary of the rear garden, but because of the quality of work and the time it was taking them to build it I had stopped them. Now I need some sort of boundary recognition so I decide on a wooden fence (not the panelled type because they blow down too easily and are not good for wind currents). The type of fence will be staggered double boarded so it will allow gentle wind flow through.

May 96 The next areas to focus on will be the small front and large rear gardens/lawns. The front lawn first has to be kerbed off from the drive and then the soil has to be sorted (stones and weeds taken out) and levelled. After that you can lay some turf, this seems so easy after all the preparation work. When I was turfing the lawns there was a hosepipe ban on so it is essential that you get a lot of rain after laying the turf (I am now on my knees praying and later doing a rain dance, it worked well, plenty of rain and the turf took really well).

June 96 Now I will concentrate on the rear garden but first there is a lot of soil to move, in the rear garden there is a mound of soil with a stone wall in front of it This soil was moved, with the JCB, and dumped on the next plot, a temporary measure until I can sell the soil (in total there is about 160 tons).

July 96 I finally encourage all four of our boys to help me in preparing the ground, while I am levelling and rotavating the soil they are busy moving the stones from it.

August 96 Now that the soil is fairly level, I lay most of the turf, then the heavens open and we get about two weeks of heavy rain, on the one hand it is good because the turf takes really well and is looking green but the problem is that I cannot get the lawn finished.

I also purchase a great amount of timber ready for continuing with the garden fence.

Itís now JCB maintenance time, the gears are very hard to engage because the clutch is about worn out. So over to my friendly JCB parts supplier and they eventually find the correct clutch and pressure plate. The removal and fitting of the clutch prove to be easier than I first anticipated, so Iíve now got my workhorse back again.

September 96 This is a very happy month for us for we have been joined by a baby girl, Olivia Jayne, our 4 boys absolutely adore her.

I now hope for good dry weather because I am busy painting the timber for the fence. Good weather prevails so up goes another 30m of fencing, I have never seen so many blisters on my hands from all that nailing. During early 1994 I had purchased about 40kgs of nails (very cheaply), I thought I would never use them but they are now coming to an end.

January 97 Start of a new year so back to work again after the Xmas holidays. At the rear of my house there is a lot of very large trees (hence the name of the house which Yvonne chose) mainly consisting of Ash and Sycamore. There is a "tree preservation order" (TPO) on a group of 9 Sycamore and 2 Ash. I would like to fell one of these trees because it is leaning over my land and in a very dangerous condition. When there is a TPO on trees then you cannot do any work until you are given permission by the local authority. I contact the council and a lady speaks to me and basically says there is no way you can fell the tree because we will not think that it is in a dangerous condition. Anyway I am sent the forms and I return then to the council, to be later contacted by Derek "the tree expert". As soon as I spoke to Derek on the phone I knew I could work with him. An appointment to meet on site was made and as soon as Derek saw the tree he said there would be no problem at all, the tree was dangerous and would have to be felled, in fact on closer examination there was also 3 more trees that needed to be felled.

During the following hour Derek and myself had a wonderful conversation about trees, shrubs, wild flowers etc., I was firing questions at him and he was giving me some really good advice.

I think the first quote for felling the 4 trees was £500 so I purchased a chainsaw (I didnít know how to use one so there had to be a little practice before I tackled the large Ash tree that had to be felled). I got the boys to help me, making sure knowbody was going to walk past while I cut down the tree. They were very scared because of my inexperience and the size of the tree but it fell in the right direction with a thunderous crash.

The next tree was a little more difficult because its natural fall was into my garden, so I tied ropes to my JCB, partly cut the tree and then tried to pull it over with the JCB, down it came , missing my garden but crashing straight into my fence (more work now). For the two remaining trees I contacted Milton whom I assisted in cutting the trees down.

February 1997 The planting season is here again so I visit the nursery and purchase 290 shrubs, which will be planted in my rear garden and also by the side of the driveway. The soil has been improved by the addition of tons and tons of sheep/cow manure that has been brought from the local farm with the JCB.

April 1997 One of the problems during the winter months was that the boys were forever bringing dirt and mud into the porch because at the front of the house there was only hardcore mixed with clay and mud. I had always planned that one day I would block pave at the front of the house, well that time has arrived. The block paving was ordered and soon two lorries turned up with the 200m of paving (I always had to specify that I did not want an articulated lorry because of access problems). Also "Tiger" was summoned to bring 17 tons of grit sand. The laying of the paving took me about 6 hard weekends with the boys helping to load sand and blocks into the wheelbarrows.

August 1997 It was about this time when I decided to dismantle the compound and tidy up the second plot to give me more of a chance to sell it, surprisingly a lot of potential housebuilders have not got the vision to picture a house on a rough piece of land. The compound was dismantled and bits and pieces of left over building materials were sold or stored. The 160 ton mound of soil was moved and distributed around the plot. The storage cabin and old dumper were sold but I still kept the JCB which still has a lot of work to do.

January 1998 Another year starts with me cutting down two dangerous large trees (TPO lifted) and tidying up the plot by cutting down about 10 small trees. I have bought 360 shrubs and conifers which have been planted around the site, the conifers will give me a tree lined driveway in years to come.

March 1998 I now concentrate on trying to sell the plot of land next to my house. It has been advertised with a local estate agency but the main interest is coming from my own personal advertisement in "Build It" magazine.

Spring is here and what a wonderful feeling, the winter has been very mild and the trees, shrubs and flowers are all coming into bud. The migratory birds have returned from their warmer winter habitat and I already have a Robin nesting in my garden shed.

While I am on the subject of birds I will attempt to mention some of the special wildlife that we have around the house. On our bird table we have the normal type of garden birds but also Woodpeckers, Log Tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and the cheeky Squirrel. Around the garden and on the river we get Dippers, Kingfishers, Herons, Swans, Owls and even a young Deer going down to the river for a drink.

When I am at home it is getting very hard for me to do any work because I think that Olivia has taken after me and all she wants to do is to be outside. She is now about 18 months old and she wants to go for walks or play on her toys outside.

Conclusion I think its probably about time I stopped rambling on about my house build because hopefully you have enjoyed reading about my experience and hopefully it can help you in making up your mind on whether to self build or not.

I will leave you with some tips but finally I will say that I personally have achieved a lot and I got a "buzz" out of self building, especially dealing with suppliers and ordering the materials.


Conclusions and advice

a. If you have a dream to self build try to fulfil it.

b. Donít be put off by people who donít like change.

c. Donít be put off by people who say itís too hard and you have not got the ability.

d. Make sure you have sufficient finance before you start.

e. Cost out the build completely, and add a contingency sum.

f. Shop around for best prices (bearing in mind quality).

g. Keep friendly with the local planning officer and council.

h. Try to choose tradesmen from recommendations.

I. Take out insurance on the site.

j. Keep friendly with the local people/neighbours.

k. Keep a weekly track of expenditure and invoices (helps the VAT claim)

l. Do not argue with tradesmen.

Now that I have "bored you to death" with my ramblings, I think that its worth concluding with some advice on services and suppliers.

1. Research - Books, the internet, magazines and Self Build Exhibitions are ideal places to start your self build project.

2. Self Build Plots of Land

3. Mortgages

4. Timber Frame Design

5. 10 Year Structural House Guarantee

6. Building Site Insurance