Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Finding a good builder (Part 2)


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Finding a good builder (Part 2)

Finding a good builder (Part 2)

In Part 1 We said finding a good builder is said to be notoriously difficult to find and if you unwittingly obtain the services of a cowboy builder in it can turn into a nightmare.

You've had the architects in, the plans and building regs have been drawn, written, submitted and approved,

You've chosen your list of builders.(Say three) You've looked at their work and thats fine your satisfied.

Their quotes are within your budget (I assume you would have worked out how much it should cost you plus you've added 10% on top for unforseen eventuallities baring in mind you don't know whats underneath. i.e Rock, a stream, sand, a main sewer pipe, Cables, water, gas, old infill, even a mine shaft is possible.

So allow for this and before you start do some investigations yourself, Ask around the locality go to the council offices. Theres one site called Britain Beneath Our Feet  click on the link Hazards!,and you are able to see what lies beneath your feet in your area.

Another clue to whats underneath is to look at the street name or the house name. Trellech springs road gives you a good clue to whats beneath. Where what would you think is beneath Rock Cottage (it's not just the fact that the cottage is built out of rock.) So as you see there's more to it that just  Finding a good builder
Yeap! There's much investigation to do before you even think of signing the contract
Part 3 follows soon
Good luck

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

How do you build in this constant bad weather?

How do you build in this constant bad weather?

       We’re now near the end of the Hot! Dry! summer season.
Erm! Pardon! “What Hot! Dry! Summer I hear you cry???
What Season was it? Answer A warm winter with lighter nights

       I could be wrong but I would say (being the smug clever builder that I am ("Joking")) We have hardly had a clear dry spell this year summer although apart from some snow at the beginning of the year (February I think) there was a dryer period in March and April increase in rain as May and June came along (as indicated by the Weather graph for Thornbury, just outside Bristol).  With all the rain we’ve had, what happened to that barbecue summer that was forecast (Weathermen/woman bashing over… Well we all make mistakes)

       Anyway back to my question: How do you build in this constant bad weather?
  1. Just work out in the wet... well macho man builder can work out in the rain if he wants. I did it for years and got soaked to the skin and the job was a mess, baring in mind it was less wet back then.
  2. Knock a frame up with some 2x2 and cover with a sheet
  3. Well if you're building a house perhaps scaffolding erected and covered with tarpaulins before the walls etc are built same with a an extension
  4. For small jobs use the tubular or folding gazebos (tied down) but these tend to buckle or break if a strong gust of wind catches them
  5. Invest in a polytunnel as wide as 30ft and up to 90ft  maybe longer if you required
       Well I'm going to choose one or more of these (Except No.1). The gazebo for small building jobs and a polytunnel for the march larger types of construction, i.e a swimming pools or ground works like drainage

       It will be worth the initial investment No more wondering day by day what the weather is going to do the next day Although there will be times when it will be unavoidable and we'll have to work outside but as i said it will be worth it. ..
How do you build in this constant bad weather? Buy a Polytunnel

How to get more use out of your swimming pool during the summer season

How to get more use out of your swimming pool during the summer season?
Erm! Run that by me again! “How to get more use out of your swimming pool during the summer season?” What do you mean??? You may think “This guy has flipped his lid” but it’s a valid question

We’re now near the end of the swimming pool season. “What season I hear you cry???”Exactly “What Season” I could be wrong but I would say we have hardly used our swimming pools this year with all the rain we’ve had (not to mention the old credit crunch). What happened to the barbecue summer that was forecast (Weathermen/woman bashing over… Well we all make mistakes)

In the UK there didn’t seem to be much if any of a dry Summer this year unless you count the Five or so days of 30C degrees we had in June or was it May (I cannot remember it’s been so long). I know July was a bit of a washout and it was not much better in August. This week is the beginning of a new month and today is Tuesday 1st September. We have the remnants of a tropical storm heading our way. Oh goody!

So as I and my fellow compatriots work outside (Yes I am a hands on kinda pool guy) We also have had our share of problems with the weather. So I’ve decided to use an old ”polytunnel” frame I’ve got stored away. (it was for growing some fresh veggies but they’ll have to wait a little longer), for working undercover. I may have to modify it of course and strengthen it to withstand a windy day (not sure about an ex tropical storms though but we’ll see when the next one comes along).

But that also lead me to the thought of using a polytunnel as a swimming pool enclosure. The usual swimming pool enclosure can be quite expensive, and during this holding back on the spending to much money period, this maybe a temporary (or permanent) cheaper alternative. The idea is you fix and secure anchor or base plates in position around the swimming pool then cover the polytunnel frame with a sheet of polythene have doorways each end and Voi-la. You have a pool enclosure that doesn’t cost the earth and you could swim in almost all year round.

What are the planning regulations for Polytunnels? In general you do not need planning permission for sheds, greenhouses, summerhouses or polytunnels. However you will need to apply for planning permission if the polytunnel is nearer to any road than the nearest part of the house, unless there’s at least 20m between the polytunnel and a road. You can’t build over 3m high (or more than 4m if it has a pitched roof). A pitched roof has its ridge at the centre, and both sides slope down at the same angle – this accurately describes a polytunnel roof. First Tunnels

Take extra care if your site has a listed building or resides in a conservation area, national park, or area of outstanding natural beauty. There are further restrictions to planning in these cases. Please click here to go to the Planning portal. but also contact your local planning authority to make sure

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Finding a good builder (Part 1)

Finding a good builder (Part 1)

      Finding a good builder is said to be notoriously difficult to find and if you unwittingly obtain the services of a cowboy builder in it can turn into a nightmare.

       You've had the architects in, the plans and building regs have been drawn, written, submitted and approved, but as yet you haven't had any quotes or estimates from a builder.

       You could start by asking friends and colleges what builders they may know of or if they know of anyone whose had a builder in to do work for them.

       If you don't wish to ask a friend or colleges "You must do" some extra leg work and look around locally at other property where others are either currently in the process of having construction work done, or who have had construction work completed. (Preferably the later) Then pluck up the courage, go and ask the householder for their opinion of the builders work and what the builder is like to deal with. Write out a list out of questions you'd like to ask, but try not to make it look like your asking questions for a survey. Some people find this objectionable where others are onl;y too pleased to help

       Just ask Important questions like one of the most important questions is "What is the quality of the builders work like?" Or just cut to the chase and ask "What do you think of your builder quility of work and have you any "major" complaints about their attitude
Well that's the start and end of finding a good builder (Part 1) In part 2 There's more legwork to do as we start looking through directories etc and some plain advice about starting a building project and you having peace of mind while the project is in process...

John Cox Builderwall

Saturday, 22 August 2009

When is it the right time to builderwall The summer season?

When is it the right time to builderwall or start a home improvement project. Is it the spring/summer season??

Some would say wait till the spring season to builderwall, the bad weather should have eased off by then. and it should be much dryer
(Much Dryer!!! When is there a right time in the UK for it to be dry???)

pretty sure everyone doesn't know the answer to that question. But you would have thought at least the late spring to summer would be dry? Er! well! it does dry up much quicker than the winter months
(When it stops raining) And we did have temperatures up into the 30's... Yes we did... For about a week, and the temperatures are then too high for some types of building works to commence. Lime or cement rendering mortars dry up before they've had chance to set high temperatures can be every bit as bad as frost attack.

There are those who do not want building work to commence in the summer season, because they just don't want the mess and the dust around, and just want to enjoy the summer sun, and wait till the end of the summer season to start there project.

So what are the advantages/disadvantages of having the builders in during the spring and summer seasons?
  • Question: It's Dryer? Less days lost due to inclement weather?
  • Answer: Well that theory has gone out the window. I've seen more dryer winters than summers. The weatherman have not been my favorite person this year (All though it's not there fault for the change in weather patterns).
  • Question: You can work longer hours?
  • Answer: I don't think so. The builder will still work the same hours though occasionally the builder may work on and he can still do this in the winter with the correct lighting (On many occasions roadworks on motorways are performed at night). Though some works can't be carried out in artificial light.
  • Question: Doesn't the frost affect the build?
  • Answer: It sure does, but when do we get many frosty winter days? How often are the temperatures below freezing? But then there are means and ways of protecting work from frost attack.
  • Question: Couldn't the builder start the external works in the Spring or Summer season and move indoors during the Autumn/Winter time
  • Answer: Yes that is one advantage, but then what if it's raining most of the summer season? And previous to that there was a long dry winter spell?

At one time I would have said wait till March/April to start a project, but nowadays apart from the difference in temperatures (and I've said many a time during a summer season "Jeep's it's cold and wet!!!.....It's more like February than July...") and the longer nights there's not much to choose from anymore.

So really No time is the best time to start a project

No season is the best season to builderwall

Friday, 10 April 2009

The barn conversion and the proposed rear extension

We need an extension on the back of the conversion for a walkway to access the rooms as at present the walkway is taking a large chunk of area from the rooms in the conversion, and the fact we have to construct an inner skin of blockwork with cavity insulation makes the rooms smaller again.
We heard from the planners 2 days ago that we need to apply for planning consent for the walkway.
So more £'s to pay out. Forms to fill in and another plan to draw out of the conversion with the extension highlighted in red
Then I suppose it may be an 8 week wait...Yeap that's right an 8 week wait and possilbly longer
for a decission

Stout heart..............

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Why is the barn conversion on stop? An Interlude (Voice over courtesy of Darth Vader)

I'm waiting for planning for permission (hopefully) to extend the conversion because the current layout and size of the rooms are too small.
So here is a short interlude with a voiceover from Darth Vader (that would be me with the heavy breathing) Oh and an airplane going over........
Please ignore the poor quality filmwork......... I'm only human......... (Last time I looked)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Buzzard and a King Fisher in my garden

Took these images & video some time ago of a Buzzard and at another time a Kingfisher perched by the pond and occasionaly after my fish! They are mainly tiddlers ......Tench.
Not a very good video but you can just spot the Kingfisher orange breast perched in the centre

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Nothing today on the blog Except I took the plans down to planning for the extension on the side...It's awaiting game now Wish me luck more tomorrow

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Over the moon

Over the Moon
Planning has been very helpful
The Wall can be removed and replaced with Conc block which in turn gives me more stone to use on the outside wall of the barn
Also I pointed out about the height of the external wall being raised and that there would be a 4-6 inch gutter between the conversion and the existing house ok on that one
Then to top it all asked if we could extend outwards at the rear Was told to send in a plan with a red outline and they would lok at the propoal but she said they cannot foresee any problems....More on this later I'm just really chuffed to bit's

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The pillars are down

The pillars are down and I'm retrieving some stone from the pillars The rest is broken bricks and rubbish
Tomorrow the planner is arriving hopefully she'll let me take down this pinend and rebuild in blockwork
This stonewall pinend is cracked and it's bulging plus there's no foundation I also have to cut out for a doorway so by the time all that stone comes out I don't thing it will be that safe

I only hope the planner See's it that way. The one other thing is the wall will become "internal and plastered so it won't be seen

Gone fishing

Happy Birthday today to my son Michael Who is in Yeovil today I believe

The fish are looking well Pond water doesn't seem to bad

We gave the pond and the filters a bit of a spring clean over the weekend

This pond has been in for around 2 years

I wanted to just keep it as a wildlife pond, but some rellies fetched some fish they they didn't want the postman gave us some fish cos he was over stocked. Fish where coming from everywhere. My daughter purchase two carp....So much for the wildlife pond but I am grateful to everyone for the fish thank you

I now want to get hold of a solar panel/battery etc to run the pump next and cut down on the use of fossil fuels an out power bill......A double wammy

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Barn Conversion Cont......

(The Barn) Looks like we may underpin or take the pine end down & rebuild in blockwork. Theres' No foundations and the wall is bulging. Still we could do with more stone. It's the time and Xtra cost of materials and I have contact the BCO and planning and see where they stand on this It's a Pain in the bum. More to do with what the planners will allow than anything Damn nuisance

Monday, 16 March 2009

The barn conversion

Not much of interest to talk about today except working out the angle of the roof and the distance down to the finished floor level at the intersect. Having to allow for the depth of the timber rafters (150mm/6"), the insulation on the rafters 50mm/2" the roof battens and counter battens not forgetting the felt underlay, slates and the plasterboard

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Here we go The barn conversion

OK I've just started removing some of the roof timbers. (Got the splinter in the hand)

As you can see, the pillars (if you can call them that) are inadequate; but even though I've had the nod from planning to repair or replace some of the stone wall; I still have to be careful what I can take down because they could still take planning away even if any of the wall fell down and that could include the pillars, so for now those "pillars" can stay there. They're not in the way..... yet

I can get the digger in there now and tidy the floor up before I take some levels.... Sam likes to get in the picture too

Next stage will be to a visit from the BCO (Building Contro Officer) to discuss width and depth of foundations...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The dreaded "Mental Block"

You're in the midst of a "Mental Block"

Don't fight it, just go with the flow and don't think of anything!!!
You may need a rest from all those missions you're on, all that thinking and creating can be no good for you sometimes

So no matter how much YOU want to get on with work missions creating etc, the brain box has decided it's burnt out and needs a rest to Re-charge

Nothing really bad is going to happen if you miss a deadline or you can't create or your late now is it?

Will you be injured? Or will you die? Would it really hurt if you had to let someone down?
No! Not really

You won't be held to account for the rest of your life
So the answer is "go with flow. Go with the mental block & think of nothing............empty

YOUR world is not going to end because you chilled out and nobody will be harmed!
So Blank your mind. Have a break for as long as it takes (There's no time limit because it doesn't usually take long) and you'll be amazed You'll be refreshed and champing at the bit ready to go......


Monday, 9 March 2009

Spring is in the water

The birds are twitting, and the frogs are croaking It's lovely to watch the wildlife

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Trellech, Wales, Walking in the Snow

Trellech A walk in the forest at Cotland Nr Cleddon and Tintern
TrellechウェールズのCotland 、 CleddonとTinternの近くには、森の中を歩く

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Time machine

I call My Bed "The Time Machine" because no sooner I've fell asleep, it's time to get up and that's not a bad thing IF you work for yourself. However "Paid Slavery..." You get Up at 6am Get ready for work Go to work Work 8Hrs Go home Rest 4Hrs Get into THE TIME MACHINE "The Bed" Woosh.............! Get up 6am Get ready for work Go to work Work 8Hrs Go home Rest 4Hrs Get into THE TIME MACHINE "The Bed" Woosh.......!Get up 6am

Monday, 16 February 2009

Utter Rubbish

My wife said to me today “John you don’t get out enough” In some way I’m glad I don’t.
I’ve never seen so much rubbish on the motorways, on roads, everywhere
What is it with people? They’re always in a hurry; they don’t seem to give monkeys. There’s rubbish thrown everywhere. Why??? Has it come to the fact that we are in a recession and so thats a reason to act like slobs?? Well my heart bleeds for those lazy good for nothings litter louts. “But it’s work for someone I hear you say”. “What utter rubbish” to think that way.
A pathetic excuse if ever I heard. You litter louts are no better than a criminal. Never mind placing criminals in orange boiler suits to clean up the litter louts mess and rubbish. Put those that do the littering in the orange suits and make them clean up the motorways and pavements

For goodness sake keep your bloody rubbish with YOU! We don’t want you to share it with us thanks

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Plans are drawn and next is..............

Just finished drawing the plans. Now for the wordy bits (The method statement)

The joys of planning

Drawing a section plan (conversion) on good ole Autocad and writing out a method statement for the planning officer, so they can issue me planning approval for the works involved
(a)"Section plan"

1. A drawing of a side view of the 'Inner' wall that I intend to build
(b)"Method statement"

1.Basically how I'm going to build the wall.
2.What exactly am I going to build.

3.What materials I'm going to use

4.What I intend to do with the existing stone face wall as regard to repairs,replacement, and my "favorite"............Underpinning

Oh the joys of planning................Not!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Absolutly awful out there...The snow is turning slushy but there's a threat of more snow on the way http://www.theweatheroutlook.com/

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Wow! Fantastic morning, look at that snow. Temperature fell below -5C last night

Friday, 6 February 2009


It's beautiful out there but dangerous. We'll put some more food out for the fox tonight Foxy draged a tray full of goodies up the footpath last night we dug around in the snow this morning bur couldn't find the empty tray now we know why

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

We all went for a walk through the forest Nr Trellech (http://www.data-wales.co.uk/trellech.htm and took this Image

Birds out feeding yesterday Caught this image of a Blue tit And a Woodpecker feeding together