We haven’t blogged much about our self-build home extension. Mostly because when you’re in it it’s hard to see it! Instead we’ve taken a look back to show some photos of it in progress. Pictures speak louder than words and all that…
Back in August 2015 we dug the foundations by hand, with a spade, yes just the one. Quite mad clearly! Several grab lorries later and we were the proud owners of an enormous hole, which doubled up as a mud pit for the boys.
This was the easy part as we had an enormous well-built 1970s garage in the garden and a concrete drive. Borrowing a concrete breaker we then spent every weekend breaking up huge chunks of it, repurposing the smaller pieces and shingle for the foundations.
As the garage was so tight to our boundary it was a slightly tricky experience with the sledgehammer at times to ensure the brickwork fell our way. Our neighbours were great though helping and letting us have access to push the structure back onto our property.
Several grabbers later we had some space to carry on digging our trenches marking in red where we wanted concrete to go up to:
Then came a trench pour in concrete which went well and created a labyrinth style maze for the boys, which was quickly spoilt by blockwork and lots of it. This flew up quickly (if heavily) and the slab bases were compacted by hiring a heavyweight wacker plate.
We then installed the damp proof membrane, insulation, separating membrane and mesh reinforcement ready for the slab pour. Unfortunately it then decided to rain… a lot… and we had the last minute panic of trying to empty out huge amounts of water as the concrete mixer lorry patiently waited! As a result our concrete pour wasn’t as smooth as the first – and definitely not as flat!
Still, it set and allowed us to start work on the timber framing. This has been a satisfying part of the process so far as it’s reasonably quick. Travis Perkins and Bradfords have kept us stocked up with what we have to say has been a brilliant service.
Creating timber frame walls and studding them out we’ve then plyed the outside and clad it in insulation and battening. Suddenly things felt more ‘real’ and we had professionals on site to fit the single ply membrane flat roof. People are often scared with flat roofs but this comes with a 20 year guarantee and is expected to last MUCH longer. Even when it does need replacing it’s just a case of laying a fresh layer over the top!
Once the roof went on we could fix the GlazingVision Flushglaze roof light which looks devilishly crisp and beautifully connects the inside with the outside with a 2m x 1m frameless view of the sky. Now we had weather protection we were able to start focusing on the inside. By finding seconds insulation on eBay this allowed us to really make the framework into a cosy modernist box for a fraction of the price.
And then finally the aluminium bi-folds and slimline grey upvc windows have gone in today. These are in anthracite grey but of course covered in protective film which we’re just itching to remove! We’re waiting on the garage roller shutter door but are finally dry in the ‘living’ spaces of the build. Relief!
The self-build to date has been fun and exciting but also stressful, gruelling and hard – in sum all-encompassing! It’s a way to learn what you’re capable outside of your comfort zone, be hands on and experience it as a family (with grandparents and friends heroically coming to the rescue). Importantly it gives you the ability to make decisions as you build whilst also saving money. It does take away from your evenings, your weekends and in short any chance you have to relax! We’ve had black thumbs, back aches and even one case of passing out so it’s very much both a physical and mental process. Still, looking back to date, it’s been quite a journey and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a young family going with the ethos ‘don’t move, improve!’.
We’ll update you soon on next progresses… we hope you’ve enjoyed this little run through of our journey to date though.