Tuesday, 17 March 2015

NEW EXTENSION BUILDING WORKS (WEEK 1)

It has been a bit quiet on the blog lately because our lives are pretty hectic at the moment. We are living in the middle of a building site as of last week. I wash rushing to get all the paper work completed before the work could start; planning permission, building control, builders, Party Wall Agreement etc. My husband left me in charge of our extension project and even though it has been fun planning it all, it has been pretty stressful at times as well. I just hope that everything goes well and that there are no major surprises down the road (which I am sure there will be knowing this house...)

So, our builders (which I will tell more about later) started a week ago. They are usually booked up a year in advance but we were lucky to get a cancellation slot. The weather is getting warmer here now so it's an ideal time to start the building works. Well, as ideal as it's going to get really.

On the first day, they managed to demolish a good part of the old conservatory which was pretty impressive. The noise was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. There was drilling and knocking down walls so all pretty much what I expected but my daughter still managed to nap through it which was unbelievable.The builders had to leave part of the roof intact so the electrics wouldn't get wet in case it rained. You can see below how the room looked like after day 1. They certainly didn't waste much time.



By the way, initially I was thinking about going away for the demolishing part to avoid the noise/dust. In the end, I just felt I wanted to be around to see the progress each day. Call me crazy but I am actually enjoying this part and want to know everything that is going on each day. I might be the first woman in history to show interest in construction works but it's a nice change from decorating for sure. Also, I want to be around to answer any immediate questions that might pop up. My builders know that I am a bit of a perfectionist and explain to me honestly what we can and cannot do. Communication is really important!

Seeing the old extension in pieces was pretty liberating I must say :). I hated that room. We couldn't use it because it was so badly insulated and leaking. Whoever built it was in a rush and wanted to cut corners. Not ideal at all! In fact, my builders told me that most of the 1930s houses is London were built in a rush (pre-war) and that is why some of the decisions that were made make very little sense today. Interestingly, these houses are still standing today and some might even say that they are built better than new houses.

I definitely want to 'project manage' to an extend. It is our house after all and I think being around when the building works are happening gives you a great opportunity to make sure everything goes according to plan. Of course this depends on the size of your project. We are lucky that it is only one room that we are rebuilding. I haven't lost (yet) the access to the kitchen and noise levels have been pretty much the same when we did our kitchen renovation. The builders boxed away the room they are working on which I have found very handy (less noise and dust).

On day 2, the builders continued demolishing the old extension and dug app. 1 meter down where we could see the foundations of our house. It was quite a sight. It was exciting to see the amount of brick that was holding up pretty much the entire kitchen and first floor bedroom. Obviously, the foundations for the new extension will need to be deeper than that due to current building regulations. But, there is nothing wrong with the old ones and they have been going strong since the 1930s.



On day 3, the building inspector from the council came over to make sure the builders are building according to the plans (this is why I had to also apply for the building regulations). We hired Aztech Architecture to do the drawings for us in order to apply for building permission (you can read more about it here) but after having a chat with our builders we decided to change something on the plans. Now, we are only allowed to do this if the building inspector is confident that it will work and luckily we got a yes to go ahead. On the plans, the party wall with the neighbour was a brick wall. We obviously cannot demolish a wall that we share with the neigbour, but rather than building a cavity in brick, we are going to build it in timber so we don't lose too much of the width of the room. Initially, we were going to lose 300 mm, now it's down to 160 mm. I'm pretty happy with that. As long as our builder insulates and damp proofs the wall, there shouldn't be any reasons why this wouldn't work. It also saves the hassle from digging the old foundations next to the party wall which of course our neighbour was thrilled with so great result for everyone so far.

The builders had to leave the new foundations to settle overnight but on day 4 new walls started going up! I literally couldn't believe how quick these guys were. I have seen many houses being extended in our area and I have looked at our builders versus few other ones, and I must say that if your builder is taking too long to do their job they are either lazy or don't know what they are doing. Neither scenario is good let's face it!










On day 5, they continued laying bricks and by the end of it I could see proper structures (where the doors and windows would be) and it all became much more real. For us this is such a big project (biggest renovation we have done in this house to date) but by looking at the speed of things going up I can see that this is really a pretty 'easy' job for the builders (which makes me so much more comfortable).


















We still have 3 weeks of building works ahead of us and probably towards the end I will be fed up with it all. It is getting more exciting though as I can really start to imagine what the room will look like. I do hope that all the endless hours googling extension projects, reading magazines and pinning ideas from Pinterest will pay off in the end. I don't want to get my hopes up but so far it's looking good!
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2 comments

  1. A very useful article to read.Thanks a lot for sharing this.Fine Work.Keep up your good work.

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    1. Thank you very much for your comment Ken!

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