Where it All Began:

The Plan....   To build an out-building with a music studio attached.


The Stables and sheds in this part of the garden were long past their useful life and were actually quite dangerous.  That said, the addage 'if you have space you will fill it' was never more true so they housed a collection of junk and things aquired over the years.  The thought of dealing with all this stuff combined with some very busy times at home and having to go to work, kept the project on hold.


2003 - Received a certificate of lawful development from the local authority to build my project here in the back garden. 

2004 - 2006 - First plans submitted for building regs, pass conditionally. However the scheme involves sinking the building into the ground by 1m to gain headroom. (permitted development limits the height of a pitched roof to 4m from ground level.)  A quick check with the planning authority casts doubt on the status of the permitted development as excessive excavation would be classed as engineering.  In this case planning permission is required, as would putting a basement in that nobody would see not impact anyone etc, etc.  I decide not to risk it.  The money pit claims it's first victory in terms of architects fees and local authority fees, basically wasted.


2007 - Redesign the building in the context of permitted development.

2008 02 - Revised Plans submitted for Building Regs - More Fees!

2008 07 - After some negotiation with the local authorities the plans pass the regs with conditions.  (When I say negotiate I mean we agree to everything the building inspector (BCO)wants.)

The BCO oringinally specifies that the footing depth should be 3.3m due to a combination of clay over chalk and the proximity of a conifer hedge and mature oak to the proposed building. - The BCO confirms if I hit chalk then I can stop at that depth. (Fingers crossed!).  

The slab has to be voided to ensure that the floor doesn't suffer if there is any heave.  Damn you clay!

The depth of the foundations takes this part of the project out of my hands.  Too deep and too many risks of trench collapse etc.

This will consume a lot of concrete and ecologically that is not so sound.

2008 07 - In order to help make a decision on foundation type I arrange a Site Investigation.  This involves three guys drilling a deep hole (10m) then filling the hole back in.  £1k later they tell me that the chalk is 3.3m (Shocker! See above!) but the good news is the bore remained dry and self supporting and the test results showed that piling could be a viable option.  I received quotes from piled raft providers, but the quotes were £30k - 50k + VAT, economically not so sound! I was really dissapointed at the massive additional cost over traditional deep trench foundations.

Of course the deeper foundations not only mean more concrete but also clayboard + extra with of excavation to accomadate = extra muck away. another victory for the money pit.


2008 08 31 - The stables and sheds are cleared and demolished.  Wood in good condition was salvaged, the rest burnt. 

2008 09 01 - Arranged for the hard standing to be demolished and the oversite to be cleared next weekend.  Have to get a man in with a JCB and 8 wheeler due the size of the area. I also ordered a copy of the Rod Gervais book to ensure I make the best use of my space.

Here's a good one.  I paid a small fortune to have the asbestos roof removed and disposed of properly.  When the digger went through the slab..... an old asbestos roof kindly buried by previous occupiers.  Thanks for that.


2008 09 22 - Slight delays due to weather but as at today the foundations have been concreted.   Just need to do the sub ground block work and sort out services.

You can see in this picture there are two steps and three levels.  This is for three reasons.  1.  I want to ensure that neighbours aren't overly effected by the height ,  2. there is a slight slope in the garden and 3. so I can get more headroom in the CR.

2008 11 05 - This week the brickie starts on the foundation walls for the block and beam.  This sketchup shows the three slabs and outer skin.  The external timber frame will sit on the outer wall.  The bottom slab is the control room the middle slab will be the live area and the upper slab will be recreation area.  The live area will need to double as a home theatre so I need to get my thinking cap on how to deal with the dual purpose issue.

Oh yes and we are delayed because of weather.

I think I have read and re-read every post on the John Sayers Forum.  This is not only a great place to kill a few hours (days, weeks), but inspirational in terms of some of the acheivements and knoweledge shared.  The more I know (or think I do) the less I understand!  Ultimately this research will save me a fortune, however, I now have so much to think about I wonder if I will ever make a decision.

2008 11 01 - Internal sub floor brick work complete.  Will order the beam and block floor soon.  Once this is down (approx 3-4weeks lead time), the outer skin of sub floor will be built.

2008 12 12 Beam and block floor delivered.  I specifically said that a large artic would not be any good for access........ So they sent 2 huge lorries that would not fit instead. Luckily they were able to off load into our paddock over the hedge. Blocking the road for about 45mins!  That required some diplomacy.  The down side for this is that it means moving nearly 30 tons of beams and blocks a lot further than I wished.

2008 12 26 Whilst in the pub, the brother in law mentioned he would like to help.....

2009 01 04 Brother in law says next time we talk about my project in the pub he will pop of to the loo for half an hour. Two brother-in-laws, Grandad Rick and myself managed to manhandle about 80 beams (about 100kg each). Today was freezing but the frost did us a favour turning the mud pit into a firm, albeit trecherous, platform in the field. Over half the beams are on the foundation walls and some of the blocks moved over. This was a very hard few hours work.  Hats of to Grandad Rick who knocked the lads into a cocked hat.  I wonder if they will come back to help with the other half.


2009 04 07 Well the beam and block floor is all down and I have changed my mind about construction...........

2009 06 01 I have decided to build in ICF.

2009 06 23 Calcs finished by the structural engineer.

2009 06 24 Steel and reinforcement to be delivered.  Again no warnings heeded about access another hold up and to cap it the large 6.6m steel is missing.  Re-arrange delivery of beam for July stress the problems with lorry size.

2009 07 03 First load of ICF material arrives.

2009 07 06 The remainder of the foam arrives.... On a very large lorry another hold up in the street why does nobody listen.

2009 07 14 The Big steel arrives....   Yes the lorry was too big and the road was held up trying to manhandle 250kg of steel off the lorry.  Driver claims he can bench 120kg so should be easy to get off.  Me and Grandad Rick look at each other and piss ourselves.  Driver with newly aquired turtle goes to plan b and trys to crane it off with the Hiab, but is new to the job and doesn't have a clue (probably why he thought he could lift the steel in the first place)  Luckily a rather patient farmer in a tractor in the long queue comes to the rescue.  Me and Rick drag the steel across the garden nearly giving us our very own turtles.

2009 07 15 construction starts in earnest but is hampered by the weather.


2009 08 15 Getting there now, nearly finished.  This just does not express how much titting about went into the ground, from trying to level the strips, to approximately 30 periscopic vents taken up through the inside of the formwork, to the 100+ T12 steels that needed to be drilled into the strips.  The big steel is still where we left it.  I wonder how I will get that up into position?  I keep ignoring it hoping it will go away.








Ordered a load of scaffold to get me around the top of the wall where the build is slightly deeper.  I will use trestles and boards the other end. (I am sure I will live to regret that.)

2009 08 19 - Asking for Roof quotes, concrete pump quotes and concrete quotes ( £200 quid a meter for waterproof concrete.  Pants down.)  I have to have it.

2009 08 29 - Scaffold arrives at 7:30 AM.  Yes of course the lorry was too big to get in the drive.  A back breaking unloading as swiftly as possible and done in about 30 mins, no thanks to the driver who just said  "They'll have to wait"  which is charming when it's my neighbours and he will be back in Liverpool before they have finished moaning.  The good news is that there is more to go round than I thought and with the aid of some other scaffold towers and trestles I have only 5 meters of perimeter that I will deal with on Steps.  

2009 09 05 - Alan from Polarwall arrives at 7:00 AM as expected.  The concrete pump arrives at 8:00AM as expected. Snag 1 The concrete turns up 30mins early.   The pump team get skates on and get prepared in record time. 

Snag 2 of the day; the concrete lorry driver decides to try and turn on the lawn.   The lorry gets stuck!  An hour later the concrete company dispatch a line pump to empty out the lorry into the boom pump so the first layer of concrete goes in rather rapidly as it is starting to cook.


Unfortunately the next load doesn't arrive until 11:30. This is because they are a lorry down!  Because of this the pump has to clean down.  They tow the lorry out and we begin in earnest.  A long day but by 4PM all the concrete is placed and most of the cleanup is done.  Apart from the issue with the concrete lorry it all seemed to go very well.  I have had a tap on the walls and it appears most of the concrete has compacted itself nicely around the lintels.


Well it has been some time since my last update:

It was time to get the services in.

I decided to get the gas pipe in and drains which meant an 80m trench right across the front of the house and another right across the back.  In additional a large 6 cubic meter soakaway was dug all the week before Christmas.


I assured and was assured that we would be done and backfilled before Christmas..........


Then the snow.


In some of the worse snow we have had for a long time the gas transporter could not make it because of snow.  the BCO was not able to do inspections because of snow.


It really was like a battle field for a long time.


Then it rained.


This all made it almost impossible to work as the mud and clay turned into a swamp.


It did not dry off sufficiently until April when we we were able to back fill dig out and concrete the footings for the patio walls and dump a couple of lorry loads of crushed concrete as a sub base for the patio.


24 April 2010 - Truss arrive.  Of course the lorry can't get into the drive so we drag them across the garden.  Grandad Rick, brother in law Russ and friend help manhandle the trusses into place.


So we got trusses on. Smaller roof is weather tight just the big boy to go.


12 July 2010 - I took a week off work.  So the roof construction is:  trusses, 18mm OSB3 sarking 50mm 140kg/m3 mineral wool insulation, Breather membrane, counter battens, mebrane,  battens and finally tiles.


Trusses on, OSB going on.


Why the second lot of membrane.  Well the first breather membrane was really a temporary weatherproofing solution to keep the isulation and osb dry before I get round to tiling.  If the roof had a steeper pitch I may have been able to get it onto the felt support tray with a fall.  As it stands the pitch plus the counterbattens means the membrane would actually have a dip not allowing any moisure to run over the felt trays into the gutter, It would just pool behind the eaves.


Issues: Stainless Steel Helical nails.  The roof design means I need to nail through the counterbatter, through 50mm of insultaion then through the OSB and finally into the rafter below.  A minimum of 35mm penetraion is required.  The only suitable fixing is a helical nail 165mm.  This is because they resist compression of the insulation and carry the sheer load of the tiles.  Over the area the nail suppliers calcs reveal I need an astoinishing 1,100 of the things.   This is going to be a long job.  as you can imagine they bend easily if you do not hit the top of the nail bang on.  You only have to be a little bit out of true at the top to miss the rafter.  To add to the misery any knots or strong grain in the counterbattens take them of target.   Once these bad boys are in there is no taking them out so it is a case of bashing them home off target and banging in another.  At approx 25p each you can see how quickly the misses start adding up.  As it is a structural thing you must get the fixing manufacturer to do the calcs and you have to ensure you get the minimum coverage.


A hand tool for bashing these in is essential so I got two and cut one down so I could get as much of the nail in as possible before taking the hammer to it directly.


In order to finish tiling the roof, I need to build the chimney so I can get the flashings in properly....


In the meantime as the building is weather tight I am able to crack on inside which is the hellish job of knocking all the concrete spalshes of the beam and block floor so I can put the DPM down and insulation.  In addition I have decided to clear out the 50mm gap around the perimeter of the slabs which are now full of concrete lumps leaves, sawdust and other crud.  I think I am going to need a new Henry at the end of this job.


Also I am beginning to double handle materials which have started to accumilate in the building.


My plan is to use the surplus Bituthene to run up the inside of the wall to the dpm inserted previously to seal over the 50mm gap and onto the beam and block floor.  The floor is farily flat so I have coated with a bitumin paint, blinded with sand and will cover with a polythene DPM that I have spare.


Over the floor, 100mm Rockfloor slabs which are 140kg/m3 mineral wool.  They are not touching the walls.


Finally this will received a mebrane and covering of 18mm Chip flooring a 15mm plasterboard layer and finally another 18mm chip floor.  All layers glued and sealed with flexible mastic.  They do not touch the walls


30 Sep - Having spent a lot of effort on the roof all that is left is final battens and approx 6000 tiles. Last Saturday they felt & battened it out.  I came home yesterday and they had bumped the tiles out the roof in one day.  They are fast.


By the way why go to all the agg of a warm roof? - Well I want the roof deck (the top of the trusses.) to be the first layer in my MSM system.  This is Mass Spring Mass principle that can be read about and many acoustic forums.  It is a two leaf system.

The room within a room creates this scenario.  Mass of the inside wall,  Spring is the sealed air gap, mass is the outside wall.  So the more mass in either leaf the lower the resonant frequency.  The larger the air gap the better.


The ceiling for my internal room will require some hefty joists or trusses so I want to site them beween existing trusses to maintain the height of the internal ceiling.







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