Despite having every conceivable weather thrown at the builders – snow, frost, sunshine and heavy rain, the house has grown and is beginning to take shape. It’s such a thrill to see the rooms form, from what has until now, just been ideas, sketches and Architects drawings and plans. We have now nearly reached 2nd floor joist level, so all very exciting!
My husband and I agreed to disagree, on the internal brick wall, and have compromised on a brick ‘chimney’ breast’. This will act as a grid line behind the wood burning stove as a focal point in the the room, and to create a cohesive link with the original brick fireplace remaining in the sitting room. This will be built after the walls have been plastered. The log burner will have an external flue, so the bricks are purely aesthetic. A raised hearth will also be built for the stove to sit on, and to be seen from across the room, not hidden from site by a coffee table.
We will shortly be placing our order for the windows. We have decided on the design and material and have received quotes from a couple of companies. I requested a local company who I have used before to see a sample at his showroom. An online brochure is O.K. for all the technical information and design, but to actually view the windows first hand is important, and you are spending a lot of money. If you were buying a car, you would certainly want to view it. The owner of the window company explained he did not have a sample window because they source the windows from a manufacturer, they only install the windows and issue the FENSA certificate. His supplier of the windows insist he purchase a window to display in his showroom, and suggested that I visited the manufacturers showroom in Canvey Island. This is not going to happen, I’m not traipsing miles – sorry. This may lose him the order. I rang the manufacturer to explain the problem. They told me that after three orders of the windows the installation company get a refund for the product. Personally I feel the window installer and manufacturer should strike a deal which will ultimately be beneficial to more sales. If you haven’t got the window on display, how are you going to promote the sale of it? But then I’m not Mary Portas! http://www.channel4.com/programmes/mary-portas-secret-shopper As with most builds the windows and glass hold up new builds and renovations because they won’t make the windows until the apertures have been built in case they don’t fit. My builder says that if the windows are made to the drawing dimensions then they should fit, if not he will adjust the aperture to make them fit. (He didn’t put it quite as politely as this!). Perhaps window companies could offer a disclaimer for signature – or is this a legal minefield? So we will have to wait for the windows like everyone else.
As explained in an earlier blog we are trying to re- use and recycle as many materials as possible. Roof tiles from the now demolished garage roof and lean to will be used on the roof of the extension, which will also help to blend the new and old, avoiding obvious new roof lines. Renovating the original doors, and saving some of the wood from the timber floors for a cloaks rack to be made later on. This will save money, as well as being conscious of the impact on the environment. We would have liked to install solar panels, and perhaps an air source heat pump, but the initial costs of installation are prohibitive, even with Government schemes. We are ultimately re-cycling the whole house, which was uninhabitable. Very environmentally friendly. It’s a pity the Government won’t recognize the value of the millions of people doing the same to their properties and axe the VAT on these renovation projects. The VAT saved could then be used to install new technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Eraze the property to the ground, even if it is structurally sound, use more materials and resources and do it VAT free, saving yourself 20% without having to install many sustainable and renewable energy technologies. There was a Code for Sustainable Homes, now scrapped https://www.gov.uk/government/news/stephen-williams-announces-plans-to-raise-housing-standards which gave instructions and guidelines to builders and some local authorities, depending on area.
Small, simple changes can make a huge difference to utility bills and the environment though for instance:-
Changing your light bulbs to LED bulbs. Whilst more expensive initially, will ultimately save on your electricity bill.
Install water butts fitted to gutter down pipes for watering the garden.
If you have outside space, install a washing line to dry clothes.
Fit showers with aerated heads. These mix air with water, thus giving a good shower, but using less water.
To install a cistern, which again uses less water. 3 and 6 litre cisterns, dual fuel flush to WRAS regulations.
Purchase high grade energy rated electrical goods. AA being the highest.
The rear garden, like all gardens during major building works has been battered by a digger and dumper. Wearing wellies is a necessity.. The earth has been leveled and a crushed concrete base has been laid ready for the paving slabs for the path and sitting area at the bottom of the garden as per landscape plan. This has been done now so access for carrying heavy materials is easier. Once the side ‘mud come boiler room’ is built it will be far more difficult to transport the materials to the rear garden. Thinking and planning ahead is sensible, but sometimes one can forget the obvious small things when looking at the bigger picture, like an outside tap or an provision of an exterior electric point.