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23/07/09 | One year on. It is just over a year since my father died.  My mother is living in her new home and enjoyi... {more}
24/11/08 | Virgin - arghhh! Oh the joys! Today we undertook the installation of our Virgin phone / broadband cable from the hous... {more}
23/11/08 | Awadukt results This morning we've had our first chance to look at our ground to air energy transfer, in the absence... {more}


I wonder how many times we've asked ourselves that over the last 12 months!

It has been exhilarating, frustrating, depressing, physically demanding but also very very rewarding. Building something for yourselves or – as we have – for our parents, is totally different from a commercial venture. You're not working to a client's brief, you are looking for the best solution all the time.

We have learnt a lot along the way and for all potential self builders here are some of our thoughts:-

  • Use the right tools for the job. It will take you half the time and the end result will be much better. Get a good tool hire company on board from the start. We used HSS and invited our local manager, James Torrance to visit us on site at the very start of our project. They have been indispensable; we often needed things urgently and they often had to get them from HSS brances all over the UK. We felt as if nothing was too much trouble.
  • If you get a good tradesman, look after them. If you aren’t happy with someone, get rid of them straight away. They won’t improve and you will get more and more unhappy. You don’t want to have to spend time and money doing things twice because of bad workmanship.
  • Don't leave any of your tools out for general use if they are in good condition and clean and you want them to remain so.
  • Never have Welshmen on site when England are playing rugby against Wales
  • Avoid curves if at all possible unless you have a lot of money and a lot of time. We think the curved wall in the master bedroom took as long to build as the whole of the rest of the house! It does look stunning when you approach the house though! There was also a lot of of time spent making the flat roof, fascia detail, curved and we had to drag our good friend Don Welch, an experienced carpenter all the way down from Leicester to work for three solid days to get the roof right. The process wasn't helped by the fact that Seamless Aluminium who were making the gutter needed to make a template of the curve of the roof fascia and they were coming sooner than we thought!  In hindsight though, the curves do make for interesting architecture and are probably worth the effort, time and additional cost!
  • If you are going to bury anything, take photographs of location relative to some fixed reference object. Include a measuring staff, or tape measure in the picture, then you can precisely locate the object in the future, should you need to.

More to be added soon…..