A house that is not a house…

The race to the finish has slowed. If there was a word that should be used just before everything stops I would use that.

Perhaps slopped. Maybe not.

I should state that it is not my doing. As you may know I am waiting on the Planning Dept at South Somerset District Council to approve moving some parking spaces on my land – or not. Parking spaces that have been approved by everyone else including Highways. But alas, Planning appear to have sunk into their own deep hole of remarkable ineptitude. Phone calls, emails and bumping up the complaints to a local Councillor has done nothing to persuade them to do their job. I should say that we have had some responses over the last 5 months. One of them even says that it was just a matter of signing things off but that was over a month ago and to be fair it wasn’t the first time they said it.

They are also now stating that a letter received from Natural England means they can no longer approve any developments whilst an assessment on the phosphate levels on the Moors is carried out. ie., there should be no increased herd as it increases waste water, etc. I get it. We need to look after our environment.

Weirdly the letter was received on the day my planning decision was due. Have you ever known a Council to action a letter so quickly? Me neither! So I am assuming they are just using it as an excuse to explain why my legal deadline was passed without any actionable response.

What do you mean – Me… Cynical? No!

Of course it doesn’t explain why they don’t reply to emails, telephone calls, etc.

I am waiting on parking spaces. Not a hotel, nor a house, a bungalow, a block of flats. This house is all but finished and funny enough was a 4 bed property and IS STILL a 4 bed property. And if anything, it will now dispense less water into the sewers (and thus onto the Moors) as it is no longer a pub. A reduction in the herd – so to speak!

In the meantime, I have given up on chasing approval on the new house build – the approval deadline of which was also 18 August. The stress isn’t worth it. The new house is (fortunately for me) less affected by time anyway as I will either sell the land or won’t start the build until the Spring thus avoiding the ridiculous conditions we encountered last Winter.

So emails, telephone calls, councillor activity and more and nothing. I have therefore submitted a formal complaint to the Planning Inspectorate. Great…that should at least get things moving.

But alas No…….The email response received after submission this week states the complaint will be looked at in 60 working days. What the… Three months! And that is when they start the process.

In the meantime, the house will not be signed off by Building Regulations. Which means I cannot call it a house so cannot (a) insure it as a residence (b) live in it (c) extract money via a mortgage (d) rent it out (e) sell it.

The Council have been making me pay residential council tax though.

Ha ha ha ! So funny that they think it’s a house!

I just cannot stop laughing.

Taking it all out…

Then putting it all back in again. That’s the builders life.

As an apprentice I obviously have limited experience. It makes me question my sanity at night when I am ensconced in my luxurious accommodation and I realise the process of renovation..

We have taken out more than 70 tons of flooring and have now put back the same sort of materials we took out up to the concrete level. To finish the floor we will be adding insulation and then screed. We have removed enough timber to build an enormous bonfire for local celebrations (yes…that is where the wood has gone), and we are now putting timber back in. I have not heard of which effigy will be sitting at the top of the bonfire but I have a few thoughts on that.

I have removed hundreds…nope, thousands of nails and in the last two days I have hammered a thousand clout nails into some joists. (Impressive use of proper terms there!)

But Neil assures me it’s all for the good of the job.

So what’s happening in Week 9?

We are building one of the dividing walls for the entranceway and to define the utility room and snug. When I say we I mean Neil and Andy. A couple of wall starter sets get the process going. The 4 inch concrete blocks look like what this girl knows as breeze blocks. But each one is super dense and incredibly heavy. Bringing them inside was about my limit. The concrete mixer in the carpark is a little bigger than my cake mixer at home…but same theory. To be honest the mix sometimes looks better than my home bakes too.

I have been dallying with another shorter end hammer drill. Removing the last of the stubborn plasterwork around the fireplace, etc. The corner bits come off in huge chunks as they are held together with metal mesh. As a result they are heavy. My left shoulder and arm now bear the scars of how heavy. Also removing even more nails….Did you know that it is possible to pull a nail with such strength that the hammer could fly back and may hit you on the head. Makes your eyes water and swear like you’re on the golf course!

One of the master bedrooms is having the ceiling raised to show off some of the old beams. This is where I have been a little more active. Go on…ask me a question. Go on. Go on. I know words now that I had never heard of before this project. Jiffy hanger. Threaded rod. M16 nuts. Could be the start of a racy novel. Watch this space.

And its been another week of meeting other trades for the ongoing need for quotations. All good people with varying skills. My knowledge of soil pipes is increasing substantially. I await their responses with hope.

Now I shall head home only to have to replace the boiler in my flat. Its pitying that they don’t make these things last like they used to (Do I sound like my mother?). This boiler can only be 25 years old. There is little rest for That There Builder Girl.

Rugby at the weekend. Watching, not playing just in case you were wondering. England vs All Blacks. (Hello my friends in New Zealand). Wales vs France (Hello my family in Wales).

England v Wales. Now that would be a good final now that Scotland aren’t playing.

ps…I know. I know. Its Wales vs South Africa. Can’t blame me for mistakes..I am a little worn out!

Late to the party. What have I done!!

Our first day of demolition.

The project started on 2 September 2019 and I was late – having been caught in the traffic on the M5. Nothing to worry about I had already handed over keys to my builder – Neil and he and his No. 2 Andy were on site from 0830hrs to get started. By 1030hrs when I turned up I walked into a mess – that simply got bigger and more dirty as the week progressed. No turning back now.
I had first day nerves. Not sure why. I know Neil (met him playing golf). I took out references on his work as a builder and we met several times to discuss the project. But even so I was still nervous.

The plan is simple. Knock everything to pieces and then re-build where necessary to meet current building regulations and to turn the old pub into a contemporary home. Simples !!

I took a course at the NSBRC (National Self Build & Renovation Centre) in Swindon. Three days on how to plan, manage and implement your project. I then did another one day course with them on Project Management. The courses were great – truly interesting and helpful. I took loads of notes.

One of the things they said again and again is make sure you budget for everything in advance. So here I am on day one, having only budgeted for the next 4-6 weeks on a project that is likely to last for 6 – 9 months. To be fair, I did get some total build quotes and they were around £50k over my entire budget so I have an idea of what this might cost if it all goes horribly wrong.

Ask me at the end of the project whether this way of doing things was a good idea.