It’s soon. Yes I think we might be talking to builders about building this house almost imminently. Two and a half years since we bought the plot and we may be nearly ready to go.
It’s not as simple as we start building as soon as we accept a builders’ tender though. We have building control for the base but wanted to keep the options open as much as possible with the timber frame system. This means that we have estimated our costs on the basis of a scotframe timber frame, but are open to builders suggesting other systems that match the spec. We therefore have to wait until we know the system we will be using before we go for building control for the building.
So we have a series of steps that have to wait for the step before.
1. Quantity Surveyor report and bill of quantities (to take 3-4 weeks)
2. Send out tender to builders and wait 4-6 weeks
3. decide on builder and issue contract (some negotiations and changes at this stage as we know costs)
4. Go to building control for the building
5. However I think at the same time we should be able to start on the foundations and get the timber frame started being designed and manufactured (6 weeks)
6. Then building goes up – wind and watertight in 4 days (yes you heard that right – FOUR DAYS!)
I think it might be wise to not start planning the house warming just yet.
A little recap may be in order given the amount of time it has taken to get planning permission. After the quantity surveyor had costed the initial specification and it was way beyond miles over budget we have been looking at ways to get the cost down a bit.
Firstly we reduced the floor area. My original plans were for a generous area where you come in to shed wet, muddy clothes from various outdoor biking/climbing/skiing/marine adventures with a drying room, boot area and utility room. And also a fantasy pantry. With a bedroom above. This has shrunk to a small hall, with a much reduced utility/drying room. A bench at the bottom of the stairs gives a place to sit.
Although we managed to reduce the floor area by about 20msq, the lovely architects (did I mention they were lovely) managed that without losing much functional space. We lost a little storage space upstairs but with a bit of clever shenanigans around the stairs the third bedroom upstairs can still sleep two.
Secondly we discussed the specification. I know I chose Matt as an architect specifically for the ecological design aspect of his skills and interests, and he certainly demonstrated that on his initial specification for the build. However having ideals seems to come at a price and, once we had the QS report it was obvious that something had to give. Achieving top-notch eco credentials for energy performance, eco-friendly materials and low embodied energy just didn’t seem to be possible within our budget.
The best compromise that we came up with was to retain a high insulation and air-tightness – though short of passive house – and use cheaper materials for the build. Rather than the more natural materials of timber frame with warmcel insulation (or similar) and fibreboard, we moved towards foam insulation in a timber kit build. We have also thought about our use of windows, reducing the spec of some of the most expensive ones and examining how many we really need.
Oh and we lost the zinc roof too- which was quite a relief to me and probably for the planners too. More on the long road to Planning permission in the next blog….