The Self-Builder Diaries Chapter Six: Starting the Build

RDS Build Rob

Our builder, having given us a start date of 6th November 2023, was held up on a previous job and then his workers wanted time off over Christmas, so he didn’t really get started until January.

As a compromise, he erected hoarding around the site in December and did some preparatory demolition of an existing wall.  The real work started in January with a major excavation to get to the base level we needed for the lower floor.  A 13 tonne digger on the site and many muck-away lorries.

It went smoothly at first.  The weather was good and the earth was reasonably stable.  It proved possible to leave the sides of the hole almost vertical, which left some space at street level for materials storage and a Portaloo.

As we moved into February things deteriorated.  The weather became very wet and some suppliers we depended on gave us trouble, but Rob carried on bravely preparing for the base slab.

The first step is the Isoquick former which contains the concrete.  It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle made of expanded polystyrene made offsite to our drawing and fitted together in place.

Of course that was when the rain came.  A torrential downpour caused the EPS to float on the water.  Luckily none of it was lost and after pumping out the water it could be put back.  Sadly, the water level rose above the landing stage and the red sofa was a casualty.

Next is the waterproofing.  It comes in two parts – a gooey membrane that sits under the concrete and a waterproofing additive mixed in the concrete.

We had the membrane on site ready, but before we could take delivery of the additive, the supplier declared insolvency and went into administration.

Some research showed an alternative additive was compatible (at extra cost, of course) so we were able to move on with not too much delay to the schedule.

The steel reinforcing was on site – all 8 tonnes of it – so Rob and co spent a happy few days wiring it together in the rain.

8th of March – a major step forward – the first concrete pour for the slab.  Seven readymix trucks at half hour intervals.  It was really good to see some real evidence that one day there might be a house standing on that site.

14th March – we are really motoring.  The ICF formwork is built and ready for filling with concrete.

This is where we are today.

The next chapter…

Keep an eye out for our next instalment of the Self-Builder Diaries.

Published: 18 April 2024

Author: Kerry Mashford