At last, we have a date to start work on site: the groundworkers are scheduled to start in the week commencing 15 August, with their work taking about 6 weeks. This is the step that essentially unlocks the whole build programme, and should let us (or Sean, our project manager) put together the whole schedule. In the meantime, we have done a host of things contributing to the build:
- We have organised, submitted and got approval for the landscape design for the garden. This was the only ‘pre-commencement’ condition on our planning permission, which meant that we had to get the garden basically designed, and submit the design to Torridge for approval, before a sod could be turned. Sean introduced us to a landscape designer, Jane Stewart, who did the work for us, and created what we think and hope will be a lovely garden to complement the house and link it to the landscape. The designs are here (be patient – it’s a big file).
- We had to have the foundations and retaining wall designed by structural engineers. Our site is not the easiest, with a steep slope or bank in the middle of it. The house takes advantage of the slope, but it does require more extensive sub-structure than a house on a level site. Sean recommended that we use Paul Carpenter Associates for this work. They produced a detailed design that meets the structural requirements, but should be reasonably straightforward to build (we hope!)
- We have ordered water and electricity supplies. No, they don’t just appear by magic – you have to pay for the man to connect the pipes/wires!
- We’ve bought our structural warranty, and the building regulations inspections. We are using the same organisation (NHBC) for both, so that we have a single inspector. He is unlikely to disagree with himself over what is required.
- Finally, Sean tendered the groundworks. We got four tenders, with a price range nearly 50% of the cheapest. Not sure how that works, but we have now chosen one (not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive), who can start in a couple of weeks. Then the fun really starts!