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Extension post #5 – weeks 3 & 4

Four weeks in and we now have what looks very much like an extension. The walls are up, roof is finished, and now all that’s left to do before they knock a great big hole in our house is to fit the window and bi-folds.


Veluxes

During the first fortnight of the build, there were a few issues that cropped up. The last couple of weeks, however, have been spot on. There have been pretty much zero issues and the guys have got far better at keeping us posted and asking us questions.

A couple of days before the veluxes went in, Gavin (main man) asked us to have a think about where to put them. We’d planned to just have 2, but after thinking about the position of the island and 3 pendants above it, we realised that 2 wouldn’t work unless we wanted a light dangling from the Velux… Haz pointed out that 3 veluxes would work better so we asked Gavin if that was possible and how much extra it would be. He gave it the thumbs up and said it would be an extra £365 so we went for it. In hindsight, I have no idea why we originally had only 2 veluxes in the design as we want maximum natural light and 3 just looks better than 2. It’s a good job Gavin spoke to us rather than just following the plan or we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to add another Velux.

Padstones

Okay so there was one issue in the last couple of weeks. We grabbed Gavin one day for a natter before ordering our kitchen. It’s a good job we did as whilst looking through the structural engineer’s calculations, he noticed that the padstone required to support the steels above the opening at the back of our house is a lot bigger than expected… Initially he said the pillar supporting the steel would come into the room by 66cm on either side. SIXTY SIX CENTIMETRES!!!! Haz and I both passed out but when we came to, he corrected himself that the pillar would be 66cm wide and protrude out of the wall by 12cm. That’s far more reasonable than coming into the room by 66cm, but the original assumption was a 30cm wide pillar coming 15cm into the room. So slightly less deep, but 36cm wider than expected. Pretty disappointing than we weren’t told earlier about this and a bloody good job we checked before ordering our kitchen.

After getting this news we needed to make changes to our kitchen units as the pillar would eat into them more than expected. We switched the fridge freezer position with the pantry unit and took out the fancy pull-out drawers. In the end this wasn’t really a compromise and removing the fancy drawers saved us £360 so could have been a lot worse and paid for the extra velux, but having clarity on the pillar size earlier would have been far better.

Next Steps

We’ve got a week or so without the lads on site until the window & bi-folds have arrived. After that we’re likely to move out for a couple of weeks as apparently the knock through and stages afterwards are well messy. We had a proper catch-up with Gavin on Thursday and they’re ahead of schedule which is great but it also means we need to crack on with ordering appliances which tbh I’m quite excited about. How life has changed.


After a dodgy first couple of weeks, we have renewed faith in our builders. Of course, there’s a lot that could still go wrong but at least the trust is back!

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Extension post #4 – week 2

Week two has been a 7/10. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the build is now well and truly out of the ground and we’re motoring along. No sign of any excrement this week which is always a plus and I was chuffed to see the guys enjoying our new decking seats. Although positives aside, there has been a need for some mild confrontation after some attempted wool pulling.


‘Brick Gate’

By the end of Tuesday, the brickwork had been laid up to the damp proof course and the concreting subfloor was curing away. In preparation for the walls going up, Mark showed us a sample of the exterior bricks that they planned on using. We had a good think and compared vs both our existing house and the neighbours’ extension.

It was an OK match but not great. There were a lot of darker bricks in the existing house which the ‘weathered red’ we were shown would not include. So we politely asked if the bricks could be a closer match to our neighbours extension (almost impossible to get them to match our 1930s house) which Mark said would be fine. The neighbours’ extension is made of civic bricks so when the bricks arrived on Wednesday morning we were expecting civics…

Low and behold, over 1,000 weathered red were plonked on our drive first thing Wednesday. The huge ‘WEATHERED RED’ lettering down the side of them was the key giveaway that these were, in fact, weathered red bricks rather than the civics we had agreed on. Initially I guessed it was an error on the supplier’s part but when I went for a chat with Mark he spun an impressively articulate story about how civic bricks are the same as weathered red. Not according to the chat we had 2 days earlier.

Anyway, we were miffed and said we weren’t happy with the extension being built with the bricks that had been delivered. After a small amount of huffing and puffing, Mark agreed that a selection of slightly darker civic bricks would be picked up to dot throughout the build. It’s worked out well in the end as the brickwork looks great but some more transparency would be great, ya know.

Window positioning

Realistically, we’re expecting bigger dramas than the brick one. Another small drama was around window positioning. Without going into too much detail, the windpost that supports the wall between our bifolds and the kitchen window was put up without us being asked about where we’d like the window. This has meant that we aren’t going to be able to have the window quite where we want it which is annoying as it won’t line up with the kitchen sink as sexily as we had planned. It’s a matter of centimetres so not worth asking them to take the wall down to adjust it, but frustrating nonetheless.

What with both brick gate and the windpost issue both happening due to a lack of communication, I managed to grab Gavin, the main man, for a chat on Friday. I mentioned both the brick issue and window positioning and he took more of a story-spinning approach than apologetic. Once the stories had been spun, I made it clear that we need to talk more often to make sure we’re on the same wavelength. He seemed to take that well as he spent the next 10mins taking me through the decisions we had coming up so fingers crossed we’ll have a better dialogue from now.

When somebody that you get along well with is at your house 5 days a week it’s easy to forget that we’re a customer and that this is the most expensive thing we’ll ever buy. Loads of decisions coming up soon so we need to be careful to keep a sensible balance (although I do think I’ll keep on making bacon sarnies for them on Monday mornings, I’ve never seen happiness like it).


Another post with a lot of moaning, but that’s just cos it’s easier to write about things that go badly than those that go well. We’re chuffed with the progress and well excited that the roof should be well underway by the end of next week.

I’ll end on a question. There’s a gap down the side of the extension, about 35cm, that absolutely needs to be used for something. I was thinking scrap wood storage or maybe a small hammock? If you have any bright ideas do let me know as I can’t not use this space for something.

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Extension post #1 – the plans

The next 3 months are going to be incredibly noisy, dirty and expensive. BUT, it will (hopefully) all be worth it. I’m not really sure what to expect so thought I’d keep a track of the different stages on here for your enjoyment but also for us to look back on in the future and laugh about how naive we were.

Before making an offer on our house we agreed that if we got it we’d add an extension. Like a lot of 1930s semis, it’s perfect for a rear extension and the fact that almost all our neighbours have extended makes it a no brainer.

It’s 10 months since we moved in and the build starts a week today so we’re well excited but equally pooping our pants. We’re happy with the plans, our builder seems sound, and the neighbours are on board so all is well, right…?


As you can probs imagine, we were planning the extension before we even moved in. It’s not so much that the house needed it, more that an extension seemed like it would make a huge improvement. Here’s the floor plan pre-extension.

It’s a very standard 1930s semi layout, nothing exciting going on except maybe the funky diagonal doors off the hall. Here’s what we plan on having done.

The extension will be single storey with a pitched roof and go back 3 metres across the width of the house (around 6 metres).

We spent a while working out how we could include a utility space and decided that by moving the side door along slightly (on images below), we could squeeze one in without impacting the kitchen space too much. It’ll be perfect for cleaning up a muddy Basil.

One of the doors is being replaced by a small window. This is currently and outside store which will be an understairs loo. No cat swinging will be going on in here but it’ll be great not to have to leg it upstairs every time we need a waz.

The kitchen will be L-shaped, running along the same wall as today with the sink facing out to the garden. There’ll be a cheeky island to fulfil Haz’ lifelong dream but tbh we’re most excited about having a dishwasher.

The other side of the extension will be a chill out area with a sofa and coffee table. It’ll hopefully be really bright and have a lovely view through the bifold doors (my lifelong dream). The dining area will be set back in front of the fireplace.

The only other change is that at some point we’re going to add some internal doors between the living room and dining area. This is so we’ve got at least a bit of separation downstairs.


So that’s it. All very exciting and we can’t wait to see the progress. I don’t think any building project has ever gone fully to plan so we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that any issues aren’t too horrendous. Next week I’ll add a post on how we went about choosing our architect and builder.