A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell

Is it a fence? Is it a wall? Neither yet.

Who'd have thought deciding whether a brick wall or a wooden fence is suitable for the boundary, would cause so much hassle?!

When I bought this building plot back in 2008 (almost 6 years ago) there was no wall or fence at all along the North boundary and was completely accessible from the footpath. I'm sure the local kids would have played on the plot and for sure, some people were dumping their rubbish on here. Down the public footpath side to the East, there was a crumbling brick wall made from low quality LBC bricks, which was fast being destroyed by the weather and anyone walking home in a bad mood.

In the space of 1-2 years nearly all the remaining brick wall had disappeared and we had erected a 'temporary' 5-foot high panel fence to keep people out. This was mostly to help prevent people dumping rubbish, but also protect people from their own stupidity and to satisfy the insurance policy in case anyone decide to sue, if they injured themselves if getting onto the land.

Today we are at the stage of trying to keep costs to a minimum and the price for building a 1.8m high brick wall around the boundary, versus a closed-board fence, is basically double. Obviously the wooden fence would be much preferred - as it means we might actually be able to have a kitchen when we move in. But, the good old Planners would prefer to see a brick wall around the boundary, so that it looks the same as most of the other boundaries in the street. This is despite the fact that bricks walls are crumbling away with every winter frost we get and that some people have erected a half-wall-half-fence solution. Although, it's true, this is mostly because the builders of this housing development back in the 1970's used a brick that was cheap and not rubbish quality.

Planning Permission rant alert!

I can totally understand the reason for having a Planning department... otherwise there will be some crazy stuff happening... but what I don't understand is why everything has to be "in keeping" with everything in the surrounding area. Why can't we improve what's already there, instead of just adding more crapness?! It obvsiouly feels worse being on the receiving end of decisions that might not go our way, but it would be nice if some things didn't have to be so black and white with stuff like this.

So what has happened on site recently?

Not a great deal in the last 3 weeks - mostly due to the fact that we have been trying to get a verbal answer out of the Planners regarding what they think would be suitable for the boundary (although they have been very forthcoming with guidance and information when they are able to get back to us). We can't finish off the retaining walls, until we know what we're going to be putting on top of them. Plus, having submitted a Planning amendment, to move the house by 700mm across and down the site, we don't know for sure what kind of retaining wall we're going to have to build.

We have received a verbal 'nod' that it should be okay, so we have decided to risk continuing with the build... otherwise we could be waiting another 6 weeks until an official decision has been reached. Apparently the neightbours have received a letter recently outlining the changes and asking for feeback, but we have already spoken with the 2 immediate neightbours and they have signed a letter of concent. So it should (in theory) all be a pretty straight forward paperwork exercise. Fingers crossed. Touch wood. Etc.

Sewer connection

The last thing that did happen on site, was a 3m square hole was dug - and about 2-3 metres deep - down to the sewer pipe whichs runs right through the middle of the plot. This was so that the local water company, Wessex Water, can add what's called a 'saddle' to the pipe, so we can connect our property to the main line. Check out the photo.

Wessex Water turned up on time but unfortunately the hole wasn't deemed safe enought for them to do the works. Boo! So it's been reschedule for sometime this coming week I think, once the hole has been made safer. A minor detail thankfully, as it's not been holding up other works.

I'm sure we'll manage to have one week in future, during this build, where everything goes to plan. Haa!

Next entry: 2 steps forward… 2 steps back (Tuesday 20th May 2014)

Previous entry: Building site virtual tour (Tuesday 8th April 2014)

Hi Oliver,
It’s great to see the project coming together piece by piece, its probably a while before you will be considering this area but I was just curious to see if you had given any thought yet to the types of windows, doors etc that you would like to install. Do you think you will use aluminium framed, wood or U-PVC? Keep up the good work.

Dave  on  Thursday, 8th May 2014  at  12:55

Thanks for the encouragement Dave.
Yes my preference for windows and doors has always been timber. Mostly because they are more eco than plastic or metal… but I think they look warmer too (if stained or varnished). Plus, I find that uPVC windows tend to have really thick frames and can block out a lot of light.
The grey coloured aluminium frames are quite fashionable at the moment - especially with Architects - but I find them a little soulless to be honest. It really depends on what style of house your building I suppose… but I’ve always been a fan of wood so will hopefully be going down that route.  😊

Oli  on  Monday, 12th May 2014  at  23:03

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