Block and Beam – Bring it on!

This week started with a bit of landscaping, scraping the oversite to ground level at the back and front of the property in readiness for a front driveway. It makes sense to do all the land preparation work whilst the digger and dumper truck are still hired and on site. Type one is then spread across the area.

Additionally, we agreed with the building inspector when he signed the foundations off on Friday last week that we’d put in a new soak away. As the house is having a new roof and we can’t prove the existing soak away, best be on the safe side and put a new one in. The cost for a new soak away is around £2500 as you need to dig a 2m x 2m x 2m cube, then fill it with crates and other materials, bring new pipework in to it, then eventually back fill and cover it up.

We also had to do some unexpected work on the water mains this week, moling in a new water main. When we uncovered the existing water pipes there was only 15mm copper piping which won’t be sufficient enough to feed the megaflow plumbing system we plan to install, so the waterboard were called out to put in a new 25mm water main, cored past the existing one. When you mole in a new water main, they require a metre hole to be dug every 10m on site, so four holes had to be dug that were then backfilled the same day.

This is the sort of thing that can throw an unexpected cost and spanner in the works, as until services are unveiled you won’t know for sure what will need upgrading or fixing to allow for the latest legislative requirements under building regs, or to accommodate the level of services required relative to the house you’re building – always allow some wiggle room for contingency in your budget as you’ll invariably get some unforeseen expenditure that your builder can’t anticipate either.

So, with the new water main moled in and completed, the water supply is live and ready for the new house.

Meanwhile, the whole rear and front extension are engineered out of the ground to block and beam level. A sterling effort here from our two bricklayers who between them in a day have laid 700 engineering bricks and 260 concrete blocks. All set up, levelled, lasered and looking perfect.

The inside of the house has been propped and the back wall is then knocked out.

The site and house are cleared, and all materials are delivered to site for the next stage – block and beaming.

The block and beam is then engineered out of the ground with concrete blocks and engineering bricks, up to damp course level on the internal skin of the house. When the block and beam floor goes in you have a layer of damp course both underneath and on top of the block and beam on the inside course, and an overlapping layer of damp course on the external skin, usually 2 courses of brick above finished floor level to come in line with the block and beam. This way when the block and beam is finished you can put boards down making it safer, easier and quicker to work around site on a platform.

A note from Mac on the damp proofing: this is another critical point in your build to get right. The various overlapping levels of damp proofing on both the internal and external skin of the house are essential to future protect the house from the damp.

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