I've just been asked how our house build was going and did we have a house yet? So I thought it was high time for me to tell you where we are at with our plans.
Well our plot still looks like this ........... no building yet ......... I can see it in my minds eye ......
As you are all probably aware we are doing everything ourselves and I mean absolutely everything to do with this build - from designing the house, to drawing up the plans, to digging the foundations and driving the diggers (that's the fun bit!) It's a big task and so far the only person we have called on for help is our Scottish solicitor - land purchase, especially land that needs de-crofting, is a minefield of ancient laws that are best left to the professionals.
So where are we and what are we doing - well we now have our planning permission. We were both extremely nervous about submitting our drawings, ideas etc - apart from my parents, no one had seen our house design or design statement and it's one thing to show family, but a totally different ball game sending the plans to people who know what they are looking at and have a final say in whether your dreams can go ahead. We had a few weeks of worry and sleepless nights waiting for the decision and then it arrived in a simple email - planning approved! no questions or alterations needed -they were happy with our plans!
Well you'd think it was now full steam ahead and lets get building - but it's ain't as simple as all that. In Scotland you have to apply for a building warrant before you commence any part of the build. This involves submitting the completed house plans showing the whole building specifications, from the exact type of foundations, to the wall and floor structures, the type of insulation, calculations for roof trusses, the R-value etc etc - the list seems endless. Luckly Andrew has the necessary knowledge to complete these plans and all of the calculations to the required standards - so when he's not working with his students he's to be found closeted in my mothers ironing room, sitting at a tiny desk and working his way through drawings and calculations. It might seem a difficult, long winded and unnecessary process but it forces us to consider every aspect of this build, to compare the different approaches we could adopt and also look at materials, costs etc. It also helps to cement the process firmly into the mind so when the time comes to start this build for real we will have a solid idea of the task order ahead.
Not only are we working on the building warrant we have also been applying to Scottish water to get connected and SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) for a certificate/permission to install a bio tank for our waste. Both required us to jump through a few hoops and feel our way through the process. Scottish water needed our planning reference before we could install a standpipe and get connected. Our initial application to them was before we had complete the purchase of the plot and way before submitting our planning permission causing a bit of confusion - but all got sorted in the end - we were just too damn keen to get started!
Getting water on the plot was an interesting time. First job was to locate the water pipe buried in the land surrounding our property - I won't go into all the shenanigans surrounding the unearthing of the pipe - let's just say that everyone had their theories about the exact location and all were mistaken - including Scottish Water's maps - We ended up with numerous test pits all over our site - the perfect size to trap the sheep. However, Andrew's ability to dowse for water - using an old metal coat hanger liberated from Mum's wardrobe - did the trick and the pipe was found! Trenches were then dug and our pipes laid. However, before getting connected we needed to video our work to prove the pipes had been laid to the correct depth, on the correct gravel etc etc and submit it to Scottish Water's App for approval. Once agreed, connection happened in a matter of a few days later and we now have running water! I no longer have to head down to our local community hall to fill the water tanks in the van!
SEPA could have potentially been a tricky one - the forms to fill out were not the easiest and due to Covid-19 they have been forced into doing everything online which was something they weren't really ready for. Luckily the system we have chosen - a klargester biodisc - easily met every legal requirement and the company who makes these treatment tanks (Kingspan) produces supporting documents, along with brilliant calculations so we were able to answer any & all question asked. Thankfully our plot has a small burn flowing through which is adequate for us to discharge any treated fluids into - and by the time the waste water has gone through the klargester, a reed bed and filtered through the peat the final discharge into the burn will be tiny and apparently 'drinkable' but I'm not putting that to the test!
So as you can see things have been moving in the right direction, I am still looking through hundreds of home build books, magazines and brochure. I’ve loads of pintrest boards on the go and ideas/plans/dreams formulating that seem to change all the time. However I am realistic and the plan for 2022 is the get our building warrant, layout the site and concentrate on building a strong and solid foundation for our home - and as someone once said 'it's not the beauty of a building you should look at; it's the construction of the foundations that will stand the test of time." David Alan Coe