Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Housebuild Starts in Earnest

Yesterday we took the first steps toward the housebuild – making a hard-standing on which lorries, dumper trucks and diggers can manoeuvre without sinking into a muddy field (would someone in America please explain to me what a ‘maneuver’ is, as my spell-checker is resisting all attempts at spelling manoeuvre correctly). The hard-standing will eventually form our drive.

What I thought would be a task taking the entire weekend was accomplished between the hours of 8am and 5pm, but would certainly have taken longer had Colin (our builder / neighbour) not been capable of making the 3 tonne digger waltz. The machine virtually became an extension of himself and the digger arm a 3rd arm. Through a swift and very deft action he even managed to catch a wheelbarrow as it was about to tip over from a badly distributed load of scaplings.

Scaplings is the term for limestone rubble, varying in size from 20mm to dust, and once compacted and rained on, sets like concrete. The digger couldn’t tamp the scalpings down, as the caterpillar tracks merely churn up the loose stone, so we had to barrow the full 16 tonnes onto the hole Colin had dug, with Colin loading our barrows with the grab. Back-breaking work and I’m paying the price today. Hay, being fit as a butcher’s dog and not having a displaced sacroiliac, felt no ill effects. Caravan, who is 73, put in as much labour as Hay and I, and has to be congratulated for having ordered exactly the right amount – the man missed his vocation as a quantity surveyor, although he did used to transport this material before retiring from the haulage business, and so knows what a load looks like.

The digger arrives
Part dug area

Fully dug
Membrane goes down
Almost done
A complete hard-standing

The only problem is that in picking up the 16 tonnes of scalpings, we managed to also pick up the white limestone dressing from Caravan's drive, leaving him with a driveway that looks as if a bomb has hit it.

The cable across the photos is the power cable for the caravan, which has to remain in place until we move the caravan further down the field in a few weeks time, as it's right in the middle of where the house is to go.

I'm keen on using the excavated soil to make a feature, thus saving money on getting shot of the stuff, which with the excavations for the foundations could cost us £2k to get rid of. However, Hay and Colin think we're better getting shot of it.


  1. I'm looking forward to following the build's progress.
    So far, so good.

  2. We chronicled the same process when our home went up. It's a great feeling.

  3. Mum: The first tentative steps.

    Dave: Hay is really excited. All we need now is some money, as what we have saved up certainly won't get us up to the eaves.

  4. Get some kind of feature put in - I saw something on Grand Designs, where they'd piled up mainly rubble, with dressings stones where they would be seen, and bundled them into those steel cages, and used them as walls, to buffer the building from the noise of a road?

    Good luck, Chairman, with all those military-stle manoeuvres!

  5. Holy crap, you've gone all 'buildy'....

  6. Woman: You refer to gabian baskets. This is good topsoil, but the consensus is that it gets whacked.

    Braja: If you want me to get spiritual, then I promise I'll do a piece on the Wave Structure of Matter before much longer.

  7. I'd definitely use the soil - that stuff costs a bomb and if you're planning on having any kind of garden.....

  8. I do admire you, Bill. It takes a certain type of person to take on something like this. Bless you , am with you all the way.

    Just reading that made me light up a fag! xxx

  9. Impressive rate of progress...

  10. Look at you go!

    "Maneuver" is in the dictionary, somewhere near "aluminum". :-)


  11. Kapgaf: There is some rubble mixed in with it, but it doesn't matter if it's going to be turfed over.

    Jen: A mad person.

    Jinks: It will progress in fits and starts. A bit like life really.

    Pearl: and 'labor'.

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