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You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. About the AuthorJohanna Basford is an illustrator and ink evangelist who creates intricate and hand-drawn illustrations rooted in the flora and fauna that surrounds her home in rural Scotland. One of our planning permission conditions stated that we had to raise the level of our house self build site by on average 1.5m above the existing site levels. So we put the site on hold for a period of around 10 months, weighting up our options, then a piece of good luck came along.
Like everything in life there is no such thing as “something for free” we needed a contractor with some heavy earth moving equipment for groundworks, as this new fill material had to be levelling and shaped, therefore a substantial amount of money was needed but just a minor faction of the initial €40,000.00 expected. So we marked out the boundary of the site to be filled with timber posts in the corners, and on these posts we marked the height that the fill material had to come up to. Then we used a geo-textile membrane (Terram 1000) this membrane increases the strength of the road and stops the under lying wet material coming up into the gravel.
Then we reversed trucks into the site and made a ramp to allow the trucks move into the back of the site. Shows the fully filled site, with the topsoil neatly piled along the east and west boundary’s.
This phase of construction will not be applicable in the majority of house self builds, especially not to this extent.
Strip foundations digging can be a difficult job depending on the site conditions and the layout of the house build.
Our house is relatively simple because we have very good site conditions, plus the house is very straight forward to mark out, i.e. Obviously there are disadvantages with stud walls (timber walls) the main one probably been sound issues, but with well installed insulation the sound difference should not be too bad. Every machine excavator operator will have their own preferred foundation digging method, so it is probably best to let him dig the strip foundations to his preferred method. While the excavator is digging the foundations, all sides of the excavation trenches will have to be cleaned to a 90 deg angle.  This will have to be done by hand the old fashioned way with a shovel!! The foundation height can be worked out from out FFL that we marked while stripping the topsoil. This FFL is a set benchmark which will not be moved until the FFL (finished floor level) is installed, therefore it should be placed somewhere good and safe.
The bottom of the foundation has to be 600mm minimum below the external ground level, or 750mm minimum below the floor damp course level. After the excavator has dug the entire internal and external strip foundations have been dug, the next step is to put metal pins in the ground to give heights while pouring concrete. When placing steel reinforcement in a strip foundation always remember to consult your structural engineer or Architect. We cut the mesh with an Hitachi Angle Grinder (Click Here For Price) at 800mm wide for external walls to allow 50mm concrete cover on both sides of the foundation, internal walls mesh was cut at 500mm wide. When placing the steel together it will have to be tied together with steel wire with an overlap of a minimum of 400mm. All steel Mesh will have to be placed off the ground in the foundation to give 50mm cover for the concrete, we bought a bail of bricks, broke them up using hammers, the bricks were used for 50mm spacers underneath the mesh.
After measuring up all the foundation concrete always remember to add an extra 1m3 approximately of concrete. We were told to always add an extra 1m3 of concrete while ordering concrete because it works out cheaper to have extra concrete there, than to pay for a lorry to come back with just one meter of concrete, this could save you €250 and a massive headache!!! Here we are with a site purchased, planning permission granted and our commencement notice sent to the Local Authority and the two week notice period elapsed.
When we looked through the requirements for the various BER ratings we picked an A-3 rating as been achievable. As I stated in the “About Us” section, I’m from a building family and have building and carpentry (rough carpentry) skills that could be of use. I put together a very basic pricing package and sent it out with the drawings to some experienced traditional builders. I sent the below rough scope of works and again an A-3 specification to both the builder and specialist timber frame company.
Red Deal 6 Panel Internal Doors with stainless steel hinges, black enamel handles and locks.


When the prices were returned they again were above my budget, at this point the sleepless nights kicked in. I knew there had to be an alternative that was within our budget and would provide us with the required quality and BER rating. At this stage I had decided to rule out the other two types as just not been financially viable.
I found this document (ref link below) on the internet published by xtratherm an insulation company. I used these very simple headings to budget the project, I put together a detailed package for the above items highlighted in red as I could not do these specialist works myself so I had to make sure I had enough money to pay these contractors. To achieve my budget I decided to extend the build programme to a two year programme which would give us additional build weekends and holidays and two years of additional income. So here we go we are going to build a timber frame house and all the timber frames are going to be individually on site and lifted into place. The strip foundation is now marked out after all topsoil has been stripped and subsoil has been reduced down to the desired height.
The total station is a great tool but the house is basically 3 rectangles so it is a much faster and a cost-effective way for us to use the measure tape and stringline. The general rule of thumb when digging a strip foundation is the foundation is 3 times the size of the walls width, this means our strip foundations are going to be 900mm wide by 300mm deep (NOTE THIS WAS SPECIFIED BY OUR ENGINEER). We measure from all the boundaries to each corner of the house (all these measurements will be on the site plan) this gives us the location of the house, put a peg in each corner just to give a general idea where to start working.
When marking out the strip foundation I mark to the center line of the foundation, this save from marking out both lines of the foundation and not confusing anyone. Start measuring all other walls using the measuring tape but keep checking the diagonal measurements to make sure everything stays square.
As can be seen from the pictures above we used steel bars for temporary corner marks, we then transferred all the center lines to profile boards. The profile boards can then be used to quickly check measurement while digging and when block work starts, they save time having to constantly mark out the foundation numberous times.
Both myself and my wife purchased a tiny cottage in the South East because I was working there in 2007 (a great year for buying houses in Ireland by the way, the last days of our housing boom).
When we settled into the house after a year or so we got planning permission for an extension which would allow for a little family expansion!!!!!! We had planned on living in this little house for ever after, but because my job had moved to a different part of the country and when we looked at extending the house (this was required as it only had one bedroom).
In the end, when we made the final decision not to build the extension the following factors all played a part.
Look at this for a view from your back garden, I actually think this photo does not do it any justice.
Anyway in summary it was very hard to make the final decision to leave but it made sense from every aspect we looked at why to self build. While beauty may be the last thing on the mind of a cancer patient, looking good may boost self-confidence and even help the healing process, challenges cancer survivor Jean Kuna knows all too well. When the 71-year-old retired licensed cosmetologist was diagnosed with cancer, she was quick to use her 45-year experience to help with the beauty challenges facing her. Since her recovery, Kuna gives back by teaching women how to care for their skin and apply makeup.
During the class, she teaches them how to apply makeup and shows them ways to prevent infection by following the American Cancer Society’s 12-step guideline detailing makeup techniques, nail and skin care instruction, and sanitation tips. Besides applying makeup, one of the most feel-good moments occurs when patients learn how to fill in and shape their eyebrows, Kuna says. The program Look Good Feel Better was founded in 1989 and is sponsored by the ACS and the Professional Beauty Association. Another program that is beneficial for cancer patients is the wig program, which is sponsored by the ACS, the hospital and generous donations to the program.
The former cosmetologist is very thankful for the opportunity to give back to those who are battling cancer. Lena Ishkhan, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern with Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. Advocate nurses honored at Chicago Bulls event Top performing Advocate nurses participated in a fun-filled day with the Chicago Bulls.


Kim Vuckovich, a nurse at Advocate Children’s Hospital, shares what it’s like to care for some of the most fragile babies. This interactive activity book takes you on a ramble through a secret garden created in beautifully detailed pen-and-ink illustrations – all waiting to be brought to life through colouring, but each also sheltering all kinds of tiny creatures just waiting to be found.
The construction of a new supermarket began a few miles away from our house; this supermarket had a large footprint which resulted in a large site dig of surplus material. We then got three contractors to give us lump sum quotes to carry out the following groundworks.
It should be noted that this fill material imported to our site was not used under the house as it would not have been suitable as a load bearing fill. You can see the timber posts showing the outline of the house, this was the area not to be filled. We left the site for another five months after it was filled to allow it a period to dry and settle before any other works went ahead. The foundation will therefore be slightly larger than 900m when finished but the minimum foundation size of 900mm will always be guaranteed. I also have many relations from a building back ground that would work for reasonable rates as they are not very busy at the moment.
It would be easy to head to the bank manager at this point and ask for more money, but that would stretch us to far for the rest of our adult lives. Stick framed is a slang term for a timber frame which is built on site instead of in a factory. I had also came to terms with the conclusion that the only way I was going to build the house for my budget was to actually do the majority of the work myself and save my money for materials and specialist sub-contractors. The House was an old farm labours cottage in a bad state of disrepair which by the way we paid about twice what we should have for it. It didn’t really make any sense to stay as the cost of the new extension was as much or possibly even more than a new house self building in a green field. She teaches classes regularly at various cancer survivorship centers and hospitals, including Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. Cancer patients can participate for free, and classes are offered nationally in hospitals and community centers. She has more than 15 years of communications and journalism experience and was a longtime news reporter for Pioneer Press covering schools, health and business.
So we marked out the footprint of the house and driveway and instructed the excavation contractor not to fill this area. The only internal walls that are been dug are load bearing walls that has been specified by the Engineer. I also have many other family and friends who would be more than willing to volunteer a few days now and then, even though there not from that back ground.
I asked the builders to break there price down as per the below scope and send them back to me within a certain date.
We could either reduce our BER rating to the minimum C1 or possibly look at an alternative.
Our little house was a peaceful little slice of country heaven look a photos of veg patch below, to give you an idea of what we left behind. Lena earned her communications degree from Loyola University of Chicago and her master’s degree in journalism from Roosevelt University of Chicago. Appealing to all ages, the intricately-realized world of the Secret Garden is both beautiful and inspirational. So I approached the contractor hauling this material out of the supermarket and asked him would he be interested in tipping this material on our site. He jumped at this opportunity as it saved him a lot of money as our site was so close to his dig site.



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