In the spring of this year we finally decided to get some prices on a new extension for our house. After being recommended, we opted to have the extension built by Kemp Building services. Having also met Jamie (the builder) he was quick to put us at ease with the process and made everything nice a clear.
The price was right and the extension would now begin work in the early months of May.
Laying the Foundations
You learn more about the building trade when you are having work done that you ever thought existed! The foundations are the groundwork before the actual build. These are super important and can often take time.
The first stage in building the foundations was removal of the garden! For this a small digger was hired which does look like fun to drive. This dug out the trenches that would form the solid foundations of the build. One problem was that the sides of the house proved very narrow and caused a problem getting the digger into the garden. At one point we thought we were going to have to saw the back door step off to get it through!
Kemp Building services has pre-warned us that the foundations may well need to be piled. ‘Normal’ foundations are where the ground is dug down to undisturbed earth and then concrete is placed into a trench. As we live on a brownfield site the ground was disturbed a long way down. This would mean a lot of digging and concrete and therefore cost.
The solution to this is called piling. 12 (in our case) tall steel tubes are pneumatically piled into the ground a long way to reach the undisturbed earth. A steel frame is then sat on top of these and then this is filled with concrete. That is my simple explanation of it anyway! I am sure it is far more complicated than that!
There was also the added problem of the torrential rain which meant the trenches were like a small moat when the piling was supposed to start. This means hiring some pumps to pump it all out.
Building Up The Walls
Next, once the foundation base had time to set, came building the out walls of the new extension. These, of course sit on the edge of the new foundation base (that’s the bit with the orange plastic above, which is a gas membrane).
Bricks arrived (hoisted over the wall!) from CW Berry in Leyland and the construction began. This was the first time really that it started to feel like we were getting another room built.
This process was pretty quick but had to happen in stages as other things were done too (such as plumbing and electrics etc.). It is also a this point where all the sizes for the external doors, windows and in our case roof windows have to be thought through. At this stage the house was still secure and nothing had been knocked through yet.
Once the internal and external walls were built and tied into the house at either side, the next job was the wood work for the roof. This gave a slight problem as the pitch of the root was not quite steep enough and therefore additional modifications had to be made. I remember Jamie’s positive attitude at all times with this issue. He often quotes “solutions not problems!”.
A New Utility Room
Part of the new extension was to build a new internal wall in the house to create a new utility room. The old kitchen was a funny shape, and when we moved into the house the kitchen had a utility room at the back, sort of added on under the stairs. This would form the basis of the new utility but it would be much more functional.
The internal wall was built once the roof was on with the intention that we would use this as a mini kitchen before the real messy work happened in the old kitchen. We could then seal all the doors so the dust would get in.
Although cute, it was small to be cooking in and we had to eat of the floor in the lounge. We had a the sink from the old kitchen moved to the utility along with some of the wall cupboards and re-used the worktops. It has turned out really well actually.
Opening Up & Inserting the Steel
Now the roof was on, the roof windows were in place, the next stage was getting ready for knowing out the back wall.
If I was a builder this is the part that I would hate doing, as the weight of responsibility in terms of the whole house falling down lies firmly on you. I would liken in to migrating a website from staging to live, where you have to remove the old site and then hope nothing goes wrong when replacing it.
Large ‘props’ are used to brace the ceiling upstairs in order to literally hold the house up while the external wall is removed.
This was the point were we ran into a big problem. The steel that was requested by the surveyor was huge. This meant there was less room for the steel to sit in the floor space above.
It was good in the sense that it wouldn’t stick up into the floor of the above room, but it meant that access to the upstairs floor would be needed as well as removing parts of to upstairs walls in order to get the props under the houses’ external and internal walls.
In the upstairs bedroom this was not a major problem as a small square would be re-plastered in the wall and the carpet but back afterwards (although matching the colour of the paintwork proved tricky).
The major problem was in the upstairs bathroom. The get to the walls all the tiles would have to be removed and this would prove tricky getting everything back as it was.
Therefore we took the decision to redecorate the bedroom and also have a new bathroom installed. The work could then be done quicker, knowing that the rooms were going to be re-done afterwards. Jamie and his team were great here and helped get the rooms redecorated and fitted out as quickly as possible.
Once the props were all in place in was time to remove the walls internally and externally once the massive steel was in place. I had great fun swinging the sledge hammer to take down the internal wall between the kitchen and the old dining room! The steel is actually in two pieces, one to hold up the internal brickwork and one for the external. Two large lifts were needed to get this into place as it was very heavy.
I remember this part of the build reaching a stage were it feels as though the whole house has almost been destroyed. It also gives you a great view of the workings of the house being able to see all the plumbing and electrics in the upstairs ceiling.
Plumbing & Electrics
Throughout the process outlined above was the plumbing and electrics. This must happen at set times in the built before other tasks are done.
One major job was to move the mains water stop-tap. This was because originally is was on the back wall of the house which has now been remove. This involved putting an elbow onto the pipe and then moving it to the new external wall of the extension.
At this point we decided on all the sockets for electrics (lots of them as my motto is you can’t add them easily when all this is finished!) as well as any lighting. We opted for spot lights in the ceiling and well as some external lights for the garden.
Plastering, Decorating & Windows
Getting towards the end now and it was starting to look like an extension at last from the inside.
Next was the turn of Kenny or “The Stilts Man” as the kids called him. He was the plasterer and spent the best part of a week plastering the walls of the new large room. He did a great job and after he had finished it was ready for painting.
We went for white paint throughout (nice and simple!) and Anthony spent a couple of days “toshing” it out as Jamie says!
Finally the windows and patio door arrived (the roof windows were already in place) and were installed. With paint and windows and a roof it really felt as though it was nearly there now.
Kitchen Fitting & Flooring
We now disappeared on holiday and reluctantly agreed to allowing the flooring and the kitchen to be fitted whilst away (along with some other jobs). I really wanted to be there for this part but Terry (kitchen fitter) assured me all would be fine. He was right. We returned to a beautiful new kitchen with the island we had always wanted.
We are really pleased with our new extension. It really transforms the house into the family living space we always wanted. Definitely worth doing!
This post was written after this blog was first published. It was added to record this specific event and was back-dated to the event time/date.