Starting a build

Starting a build

First things first – considerations at the start of a build

Starting a build

Below I have listed some key considerations the builder will need to factor in when starting a build or extension. 

Access considerations when starting a build

Is there side access to bring machinery on to site to dig the footings? Ideally a minimum of 1.2m is required for a mini digger. If there is no access for machinery, footings will require a hand dig. Mac has taken the executive decision for ReVamp as a business not to take on terrace house developments where there is no side access as he prefers to machine dig all footings. Of course, there are plenty of builders that will happily take on hand digs, it just requires a labour intensive crew at the beginning. However this is a consideration to be factored in when starting a build.

Party Wall Agreement

Before even starting a build, if your extension is within 3m of a neighbour it is recommended you get a party wall agreement.

Footings when starting a build

The builder will need to liaise with Building Control to agree the depth required for the footings – this is one of the stage sign-off requirements of Building Control. Here are some factors your builder will need to consider when starting a build that will affect the depth requirement of the footings:

  • Surrounding trees
  • Any man-made ground (e.g. ground that has been back-filled)
  • Drains
  • The depth of the existing house footings – with an extension you will always need to dig down below the existing house footings. Existing footing depth is unknown until tested. A builder will ordinarily allow for and quote based on footings 1m deep, with the caveat that if you need to go deeper this will incur additional cost.
Starting a build

Location and depth of drains

Drains may need to be moved when starting a build. Footings need to go below any drains remaining within the build – when building over a drain the builder will need an agreement from the local water board.

Pipework considerations when building

Gas, Electricity & Water

You will need to consider where gas, water and electricity mains enter the property when starting a build. This impacts where the manifold will go, the boiler, the fuse box, direction of piping etc… 

You also need to consider the level of gas, water and electricity supply required relative to what you’re building and the latest building regs. For example, if you’re building a larger house than was already on your plot, the existing piping may need to be upgraded to support the services that will be required of the larger build and it’s heating system. New water mains may need moling in to support a bigger system. Some of these may be unknowns and come up as additional, unexpected costs in your build, as until you dig down to see what is existing, or rip out walls/ceilings to see the piping, it will be an unknown. Also, if it’s an old house you’re renovating anew, you may be required to make changes to bring it up to latest building regulation standards. You builder should be able to make recommendations for all of these areas, in consultation with the plumbers, electricians and various utility service providers.

I have also provided a checklist for first fix plumbing and electrics which could be handy when you get to this stage of your build.

Essentially these are all areas that could bring about additional unexpected costs when starting a build, but so important to get these areas fixed and sorted with long-term solutions. This is where an experienced builder that doesn’t cut corners and is both a good project manager and problem solver is key. As these potential additional costs can’t be known until works have commenced, this is why we always recommend allowing contingency within your build budget.

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