Sunday, 4 August 2013

Building Reg's and Digging

As pleasant as it may be sitting inside drawing pictures of  garages, sooner or later your going to have get out there and build it and as I touched on in 'Wall and Peace' if you intend to build up, you must first dig down. However, this time the down-digging needs to be on a scale hitherto unseen at 46 Wellington rd...........

You may be wondering why I've started digging without waiting for the planning permission to come through. Well, as stated in the last post the garage is permitted development with a flat roof (not needing planning), so hopefully, by the time we get to the roof we'll know weather we'll have planning or not. if not, we'll just finish it with a flat roof and not need to make any more planning applications. I politely but clearly pointed this out in my cover letter to the planning application, that if planning was refused I'll only build it anyway with a less attractive flat roof. It sounds a bit impudent I know but I think everyone prefers a nice pitched roof.

Due to the fact the garage is going to be over 30sq meters we are also going to need building regulations approval. Building reg's are different to planning in that they don't really govern what you can and can't build but they do make sure that if you are building something of any size you do it properly and safely. There are two types of building reg's application you can make:

Full Plans:
The fee is cheaper, £286 in my case, as I'm over 40sq meters but you need very, very detailed plans, way more in depth than I could draw at home, way more in depth than I could draw full stop actually. so that's ruled this option out as I can't afford for to have these types of plans drawn for me.

The other option is a 'Building Notice':
I spoke to the guys in the building reg's office on the phone the other day and they said that considering I was only building a single skin, detached garage this was the option to go for. The fee is more expensive, £342 but it's a much simpler way of doing it. You basically start building and they come along and sign off the work you have done at various key stages along the way. The first visit they make is after you have dug your trenches but before you put the concrete footing in. They want to have a look at the soil type and various other things and make sure your trenches are deep enough and wide enough. Once they've signed off your trenches you can put your footings in and move onto the next stage. It's more expensive because of all the extra site visits but you basically get walked through it, which it ideal for someone like me.

It helps to give the buildings control guys a reference number from your planning application but I haven't heard anything back from them yet so I'm holding off making  my building reg's application until I hear back from planning. In the mean time I've just been out there digging so that when the confirmation of the planning application comes back I can make my building reg's application and have the trenches ready for them to come out and take a look at. Phew! Now I know why people pay a project manager!

Anyway, moving on.............

The biggest challenge facing us is getting through the topsoil and down to the clay beneath. This shouldn't be too problematic on the right hand side of the garden, however the left side is at least two foot higher. That's a lot of soil to remove just to get down to the stuff we want to dig our actual footing trenches into. The first thing to do is mark out where the walls of the garage will be with string and the most logical wall to start with was the back as this runs parallel to the rear boundary wall for it's entire length. We knocked in two steaks, one at each end of the back wall, exactly 1 meter away from it as stated on the plans and tied a string between them. The gap between the steaks is way more than the 7 meters the wall will be as this allows us to dig out the trench without needing to move the steaks or mess with the string-lines because if you do this for all the walls, it's the point's at which the strings cross that give you your corners rather than the steaks themselves. This wall was now our datum, if you like, so we made a large wooden setsquare using the 3-4-5 rule and began knocking in the steaks for the remaining walls. It takes a while to get it perfect but once we were finished we had something that looked a  bit like this:

Time to start digging, cue heatwave. 

I went for a trench that was about three feet wide at this stage as the guys at buildings control said they would probably want to see a two foot wide footing trench. I just kept going down until I started scraping the clay and then began digging along the line of the string, keeping the sides parallel. After about three days I had got the first side finished.  Once I'd hit my stride I was getting about half a side done a day but it was unbelievably hard work, I was drinking pints and pints of water, about 1 every three barrow loads! You basically chop a chunk off the top end off the trench and push it in with the spade. That's when you encounter what landscapers refer as the 'fluff up'. When that compacted lump of earth hits the ground it breaks up into loose soil and 'fluff's up' to about four times the amount that you just chopped off. That's why it takes so long to clear it all away again. I was pilling up the good soil at the other end of the lawn and chucking all the clay and junky stuff into the middle. Thankfully the final side only needed a few inches taking off the top

Eventually I got back to where I started. I had been using a Roman style water level so keep the bottom of my trench level and was delighted to be pretty much spot on. I'll get some better pic's of how to use this magnificent piece of kit in coming posts but it's definitely the best 14 quid I've spent so far.

 Deary me that was hard work! but I'm not done digging yet, as heart breaking  as it may be the bottom of this trench just represent the top of the actual foundation trench so the next job is to mark out and dig that one. Here's how.......

Drop a plumb-line off the string at one end of the the trench, this will obviously represent the strings position relative to the ground, take a tape measure and knock in a small steak/peg 1 foot either side of it. drop another plumb line off the string at the other end of the trench an do the same. Tie some string between your pegs and there's the outline of your trench. Repeat for all the other 'walls'. And that's where I'm up to so far, I can't really do any more until I have got rid of all the concrete, soil and junky stuff as I've just run out of space to put stuff. I've put the top soil on freecycle and Roger was true to his word and brought his trailer round, but it was just too big to park outside the house, so until I can get my hands on another trailer I'm going to have to put the digging on hold. 

Hopefully I'll get a trailer by next weekend and things will be back on track, plus it's raining loads at the moment anyway so there's not a lot to be done even if I had the space. Well that's you up to date so stay tuned for the next installment.