We first discussed the ideas and plans with Carl during lockdown and just afterwards, so now that we’re in 2023 we can say this build has been a long time coming! It’s mid-summer, we’re well underway and a lot has happened.
It seems like a long time ago that they were digging the footings and creating the foundations. Now the steels are up, the frame for the roof structure is in place and every day the walls take shape as more brickwork is added. Interestingly, can see the outline and evolution of the new space and where the new boundary at the rear of the house will be from the comfort of our current living space.
This is because the approach Mark has adopted means his team still haven’t removed the old external walls and instead, the build is happening around the outside. I mentioned in my first post that Mark and his team are working in an iterative way – which means the building work stays outside the house for as long as possible. This has been a pleasant surprise, though we are braced for when they tell us that they’re ‘breaking through’ and will be encroaching on our living space.
That’s not to say it hasn’t impacted the day-to-day already because, of course, it has. In fact, a new internal wall has gone up, we have some furniture wrapped in ‘cling film’ and it’s difficult to be precise about when we’ll get to use it again, while a tonne of stuff has been packed away in boxes and stored elsewhere. And there are people coming and going every day and things happening all around us.
As newcomers to this type and scale of build, the main issue has been keeping track of what’s happening (or going to happen) on a daily and weekly basis. I think that initially, we didn’t quite appreciate the extent to which elements of plans, work and schedules change as a result of issues being uncovered with the existing building that needed to be rectified in order for the new extension to be properly completed.
Thankfully, Mark and his team have handled everything superbly, liaising with Carl, the structural engineer and Winchester Building Control to find solutions quickly and efficiently. I get the impression this is all in a day’s work, they just get on with it in a very business-as-usual way because it’s something they do every day.
The unknown unknowns
My wife and I, on the other hand, haven’t had building work of this scale done before and it’s a steep learning curve. There are things I wish I’d known at the get-go but, without getting all Donald Rumsfeld, we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and I’m sure more unknown unknowns lurking around the corner! It’s difficult, but we have to remember you don’t ask the surgeon how he’s going to do your operation in minute detail, you trust him to get on and do a top job.
And we’re really pleased with what’s been done so far and the quality of the workmanship. I have a newfound respect for a builder like Mark, who’s managing our job along with others, and staying on top of all aspects of the build in progress, coordinating the delivery of materials and directing his team etc.
He’s saved us money where he can by suggesting different options that still work with Carl’s overall design. That there are sometimes alternative ways to achieve the same overall result on a build is something else hadn’t fully appreciated. I’m sure it won’t be the last.