I guess in a way it was always going to happen, despite our best efforts to avoid it. The Quantity Surveyor has just shared his schedule of costs with us, and it’s way over both budget and the initial estimates that we’d been given.
It was a stomach wrenching moment when we worked our way down his itemised spreadsheet and realised that the costs were about 30% over what we’d been led to expect. With some big costs, such as the utilities, not yet factored in…
And so late in the process! Too late to feasibly change anything big.
Having tried to control costs as much as possible by buying a ‘turnkey’ solution from a reputable firm of architects, we’ve been scuppered by the quotes from their builders for the groundworks, access road and actual build of the house.
Although the SIP kit is a fixed price and estimates for the erection were provided, their builder has come in with quotes way over what was initially estimated.
We’re now faced with challenging those figures, and if we can’t get them down to a reasonable level, which I think unlikely, potentially trying to source another builder. Not an easy task on the island where builders are scarce and already over-subscribed with work for the year. We may have to spread the net more widely.
And if costs still prove too high, we may have to do some of the work ourselves to make this in any way affordable.
There is a definite feeling that some of these figures are what we call “London” prices. (Ah, they’re from London. They must have loads of money and will accept any cost that we give them.) That’s a bitterly sad thought, and one that I sincerely hope doesn’t prove to be true.
Building Warrant came through a few days before Christmas. It was a great start to the festivities!
This is what we are building. It’s a 1.5 storey larch clad eco longhouse with traditional slate roof.
The front door is actually at the back of the building, nestled into the hill at the back of the croft. The picture windows are at the front, overlooking the Sound of Sleat, and hopefully providing much light.
Once the architects are back after the Christmas break we’ll start looking at build schedules. Can’t wait!
I’ve been laid up for the last week recovering from a knee replacement operation. Before I had the operation I blithely imagined that I would be able to spend time researching and planning house options at leisure whilst comfortably resting my leg. Ha. The reality has been a little different, with the leg pain and the brain fog caused by the medication meaning that I’ve not been able to focus on anything much..
Because I won’t be able to get up to the kitchen design centre in Fife anytime soon, they’ve helpfully sent us samples of worktop and kitchen door fronts. The architects recommend Pronorm, a German kitchen manufacturer, and their range is extensive. It’s too much choice! We’re trying to keep it simple and the costs under control, which is a challenge. So far I’m looking at Silestone worktops with an under-mounted sink, an appliance wall, and two banks of under-unit storage with integral appliances.
We’ve also just had an email from the architects to say that we can expect building warrant approval by Christmas, which is brilliant news, and such a relief. I hope that this means that groundwork on the plot can start in the Spring.
Now that the building warrant is in, we need to spend the next few weeks finalising decisions on kitchen, bathroom and flooring options. I started the process earlier this summer, but parked the initial designs when we got consumed with such things as the access road, electrical points and window types, all very essential for the warrant submission.
I didn’t really dare breathe much more on the more cosmetic elements, almost feeling that it was in danger of jinxing things somehow to spend time on this without having all the permissions in place. But on Friday I picked up the phone to the kitchen designer in Scotland, sent him the final room dimensions, and told him that it was time to re-engage.
Lock and load, kitchen designer! I’m back. And with some new ideas!
In some ways the break of six months without fully considering things like tile colours, tap designs and shower fittings has made things easier, and my vision of what we want clearer. I’m more convinced than ever that simple is best, with good quality, natural materials wherever possible. Most of the ideas that I originally hatched six months ago still hold water, but some things have changed, and I’m grateful that we have had that time to alter things.
The inner project manager within me is now itching to list out all the decisions we need to make, create mood boards, check out suppliers, arrange samples, agree visits wherever possible to physically try things out (like the bath), estimate costs, and get on with it…
At long last, what feels like a major milestone has been achieved – the building warrant pack is complete and has been submitted to the Highland Council for review and approval!
This has been so much more of an effort than we ever imagined.
Every SIP panel, roof tile, larch board, power outlet, plug socket, door material, light switch and window frame has had to be specified, documented and checked.
We’ve had the SAP assessment completed by the Energy Consultant and we’re very pleased with the energy rating for the house. It should be snug and cheap to heat, with an Air Source Heat Pump, underfloor heating and tons of insulation.
We’ve had our challenges with the access road. The gradient of the croft leading up to the building plot is pretty steep, and the engineer has had to wind the road around the plot much more than we’d originally thought to keep the gradient of the road useable and within building regs. That means more road, more excavation and more expense, but it has to be done.
Now we sit back and wait, hoping for a smooth approvals process so that we can finally start looking at the build itself next Spring.
We are creeping forwards! Slowly and painfully, but progress is being made…
Things have been very quiet on the house build front recently.
Once we’d hit two months post the receipt of planning approval and still hadn’t seen the building warrant drawings, I couldn’t contain my impatience and frustration any longer.
Even with the inevitable summer vacation delays, it simply seemed too long.
It seems that our architect is leaving the company. This week.
He has apparently been in the process of handing over our build plans to a new architect in the practice who will need to pick everything up, and who has promised that she will finalise the building warrant drawings next week.
It’s not the change of staff that frustrates me. It’s the lack of communication. What does it cost to phone your clients and tell them the news? Surely that’s much more reassuring than them discovering that they’re losing their key person after weeks of hassling for a response?
We make contact with Lara who we discover has not been given everything necessary in the transfer – of course – and will need our help to ensure that everything we had agreed with her predecessor is made known.
Poor husband now has a growling woman in the house who is not looking forward to losing a precious Saturday re-marking up plans with changes that should already have been incorporated.
We’re on Skye next week though. I don’t care if it rains and we get midged to death all week. It will just be so good to be back on our little plot of land on the island for a bit.