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Planning permission finally granted, now the really hard work starts. Any tips to keep us sane?

(13 Posts)
Zwitterion Wed 20-Jul-11 16:48:00

We've finally been granted planning permission after months of wrangling with the Parish Council.

Which is brilliant of course, but I'm now getting a little apprehensive about the actual build. It's a two storey side extension and single storey to the back, lots of internal remodelling including a re- positioned staircase. The only room that won't be touched is the sitting room.

DD is 18 months and we're also TTC. I'm going to move out at some point (probably when the builders knock through from extension into the existing house) but apart from that, what are your top tips from experience that will help keep us all smiling?

Mollymax Wed 20-Jul-11 16:57:16

Never had building work done... Mostly cos i would not want people traising in and out using the toilet.
I see a lot of houses have portaloo type things for the builders. Maybe look into something like that.
Try and stay calm, do not worry about the mess.
Good luck.
Your DD will be entertained grin

TennisFan Wed 20-Jul-11 17:03:45

We had the builders in our last house - we did a big roofspace conversion, raised the height of the roof, put in stairs and rewired all the downstairs, new plumbing etc too.

We moved out for about a month (just moved all the furniture etc into one room at a time (that they weren't using) and wrapped it all up with plastic and tape.

We had one DS at the time, he was about 2 I think, we just moved in with my parents for a while to let the builders get on with it.

They left our place really tidy every night, and I was really happy with the result.

we are now in rented and applying for full planning permission for a house in the country - so we will be going through it all again soon i hope.

Zwitterion Wed 20-Jul-11 17:06:15

Thanks Molly. We've actually got an external loo, well we will have until it gets knocked down later on in the build! By that point I'll be long gone.

DD loves tractors, lorries and diggers so she will definitely be in her element!

Cattleprod Wed 20-Jul-11 17:17:32

I second the toilet thing - our builder didn't want to traipse through the house, so used my newly planted flower bed instead. Killed a clematis and you could smell stale urine when you walked up the garden.

Buy a job lot of teabags or coffee and biscuits from the cash and carry - tradesmen get through loads of the stuff. Maybe get them a cheap kettle and a couple of old mugs so they can make their own if you don't want to be hassled!

Freezingmyarseoff Wed 20-Jul-11 21:59:21

Sounds fairly similar to what we had done last year. We also had an outside loo which they might have used, it was demolished on day 1!

Don't forget to buy masses of sugar, we went through more sugar than I ever expected grin Make lots of tea for them whenever you can and give them lots of nice biscuits.

We were also TTC but I think the stress of it meant I didn't get pregnant till we moved back in so don't have any expectations there. Looking back, I wouldn't have coped if I was pregnant, but if you have easy pregnancies you might be okay.

If you can move out then do. The builders will be much quicker not having to tidy up every night. We were lucky in that we could move in with my parents, which saved loads of rent. We also moved all our furniture into the two rooms that weren't touched, and put extra locks on them too.

Check with the builders at least every week or even every 2-3 days, about what the next decisions coming up are, and make sure you're ready. E.g. exact position of sinks, loos, showers, radiators, doors, windows, sockets, lights etc. Also make sure you have know what plumbing fittings you are going to get as it may affect how they do the plumbing, but check with the plumbers about that. Builders really appreciate if you are always one step ahead on the decisions, it makes their life so much easier and I think it's quite rare actually. Our builders said we were the first clients who didn't hold up a build because we always made a decision in time <preens>

Especially towards the end of the build be there as much as you can. Like every day. This is when all the things you will actually see will be put in, e.g sockets, lights, switches, tiling etc. They always do what is easiest for them without using any common sense, and you need to specify exactly what you want. Electricians in particular. We had some crazy positioning of sockets until we marked exactly where we wanted the sockets on the walls, not just the plans.

Get the costs of dealing with any foreseen problems (and there will be) in writing before giving the go ahead.
I don't know how you are dealing with paying your builders, but always make sure you go through every bill with a fine tooth comb as soon as you receive it. We had great builders but they still messed up a few bills. On a couple of occasions they over charged us but we sorted it fairly easily. I could imagine they could have easily been missed if we weren't particularly anal about the itemisation.

Good luck, it will be worth it though.

EvieB Thu 21-Jul-11 17:44:45

I take the opposite view to freezingmyarseoff. While it will be disruptive, given the amount of work you will be having done, it's definitely best to be there provided you can stay sane during the process.

We are in week 12 of a c.20 week build - the advantages are
- there are lots of little decisions to make all the way through, not just at the end, and I'm glad we made them rather than the builder making assumptions
- you can change your mind (on minor things, not major ones) once it's in construction - things can look different in the flesh compared to the plan
- unless you have family close you are usually looking at a 6month commitment on a rental which is a lot of money (this is useful to remember when you are having a bad day, see below!)
- I think being there keeps the builders on their toes actually - they know you will be aware immediately if they drift off to other jobs
- if you are around it's easier to nip things in the bud if neighbours have a problem rather than something festering and destroying relationships you need to maintain long after the builders have left

On the other hand:
- there will be more dust than you could ever imagine - forget about housework. I have had a couple of times when I felt the dust was just too miuch
- some bits will be really noisy/messy, so it's good to do work over the summer and make friends with your local park/library/coffee shop etc!
- privacy goes but again, it's a finite period
- lots of blaring radios, depends how you feel about that on whether that's a drawback or not!

The tip regarding the outside loo is a good one. Getting work done over the summer is another as the electrics/heating could be off (or non existent) for a while. if you are getting your kitchen done, get the builder to rig up a temporary kitchen in a spare room/corner if this is possible.

The key is getting a good builder you like/trust, who is considerate.

I found it helpful to get a time estimate from the builder, then add on another third so your expectations are managed on this - the fact I know i'm probably over half way through now is good!

There is no denying that it is disruptive but overall it's not been as bad as I thought it would be.

MindtheGappp Thu 21-Jul-11 17:49:04

My advice would be to not try to control things too much. You will fail. Leave it to the project manager.

Make sure you have tea, sugar and milk for their tea. Don't wince at the number of mugs of tea they get through a day.

Be there at the beginning and end of their work day and try to clear off in between, if you can. Especially the day when they piss off your neighbours when the road gets closed for RSJ deliveries, etc.

hugglymugly Thu 21-Jul-11 19:17:25

If you've got a project manager, that person should be keeping a close eye on the build, and you should get frequent updates on progress. If you're managing it yourself, it's better if you're there every day even when you move out. Certainly unexpected problems can arise, in which case it's better that there's someone that the builders can contact quickly.

You will get visits from the Building Control people at certain stages of the build. Usually they only talk to the builders or project manager, but it's best if you can also be there (hover around in the background, but don't be shy about eavesdropping on the conversation, it's your house they're talking about).

Regarding the neighbours - you and they will still be there long after the build has finished, so best to keep on their good side as much as you can. Let them know when the work is due to start - but be optimistic about how long it will take, so they don't start off thinking that it'll take months to complete (even if it might do). You can insist that your builders don't use radios, etc. blaring out music outside - I think that's been a condition in LA building contracts for a long time, so builders should be used to that.

Take a lot of photographs, daily if possible. Some of those might be useful should there be issues further down the line. But mostly because by this time next year when you're back in your lovely home, you'll probably have forgotten all the stages you and your house went through. The occasional photograph of your DD and the builders would also be a good idea (a lot of builders have children) so you could use those to talk through any concerns your DD has.

beanandspud Thu 21-Jul-11 20:59:49

We survived a 16 week building project last year and I agree with the other posters.

Lots of tea, cheap coffee, biscuits and sugar. Buy a dozen cheap mugs that don't matter - it's no fun chipping concrete off your best china.

Be prepared for more mess and dust than you can imagine and don't worry about housework. Be prepared for some 'damage' to lawns, decking, patio areas where scaffolding has been and builders have left equipment, boards,tiles on the lawn.

Try to get mobile numbers for the plumber, electrician and other key people. When our new boiler packed up on a Sunday morning I was glad to be able to call the plumber direct.

No matter how annoyed you get with builders, inspectors etc. try to be as nice as you can. You never know when you might need them to change something, do an extra job etc. We found them to be really accommodating when needed.

Keep repeating 'this will get better' - it does eventually!

sixtiesqueen Fri 22-Jul-11 13:01:36

We are about to do exactly the same - my kids are 6 and 2.

We've done it before when TTC and in my experience, I didn't have any success until the builders left!

My blog is at

Pendeen Fri 22-Jul-11 15:14:43

Some really excellent advice from everyone here.

Just one point and I may have missed this say you now have planning consent but have you got Building Regulation approval (the so-called 'Full Plans' method) from the council or an aproved inspector?

If your extension(s) are within 6 metres of a neighbour have you also put in place Party Wall Agreement(s) with the neighbour(s)? This is nothing to do with the council BTW.

Maybe you have and I'm being paranoid but I have recently had a lucrative commission because a very nice and well-meaning couple got planning permission granted for an extension and then started work without realising they needed these other consents / agreements in place!

Zwitterion Fri 22-Jul-11 17:53:54

This is brilliant - thanks everyone! Seems a trip to Macro may be in order, and maybe postponing having another DC for a while.

Good point Pendeen. We are currently waiting on Building Control and fingers crossed as I would be devastated if we get held up now - it's taken us 9 months and £££ to get this far.

Our build is being managed by a (building contractor) friend, great as we trust him and know his work, but I know we'll have to manage that relationship carefully and professionally - we're not getting mates rates or anything.

Talking through the plans yesterday with him it all really started to sink in. It's such a big job. Apparently though I won't need to move out with DD for a while (staying at my parents) and DH is sleeping here in the camper and washing in a bucket so will be on site every day.

Thanks everyone again, this has been so useful.

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