The Big Build: Foundations Day!

 If you’re short on time, we’ve created this handy video to see what we did today in 25 secs.

But believe me, it took a lot longer than 25 seconds! It was a hot, hot day but we started at 7:30am. Whilst I made a bacon roll run, Andrew gathered the troops and made last minute alterations to the drain and the trench. 

At 8:50am, Big Bertha arrived with her cargo of concrete looking like a bizarre funfair ride and the boys began lining up ready for the drop.

Then it was action stations and go! As soon as the concrete hit the barrow we had 50 minutes to get it in the trenches. Luckily, Andrew had a plan!

Dan, my Dad and Andrew’s dad and AP himself made up the shovel team. When the barrows we ditched, they raked, shovelled and generally squished around in the concrete getting it into everywhere it was needed.


We had rigged up some boards and ramps through the shuttering so the boys could get straight into the far end. We needed a little bit of extra soil behind the shuttering as it was beginning to bow, but it held out.

After 50 minutes, the last barrow was emptied and the mixer was being washed…. But we didn’t quite have enough to get it to the right level. After a bit of deliberation, Mr Concrete said “save your money. Go get 10 bags of ballast, 5 bags of cement and mix it yourself.”

So off to B&Q me and Papa Hey went! 


There was just enough! The boys had created a frame to squeegee the concrete level, which was a great idea. Dan was Captain Concrete getting it all perfect. You can see our little poop pipe happily sticking out – it made a great drinks holder 🙊! (Don’t worry, it’s brand new).

With one final squish and a bit of trowel work, we made it. All that expensive steel was gone, covered in concrete. It just goes to show all the hard work you can’t see.


The finished product. Andrew is religiously dousing it with water to make sure it hardens low and slow, making it as strong as possible – although at 27 degrees and not a cloud in the sky it was proving difficult. At the end of the week we should be able to remove the shuttering ready for the brickie and backfill the holes around the edge so nobody falls down them again…oops. 

The only way is, quite literally, up. Hopefully. 


The build: laying the foundations 

It’s been a while, but we’ve been busy! 

This summer has been a bit of a blur of digging, ripping up and more digging. The conservatory came down, the trenches were dug and the old drains were removed. Then we found that our house was built on pretty shoddy soil (which also made it very hard work to dig!) and so the nice easy foundations we had planned turned into a fancy steel raft. We had some much debris in our ground that the raft will keep the new part of the house nice and stable. 

I came home one day to find the conservatory pretty much gone. The house looked so strange with its exposed yellow walls and vinyl “patio”! 

 Next began the hard work. Andrew got his money’s worth of the Titan ripping up the thick concrete drive and pad. 
An important planning meeting! Papa T and AP discussing where to put the new drains (which will hopefully actually work!).  You can see the first trench dug. This was the day we were told we needed a steel raft.

Getting stuck in! We had to dig two new trenches beside the existing walls for the steel to sit in.    
The trenches didn’t have to be as wide for the steel, so AP created some shuttering from the old conservatory roof. Clever! You can see the loo waste pipe here (nice). 


The steel was delivered. We bent 70 pieces; 35 into a “bucket” and 35 into an “r” shape.
Here are the “r” pieces ready to go! 

Goodbye toilet! It’s buckets from now on as we removed the waste pipe.



The bent pieces of steel get attached to the straights to create a frame. The same happens to the bucket pieces. 

Polystyrene is stuck to the existing building to give a crushable zone should anything move.

The frames are put into the trenches. They were pretty heavy! 
  Once all the frames are in around the edges, four mesh layers are added over the top. Spacers are put underneath to ensure the mesh doesn’t touch soil; it should end up embedded within the concrete.  
The pieces of steel are cable-tied together. Now we await the concrete!