Once you have your land, finance, the detailed designs and statutory approvals in place, you can start on the build.
As discussed in Section 11, we would recommend appointing a Contract Administrator for your project when you are on site. Before work begins, you must check the conditions laid down by your planning department to ensure they have all been complied with. You should also inform the department when work will commence.
First, the track will be to put in to allow access and clear the site. If you have chosen to opt for a ‘supply only’ package from HebHomes, then this work will be completed by your main contractor.
Next, it’s time to set out the position of the house. You may want to ask your engineer to visit the site to check this has been done accurately as building in the wrong place, or at the wrong height, might upset a neighbour or the authorities. Once that is done the trenches are dug for the foundations.
The concrete strip foundations are then poured according to the engineer’s drawings, and the underbuild of block – two leaves (layers) for a render and block house, one leaf for a timber clad house – are built to damp proof course (DPC) level. Hardcore, sand blinding and concrete slab is applied and poured to the engineer’s specification. While this sets, a representative of HebHomes will visit the site to check the foundations are suitable; if there’s an issue, either the slab or the kit will need to be adjusted. We will also check the ground is suitable for laying down the kit and manoeuvring the telehandler around the site. Generally, 2m of compacted hardcore around the perimeter is required. It is also normal practice to install the sewerage and drainage system while the foundations are being prepared.
Next, the house kit itself arrives. Erection usually takes around seven working days for a team of four men but varies according to the size and complexity of the kit, and the time of year; who does this part will depend on what type of HebHomes package you have selected. It starts with the accurate fixing of the sole plates: timber runners onto which the SIP or CLT walls will be secured.
After the walls and lintels, the metal web joists are bolted, followed by the waterproof first-floor chipboard flooring. The ridge is then craned into place and the roof panels carefully screwed, nailed and glued as per the engineer’s fabrication drawings.
Internally, vapour control foil will be fitted and, externally, the thick protective membranes on the walls and roof. Non-load bearing walls will then be erected and finally windows installed.
The house is now ‘wind and weathertight’ and ready to be inspected (and handed over, if you have chosen a ‘supply and erect’ package). But please note: in the wet and windy climate, there is still a risk of water ingress until the exterior claddings and silicons are complete.
While the scaffolding is up, the roof completion comes next: first with battening, and then profiled metal sheeting or slate. Roof lights, with flashings, are fitted at this stage while roofing is in progress.
While the roofing work is going on, joinery can begin – with battening and framing to the walls internally. Once the basic internal roughing is in place, the electrician can start running wiring through the house, and the plumber follows. Underfloor heating pipes are run over floor insulation and set. The first elements of the heat recovery ventilation system are put in place, as well as the sound insulation.
At this stage the plasterboard can be fitted throughout, according to use: insulated plasterboard to the exterior walls, fire-resistant plasterboard behind the stove, water-resistant plasterboard in the bathrooms and thicker plasterboard to the ceilings to minimise sound transfer.
After the plasterboard has been fitted and the joints between boards taped and filled (or the walls fully plastered, as is common in England), the finishing work can begin. The joiner will be hanging doors, and adding skirting boards, architraves and so on. The plumber and electricians return to the site for the ‘second fix’ – fitting sinks and baths to their pipes, connecting electrical appliances, etc. This is when complex elements such as the air source heat pump and the ventilation system are installed and connected. The kitchen must be installed, the floor laid, the tiling done, and bathroom furniture hung.
While all this is going on inside the house, work will continue outside. Timber cladding or the outer leaf of block work will be completed. Rendering of blockwork is weather dependent. Guttering is fitted and connected to the drainage system. The site has never been busier!
The end is in sight! At this point, the decorators are meticulously painting the house and the rest of the site is being landscaped. Gravel is laid down on the road and the entrance tarmacked. Very soon you’ll have it all to yourself, and life in your new home can begin.
Throughout the six to eight months it takes to build a house in rural areas, it is usual for the contract between client and contractor to be administered by an industry professional, such as a local Architect or Quantity Surveyor. For a domestic house, this is usually a ‘minor works’ contract. The administrator’s job is to ensure their client only pays for work that has been properly carried out; to make sure, valuations take place every four weeks, and 5% of the value of the main contract is retained throughout the build period.
When the administrator decides that ‘practical completion’ has been reached, the keys can be handed over and half of the retained fee paid. At this point, you become responsible for insuring your own house. Depending on where your house is built, you can start occupying your house once the Completion Certificate has been obtained from local Building Control department.
If you’ve opted for a ‘complete turnkey’ package from HebHomes, we will organise NHBC warranties and for a Completion Certificate to be supplied by the council. If you have your own main contractor, the administrator will either provide certification on the house or have arranged a warranty.
Over the next year (or as long as agreed in your Contract documentation), any latent defects which become apparent should be recorded. They will be made good at the end of the defect period (or, if that would interfere with enjoyment of the house, rectified at the earliest opportunity). The final retention is then paid.