The inside story

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Once our buildings are watertight the activity within continues at a strong pace. We have now finished most of the first fix electrics and plumbing and are currently plaster boarding the walls and plastering some of the rooms. Walking around you really get a sense of the finished house.

This is our first project that features a basement pool so we’ve been looking forward to it taking shape. The pool enclosure has been constructed and the basement team are now preparing the floor so that we can insulate and lay the underfloor heating and screed. In the next few weeks we will be installing the door frames and doors as well as the structure for the staircases down to the pool and up to the garden.

So far, the build process has been pretty smooth, planning is everything!

Like most homeowners, when it comes to the interiors everyone gets very excited and creative. We have just been picking all the tiling and the timber floor finish for the ground floor and the staircase with our client Anya. The tiling in the pool area is going to be fantastic with a dark blue mosaic tile in the pool and then a very light stone tile on the floor and on three of the walls.

The beauty of our method of digital manufacture is that we produce all the component parts of the house on site. This cuts down on wastage and greatly reduces our carbon footprint. We are currently making the internal staircases followed by the front canopy over the door.

The English summer hasn’t let us down but luckily we were water tight before any really terrible storms hit. Now we are mostly working on the interior so the weather isn’t affecting us that much, although we could do with a bit more sun!

While we are cracking on with the build, out of respect for the adjoining neighbours who work hard in the week, we are trying to keep weekend working to a minimum so they get a bit of peace and quiet. And it also means that our fabulous team returns refreshed and ready for action on Mondays.

 

Build It Live, Bicester

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Visit us at Build It Live at Bicester Heritage on 11-12 June 2016 to find out more about our custom designed homes.

You can find us at Stand E43.

This special event is being held in Bicester, Oxfordshire, near to the exciting new custom build development, Graven Hill.

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Situated just to the south of Bicester in Oxfordshire, Graven Hill is the UK’s largest custom build development. Comprised of 1,900 plots, it will create an entire community of self-builders and remove that biggest of hurdles, finding suitable land on which to build. From provision of services and utilities to a streamlined planning process, it promises to make building your own home simpler than ever before and create a diverse and design-rich context in which to live.

Facit Homes is ready to work with clients at Graven Hill to design and manufacture their dream home. We are really excited by the scheme and all the opportunities it creates for the fast-growing custom build market.

Please get in touch if you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your project or just drop by our stand during the show and speak to one of our team.

Free Entrance to Build It Live, Bicester.

Seeing is believing

 

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Suddenly, there is a lot more to see on our project at Highgate as we now have the Facit Chassis frame completely built and the internal timber walls are going in. The concrete screed has been completed on the ground floor and all the windows including the huge bi-folding door at the back of the property are in place.

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The roof slates are fixed and now the plumbers and electricians can start on drawing through cabling. In a couple of weeks the basement will be waterproofed so the pool enclosure can begin to be built.

Everything has gone pretty well so far. Our team assembling the Facit Chassis has been brilliant and really quick. We were a bit nervous about getting the bi-fold door at the right level with the floor screed so Alastair, our design and build coordinator, and site manager Joe paid particular attention to marking out and checking the levels.

At present we have around six people working on site assisted by specialist subcontractors on a daily basis. George, our director of architecture, ensures the team has a good set of construction drawings to work from while also continuing to manage the budget and keeping an eye on the programme with the site managers.

We’re in constant contact with our client Anya who pops down about twice a week. At the moment we are tying up finishes including bathrooms, floors and joinery so there’s a lot to discuss. We are also looking at materials for the external cladding for the ground floor and have found some interesting options which we are costing out.

All being well we are still on track for completion towards the end of the year.

 

 

Moved in and ready to live

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There’s always a real sense of achievement when we hand over one of our custom build properties to its new owner. When our clients Jim and Mary came to get the keys and walk around with our quantity surveyor on the day of completion, the sun was out and the whole house was glowing in the evening light. It couldn’t have looked better for their arrival so handing over the keys was a very satisfying moment.

In the run up to completion and handover, it was a busy few weeks with all of the final finishes and details being completed. There was a tense moment waiting for some lights that were being shipped from Italy, but they arrived on time which meant that they were installed succesfully. Jim and Mary’s removal company started moving their boxes in the following day – there was no hanging around.

It seems a long time ago that we demolished the existing bungalow on the site in late June last year and the Facit Chassis started going up in early August. We’ve handed the keys over to the client right on schedule. Looking back, the installation of the final piece of our unique chassis roof was certainly a highlight and suddenly we all had a feel for the final form of the building. Watching all the internal walls go in and seeing the conversion of our digital model that we had walked through on the screen so many times into a physical space was a really satisfying moment.

We had to accelerate part of the programme to allow for the installation of the Photo Voltaic system before the feed in tariff changed. That meant rearranging the construction sequence but it was worth it to guarantee the best performance for the client.

Once we have handed over the keys we are still on call to answer any questions the new owners may have so it’s been good to go back and see how they are settling in and making the new house their home. Their dog is certainly enjoying the underfloor heating. Apart from some minor teething issues getting used to using some of the technology like the Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery system that regulates the air temperature within the home it’s been a smooth transition. While we move onto our next commission it’s good to know that the new owners are starting the next chapter of their lives in a highly specified unique home.

Grand Designs Live 2016

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Come and visit us at Grand Designs Live from 30 April – 8 May to find out more about our custom designed homes. You can find us in the Grand Build Hall at Stand B17.

Speak to one of the team about your project at the stand or book an ‘Ask An Expert’ session with our Founder, Bruce Bell or Director of Architecture, George Legg.

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Getting the right mix

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Work in leafy Highgate continues apace and now the basement concrete work has been completed so it’s no longer looking quite like the muddy building site it was before. The ground floor steel deck and concrete above has now been poured and the ground floor slab at the front of the building has been completed.

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Above ground we are completing the drainage around the perimeter of the building and tidying up the site in preparation for the next stage of the build. We have decided that for the first time in three projects we are going to build our classic Facit Chassis on site. This means having the engineered plywood delivered to the site which will then be cut and assembled into the component parts. These will be immediately located in the correct position on the slab and then eased into place by the erection team.

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The Facit Chassis allows for the neat separation of electrics, insulation and plumbing into different cavities. This creates flexibility for our construction team, and helps avoid any delays. This working method will make the whole production process more efficient then manufacturing the component parts in our London workshop and transporting them to the site thus reduces the carbon footprint of the build.

Offsite we are developing the designs for the swimming pool area and have been discussing the detail with our client Anya and the pool Subcontractor at Design Works in Clerkenwell. We picked out a set of tiles and finishes for the pool area which was a nice change from looking at building materials. We’re also finalising fixtures for the bathrooms and will be starting to look in more detail at joinery and floor finishes too. Fingers crossed again for some pleasant weather as we begin the next very important stage.

Up, up and almost away

We are definitely on the home straight with our second London home about to be finished, on time and on budget.

The scaffolding has just come down to reveal the sustainable cedar cladding which looks as if it actually glows in the evening light!

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We’re starting to move to the finishing and then decorating which will mark the beginning of the final push to complete the wonderful contemporary interiors. We’ll also be turning our hand to the external landscaping. It’s unbelievable to think that there is just over five weeks until completion.

Inside the all-important kitchen is 60 per cent complete. The carcasses are in and we are waiting for the decoration and flooring to be completed before we install the gloss white, touch to open doors and finish it off with a granite work surface.

The bathrooms are also well on the way. Owners Jim and Mary have gone for a neutral palette of warm grey floor tiles and matt white wall tiles and we are in the midst of finalising some bolder colours for the walls that will give each bathroom a different feel and look.

Jim and Mary are of course really looking forward to moving in to their truly unique house. As we are always keen to point out, Facit homes’ aren’t off the peg and don’t come all the way from Germany like a Huf Haus. Our projects are home grown and the component parts have travelled the short distance to South Woodford from our workshop in Hackney adding to the property’s sustainable footprint.

Looking along the street line now it’s hard to imagine the small bungalow that once stood on the plot. The new house has already proved a source of intrigue in the street and now it’s about to be lived in we’re sure it will remain a talking point for some time.

 

Walls within walls

It’s amazing how much interest in our work a programme like Channel 4’s Grand Designs creates wherever we are working on one of our projects. The passers-by are very interested in the build progress and often stop to ask what we are building, how long it will take to be finished and if it’s a “Grand Design”! Our South Woodford house is no exception.

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The build progress has been good and we’re on track which always is great news in spite of periods of wet weather. The building is now water tight and the cladding is starting to go onto the outside. The first fix for electrics and plumbing is complete and the plastering well underway. It’s definitely starting to look like a fantastic new home!

Walking around the site, you start to get a feeling of how light and grand some of the main spaces will be – it’s very satisfying to see it all taking shape and the clients are starting to get very excited as the fixtures and fittings such as the bathroom go in. The next few weeks there will be a major transformation as the walls get boarded up.

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The Photo Voltaic panels have now been installed and commissioned, which also marks the completion of the roof. Meanwhile, our client has signed off all of the sanitary ware, flooring and kitchen, which means we’re gearing up for the big push to start transforming the building site into a beautiful home.

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Best laid plans

Once excavations begin on a site there’s no knowing what you’ll find. In the process of lowering the ground level to create a space for the “blue beast” of a piling machine, our groundworks contractor found a wartime bomb shelter under the driveway. There are hundreds of these still around London but it took a while to excavate it as it was understandably very strong having been reinforced with concrete to protect its temporary inhabitants 70 years ago.

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A 50 tonne crane has also arrived on site so after a few quiet weeks, when surveys and monitoring was being carried out for the party wall agreements, we are all set for action this autumn. The hard core piling matt has been laid, the building set out and the piling has started.

When Anya has visited the site she has been surprisingly pleased to see the muddy hole appearing as it means work is progressing. “It’s amazing what‘s been happening,” she says. “The massive 11 metre piles have been pushed into the ground, it’s fascinating.” The couple’s eldest sons have been disappointed that they are missing out on the action now they are back at school during the day but they still like to walk by when they can to check out their new home.

Initially Anya and Robin thought they would be able to preserve some of their garden, however, seeing the size of the machinery and the remodelling that’s taking place they’ve realised that it’s just not going to be possible. So they will start from scratch and appoint someone to carry out external landscaping to tie in with the house when the work is finished.

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The Nuttalls have also agreed the basement design and have appointed a pool company. The preparation for the basement wasn’t straight forward as every hole for the piling had to be pre-drilled due to the hard ground. However, whatever comes along we know how to deal with it, that’s the essence of custom-build.

Anya and family have settled into their temporary home nearby very well. It’s a classic Victorian home with six flights of stairs! While there are four floors in the new house the basement won’t be in daily use and the living space will all be on the ground floor and the master bedroom is just upstairs so perhaps they’ll be getting a little less exercise!

Thinking of the new house reminds the family just how spectacular it’s going to be.

Taking shape – when plans become reality

At last we can see the house taking shape after spending the best part of a year poring over the plans on screen. Having prepared the ground, the insulation and underfloor heating pipes for the ground floor slab were laid in three days (impressively quick!) followed by the concrete. Passers-by and neighbours have also been watching the progress with interest. Now it’s full steam ahead!

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The production of the Facit Chassis (what we call the skeleton of the house) was being made in tandem in our workshop in Hackney, unlike a Huf Haus that has to be transported from Germany. Once the slab was poured, we delivered the components to South Woodford. Due to the tight size of the site, we have established an efficient storage sequence so that the components we need first are close to hand. The first floor and roof components were delivered to site once the ground floor walls had been installed and more space had been created.

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All the components were wrapped tightly in tarpaulin to keep dry from the typical British summer weather. However, we have worked through the torrential rain, which has at some points dampened the mood but has not held back our programme.

James the project architect expands: “We now have the majority of the first floor walls up, including the bay window which will be a wonderful place to sit in the morning sun and look out over the garden. It’s always satisfying walking through the newly formed spaces for the first time thinking – this is going to be a fantastic space to read, cook or sleep.”

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The next challenge will be installing the roof beams due to the actual height of the ceilings, but we have calculated this well to ensure that we have a thorough and safe method for getting them into position.

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We should have the overall structure including the roof complete by mid September and then it’s fingers-crossed for a few weeks of an Indian summer.