Part Seventeen – Day One Of The Build

This seventeenth entry was published originally by JSHarris on the 8th October 2013 and received 1,680 views on the closed forum

Today marks the real start of the build, and what a day!

The truck that’s carried our house all the way from Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland, to our peaceful little corner of Wiltshire arrived shortly after 8am. We’d measured the gap over the mill stream bridge opposite our site entrance and knew that the truck should fit through with about 4 inches to spare. Neverthless, there were a few tense moments as Donal the truck driver backed in over the bridge:


As soon as the truck was in place the guys from MBC set to unloading the frame, as the truck was completely blocking both narrow lanes. This truck has our complete house and garage on it, believe it or not:

I had to leave site by 10am and sort out some other stuff, so I didn’t get back there until around 3pm. As I drove around the corner I was greeted by the first floor of the house completely erected, including the big entrance gable that I had agonised over when designing the house. I’ll admit to it being a bit of emotional moment, seeing something that you’ve designed, but only seen on paper and in a model, standing there in front of you. Here’s the view that greeted me at 3pm, some 6 hours and 30 minutes after the truck arrived:

I got another surprise when I walked into the house to find that virtually all the internal ground floor rooms were in place, too. What’s more, everything seems to be in the right place, the pipes coming up through the slab for the foul drain, under floor heating, water etc are all exactly where I expected them to be inside the house.

The first floor, the gable ends and the upstairs internal walls will go in tomorrow, then the crane will be off site and the guys will crack on with putting the roof on. So far there’s been two guys on site, plus the crane driver, and I’ll admit to being completely blown away by the speed with which things have gone up.


wittenham  08 Oct 2013 07:00 PM :

 looks good. I have this to look forward to next week.


 joiner 08 Oct 2013 07:20 PM :

 No bits left over then?


jsharris 08 Oct 2013 08:32 PM :

 The amazing thing is the speed with which the house is going up. I really was not expecting things to go this quickly at all.

Right now, there are loads of “bits left over”, but they are all numbered, and there is a master plan that shows exactly where each numbered part fits. The key seems to be finding the right bit at the right time from the diminishing pile of bits laying around the site, a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Expect more photos of the first floor tomorrow……………………


 wmacleod 09 Oct 2013 08:13 AM :

 Did they remember the roof?! I can see a few trusses on the top of the lorry (for the garage?) but nothing obvious for the main house, not much free space on the lorry 🙂


jsharris 09 Oct 2013 08:26 AM :

 Yes, the roof is there, but in bits, rather than as pre-assembled panels. You’re right, those small trusses are for the garage roof.

Because the first floor rooms are in the roof there aren’t any pre-made roof trusses. Instead there are 302mm deep rafters, made from I beams, with added ~ 100mm timbers across the lower edge to increase the insulation thickness. These hang from a big glulam ridge beam that’s supported by the gable ends and two internal structural walls (either side of the full height entrance hall) and rest on a 45 degree wall plate fitted to the top of the first floor walls. The frame will be clad with OSB both sides and then the internal space will be filled with 400mm thick blown in cellulose insulation.


coopers 11 Oct 2013 07:33 AM :

 It was looking good yesterday, Jeremy. Thanks for showing us around and giving us the benefit of your experience. Lots of things to think about. Cold but sunny today, so hopefully your builders will be full steam ahead.
It was interesting to see the recycled plastic slate close-up. About a year ago I saved some images of the recycled rubber ones. Did you look into the rubber ones also? It would be good to have the contact for the ones you have bought, and the cost … thanks again.



jsharris 11 Oct 2013 07:59 AM :

 Nice to meet you yesterday, glad you found the trip down useful. They are cracking on at a heck of a pace, the roof should be felted tomorrow, hopefully before we get any serious rain.

The slate you looked at was an IkoSlate, the details are here: . I am pretty sure that Iko are just importing these from either Canada or the US and re-selling them, though, as when I spoke to them there was a delay in being able to send a sample, as they were awaiting a ship to get in. I’ve found a very similar product that’s made closer to home, the AthyECOSlate, made in Ireland. I have a sample coming but have been assured that they are very similar to the IkoSlates. The AthyECOSlate info is here:

At the moment I’m pretty sure we’ll go for the Irish AthyECOSlates if they look OK, as they are a fair bit cheaper than the IkoSlates (even including shipping from Ireland) and are reputed to be better looking and at least as durable.

The slates made using recycled car tyres and plastic aren’t currently available, I think. I contacted the manufacturer down in Cornwall earlier in the year and they told me they were temporarily shut down.


 coopers 11 Oct 2013 09:34 AM :

 Did you try tapco? Although I’ve just noticed that they are not recycled, they are recyclable !
I’m Surprised that there are not more recycled options available, as they are a good eco option


 coopers 11 Oct 2013 09:54 AM :

 ps will you have to pay in euros for the slates? So you would need to buy them when the exchange rate is favourable!


jsharris 11 Oct 2013 03:44 PM :

 I did look at the Tapco slates, but didn’t really like them, plus I heard one or two stories of them not being as good as they’re cracked up to be. You’re right, they aren’t recycled as such, but are technically classed as recyclable, which is slightly misleading, I think.

I will have to pay for the AthyECOSlates in Euros, so picking a day when the rates are looking slightly more favourable might be an idea. I should have bought them ten days ago – could have saved about £80!


coopers 12 Oct 2013 07:51 AM :

 I’ve also found Eco Slate – recycled plastic . It says that it’s a close boarded system with no roof battens required.Not sure how that works



 SteamyTea 14 Oct 2013 08:13 AM :

 How is all the detailing for airtightness looking?


 jsharris 14 Oct 2013 10:44 AM :

 The Eco Slates are very similar to the AthyECOSlates and the Ikoslate, but slightly more expensive I believe. I’m not at all sure about laying them directly to a boarded roof, it seems a bit dodgy to me to not retain a ventilated void under the slates. We’ve got a sample of the AthyECOSlate now and they look pretty good. They are a darker colour than the IkoSlate, virtually the same size and around 10% cheaper. The dark colour will, I hope, better match the black PV panels we’re fitting.

We’re not at the full airtightness detailing stage yet, Nick, the inner skin and airtightness membrane goes in later. The membranes are in around the first floor/wall joint though, and it looks to be a very neat way of ensuring that there is a good seal at this critical point (this seems to be an area where other builds we looked at have problems, full marks to MBC for the neat solution they’ve designed in).


 JonathonS  12 Dec 2015 04:47 PM :

Hi Jeremy,

I noticed on a later post that you eventually went for Ikoslate. What were the reasons you choose them over AthyEcoSlates?



jsharris 12 Dec 2015 06:24 PM

In the end it came down to the planning officer/conservation officer, who liked the look of the IkoSlates better than the AthyEcoslate. Like all builds where all materials on the exterior have to be approved before use, I was at their mercy!


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