Category Archives: budget

The cost of moving utilities: Water

Written by stephen gale

The water meter is about 200m away.  It is in a field on the other side of the road.  To make matters worth, the meter has very small numbers and is 1.5m down a manhole. 

This causes us a bit of a problem;

  • You can’t read the meter unless you trespass on someone else’s land;
  • You can’t read the numbers on the meter unless you go down the manhole head first and leave you legs dangling in the air;
  • If there is a leak in the pipe between the meter and our property, we are liable even though it isn’t on our land.

All in all, a poor situation.  Talking to Yorkshire Water, it would appear that the meter was installed there (in the 1970’s) because at that point the water main didn’t come any further up the road.  So that explains the odd position of the current water meter.

Yorkshire Water are not interested in moving the meter.  However, the water main does now come up the road, so it is possible to get a new water connection.  Cost? Estimated to be between £1,000 and £2,000 depending on whether they have to close off the road and put in traffic control.  I have paid £100 for them to come up and do a survey so that we can get a more accurate cost.

200m down the road in the footpath you will find the stopcock for the water.  A blue mark on the drystone wall marks it's position.  Apparently, in the late 1970's when this was installed the water main only came this far up the road.

200m down the road in the footpath you will find the stopcock for the water. A blue mark on the drystone wall marks it’s position. Apparently, in the late 1970’s when this was installed the water main only came this far up the road.

On the other side of the drystone wall is an inspection chamber.  Lift the lid and you will find a water meter about 1.5m down.  Unfortunately, the numbers are very small so reading the meter can be a challenge.  The house is just behind the small tree in the centre of the photo.

On the other side of the drystone wall is an inspection chamber. Lift the lid and you will find a water meter about 1.5m down. Unfortunately, the numbers are very small so reading the meter can be a challenge. The house is just behind the small tree in the centre of the photo.

The cost of moving utilities: Gas

Written by stephen gale

There were two gas meters on the property.  One in each of the properties.  Both of the cottages were centrally heated using a gas boiler.

As with the electricity supply, the electricity suppliers are responsible for the meters (and removing them).  The gas carrier (Northern Gas Networks, in our case) is responsible for getting the gas to the meters.

I contact British Gas and E.on to remove the two gas meters.  This only took 2-3 weeks and there was no cost associated with removing the meters.  However, there is a charge for disconnecting the gas main from the meter supply.  We did to get the two gas standpipes from the front of the property.  The cost? £802.

If we decide that we want to reconnect the gas (not sure why we would), there is a connection charge.  This is likely to be significant and takes 10-12 weeks.  This would provide us with the opportunity to move the new supply around to the utility room.  However, the only use we have for has would be if we have a gas hob.  Which we aren’t planning to do.

One of the two gas standpipes remaining in place now the gas meters have been removed.  This will be removed when the gas main is capped off.

One of the two gas standpipes remaining in place now the gas meters have been removed. This will be removed when the gas main is capped off.

Budgeting: The big unknowns

Written by stephen gale

One of the key things with the budgeting is trying to get it as accurate as possible. There are always going to be unknowns, so there is always going to be the need for some contingency.  However, if you can reduce the unknowns to the minimum, this is going to reduce the likelihood of any surprises.

So looking at the current estimates, there are a number of big unknowns…..

Problem

Issue

Mitigation

State of the existing roof

Will it need to be replaced? What condition are the roof trusses in?
We have looked in the loft (of No. 8 only) and the roof looks to be in fairly reasonable condition.  The roof trusses are nothing special (very plain), but the perlings look good.  Not sure that there is a lot of merit in opening up the roof space.  The cost of refurbing the existing roof is estimated at around £14,000, so not a huge sum relatively.
Foundations of the walls in the barn
Are there any foundations in the barn or has it been built directly onto the earth below.
We have no idea on this until work states.  In the budget, we have assumed the worst and included the costs of completely rebuilding the walls (to include foundations).
Condition of the septic tank
This was installed in the 1970’s.  It is an 800 gallon tank, so is plenty big enough, but what state is it in?  Also the design is fairly dated and the water simply soaks away into the bottom field.
The top seems pretty rotten, but it is clearly still operational.  We need to get a specialist in to provide some advice.  If the septic tank could last a couple of more years, it could be replaced at a later date.  Specialist help needed.
Floors (particularly upstairs in No. 8)
These are fairly “springy” in places and certainly do undulate.
Pulling back the carpets revealed some very poorly laid tongue and groove chipboard.  The underlying joists appear to be ok.  New floors required and included in estimates.
Refurb of the office space
Originally, the office space was going to be above the double garage that has now been removed from the plans due to costs.  The current plan is to build some office space into the existing coal hole.
The space is odd and quirky.  The walls are singled skinned (but original) and the floor is made up of flagstones.  There is some modern block work inside.  Some of this appears to be helping structurally.  Mark (the architect) to provide a quote.

Budgeting: Starting the process

Written by stephen gale

Before we submitted the plans to the planning department, we thought it might be a good idea to start pulling together some estimates.   We already had a budget that we were working to and this was part of the brief that we had given Mark, the architect.  However, there is no point in putting something through planning that you simply can’t afford to build.  This turned out to be a smart move. 

We engaged a Quantity Surveyor (QS) via the architect who took the Mark’s designs and produced a set of rough estimates.  These are based purely on the current designs and some prior knowledge of what it takes to build/renovate properties like these and in this part of the world.  In fact, the QS managed to produce a set of estimates without visiting the site – based purely on the work that needed to be done and the amount of space/materials involved.  At this stage, the estimates can only be very rough.

But they only need to be rough.  The initial set of figures showed that we were already over budget by about 20%.  While you can reduce costs by cutting back on some of the footprint, you aren’t going to save huge amounts.  We took the decision to lose the garage/office on the basis that this could be added in at a later date and it might also have been difficult to get through planning.  Getting rid of this element of the decision would also save time and money – the design of the garage/office was still only at a formative stage when we took the decision to scrap it.

However, the whole process did underline how important it is to understand your priorities and make compromises accordingly.  We still won’t know the final figures until once the planning permission has been granted – after all, some key parts of the design might get rejected and this could have a huge impact on the budget.