Update on tender process

The deadline for the tender process for phase 1 is 7th May.  The tender documents were issued to 5 local companies.  They were told that they could do a site visit from the 29th April. 

So far there have been two site visits – both on 29th.  Maybe the other tenderers will leave it to the last minute or maybe there will submit a quote without having seen the property.  Or maybe they won’t submit a quote at all.  Who knows at this point.

I have been running the site visits and to make sure that I tell all the tenderers the same things, I have been following a sort of script (see below). 

One of the things that I have been doing is using the 3D drawings to show what the finished building will look like.  This material was not distributed as part of the tender pack and it is clearly given people a much clearer idea of what the finished building will look like rather than just relying on floor plans alone.  I now have the 3D drawings as PDFs and will post some more shortly.  I have only had them in paper copy until recently, but did post one here before on the blog based on a scan of a paper copy.

Anyway, here’s my script for the site visit:

·         About us

  • Me and Jo live in Netherthong
  • Me to PM the overall build
  • Technical questions to the architect

·         Objectives

  • Looking for something that suited the way we live
  • Traditional on the outside, contemporary inside

·         The site

  • Extent of the site
  • Potential new drive through orchard

·         Access

  • IBA require access at all times

·         Plan

  • Potential move in date is April 2014

·         Why two phases? Phase one / Phase Two

·         Overview of the design

  • Renovation of the existing properties – Phase 1               
  • New extension and refurb of existing – Phase 2

·         Tour of the existing buildings

  • 8
  • 10
  • Barn

·         Unusual things to point out

  • Cellars
  • King post trusses
  • Asphalt flooring

·         Questions

  • Potential start dates
  • Any issues/questions?

Phase 1 – now out to tender

A copy of the tender documents for Phase 1 (the re-roofing and refurbishment of the existing cottages) had arrived at home when I returned from London today.  This means that the companies tendering will also have received the documentation.

There is a lot of material here – all the work that needs to be completed has been itemised and there are a full set of building reg drawings.  I am glad that we are going out in 2 phases otherwise this pack of material would be enormous.

The deadline for responses is 7th May and we have suggested that if they want to a site visit that this should be organised via me for the week commencing 29th April (my first week off having finished work for a year!).

It feels like progress.

Splitting the building work into phases

A few weeks back we took a first look at the proposed schedule.  This had been updated after we had received planning permission as well as a little more detailed added.  When we first started talking to the architect about the work, we had in mind that the building work would be complete by Christmas 2013.  At the time, we were surprised how long it was going to take.  Well, you can imagine how surprised we are when the latest completion date is April 2014!

Don’t get me wrong, the plan is what the plan is.  It just seems surprising that we aren’t going to start any building work until August.  Particularly when the existing cottages are already 75-80% stripped out.  If the stripping out work is finished by the 1st May, then it means building work effectively stops for 3 months.  The delay is due to the detailed work required for building regs, preparing tender documents and deciding on the main contractor.

In an attempt to reduce this delay, we have decided to split the building work into 2 phases:

  • Phase 1: Renovation of the existing cottages. This means re-roofing the existing main building, making the new internal openings, installing flooring (ground level and first floor) and installing new windows.  There will be no “first fix” for the services, insulation of the walls or roof, or doors installed.  This will all be done as part of Phase 2;
  • Phase 2: Extension of the barn plus refurb throughout the entire building.  This will ensure that the internals and services are all installed as one as well as reducing the overall cost.


By splitting it this way, we can start on Phase 1 while all the final details are being worked out for Phase 2.  And by doing all of the internals as part of Phase 2, this should reduce the chance that later changes need to be made to work completed as part of Phase 1.  At this point, I am not sure if this approach will reduce the overall length of the project – it feels as if it should – but we will have to wait until the detailed planning is complete.

Each of the phases will go out to tender and the intention is that we should be in a position for a main contractor to start work on Phase 1 during May.  For this to happen, the tender documents need to be ready the week after Easter.  There is still work to do on all the drawings, but there is still some work to do inside the cottages in preparation for the building work.

Planning permission granted!

The plans for the renovation have now been officially approved and the status has been updated on the Kirklees website.  We know that they had been approved earlier in the week, but it is always good to sit it written down in black and white – somehow, it seems a little more real.

The only downside with the approval was that we had to remove the plans for the change of access.  However, our intention is to re-submit plans for the driveway once the building work is underway.

The application will be found here on the Kirklees website: http://www2.kirklees.gov.uk/business/planning/application_search/detail.aspx?id=2012/93474

Planners input on the Bat Survey

We had a bat survey completed back in August and the survey was submitted as part of the planning application.  The survey showed no evidence of bats living in the property or the outlying buildings.


The submitted bat survey has identified some limited bat activity around the site but no evidence of bats
emerging from the buildings, although these were identified as having some potential. No further information is required.
The following recommendations should be followed and conditioned as appropriate:
  • All roof coverings and fascias should be removed carefully by hand
  • Should any evidence of bats be found, all works should stop and advice sought from the bat surveyor or Natural England.
Given the loss of potential bat roost features as a result of the proposal, we would suggest that one bat roost feature is incorporated into the development. Preferably, this should be an integral feature (e.g. a ‘bat brick’) or if this is not possible, an external, long-lasting ‘woodcrete’ type bat box.

Guidance is given via the following link:

Bat roost features should be sited away from artificial lighting and should not be located above windows and doors.

In the course of the bat survey, an occupied swallow nest was identified in the existing lean-to building at the north-east side of the site. Works to this section of the site (which may cause destruction of nests or, disturbance to the resident swallows) must not take place during the bird breeding season (late March to August) or until the young have fledged.

In line with the NPPF, It would be beneficial if this nest could be retained in the final scheme. If not, then if possible, a replacement swallow nesting feature should be incorporated into the scheme in line with the following guidance:

Swallow nests require an open access throughout the breeding season, so are best suited to outbuildings, sheds or garages.

Budgeting: Starting the process

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.

Front elevations

Ok, so these are the front elevations – today and in May 1978 before it was converted from three properties into two.  I have included the rear elevations here.

You can quite clearly see where the old front door used to be for number 9 as well as the fact that new windows appear to have been added upstairs (as stated on the old plans).

The old plans were in a bit of a “distressed” state.  To view a larger image, just click on the picture.

Front elevation – today (above) and in 1978 (below)

Existing elevations

Here are the architect’s drawings of the elevations of the existing property.  I think they have done a great job, but there again I am always a sucker for these sort of engineering drawings!  You can zoom in by clicking on the images.

My hand drawings are elsewhere on the blog, so these just go to show how bad my drawings really are!  I didn’t want to publish any of this material until after we had completed on the purchase – it seemed to be tempting fate otherwise.

Front elevation

Rear elevation

Left hand end
Left hand end

Right hand end
Right hand end

Existing floor plans

Since we bought the property before any estate agents details were produced, these are the first floor plans of the property that we have seen.  We have been working off some of the rough sketches that I did using Google Maps as a source for the overall size and shape of the property.

Ground floor floorplan
Ground Floor

You can see quite clearly the outline of the three original cottages with the middle one being smaller than the two adjoining.  Interestingly, this fact is also borne out by the census records that show that the middle property consisted of just two rooms – one up and one down.  These days it is difficult to imagine bringing up a family in such a property.

First floor floorplan
First Floor

I didn’t want to publish any of this information until we had exchanged – it seemed to be tempting fate otherwise.