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It was interesting to see this drawing, our first idea of what we wanted, and now to look at the project taken a few months ago.

16th July '04 We are now in the progress of building a wall at the front of the house, as there is a drop there of about 6ft, a few meters out. This wall will just come up to the level of the path and hopefully will be screened with creepers and hanging plants in the near future as it is being constructed with concrete. Our electric fences are nearly finished and we hope to move one of the mobiles today. We have the far side of the shed being leveled out with Clause 804, slightly expensive stone that binds to make a good roadway. John Mullen is the hard working contractor now and has a large business/workforce to do the job, no delays now.

SYNOPSIS  5th September '04

I can call this the end, I suppose. After this it is landscaping and moving the remaining mess of mobiles, stones, planks etc, and then any additional paving, gardening and improvements which could be called 'lives normal extras'.

Into our second year and we can now say that the house building method is the best. Our house is markedly warmer than other houses, due to the insulated walls and the design, with a larger area facing the daylight sun. The house size is 3,439 sq ft in total, costing in the region of 100 per sq ft. Another 13,500 spent on two Kitchens and our three bathrooms and a shower room, all bar one from the Buy and Sell. This also included tileing the house throughout with labor, but not the labor for installing the bathrooms. The under-floor method of heating a house we find excellent. During the winter it was so comfortable and warm. We made use of our 'night saver' electricity helped by having good 'individual room' timers. Seldom would you ever notice warm floors barefoot, they were just not cold and still everywhere was comfortable. The windows were a headache, good when they work, but if we had our time again we would just spend a bit more in this area and use a more suitable company.

I have calculated that we save in the region of 1,000 per year between heating and electricity together. We are also a lot warmer in the house. As time goes on, I can check this again as I will I have a few more years to go by.

What we have learnt or what we would change or just important advise;

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The windows, as I said above.

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Use a good under-floor heating company that is used extensively and been in existence for a while. As there seems to be no regulating body governing who can set up this kind of company, they don't even have to be qualified plumbers! A bit like building contractors!. We didn't use Homebond or anything as I don't think it would have helped us much and appear rather expensive. Contracts and guarantees should be important though.

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A proper detailed contract with finishing dates, agreeing penalties if there is a run over time, it can invariably cost you in the end, not the builder. You should leave no detail out as it will damage the relationship if any misunderstandings occur.

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Cost your project carefully, separating sections, so that you can get like-with-like quotes. e.g. our house build includes the under-floor heating and the outside render which is of a very high quality. These are expensive sections and would make a big difference to quotes, and your budget.

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Don't close your eyes to your budget and hope costs will just go away, These costs could damage your future life's happiness, materiel life or image is not as important as living life and being happy in yourself. If you can't afford that stone finishing for your house, make your house smaller or change to a render. We are glad we kept this in mind.

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Check out the Building contractor beforehand thoroughly by speaking with a number of their previous customers and maybe visiting their previous projects. Few people like to say anything bad about anybody so much investigation is important. Builders present projects could give a good insight too.

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Plan your electrics, switches, tv outlets, door alarms, telephone sockets etc. We could have improved on these.

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It is good to know a product you are installing. Under-floor heating is a very detailed system and it helps to understand what you are achieving.

The Yard has finished to look really smart with the render matching the house. The design again is great, making our work easier and less time consuming all round. We could have cut a few more costs such as the walls could have been a few inches thinner than they were, but not a problem. With these concrete walls, a front to the stables would have been cheaper too, but we opted for the 'company fronts'. A insulated roof which would have cost a lot more would have made these very warm stables but we cut corners on this.

The house costs that can be easy left out of first calculations, could include the following;

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first roadway in

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removal of a huge amount of top soil to somewhere, via someone

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connection to water scheme or making a well.

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bringing in ESB, telephone and all connection fees

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All site expenses, making maps, transferring deeds etc

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loans and mortgages.

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Living place while building

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digger for ESB, water lines, septic tank, test holes etc

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tubs of paint always seem to add up

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surveys and plans

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skips, many of them

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TV aerial, instillation and purchase

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avenue membrane for a better avenue

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fences

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ground preparation for site, avenues or geothermal loop system trenches, if you take on this responsibility

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Hire of equipment that you find people don't have!

The list, I am sure, can go on Then there are the yards additional costs, but as long as you are ready, I can say; "It wasn't that bad at all, and when asked, I would say; I would do it again, but NOT the moving, that just kills me"

GOOD LUCK

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