Retaining Wall

We had to put up the retaining wall ASAP. There was real concern that rain would cause a mini mudslide. I personally think it was a small chance as there was only a thin layer of soil and the rest of the ground was made up of rubble. We’re guessing it was either the previous house if there was one or rubble from another property close by. There are broken tiles, bricks and all sorts creating the high banking for the lawn.

The retaining wall is not to the specification provided by the Architect as the cost of removing the dirt was much higher than expected. The Architects plan was to use sleepers. It would have meant removing dirt furthermore dirt and filling it up with concrete. In hindsight, maybe we should have stuck to the original plan. The plan now is to either render the brick or use cedar wood to clad. The later is my first preference.

It does feel like a big chunk of the garden has gone.


Speaker Cable quality control

Here’s the difference between a crap speaker cable from eBay and a high-end cable. Look at the thickness and protection. World apart.

Mind you, the price is also a world apart!

We’re wiring one room for 5.1 speakers. We’ve also put an additional four cables in the ceiling to future proof. I don’t think we will ever have ceiling speakers though. You never know.

Check out my wire cutter from Japan.


Box it Off

Before asking builders/contractors for a quote, you must have the structural engineering plans complete. The structural engineer has a critical role to play in the build as they will specify what’s needed to accomplish your proposed plans. That includes the beam structure, number of beams, size of beams, foundation depth, etc.

A contractor will be unable to provide an accurate quote without knowing what work the project actually entails.

At the start of the project, I didn’t think I’ll be contacting the engineer much. I was wrong. I’ve contacted the engineer several times to confirm specs of beams and for the bay window structure. I initiate the meeting leaving the builders and engineer to discuss the technical aspect.

Back to the box topic. Our rear extension needs a lot of structural support as were breaking two of the outside wall and one side of the house could collapse if not done properly. To accomplish this, the builders had made a box frame out of steel beams.

Check out the images. You can see what the steel has to support and understand why it’s needed.

Missing the Architect :-(

We decided a while back to stop the services from the Architect due to costs. That leaves the builder with a lot of power and me needing to get to grip with learning the technical side of the build.

The builders made out it was an easy build and they could handle, however, it clearly has not been as easy as they initially thought. After talking to a few experienced people about the subject they all had the same opinion, “All builders think they know best and they are the dog’s bollocks”. It’s important to keep this in mind when tendering to builders and not be fooled by the builder’s spiel. Stick to the details of the build. This is where the architect is handy. A good architect knows when the contractors know what they are talking about and if the calculations make sense. It’s worth having an architect onboard to help in this process.

I also miss asking the architect for advice. The build would have progressed further to date if the architect was still onboard as they would have checked the build at certain stages and made sure the builder had the materials needed to schedule.

I’m still in touch with the architect for situations where I’m really stuck.

Here’s an example of how the architect can think out of the box. It’s based on the article ‘Panic Button‘.

I messaged the architect asking how we can resolve the depth issue for the kitchen units and counter to fit between the window and wall. We were short of the 60cm needed. Ideally, we really we needed the depth of 65cm.

The architect replied with an easy fix.

‘You bring the plaster in so you don’t see the frames of the windows internally…you only have to do it to the large Windows, you can do the bay if you want’

Make the windows frameless.

scetch sent in what’s app

Frameless window design

Brilliant Idea. One I would never have thought off.

Architect Details

Company Name: Edite

Tel: 0208 133 7446




There seems to be another freeze on the build. There’s been no work for over a week as the builder waits for the steel to arrive. The suppliers do all the fabrication as requested by the builder. We met the engineer on the 18th Sep to go through sections the contractors were unsure of. The engineer explained in detail to the builder and he seemed to understand. Fingers crossed it’s measured correctly as it’s a big part of the cost for our project. For the record, this should have been completed at least one month ago. It’s another reason why it’s worth having an architect involved if it’s your first time as they would have overseen the project needs in advanced.

STA Electrics in Slllooooouuuuuggggghhhhh

Thanks you to the lad’s (and lady) from STA Electrics. These guys know what  their doing. I purchased the plug sockets and switches for the first floor from these guys. My brother recommended them. They offer all sorts of electrics including AV, lighting, CCTV, etc.

My brother was adamant I went for a brand called Varilight for the dimmers, stitches and plug sockets. Apparently their the dogs *******. My wife preferred another brand as they offered a better colour, black nickel. The Varilight range doesn’t have the colour yet. I feel really bad for still going ahead with Varilight, however, there’s good reason. A few of our switches require to have dimmers and switches on the same plate. The black nickel brand only offered only dimmer switches on one plate which meant the dimmer would have acted like a switch. Seems minor but I didn’t like this idea. I want a switch to be a conventional switch and dimmer to be a round knob only used to dim the light. I also think the brushed steel I went for is more of a neutral colour.

If you have not been to STA Electrics in Slough, GO. Check out the fully automated Cinema room they have implemented. Wow

Note: I purchased switches/plug sockets with screws. After seeing screw-less switches/plug sockets in store, I’ll most likely order it for the ground floor. Varilight do offer screw-less. To install it you have to make sure the plastering is spot on.

All Lighting in the Cinema Room was implemented by Kam from Onlight