Building a house...lots of help needed!

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12 years 4 months ago #21875 by kate
We've never done it before so we don't know what we don't know [}:)][}:)]

The site has been surveyed (and geotech-ed) and the house plans are just about ready for us to approve. So...what should we be thinking about or doing before we commit ourselves?

We've pretty much decided on timber framing, some adobe internal walls, concrete floor and cedar vertical cladding. We'll be off grid so need to be careful about electricity usage. We'll be relying on solar pv panels for electricity and solar panels for hot water. We will also have a Lady Kitchener for extra heating and underfloor heating.

We're debating between getting a solid fuel cooker/wetback in the kitchen or using a gas back up for the main hot water. Decisions, decisions.

The house is small, only 2 bedrooms, but will have an office and a coolroom [8D]

I want timber joinery and lots of bi-fold doors but the price is scary [xx(][xx(] I'm not a fan of aluminium joinery even though I know it's easier to look after, more draughtproof and cheaper.

As I said, this is our first build and we don't want to stuff it up completely so any advice will be gratefully received.

Cheers
Kate

Web Goddess

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12 years 4 months ago #316144 by wino
All I can suggest - having had two quotes for some timber joinery this week and finding one was over twice as much as the other one - is get more than one joinery quote.

Never have a hangover - stay drunk

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12 years 4 months ago #316147 by kate
Wow - that's a big difference... :(

Web Goddess

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12 years 4 months ago #316149 by judes
At least 3 quotes if not 4, We had a $40,000 difference on a $30,000 job with the 4th company (recommended by the draughtsman) being the cheapest and the best. Talk to the draughtsman/architect about good builders.

Jude
Don't get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.

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12 years 4 months ago #316164 by Pumpkingirl

wino;301313 wrote: All I can suggest - having had two quotes for some timber joinery this week and finding one was over twice as much as the other one - is get more than one joinery quote.

I would second that for everything, my quotes were very, very widely spaced.

I did think about gas, but from what I've read it will only ever go up and up in price, so for future proofing I went with solar and a fireplace/wetback, as firewood can be grown and as far as I know, the sun should be free for a while yet :D

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12 years 4 months ago #316167 by GrantK

Kate;301305 wrote: We've pretty much decided on ...cedar vertical cladding.

We had a conservatory at our Auckland house, built exactly as you describe.

In order to keep it looking nice, I had to re-stain the cedar every second year, which meant using 30 Seconds to remove the black mould, then carefully water-blasting it, then 2 coats of CD50 stain. Even then, the north wall went black due to the sun, whereas other walls stayed in their nice golden colour as dictated by the stain. And then there was the perennial problem of cleaning away the spiders' webs which the cedar cladding seemed to be a magnet for.

Cedar has to be the least maintenance-free cladding ever invented. My Brother-in-Law built a huge house in the Waitakeres entirely clad in cedar and so far as I know, he would never use the stuff again.

Think carefully before going down this route Kate. It will cost you a lot of time and/or money to keep it looking nice.

P.S. We saw these amazing building blocks at a house site in Kerikeri the other day. They are made from clay which has been fired in a kiln and are widely used in Europe and the UK. Because of the air passages inside the blocks, you don't need any other insulation in your walls. We are thinking seriously about using them for our house build. Website is here:

http://www.ziegelwerk-bellenberg.de/

I haven't found who the NZ agent is yet, so if anybody knows, please pass on the info.

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12 years 4 months ago #316168 by cantyguy
I'm doing the sums as well and about to build. Huge price variations so shop around.
Have you considered UPVC woodgrain bifolds, windows etc, around the same price as good quality aluminium joinery. check this out http://www.warmwindows.co.nz/images/hardware/entrencedoors/24.1.jpg

For hot water consider Solar/wetback/electric combination. I had this on the farm. Most days the solar was suffcient, winter the wetback was brilliant. If you strike conditions that aren't suitable for solar or you don't won't to light the fire. Use your backup generator with the hot water switch turned on.

I would definately have a gas hob just for the convience. A 9kg bottle used to last me around 3 months.

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12 years 4 months ago #316169 by Pumpkingirl

GrantK;301342 wrote: In order to keep it looking nice, I had to re-stain the cedar every second year...

I'd also second that, I wanted to have my cedar joinery left as is, but my joiner uncle strongly advised me against it due to the ongoing work involved.

It does weather to silver, if you like that, but a lot of people don't, and it will crack and split without some kind of barrier between it and the sun.

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12 years 4 months ago #316171 by digby
I love our Lady Kitchener :)

Bye
Digby [:)]

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12 years 4 months ago #316184 by GrantK

cantyguy;301343 wrote: I'm doing the sums as well and about to build. Huge price variations so shop around.
Have you considered UPVC woodgrain bifolds, windows etc, around the same price as good quality aluminium joinery. check this out http://www.warmwindows.co.nz/images/hardware/entrencedoors/24.1.jpg

We saw those windows a few years ago at a Home Show. At the time I was impressed by their multi-point latching mechanisms which are to European standard, unlike the single-point latches that are widely used here.

I wondered how durable they would prove to be in the face of the UV levels we typically experience here, and especially in the Far North. According to the FAQ, these windows have proven their durability for more than 60 years, in environments harsher than NZ. That is encouraging, but I wonder if they discolour after a few years. You know the way some of the old light switches did before they came out with UV-stabilised plastic. I would hate to see my white window frames turning a chalky yellow colour...

Anyway, thanks for the link Cantyguy, the UPVC idea certainly bears further consideration due to the excellent thermal qualities which they offer.

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12 years 4 months ago #316188 by Hawkspur
How long are you planning to live there? Budget does determine all, but look at how long you want the whole thing to last.
I would go for the timber joinery with mutipoint latching rather than PVCu. The timbers used in these that I have seen are very stable and I would expect them to outlast PVCu - maintenance will be required, as on any material, but timber joinery in 120 year old houses that have not been consistently maintained is often still going strong because of the quality of the material and the detail, and I seriously doubt that any PVCu would match this.
Plus coatings have come a long way in that time and need less work.
Avoid any clear coating on external timber, unless you do want extra work. Clear coatings are always thinner than paint, so can never be as durable.
I would not use cedar or treated pine as they are soft.
Aluminium is only less work in the first few years. Everything needs to be looked after. I have seen fifteen year old examples where the seals died, the coatings or anodising perished, and the latches were broken or loose.

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12 years 4 months ago #316191 by kate
Thanks everyone - lots to think about...

We were planning on leaving the cedar to silver as we plan to blend into the environment. We'll have another think about that.

I'll go through your suggestions about windows but have to say that Hawkspur has stated my views perfectly :D

We'll get lots of quotes. I had no idea that they'd vary so much.

Digby, you know how much I loved our LK. I wouldn't have anything else :D

Keep it coming...

Cheers
Kate

Web Goddess

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12 years 4 months ago #316193 by Hawkspur
Before you sign anything get a written programme for the work, and a confirmed price, with any exclusions spelled out.
Price the exclusions and add them up!

Have a contingency sum say 20% that you can call on, in case an "unforseeable" occurs, eg: the soil has a soft spot you didn't find earlier,[:0] and foundations change, or you suddenly realise you hadn't added in the carpet, curtains, door hooks, and appliances, [;)] or a building delay means you have to rent somewhere for 6 months you hadn't planned on, or all of the above! :( But don't use this unless you have to.

With bigger building companies, ask who will be your site manager/foreman. They make a huge difference to the running of the job, because they organise all the other trades and you don't want a change of foreman as things may get overlooked.
Look at the payment schedule and your budget, and check they tally.
Check insurances are in place before things start. The contractor usually insures the works until handover unless it is an alteration, so ask for their insurance info, including cover for them running over yours or your neighbours stock, car, glasshouse etc etc. [:0]
Watch out for cheaper prices that "tag" out or exclude some things. They can add up to make the job total more in the end. Make sure you compare apples with apples :D

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12 years 4 months ago #316194 by Hawkspur
I was meaning the window joinery when I talked about cedar, cladding is slightly different. If you want silvered cedar cladding, it is not as much an issue because it isn't a moving and more precise thing, so the softness is not as significant. But be aware it will probably get sooty mildew especially where it is sheltered. If you don't want that dark marking, cedar probably isn't for you, unless cleaning it with bleach appeals. Some environments are more prone to this, from nearby trees exuding sap into the air, such as maples etc. Shady sites are worse, because the sun helps kill mildew.

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12 years 4 months ago #316196 by kiwi_jon

GrantK;301342 wrote:

P.S. We saw these amazing building blocks at a house site in Kerikeri the other day. They are made from clay which has been fired in a kiln and are widely used in Europe and the UK. Because of the air passages inside the blocks, you don't need any other insulation in your walls. We are thinking seriously about using them for our house build. Website is here:

http://www.ziegelwerk-bellenberg.de/

I haven't found who the NZ agent is yet, so if anybody knows, please pass on the info.

This is all I can find

Ziegel NZ
108 Dick Urlich Road
RD 3
KAITAIA

No phone number.

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