About This Section

I have always been interested in building and construction. There is a branch of my family who are all in the trade, and seeing as a child the improvements that my Uncle Ernie was able to make to their home I was mightily impressed, and wanted to be able to do similar. Later, while still living at home, my parents had a couple of extensions built and I was there, absorbing every detail of how things were done, and even chipping in and helping where they would let me.

Since then, over the years, I have taken on increasingly ambitious tasks, learning wherever I can by watching and talking with tradespeople that I need to hire, and sometimes also learning through my own mistakes. Nowadays we have the amazing resource that is the Internet, and with a bit of common sense and the right attitude you can learn how to do pretty much anything you like on YouTube.

In 2016 we embarked on a very large and ambitious extension and remodelling of our house. After one false start, we engaged (supposedly) professional builders to do the major structural works, although my intention was always that I would fit the kitchen and first floor ensuite myself. However, we were badly let down by these builders, and as things turned out I ended up doing way more than I ever planned. So here is the story...

Great Excavations

Our house was originally a three-story mid-terrace townhouse with a steeply terraced garden at the rear. Our full plans were to extend into the loft to make a new ensuite bedroom, extend out at the back making a new kitchen and family room, and convert the original kitchen/diner on the first floor to a further ensuite bedroom.

One of the first tasks was to excavate many, many tonnes of soil and stones from the rear of the house, requiring a new retaining wall some 4m further back, and the building of new steps and flower beds

This mini digger was crucial to the task, both digging and breaking up the old retaining wall with a Pecker attachment.