The Dreambuild saw Mr and Mrs DIY embark on their biggest project to date. Set out to design and build a beautiful eight-bedroom family house on the outskirts of their home in Liverpool, includes its own TV studio workshop within the grounds.
The house is split into two sides. One has a large open plan living room, dining room and kitchen spanning more than 16 metres long, with a utility room attached, a small hallway with a cloak room toilet and storeroom leading to the gym. There’s also one long open plan hallway joining both sides of the house together. The other side has a large office, guest bathroom and two downstairs guest bedrooms, as well as a drive-in carport.
The two upper floors of the house are at opposite sides which you can get to via two separate sets of stairs. The master bedroom is at one side, with two other bedrooms attached acting as walk-in wardrobes and nursery for Nelly. Our bedroom sounds random, but it works, we have an open plan bathroom within the bedroom! Our bed is in the centre of the room with a huge headboard acting as a partition, there’s also a flush walk-in double shower behind the bed that looks out on our bedroom balcony though a large sliding by-fold glassed window wall. A separate toilet cubic of course although there is a large free-standing bath is in the middle of our bedroom looking out of two large floor to ceiling windows!! Yes, I did say it sounded random!
Then the other side of the upper floor has a bar and games room (Craig’s favourite part of the house because it’s got a full-size pool table in!) It also has two further guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom. The games room leads onto the 90M2 balcony through another set of by-fold glazed doors.
October 2017– One of the wettest October’s in almost 40 years saw the start of the major project. There was a very old five-bedroom detached house in the centre of the site which was flattened to the ground within a couple of hours, all the old bricks were crushed up onsite and later recycled as hardcore and spread under the new driveway.
Despite the harsh weather we marched on excavating the foundations, operating an old 7.5 tonne twin track digger that he hired locally, poured the concrete strip foundations, bricked up to the DPC levels, (damp proof of course) then with the help of a huge lifting crane laid the Forterra’s reinforced, insulated, concrete block and beam ground floor systems. The team covered around 240m2 in just one day! It was hard to believe but we managed to catch it all on film for our new documentary (watch this space!)
Work suddenly grinded to a halt in mid-December when Craig’s Mum sadly lost her battle with Alzheimer’s. She’d been slowly suffering from this horrific illness for over 12 years. Craig’s build took a well-earned early Christmas break following this.
Craig and Laura also had their wedding to plan that was being hold at the beautiful Peckforton Castle in Cheshire on 9th February 2018 so they always knew they were going to postpone all construction work on site until the spring after they returned from their winter honeymoon in Colorado (snowboarding in -28 Degrees!) Really honeymoon, are you kidding!
May 2018– The site was reopened, and the weather was looking more promising. To help get the build back on schedule Craig drafted in his old mate Ian Hodgkinson. Ian runs a very successful bricklaying firm and kindly lent Craig a small handful of tradesmen to come and work with the local team. Before we knew it the main structure of the brick and block work was up to the height of the first floor
Scaffolding was quickly erected around the outer skin of Forterra’s deep red-faced brickwork (Clockhouse mixture). Floor joists and floorboards were fitted onto the internal thermalite block work within days giving a good solid first floor platform to work from. Before we knew it the rest of the facing bricks and internal thermal blocks were laid right up to the roof height and we were preparing to install the main house flat roofs.
The house is quite an unusual size and shape with 18 corners! When Craig first purchased the land, it came with planning content to build two separate detached five-bedroom houses with detached garages. So, Craig submitted a new design to the local authorities to build just one large house but using up the same footprint on the land as the plans were for the original two new houses, along with a separate 100m2 workshop / TV studio.
Flat roofs don’t often sound that appealing on a new build house but when you design the system the way we have it really can work well. As well as this it helps the appearance if one large house looks like two standard houses linked together from the front!
After a couple of days on site training with the Cormar roof team we successfully completed a full GRP glass fibre flat roofed system on both the house and a mono pitch roof for the workshop, soon to be completely covered in grass.
The house now needed to be fully watertight and required 29 windows, three side doors, one main front door and eight triple opening, glazed aluminium by-fold sliding doors. So, we used Eurocell profiles for their materials and got local company called Warwick Windows to fabricate and fit them.
Now we were fully water, wind and weather tight which was a stroke of luck because the winter weather of 2018 had soon crept in. There were times that we still had to keep closing the site on and off while we focused on our other business and tackled the UK weather. Our main front door was such a size that we had to find a specialist company called RK Door systems all the way down in Cornwall that made commercial sized domestic security pivot doors with smart opening technology.
It’s now January 2019 freezing again and the big push to try and get the house somewhat finished for before Laura’s due date which was 5th March 2019. Oh, did I mention that Laura was also seven months pregnant at this point!
As you can imagine the pressure really was on, we now had around 15 to 20 tradesmen working in most parts of the house, electricians and plumbers working both inside and outside. There was also carpenters fitting 21 internal doors and frames, skirting boards, kitchen fitters installing our island style kitchen and utility room, and plasterers everywhere!
Plus, tile fitters laying both wall and floor tiles in four separate bathrooms and slash backs in the kitchen and utility areas (although we still managed to produce and shoot some great ‘How To’ videos for Tile mountain in 5 areas of the house while the rest of the build continued )
The painters and decorators arrived (The Wadey brothers! old school pals of mine) and I managed to spray paint on all the walls and ceilings using one of Wagner’s pro range paint sprayer to help save time and boy it saved weeks if not months of manpower.
Once we had the base coat on Laura then started getting really creative with Frenchic’s chalk and mineral wall paints. Now with some great colours on the walls and the floor tiles grouted it was at this point the house really started to come alive and feel like it was going to become our forever home!
Carpet filters were installing carpets in our bedroom and Nelly’s new nursery. Outside the landscapers were shaping up the front, side and rear driveway going all the way up to the new workshop with a further 300 tonnes of crushed recycled bricks delivered and spread then levelled to run into the new drains. Talking of drains the small side garden that looked out from our gym had a below the ground ten thousand litre water harvest system installed. It collects the rainwater from our flat roofs so we can reuse it in our toilets, gardens and workshop.
Over the past two years there has been many breaks and weather delays to the Dreambuild work schedule. We also got married, became first time parents, went on holidays and even starting two new companies working alongside Craig’s existing media commitments and landlord duties. This meant we ended up working 49 full hard-working weeks with the team on this Dreambuild adventure which we can honestly say we’re extremely proud of.