Ground Works

Before any ground work could begin, the old timber shed was in the way. It was hand-built probably when the house was originally built and repaired several times over the years. To make the job easier I got a large sledge hammer, a smaller club hammer, crow bar and sabre saw with some good Bosch blades. There were a couple of bolts and large screws so keep the tools handy. I taped up the glass window using brown parcel tape just in case the glass shattered as I did not want any glass pieces mixed into the soil. Once it was knocked down, all the scrap timber was placed on a neat pile at the end of the garden. Whilst knocking it down I found there was a power point and light bulb inside. I carefully dismounted the power socket from the shed wall and followed the cable into the house. Fortunately the cable was coming out of the air vent. I knocked out the grill and pushed the wire and socket inside rather than disconnecting. Once all the timber from the walls were cleared, all that was left was the concrete slab underneath and the shed roof which had layers upon layers of felt. It weighed a ton. I must have used 3-4 blades in the sabre saw to cut it into smaller movable pieces. It was really tough to cut. After all that it was ready for a mini digger. Luckily I found a chap working up the road the week before. He charged £180 per day, that’s including the driver. It’s around the going rate. Well worth it as I later found.


I previously had a couple of quotes to dig the foundations. The best I found just to dig them out was £450 cash. Thinking it was going to take a couple of days I underestimated how much work this 1.5 tonne digger could do in a day. The mini digger and driver arrived spot on time 8am in the morning. There was plenty of space so access was a not a problem. He first began by knocking over the garden wall and lifting the slabs. He kept all the rubble on one pile and soil on another. It took about 3 hours work to clear the rubble and any shrubs. It took a further 2 hours to level the ground. The ground level was taken down to approx 350mm under the existing damp proof course. I decided to dig up the lawn at the front of the house where the car would drive into the garage shortly after which took a further half an hour including moving the soil to the rear of the house. The ground was almost flat at this point ready for marking using a white line spray paint can.


I decided to leave the garden wall foundations in as they were very solid and would not be in the way of the footings.  I also made sure that these foundations would not be in the way of the 100mm soil pipes that would take the air vents on the existing house to the outside of the new extension using 100mm drain pipe.


Later on the build I realised I made a mistake by having the rubble removed. It cost me another days digger hire at £180 and £160 for a grab wagon to take anyway the rubbish. I should have asked the mini digger to dig me a massive pit at the rear of the garden where I could dispose any unwanted rubble. If I had done this the garden lawn would not have been half a foot lower than the patio area as you will see later on. Also it would have saved me building retaining walls for the patio area.