Sunshine on the 30 cubic metres of wet concrete that forms the lower slab. February 2011

More steel arrives, mainly for the retaining walls. February 2011

At long last the groundworks were over. A solid concrete base and retaining walls were finally completely formed. It took a couple of weeks with multiple pours for the entire slab, walls and steps. As soon as possible the shuttering was struck, much of it by Jonny himself, the layout of the house started to form more definitive lines. These became even more clear as the groundworks’ contractors began to finish up on site, and the tight space was gradually emptied of materials and tools.

However, as the spaces became defined, Jonny had to put up with anxious mutterings from Kate about the size of rooms (having had to share a bedroom with an office for the last 6 months, and another 6 or more to come; luckily, she was more than very happily surprised with the sizes in the end product), but all in all everyone was happy – very happy. We are out of the mud – at last! It was a long haul, but we did it.

As soon as the concrete slab was down in the back portion, Jonny set to, with limited help from myself and the boys, on erecting a little garden shed as a site hut for the builders. I have never seen a more flimsy bit of kit, and over the past month and more it has been relocated several times but somehow is still standing. It has proved invaluable as a place for the men on site to take shelter from the rain, eat their sandwiches and keep drawings and tools dry. The peculiarity of this funny little building sitting among our plot, with the build gradually going on around it, never fails to raise to raise a smile from me when I visit site or look at photos of the progress.

A clean, dry base to our home. 2 March 2011

Concrete being cast for the front retaining wall and front step. 2 March 2011

A clear view of the concrete retaining walls of the boys’ bedroom, illustrating how far down from ground level we have gone in order to achieve another level at the rear of the property. March 2011

As soon, as the rear slab was dry, work began on the blockwork wall that separates the neighbouring development’s car park from Deep Lock House. Being blockwork, this went up pretty quickly, and before we knew it, the two sites had been separated. As we have dug down into the ground, the wall is fairly imposing from within our site, but also makes the site feel more real – there will be a building on here eventually.

On completion of the concrete, work began on the waterproofing and gas membrane that is to sheath the inside of the house. Eggcrate-style plastic was installed all along the retaining walls, and then layered with a green foil. The building was getting dressed up!

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