Groundwork is pretty much what it says on the tin and, for us, the first stage of our build has meant getting rid of an awful lot of earth.
We always understood that digging down to accommodate our new properties would involve some high costs.
Some advice we heeded was to make sure you get an accurate estimate of how much earth will be coming out, as it’s likely to be way more than you think.
There’s a multiplier effect here: every cubic metre at least triples in volume once you dig it up. And the cost of disposal is generally pretty steep.
The other risk is what type of ground you’re digging into. Would we hit hard rock or would it slice out easily?
We considered doing some trial bore holes, but in the end we decided to save that expense and take a chance in the hope that it wouldn’t be too bad.
We chose to bring in an experienced local ground work company, led by Brent Rosevear, who could both excavate the site and remove the earth at a fixed cost for the estimated 2,000 tonnes that would need to come out. Fixed, that was, unless we hit hard rock!
Brent’s advice and expertise proved invaluable, both to ensure we established our levels correctly and safely and in helping us to work in the most efficient and cost effective way.
Fortunately, as we’ve dug down so far the ground has been soft and easy. We can now stop holding our breath and enjoy a significant amount of relief.
Carrying out this part of the project early, before the build proper begins in May 2018, means that we now have one aspect of practical and financial uncertainty out of the way.
Whilst we still had easy digger access to our garden area (and the diggers themselves), we also took the opportunity to think about redesigning the landscaping layout – or as my mum puts it “gardening with a JCB.” And it’s certainly exciting to make a start.
The word ‘landscaping’ sounds so simple and inviting, doesn’t it? But once you start to move earth (and when it’s raining, mud), the small hump of grass you wanted to level soon becomes a giant pile of muck. So it was crucial to have a clear plan and advice up front.
We wanted to alter our access, create steps, level the garden, have sheltered areas, replace an old garden studio and ensure we make the most of the views – all whilst blending the garden into the new property.
For this we found a brilliant local landscape designer, Alex Hobbs Garden Design. His guidance and design flair have been well worth it, saving us time and cost.
Plus, he’s turned what were some random ideas from us into a complete and coherent garden design.
Learn more about how the layout and garden design are taking shape, including tips on landscape design, in my next blog – where I’ll also take you on a video tour of the site.