The truths of building: You're bound to change your mind

The house sold, so now it's back to the build and it has certainly been cracking on while I've been busy at open homes.

READ MORE: How we sold our house by ourselves

With the progress, I've come up against yet another of the truths of building – that you'll probably change your mind during the process at least once.

Hopefully it's going to be a warm box

Above: Our box before the 'lid' went on. 

I've talked about our self-buttressing structure, and now you can see it in the flesh. Well, in the concrete at least.

The block walls are finished and our box has a lid which provides the all important strength in the structure. It also provides the large thermal mass for upstairs which will absorb all the northern sunlight we'll be throwing at it, as well as storing it for the rest of the building.

With high spec insulation, fancy German ventilation and our big mass of thermal energy, we're hoping that the house will maintain a pretty constant temperature in both winter and summer. It's a plus for a growing family, and something I'll talk about in more detail when we get into the specifics of air tightness membranes and insulation options.

A concrete floor upstairs and a concrete ceiling downstairs

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For now though our box is indeed still a box, and while it's an expensive concrete lid, it was a pretty quick and straightforward lid.

Moreover, it's super strong – carpark strong – because the Speedfloor suspended concrete flooring system we've ended up using is often used for just that, parking cars on.

Above: The Speedfloor going down. 

The reason we chose it however is because you can get a pretty wide space without the need for posts and reinforcing – something that I'm very keen on in our open-plan living life style.

The system works by making a pouring platform with a bunch of relatively slender steel joists running the width of the room and ply filling the gaps between them. Steel mesh is placed on top (and all the cables and services in place) and the concrete is poured.

Above: The guys hard at work spreading out the concrete. 

Once the concrete has cured, the ply is taken away and the concrete is revealed both top and bottom.

It's an industrial look for sure, and I haven't decided yet if I'll paint the joists or the concrete or both (or neither), but I've seen it done a number of ways and it can look really beautiful (depending on your taste of course).

Above: The concrete getting all smoothed out (and the weather looking a lot better). 

Rooms marked out in chalk

In preparation for the frames arriving, all of the rooms are marked out in chalk on the newly finished concrete. And this is where I have been experiencing a few "changing-my-mind" moments.

Above: Reflections... sometimes they lead to changing one's mind. 

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks back, there are certain parts in the build where it feels big, then small, then huge, then small again.

I asked Mike, 'Our Man of Hammers', if this was one of those small moments, and he kinda wrinkled his nose at me and said, "yeah, sort of".

Not so much then … uh oh.

The problem was that as soon as I walked into what would be the family bathroom, I realised that it'd be pretty hard to swing a ghost-chip-eating version of a cat-on-a-diet in there.

It's not that small, but it's certainly not spacious. And with two boys who have the potential to follow in my six-foot-two brother's footsteps, making it tight from the get go might not be so smart.

Especially when even Mr Building Boxes, who is firmly of the belief that a large bathroom is a low priority, mentioned it was quite tight.

So the change will happen. 

To give that cat, and the boys, a bit more breathing space, we're axing the linen closet that was pushing into the bathroom.

That also means we can put in a two sided shower instead of an alcove one which, while it will be the same size, will feel bigger, because of the extra glass.

After watching countless couples have to up their costs because of changes they made to the design during the build process on various TV shows ('cos that's how you research this type of thing, right), we had sworn we would try very hard not to make any changes. And yet. Here we are.

It's a small change though. Might even save money. But still. It's a change. A salute to yet another of the seemingly irrefutable truths of building – there will be change.

And the linen closet?

Mr Building Boxes has managed to plan himself the mother of all garages. So the linen can go in the laundry and anything else that was supposed to go in there but which might now not fit can go into the garage.

That's what garages are for… right?

Michele Powles is a writer and mother of a lego engineer and destruction specialist. You can read more about their New Build Love over at or on Facebook

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