Building Land

Building on Difficult Land

Q - I am currently looking to renovate a building that was part of an old water reservoir, but soil is piled up in front up to window height and it needs removing. What kind of costs would be involved in shifting this material?

A - The cost of hiring an excavator and dumper to dig out this material and deposit it on site should be about £45 per hour including fuel and a driver. But you should allow an extra £15 per cubic metre if it is to be taken off site to a tip about 5 miles away. You describe the material as soil and if this is the case you may be able to sell it or at least have it taken away without charge.

Q - I am building a garage built into a hillside. The garage roof height will be such that it can also be used as a walk-on decked area. Can you recommend a cost effective material for this area?

A - You have a wide variety of choices but I would go for the simplest to construct.  150 x 50mm softwood joists (£36m2) covered by reinforced wood wool roofing
slabs(£30m2) and tiling (say £40m2) would be one answer but you there are many others.

Q - There is a 30% slope on the site where I want to build a 3,000 square foot house. Please advise me on the piling costs and also a cost comparison with building on level site.

A - It is dearer to build on a slope but piling is an expensive solution to the problem. Is it not possible to excavate into the slope and construct a split-level house half in the hill and half outside it? This method usually adds about 15% to normal building costs.

Q - I would love to build a timber framed-house that is between 80% and 100% self sufficient. I have been searching the internet but have not really found anything suitable and am finding advice hard to come by. Do you know of any sites that specialise in this sort of thing?

A - If you are looking for self-sufficiency for financial reasons you may be a little disappointed because a lot of the systems on offer have a long payback time before breaking even. Google Environmental Products and Package Companies and you will find some useful information there.

Q - We are considering buying a derelict barn that has detailed planning permission to be converted into a 350 square metre house. Could you give us an estimate of the likely conversion costs?

A - The condition of the roof and external walls are usually the key factors in barn conversion costs. If they are in good condition the costs should be about 60% of new build costs so if you were building to an standard of £1,000 per square metre, the costs would be 60% x £1,000 = £600 m2. But this figure would increase if the standard of the specification was improved. You should allow about £10,000 to £15,000 for paths, drains, fencing and the like. The trouble is that no two barns are alike so you must treat these figures with caution. But don't commit any funds to this project until you have obtained some indicative costs or quotations from a builder.

Q - I am considering buying a garage in Lancashire and building a house on the plot. The last petrol tank (4,000 gallon) is still in the ground and must be decomissioned. Who should I contact to remove it and what would be would the approximate cost of the work.

A - Decomissioning petrol tanks is a job for experts and their work is closely supervised by the Health and Safety people. I would approach your local H& S office and ask for a list of approved contractors and obtain quotations from them.

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