March 17, 2005

Mortgage Process - Part 1

Mortgage Hunting - From beginning of Novemeber to the mid of December I spent a good bit of time, on forums and
asking questions and then also reading their suggestions.
I was impressed with the First Active current account mortgage, liked to your current account and it meant the more you had in your current account everyday the less interest you paid.
I knew a lad of a forum who suggested I deal with him and he would sort it all out for us.
He works for Hasting Finacial Services in Westport.
To say he was helpful would be an understatement and his advice was invaluable. Also he meet us in his own house in the evening which saved us taking time off work.

We got ALL the paperwork together, talk about paperwork!! Letters from work, P45, letter of evidence of address, bank, credit card, loan, saving statements

So off it went, looked good from his point of view. I got another engineer as my own mate was building his own hut and could not supervise the build.
Got the lad Michael Conway, Cashel, Ayle, Westport, Co Mayo to oversee the job for me. Michael sent me his professional indemnity insurance certs, qualifications and estimate costings for the house.

Took until probably mid - end of January before we had it altogher, took longer than we thought!

Submitted the application and go pre-approval no issues at all, excellent, pencilled the timber frame kit in for the end of March.

We filled out the forms, got life cover etc in place and signed the contracts at the end of February with the hope of starting at the 1st week of March to dig the site.

March 15, 2005

Planning Process - Part 4

Two days really dragged, I rang the Planning Office at 11am to see if we had any news, nothing had been updated, "Ring back after lunch", barely eat the lunch with the worry but the determination to get back on the horse and start looking that weekend again, I had been on the internet and had a few potentials picked out to view at the weekend.

Got back to work and rang them about 3pm, the answer was a "planning granted but there are 17 conditions" Yippee!
Who cared, we had it now, how bad could the conditions be!!

So on the following Monday the letter, got my mother to read the conditions, some I took in others I had to read myself, did not seem to bad.

Conditions were standard,
5 year occupancy,
X percolation (no treatment system!!, don't ask),
X amount back from road,
1m above road,
"Crossed" windows, once vertically and once horizontally in the middle! (not happy about that one!!),
local stone on front of house and 60ft of front wall (no cladding),
hedging to ge planted between us and neighbours and the railway line,
government contribution.
Fill in the area between wall and road to allow parking.

The rest were standard so I was told!

So we had it conditions or not, big deal!

Next stage was to get married, have the honey moon and get ourselves together to apply for the mortgage.

March 14, 2005

Planning Process - Part 3

So back to the planning, after many extension requests and information going to and fro we were approaching D day.
We got a call a couple of days before the decision to tell us that the application was going to be refused. To say we were disappointed would have been an understatement, this was September over 8 months later, a month before our wedding and it really was not what we wanted to hear.

I have been critical of the Planning Authority, rightly so in some cases but in fairness to the planner we were given 3 days to see if we could submit changes that could push the application through.

I got my engineer to call the planner and after a quick discussion the only solution was to redesign the house over nite and come up with a new layout.
So we toyed with a few new ideas, the biggest issue was the the "L" of the house was too near the percolation area, and if we pushed the house forward we were too near the road.
So we had to remove the "L" and re-arrange the house layout and the house layout on the site.

After only about 1 hour and a bit of discussion we decided on a layout. We decided to sleep on it over night and I go to and started ripping through the numerous house books we had in our position. In one a design hit me in the face and we decided it looked top notch.

So we redid the cad drawings and I posted them into the planning office the next morning.

What we had now as a new layout was that the entrance and sitting room, toilet would remain, the door into the study was to go and double doors would now open into the old study, now dining room. Off the dining room would be a sun lounge with 5 windows and a door onto decking. The two side widows of the sun lounge were going to be triangular at the top to add a bit of character.

The kitchen now remained the kitchen but was now almost the same size as the old kitchen and dining room together! (Something we would find out to be an expensive change!)
The utility remained but now had a door out the back.

So we waited....

March 04, 2005

Getting the Quotes

During all the planning process I got to work on getting quotations, we had decided that we were definately building a timber frame house, we also wanted UFH ( UnderFloor Heating) and also a ground sourced heatpump (GSHP or Geothermal)

I submitted my plans for a timber frame quote to almost 40 timber frame companies. The price differences were amazing.

I sent off the plans for UFH and GEO to almost 20 companies, once again the differences were suprising.

The reason we wanted a timber frame was 2 fold, 1st because of it's speed, the 2nd was because of it insulation properties and I lived in a timber frame house in Galway and it was really warm and easy to heat.

We wanted the UFH because it is a lovely feeling to walk on warm ground and the ignorant rads are not on the wall.

The Geothermal we had came across in a friends house in Galway in 2000. Himself and his wife must have been one of the 1st to install it and they were very happy with it.
The concept is that there is a constant heat in the ground at a dept of 2ft or deeper of between 9 - 11 degrees C.
A liquid, water and anti-freeze or a refrigerant (DX) is pumped around a loop of pipes which are buried in the ground, the liquid absorbs the heat and takes it back to the HP(Heat Pump),
Here the heat is extracted and pumped using electricity to 35 Degress C for you UFH or using a heat exchanger for instant hot domestic water.

For example it is suggested that for our house we should heat our house and provide constant hot water for between 500 and 700 euro, time will tell!!

I also sent off the plans to tradesmen and window providers.

Also travelled around to a few self build shows.. some good some, brutal!

March 02, 2005

Planning Process - Part 2

So eventually we got another letter, this time there were issues that the house was too near the percolation are and also too near the railway line, so we had to move it.

We attempted a number of positions on the site and settled on one where we thought would be sufficent, the big issue was that we needed to be 20m minimum away from the percolation area.

Another issue that came up was with the trial hole and the tests we carried out.
It was noted that the person who carried out these tests needed to have indemnity insurance for carrying out trial hole/percolation tests.
Since my mate, who is fully qualified and experienced, worked for another company, he did not have this insurance so I had to go and source someone else, after a number of phone calls I got the same name off a number of people rang him and got him to carry out the tests.
He came back and told us we would need to have a full treatment system, his T-Value was twice ours, meaning that he suggested that it took twice as long for the water he poured to drain away compared to the water we poured into the hole.......

We had no real choice but to go with him and resubmit the results.

So we passed in all our results and changes again. 3rd time lucky.....

March 01, 2005

The Planning Process - Part 1

The planning process as we discover is an "interesting" journey.

We furnish our local COCO with all relevant documents, letters from work, bank statements, plans, site layouts etc.
We assumed their was going to be issues but to be honest we did not think that it would first of all take so long and secondly redesign our house!

The first issue they had was the sight line of the house, a small omission by us, we fixed it and resubmitted.
The after 12 weeks we got our first set of conditions.

We had to, in writing, explain exactly why we needed to build, and why in the location.
We also had to sign a 5 year occupancy clause.
We had to move the house X amount away from the front of the site and X amount away from the railway line which ran along side.
We also had to get a letter from Irish Rail to state that they had no issue with us building close to the railway line.
We got the letter and they had no issues.

We then submitted all the new items to the planning section again and waited........