Get planning, make perfect
THE WALLS are up and the roof is on, now it’s time for some really serious planning. In the case of an alteration, it’s time to prepare for dust.
Let’s start with the dust. No matter how much plastic and masking tape you or the contractor use, dust is going to penetrate into all areas of the house, so be prepared for it. Work with the builder, discuss your concerns and together cover as much as possible and remove valuable objects, which can be damaged by abrasive substances. Don’t ask the workforce to help move your treasured possessions; Sod’s Law says something will go wrong.
Most of the dust is caused by grinding out chases. But with proper planning the pipes or conduits could have been built in initially. Before plastering begins ensure that all pipes and conduits have been fitted. Chases can be cut through the plaster later, but I have yet to see a chase cut into plaster which has been patched 100 percent.
Using your plans, cut the shapes of your furniture to scale and work out where you want to place the electrical plug points, lights and light switches. Remember you can never have too many plug points, and overloaded adaptors are one of the main causes of domestic fires.
So think and think again before you hand over your layout to the builder and don’t forget to mention at what height you want your plug points. A point above a work surface may look a little unsightly, but it is much easier to access than something tucked in a corner below, and believe me, as you get older, ease of access is paramount.
Think past plumbing and electrics: TV cables, telephone wires, burglar alarm wires, surround sound or hi-fi wires and computer cables can all be run in conduits out of sight, giving a much neater final finish, but make sure you plan before the plastering starts.
All items must be well protected from the effects of cement and other corrosive elements, so ensure that items such as aluminium windows arrive on site covered in a protective coating, and that this is not removed until all the surrounding finishes have been completed. Remember to check that the backs or hidden parts of each frame have received the specified protective coatings: for example, the backs of timber frames should receive a coat of wood primer before being built in. Also remember to check that where applicable the correct damp coursing has been fitted around the frames and built into the cavities.
Standard doors are 2 032mm or 6’8” high, so it is important to ensure that the frames are fitted at the correct finished floor level. I remember seeing a case where the door frame had been placed on top of the concrete surface bed, with no allowance being made for the finishing screed. Obviously the client was not happy that he ended up with doors 50mm shorter than they should have been.
Now is the time to really communicate with your builder as he needs to know and understand what you want and expect. From here on nothing can be hidden, so get it right first time. If necessary take your builder to another site or showroom.
Finally: every time you change your mind it is going to cost you money. You cannot expect the contractor to work for nothing if you are continually changing your mind.
Next week: Plastering
UNDER WRAPS: Protective wrapping on this aluminium frame will remain in place until surrounding finishes have been completed.