Nowadays houses must be draft-free and air tight. We used to place foam strips between the logs, this took care of the draft but it was not fully air-tight. Today we take a more rigorous approach: we completely wrap the house in an air-tight foil. Damp-open, but air-tight. We started wrapping yesterday, at the same time we are placing the main beams on the roof. These are maybe a little over-dimensioned, 60 kilos each, fully laminated, they will never bend.
End of February 2018 we posted some photos of a foundation where we would soon build a new log house. Now we are in June, and we can show some more photos of the progress so far.
How long does it take to build a house? That’s a question that we usually get during a first meeting with future clients. Can we build in 6 weeks? Or 8 weeks? Or half a year? We wrote a previous post which was, first and foremost, about the budgetting process. The budgetting is very important. Without a budget you can’t run a project, so your budget really is the starting point for your project. No budget, no house!
But once you have your budget set, then how do you proceed and come to an actual build? That is what we want to discuss here. The actual steps vary by country, here we will focus on The Netherlands.
In The Netherlands, before you actually apply for the building permit (“omgevingsvergunning”), most municipalities allow you to have a pre-consult (“vooroverleg”). The reason is that the cost of getting a building permit is quite high, so before you even try, most municipalities allow you to get a pre-consult, with only one purpose: do we have a serious chance to obtain a building permit for a house that looks approximately like this. So you compile a document with some basic drawings and some photos or artist impressions and you ask the municipality: “shall we give it a try, or should we not even bother?” Pre-consult will cost you max 500 euro, in some municipalities it is free.
How long does this phase take? That depends on many factors, but for now let’s say two months.
If the result of the pre-consult is positive, you go for step 2: applying for the building permit (“omgevingsvergunning”). This is a bit more work. No, wait, this is a lot more work, really a lot. Because now you need to compile a serious set of documentation about your project, with, a.o.:
- technical drawings with footprints, cuts at 1200 mm, foundation drawings, facades, details
- strength calculation for the foundation
- strength calculation for the house in accordance with EuroCode 5, possibly EuroCode 8 and taking into account snow loads wind loads
- energy performance calculation (EPC)
- environmental performance calculation (MPG)
- sound calculation
- ecological impact report
- ventilation plan
- heating plan
- fire safety plan
- and the list goes on and on …
Some of the above documents are always required, others are optional. But in any case, most future house owners will be unable to create these documents themselves, these documents are very technical by nature and you will need a specific engineering background. Forget about doing this yourself.
Compiling this set of documents takes time. We usually do it in 14 to 18 weeks, but sometimes it takes even more. After the the set of documents is ready, the municipality needs some time to take a look, in our experience that’s another 12 weeks, but it depends on the municipality.
As soon the municipality has approved your building permit, you would like to start building right away. But no: you have to wait another 6 weeks. The municipality publishes it’s decision to grant the building permit, and now your neighbors can object during a period of 6 weeks. Assuming none of the neighbors objects, only after 6 weeks will you be allowed to start.
Production of a house in our factories usually takes somewhere between 4 and 9 weeks. Transport to the building site takes 1 week. The time between start production and arrival of the first truck on the building site can be used for the construction of the foundation.
Assembly of a wooden house takes somewhere between 5 and 9 weeks, depending on the type of construction (log or panel), depending on the size of the house, and depending on the weather. About the weather: cold temperatures usually are not a problem for us, but wind can be a problem if we have more than 5 Beaufort and we have to lift panels, and what we really do not like is rain. But normally we should say: 5 to 9 weeks.
Finishing means installing electricity, plumbing, kitchen, bathroom, toilet, finished floor, sometimes stucco. Finishing a house can take anywhere between 4 weeks and 20 weeks, it all depends on your requirements.
Now Let’s Add It All Up
- 8 weeks pre-consult
- 14-18 plus 12 weeks building permit
- 6 weeks objections period
- 5-10 weeks production and transport
- 5-9 weeks assembly
- 4-20 weeks finishing
Total: 37 weeks minimum. But the minimum is when all goes smooth, and more realistically you will be looking at a year for the full procedure, or more.
Building a wooden house usually is associated with men on building sites working with drills and diggers and cranes that make lots of noise. But actually the drilling and the digging is only the last step in a long process, and all the other steps require drills nor diggers.
Last week our client started building the foundation for his new house. At the same time, we started production in our factory, 2000 kilometers away.
We are being asked regularly if we sell kit homes. For a kit home we would deliver one or more trucks or containers with building materials, a clear manual, and off you go. Like an IKEA-house.
No, we don’t deliver kit homes.
The Sears Catalog Home
But why not? Building a house is not rocket science. In the USA the Sears company has been delivering the Sears Catalog Home for years. Those were not garden sheds, those were full size houses for permanent living.
Lately many of our posts were about mud, mud and more mud. Building houses in the polder in The Netherlands sometimes is a muddy affair. But today one of our colleagues took a photo without any mud. Pointed her iPhone slightly upwards, and bingo, nice shot.
This is a house we are currently building in Oosterwold. We’re almost ready here, we will show some more photos soon.
Design: architect Edward van der Drift.
And we checked our archive and here is another shot from the same house. And the same iPhone. But different sky.
Constructing houses on reclaimed land (polder) usually means: mud. Lots of mud. Mud up to your knees, mud on the roof of your car, mud on your sandwich.
We skipped a few steps: drilling the 11 meter foundation poles, and then adding the concrete beams. All that has been done, and the foundation floor is ready to be placed on top. This is what the building site looks like today:
Safety is an important topic in the construction industry. In The Netherlands alone, 42 workers died on construction sites during the first six months of 2016. That makes the construction industry one of the more dangerous places to work. Most fatalities occur when workers drop from heights or operate heavy machinery.