Kitchen extension – the saga continued

Now then, where were we? Ah yes, we were part way through what turned out to be a pretty shoddy and very long, drawn out kitchen extension, a lot of which we (well, the husband) ended up rectifying!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sat here many months, well, over 18 of them, down the line writing this post with a half smile on my face now that all the issues are solved and we have a lovely, fully working, family kitchen. HURRAH!! However, that’s not to say those months of cooking for a family of 5 using a camping stove and microwave and being home alone overnight with 3 young children, with the open kitchen extension secured only by a large tarpaulin lashed to it, was pretty stressful at times!

This blog is going to focus on the continuation of the kitchen extension build and what we needed to rectify when we realised the build company wasn’t up to the job.

So, to recap, the blockwork of the extension was up, the scratch coat was applied, the roof structure was installed along with the 2 large Velux windows, the 2 main windows and bifold doors installed. We finally had a watertight extension and it felt absolutely great! While all this work had been going on Mike was working hard in the new loft rooms and shower room – more on those in a different instalment. While we were happy that extension work was all complete it wasn’t long before we had some pretty big concerns regarding 2 (ra critical) elements – the FLOOR and the ROOF!!!!!

Strap in – here’s what when wrong and what we had to do to fix it …

The Floor

As expected the builders did the ground work in the new part of the extension including installing air bricks, connecting pipes for air flow, filling the voids, laying insulation and finally screeding the entire footprint. Excellent. Job done we thought. However, we noticed within a very short while, that the screed was crumbling in places with relatively minimal use. We know that you need to be careful with screed and it isn’t always necessarily rock hard, but the degradation of areas was quite surprising. When we investigated by checking part of the floor by the utility room we realised how bad it was.

With concern for the strength of the floor and not happy to just patch it up and continue laying the flooring on top, Mike, who you will realise throughout these updates, is a perfectionist, made the decision to put it right. As much as his perfectionism can sometimes frustrate me, he is usually absolutely right. And thank goodness he did decide to fit it.

At this point we were getting frustrated with the builders as they were slow and the quality of their work was just not up to scratch. The next few weeks or so were totally unexpected as we agreed to take up the screed ourselves and re-lay it. It wasn’t long into doing this that we found a whole host of problems that we wouldn’t have found otherwise! I have to say, although the screed was softer than it should have been, it was full on hard manual labour – but hey, the kids came in handy and were happy to help (after all the dusty work had been done before anyone reports us!)

To save a long rambling list of issues, we’ll just say that we discovered a host of issues that may very well have caused problems once the kitchen had been fully installed. The cavity under the floor was filled with unstable rubble, pipes were not connected and the waterproof membrane was split and torn in places. The insulation was also broken up in a number of places. So we got to work, dug it all up and fixed the issues we found, insulated, re-screeded with a better, more solid mix and laid the chipboard. However, while doing that we realised the level between the original floor and the extension floor was off and they sat at different heights. To address that Mike built a frame to level the floor up – again, a lot of unexpected work. But we had a solid level floor and a great sense of achievement.

Don’t relax just yet …. now to the ROOF!

The Roof

As you would expect with an extension build, the roof was fitted! We were very happy to see it go up and at this point, didn’t have any major concerns with the builders. Their timekeeping was pretty hit and miss and the work was pretty slow but the work was getting done, and as the roof extension was completed to such a high standard we didn’t have too many concerns.

At this point there was a lot of discussion around the tiles to make sure the right ones were chosen, not just for aesthetics but what were needed for that roof. Again all seemed good, until they said they were done and I went to have a look! According to them the visible blue liner across the bottom edge (seen in the pictures below) was absolutely normal and was in fact there to assist the rain to drain into the guttering!

Now, I’m no roofing expert, but even I knew that wasn’t right! Mike ‘The Perfectionist’ was not happy when I Facetimed to show him the finished product!

To satisfy our curiosity we found a local roofing company with great reviews in Which. Having checked, companies have to pay to be put on Which searches and they also have reviews verified to ensure they are real. They came out and were shocked at the bad job done. They confirmed the visible blue liner was messy and unnecessary, the edging was unfinished, the flashing was totally inadequate and to top it off they also explained that the tiles used were wrong and should not have been installed as they were for roofs with a steeper pitch. Our pitch was quite shallow and therefore we had a narrower choice of options.

After speaking with them we took their advice and booked them in to replace the shoddy roof. It’s safe to say watching them work was like chalk and cheese compared to the others, and I think you’ll see the difference with the after shown here!

So there we go folks!! At this point we finally ended up with a watertight, rendered kitchen extension with a solid floor. It didn’t seem such a big ask at the beginning, pretty standard for builders you would expect, but clearly not. Unfortunately we had to do a fair share of it ourselves (that’s the royal ‘we’, I of course mean the DIY king – Mike) and fork out for the new roof.

Also by this point we had bid a not so fond farewell to the builders!

I might do a blog for lessons learned (the hard way) but one tip for you if you’re new to this like we were – if you have a main contractor, do NOT take their word that their subcontractors can handle the job! Seek out references for those companies as well. I did a quick look but only found a couple of good references they had done but they were for much smaller jobs, clearly this one was too big for them.

However, now for the main event – the new kitchen!!!!!

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Hi, I’m Gemma. I'm a wife, mum of 3 (a brilliant boy and bonkers boy/girl twins) working full time, a home owner and soon to be an amateur renovator! Feel free to follow my diary to see how it goes.

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