At the end of last year we decided to lease a piece of land next to our plot for use during the build. Given the size of our site and the space that will be needed for the house it would have been too cramped to squeeze all the support functions onto our plot. To allow deliveries to the support site, we put a temporary rubble-filled track in for access (at the end of it all, we will remove the rubble and backfill the topsoil that was removed). I had also looked into buying temporary road mats (the plastic or metal sheets put down to protect grass from vehicles or foot traffic for events). These turn out to be expensive, and for the 40+ metres we needed for the track length, it would have been too much of an outlay.
We also realised we would need some secure storage, an area to make tea and warm up food, and a site office. The plan was to get a shipping container for secure storage and a converted container for an office/mess room. I looked into this at various times, by my records as far back as November 2011. Over time we vacillated in our decision-making between hiring and buying. Ultimately, given the expected length of our build, buying should make the most sense as the units can be sold on at the end to recoup some or most of the cost. We were eventually put in contact with Fraser’s who offered us a good deal, and so we decided to buy second-hand units. On 8 March they were delivered to the support site… but the lorry couldn’t make the turn into the temporary track we’d put in.
This quickly turned into one of my most stressful days in a long time. A huge lorry was sitting at the end of our lane with a 30’x8′ site cabin which we’d committed to buying, and we had no way of getting it to the site. Cancelling the deal at that stage would have been awkward to say the least, and we would still not have a site cabin and storage. Various avenues of discussion with the driver were proving fruitless. I was saved by two things: our neighbouring farmer came to my rescue and my parents were with me that day to keep an eye on Coll so I could focus on the problem at hand (Susan was busy in Edinburgh all day).
We settled on the following. The lorry driver unloaded the cabin at the end of the temporary track. While he went back to collect the shipping container, the farmer used his JCB telescopic handler and a chain to pull, bit by bit, the site cabin 50m up the temporary track, onto the grass, and into position. When the container arrived, we went through the same process. In the midst of this, I was also trying to contact BT as when the cabin was being brought up Linden Lane to the temporary track, it snagged on a phone cable that was too low and pulled it down. This cut the phone and internet for Wiston Lodge and all the houses on the estate.
But at the end of the day, we had a site cabin and a storage container exactly where we wanted them. The farmer had been extremely helpful in not only dropping his plans for the day to shift the cabin and container, but taking the time to fine-tune the positioning until they were just where we wanted them. And I am extremely fortunate that my parents were with me that day. It would have been difficult keeping up with Coll (and remembering to feed him!) and dealing with all that was going on with the cabin and container. And the cup of soup they brought me was hugely appreciated.
Unfortunately, I can’t speak so highly of BT. It took them six days to repair the line, and it would have taken longer except that it turned out the comms link to the local pumping station was also on the same line, and Scottish Water complained. Though they raised the height of the line in one section along Linden Lane, in a couple others they left the line hanging low. Ah well, not worth worrying about now!