I built my two storey extension for 20% of builder's quotes

This site shows how - step by step from design to completion

Building up to Damp Proof Course

It was now time to start going up instead of down. I had contacted about every brick manufacturer and matching service I could find on the net and had lots of samples delivered. Having chosen my brick, I contacted several builder's merchants and gave them my first major list, to see who would be best on price and offer me an account.

My first delivery of concrete and thermalite blocks. They would have to be unpacked and carried round to the back of the house by hand, but it was exciting to take delivery of all these little bits of house.

concrete blocksThen came the bricks. Over 5000 of the little beggars that would have to be carted round the back by hand. I used a pair of brick clamps, which were really useful, but it was still a full day's work without many breaks. I definitely deserved a beer after that.

Using the string lines and my laser level, I built my first corner.

I had shuttered off areas for the drains when laying the concrete footings. I now cut blocks to fit either side of the pipe and linteled over the pipes with concrete blocks on their side, having previously checked with the BCO that this was acceptable.

I thought I had worked it out so that the top of the lintel would be level with the top of the footings, but it didn't quite work out. I had to cut one or two of the first layer of blocks, but it was no real problem.

The gap around the pipe needs to be sealed off against the possibility of vermin (or so say the building regs) Again, I asked the BCO what I should use to do this. He suggested some of the weak concrete mix that I will later use to fill the void between my two courses of block (more on this later).

brick arrivalI first positioned and leveled the corner blocks. Using a builder's line, I then mortared in each course. Two blocks took me to damp proof course and finished floor lever.

To make sure that the perp joints are staggered between the two courses, I cut a block to give me two pieces of 105mm and 335mm. I began the second corner with these blocks.

On the outer skin I would lay one concrete block and three brick courses to come to the same level.



first block work cornerNearly all modern buildings and extensions are built using stretcher bond (ie) all bricks laid end to end. My property was built using a variation of flemish bond commonly called garden wall flemish. The bond is three stretchers then one header, though the builders didn't stick to this pattern religiously, sometimes having two or four stretchers or 3/4 bricks so as to match up with window and door openings.

I had drawn my plans so that all dimensions should fit in with this bond. I decided to stick to the plan even though it would mean cutting quite a few bricks.

drain lintelI laid out my bricks dry and did my best to work out how the bond would fit in with windows and doors. (Though it does start to do your head after a while) Just like the builders did with my original house, I think I will have to fiddle the bond pattern in places to fit in with door and windows.

You may also notice that I ran my mains water pipe to the kitchen sink area (bottom of the pic) From there I also ran 25mm mdpe pipe through conduit under he floor and around to the Cloakroom, Utility and to a point where I could take it up to the first floor. I don't think this is common practice but I thought it would save me channeling out blockwork later on or running pipe where it could be seen (which I hate)

Having built one course of brickwork, I in filled the void with a weak mix (8:1) of concrete. This is up to external ground level. I believe it is done because of side load from the soil.

inner thermalite blocksMy first three brick courses. The first course will be covered by the patio so I used standard sand with grey cement. However, I experimented a little with mortars to try to match the existing mortar colour and texture.

6:1:1 (sand, cement, lime) is a fairly common mix. I ended up using a variation on this - 6 sand, made up of 4 yellow builder's sand and two sharp sand for texture, 1 white cement and 1 lime. My trials suggest that given time, the mortar will go lighter than shown in the picture, and seems to match my old mortar pretty well.


dry bricksI also made a tool to run the line in the mortar. I have heard of this called 'Penny Pointing' (maybe they used to do it with an old penny) It is a common feature of the old properties round here and is a feature of my existing house, though it is not as distinct as it would have been because of years of weather. I will try to keep it subtle.

I dug the mortar out of the perp on the first row so that I can later fix some builder's profiles to help with the wall building. (more on this later)

weak infill








three brick courses