I had planned to start the project in summer, and romantically thought I’d live from the land in a tent until I had renovated the cottage. Eventually, when I came back to earth, I remembered the need for a good cup of tea and how painfully aching a 16 hour day can be and decided to upgrade my ground mat for a bed at least.
Health and Safety Obligations
When you undertake a project as a Self Builder, in the eyes of the HSA you take on the role of Main Contractor. As Main Contractor, you have a statutory obligation to comply with the HSA regulations or face the possibility of an Enforcement Notice that could halt works on site. The key issue is that as a Contractor you are the Employer and you must provide canteen and toilet facilities for your Employees even if they are sub-contractors.
I had a number of requirements to establish my site, a working toilet, a canteen, a small work space and a storage space for materials.
My first thought was to buy a portaloo and modify one of the outbuildings into a makeshift canteen. On investigation, the rental and fortnightly cleaning to comply with the HAS the portaloo would be too expensive, particularly because I would only be working on weekends. My second option was to buy a converted container with an integrated canteen and toilet. I scoured the auction sites to investigate the costs and visited a number of companies that specialise in second hand equipment. My third option was to buy a mobile home or caravan that would provide a toilet and canteen facility as well as accommodation.
Early on I had ruled out getting a caravan or mobile home, as a good one costs a pile and after you’re done with it you always have the problem of getting rid of it.
I focused most of my time trying to find a needy builder who would ask me to take it away or give me it to me for a steal. It has been said to me recently “there are plenty of things now worth nothing, but you can’t get your hands on them”. My search led to what I considered to be expensive cabins that weren’t worth the cost to move them.
Exhausted, I started to look on the listed pages for caravans and stumbled on a mobile home for €300 in the Midlands. I thought it was a mistake but gave the seller a call and after convincing me it was in good condition I popped down for a look and he accepted my offer of €200.
Handy Tips installing caravans
- It was important to have a JCB on standby, in our case it was a life saver. The JCB cleared the land and offered a helping hand to the delivery truck navigating through ground and steep inclines.
- Arrange for the delivery driver to install the caravan and ensure that he has plenty of jacks to lift the caravan into a level position.
- To level the caravan have around 30-40 no of 9 inch solid blocks and loads of packer slips of wood of all sizes from 4x4inch to 2x1inch and 4mm WBP plywood.
- Be organised, I arranged collection at 6am so that we would have plenty of time on the other end to install the caravan before dark.
- If it’s an old caravan have an arc welder on standby and some steel sections.
If my house is my star, my caravan is my one-way rickety spaceship. Built in the 70’s, it is in good condition and watertight. However, the chasse is on its final legs. On its move, the chasse made of light gauge steel sections, gave way to its rusty casing and started to twist and warp. This made the levelling of the caravan like balancing an elephant on a ball. Stable now, tested by the recent storms, it is truly marooned and has without doubt found its final resting place.
Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will explain how I have made and installed a homemade wood burning stove.
Useful Links and Contacts
- Derek Trenaman, www.ceardean.com