Footings dig

Today is THE day, the day that we dig out the footings.  I was hopeful that we would get 2 of the 4 sides dug out today and finish the last 2 tomorrow ready for concrete.

Matt turned up bright and early and raring to go and luckily I’d just about got the site ready in time.  Matt has a lot of experience digging out footings so I was happy to sit on the dumper today.

Once we got started it was immediately apparent that we had a major issue with the soil, it is rock hard.  We had barely dug 400 mm down before the digger was groaning under the strain.  Matt cleared a couple of meters along as deep as he could while I deliberated.  I called Dad for his advice, he said to call the building inspector which actually is a great idea.

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It’s not even 9 am yet and I’m on the phone to the Building Inspector who was very helpful and said he would pop out between 10 and 12. In the meantime we carry on digging, well scratching.  Dad popped in and had a look and said that the bucket was too big and that we should try the smaller bucket.  Matt tried the 200 mm bucket and it was far more productive, but not very accurate.  We ended up with a v-shaped pit so had to constantly switch between the 200 mm and 600 mm bucket.  I called the hire company and they were happy to swap the 200 for a 300 bucket.

While speaking with the hire company I asked if they could get a more powerful digger out to us.  They obliged happily and within 2 hours we had a much more powerful digger.  I really can’t speak highly enough of Aylesbury Plant Hire they have been amazing.

Whilst I was doing some phoning around I decided to call the grab company and get a load collected.  Again a few hours later and the lorry is there picking up the piles of earth.

Meanwhile, Matt and I plodded on scratching and scraping, scratching and scraping until the Building Inspector arrived.

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At around 11 am the Building Inspector strolled up the garden and barely looked down as he remarked that the footings would need to be at least 2 metres deep here and 2.5 meters deep at the low corner all because of the Sycamore and Llandi trees he was looking at.  He did say to call the Structural Surveyor for other ideas and that if it was less than 30 square meters I could build it how I liked!  “But I need the space” I said, “build 2 then” he said!  Wait, say what!?

So now what?  Dig 2 metres deep for 1 building or dig 1 metre footings and build 2 buildings?  Ahh, dilema.  OK, let’s call my good friend and structural surveyor, Martin, at Glasspool and Thaiss.  He said that although it was true, we could build 2 buildings under 30 square metres each, it might limit our options in the future if we decided to change the use.  He also made a very valid point that 2 buildings may cost more overall.  Working that out is a job for this evening I think as we need to make the most of the light and good weather.

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By the end of the day Matt and I had managed to clear about 8 meters, 1 meter deep.  Nowhere near as much as I’d hoped to have achieved today, not that it’s anyone’s fault but just the way it is.

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Marking out foundations

No helpers today, so I’ve decided to have a more relaxed day today and just mark out the edge of the foundations so that we can crack on tomorrow with the footings dig.


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Also arranged for someone to drive one of the plants tomorrow and built this website too!

More ground levelling

Today the labourer arrived late again, family eh!  No matter, at least it gave me time to think about the work ahead.  It seems to have rained heavily last night which at first I didn’t think would be a problem.  Wrong!  It made the soil very tough to dig.  Every attempt to scrape, what was easy last night, made the digger groan and struggle.  In the end I resorted to scraping thin layers.  Luckily, the soil drained very quickly and it got easier and easier throughout the day.

My brother Jason turned up around mid-day and lent a hand.  Glad he did too as that extra pair of hands, and eyes, really does help.  He quickly cleared the concrete slabs and other bits of rubble that were in the way of the digger as well.  He then had a go at digging and realised that it’s not as easy as it looks!


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Dad was supposed to leave at 3 pm, but I think he was a little excited about the impending success.  I also think he was hoping to be around for the marking out of the foundations.  We continued scrapping the site until all was level by eye. We then set to with the laser level again and marked out areas of the soil that seemed a little high here and there, ready for scraping tomorrow.  6pm and we had lost all our usable light (and energy) so Dad left and Jason stayed for a Chinese.

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Marking out, finding levels and leveling ground

Armed with the correct diagonal measurement I couldn’t wait to see if it would work.  So while I waited for my Dad to turn up (late again!), I squared up the building and it worked perfectly.  The diagonal method worked a treat.

Next, it’s time to work out levels from DPC.  We know that DPC is normally 2 bricks above ground so using my brother, Jason’s, awesome laser level it was easy to see the difference in height between the four corners.  Problem!  Corner 3 is 150mm (2 whole bricks!) lower than the highest corner!  Hmm, coffee, ponder, biscuit, ponder, argument, ponder… solution!  We would work DPC off the highest corner and use some of the excavated soil to build up the low ground later. This is preferable to the other option of digging out all the ground around to the height of the lower corner.

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Today’s forecast is for heavy, thunderous rain, so we are fully expecting to do as much as we can in-between diving for cover. Now armed with our levels and site markings we could set to.  I started scrapping with the digger from the highest corner, but the soil is rock hard and appears to have some pre-existing drainage trench full of loose hardcore which was driving the digger crazy.  Slow progress, so we abandoned that corner as it is nearly impossible to make a level.  So we moved to the lowest corner which was a lot easier to clear and gave me a datum to use throughout the rest of the site.

Dad had to leave at around 3 pm which is when the heavens opened and work had to stop anyway.  Fortuitous!

A little while later the rain stopped so I started again on my own.  It’s not easy working a digger and dumper on my own.  Luckily Jason turned up around 4 pm and jumped on the dumper so we got a bit more done before it got dark.  That’s all for today, well, apart from catching up with a barrage of emails.

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Clearing the site

An eventful start to the day.  Digger and dumper were supposed to arrive at 8am, but after a quick lorry change, finally arrived at around 9am along with the labourer (Dad) who was also late!  But the big problem was that the dumper was considerably bigger than anticipated and won’t fit through the garage opening!  I’m sure I measured, but hey ho.

Problem solved, take the doors off the garage and now the dumper fits, just!

Today’s task is to clear the mountain of earth, metal work and brickwork that was the old compost pile.  It must have been here for some time as it’s pretty solid all around.  Clearing the compost took a lot longer than the 2 hours I expected!


Once everything was finally cleared we set to measuring out the four outer corners of the building.  It was getting late and dark which meant that we just couldn’t get the building square!  Retreat for the night.

After dinner I drew a plan of the building as accurately as possible to a scale of 1:100.  What was immediately apparent is that the diagonal measurement we were using was clearly wrong.  I noted my diagonal which I calculated at 11,950 mm and compared that with several internet calculators which all arrived at the same, more accurate answer of 11,982 mm.

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One last, but important, job is to pop round to the neighbours house for the evening.  He popped his head over the fence this morning and it occurred to me that if I could properly explain what I was hoping to achieve he may be more forgiving.  Overall it seems to have gone well and he seems happy.

Planning permission

Having decided that I’m going to build an RV-7 the next question is where to build it. Overwhelmingly, the consensus among other builders is to build it at home so the family can get involved.

Building it in a single garage is do-able, but another of the strong suggestions is to enjoy the space you work in. This really only leaves one other option.  Build a workshop!

So I started searching eBay and Google.  Wooden workshop?  Metal Workshop? Prefab or build it myself?

After seeing the prices of these buildings I figured it wouldn’t be much more to build it out of brick.  The benefit of brick is that it won’t, hopefully, rust or blow away in the wind.  As the project can take up to 10 years to complete then a solid workshop is a must.

So now that I’ve decided on brick, and at home, I need to decide where exactly to build it.  Pretty quickly there is only one real choice, the end of the garden.  Luckily we have a pretty big garden and this workshop won’t have too much an impact.  It can also serve as a winter hangar for the RV which could also save hangar fees in the future. It will also reduce the amount of mowing required!

Having decided all this it’s time to think about planning permission.

Visiting the planning portal suggests that planning permission is not required and this development is covered under the ‘Permitted Development Rights’ rules.  That’s nice, but I think I’ll still apply to the planning permission department at the council for their opinion.  Will be nice to have it in writing officially.

The great thing about the planning portal is that you can apply for planning permission right there online.  So I spent the weekend drawing up plans with the kids and obtaining all the necessary site plans at the right scales.  Finally finished the application and sent it in around 10pm on Sunday evening.


So now we wait for their response.

Preparing for ordering

The Vans Aircraft Company are based in Oregon, USA which means that, as we are based in the UK and are technically ‘importing goods’, we normally have to pay import duty, VAT & transaction fees.  Luckily there are a few ways that I’ve found to save some money.  Start as I mean to go on, eh!

End Use Relief

The first thing to do is to apply for End Use Relief with HMRC.  Providing the aircraft is for personal use and not intended to be sold on for profit it (and parts for it) qualifies for End Use Relief.  Unfortunately this does not include the tools required to build it, but hey ho, anything is better than nothing.

I completed form C1317 and sent it off to HMRC.

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I believe there is a simplified procedure but I haven’t yet tried it.  As I understand it you simply ask Vans Aircraft to write the following on the outside of the packaging.

PARTS FOR CIVIL AIRCRAFT – COMMODITY CODE 8803300010 – CPC 40 00 028 – EU 9999/999/99

Then when the goods arrive in the UK the couriers should complete and submit form C88 (SAD) on your behalf and not charge you import duty.


The couriers will, however, calculate and charge you VAT based on their estimate of the value of the goods.  There is not a lot you can do about this and it MUST be paid or the goods will not be delivered.

Transfer Fees

These are the fees charged by your bank or credit card company for paying in Dollars.  Thankfully someone warned me about this BEFORE I made my first purchase.  Once I investigated I realised that I could have been stung for some serious fees in the £100’s!!!  I was definitely not about to let that slip.  Some research on the forums threw up a recommendation for who specialise in transferring money abroad.  I have to say they have been fantastic in every transaction I’ve done so far.  Highly recommended.

So that’s all the ‘financials’ worked out all I need to do is actually order the kit once I get my end use relief number.