Trashing the JCB…

Personally I think it’s something every girl should be able to put on her CV – how to trash a JCB and survive the experience…

Putting the roof on wasn’t actually my first hands-on effort on site. Whilst the builder had been busy demolishing the place, and the engineer and architect had been busy spending my hard-earned cash, I hadn’t just been sitting around admiring the view. My first foray into hands on getting down and dirty on site was in fact getting down and dirty literally, installing the soak away and all the external drainage.

Easy-peasy you might think. Dig a trench, put a pipe in, cover it over – jobs a good’un. Yeah well, spoiler alert for all you would be self-builders, it ain’t that simple…

Nowadays you can just go into YouTube a watch a video entitled “How to install a drainage pipe” (though quite why anybody would want to spend their spare time videoing that, I don’t know!) But back in the good old days before YouTube had been invented, the big book of Building Regulations had to be read.

Section 24 will answer all your questions, covering everything: how much space there needs to be around a toilet; how many toilets required per person per square metre; how much gravel is required in your trenches, how steep the pipe run should be….. the list is endless. Awesome bedtime reading I don’t think.

It even includes lovely paragraphs like this:

  1. The floor area of a sub-surface drainage trench required to disperse effluent from septic tanks may be calculated from –

    A = p x Vp x 0.25

    where A is the area of the sub-surface drainage trench, in m2;
    p is the number of persons served by the tank; and
    Vp is the percolation value obtained, as described above, in seconds/mm.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever recall any of my maths teachers explaining to me how important it was to pay attention to simultaneous equations and trigonometry lessons because I would one day need Pythagoras to help me bed down my poo pipes.

Undaunted (I did pay some attention in my maths lessons) I got out my calculator, worked it all out, and then went out and hired a mini-digger. And had a whole heap of fun with it, right up to the point I managed to turn it over. Oops! Fortunately I wasn’t wearing the seatbelt provided, so I managed to free myself as the digger came crashing down. I ended up standing upright in the cab with the digger on its side all around me.

At this point I have to give all credit to my local community. From my neighbour rushing out to make sure I was still in one piece, to the local farmers bringing up a tractor to help get the digger back up on its tracks, I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Unfortunately, once we’d righted the digger I discovered that where it had previously swung a full 360° on its axle, after falling over it would only swing about 120° before making a horrible clunking noise. It was at this point I read the small print on the hire docket: “Hirer is responsible for arranging insurance.” Damn! I knew there was something I’d forgotten to do – How much does it cost to replace a JCB??

So I parked it up by my gate, with all its buckets and bits, and left it to be collected by the Hire company. Surprisingly I never got a call demanding reparation, so I assume it whatever damage I’d done was an easy fix.

Even more surprisingly, the following weekend the farmer who’d been part of the original rescue party pitched up with this big beastie for me to play with:


How’s that for trust?!

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