' the Woodlouse: Machines, boxes and holes


Friday, 17 February 2012

Machines, boxes and holes

This exciting image is what I've been tackling this evening.  The spreadsheet was provided by the ever brilliant Kuba (project designer/strawbale consultant extraordinaire), for me to colour in the boxes.  A coloured box indicates a chunk of time when a bit of the build should be happening.  Piecing it together is a bit mind-melting but it is good to start to visualise the work involved, and see a potential progression from sitting here thinking about building to eventually finishing building and moving in!  That final objective is a long way off yet, but the chart is equally useful for knowing when to start, what with, what to do next, and what needs to happen before other things can happen.  It seems traditional in any build to get ridiculously behind schedule, so now we have a schedule we can follow that tradition with vigour.

Some dates will have to be stuck to, and will provide target points (or probably more accurately: panic points).  The March/April restriction on roof works (see Of Bats and Bureaucracy) is the first (impending) one of these, and the planned dates for running strawbale courses is another.

Before we can can start the roof works we need the structural engineers (the very helpful and practical Structural Solutions, see their slick new website here) to sign off the changes and give us the details of the structures we need to put in to support the roof, enabling us to open the main living space up through the loft.  They made a site visit the other day, crawled about in the loft and in the test pits I've dug in the garden (they also need to assess how deep our foundations need to be, based on soil type and loading etc. Soil samples are being analysed as I type).  Thankfully, it sounds like what we need to do to the roof is actually very straightforward, and will result in a strong but much simplified structure.  I like simple.  The biggest practical problem will be how to get a new continuous roof beam into the loft space to support the weight of the roof.  Somehow this will have to be manhandled and fed in there, so it's in place before we even think about cutting out the three roof trusses which currently take the load.

The planned dates for the Strawbale courses are: two courses between 23rd July and 5th August.  I'll post details of these once they're more sorted.  This gives me enough time to get everything in place first - there is much to do.  Foundations need to be dug and plinth walls built to support the bales, both for the extension and the wrap; new doorways connecting existing bungalow to extension need to be cut, carpentry around the window openings needs to be in place to support the windows in their new position in the wrap; the roof needs to be extended to cover the bale wrap; the timbers for the extension roof need to be cut and ready to assemble as soon as the walls are up.  Once the walls are up we will then have to work quickly to get them prepared for the lime render, and then get the lime render on.  This needs to happen really by the end of August, in order for it to have time to cure and harden fully before any chance of frost.

It's going to be a busy year...

In the meantime I've been sorting out the fence at the bottom of the garden.  We sort of made a deal with the neighbour at the back that he'd cut his over-height hedge down to size and we'd put up a good fence.  He has halved the height of the hedge so we now have much more sunlight in the garden, which is fantastic.  I had to keep my end of the deal, so this was my viewpoint for a couple of days last week, as I hired a lovely auger machine to help me dig all the bloomin' post holes:

I still had to hack through many a tree root by hand with a sharpened spade, but the Auger saved my back.  It also helped drag a random lump of concrete out of the way, which I found after clearing the bramble thicket from the corner of the garden:

A rare perfectly straight, major-root-free hole

Tight fit.  Had to take the door off to get it through.  The garden gateway is 3cm too narrow, so this was the only way.

Uncovering old garden detailing (and more space!)

Need to get hold of a garden shredder now...

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