Sunday, 3 April 2011

Getting on with it

On site at last, living in the caravan, services laid on we could be working within the hour and make some progress. 
We had it in mind to find a bricklayer and had been asking around for recommendations, now we would need one in a couple of weeks. Acting on suggestion we visited several other building projects in progress and completed but to no avail, we were looking for someone who apparently did not exist,someone who could lay bricks that were neat, clean and well pointed. It was quite disappointing the quality that we found.  On the other hand a local builder in the village whose quality was exceptional gave us a quote which amounted to almost a pound a brick laid, but this was too rich for our budget.

Finding the right bricks was another problem as we were looking for something with a rustic feel. I had used Marshall's Old Mill bricks in the past which was close to our desires but a little too colourful. Then travelling through a local village one fine day we came across a development of new flats with bricks we loved (loved??) and speaking to the brickies we had potentially found our bricklaying team. The bricks were Hanson Cheshunt Multi, a good quality rustic looking brick with fine colouration and very appropriate for our village. All I needed to do was finish the foundations !!
First of many deliveries from B&Q Trade

We had laid the first course of block work around the site to delineate the walls of the house, checking the diagonals for square (+- 15mm)We then raised the inner course to under floor level ready for block and beam. Two courses of blue brick (overkill) were laid on top to bring the finished floor level up to the desired height. We were now ready for the floor.

Finishing the foundations

Hanson's had designed the floor for us from the plans and they arranged delivery to site within a few days of requesting it. We were now installing a block and beam floor ourselves, something we had never done before! 

B&B delivery


Relatively simple job really, just need a crane (or lots of labour) to move the beams. A good quality dry laid DPC (Hyload Housebuilder DPC), beams lifted into place and spaced according to the diagrams supplied by Hanson and spacer and infill blocks mortared into place along the top of the wall. Not to difficult?
A final course of bricks around the periphery to act as shuttering and infill with insulation and we would be ready for screed. 

Help to move the Beams
Local Crane Hire

First Beam

Crane drivers mate helps with the Beams

Spacer Blocks waiting for Installation

Solid Blocks for Garage Floor
All beams in place,now for the insulation. Brilliant design, easy to install, just slips into place, a couple of days work and its done.

Ready for Insulation

Simple to Install

Nearly Done

Well Earned Break

Garage Floor needed Mesh Reinforcement

Not so easy the next stage, laying the concrete screed. This had to be a bit more organised, labour in the form of friends and relatives, a vibrating concreting beam, a concrete pump to get the concrete to the back of the site and several loads of specialised Lafarge Fibrin concrete. All went well until the concrete pump arrived, brand new six wheel vehicle with an equally new driver who immediately said he could not do the job because of the danger of the overhead power wires. Calamity, we now had to man handle the concrete to the back of the site walking along the beams trying not to tread on the polystyrene insulation. We started and what should have been a relatively straight forward job became more difficult. The vibrating beam was f****** crap, worn out and held together with loose nuts and washers it eventually shook itself to pieces, and this was from a reputable hire company. Despite the panic we did get the job done eventually but it was down to the efforts of my family and friends that we succeeded.

Vibrating Beam(do not use one of these)

Despite all we did mange it
Well that was it, up to ground floor level, floor laid, drains in situ, just a small question of building the rest!!

In my next post I will describe how we started the block work which we had planned to do and how the brickwork became our job also which we had not planned to do. 

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1 comment:

  1. First of all, thank you for sharing your self build adventure!
    Is there any reason why did you choose concrete screed on your ground floor instead of block and beam like your first floor?