Thursday, 14 July 2011

The next steps

After the milestone of installing the windows it was back to the less rewarding chore of more block laying. I know most modern houses have stud walls and the later ones are only very narrow so they appear very flimsy, but we were  determined to make ours look substantial so at the early stages we choose to use block work for all internal walls. It makes for a quality feel to a building but it needs the upper floors to be rigid and that's one of the reasons why we opted for block and beam upstairs. Laying the first few blocks on the upper floor started to show how the rooms fitted into the shell of the building and for the first time the internal layout started to appear.

Rooms start to appear
  Once we had finalised the boundaries for all the rooms the stairs could be fitted. We had previously ordered the stairs which consisted of one straight flight and a double flight with quarter landing from a local manufacturer called,  wait for it!  'The Timber Stair Manufacturers Ltd' original isn't it. However they were very good, their designer came to site to measure up and as I had never fitted a set of stairs before he was very helpful and gave me lots of guidance.
The kit of parts arrived soon after placing the order and were extremely good quality with Hemlock strings and spindles, Oak base rails and handrails and MDF treads. The solid oak option was prohibitive!!

Kit of parts arrive for the stairs

 Now to get them in place, a job for more than one man and his wife so the regulars popped over to help. Not to worry though the straight flight went in first and after constructing the framework for the quarter landing (not supplied) the flight was lifted into position. The newel posts and strings were already mortised and tenoned so it was just a case of gluing them together with the handrail, lifting into place and fixing the top newel post to the joists. It was almost like building with Lego, each part slotting together easily, the only bit of real joinery was cutting the handrails to length and cutting the tenons on the ends.        

The regulars on site to help install the stairs

Initial installation complete. Newel post bolted to trimmers between joists

 The other set of stairs was less simple, with a quarter landing half way up (not supplied) the framework for the landing had to levitate somewhere in the air. I decided the most solid means of achieving this was to build a tower of blocks in the corner on which to stand the frame and also create a useful cavity under the stairs accessed from the little room.

My wife thought this was funny
Initial installation of the lower stairs complete. The newel posts at the top were bolted to a steel beam which supports the landing. A very solid fix.

 That was the stairs in place so it was no longer necessary to climb ladders between floors, suddenly a flash of inspiration !!   Why not move into the loft? (temporarily you understand) just one problem, no insulation, so that was the next job.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we had designed the roof as a sealed roof and part of that design was that there should be an air space between the insulation and the roof membrane, so it was now necessary to provide the insulation and maintain that space.
The 100mm polyisocyanurate(I hate that word) needed to fit between all the rafters in the loft and should be cut to a snug fit and pressed into place without going in too far and compromising the air space. To prevent this, battens were fixed to every face of all the rafters 100mm in from the underside.
Fitting the insulation by cutting with a standard timber saw must be the most messiest and  uncomfortable job I have done to date. The cutting generates clouds of choking particles which stick too your clothes with static, and spread everywhere. A second layer of 30mm insulation had to be fitted over the first to meet building regulations and this was fixed with screws and washers but thankfully in the last minute before fitting this layer which covered the rafters we remembered to mark the floor with their position or the plasterers would have cursed us.  A few days later we had an insulated loft.

Insulation ready for installation, lot of it isn't there
In Progress
First layer finished

 Just a lick of paint and building the only stud wall with a cheap door in it and we moved in!!

Bed from the caravan
Must have a tele
Xtratherm, Xtratherm, Xtratherm dreams are made of this.

 Home from Home! It was good to get out of the caravan,  a couple of winters did the trick but we still had to cook in there.

Insulating the kitchen and garden room ceiling

More insulation, phew!! its getting warm in here

Well that's it for now but next time on 'therealselfbuildblog' I will tell you how we started the plumbing and electrics and prepared for plastering.

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Monday, 4 July 2011

Icing on the cake

Here we are, complete shell, all bricks layed, roof on and fiddly bits done, now for the finishing touches, the beautiful Sash Windows. We had right from the early days of planning and design decided on Sash windows as the house that we had admired and used as our template  had sash windows, albeit in timber. Ours were to be uPVC   Urgh!!  I here you all say,  however consider this, we have twenty three Georgian style windows in white, think of all that painting every five years or so, it would be like painting the Forth Bridge and anyway the quality windows we have chosen are almost indistinguishable from timber and a lot less prone to rot.

Like yourselves, in the beginning, we were avid readers of anything we could get our hands on to do with self build and it was as we scoured the pages of Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine that we first came across the name of GlynGary Windows. A small family run business, hence the name Glyn and Gary, which specialises in the construction of uPVC AND Timber Sash Windows and who are based in Warrington. Inspired by the advertisements we called them and were duly invited to visit the factory. 

They have a great set up and showed us many of their products and although they do not fit windows  many them are fitted in the likes of Government buildings in London. It was the father of the two boys who first suggested fitting our windows behind the brickwork opening instead of in the  opening as is the modern practice. This method adds to the character of the both the window and the building, reduces the profile of the window frame that can be seen and with the overhang of the bricks provides some additional protection for the windows, less cleaning!!  

Here you can see one of the windows set behind the brickwork. Very Georgian.
A method of fixing was required and as much of the frame spans the cavity, fixing through the frame into the wall was difficult. Another GG suggestion was to use an additional timber frame as used  in the Georgian era  and therefore provide timber reveals with Torus profile architrave to match, very much in keeping with the style of the house. I hasten to add that the timber does not span the cavity as this would cause damp problems.
One of the windows(at a much later stage obviously) showing the timber reveals and architraves
We ordered our windows from GlynGary at very reasonable cost and the day dawned shortly after when they arrived and our second team were there to help with the offloading.

Meanwhile the scaffolding had been removed to reveal the house and it was with much excitement that we started to fit the first windows.

A cavernous space in which to construct the frames for the windows

The first of many frames finished and waiting for a liberal coating of preservative

First one in

From the outside

All windows in, even got the garden room roof on in this one

In at the front too
Well that was it, brickwork done, roof on, windows in, we can move in next week,   Nah!!   My friendly local builders chance remark was 
'it's reckoned that when the shell is up your just about half way there', encouraging eh!!

Next time on the therealselfbuildblog I'll tell you how we progressed to the inside and moved in, although in a temporary fashion.
If you have any questions about my blog or self build in general please email me. You can find my email address in my profile (top right of page). You can also become a follower of my blog by pressing the follower button or click on 'Comments' below to leave a message.  

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