• More rendering!
    Got the back wall done to head height – neither of us could bear the thought of climbing ladders on a Sunday. 🙂 My mixes are getting more consistent – did 6-7 mixer loads, and only one of them was noticeably on the dry side of ideal. The next one, of course, over-compensated and was nearly too wet, but the wet mix was still noticeably easier to spread on the wall. Render mixes (Disclaimer: this might all be wildly obvious to experienced renderers, but I’m…Continue Reading “More rendering!”
  • Feature post
    Quiet day after the big load of rendering yesterday, so I got to work on the feature post in the middle of the front wall. I was originally just going to bolt the longer flange of the L-beam into the side of one of that pair of posts in the middle of the wall, but realised I’d lost that opportunity by putting all the bales in and losing drill access. Instead I got a handy piece of timber, drilled that and the L-beam to bolt…Continue Reading “Feature post”
  • Rendering…
    With the front wall more or less complete, and the weather cooperating at last, it was time to hit the rendering again. I thought this would take a couple of days, with only two of us, so I figured my stretch goal for the day was to render it to head height and we’d do the high stuff later. First batch of render seemed to bear that out – the wall sections where the cross-braces are are turning out quite messy, plus it was a…Continue Reading “Rendering…”
  • Random profile work
    The problem with listening too much to your architects is that you start doing fancy stuff all over the place. 🙂 With the beam over the false wall now exposed, I had to do something with the top of the bale wall underneath it. I could have just squared it off, but that’s too easy. Made up a series of profiles (you guessed it, out of plywood…) and mounted them on the top plate at intervals to match the width of the mesh: Staple mesh…Continue Reading “Random profile work”
  • Where the wall meets the ceiling
    One of the things that had been bugging me was how to get a clean join between the wall render and the ceiling – particular with the small cut bales above the top plates being kinda…small and fiddly. The best idea I could come up with was to mount a strip of timber to the ceiling, attach mesh to that and bring that down over the small bales and the top plate to the main wall. The first problem was how to get that strip…Continue Reading “Where the wall meets the ceiling”
  • Rendering!
    …well, cobbing anyway. Finally cranked up the mixer and started mucking about with some render. I knew I had a fair few soft spots and holes to fill, so made up a couple of batches of cob and started plugging holes. I would later realise I should have plugged even more than this – I have a LOT of soft spots. 🙂 Also had a crack at installing the mounting plate for a power point. The sparkies had left me with a couple of options,…Continue Reading “Rendering!”
  • Meshing all the things
    Spent some time working on the windows in the front wall, forming the profiles for the reveals. Going with a….roughly basketball radius I guess, profile for the sides. The sill and lintel will be slightly raked, to stop me using them as shelves. 🙂 I was a bit surprised just how much better they looked with their sides profiles properly – like they were meant to be there, not just holes in the bales. Also got the outside wall of the wet area ready for…Continue Reading “Meshing all the things”
  • A few more days’ bits and pieces
    My good luck with the weather (it hadn’t rained since the bales were delivered) finally ran out this weekend, with some decent falls forecast and actually arriving. The stations surrounding me recorded 30-37mm since ~midnight last night, so there was some decent water coming down. I’ve been watching the forecasts pretty closely, so I knew this one was coming. Scooted out to the block after work on Friday and gave the shed a new wardrobe: Concentrated on the lower walls, relying on my eaves to…Continue Reading “A few more days’ bits and pieces”
  • Garage door top bales
    The last of the substantive baling for the shed was the hardest bit – over the top of the garage doors. I’d put together a plate to span the openings a while ago (and it’s been migrating its 6m-long self around the shed slab, constantly getting in my way ever since) and with the bale walls to the right height on both sides it was finally time to put it into place. Hoisting it into place wasn’t too difficult (with some persuasion and a bit…Continue Reading “Garage door top bales”
  • Whoops
    Dropped past the block today after an extended dog walk to find I’d been a bit optimistic with how much wall would stand up on its own. The newest section of front wall had fallen outwards (judging by the bales distributed all over the carport) and the main wall had fallen inwards to rest against the bale stack inside. The wall itself was still in one piece – the front end of the top plate came around as the wall fell and the straps all…Continue Reading “Whoops”
  • More baling!
    Another day of baling, attacking the last main section of shed wall between the wet area door and the main doors. Had another friend turn up for some baling fun, so we quickly taught her the notching and bale-cutting and got to it. This section of wall was pretty simple – no windows and only one corner – and the main slowdown seemed to be cutting the complicated bales around the big posts….which of course was the bit I was doing. Always letting the side…Continue Reading “More baling!”
  • Another day, another wall done (and lots of visitors)
    Relatively mild ambition for the day (compared to the weekend!) was to finish the rear wall of the shed – to the intermediate plate at least. Only had three courses of bales to go, but since the wall is ~10m long it was still a fair bit of baling and all above head height. Left dad baling while I put together the intermediate top plate in two halves. Then my interior designer Neve dropped past to admire the giant pile of straw, so there was…Continue Reading “Another day, another wall done (and lots of visitors)”
  • Workshop weekend
    My architects had, in all their spare time, gotten involved in an architecture course at UWA, and asked if they could bring some students around for some practical experience and….y’know….actually set foot on a building site, which is apparently a novel concept? 🙂 After a few delays and dramas along the way, this weekend turned out to be The One. I’d earmarked the front wall of the shed for this weekend, since it was straight (which reduces the amount of bale weirdness) but had four…Continue Reading “Workshop weekend”
  • More walls
    Short(ish) day on the walls, finishing off the wet area/dusty room to full height. Last time I’d gotten up above the level of the door frames, which let me start stitching together the different pieces and made the whole thing a lot more stable (the short section of wall between the two doors fell over after my first baling session, because I neglected to tie it to anything.) The frame over the dusty-room doors is fixed, but I’m experimenting with floating the plate over the…Continue Reading “More walls”
  • Wallssssssss
    Quite a random day, people-wise – a mate’s daughter has apparently been quite excited about the whole strawbale thing, so they came up for the day to generate loose straw and mutilate bales. Another mate and a couple of relatives came for visits as well, so I seemed to spend most of the day talking to people while everyone else worked. I put up a short section of wall (a rather annoying 1.4m long stand-alone wall, because I know how to make things easy for…Continue Reading “Wallssssssss”
  • Bale delivery, part 1
    So a variety of blokes rocked up to the block this morning – apparently my bale farmer Steve has a lot of friends/relatives in Perth. Shortly after a rather large truck with 500 bales also rocked up, and we started the fun job of unstrapping, untying and transferring them to the shed. 90 minutes later my shed was looking a LOT smaller than it was yesterday: …and tomorrow we do it all again with the other 500. 🙂 I’d randomly acquired a big bulka bag…Continue Reading “Bale delivery, part 1”
  • Lots of rocks
    One of the final steps before baling – fixing the bottom plate to the slab, and filling the cavity with bluemetal to support the bales while allowing for drainage. The sparkies had been busy running cables from the switchboard to….just about everywhere, drilling holes in the top of the C-channel and then through the inside wall of the bottom plate – the way I’d set up the cross-pieces, there was very convenient cavities leading from the C-channel to each post, so they ran the cables…Continue Reading “Lots of rocks”
  • Got me some straw
    I’ve been doing a bit of time at a workshop on another nearby site, and they had some leftover bales: Will need just a few more, but it’s nice to actually have some bales on site for that lovely straw smell.
  • Window boxes
    Put together the boxes for the windows along the front of the shed today, which was relatively simple. The windows themselves are going to ‘float’ in the wall, sitting on top of (probably) three courses of bales, so the basic frame itself just needs a ‘plate’ on the top and bottom so I can strap it to the top & bottom plates: The crossbars on the plates are weirdly offset because they line up with the existing cross-pieces on the bottom plate.
  • Strapping (young lads?), and walls
    Cut myself a LOT of the polyester strapping for compressing the walls – I need to do this before bolting the bottom plate down to the slab, because the straps have to go under the plate. Started rolling the straps up for tidiness and not-tripping-over things, but quickly realised it was going to take a few hours and it was something that could be done at home. Loaded the entire mess into the back of the ute, and spent some time this evening rolling them…Continue Reading “Strapping (young lads?), and walls”
  • (Lots) more bottom plate
    Had two (TWO!) helpers for the day, so we smashed out the entire bottom plate for all the shed’s bale walls: Not a huge amount to say about it – it’s not overly complicated, just a lot of short pieces of timber and a lot of screws holding it all together.
  • Pretty steel and bottom plates
    My helper for the day foolishly admitted to enjoying painting (which is something I don’t enjoy at all) so I put her to work finishing off the steelwork over the carport. Looking right purdy now. Also got started on the bottom plate below the bale walls…not a lot of progress, but cut all the side pieces at least.
  • Roof panel desecration
    The shed roof, as originally specced, was supposed to be 16m long along the ridgeline. At some point though (ie. when we changed the carport structure from timber to steel) the extended rafters to support the last bit of roof got deleted, so I had to make a couple of half panels or else risk the last panel flapping in the breeze. So with much measuring, double-measuring, freaking out, checking with my helper for the day and freaking out a bit more…
  • Crane goodness
    Bowed to the inevitable (by which I mean “my regular helpers threatened to unionise and go on strike if I tried to do the rest of the roof with materials hoists”) and got a crane in to do the rest of the shed roof panels. Very productive day, where we ripped through the 24 remaining panels in about 6 hours. The crane (a small’ish Franna) and its people were really good – I’d half expected them to wait for us to do everything except the…Continue Reading “Crane goodness”
  • The roof! The roof! And it’s not on fire!
    So my critical path, in so much as I have one, has been to get a roof up so the farmer holding my bales can get them out of his shed and into mine. With the frame functionally complete I could finally start working on the pile of roof panels. A mate dropped around for a couple of hours to get the first pile of panels on the slab, and helped get the first ones prepped. I’d expected progress to be really slow today, and…Continue Reading “The roof! The roof! And it’s not on fire!”
  • Lifting day 2
    The last big beams to get up were the three connecting the timber shed frame to the portal. These were all small (hah!) enough to do with one lift, but it didn’t go quite as smoothly as hoped – dramas with bolts, holes, flanges and other fun things. Beams had to be trimmed (I ordered them a little long to cover against 10mm variations either way), holes drilled in steel, lots of working at heights. End of the day we got the three beams up:…Continue Reading “Lifting day 2”
  • Lifting Day
    One of those days where you don’t get a lot done in terms of raw numbers, but it was definitely a good day. Gathered two materials hoists (wonderful things that they are) and some scaffolding to get the main shed beam installed. This beam started life as a 450×85 LVL, and during some back and forth with the engineer changed into a 450×83, a 450×63 and then a doubled 450×63. The single beam would have technically worked, but the engineer sounded marginal about it and…Continue Reading “Lifting Day”
  • Framing day 6
    With the easy stuff done, we moved onto the trickier bits – very large brackets (to hold the ridge beam) installed on top of tall posts, with angled beams forming the gable ends. I’d been trying to work out a good way of doing these bits, and hadn’t really come up with a good answer until last night. The best I had was “put bracket on post, raise post and brace it *somehow* then muck around putting beams in. Last night I had the epiphany…Continue Reading “Framing day 6”
  • Framing day…5, I think?
    I’d been tossing up options for how to install the major beam work for the shed…most of which was pretty long and quite heavy. My default assumption had been “hire crane, pay lots of money” because that’s how you lift heavy things, right? Then started watching Youtube videos about lifting beams, and stumbled across these guys using materials hoists. Apparently materials hoists are a thing, and actually quite cheap to hire – figured it was worth a shot, and meant I wasn’t paying for a…Continue Reading “Framing day…5, I think?”
  • Framing prep day
    Spent the day cutting up timber into posts, cutting slots (for post supports), drilling lots of holes and cutting some rather large slots in rather large posts: (That’s a 190×190 merbau glulam, for the wood nerds playing at home. Quite nice bits of timber, but bloody heavy when you get four metres of it at once.
  • Shed framing, days 2, 3 and 4
    Day 2: Did a bit more work on the brackets while the plumbers dug holes all over the place putting the water and sewer pipes in. Day 3: Took a bit longer than I was hoping to get hold of the post supports for all the other structural posts for the shed, but they finally came through. Frustratingly unproductive day working out the best way to drill the holes, empty the concrete dust out of the holes (google suggests all kinds of silly compressed-air-in-a-can, air…Continue Reading “Shed framing, days 2, 3 and 4”
  • Excuse me sir….
  • Shed Framing, day 1
    Armed with a pile of timber and a ute full of brackets, it was time to attack the shed framing. Figured I’d start with the posts mounted on the big brackets I’d put in place the other day and set up the cross-bracing – also I don’t have the post supports for all the other posts until Monday, so I can’t do them anyway. 🙂 So anyway, normal people would build normal houses where all the posts are the same length. Between the different top…Continue Reading “Shed Framing, day 1”
  • Above ground at last!
    Collected the first batch of brackets for the framing yesterday, so I could (finally) start putting together something that might be a building, rather than just moving dirt around. ’tis very exciting. Plan for the day was to mount all the brackets for the shed on the L-bolts buried in the slab, which required a layer of grout. I’d vaguely contemplated doing each one as a free-standing pad, but a combination of sensibility and reading the instructions convinced me to make up some little formworks…Continue Reading “Above ground at last!”
  • Shed pour day
    Another 7am start on a lovely cool morning for more concrete. Felt much better about this one – what with being largely organised, not running around like an idiot at the last minute, and simply having done it before. Had few hours of setup with Maurice and his crew, finishing off the formwork and steel – some quite tight timelines on this pour, what with Maurice trying to retrieve his schedule from the dumpster fire of the recent wet weeks. Prep went something like this:…Continue Reading “Shed pour day”
  • Small progress and rain
    I’ve been stalled for a few weeks waiting for the rain to go away long enough for the shed slab to be poured. I’d dug out the foundations for the shed within a week of the house slab being poured, then the rain started and my concrete guy’s schedule went to hell. In the meantime, I caught up on some small jobs: Taking the formwork off the house slab and sealing the sides: which was more digging, lots of tedious painting and then some more…Continue Reading “Small progress and rain”
  • Sunset
    Two days post-pour, with some decent rainfall overnight to keep the slab from drying out too fast….or at all, really. 🙂
  • Pour day!
    Back to the block after snatching 6 hours’ sleep. Immediately got roped into cutting more lengths of ply, after inconveniently pointing out that a few bits of formwork were a touch low – which I noticed….oh, about 8:30 last night. Meanwhile the pumper arrived, squeezed itself between my verge trees and set up: shortly followed by the first of the concrete trucks. I put together the last of the inside formwork (this is fine, right?) which I couldn’t do late last night because of noise…Continue Reading “Pour day!”
  • Concrete prep, day 3
    Back on my own today, putting together the C-channels for the inside edges of the upstand. Figured this would be a long day, but it turned into the first late-night epic. Spent the morning welding together the last 2 sections, which were about 7 and 9m long respectively and included my architect’s piece of “flair” – the recessed wall on the pantry which steps in about 200mm for *reasons*. Why did I agree to this? There’s a shot of the formwork and C-channel here from…Continue Reading “Concrete prep, day 3”
  • Concrete prep: day 2
    Spent yesterday doing boring stuff – clearing extra sand out of the trenches (we’ve had a fair bit of rain which ruined my nice clean lines) and experimenting with my sweet new welding skills: Early start today, with a vast array of men arriving shortly afterwards – the concreter, his 3 helpers and two steel guys. 8 hours of chaos, discussions, a couple of conversations with the engineer later, we’d turned this: into this: I did my usual a-bit-of-everything – started off cutting some more…Continue Reading “Concrete prep: day 2”
  • Well this looks promising…
    A large pile of rebar appeared! (The big white bag is full of 12mm bars bent into squares, to go into the edge thickening and upstand)
  • Prepping for concrete
    Been a bit quiet in terms of visible progress, but there’s been lots of conversations going on with plumbers (who have mainly stopped freaking out about the whole strawbale thing), sparkies (who are definitely still freaking out about the strawbale thing) and waiting to talk to the concrete guy, Maurice, who is fiendishly busy and trying to fit all his jobs in between rain showers. Finally nailed him down during the week and we talked non-stop for about 90 minutes – the result of which…Continue Reading “Prepping for concrete”
  • The invasion of the plumbers
    Spent the morning trimming most of the ‘pads’ between the trenches down to the correct height (the sand pad varied in height by 20-30mm, and I’d – wisely? – taken a low point as my baseline) before these two blokes invaded the block and undid most of my good work: Plumbing pre-lay nearly fell in a hole straight away, when we discovered that I’d sent them an old copy of the plans before Neve had worked her magic on the bathroom – so all of…Continue Reading “The invasion of the plumbers”
  • More house-shaped holes
    All of the edge trenches, and the internal trenches under the bedrooms etc, done. One more day should see the house trenches complete and ready for the plumber to do their pre-lay on Monday.
  • More house-shaped holes
    Short digging session this afternoon, finished the south wall of the main room – kitchen, front door and one wall of the living room. Starting to look very house-shaped. I’m leaving the survey pegs in place as long as possible as a backup in case one of my hurdles gets knocked, hence the weird little bulges in the outside edge of the trench. I’m a bit surprised I haven’t managed to kick one of the pegs yet – this one at one side of the…Continue Reading “More house-shaped holes”
  • House-shaped holes!
    Armed with a shovel and my many, many string lines, I started attacking the trenches for the foundations. Quickly worked out that shaping the trench by hand was going to be a bad time, and made myself a profile out of ply. This made it a lot easier, even if it still wasn’t “fun” per se – was still a long day of throwing sand around, but I got half of the perimeter trench done. This picture wasn’t really indicative of the weather, either –…Continue Reading “House-shaped holes!”
  • All the string lines
    Quiet couple of weeks, with the earthworks guys finishing the shed sand pad and then I hit a bit of a block – waiting for concrete people to be intelligent at me, and we also had “the storm of the decade” come through and make the entire city rather soggy for the better part of the last week. Thankfully the sand pads have survived the rain unscathed. The rain cleared today, and since concrete people were still being slow at me I decided to start…Continue Reading “All the string lines”
  • Shed retaining wall complete!
    Took down the formwork for the wall on Thursday, and did most of the bottom row of panels. Put (most of) the rest of the panels in today, and did some work fixing the panels in place – one manufacturer suggested putting mortar in the channel of each post behind the panel to lock the panel in place, so I did some of that too. Pretty happy with the final result – I’m liking the angled panels at each change of height. The missing panels…Continue Reading “Shed retaining wall complete!”
  • Final retaining wall pour
    Final concrete pour(!) for the retaining walls this morning went really well. I spent a lot more time putting up the formwork, reinforcing and bracing it, than I had before – ended up with the first sheets stitched together, propped up on little ‘legs’ to the right height, and lined with builders’ plastic, then put in a second layer behind those sheets and screwed to the first for extra strength. The whole thing then got propped up in the trench with handy blocks of concrete…Continue Reading “Final retaining wall pour”
  • Shed retaining wall
    Just for something different….let’s build a retaining wall! On to the last one, thankfully – across the front of the shed, which will define the slope for the original driveway to come down and meet the level of the carport, and down the back of the shed to stop the neighbour’s carport from ending up in mine. Seems important. The main complication with this wall is the constantly changing levels – both sides start at the height of the concrete kerbing under the hibiscus hedge,…Continue Reading “Shed retaining wall”