• More fiddly baling
    Spent the day doing more fiddly triangular sections – the top of the western wall, and the top of the north wall of the living room (the four-column wall I baled the other day). It’s starting to look very house-shaped. The dog, however, is still bored:
  • A bit of high baling, and a stud frame…
    Baled the fiddly triangular bits at the east end of the house, which I think is my least-favourite part of baling. Lots of part bales, trimming bales down to fit in awkward corners, and all while going up and down ladders a lot. Then moved onto putting up the stud wall frames for part of the plant room – I’ve got my sparkies coming out next week to get the house sub-board started, so they need something to put the board on. Wasn’t sure how…Continue Reading “A bit of high baling, and a stud frame…”
  • Some more baling
    With the rain going away again, I could get stuck into the last wall to be baled – an 8.5m wall, 3.7m high at its tallest (fading down to 3.3m thanks to my favourite people and their fancy starts…. 🙂 ) with three tall windows to make life interesting and a funny little 105° bend at the end. The windows split the wall up into four columns, with one funny little 400mm-wide one between two windows. The two wider columns went up pretty easily, I’m…Continue Reading “Some more baling”
  • Random rainy day
    Too much rain around today to consider baling (especially on one of the most exposed walls), so we did other stuff. I hauled the remainder of the bales down to the house: …which meant that, for the first time, I could actually see the full extent of the shed. I haven’t actually seen the floor of the main room since we put the roof on, because a couple of days later all 800+ bales arrived and they’ve been there ever since. So the bales got…Continue Reading “Random rainy day”
  • House Baling, Day 3
    Slightly random day – I put a post up on FB inviting any of my friends who were interested, to drop by and see what this whole baling thing was about. So I expected lots of talking and not a huge amount of work. 🙂 Got stuck into the section of wall between the front door and the big windows – nice simple wall with one window and a corner (a 90° corner! What a luxury! *glares at architects* 🙂 ), but quite a contrast…Continue Reading “House Baling, Day 3”
  • House baling, day 2
    Another day with my two favourite workers – the weather has been very nice for the last week, but there’s apparently a cyclone on the horizon(!?) which might make life interesting. We did the same technique as before – everyone took a section and got stuck in. Seems to work really well with a small team, everyone gets to know their section and no one gets in each others’ way. So we plugged away happily and….suddenly the south wall was done all the way around…Continue Reading “House baling, day 2”
  • House: Baling day 1
    Had a couple of willing workers for the last day of the Easter LWE, so we made a start on baling the house – it was definitely worth delaying the ‘public’ baling by a week, I’m a lot more prepared than I would have been if I’d rushed it. Both of my helpers had worked on the shed, so we all picked a section and got stuck in. I’d expected to get very little done today; the shed had lots of large sections of straight…Continue Reading “House: Baling day 1”
  • Prepping for baling, and swearing at my architects…
    A couple of days working on the second half of the framing, now that I have a roof to work under. Bottom ladder went together pretty easily, albeit with some….interesting….arrangements around the 15° bend, and and the recessed section of wall at the pantry. Much muttered commentary about architects and their fancy ideas…. 😉 Very glad I’d dragged out my big drop saw for this – and conveniently the saw has a preset notch at 15° which made it much easier to flick back and…Continue Reading “Prepping for baling, and swearing at my architects…”
  • Roofing weekend
    Dragged together a group of family & friends to do the last big lifting task – getting the rest of the roof up. Hired two hoists this time – with some 11.5m panels, having two panels to control tilt, direction and stability seemed like a very good idea. Saturday I’d kinda planned this to be more of a ‘prep’ day – most of my big burly mates were lined up for Sunday, and I wasn’t confident we could do the final tilt-and-drop movement to lock…Continue Reading “Roofing weekend”
  • All the trolley things
    Have giant trolley, will repurpose to carry anything else you need to move: It’s now a haycart. 😀
  • Panel moving…
    In order to get my driveway back, I needed to move all these ridiculously long panels down to the house. Since the shorter ones were ~10m (and therefore 100kg), and the longer ones 11.5m (115kg!) I needed something more intelligent than just “get more people and make them hate me by lifting heavy things.” Cue the development of Paul’s Patended Panel Perambulator: With the help of a set of wheels and an axle from Bunnings and various bits of timber from my stash, I threw…Continue Reading “Panel moving…”
  • ….and my driveway disappears again
    Hello panels, goodbye driveway. A few mates are coming past tomorrow morning to help get these down to the house and lay them out ready for wiring.
  • Roof lifting day, from the air
    Nearmap randomly happened to be flying an update on the day we raised the first third of the house roof: The first two angled panels are up, and it looks like we’re standing around discussing how to get the third one up. 🙂
  • Ross’s house
    The random guy who came past my build and picked that I was doing strawbale on the basis of my bottom ladders, had his own strawbale house and garden on Gardening Australia over the weekend: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/gardening-australia/series/32/video/RF2005V005S00 Starting around 16:30.
  • Diggy diggy hole
    My marri slabs were finally dry and out of the kiln, so I arranged to get my favourite toy for the weekend: to lift them off the trailer at my end. (the guy with the kiln has a handy tractor-forklift, but I don’t.) A couple of hours of driving and slinging, and they were happily filling my carport: There’s three stacks here – on the right is the main trunk of the tree, which was ~800mm wide, 3600mm long. Hidden behind the slab standing up…Continue Reading “Diggy diggy hole”
  • Chopping up some timber…
    Waiting for the second half of my roof panels to come in, so I got started framing the outer walls in the half that was already roofed. First was the super exciting waterproofing layer on the upstand, in between rainy days: then putting together the bottom ladders, rolling up lots of straps and stashing them under the ladders, bolting the whole thing down. All very fun stuff. 🙂 The slightly more interesting activity was framing the windows. I wanted to make the window bucks a…Continue Reading “Chopping up some timber…”
  • Darned kids…
    ….get off my lawn!
  • House Roof, Part 1
    Day 1 Righto, time to levitate some of the panels currently taking up my entire house slab, and put them somewhere useful. Lined up a lift, an extra-tall ladder and a bunch of friends & family, and we set to work on Saturday morning. My sparkie turned up for the day as well – partly to make sure we didn’t mess up any wiring, but also just to see a panel roof get put together. First cab off the rank was the three weird-shaped panels…Continue Reading “House Roof, Part 1”
  • Windows
    Meanwhile, my shed windows arrived! The frames and glass units came separately, which I wasn’t expecting and complicated picking it all up, but turned out to be a good thing since each frame weighed about 25kg, and the glass another 20kg. Installation turned out to be quite easy – put each frame in place and wedged it, run expanding foam around the gap, wait for it to dry and…voila. The glass went in quite easily, once we worked out how to get the beads off…Continue Reading “Windows”
  • House frame – steelwork
    The last main bit of the house frame was the steel post in the corner of the living room windows, and the steel beams to support the windows. This hit a small snag when I checked one of the brackets my fabricators put together: So had to scoot up to their factory and get them to fix them up post-haste. 🙂 The ever-present hoist came out to help position the post which, unsurprisingly, was a tad heavier than the other timber ones, and had to…Continue Reading “House frame – steelwork”
  • House roof – pre-wiring
    My sparkie had some….residual unhappiness….about wiring the house roof panels – I’d avoided this in the shed by simply not having any lights mounted in the roof panels. Apparently in the past when working with SIPs he’d done the wiring as the panels were being put up, which seems…overly difficult, and would also slow down the install significantly as you muck around with each panel (all while working up ladders, of course). So out came my 3d model to work out where each light needed…Continue Reading “House roof – pre-wiring”
  • More inside rendering
    Got the first coat onto three walls of the inside of the shed over the last few days: The last few sessions I’ve been doing 4 or 5 mixer loads, rather than 8-9, and that seems to be keeping the worst of the lime burns at bay – not sure whether I get careless as I get tired, or if it’s just a gradual buildup of lime over time. One change I did make was to tweak the order of mixing each batch to put…Continue Reading “More inside rendering”
  • House roof panels
    Where did my slab go? I’m sure it was here earlier, but now there’s just piles of SIPs all over the place. I’ve arranged for the house panels to come in in two deliveries, because I simply don’t have enough room to store them all on the slab given that I have to lay a fair few of them out to be wired.
  • A door!
    Fun afternoon tweaking the door frame for the wet-area access from the east side of the shed, to fit a door I found in a salvage yard – I figured having some glass in this door would be nice, to add light to the wet area. Of course I then managed to leave the doors leaning against a post on a windy day, the wind blew them over and put a door handle through one of the panes. I’ll have to get that replaced at…Continue Reading “A door!”
  • Inside rendering
    Short, fast and tough bit of rendering, working on the inside back wall of the shed. Didn’t take us very long, but a combination of hot weather, me changing my mix ratios and getting render clumped up in the mixer, sweat and clumsiness meant I clobbered my arm a bit with lime burns. Nice to get a serious bit of internal wall done though: Meanwhile the sparkies were finishing off the switchboards ready for the meter to be moved into its final home on the…Continue Reading “Inside rendering”
  • ‘Cram’ walling
    Something I’d wanted to experiment with was cram-walling – the unofficial name for internal straw walls, with wire mesh stretched over the stud frame, the void filled with loose straw and then rendered. There’s only one internal wall on the shed, between the dusty room and the wet area, which seemed like a good excuse to try this method out. We’d put a simple stud frame up a couple of weeks ago, in between other tasks: So I stretched some small-diameter chicken wire over this…Continue Reading “‘Cram’ walling”
  • Almost done lifting things…
    The last three beams up, alongside the hallway and a small one over the study. There’s a bit of steel framing to go around the big windows on the NW corner of the living room, but the roof framing is more or less complete.
  • Lifting smaller beams
    With the big stuff done, and the genie lift returned, we did some more smaller beams by hand. This was actually pretty easy – we could just lift one end into the bracket, then hoik the other end up using a platform ladder. The main advantage of the house over the shed is that the beams are shorter, often smaller and therefore very much lighter. Of course there’s more of them…. Got the front door, entrance, kitchen wall, west wall and east wall beams in…Continue Reading “Lifting smaller beams”
  • More lifting
    Had the lift for the rest of the weekend, so hoisted up the other big beam – a 270×45, 7.5m long one that spans across the kitchen, and its companion that has the cross-bracing to hold it upright. This was the only time I’d done any lifting alone – had to slow down a LOT and do the lifts more carefully, without having someone on the lift and someone to steer the beam, but got it done with no mishaps.
  • Lifting day
    Somewhat brutal day with a genie lift, lots of bonus hands and a 37° forecast. Started with lifting and cross-bracing the angled beam in the NW corner, to hold the ridge beam post upright. Then had to bring up the two beams on the north side of the living room, because they support a short beam that butts into the side of one of them. The ridge beam then butts into that short beam. The first three went up pretty easily. The ridge beam turned…Continue Reading “Lifting day”
  • Prepping for lifting day
    Moved my stack of random-length LVLs down to the slab and arranged them kinda in the right spots. Promptly discovered a few that were the wrong length, because “Measure Once Cut Twice” is totally a thing. Managed to rectify it all, with a generous application of maths and coffee, so it’s all good. Put up the beams on the south side because, again, they’re level and I know how high they should be. Put together the main gable beam, ready to be lifted tomorrow when…Continue Reading “Prepping for lifting day”
  • Cutting day
    Sorted through my big stack of LVLs, and made them into a weirdly-shaped stack of LVLs. Go me. It was ridiculously hot again today, but tolerable under the carport roof.
  • More posts and a couple of beams
    Put together the north wall of the study/second bedroom, because I had all the bits I needed and it’s a nice level wall (which is unusual on the house). Cut a couple of beams, which slotted nicely into place, and added a small angled one because it meant I could cross-brace the frame. The little piece up the far end isn’t a beam – it’s just a piece of wood to rest the actual beam to its left on, while I lifted the other end…Continue Reading “More posts and a couple of beams”
  • Christmas presents
    My standard response to “what would you like for Christmas?” has been “a house” (in the hope that someone would magically build mine while I wasn’t looking? 🙂 ) So my sister got hold of our lego collection from when we were young, and did just that:
  • Posts, but upright
    Another early start to beat the ludicrous heat – hopefully the neighbours were already awake at 7am. 🙂 Around the slab putting the posts I’d prepped yesterday in place, and bolting them in. This should give me a bit of a base for installing the rest of them, and the beams at the same time, without anything flapping around loose. Lots more column prep to do, including the much more tedious slots for the blade supports. It’s interesting to see the roof line take shape,…Continue Reading “Posts, but upright”
  • Posts, part 1
    Another brutally hot day (forecast to be 41°C in the hills), so I got an early start and got to work cutting posts. Set myself up in the cover of the carport to avoid the worst of it – the ceiling is really good, stopping all the radiant heat, so I only had to deal with the ambient temperature except for briefly scooting out to put a post on the slab. Got all the posts cut for the big base brackets, so I can stand…Continue Reading “Posts, part 1”
  • Post supports finished!
    Screwed the rest of the post supports in before it got too warm this morning: then we ran around with the laser and measured the actual height of the surface the post rests on for each of them. I can then feed those measurements back into the theoretical post lengths from my model and adjust for the variation – the slab isn’t perfectly flat, and the upstand decidedly less so, so there’s a bit of adjustment to do for each post. This seemed to work…Continue Reading “Post supports finished!”
  • More post supports
    Screwed down all the supports we’d put together on Saturday, then it got too hot to move again so I retreated to the lovely cool carport to set up the rest of the supports. Hopefully make an earlier start tomorrow, get all of those screwed down and measure their levels so I can start cutting posts. I had an epiphany the other day, which I’m hoping will make putting together the house frame a lot easier. All of this roof I’ve coloured orange: is in…Continue Reading “More post supports”
  • Housework
    ….a pun I promise I’ll only make once. I’ve got two weeks off over Christmas, so my goal is to get as much of the house frame as possible up. First step: post supports. Dug out the heavy hammer drill again, which last saw action fixing the bottom ladder to the shed slab….wow, that was only 10 weeks ago? Lots of string-lines, measuring tapes and random marks on the concrete resolved into a bunch of outlines and hole marks for the post supports, and got…Continue Reading “Housework”
  • (A little) more rendering
    The last couple of days I’ve done half-days of rendering – 3-4 mixer loads – rather than trying to do the entire day, where I might get 10 loads done and be absolutely shattered. Four loads is pretty easy to get through, gets….probably 12-15sqm?…done, but doesn’t leave me exhausted and I can do other stuff in the afternoon when it’s warmer. So the first coat on the outside of the shed is basically complete, after today’s short effort. After that we had another crack at…Continue Reading “(A little) more rendering”
  • Hot days are hot
    Perth’s forecast max was 38° today, which wrote off the plan of finishing the rendering. Instead we concentrated on finishing dressing the inside walls – mainly tidying up the tops and bottoms of the walls. Finally got back to cleaning up the loose bales above the top plates, using the strips of ply we screwed into the roof back in mid-November. (We’d put all the strips up, just not the mesh to go on them. I think this technique has worked really well – tying…Continue Reading “Hot days are hot”
  • Mooooore rendering! (and more remedial work…)
    Some more lessons in “stop expecting timber to carry too much weight you silly bugger” first – the ladder frame over the main doors, which had magically pulled itself into shape when we tightened the straps on it, was leaning outwards again. I could have worked around it, but it seemed like an unstable arrangement that’d only get worse, and it was a lot easier to fix now. The main issue was that all the attachment of the ladder frame was to the big posts…Continue Reading “Mooooore rendering! (and more remedial work…)”
  • More rendering!
    I haven’t posted for a bit, because making even more posts with the title “More rendering!” seemed a bit redundant…but now I’m getting comments on the lack of updates so there’s clearly no keeping you lot happy. :p I’ve been interleaving days rendering the outside with finishing prepping the inside walls, and prepping outside walls so they can be rendered, and basically chasing myself around the building. The prepping is mostly stuff I’ve shown before – mowing walls, meshing bits and pieces, generally cleaning things…Continue Reading “More rendering!”
  • 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”