• 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”
  • 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”