Big Build – Week 3 New Floor Joists, Walls and Foundation Pads

Week 3 felt like we were having a pause. Mainly because the visible work downstairs slowed down because we couldn’t get a skip on the driveway due to deliveries of blocks, sand and cement for upstairs.

We were wrong to think that though as things did continue at pace. Our chief chippy Voodoo (long and unrepeatable story involving a late 80s raving holiday and A Guy Called Gerald’s hit) laid all the new floor joists in two days. It was impressive stuff. He needed to lay joists and join them centrally as our width needed to be 23 feet in old money. These rested on thick battens at the flanks and on the solid walls that run down the hallway downstairs. He then tied the new floor joists to the old ceiling joists, giving them extra support (cue a couple of extra ‘settlement cracks’ in the ceiling downstairs). Finally the flanks of the ceiling joists were cut into ready for the first course of bricks.

We had a little debate about the stairs. These are coming up where the current loft hatch is, to the rear of the new upstairs space. We are having to move the boiler the other side of the wall it’s on as we’re converting our downstairs bathroom into a utility bathroom and we also subsequently found out that to have a boiler under stairs, you needed significant fireproofing above it. The stairs builder (they are specialists) said we had enough space for a straight flight which was great as we want to put a second external door underneath. In any case, Voodoo has so far refused to cut the hole for the stairs as it would take out the platform the brickies will need to stand on to build the back wall. So stairs are in the plan for next week and Voodoo has put in temporary joists just in case the wall can be built before he returns. The good thing about George, our contractor, is that he listens to his craftsmen on site and will happily change the schedule round on their sound advice.

The blocks have all arrived, they are big, and there are lots of them but surprisingly they are quite light compared to what you think. To free up space on the driveway, most have been moved up to the scaffolding or centrally on the new joists. We have traditional bricks too, for where lintels are placed above windows and they need to be cut into the bigger bricks.

Brickwork prep 2
Blocks on new 1st floor joists ready to go!

To say I was astonished with how quickly the brickies did the block build would be an understatement. I left for work one morning with no walls and returned to find them nearly done! I knew something was up when the missus phoned me and said “Terry wants to know where the windows are going and we need to decide in the next 30 minutes.” Of course these were on the plans, we just needed to confirm and we actually made an adjustment to one to account for a revised en-suite layout (and a new dressing table we had acquired!) With the walls up, for the first time we could actually see the physical space we had and it was very exciting!

Downstairs we have finally had the chimney taken down, plus some additional prep work down to dig out the pads required for the steels to sit on. We need a ‘goal post’ arrangement on one, so two ‘post’ steels sitting on the floor to support the steels above and a pier of bricks, sitting on another pad, to hold up the end of the longer steel. The pads need to be a metre cubed in concrete.

This has created a little complication on the schedule as the brickies can’t complete the back wall until the steels are in place (as they support this wall), we can’t finish off the stairs until the back wall is done, and one pad is going under the fuse box so there are a lot of wires to divert… so George and Terry are looking at what way round we do things to make sure we don’t lose any momentum. They want to get Building Control round on Monday to assess the size of the pads (before the cement goes in) and the joists. It will be his first visit so fingers crossed.

And I realise I’ve mentioned Terry for the first time. He had a go at me yesterday for only talking about George (who’s name is on the business), when he says he does all the work! Terry is George’s dad and the way he talks about the years he’s been in the trade you’d think he helped build the pyramids. Anyway Terry is on site a lot, which is really handy, and he really mucks in (see the photo below, he’s on the right!) So that’s Terry! Happy now??!

Lintel Delivery with Mr Terry Best

Please check out the rest of our Big Build blog here.

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