This week was all about downstairs. Mainly. We had wondered how on earth we were going to get our steels in (one is nearly 8m long) as the house is surrounded with scaffolding and the driveway isn’t wide enough to swing it round into the garden.
First job was to put in the stairs. John was our stairs fitter, a great highly skilled chap who very quickly put in a flight minus a few bits and pieces. It was wonderful to see them there and actually see the downstairs ‘lobby’ and upstairs landing space we would actually have. You really can’t picture things properly until you have a decent guide.
Whilst this was going on, the pads for the steels were dug out to the right size with photos taken for Building Control. They were lined and filled with cement. Lots of cement and very thick cement (C30 or something, apparently a cement spec not a Star Wars droid) so that it would go off over night and be super hard.
The steels then arrived. They had to come in through the long hallway in the front of the house, where five of us are currently living. The hardest part was getting it up our front step, as they were hung from two dollies on really fat wheels. We used an old internal door as a ramp but that broke and after lots of swearing, we finally had it in! The posts were put in first, bolted to the pad and then the cross beams were lifted with a hand-wound fork lift as high as they would go, then spot-welded to the uprights. Once this was done, brackets were added to the main beams and bolted together.
The speed this happened was amazing with sparks flying across the kitchen! The final beam was added and an old beam parallel to this and at the bottom of the stairs was removed. One key question you need to ask is whether you insist on recessed steels so they are hidden in the ceiling or steels under the ceiling that are then boxed in. We kind of went with the flow. The main beam between the kitchen and lounge is boxed in, we could have recessed it but it would have meant cutting all the joists above and a hell of a job to do. The remaining beams, as they were going in with nothing above them, were recessed and it creates a great flat ceiling between lobby, dining area and lounge area.
A quick mention of Voodoo again here. Our chippy wasn’t made aware that the final beam was being recessed so hadn’t done the joists accordingly. It was easy to fix but gave him extra work that wasn’t really needed. That was interesting to see – joist planks were laid inside the beam edges, for the main joists to then butt into. Overall I think the steels are a thing of beauty, proper engineering that makes you realise how important it is to get your structural integrity correct.
The final work this week was done upstairs, our back wall was built – this had to wait for the steels to be done as they sat on top.
Voodoo then built one full and one part corridor wall upstairs. Due to the width of the house, we need these to support the roof timbers above as otherwise the internal walls would wait until the roof is on. We’re having a traditional cut roof made in situ rather than bought-in trusses due to the inability to bring them into our scaffold and poor access outside.
Next week is roof week! And I have to tell the sparky where I want everything which has created lengthy conversations with the missus about where things are going to go and what types of switched ‘we’ want!
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