Week three began with the joiners, Davy & Joe, arriving on site to begin the timber frame construction.
As with everyone, they arrived at 7.55am, we did the introductions, a short briefing of the days plans and 8.00am on the button, they got down to work.
When I arrived home from work that evening, the ground floor joists were done and half of the ground floor timber frame panels were up. Considering these were being made from scratch on site, this was good progress. A quick inspection of the joinery work revealed no corners cut and a high standard of work, which I was happy to see. After consultation with Danny, we had decided to go with 6 x 2 framing, rather than the more common 4 x 2. Just to make sure the structure was going to be strong enough. A “belt and braces” approach that I prefer.
Day two was more of the same, with the remaining ground floor panels being put up and the whole thing wrapped in the breather membranes and insulation. A minor issue over the available width of the opening for the french doors was overcome upon realising that the required 10mm could be removed from the door frames without affecting the strength. That evening I ordered the spiral staircase which would be delivered two weeks later.
Day three and luck ran out. The heavens opened and rain stopped play. This is Scotland after all.
Day four and the sun was once more splitting the trees. By the end of the day, the first floor joist were up and the first of the first floor panels.
Day five and there was a slight delay as the steel fabricator had to be called out to site to re-weld the flitch beam at the correct height. A minor oversight. The usual of marking the wrong side of a line. After this was corrected, the remaining panels were up within hours.
That evening, Danny returned to check progress and advise that the scaffolding would be going up on the following Monday. All going well. There endeth week three.
That weekend I adjusted my french door frames and checked the plumbing layout isometrics that I had done, to make sure that the pipe runs would be ok with the positioning of the floor joists. All appeared to be fine. Apart from that there was still little I could do, so I finalised choices on downlighters and electrical sockets and ordered them all. I also ordered a new larger more efficient gas boiler to cope with the extra heating and water demands. It was strange being able to walk around the extension and finally get a feel for the size of it. Even stranger to be able to wander around the first floor and get a glimpse of the view I would soon have. This was tempered by having to be extremely careful with the temporary working floor that had been laid.
Week four began with Danny and the scaffolders on site at 8.00am on Monday to put up the scaffolding. By the end of Monday, it was done. This gave some idea of the scale of the job and passers-by began to crane their necks trying to see what was going on.
Day two and the preparation for the roof trusses was almost complete. It was really starting to take shape.
I returned from work that evening however, to see a worried looking neighbour waiting for me. She was concerned that the scaffolding sitting on the boundary wall was not supported enough. I explained that it was but that I would see Danny about putting in more supports if it eased her mind.
That evening, I ordered the timber for making my french doors and windows. After much searching and research, I had chosen a hardwood called Idigbo. It was stable, straight grained and reasonably priced. I ordered this from a company called Henry Venables. Their website was superb. Simply put in the dimensions of the wood you required and your price was generated instantly. Their customer service was also brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble. Sadly, Henry Venables has now ceased trading, after over 100years in the business. A sad indictment of the times. However, I have been informed that their oak stock has been purchased by Venables Brothers Ltd and they have now commenced trading once again.(www.venbros.com)
Total cost of cheapest quote for doors and windows – £11,000
Total cost of making them myself, including glass, hardware and paint – £3800
I rest my case…
Day three was eventful. It started off normally at 8.00am with Davy & Joe on site to begin roof trusses and Danny advised that he would put in some extra acro-props for the scaffolding, no problem. I left for work. However, later that morning, I received a phone call from Danny asking if I had any wasp killer or fly spray in the house. As it turned out, Davy & Joe had been attacked by a squadron of dis-pleased wasps when they removed the soffit on the existing house roof. As Joe later explained in his usual laconic and understated way, “I’m not bothered by wasps generally but when you’re up a ladder with power tools in both hands and they swarm out and begin dive-bombing your face, it’s a tad disconcerting….”
Day three ended with compliments from my neighbours about the design of the extension and how it was much less imposing than they had thought it would be. I chalked it up as a successful design.
Day four and the first section of roof trusses were up. I also had to get the tv aerial guy out to move the aerial as it was going to be in the way of the roof structure. Somethings you can’t account for.
Day five and it was all hands on deck. First of all, the kitchen arrived from Ikea at 9.00am. Luckily I was able to sweet talk the driver into taking the van around the corner to my aunt’s house. Possibly the thought of having help to lift all the boxes and no builders rubble to negotiate, helped to make up his mind. However, no sooner had I returned to the extension, than I was required up at first floor level. There I was introduced to the roofer who had come along a week early just to get a feel for the job. Unfortunately for him, this meant he was about to be roped in as manual labour to help lift the kerto beam into place. As most will probably know, this is a laminated timber beam, designed for long open spans where no extra supports can be fitted, such as my bedroom’s vaulted ceiling. It is not a featherweight. It took seven of us to man handle the beam into place, not generally helped by the roofer’s Michael Jackson impersonations at crucial lifting moments. Laughing and lifting weights don’t mix. However, lift it we did and as it slotted into place, true and level, there was much celebration….and moonwalking. Eee – hee.
That evening, I settled up with Danny and had a good chat about how things were going. All was going well. There endeth week four.
That weekend I busied myself with removing the remaining kitchen units and getting the tiles off the walls. Easier said than done and as it turned out, most of the walls ended up having to come down. This was a blessing in disguise actually, as it meant it would be far easier to install the new kitchen electrics and move the gas boiler position. Covered in plasterboard and dust, standing in the middle of a pile of rubble, it can sometimes feel like all you’re doing is destroying your house but you should try to keep things in perspective and visualise the end product. As Danny was fond of saying, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”