Home :: Blog

Welcome to our Builders Log

White Water Raftering

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cam

13
May
2014

Well the hole block laying party has been going well and we have about a further day of block-laying to go and then the mixer will be bundled up and moved down to the house site for some further brick laying down the track.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been cutting up rafters and painting the ends. We used a roofing square and two thumb screws to set then angle and draw the cut lines. As we have a cathedral ceiling we cut a birdsmouth at the outside wall and one at the ridge beam. The cut at the ridge beam end was only small so was cut out by hand.

Now we just need to spend the time to put them all into position. As we will be using plywood sheet to line the ceiling, our rafters will be spaced at 800mm centres. We will make a gauge stick to make sure the centres are all the same.

Thats all for now...

 

Bubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cam

25
January
2014

So for the last few months we have just been laying blocks, averaging around 2 1/2 mixer loads per building day which get around 24 blocks laid in a day. The time consuming bit about laying the blocks, especially in the warmer weather, is that the block need to have the mortar jointed and cleaned before the mortar sets. Which when working alone can take up to 4 hours to fully complete a batch.

In the warm - hot weather I have been adding a product called "Dynex" made by Bostik to prolong the workability. However, it has been a bit of a learning curve to get it to the right mix consistency. The powder sucks up the water so it looks dryer than what it really is, even after leaving it to mix for 5 - 6 minutes. A splash of extra water can send it over the edge and the mix will turn to mush, I presume that this occurs when the powder reaches a saturation point.

So the other day we made a full mixer load of mortar and it was looking a good consistency we poured out half the mix and left the rest turning in the mixer. After having laid the first half we came back for the second half and something was not quite right. The remaining half of the mix had become very foamy and aerated. As was said at the time if we were making a Pavlova or meringue we would have been very proud.

Read more: Bubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble

 

The bowl on the mixer goes round and round

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cam Leora

16
September
2013

I just remembered I was going to make a note about the mortar mix we are using. The Timbercrete manual set outs a test procedure for determining the right mix for the mortar so that it doesn't crack. We found a supply of sand at Emerald co-op Mitre10 Garden Center that was left over from a septic tank installation and when I enquired it was possible to get more in if I found it suitable for my needs. This was the perfect sand that was mixed 50:50 with fatty orange brick sand to give a pleasant looking crack free mortar.

When I went back to order a cubic meter of the sand I was told they can only order it by the truck load, which I think was around 8 cubic meters! A little more than what I needed. So I spent ages calling up places around our area until I came across Berwick Sand and Soil who said they might have something suitable. I journeyed down to look at their propogating sand, which was the same as the filter sand I had originally found except it was orange in colour. This indicated that it would have a greater clay content.

So we made a couple of test boards and found that a 50:50 mix was only showing slight signs of cracking and the 85:15 was a bit light in colour with no cracking so at the moment we are using a 60:40 sand mix. This mix then gets added to a bucket of lime and a bucket of cement. All the components are batched into a bucket forst to ensure that we get a consistent mix with a consitent colour and properties.

 

The good wood (and cement)

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cam Leora

16
September
2013

As the rain patters down on the tin roof of our site office I needed a break from drawing changes to our floor layout... and what better way than to update the blog with our current progress.

We are currently working on the walls of our workshop. Because of the slope of the land this will be a single open room with a high ceiling at the front and two levels at the back. For the wall material we have selected Timbercrete blocks, it is essentially a concrete block that uses sawdust and fine wood chips as the aggregate component. Each block is finished by hand when it comes out of the mold, so they have a unique rustic look about them.

The main reasons we selected Timbercrete is because they have a high fire rating (240 / 240 / 240), it has an easy to follow construction manual, they have a lower carbon footprint (they are air dryed), they can be drilled, nailed and screwed like timber and we thought they were pleasing to look at.

Read more: The good wood (and cement)

 

Kamakaze Kookaburras

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

22
March
2013

Well things have finally started to happen! And many things have happened since the last post, so I will try and fill you in. At the end of November we were starting to despair that we weren't able to find the people we need to get the foundations in place - slab, strip footings, retaining walls and driveway. Having enough trouble finding one person let alone 3 people to complete the works... Although we are not alone, one of our neighbours has been trying to get a fence built and if the contractor shows up at all they'd be lucky to hear back.

So we were at a friends party down in Woodend and we came across someone who was in the excavator game... and they worked on our side of the city. We got a quote from them and a few questions later we had given them the job. It still cost us twice as much as what we had originally budgeted (using the Rawlinsons guide to construction costs), but it was for all the key components and the cheapest quote we had so far. I think part of this was that they were commercial contractors and didn't get scared off when they saw the slope on the block.

Read more: Kamakaze Kookaburras

 

Freeze... This is a hold-up!

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

21
October
2012

Nope, we haven't started working for the bank... although we might need to if the current quotes for our driveway are anything to go by! The engineering we got done in haste (although it still took a while) to get a Building Permit is now causing us some troubles. Prior to getting the driveway engineered we had an excavator lined up to do the work once our approvals came through. When the approvals came through and he saw what was required he couldn't get out of there fast enough!

As hinted at we then set out to get a number of quotes again (we're working on the 3rd time lucky principle). Half a dozen contractors came out and we only got 2 half-quotes. One came in at $60,000 just for a 15m length of driveway and retaining wall the other was $270 per hour, but he couldn't say how long it would take him or even provide an estimate of how long... Council wanted to see some activity, so we started digging by hand according to the plans. We were faced with a tough decision, do we persist with the current retaining wall designs or do we go back to an engineer...

Read more: Freeze... This is a hold-up!

 

Finally... Almost

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

29
June
2012

Well it has been a long time in the making, but on the 30th April 2012 we got word that our Building Permit had been approved! In the detail though we found that the permit did not include construction of our Workshop (we're still working on that side of things) and there were a couple of clarifications we needed to make in regards to the retaining wall that runs along the driveway, but it's mostly apples and we can get started digging the driveway.

On the Council/Site Office side of things with the issue of the permit the Municipal Building Surveyor lifted the stop work order, which had been in place since October last year. The have not yet lifted the Building Order despite repeated requests and almost 2 months after getting our Building Permit. We sought the advice from a lawyer which greatly put our minds at ease.

Anyway, now that I found the website passwords again, I just wanted to share some news... We should get around to filling in the gaps of the last few months shortly, but don't expect it to be in order...

   

We'll get there one day...

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

04
December
2011

We're still here... We have been plenty busy in the last few months. We now think we have everything in place so that we can turn the first sod as soon as the Building Permit comes through.

We have been busy putting up an "internal" fence so we can have a clear separation between the construction/domestic zones and our conservation areas. The fence is a three strand post and picket construction. We have also attached a silt barrier to the bottom third of the fence to prevent any sediment moving into the conservation areas.

It has been a real challenge to get the fence in because our soil is very damp. A typical 600mm deep hole would be moist for the top 300mm - 400mm and below that it would be the consistency of slop. Didn't even need to use the shovel or auger I could just dip my hand in and pull out a scoop of wet dirt. This made it very difficult to tamp down the dirt again. In hind sight it might have been better to use some cement to set the post in... maybe when it comes time to replace the fence we'll consider it again.

Read more: We'll get there one day...

   

Stop... Go!

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

10
August
2011

It's been a while between drinks because things have been very hectic over the last few months, but I hope I can now fill you in now that things are slowing down again.

Back in April we had started the temporary footings for our Site Office. Our Planning Permit had been conditionally approved at the end of March and we needed somewhere to store our tools and conduct the site management from. By the end of the month of April we had most of the timber frame in place. This was done in almost a weekend because we had prefabricated the frames and then transported them to site and only needed to bolt them together.

We were only a couple of days away from ordering the tin from Steeline when we received a letter from Council saying that we had an illegal construction on site and we needed to stop all work, except to make safe. 14 days later the council building inspector managed to come out to the site to investigate the matter. We had looked into the legislation before going ahead with our Site Office and found that no permits are required to put a site office on a site for the purposes of construction.

Read more: Stop... Go!

   

Planning Approved!

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

05
April
2011

Well it has been a while in the making and we now have our planning permit! It will take us a little while to absorb all of the 35 conditions, but there are no real surprises. We will need to show a little more detail on the plans before they are endorsed and make some changes to the Land Management Plan.

One piece of good news is that the BAL rating has been listed as BAL-29, which will remove a lot of the head-ache and cost of trying to get strawbale approved for a higher level.

Now the real work will begin...

   

Brace Yourself

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

05
April
2011

In order to make use of the annexe we needed to have a flat bit of floor. The only way we could see how to do this without too much damage to the ground was to build some brick columns to support a floor. So off we went to Beaver Bricks to pick up 150 second hand cream bricks (slightly better quality than the cheap render bricks we got to support the caravan).

To get the bricks down the slope we laid a couple of planks down and used it to slide the bricks to the bottom, where they were stacked. We then commenced stacking the bricks on top of the leveled concrete pavers (on builders sand). It soon became apparent that the stacks above 500mm were getting unstable and would need some stablisation.

Read more: Brace Yourself

   

On the Straight and Level

PDFPrintE-mail

Written by Cameron

05
April
2011

Following the placing of the caravan on the site we have spent a few weekends trying to get it straight and level. Our support pillars have been constructed by dry-stacking a pillar of recycled bricks (Beaver Bricks, Kilsyth), which sits on a 380mm square concrete paver, which in turn sits on a leveled pad of builders sand.

We had a couple of false starts... initially thinking that we would be able to get a good pad not using builder sand, but just leveling the soil did not work and we ended up with a couple of cracked concrete pavers.

Our method was to use the bottle jack from the ute rated at 2500kg to lift up one wheel and build the brick pillar as the height allows. We also had on hand some small square pavers if we needed a half height increment. This was done on the low side of the van alternating between the font and rear wheel of the tandem set to gradually lift the entire van.

Read more: On the Straight and Level

   

Page 1 of 2

Who's Online

We have 1 guest online
2009_montsalvat 22.jpg

Search