Friday, September 14, 2012

The extension upside down then right side up!

13 Sept 2012: [Extension]  The hole in the house wall was cleaned up and the lintel is hard enough to take out the props. The extension was assembled in the back garden upside down (roof on the lawn) to ensure that everything fits. A few adjustments were made, and it is mostly accurate enough to go ahead with building it on the real site.

am: Ken is filling in the space above lintel with bricks to make sure that the wall is fully carried by the Adam can now bash away at the remaining wall, having very neatly cut it with a circular saw to get a precise line.
am: We lay the roof panels upside down on the grass and measure to see if any adjustments need to be made. We cut 10mm off one panel, and they all fit perfectly. We will need to pack a little more insulation in, where I made a mistake with the We are checking the final width of the lower level walls, and getting it level, so that we can check for any errors in the sill piece.
am: Although DNC did some cutting the day before, Ken is now making a new cut to reduce the lintel span by 100mm. the large diameter circular saw makes easy work of Using the cut-line as a guide, Adam is able to bash out the remaining bricks and blocks.
am: Instead of two very strong steel brackets, we are having nine less strong, but stiff enough steel brackets. They need shims to maintain the sill at the perfect horizontal. The sill has to support the two south Ken is now patching up all the bricks on the outside leaf above the lintel.
am: As soon as there is enough support, and enough strength in the mortar, the Acrow props will be taken Meanwhile we go ahead with erecting the entire upper extension upside down, to check that the parts fit correctly.
am: Now the east walls are in place, and the whole thing has to be braced and strapped to stop it toppling For the final part of the wall removal the softer blockwork, a diamond tipped handsaw is the tidiest method, with almost no dust creation.
am: Now the west wall is set up, and the south west wall is manoeuvred into The entire upper extension is now erected, and it's not even midday! After a bit of pushing and worrying, it all now fits and is square.
pm: The opening is fully widened now, and more patching up is going on above the lintel. All the Acrow props have been taken out except one for the middle. The three timber sleeper holes have to be filled, and a conduit is planted to enable us to bring electrics through for Timber sleeper hole being filled in with spare bricks.
pm: Hugh McClintock, the founder of PEDALS (the Nottingham cycle campaign group) turns up for a look. He will be having dinner in this extension before long!pm: Ben and Dave from NewForm Energy turn up for a quick look. They are supplying the PV-Thermal panels that we plan for the roof. They fully understand the benefit of earth charging because that is the best application of PVT. They've done many installations.
pm: We are having a thoughtful moment when we realise that a bit of pushing will be needed to get this absolutely square when it meets the wall. It has to be because the roof cassettes are all perfect shapes and have to meet perfect walls. Some of the steel feet got a bit of lump hammer to shove them another few Andy in pensive mode as he is trying to think how we will lift the sill piece into position.
pm: We have now got the lower east wall square and it's time to screw it to the Now the team is lifting the west wall into position. Its the heaviest of the upper components, the only one that requires 2-4 people to manoeuvre.
pm: Mike Siebert of Ecologic has turned up to help with the building, and Udayan Jain is also helping out. He is a Skyscraper Masters student, so this height of building is about 1/40th of what he is used to thinking about. We discovered that we had to take the panel out again to cut little notches in it to fit around the wall bolts. pm: Now, Mike and Andy bring the East wall round. It is lighter and easier to handle than the West wall because it has a small window. 
pm: Another bit of shoving and heaving and worrying for the team. We anticipated the problem of the wall bolts and carved out some Mike is carving out a bit of the sill unit, which is easier than correcting a small mistake in the detail of the East wall. 
pm: Now we try the East wall again, and this time it fits! I am glad to see that the reveal of the small window lines up nicely with the line of the The East wall is now up. Steve Howes, the Rushcliffe Building inspector calls for a general visit. This is not the sort of thing he is used to seeing. There are no clear categories for him to relate to with something that takes only 3 hours to build, so I sent a request to RBC for a "General" visit. I half wish he turned up two hours earlier when the whole extension was upside down on the lawn!
pm: The South West wall is now in, and fits easily, and we use temporary steel straps to connect the panels. There will be aluminium angles at all the Now we are trying to get the South East wall into place and need to glue extra insulation into the corner. We rebated both of the walls, instead of just one, so the rebate has to be filled in!
pm: View from the West. It is beginning to look like something now even though there is no We need to link the two south walls, so this is the window head beam, and it needs a bit of adjustment, Udayan works at it.
The window head beam goes up and we use clamps to hold it in place until the metal straps finalise its location securely. What do we find? The window opening is precisely 1380mm at the sill level…. and at the window head, it is precisely 1380mm - RESULT!Evening time, and the team is going home, so the wall opening is sealed up securely.

An hour after Sunset, there is just enough light to get a first image of the extension. For a 185cm tall person walking past, this is the view, and the entire upper roof-line of the extension is below the upper line of the timber fence. Another RESULT! (we want it to be unobtrusive).


  1. I just loved the way you have explained the whole process step by step. Specially with a pic..amazing work..thanks..

    1. Thanks for your kind words. This is a new technology for small buildings with high insulation values, and we are finding out how much more difficult prefabrication can be for a very small building compared with traditional construction. Would be easier the second time round!

  2. Even an unexperienced guy in this indudtry can build it after seeing this post...cheers...


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