Sturdy Steels and Timber Trusses

This was a pivotal week for our new chalet bungalow, straight up on Monday with the steels being craned in. The steel requirements had already been calculated by the structural engineer and first we needed to put in a 103 x 203 x 46 UC (Universal Column), sitting between 2 internal walls either side of the hallway on purpose-built block pillars and padstones. Second, we craned in two 203 x 203 x 86 UCs, bolted together and then welded on top of the smaller steel, supported underneath at it’s other end by 7 newton blockwork and padstone. Both steels were then ready in place to support the trusses being delivered two days later.

With the steels in place, focus Tuesday was then on stripping the roof. It took Mac and three other labourers a couple of hours to rip all the tiles off. The tiles were added to the hardcore rubbish pile, along with all the rubble from the internal walls taken out the previous week.

I challenged Mac as to why they didn’t try to resell the roof tiles they were taking down. You could get 10p/tile reselling, so potentially £400 by reselling 4000 tiles. However, the labour and time required to do this wouldn’t have been worthwhile, and speed was of an essence with the truss roof arriving the following day. In order to resell them, you’d need to handball the roof tiles off carefully, one by one, to ensure they remain undamaged, placing them thoughtfully to the side. Instead, by stripping them fast, without the need for prudence, we got the whole roof stripped in a day. They had buckets round the scaffolding to collect the tiles being taken down, which were then poured directly on to the hardcore pile. Simple and swift – job done.

Tiles removed, the previous roof’s timbers are then cut out. We managed to recycle the timber to a fishing lake known to one of our tradesmen, who de-nailed it and used it to create railings. You’ll invariably always find someone to take the timber – in the past we’ve also bagged it up and left it on the drive for people in the local community to take away for their log burners.

A slight spanner in the works this week that required speedy remedial action – when we took the old roof off, we found that the wall plates of the existing bungalow weren’t even. The carpenter who would be responsible for putting in the new truss roof set up the laser and could see the wall plate levels were all over the place. As the new trusses need to sit on an evenly laid surface, we therefore removed all existing and had to buy and embed new timber wall plates which were then laser levelled perfectly all the way round. This reiterates the need for the carpenter to do a site visit ahead of the trusses arriving to ensure everything is prepped correctly in readiness. These aren’t areas to cut corners if you want a sturdy home, built to last.

Finally, with the existing bungalow roof taken down, we were then able to remove the last internal wall to come down, cutting out the opening where the new staircase will be going. This couldn’t come out previously as it had the old roof sitting on it.

A note from Mac on clearing rubble: always remember to consider what’s the most cost effective means of clearance. If I’d have put all this hardcore rubble in skips, it would have likely filled at least 3 skips at a clearance cost of c. £240 + VAT per skip. Instead, a grab-lorry load of hardcore (equal to 2-3 skips) costs £180 +VAT to clear so is definitely the more cost efficient clearance solution.

With the hardcore cleared from site, the driveway is then boarded out for ease and tidyness of working.

On Wednesday, a whole team was then on site for the arrival of the truss roof. Carpenters, crane operator and banksman to give signals to the crane driver during the installation of the trusses. The trusses are all put in place in one day, bolted together and braced up.

We also made the most of a crane being on site and purchased all the caberdek flooring, roofing, ply, furring strips, insulation required for the next stage of the build and had the crane load this around the scaffolding ready to use to save us time and hard labour in carrying it all up ladders.

We’re also close to our next building inspector visit – he’ll want to come out to see the wall plates, steels and truss roof in place to tick off this next stage of the build. We’ve already sent over the steel calculations for his review, so will follow up next week to get him out again for sign off.

I have questioned with Mac about all these next stage building supplies being left on site again over the weekend, particularly given the building blocks that were going AWOL from site overnight last week, but he assures me these are heavy-weight items, up on the scaffolding, that we craned in to place, so not as easy to cart them down the ladders for the thrifty out there.

Let’s hope everything’s still on site and ready to go in the morning!

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