Monday, March 30, 2009


This week the structural flooring is being installed. As all new homes are now required to be built to be 5-Star energy compliant, we have opted to use 'concertina foil batt' insulation to the sub-floor space. I chose this product as it achieves a high insulation level (R2.2), it has drain holes to disperse any condensation and unlike many other insulation products, it satisfies the building code requirement for sub-floor ventilation.
The concertina batt is installed close to the bottom of the floor joist. This air gap between the under side of the flooring and the face of the batt serves as an insulating barrier. As our floor joist are deeper than standard joists our resultant insulating R-value would actually be better than the manufacturer's stated R2.2

The purpose of the concertina shape is to provide a greater surface area which dramatically improves the performance of the insulation.

Floor under construction.

Flooring almost complete. As opposed to footing stage, houses always look enormous when there is only a floor to be seen. They then look small when they are framed and large again when plastered. It is generally a cyclic panic that people go through as their homes are being built. "It's too small.....It's too big.....It's too small............oh, that's OK.

"Where's the TV going Daddy?"
Let's not forget the important things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sub-floor plumbing.

This week the PVC pipes were installed under the house. The white ones are the waste pipes and the pale green pipes are the stormwater pipes. Eventually there will be sub-floor rainwater storage so the stormwater pipes are positioned for future tapping.
Once all the pipes have been placed, sub-floor insulation will be installed then the structural floor sheeting will be placed on top.

Stormwater pipe on the left. Waste water pipe on the right.

The small diameter black pipe is the hot and cold supply water lines.

We received the engineer's updated garage door lintel design today so now the steel can be ordered and the brickwork to the garage can proceed.
Things are moving quickly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bearers & Joists

The timber floor framing began to appear this week.

The bearers have been fixed to the piers and the joists have been placed in position ready to be trimmed and attached to the bearers.

Due to the soil conditions I decided to install deeper joist than usual and use longer spans to better suit the highly reactive clay foundation. This method distributes any foundation movement over a larger area therefore minimises structural movement above.

The security gate was padlocked shut this weekend, but then.....

Master 6 said, "you can get in over here Daddy."

And so we did.

Have I mentioned how much I love security fencing?

By the end of this week the garage should be bricked up. Having said that we are still waiting on the engineer to revise the design of the steel beam over the garage door, so there may be a delay.

Things are really starting to move now. In the next week or two you will notice a big difference.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Here come the bricks.

The bricks arrived late last week and the brickie arrived on Monday.

As you can see from the photos below, the structure is now taking shape and our house is beginning to emerge from the ground.

Bricks have arrived.

We chose a red-blue blend pressed brick. This is what they look like before they are cleaned.

Perimeter brickwork on the strip footings.

Brick piers and basework complete.

The brickie will brick up the garage walls next to allow for the roof structure to be framed once the timber wall frames are erected. In the meantime the timber floor section is ready to be framed. The wall frames have already been pre-fabricated and are ready to be installed once the flooring is in place.

Stay tuned.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Designing the house

As there was no building action on site this week, so I thought I'd mention a little about the design of our new home.

Our intent was to design a comfortable country home. This sounds simple but to do so meant that we had to break the rules of convention by not building a typical 'volume builder' type home and not performing an architectural, post modern act of gymnastics.

What this means is that our design aesthetic had to be driven by applying a proportion consistent with the intended style; not a farmhouse, not an urban townhouse but a family house for a country town.
Design is a very personal thing, everyone has different tastes, requirements and aspirations and in the end all you need are firm ideas and to be comfortable with your decisions.
We are happy with our design outcome and we are enjoying the process.

I first took levels on the block and created a contour plan from the data in order to determine the extent of the site cut and to develop the elevations.

A preliminary sketch of the front elevation. I had a rough idea in my mind of the style but needed to get something on paper to assist with my design development.

I was envisaging something reminiscent of a Californian Bungalow.

Thee lines at the bottom and to the right of the sketch are my 'proportion guides'. These guides are based on the number Phi ( = 1.618033988749895... ). This number is the key to perfect proportion. It is also known as The Golden Section. I could go on and on about this number but it is best if you click on the Phi link to learn more.

Another fiddle with the elevation. Just ideas.

The more I fiddled the more I kept reverting to a common theme. Stonework, gables & loft.

As you already know from my page header this is the design outcome.

One of the original floor plan sketches.
The layout of the house has not changed greatly from the original sketches. It is a design that has been kicking around in my head for quite some time. Remarkably, my wife also sketched something almost identical from the outset.

This was the original upper floor design. I didn't like it because it was too fiddly and it over-complicated the structure.

This is the final ground floor design. Click here to view a larger copy.

This is the final upper floor design. Click here to view a larger copy.
That was a brief insight into the design process. Obviously there is a lot more to it than what is shown on this post but this should serve as a general overview.
The brickie should be on site this week.
That's all for now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Brick piers instead of stumps

This week we found out the true extent of the amout of sub-surface rock.....There is a lot. I suppose youv'e got to expect that building close to a disused quarry on the side of an extinct volcano.
About a third of the holes were successfully drilled out for stumps but the others were more troublesome. These particular stump holes were abandonned in lieu of an alternative method of footing, namely Brick Piers. With the porous rocks and the loose dirt laying about, the site ended up resembling a lunar lanscape .
Anyway, I did expect there to be rock in the way and brick piers had already been discussed as an alternative in the case that stumps were not possible, (It is always good to think of possible obstacles during the planning process and decide upon a solution to avoid hold-ups if the problem actually occurs).
Neil Armstrong is just out of frame on the left.

Anyone want a big rock?

Here you can see the difference between the round stump hole and the large, square, previously rock laden brick pier hole.

The wire protruding from the concrete footing is to go through the centre of the brick pier.
The bricks hold the house up and the wire holds the house down.

All footings concreted and ready for sub-floor work to begin.

Things are still going well and we are looking forward to the next stage of works.
Everything is progressing as planned.