A collection of things I sometimes write about. Comments? Questions? Get in touch

House Building Diary: Week Two

November 12, 2017

Continuation of the house-building adventures.



The first week of building was exhausting, and I was starting to think that I had gotten into something that was completely over my head (and honestly, I wasn't even doing the hard parts!). 


A typical day for me is usually spent glued to my laptop - both for work and pleasure. I’d be in a nice, cool room, with a very high probability of being sprawled in bed, and I’d get things done without really having to move much. 


Building a house, however, was all about brawn (and brains too, of course, but mostly brawn). It was hot, hard work under a burning sun or threatening clouds, and it required a lot of movement and more energy than I was used to expending on daily basis.


It was almost like I'd stepped into someone else's life for a moment in time. 



Day 6: Putting up the roof


It was a Tuesday, and I had lost my crowd of volunteers because of this thing called ‘jobs’ that tend to take place during weekdays. It was down to a few of us to carry on the work.


The builders put up the heavy roof beams, a lot more carefree and relaxed now that they didn’t have 20+ amateurs crawling underneath them, at risk of getting their heads banged by say, a falling beam.


Finishing off the last of the structural beams on the roof



While they did that, the rest of us (and by that, I mean the two of us), set out to finish assembling the wall panels that weren’t completed during the weekend. After accidentally breaking over 15 boards, we started to get the hang of how not to break boards while putting them together, and proceeded with the work a lot faster.


Check out the mountain of broken boards on the bottom right



We then realised that two of the panels had been assembled upside down. So now we had to learn the opposite skill: how to not break boards while taking them apart


The other team finished putting up the roof, and then guiltily confessed that they accidentally drilled a few extra holes. We made a note to make sure those get patched up.


Enthusiastically drilling holes that they made a few extra



Day 7: Assembling even more wall panels, and then the floor


The wall panels had taken us forever and a day, and there was still just a tiny bit of it to finish. 


The never ending quest to finish wall panels 



Once we completed the last wall panel, I was relieved to finally be able to move on to another task - surely cutting steel would be easier? At least the bloody thing won’t break so easily.


As it turned out, the steel didn’t break like the boards did, which was good, but it also barely yielded to the cutting blade, which was bad. For all the noise I was making with the machine, I wasn’t actually cutting anything.


It took several attempts, ten different poses at various awkward angles, and a lot of metal bits flying through the air, but this too I learned and got the hang of. Soon, I was cutting steel like it was butter (but the cold, frozen kind). I even had fun, until I finished the 20th one and felt my entire arm go limp.


Call me IronWoman



In the afternoon, we were joined by professional floor installers. They arranged the floorboards in neat lines and wielded the staple gun to nail them all together. I didn’t participate, but merely watched in curiosity. 


Bang! Bang! Bang! 



On this day, we had lunch indoors for the first time on the semi-complete floor, sheltered by an actual roof. It was great. 


Nom-ming under an actual roof on an actual floor


The view wasn't too shabby either.


On the new balcony floor



It then started to rain. The floor installers needed more time and would come back the next day to complete the job. The rest of us, in the meantime, would take a nice holiday before the start of the long weekend and the arrival of more volunteers.



Day 8: It's the Weekend! Clerestory and Gable End


This was the start of a long three-day weekend, and relieved from their daily jobs, the volunteers returned and new ones joined.


The floors were done, and it was time to put up the four walls around it.


Installing the wall panels was almost as difficult as making them


It was also time to start work on the trickier side of the house: the gable end, with the sloping roof that made it just a tad more complicated than a normal rectangular wall.


The gable end from the inside


Working on the gable end from the outside



Up on the loft, there was a lot of trial and error going on as we hammered in the studs, only to find that some were too short or too long or that there was a pesky bolt or two in our way. 


The only thing worse than expending all your energy to shove and drill in a wall stud is realising you did it wrong and have to take it out and do it all over again.