Wednesday, 27 February 2019

South Wall

       In Nov 2018 we were lucky enough to have family come and visit who were keen to help build the house. The south wall was started with a row of insulation stuck on, and was cut to fit snugly around the windows. Then the botttom wall channel was screwed right at the base of the wall. In the bottom of this pic you can see the metal cladding which has been cut to fit around the window and is ready to be screwed in place.

Then the bottom row of cladding was screwed on in two pieces. The work was much easier with two ladders, especially since this side of the house has a drop of a couple of metres down to the ground and so is much harder to reach.

       At this stage the boys were working so fast that I was unable to keep up with them with my usual system of taking photos at each stage. All I know is that they cut the pieces of cladding, and screwed them onto the wall so efficiently that they had the whole wall done in two half-days of work.

       On the third day they made a quick trip to the 'local' hardware store to purchase supplies to start putting up the eaves. This was a drive of almost an hour each way, so they made sure they were up early in the morning at 6am to get as much done as possible on the last day. This shows serious dedication! For the eaves they first screwed up metal supports, and cut pieces of fibre cement board to size. This cement board was then slid into the fascia-board channel and screwed to the metal support. Each cement board was connected to the next with a special plastic joiner.

       It was great having someone helping to build the house, and even better that they brought all of their own tools. Their tools were much better than our tools, as we can only afford the cheaper ones. Our helper also knew a lot about building that we didn't know, so it was incredibly helpful. We had no idea how to do the eaves, as this was not included in the kit-home. Thank you so much for saving us when we had reached this difficult stage!

       It was amazing how quickly the work got done with another strong helper or two around. The same work had taken us months to complete on our own, and suddenly it was done in a couple of short days. I didn't know whether to feel despondent that we had previously been so slow, or somewhat happy that we had made progress at all. Sometimes it is difficult when life becomes so busy with work, community commitments and just coping, and then building a house on top of that. I try to tell myself that baby steps are better than no steps at all, and to be ecstatic if any progress at all is being done.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

North Wall continued

Sep 2018
         Next step on the north wall was another row of insulation, and then another row of external metal Colorbond cladding. Before we could do this the bottom row of insulation was cut back around the windows for neat and snug fit. Around each window there is a built-in thick black plastic flashing, so this provides extra protection from any rain water getting through the walls. The second row of insulation goes most of the way up to wall, leaving a gap of around 300mm at the top of the wall.

        Then the metal cladding had sections cut out to fit around the windows. These windows have a groove in their frame along the sides and bottom into which the cladding slides. 

There were two pieces of Colorbond cladding which completed the second row, and they overlap in the wide gap between the bedroom and the bathroom window.

 These pieces come almost half-way up the windows.

These were held in place and then screwed to the metal framework with tek-head screws. These screws are all coated with Mountain Blue (trademark) coloured paint so they are perfectly matched to the wall. Unfortunately this paint does chip quite easily when the screw does not go in correctly the first time (which happens quite a lot), so we have accumulated a collection of slightly bad-looking screws which we can re-use somewhere that they aren't too obvious.

For the third row of cladding we were unable to just cut out sections to slide around the windows as the cladding was unable to slide over itself while being tight inside the groove, due to the corrugations. This meant that we had to cut two pieces to go between the windows, slide one in sideways first and screw it to the frame, and then slide the second one in with an overlap to the first one and screw it to the frame.

 Two pieces between the kitchen and bathroom windows, two pieces between the bathroom and bedroom windows, and one piece at each end on the outside of the windows meant there were six pieces making up the third row. 

These pieces come up about 200mm above each window.

To complete the north wall became very tricky at this point since it involved a special top-of-wall channel, the inclusion of eaves and somehow cutting back the fourth row to fit over the windows, so it was put on hold while we moved on to the west wall. First we had to put a tiny short piece of Colorbond about 70mm high underneath the glass sliding door, of course it had insulation put behind it first.

On the right hand side of the sliding glass door, we stuck up a length of insulation, then screwed on a panel of cladding.

Then we stuck up more insulation to finish that side and above the door, and screwed on another row of cladding.

At this point we stuck up a row of insulation on the left hand side of the door, and then screwed on a row of cladding. We were actually quite reluctant to put a wall onto this section, as it had been very handy to just reach through the wall to put or grab tools or water bottles while we were working. After the wall was up though, we quickly got used to the new situation and did not miss the convenience too much.

And then a third row of cladding was screwed on the right hand side of the door. Starting to look pretty good!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

External Wall Cladding

August 2018 - East wall continued
     The first sheet of cladding to be cut (the fourth sheet up the wall) only needed the first tips of the corners cut off, so that it installed basically the same as an un-cut sheet of cladding. At one point the side of the sheet did not screw in flat, and we considered leaving it with a bit of a gap of a few millimetres, as it should have been rain-proof anyway, especially with the addition of some silicone. But the next morning it just looked too wrong, and we spent several hours unscrewing and rescrewing half of the wall sheet. It certainly felt like a waste of time losing half a day of work just to get basically the same result, but the wall looked much better after fixing it.

     The next row of cladding had to be cut back quite a lot, and once it was in place then there was only the tiniest piece left that needed to complete the height of the wall. Here you can see it with the ropes in place ready to pull. This rope was a very strong tow-bar rope which was given to us by a very special person, and has come in very handy. Thank you so much!

     The smallest piece left to put in place was less than 30cm high so felt quite ridiculous, especially since most of that 30cm was the overlap with the next sheet below it of about 10cm. At least it did not require ropes to lift it up to the top!

      Once this piece was in, the wall looked amazing. We are very happy with our choice of Mountain Blue for the Colorbond colour, as it really blends in well with the bush surroundings.

     We were unable to cut all the sheets to size from the start, and had to wait until each sheet was up before measuring how much needed to be cut for the next one, as there could be a lot of variation in the overlap between sheets, and the amount of vertical bowing of the sheets. A difference of only 5mm over 5 sheets equals 25mm, which would be a big problem by the time we got to the top of the wall. There was some room for error at the top angles of the wall though, as any gaps less than about 100mm would be covered by the flashing which came over the corner of the roof sheeting to finish the join.

     Since Josh had done such a brilliant job cutting the triangle pieces for the top of the east wall, he decided to go ahead and cut the same angled pieces for the triangle wall at the west end of the house. At this end, the wall is interrupted by the glass sliding door and the verandah roof, so the triangle above the verandah roof had to be treated as its own separate section. Again the insulation was used to create a template, and then this was traced onto the cladding while laying on the verandah floor.
This wall section was much easier to screw in, as we were able to stand on the verandah roof while we were working. When you are able to work with such ease, the work progresses at a much quicker rate. First we put up the L shaped flashing which sits at the bottom of the wall section and out onto the verandah roof, then the insulation, then the first sheet of cladding, and then the top sheet of cladding.

     After we completed this, we went back to the east wall and put up the roof flashing. This slid under the ridge cap at the top of the roof, and went down to the gutters on each side, following the corner where the wall meets the roof. This simple addition was incredible with the difference it made to the look of the wall, as it made the whole building come together. We are very happy with our choice of Slate Grey (also known as Woodland Grey) for all of our flashing on the house, as it compliments the Mountain Blue perfectly.

     Next was the roof flashing at the verandah end of the house, and after that came the box-ends. We had not been provided with these by the kit-home company, and did not even know what such a thing was, but it connects the fascia on which the gutter sits with the walls at each end of the eaves. After a lot of thinking and drawing diagrams we managed to figure out how to make our own out of the left-over fascia board. Josh was very clever and used his metal-working skills to create these very neat-looking and perfectly sized box-ends.

We discovered that each of the four corners of the house were slightly different measurements, so each box-end had to be tailor-made to fit each corner. The bottom of the fascia had to be cut out to that the side could overlap the house enough to be securely attached, while creating enough height to fit under the roof flashing and fill all the gaps. The last of jobs we needed to do with the tall borrowed ladder was to install the box-ends on the east side of the house, which we did just in time to return the ladder. 

     Next the box-ends were made and installed on the wall above the verandah, and the roof flashing installed also. It looks amazing, creating a very well polished finishing effect.

     We found ourselves just standing there and looking at it, with oohs and ahs coming out of our mouth. Very pleasing!