The builders where back onsite this week framing up the walls. They made good progress and got most of the wall frames up before rain halted things on Friday.
The timber was delivered Monday lunchtime and the builders kicked off framing early Tuesday morning. KM Bray consists of a team of 3, Kristian plus Cody and Josh. Cody completed his apprenticeship with Kristian, while Josh recently joined the team after completing his apprenticeship in Bendigo. Between the 3 they can get through a bit of work. They prefer to frame their own stud frames rather than use prefabricated and are using LVL timber rather than traditional pine. This is painted red and is straighter and whilst it costs more, saves labour.
LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) is a high strength engineered wood product made from veneers bonded together under heat and pressure. It is generally used for permanent structural applications including beams and rafters.
Wall framing 101:
A timber stud framed wall consists of:
- a bottom plate, usually 90 x 35mm, which sits on the slab.
- vertical studs, usually 90 x 35mm at 450mm centres, which sit on the bottom plate.
- Horizontal noggings, usually 90 x 35mm at 1350 maximum centres, which go between the studs.
- A top plate, usually 2/90 x 35mm, which sits on top of the studs
- Jamb studs which are larger studs that go each side of an opening. Size varies depending on the width of the opening.
- Lintels which span over openings. Size varies depending on the width of the opening.
Stud walls (and ceilings) are usually 2.4-2.7m (8’ – 9’) high. At work we call 2.7m standard, however a lot of project homes go lower to save costs. 2.7m walls are still economical as they are 2 sheets of 1350mm plasterboard and are a nice height. Higher ceilings are still nice in large open spaces and I will often specify 3m high or raked (sloped) ceilings in living areas. In ours we have a flat 3m ceiling in the lounge (kids end) and raked ceilings in our kitchen, meals, family area. These ceilings start at 2.7m and slope up to almost 3.9m.
Most stud walls over 3m high need to be designed by an engineer as they are outside the scope of the Australian Standard for timber framing (AS1684). They are also much more labour intensive, particularly when combined with raked ceilings and large high openings, which is a feature of our design. The builders flew through the standard height walls but slowed up working on the high wall section.
We checked on the progress each night and it was great to walk through and get a feel for how it might be. We caught up with Kristian on site on Thursday, walked through, and discussed some of the design. I am happy with the room sizes; however Jess and the kids think some rooms are small. You get a much better idea once the wall frames are up, however still hard to tell what works without the plasterboard and furniture. Only room I have any doubt about is the ensuite. Plenty of length but maybe the width could be wider. I thought about making it bigger but there was no simple fix so decided it will be fine. Time will tell.
We found that perhaps the pantry was too closed off so have decided to remove a nib wall. I spent a lot of time getting things just right, however there is no substitute for seeing things in real life. This minor adjustment is easy to make at this stage, so it is a good idea to do a walk through with your builder before he gets too far into it.
Kristian found the internal elevations and 3D perspectives invaluable when it came to tackling the trickier parts. At work we do not provide these as standard as they are time consuming so is probably not worth then expense on a standard build. We should perhaps offer this service more on complex designs to give the client a better feel for the interior and assist the builder with quoting and construction.
The trusses are due to arrive on Monday, however there is still a bit of work to do before they go up. The walls need to be plumbed (straightened) and braced and some steelwork needs to go up to support the trusses over the eastern roof overhang and alfresco area. All going well they may be up when we talk next.
On Friday afternoon we ducked to Swan Hill to catch up with Mick from Maher’s Glassworks and order our windows. At work we have a good working relationship with Maher’s and they often provide us with advice on window matters. We are a little concerned that some materials, including glass, might be hard to get due to stage 4 in Melbourne. We therefore want to be ahead of the game to avoid delays.
I am stoked with the windows mick showed us and I think they will look sick. We are going with matt black (Nightsky) commercial aluminium frames with tinted double-glazed glass. We do not necessarily need the tint as our windows are shaded in summer, however like the look, particularly against our white (Surfmist) walls. We have a few fixed panels, and the opening sections are either casement or awning. Casement windows are side hinged and wind out, while awning windows are top hinged and wind out. Both look the same however casement allow more ventilation but cost more. We reverted back to awnings in the kid’s bedrooms to save some coin but stuck with casement in the master bedroom wing as their location on the south will assist with cross flow ventilation of our kitchen/meals/family area.
We also have some large 3 panel sliding doors, 2.4m high x 4.5m wide, where 2 panels slide back to 1 fixed panel. We have struck a hurdle here as it seems good screen doors only go up to 1.2m wide, whereas we need 1.5m. I am set on having the large panels rather than reducing them, so need to find a solution as I do not think you can do without screen doors with the flies and insects we have around here.
A wet Saturday morning was spent reviewing shower drains, kitchen mixers, cladding, screen doors and window flashings. Time well spent as we competed the homework set by our plumbing and window suppliers and moved closer to finalizing details.
Hope you are all coping with the Covid restrictions. I cannot get used to putting a mask on to go out and shake my head every time. But I guess desperate times call for desperate measures….