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  1. Hello, First time posting, so be gentle, and sorry it's a bit long! We have an extension project in planning/just started building stage. For various reasons which I won't go into, I have sacked the structural engineers that were working on our project and am now left with an almost complete foundation design along with some part calculated beams where the extension will join the existing house. I tried, without much luck, to get the original and a possible replacement structural engineer to explain why the foundation design is as it is, and thought I would ask on here to see if anyone can explain to me why I appear to be being dense... (I am a Chartered Engineer by the way so I reckon I have a fairly decent brain, just not a structural engineer). The situation: we have a house that has been extended at various points in the past. The original is mid to late 1700s, followed by a 2 storey extension built we think sometime between 1900 and 1930 (single skin construction, slate dpc and no dpc under the quarry tiles bedded on thin concrete). Tacked onto the side of this part is a single storey extension that I am guessing is 1950s or 1960s - it appears to have cavity walling and a concrete floor, along with modern footings. Summarising slightly, but we are joining a 2 storey prefabricated timber frame extension to the side and above this single storey extension - the ground floor of which will be open plan - hence the current exterior wall will be demolished. The initial engineers designed a block and beam ground floor (clay soil, with trees around 15m away). We had soil analysis done and this recommended depths of 1.95 metres in one corner away from the current house, and 1.4m adjacent to the 2 storey part of the current house (i.e. a spot that is currently inside the house). The foundation design calls for the total removal of the concrete slab and the footings that make up the existing single storey part of the house. As the new footings would then join onto footings that will no way be to modern standards, let alone meeting the 1.4m depth specified by the soil analysis, they have said the existing house will require underpinning, but only where the new footings join the old. I don't understand why we can't keep the current footings and flooring and join onto them. Differential movement has been muttered by both the sacked and the potential new structural engineer, but again I don't understand how the design mitigates this - in fact to my mind it would exacerbate it...? In that if we carried out the design, one wall of our current house would be tied to the new, much deeper footings and at the join points would be rock solid, but surely that same wall would now be at risk of cracking because the footings are not even? And the other walls of the house that range from early 1900s footings (i.e. some, but not deep) to mid 1700s footings (I.e. almost none) could now move at a vastly different rate to the extension and that one wall of the existing house. Surely this will just introduce problems away from the extension? The prospective engineer suggested it is an indemnity issue - is that really it? Does that mean crack in new extension = insurance payout but crack in existing part of house that isn't the new extension = no pay out? Who's risk is actually being protected here??? Or am I missing something?? I look forward to any replies, hopefully someone will help me from tearing my hair out!
  2. As things chug along slowly, I think it's time to move house. previously... We're still working our way through the mire that is purchase (Jebus, could Land Registry make it any harder to work out who all has rights over a sight line?) but at least now I've risked getting the planning consultant on-board. No red flags on the Property Certificate, which is great news. I've got some quotes in for the TF already, but it's surprising how many won't quote until Planning is approved. Likewise prices are in for the Shed. So some stuff I've worked out, some I haven't. I can handle the electrical design (RCBOs all round), but I suspect @Nickfromwales will be leaned on for the heating and foul aspects. But firstoff- and yes I'll be asking the same Qs of the PC- what is acceptable to do on-site prior to full approval? The site has had Outline then Reserved Matters, the planning retained on footings which were confirmed inspected by the BCO. Is it likely that we could go ahead with erection of the shed/ garage so as to utilise it for storage and break accommodation during the build?
  3. Tammie


    What should a timber frame house first floor flooring be like? Been in my new home a year and having alot of noise issues whilst walking on them then also creaking when downstairs? It started a minth or so after moving in.Thank you
  4. Hi all, we're currently in the plan drawing phase with the architect for our West Sussex project. We're trying to get away from using oil based products in the build and I am drawn towards using hemp for the insulation of the house. The architect has said that the calculations to get wall U values of around 0.15 with hemp we would need at least 400mm thick walls. We'd rather not lose that much internal space if possible so we're investigating a potential hybrid solution where we use hemp in the timber frame walls and then cover it in another insulation to obtain the required levels. he has suggested we look at the Actis products. I remember reading about the debunked claims on their old product (and have read through old threads on here about the multi-foil insulation) and am a bit sceptical but by using it as a secondary layer and it being so easy to fit that I could do it myself is quite a tempting solution. so, I guess my question to the forum is has anyone used hemp as an insulation material? can anyone think of a different (preferably non-oil based product) that could be used as a secondary layer to reduce the cold-bridging from the timber frame that isn't Actis? or can anyone suggest that Actis have got their act together and now have a product that is worth using? he was talking about the hcontrol hybrid Actic product with the built in vapour control. thanks in advance.
  5. Hi guys, I'm looking for some advice and example foundation and slab detailing for timber frame construction. This is what I have in mind so far. Foundation: 300mm of concrete (my soil type is hard ballast) Single 140mm block up to DPC Start of TF construction with 145mm sill plate Slab: Hardcore Sand 60mm floor grade insulation 150mm RC slab 65mm screed One more important detail is that the new construction is set 135mm below ground level, so the internal first floor level is below the external ground level. What options do I have here with regards to the foundation? I can see two options. Dig a trench around the building around 375mm so the exterior ground does not come in contact with the house, and maybe add in a french drain. Have a higher DPM to external ground level and add some insulation to cope with the external ground being in contact with the foundation above first floor level. Any thoughts and comments very much appreciated as always Cheers!
  6. We are experiencing lots of teeth sucking regarding render and timber frames, which is a bit of a worry as we planned on the ground floor of our timber frame new build being rendered. We've had comments from numerous individuals which sum up to something like "you shouldn't render on a timber frame, far too much movement'" etc. Looking through BH it looks like there are plenty of MBC frames out there with render, is it lasting well? Is there a preferred system that will look crisp and smart for decades and can you invisibly repair it should the need arise? Is there a system to avoid at all costs?
  7. Hello everyone!! New to the page so thought I would introduce myself and our project. My husband and I have purchased a plot in Aberdeenshire, full planning passed Feb 19 and currently awaiting building warrant. Currently in the fun stages of tender and mortgage applications!! Our home will be a 4 bed detached approx 190m2 internally with a detached double garage. Timber kit (Val u therm) with full timber cladding on the outside, slate roof on the main sections but also a large sarnafil rubber flat roof. We will have an air source heat pump, triple glazing and aiming for EPC A with the house being south/ southwest facing. Hope you folks will be a wealth of information as this is our first self build project although we have renovated properties before. Have found everyone in the self build community so welcoming and helpful up until this point. Its lovely to be in a place with like minded people! So hi everyone 😁 looking forward to reading about all your projects! Chris and Anita
  8. So, I just remembered that I actually had this blog. I'm killing time waiting for a phonecall, so, updates! Over a year later! Stuff has happened. Lots of stuff. Lots of money. Many tears. Some moments of "FFS, what?!", many moments of "HOW MUCH?" and "how the feck does this bloody shower fit together?" and a few, rare, beautiful moments of "woah, that looks awesome". The last entry ended on a lovely "woah" moment of the successful pouring of our beautiful concrete floor throughout the ground floor plan. It pissed down the next day, obviously. Then MBC went away, laden with cakes, pies and phone numbers of eligible single ladies from the area. A week later, they came back. My new job is a long commute away, and I had to work that day. On my way to the station (hideously early), I saw a truck drive past, laden with bits of house. "That's our house", I thought to myself, I just knew it. I text my husband to share the momentous culmination of our wonderful joint enterprise and was mercilessly mocked that it probably wasn't our house, as it was far too early. Ha! How I laughed when the driver called him approximately 10 minutes later to say he was stuck in the narrow road outside our site, couldn't turn the lorry sharp enough to get into the access point and was blocking every single (extremely angry) person in our medieval town from getting to work. That was a brisk drive to site for him. There were many people in hi-viz, a lot of shouting and gesturing, a lot of sharp intakes of breath, a few calls to the police to track down owners of badly parked cars and a huge amount of car horn tooting. Oh, and a LOT of apologising. But, the truck made it into the site. Just. To the never-ending delight of my small son, there was also an absolutely ENORMOUS crane. I was later informed this in fact this is an embarrassingly tiny crane, the smallest one that you can possibly hire and really hardly worth the bother. I feel like the driver may have had some adequacy issues with his crane size. So, whilst I was in a meeting, they just wacked the house together. At lunchtime, I called for a catchup FaceTime and the ground floor was pretty much finished! I mean, WHAT? The speed was insane. By the time I got to site later that evening (about 7.30pm), all the ground floor panels and internal partitions were in. My husband and I just walked around rooms, giggling insanely to ourselves at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The next day, second storey on. Unbelievable. By the end of the week (in fact, I don't even think it was full week) the whole frame was up. We were a little shellshocked, to be honest. There was a lot of head scratching about how to run the falls on the roof. This had been discussed and obviously designed in, but our roofer had some input whilst MBC were on site. They were very good and spent a lot of time working out the best way to make it work for what we needed (singly ply membrane roof, adequate falls, hidden box gutters) and did a lot of extra work in conjunction with the other trades. Our roofer also risked the wrath of his wife by coming to a site meeting on a saturday and was subsequently late for a family BBQ oops. Oddly, once the frame was up and see could feel the room sizes in 3D, they suddenly felt absolutely massive again. Such a convincing illusion - it's very hard to visualise 3D space from a 2D footprint. Next up? The joys of roofing and zinc cladding And winter
  9. Hi all, New member joining the forum but have kept a close eye on and off for the past few months, a lot of great knowledge from people here so I am pleased to be a part of it. I am 21 and about as ambitious as they come. As the title suggests, I am a first time buyer/builder. I would love to build my first house with my partner. however, as for most people, budget is a constraint and so is getting a mortgage. Although, I am very close friends with a mortgage broker and he thinks I will be just fine securing one. I know that self-build mortgages are different than usual and I am currently in contact with a self build mortgage advisor who is great and keen to help me. I have a total budget of about 150k to 160k including land. Land in my area (North Staffordshire) is not cheap nor openly available, but I am considering posting a few letters to local farmers with fields and neighbours with big gardens. I am aware of the different types of land i.e agricultural but I'm not sure if this can be converted to residential? There is a piece that is available that has got planning permission for a 3 bedroom bungalow but its listed at 85K! I want to know if I am aiming too high or if it would be possible to do with suggested building methods from you guys. I have been in contact with Potton and few others, I am aware there is a slight difference between SIP's and timber frame so I apologise if this is in the wrong thread. Within my family and very close family friends we have joiners, plumbers, electricians and just about all other trades you can think of. I have access to diggers, dumper trucks etc free of charge. We would be happy with a 2 or 3 bedroom bungalow, but we do like the idea of open plan living and kitchen space. I would welcome any suggestions for all types of houses if you think one would be more cost effective than another. My partner is a mobile hairdresser too so a small hair/utility room for her to work in would be ideal. I look forward to your replies and thank you in advance for your replies. sorry if I have been vague about anything and I appreciate this is a challenging ask, I'd appreciate your honest opinion. Thanks again Elliot
  10. Hi all, I have a barn to convert in the Lake District and am considering timber frame within the walls to save on costs and time. Considering Scotframe and other companies but would appreciate any ideas or comments that anyone has? thanks
  11. Is there merit in ordering a timber frame but without the stud walls included? Reasoning: @nod has persuaded me of the superiority of metal studs. And YouTube videos make them look easy and DIY-able. No resilience bars needed with metal studs for acoustic insulation. I assume that metal studs will have less (no?) drying shrinkage. Less need to fix plaster cracks and repaint, at least for stud walls (would still need to fix cracks in the exterior wood panel walls). Seems to be a big benefit. I hope that the frame supplier would reduce my frame quote accordingly, although I suspect the stud walls won't represent a large part of the total. [Specific benefit to me] less on-site storage needed for the studs during frame assembly. (I have a very cramped plot.) What are the flaws in my reasoning please (I assume there are many)? Any other advantages of metal studs? (Context: new build. Will be ordering my timber frame as soon as I get planning approval, maybe in 6-weeks or so. MBC is my current favoured supplier. Frame will be 140mm open panel with U-value of 0.11).
  12. Those who follow this forum know we moved in at the end of November 2018. Fast forward a few weeks and it seems that the OH is convinced that we have some "visitors" in the loft / attic space of our TF house. I can't deny there aren't noises coming from the space above but having spent a good 20 minutes in the area the other day, I couldn't find any evidence of any visitors. There is no way such guests could get in as it is fully "enveloped". But she is not convinced. I believe it is just the timber etc re-acting to the weather or settling down so to speak. Has anyone else suffered such "noises" or what are the general thoughts of the collective?
  13. Hi All, I am currently doing my timber frame drawings and sorting out window opening sizes etc. and it got me thinking about the installation - the plan is to get the timber frame up and install the windows almost immediately to secure and weather-proof the extension long before the block-work goes up around it. I know it is common practise to install windows into the frame before the masonry goes up so I wondered if anyone has an installation detail or some good photos showing how they sit exactly and the sort of depth into the cavity they sit. I don't want to install them then find I have them in the wrong position. I was on a site recently and I saw how they had installed them, albeit from a bit of a distance and it appeared to me they had done this: Typical timber frame sheathed in OSB and wrapped in a building wrap, then circa. 50x50 rough treated had been attached to the outside of the opening round the timber frame, so basically like a picture frame over the top of the building wrap, this I assume was to acct as the cavity closer, the cavity was 50mm, so my assumption was that the window was then going to be installed flush to the outside edge of the 50x50. Then, when the masonry went up, the back brick face would be hard against the 50x50 (as you would expect a cavity closer) and the masonry would be brought right up to the edge of the window frame. The render would then go on thus "sealing" the window in and a bit of mastic at the end (as appears common on new builds around all doors/windows) to seal the UPVC to the render. Does this sound correct? Would you attach band to the window and then fix it from the inside of the timber frame? In theory it sounds fine to me but I just want to check. The next question is the sill, the supplier can supply me with a stub sill or longer versions. Do I get the sill, then build the masonry up to the underside of the sill, bit of mastic and job done? Or should I be thinking about a proper concrete sill to the top of the masonry? I will be able to ask questions of suppliers and people involved when I get there but I need to get some of these things clear in my head before I start the frame drawings as it could make a difference to exactly where I place a window to ensure I get get a whole block or brick up to the bottom of an opening etc.
  14. Hi, I'm requiring advice/suggestions regarding protecting my timber soleplate from condensation/moisture between it and the DPC. I've read various threads how moisture can remain through lack of ventilation, and difference in temperature of timber and blockwork beneath, but not found a relevant solution yet, if necessary at all. Please see attached drawing for the build up. The wall is built and i'm starting timber cladding in the new year. So, before cladding commences i'm wondering if there is something i can do at this stage to insulate the blockwork wall externally, without bridging DPC ??? Foundation detail.pdf
  15. This week I came across a team installing entire sections of loft on a house-build with a seriously large crane. Really quite interesting, and an opportunity to indulge in some doggerel. As I was planning for my toft I met a man with a Modular Loft Windows were installed and tiles With insulation, floors and style Windows, Lift, Loft, Tiles Make an instant ancient pile! A extraordinarily transportable loft - But do I want one for my toft? (with apologies to St Ives) More photos below, and you can see the contact details on the side of the van in the last picture if you want one.. Gently does it... What they are matching... Close-ups and Details The Company Installing
  16. In another topic re brick vs TF someone mentioned that TFs are very sensitive to noise transmission inside house (room to room), and also slamming a heavier than normal door may be an issue. From collective experience, how often does this happen? What are the ways around it? We are deciding re building method at the moment, and each one has lots of pros and cons, but for us key points to consider are: - loadbearing strength of internal walls (lots of heavy cabinets to hang) - room to room noise transmission (a family of extremely sensitive sleepers! plus a galloping cat) - wider than standard entrance door and lots of internal doors which we like shut Opinions are welcome, thank you
  17. Scaffold finally down and new window fitted although windows still not finished.
  18. Another day, another topic....Today we're fixing our timber soleplate to our concrete block wall. We already ascertained last week that the blockwork wall was not level enough at various points. After reading stuff about packing underneath the soleplate regarding potential condensation problems, and difficulty in filling under the packed plate to achieve air tightness, i decided to get the brickie back to bed the soleplate in mortar. It's done and is level enough running around the perimeter, 18 m x 6.5 m. But it's off level running across the 145 mm of soleplate for a length of about 10m running down one long side. I'm a little upset by this, as not only is my internal FFL affected, but we're still looking at having to pack the sole plate !.......any ideas community?
  19. AliG

    Wall thickness

    Architect has set to work on sketch design for my parents' house. We are trying to limit ourselves to 20% of the plot area, which is 153square metres. I thought that this was quite comfortable until I calculated the area taken up by the external walls. We were looking for 140-150sq metres internally including a single garage, single storey. However, when I calculated the wall thickness required for around 0.15 U-Value, I realised that with 370mm thick external walls they will take up over 20square metres. This is a big chunk of our area to give up. This assumes 100mm external blockwork and a 50mm cavity then 140mm SIPs/timberframe with PIR insulation plus a service cavity. So what's the best build up to limit the wall thickness. I am guessing that we will have roughly 150square metres of floor and roof, 110 square metres of external wall and 40square metres of windows/doors. So the external walls are less than 25% of the external envelope. There is pretty much no limit on the insulation we can get in the roof and floor and we would use 3g windows at around 0.7 U-Value. It appears from @JSHarris heat loss calculator that the difference for example between 0.15 and 0.2 U-Value walls will be negligible assuming good insulation elsewhere. I did suggest that we could use render board but the architect wasn't keen. This will massively reduce the thickness of the walls. The other issue I notice is that most timber frame/SIPs systems show a cavity between the panels and the interior, if we keep all switches internal is this really necessary? Or we could use the minimum amount of insulation in the panels as it doesn't affect the overall insulation of the house much. Appreciate any thoughts, and what are the downsides of various solutions, such as external noise? I think we might just go to 22% of the plot to give us a bit of leeway but I would rather have the most efficient use of space possible. I am not too fussed about the cost as again, the external walls won't be a large percentage of the build.
  20. Using a timber frame company (such as MBC) made the frame erection stage of self building quite satisfying. It only took two weeks to build something that truly looked like a real house. We did spend more than 7 months in dialogue with MBC over all the little details. And still we made some quite clanging errors. More of that in my next post. It was glorious weather back in July. [How I wish we weren't in rainy autumn now - we are still not watertight......] Anyway, the first week passed by in a blur of unloading lorries and the ground floor going up. And then we went on holiday......
  21. We have an MBC timber frame house with an insulated raft foundation. The house is cladd in larch but we need to finish the polystyrene base. We want to render it but how do we do this. Do we need mesh first or a special render that would stick and be flexible enough.
  22. Hi - I'm having difficulty in getting my head around what our Doors and window supplier are asking - they keep referring to the Thresh detail for the doors and after a bit of toing and throwing I have received this response - Regarding the thresh details again thank you for the information provided. The problem being as on the drawings you will require an external cill min 262mm which is not achievable as external cills are only 160mm projection. As you have 82mm frame which fitted flush with timber kit then 150mm external treatment and 30mm overhang = 262mm. Ways around this would be to have the doors on a cantered stone similar to windows. Is it me or can someone please try and explain in a better way, what it is I should be looking to achieve?
  23. Our frame arrives on Thursday & I've one final course of blockwork to do which I'll give extra attention to in terms of levelling in preparation for the sole plates. Do people generally bed sole plates on mortar or dry lay them? I'm not expecting to need any packing if I'm careful with the final blockwork as the levels are currently within 2/4mm over 10+ meters.
  24. Apart from 'A Place of Houses, see earlier blog and several Frank Lloyd Wright books, I don't seem to come across many American house design books but I recommend William Turnbull's 'Buildings in the Landscape'. He worked Charles Moore et al on the Californian Sea Ranch project back in the 70s. OK there's lots of land there and plainly rather less planning restrictions, but the buildings are most interesting...double height living and circulation spaces, timber frame, with timber cladding in most cases, good planning with of course views to the ocean from big bay windows. I managed to pick up my remaindered copy in York bookshop, but they are available via from the states, quite cheaply, though the postage is be recommended though. About £20 inc P+P...good luck all
  25. We had a delay in releasing funds for our frame which meant that instead of it being erected in April it has only now just been erected. The dilemma we now face is the that the plasterer's are uncertain whether they can get the exterior completed before the bad weather arrives and the delay in the windows ,end of November ,means we face the prospect of having to wait until next year to finish the exterior. The frame is watertight at the moment and I am waiting for the timber frame manufacturer to get back to me as to what I can expect from leaving it throughout the winter but has anybody got any pearls of wisdom that they think we could do to keep it watertight for possibly six months. I am thinking of fly battening the outside to ensure the wind does not get under the roofing membrane and frame breather membrane, even wrapping it in some heavy duty plastic? The frame itself is fully insulated with airtightness membrane so I am keen not to get water/moisture into the structure. TIA