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Making a Piggery of It: the ICF

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Things have slowed down a bit for various reasons too boring to relate. So, I've decided to finish the Piggery myself, and let the main builder finish the house (when he decides to come back on site). In @Construction Channel's words, "How hard can it be?"  The main aim is to rebuild the piggery to look (outwardly) exactly the same as it looked before, but to turn it into a useful storage and utility space.


This is what the piggery used to look like


but now it looks like this



Just in case anyone thinks that a forum Admin is an expert, let's be clear, I haven't built anything in my life before. (Failed Woodwork at school, got thrown out of Metalwork too). But I did spend years watching my dad build bridges. (M5, M50)

There are a series of challenges here

  • Design and build the roof
  • Make the connections for water and sparks
  • Clad it
  • Build and fit the doors
  • Connect the Piggery to the house (water and sparks)
  • Fit it out: washing machine, storage racking, sink


I have never done any of this before. So, I'd be glad of your help. I'll try and keep a detailed record of what I plan to do and then compare it with what really happens. I would not have considered doing this without the experience of the generosity of BuildHub. The aim of this post is to give something back, especially to all those who do not post,  to those who worry that by posting, they will be making a fool of themselves , or who are maybe a bit shy about 'getting-it-wrong'. For me and many others  that's normal.


Starting on the roof today. Sorting out the gables.



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Good job it is not being built out of straw or sticks :ph34r:, and they haven't reintroduced wolves yet.


I really look forward to seeing how it develops. I am sure it will be great. 




Edited by Ferdinand
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17 minutes ago, recoveringacademic said:

to those who worry that by posting, they will be making a fool of themselves ,


Only a fool thinks they won't make mistakes. It's learning from them that's the trick!

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Is the roof designed yet...?


I'd consider an 8x2 purlin on that last but one block and then its going to be either 4x2 or 6x2 rafter depending on span. Set the purlin at the roof angle so you're not cutting birdsmouths and then its a seat cut at the bottom and a plumb cut at the top...



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Progress thus far: trimming the gable - a bit fiddly



Durisol is hard to mark with a pencil: it's too rough for a carpenter's pencil. I found that a normal white-board marker works best


and working on your own, cutting blocks you need one of those Jaws Thingies

After a bit (morning) this was the result


And looking at it, my heart sank. There's more than the hint of a droop in the middle of the span. I'm not fussed about it, but I am sure that I will spend the rest of my life noticing, and then wincing at it. Tooth sucking....... resulted in this



From three spots in the span, this....Hmm, don't believe it. Liar, liar pants on fire.  My eyes tell me to do something about it.

Bearing in mind the blocks are currently empty, and will soon be filled with concrete, it's only going to get worse. Here's where the concrete goes.....


We'll be putting a bit of rebar in there in line with the Technical Guidance from Durisol


And this is where are up to just before lunch.



Theres a bit of 3 by 3 propping up the span and a couple of battens making sure that the blocks stay where they are.


What have I learned so far? Cutting individual blocks is fiddly and, on your own, quite difficult. There are two gables, so tomorrow, or whenever, on the other gable, I'm going to bolt the blocks together (with battens front and back), and make a simple wooden guide set at the correct angle for the gable. And then use a chainsaw to cut the whole lot in one go.  Might just ask Debbie to standby when I do that.


Durisol dust gets in yer eyes. Always use eye protection. If you get a cut from a Durisol block it takes ages to heal. The cement gets in your skin. It's just an irritant, not serious.


What's next? Shuttering such that the concrete (I'll be making) doesn't leak out of the blocks too much. That means the odd bit of foam, and judicious use of shuttering where the gaps are too big. What's too big? I'll show you in a post later in this thread.

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Good idea @PeterW. I'll do that rather than spend more money on Acrows.


Standing in the shower, rinsing the concrete dust out of my hair, I had a flash of inspiration . I could easily have made up the gable end on a flat bit of ground by my workshop  - prefabbed it in other words. And then lift it into place with the digger.


Hey, wait a minnit, there's nowt to stop me trying that out tomorrow is there?  Just take it all down, reassemble it on a piece of board, shutter it, pour it, and replace it.....


I love it when a plan comes together.









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If you shutter it on the floor and pour it and then lift up. 

What is tying it to the walls below?  

Wont it just be a big triangle free standing on top of the other walls. 


I personally would build a dummy roof truss or a proper one if that's the sort of roof structure you want,  and use this truss as a template to cut your blocks to. 

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On your droopy thing...!  We had the same on our biggest window - quite simply I didn't put enough vertical supports on it (3.2m span). I made the window slightly smaller and it all sorted itself when it came to lining it out. You have the chance now to sort it of course but it will never be seen. As Peter said,  regardless that frame will need a centre prop. 

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