Building Work (Week 3) – Steels and an Open Plan Bathroom

The builders started attacking on multiple fronts at the same time this week – the extension, the hall and the bathroom – I’ll go through them one by one.


These little metal strips appeared on the side of the brickwork – I think they are to bind the old and new brickwork together.  The extension will have a brick outer wall and a blockwork inner wall.  I originally asked for the brickwork on the outer wall to be ‘toothed in’ but as the original bricks are imperial this caused a whole world of unforeseen (to me) consequences.  One factor was cost, the imperial bricks were £1.05 each rather than about 22p for a metric brick. It’s not really possible to just use metric bricks with a bigger mortar joint (as the internet suggested) because then the courses take longer to dry so they can’t get as many done in a day but the main problem is, as the blockwork used for the inner wall is metric, you have to have mortar joint line up to put the wall ties in.  You could have an inner and outer leaf of imperial bricks (if you can afford it) but they you have the problem of the insulation also being metric! Needless to say, when all this was explained to me, I agreed to go with metric bricks and a joint down the front of the house.

Metal ties brickwork

At the back – there will be bi-fold doors to the right of this pillar, so they’ve just neatened it up.  Looks good doesn’t it? I like bricks…

Brick end pillar

Steels went in next, by the time I got home from work it was already dark (and the next morning the brickies were working on it) – I think here they’ve replaced the bricks on the inner wall.

Steel RSJs in place

And now they’ve done the outer.  I’m not sure why the needles (which apparently is what the mini steel beams are called) are still there – while it dries perhaps.

Brickwork above steel RSJ


The old door wall between the dining room and the hall has been blocked up.  A new doorway opened up and that old backdoor got put to its third use!

Doorway moved

This is a photo of what it used to look like inside the hall.

original hall

And this is a photo of what it looks like now – the coat closet and porch have gone.

Opened up hall

From inside the living room.  It feels huge now – the builders reckon I should forget the little WC and leave it as it is!

Opened up hall


The door frames were removed from the bathroom and toilet.

toilet and bathroom

The following day the wall came down!  It’s a shame open plan bathrooms aren’t really en vogue….

Open Plan Bathroom

I made a couple of animated gifs showing the progress / destruction to date – because who doesn’t love an animated gif?

Downstairs – Weeks 1 to 3

Downstairs - Weeks 1 to 3

Upstairs – Weeks 1 to 3

(except it all happened in week 3)
Upstairs Weeks 1 to 3

Building Work (Week 2) – Holey Home

Walls came down last week – here was the start of it.  Back door and pantry door are out, window is gone and the bricks are coming down.

Wall Half Removed

A whopping great big hole!  Also the suspended floor has all been removed.  You can see the rubble under the quarry tiled part of the kitchen.

Wall Gone

Did you spot the barrel of beer cans above?  Here’s a close up.  I’m not sure if that was all of them or some of them had already been taken to the recycling point (which by the way is about 300 yards away – making the collection all the more shocking).

A barrel of cans

Those neat little holes upstairs look less neat and less little now.

Steels Upstairs with wall gone

So the next job was to dig out the old wall foundations so that steel could be put into the floor.  See that slightly deeper patch before the blue bag – that’s as all they managed before the first whacker gave up.

Start of the ditch

The full length dug out.

Ditch for steel

Here’s the steel – it came in bits and was all wired together.  I only took a photo of this end as Dave was still working on the other end – he was on a tight schedule as the building inspector was due and I don’t think my photographing him would have helped the situation!

Steel for floor

The reason for this floor steel is because the RSJ which will go in to hold the wall up will be supported on either end by a steel post, those steel posts would have too small a footprint alone so a whole steel support has to be put through the floor filled with concrete and agitated to make it even stronger.  I completely failed to appreciate this complexity at the plan stage – or rather the complexity I created by insisting that the pillars which hold up the RSJ be as small as possible (I think I gained 20cm each side or something ridiculous). If you ever see a dotted line on structural engineer’s plan – beware, that may mean steel in the floor and a world of phaff and expense!

Here it is laid, concrete poured and curing over the weekend.  Plus overalls that scared the bejesus out of me when I came for a skeet in the twilight.

Floor Steel In Place

Oh the other thing is that the steel guys came to measure up and burst my little bubble from last week, the joists can’t go into the RSJ – there isn’t enough surface area, they have to go above it, which means the RSJ will hang down into the room. See the marks above the door in the picture above (click the photo to enlarge)?  That’s to show me where it’ll come down to.  The first short line is the actual RSJ, the next wide dark line is plus the plasterboard and the line below is if I want spotlights in it.

I was also right about the two stray bricks being set out to teach me something – it wasn’t what I expected though.  Dave wanted to check I was happy with new bricks not being quite as smooth as the old bricks, I had to admit that I didn’t think I would have noticed in a million years but it’s nice to be asked!

While all this was going on at the house I spent every lunch break last week getting one astronomical quote after another – my ‘worst case scenario’ spreadsheet is starting to look a little optimistic!

Building Work (Week 1) – What Lies beneath

The building work started this week – and I discovered that I didn’t really have any idea what was about to happen!

First the shed, compost heap, gates, arbour etc were removed.

Shed Gone

Shed Gone Rear

That shed was even more of a tardis than I’d imagined – it contained (among the ‘normal’ tools, skateboards, lawnmovers which you’d expect to find in a shed) an arm chair, a washing machine, a double sink, a computer and a toilet – oh and quite a few beer cans and vodka bottles!

Beer can barrel
Vodka Bottles

Next they started cutting holes in the ceiling of the dining room and in the floors of the bedroom – ready for the acrow-props.  This part took me completely by surprise (not that I wasn’t told, just that I didn’t really consider what that meant for the inside of the house)!

N.B. check out that woodchip free ceiling – hours that took me.

Cut out Ceiling

Given that I didn’t have any idea this was about to happen, it’s pretty lucky that a) I didn’t get the bedrooms replastered and b) when I got the upstairs rewired I didn’t put any sockets on the outside walls (after all that deliberation about the bed position – it could have easily been the case).

Holes in the floor Upstairs

As the joists are in good condition – the plan is to put them inside the channel of the steel so instead of the steel hanging entirely below the ceiling height (about 25cm) it will only come down into the room a couple of inches.  This was an unexpected bonus – the designer had told me it would be a lot more work but Dave (the builder – of QCC) said “it’s the same work, just higher up” 🙂

Pantry still standing

Next day saw the demolition of most of the outbuildings – the pantry was left as it’s open to the kitchen.

The acrow props hold up those little steel beams, and together they will hold up the gable end while the wall is removed below it and the new full length steel is installed (at least I think that’s what’s going to happen)!

The next day the pantry was gone (and the doorway had been plugged with a door from upstairs) and all the acrow-props are in.

Props from the Outside

This is what it looks like inside in dining room (I’ve no idea why there is a solitary biscuit in the centre of that board but I suspect the two different bricks right at the bottom of the frame means I’m going to get educated come Monday).

Props from the Inside

And what it looks like upstairs.

Props Bedroom 2

Props Bedroom 1

The builders have also already ripped out the kitchen, revealing this rather fetching patchwork of wallpaper, and set up a makeshift tea station 🙂

Tea Station

But the best bit – is what they found under the floorboards!!!

Beer Cans under the Floor

That photo doesn’t even begin to do justice to the extent of the depravity.