Jul 242021

We started the new week, after completing our staircase in just four days, by fixing up the metal joist bracket to the stringers at the top of the stairs. We had already made two triangle wedges and they were glued in on Saturday. The metal bracket was only screwed up this time because we want to have the possibility of moving the whole staircase when we come to install our stair lift module later. We are not sure yet whether we will have enough space either side of the stringers to mount cog wheels and other materials to build the parts of the stair lift. So the joist bracket are just screwed on and not glued ..yet!

Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


So onto the flooring job, we got out our green laser line generator and sat the device in the middle of the crossroads of our hallways and adjusted the height until we got the green line shining right on the 10metre mark, this being our Ground Zero line. We already had an 11metre mark on the metal leg “number 5” that is our reference point for the whole house so we measured down one metre for our ground zero, this will be our flooring level for our ground floor. We now have marked all the doorways (Kitchen, Great Room, Bedroom 1 & 2 & 3, Entertainment and Utility rooms) plus every other wall posts everywhere in range from the hallways, also doing the smaller rooms (toilet, tech and knick-knack cupboards etc) plus the front door and stairs too. We want to be able to place our laser line generator in each room separately and get the floor height exactly the same all over the house when we get to do that room.

One of the first things we needed to do, after doing the laser calibrations, was to empty the content out of each room we want to work on, so in Bedroom 3 we had to move our solar water tubes and a heap of ladders etc. so we decided to move them, the solar tubes to our new storage area, mainly the first floor and its great expanse, to get them out of the way for the time being. But first, we felt the need to be a bit careful and clever, to position these items upstairs so they don’t impact too greatly on us working upstairs like building walls etc. To this aim, we marked out an outline of each room and their walls, these being the Creative room, the Study, the Workshop and the toilet plus all the “triangular voids” spaces and the large storage space behind the toilet over the top of the back rooms of the house.

Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Then, we moved the six crates that holds our one hundred solar glass collector tubes from Bedroom 3 to upstairs and placed in the Study over the Entertainment room and front door. The heap of ladders etc. were moved to sit underneath the new staircase.
This meant that we could and did get on in constructing the flooring for Bedroom 3 (the one next to the Utility Room) and got the laser to shine a green line right around the room, aligned to the reference marks at the doorway and carefully marked all the vertical posts and stuck masking tape on the black plastic to see the mark there too. Then slicing five lengths of our usual 63mm CLS timber, we nailed up a perimeter of a support framework that will hold the 22mm thick floorboards when we are ready for them to go down. The room is arranged in a grid pattern with 600mm spacing between the contiguous joists and an alternating noggings in every 1200mm in the opposite direction.

We built a little laser hanger gadget that hooks on to the perimeter rail so the green light will be exactly the height of all the legs supporting all the joists and noggings. We cannot just simply measure the distance from the concrete floor surface, up to the underside of the CLS joist because both the concrete floor and the wood slowly rises and dips in random directions, hence this little clever hanging gadget to position the laser line generator to shine its green line against each set of legs to be trimmed.

Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


We are using our left-over treated timber for our legs, plus dipping the cut ends into more preservative treatment, all to protect the wood from rot if we ever got a flood under our floor, we don’t want to find that our flooring supports started rotting after a decade or two and find our floor sagging. So we are dipping the cut ends into a trug that has black died preservative and therefore we would know which end to put downwards.
But these little legs are only 63mm wide (by 38mm in the other dimension) so aligning the leg underneath the horizontal joist (which is also 38mm thick) would poke out only by 25mm. This is plenty enough to support noggings but only on one side at a time. This means that we staggered the noggings in each row so the whole room is evenly supported across the floor.
Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


The next job was to sort out the bundle of water pipes and cable conduits that runs across the room, from the external walls, from underground and passing through from the Utility room. We did the hot water pipes first which comes along from the Utility in 28mm pipes and curves towards the en-suite. We had always planned to have 28mm diameter pipes, to hold a high volume of water flowing throughout the house and also we wanted to constantly keep this hot water supply hot and active, ready for any demands. This means that we have two hot water pipes running alongside each other, a “flow” and a “return”, just like in a traditional central heating systems. But we recognised that there could be a good deal of heat loss, and money, in a constantly circulating system, losing energy around the loop all the time. So to this issue, we put down two layers of 100mm thick PU foam boards, sitting on the concrete and cut a slot in the top of the second layer for the 28mm pipe to sit snugly in.
Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Then a 90mm thick “lid” went over the top that brings it up to the underside of the wooden floor supporting framework. The rest of the space on either side will also be filled in with more insulation so this hot water system will be as protected as possible against heat loss and provide our whole house with quick supply of hot water when we want it.

The cold water is also supplied in a 28mm diameter pipe but that is running “loose” nearby the hot insulated pipes and all three are routed to arrive just outside the en-suite doorway where we will have a liftable panel cover to gain access to the various controls and devices to condition and supply the water needs for the basin and shower in the en-suite. We built an extra framework around this area to support the “lid” and also inserted vertical PU foam boards to act as a barrier to keep the loose insulation in the rest of the room from “leaking” into our inspection and servicing chamber.

Then we connected up more water pipes, this time in 15mm diameter pipes that connects to our Energy Module (a buried tank of water), a pair of them so we can exchange the energy (hot water) from the tank to the Utility room and back again. the pair goes into conduits that were fitted to provide a “high” and “low” extracting points so we can draw off the floating hot water and put in new hot water down in the bottom of the tank. These 15mm pipes are only intermittently used so they don’t need a great deal of insulation, just the normal floor insulation to keep it warm while it is being transferred to and from the Utility room. The other 15mm pipe going into the Utility room is a connection to our Swimming lane. We did an external connection (drilling through the concrete wall) several months ago and so we laid in this pipe too. This Swimming lane connection will provide a source of cold water to help “sink” any excess heat away. The Swimming lane is a 25,000 litres of reasonably cold water to make use of!

The final 15mm water pipe is also an external connection but this time, it is a low-volume irrigation watering system to serve the garden in and around the this end of the house and this 15mm pipe only needs to travel to our servicing chamber we have already made. At this point, a computer controlled water valve will be installed and connected to our cold water supply later on when we have designed and built such devices. The other connections to our servicing chamber are empty conduits, the first two being also irrigating watering feeds but this time up to the Eves for any hanging baskets etc. The final five other conduits snaking across the room are the temperature probes that will monitor the regions immediately surrounding our buried Energy module. All these conduits are 20mm diameter black polyethene pipes and we joined them to the sticking (out of the concrete) up portions using short length of the fatter 25mm polyethene pipe which fits perfectly and very tightly providing a smooth joint and transition for our cables and sensors when we push them down the conduits.

Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


We are not quite ready to put on the lid or fill the space with the insulation rubbish because we got other tubes to lay in the floor, this time for the air supply. We are going to have four 50mm conduits running from the hallway, next to the doorway, and branching out to the four walls, to distribute the fresh air. We will have a air channel just at the bottom of the walls to spread the air out and enter into the room itself in a gentle flow, without too much disturbance to the feel of the room. We won’t be able to totally avoid any movement as it is meant to be providing fresh air and drawing the old stale air out at the ceiling, just like as if the windows are open on a warm day. Another set of conduits are needed to be laid in, this time to route the electricity cables from one side of the utility channel to the other side, going around doorways and windows. This will be done when our delivery of new twin wall plastic tubing arrives next week.
In the meantime, we started on the task of nailing up the horizontal wooden rails, we called these utility rails because their function in life is to provide the space for our Utility Channel that goes around the whole room at the 800mm to 900mm height, plus also we are using this separation to allow for the air channel to run around the room too, down near the floor. Each of these horizontal CLS rails (our usual 63mm by 38mm timber) are positioned as follows:

  • 235mm off the floor (air channel)
  • 772mm (bottom boundary of utility channel)
  • 1010mm (top boundary of utility channel)
  • 1703mm (mid support point for wall board)
  • 2422mm (support of wall boards at top of wall)

These measurements are for the top edge of the CLS timber because we can see it with our green laser light (more later on) and a 22mm offset is also added because we are measuring from the floorboard supporting framework that will have the 22mm thick floorboards laid down later on. We marked the door post with these measurements and then clamp our green laser line generator which is sitting on a small shelf at each measured mark. Then we went around nailing up lots of CLS timber to create the wall framework for holding up the finishing surfaces and of course to provide the space for our electrical sockets etc.
We started using our left-over timber (a large pile of it in the kitchen) to form these horizontal rails by using a biscuit joint to join smaller lengths together. We also inserted a horizontal rail at the window seat level, this one being 500mm off the floor surface.

Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


Started Work on Building Flooring Structure for Ground Floor Rooms


That concludes the work so far for this week and we will carry on next week with the wall support and laying in more conduits when they arrive.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Jul 172021

We started on our next task on Wednesday, to design, create the parts and then build the staircase, all in just four days!
The first job was to get our two remaining pieces of the LVL timber, some 6metres long and sliced a shallow angled cut at the beginning of both planks. This end will be sitting on the concrete on the ground floor and rise up towards the first floor, at an angle of 36degrees. At 4936mm along up the bottom edge from the concrete, we then cut a triangle birds mouth where it will hook on to the first floor and its floorboards, so that the top step will exactly be the same level of the flooring when we get around to building the rest of the flooring layers and carpet etc. These two very long elements are called Stringers. Everything will be mounted to these stringers hence why these pieces of timber are 240mm wide, 45mm thick and laminated like plywood to make a very strong structural framework for the whole stairs.

Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


The rest of the day was spent in taking four sheets of our newly purchased high grade 18mm hardwood plywood, with 13 layers and good quality veneers and sliced it up into a series of strips, four long strips of 205mm wide and 2.44metres long, then sliced the remainders into exactly 950mm wide. We used our big saw mounted into our workbench. The next set of cuts was done to the 950mm wide pieces to make sixteen 300mm deep planks, these being the “treads” of the stairs and followed by fourteen 225mm high pieces, these being the “risers”. Using various left-over pieces, we made sixteen narrow 27mm wide strips and then glued each one to each Tread piece thus making a thicker edge to each step, deliberately overlapping the front edge so we can trim off the excess and the dried glue to make a smooth finish.

The following day, Thursday, we took our four narrow strips and paired them up and proceeded to mark along one edge exact measured marks, taking from a spreadsheet printout showing the calculated distances from each step to the next one. Then using a right angle framing square, we precisely positioned a diagonal piece of straight wood and clamped it to the framing square so that first side was 270mm long and the second side was 195.4mm. This jig was aligned and slid along the edge of our paired strips to every previously marked positions, to draw the right angle triangle down on the plywood, to which we positioned our next piece of equipment, the track saw to carefully cut out each of these triangles, to end up with a long series of pointed staircase like steps. These four prepared sawtooth like strips were then glued and and nailed to our stringers that will form the basic structure to hold the treads and risers that will form the whole staircase.

Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up the router machine and fence to guide through the 16 treads and 14 risers. The first little job was to use the straight cutter with a top ball bearing, to run all the treads that had the extra bit glued on and cleaned off the dried glue and excess material to make a smooth flat edge ready for the bullnose. The last bit of the day was setting up a 18mm wide straight cutter and position the fence so we can slice a 5mm deep slot for the riser to fit into on the underside of the tread, just behind the bullnose, exactly 25mm in from the front edge and proceeded to get that done.
On the Friday, we carried on with the routing operations, this time, to cut a bullnose on the tread front edge. We did some test pieces with different radius cutters doing a 9mm, 12mm or 18mm radii. The thickness of the front edge is now 36mm (double layers of 18mm plywood) and we found that the 9mm radius was too small and the 18mm is too large so we settled on the 12mm. so the 16 pieces were sent through the router on both sides to generate our bullnose.
In the meantime, the LVL stringers were cleaned up to remove the excess glue that has bubbled out from the step support plywood
Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


The last task for the treads were to drill clearance holes along the front edge in the middle of the slot (to join and tighten onto the riser piece) and two more clearance holes on both left and right hand sides to fix the tread down. That finished all the preparation tasks to the 16 Treads.

For the 14 Risers, first we aligned them all together into one neat pile and clamped them all together, making sure they are all squared up. Then we sliced a small notch out of the bottom corners, some 20mm wide and 25mm deep. This notch will allow the risers to fit down below the Tread level and allow a slot to be positioned 25mm from the bottom edge that will support the back of the tread piece. Talking about this slot, that is our next job, setting up the router this time to cut a similar 18mm wide slot and 5mm deep (just like the other slot underneath the tread) but cut horizontally near the bottom of the riser, as mentioned before, 25mm off the bottom edge. Finally, five more clearance holes was drilled along the slot to help draw in the tread and ensure a tight joint for the glue to work at its best performance. Oh yes, two more holes were done, one on each left and right side to secure the riser.

Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


By the end of Friday, we had done some test fittings and there were concerns over the stringers not being straight and a little twisted and bowed and the tread and riser combination were not sitting in neat and square (It might be ‘engineered’ timber but it’s still only wood).
So on Saturday, we verified that our two stringers matched together (bringing them together and inspecting the support steps etc) and also confirmed that the a riser placed in the top most step position was right angle to the first floor stair hole itself. We also got out several large clamps and straps to squeeze together the two stringers together tight to a tread plus riser pair and all is actually looking ok after all. We left on a strap fully tight at the top of the staircase and decided that we would start at the bottom to fix each tread and riser pair in place, for real, using screws but no glue. We used the clamps for each pair to make sure everything is good and tight before screwing in the screws, but we did have to trim a tiny bit off the back edge of some treads to make everything fit snug in the two slots. We continued with this process, going up until we got over half way and decided that everything is coming together good and looking neat and smart so we felt that we could commit ourselves to permanently gluing everything together so we undid the screws out of the treads but left the screws in each riser to help hold the two stringers in alignment.
Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


So we proceeded from the beginning again and glued everything, fitted each step into place and applied all the screws this time, including the five screws in the back of each riser to anchor the tread into the slot. We only had to use the large clamp once or twice again as we went up and finally reach the top by the end of the day.
Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


Staircase Designed, Parts Created and Fully Assembled


We have completed our steps for our staircase! We can now get up and down much easier, we can show our visitors our first floor without asking them to climb a ladder and also we can carry up larger and heavier items to get them out of the way while we are working on the ground floor. Yippee!

We will be adding hand rails and balusters later as part of installing the stair lift.

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
Jul 132021

To finish off filling in the outer walls, and to provide a vapour barrier too stop moisture getting into our timber elements, we proceeded to cover up the glass wool with a layer of a plastic membrane, from top to bottom. We used the thick heavy duty DPM polyethene material, comes in rolls of 4metres […]

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Jul 062021

In preparation for filling and covering the walls we went around and planed off any of the plywood spacers between inner and outer wall posts which were sticking out from the wall, this will allow the horizontal rails to be nailed on without damaging the vapour barrier. It then only took a few days to […]

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Jun 212021

Stephen nearly fell through the floor today! He was walking across the unfinished floor to fit a piece of plumbing pipe when he stepped on the edge of a small floorboard panel which was overhanging a joist. It flipped up and Stephen started descending through the floor… Luckily he ended up straddling a joist and […]