Saturday, January 26, 2013


It's been a long time coming, but we're finally getting the Hebel onto the building!

In true "House that eBay Built" fashion, I picked up this batch of Hebel PowerWall panels on eBay over a year ago. They don't come up very often - I've not seen them more than a couple of times since - but the seller had built a house and intended to build a granny flat, but changed plans and so had a stack  (155 to be exact) of panels left over.

They're not in perfect condition, and they've been out in the weather for a while now, but the price was right. Half price, to be specific :) There are few panels which don't have some damage, but there are very few which can't be patched up once they're installed. They're surprisingly fragile too, so even if they were undamaged to begin with they wouldn't be by the time they're installed, so it's no biggie.

The first panel to go up took a little while as it needed to be fettled a bit to clear the water inlet pipe, but the aerated concrete can be carved easily with a chisel so it's very easy to work with.

One problem though: The perfectly square panels are showing up my not-quite-perfectly square slab and frames. There's not very much in it at all, but the slab rebates are not quite perfectly square or at the same level over the length of a wall, so there will be a little "adjustment" required once the Hebel is all in place to get everything to line up perfectly.

Once we figured out a system and found our rhythm, the panels flew up in no time.

Contrary to the installation manual and possibly in error, we chose to skip the panels under and above the window openings for a couple of reasons. Firstly, cutting the panels is a slow and very dusty job and with the clock ticking on the adhesive, we chose to skip them. Secondly, the panels are exactly 600mm wide and the adhesive is not exactly 0mm thick and so the width of the wall section creeps slightly over its length. This means that the panels which should have lined up exactly with the window opening frames are a few millimetres long. By skipping the infills under and above the windows, we have the opportunity to "reset" to the correct position and the infill panels can just be cut to the size required.

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