Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blog comments

Just a quick note to say that I've had to turn on registration in order to post comments to the blog. It seems my presence in Google has risen far enough to attract the attention of blog spammers, and so I'm getting an increasing number of spam comments which I have to manually delete.

So my apologies if this makes it harder to comment, but as usual the vandal minority spoil it for everyone else...

I'm back!

It's been an unusual couple of weeks between drinks! After leaving the site feeling thoroughly overwhelmed by the build on the Labour Day long weekend, I've had some time to recharge, spend with the family and generally leave a semi-normal existence.

If by normal that means making a mad dash to Sydney and back in two days to pick up some .. err, building materials, then it's been normal :)

It has however been just what the doctor ordered, and I'm feeling good again about getting stuck back into the building.  Just as well, with the Easter long weekend fast approaching and a heap of rather tricky Hebel panels to install - thankfully, my brother Gareth is coming down from Sydney (again!!) to help, so we actually stand half a chance of getting it done.

In other building news, I spoke to the window supplier today to accept their quote (and wave goodbye to the thick end of twenty grand) and so those wheels are now in motion. I have to say that I'm quite impressed by these guys, they certainly know their stuff and haven't blinked at the complexity of our requirements being in BAL-FZ. They've asked to meet early next week too to discuss and confirm all the little details, which definitely inspires confidence.

So with any luck, we'll have an order on the go on Tuesday!

There should be a flurry of activity now after Easter, and an equally impressive flurry of dollars flying out the door...

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I finally managed this week to spend some time thinking about our windows, and talking to suppliers to arrange (or update) their quotes. There's a lot to think about here - frames and the materials we're allowed to use, glazing (thickness, single/double glazing, clear / low-e), mesh screens, fire shutters, external flashing...

I know now why I've been putting this off for so long :)

The end result though is that because we're classified as BAL-FZ and we're required to install stainless mesh and steel shutters and 2mm steel flashing over the external timber faces, the species timber we're allowed to use in the frames is unrestricted. This brings the cost down a bit, as we can use common KDHW (typically Vic Ash or Meranti) in place of more fire-resistant, more expensive species such as turpentine or red ironbark.

I like reducing costs :)

I also like the fact that at least one supplier (our favoured at this point, based on the questions they've asked us in order to quote) is suggesting they can deliver frames with only a two to three week lead time. That means that if I can get off my bum and get an order placed, I could have the frames on site the week after Easter.

Not long! :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beaten by the heat

I spent the day on Saturday getting stuck into finishing off the little Hebel details that were skipped in the interest of speed when we were putting up the walls, and the cladding for the triangular wall sections in the garage roof.

Since I already had the Hebel cut for the window infills, I started with these and made up a frame to sit in the window opening, upon which I can rest the Hebel block rather than trying to heft it and screw it into place.

With that done I turned my attention to cladding the wall section at the end of the vaulted roof. First up, the battens:

.. then the panels.

Unfortunately as soon as I started my Triton circular saw (to which I fitted new brushes a couple of weeks ago) it was obvious that its problem is far more serious than just the brushes. With no load, it only developed about half the revs it usually would and struggled badly when asked to cut the Hebel. After attempting a couple of cuts I gave up, wary of the strong electrical smell...

So with my only means of cutting Hebel out of action, I made a dash to Seymour to pick up a cheap replacement from the hardware store. Problem: they don't have any 235mm saws in stock and there's nowhere else in town...

Off to Broadford then.

Dammit, they don't have any either! This is going to get difficult...

There's a big Mitre 10 store in Kilmore, but rather than drive over there I called them. Just as well, they don't have any either!

Thankfully Alissa and the kids were on their way up, so Alissa made a stop at Bunnings on the way and picked up a cheapie Ozito, albeit with a 3 year replacement warranty. I reckon I can kill it lots sooner than that... :)

With the new saw I did manage to get the triangular section fully clad, but shifting even these half panels by myself is deadly, especially on the roof. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle the gable end sections by myself...

With the family on site and friends visiting on Sunday, I did basically nothing on the building and come Monday morning with the heat I basically ran out of energy and enthusiasm, spat the dummy and packed up for home.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Breaking the tin's back

The aim today is to get the rest of the roofing iron installed on the garage, and fit the ridge capping and fiddle around with the sheets on the dwelling. It's promising to be a HOT day today, so the sooner we get into it the better...

One of the little BAL-FZ details is the flashing detail. This extends as far as covering the ridge of the plywood membrane with flashing, screwed at 200mm centres. Even though this interface will be entirely covered by Anticon blanket and Rockwool, the spec requires this flashing as well to prevent ember ingress into the roof structure. It's nothing if not thorough...

We started with the long 9m sheets in order to get a nice square parallel run going, but that relies on the assumption that my roof structure is square to begin with!

It is...



There's a little bit of run-out by the time the sheets reach the end of the roof, but nothing which can't be adjusted with a little shift of a sheet here or there, so nothing to be concerned about.

It's about midday in this next photo, but holy hell if it's not hot and bright up on the roof.

After lunch we got stuck into the other side of the roof towards the shipping container. This one didn't take quite as long, but by this time we were slowing down in the heat. The Bureau suggested it was 35º ambient, but it felt double that with the reflected light from the tin. I probably have sunburn in places which should not be mentioned in polite society... :o

Nevertheless, we got all the iron installed, with a couple of sheets left over. Bugger! I hadn't accounted for the fact we could get two cuts out of one sheet, so I've bought a couple more than we need. Not to worry, I'm sure I'll find a use for them somewhere!

By the end of the day we had pretty much everything done which we had planned. All the roofing sheets are installed and all the ridge cappings too, albeit not screwed down quite as much as it will be when its finished (the BAL-FZ data sheet requires screws on every other corrugation, into battens spaced at 600mm centres. This is about 4x the number of screws you'd normally see installed in a tin roof...)

Still to go are the barge flashings over the gable ends (naturally, since I haven't yet installed the Hebel panelling to these), and the flashings over the triangular sections at either end of the vaulted roof. I'm aiming to get the Hebel installed on at least these and the gable over the vaulted roof this long weekend, but we'll have to see how I get on moving such large panels by myself.

Since according to regulation I'm prohibited (!!) to screw down the roofing iron myself (seriously, I've built the entire structure upon which they stand myself.. I think I can manage a few roofing screws) Savva the Plumber will be back next week to finish the job. This means I have to get cracking this weekend with as much Hebel as I can manage, and then get a bunch of flashing and cappings ordered early next week in time for him to install them.

No rest...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Happening tin

A big day today - the tin starts going down! :)

My day started early in Melbourne, to swing past Bowens to pick up as many rolls of insulation as the Hilux could carry (8, in case you're wondering, plus the three rolls of rockwool on the back seat), then Bunnings for more roofing screws and then on up to Tallarook.

I made it on site not long before the first delivery driver arrived carrying all the roofing iron and flashings. He pulled in with a 9m fixed tray truck, with no crane or tipper and so it was down to me and the bobfork to unload him.

The first pack of iron went pretty well, but I didn't quite have the second (my 9m sheets) in the middle and so as soon as I lifted them off the deck they tipped over and slid down the hill. They don't appear to be damaged...

The third was more difficult as it was simply too heavy for the bobcat to lift without tipping onto its nose. This pack I ratchet strapped to the forks and lifted as clear of the truck deck as possible, while the driver drove out from underneath them, then dropped them to the deck as quickly as I could to avoid tipping over. It all happened so quickly in the end, I don't remember if it worked but we got them off without damage so all's well...

Shortly thereafter Savva the Plumber arrived and we all got stuck into the job of installing the roofing iron.

First up - the Z flashing over the top of the Hebel panels, screwed at 200mm centres. The leading edge of the tin will be screwed to this flashing and into the Hebel itself, and the whole lot glued down using a fire-proof polyurethane sealant.

Next, the space between the flashing and the first batten is filled with Rockwool, which will seal off the corrugations in the iron so that no stray embers can enter the roof space. Not that they could anyway, because it's filled with glasswool insulation and the wall cavity is sealed by the flashing, but this is the approved BAL-FZ construction method which we have to adhere to.

A little while later and we have nearly one half of the upper storey covered. It's not completely screwed down yet, but there's enough in it at the moment to keep it from going anywhere and we'll finish screwing it down later.

In our design we have no fascias, with the guttering screwing directly to the roofing sheets. We'll taper the overhang from one end of the building to the other in order to produce the required fall in the guttering, towards the downpipe.

The iron is not yet screwed down at its leading edge, so it's not quite flush with the Hebel yet. I still need to get in there with the polyurethane sealant, (not to mention, finishing installing the infills above the windows) so we'll wait until I've finished that to screw it down finally.

There is absolutely nowhere for an ember to get into the roof structure and start a fire - the whole thing is stuffed full of non-combistible insulation. The ridge capping will be filled with Rockwool too.

Shortly after lunch the Bowens truck arrived with the rest of the insulation, but unlike most of the truckies who visit our place this guy had very little idea. He drove in almost all the way down to the house site, but was blocked by the roofing sheets on the road. We unloaded him and he proceeded to reverse back up, but kept alternately slipping his clutch and then dropping it, provoking nothing but wheelspin and digging himself a hole. I tried to encourage him to take it slowly (the roofing delivery driver drove out with ease) but in his broken English he basically said "no can" and even with a sheet of reo steel under his wheels, he went nowhere in a cloud of tyre smoke.

In the end I offered to pull him out with the bobcat, and so I went cross-country to get past him and we hooked up a chain to the bobcat. But before I could take up the tension he started reversing out slowly, and I never did get the chain tight before we reached the top of the hill.


After that we had very few interruptions :)

So come the end of day #1 of roofing, and we have the dwelling sheets installed with only a little stuffing around tomorrow to finish it off.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is roof, is go

So it looks like it's a 'go' to start installing the roofing iron tomorrow. I managed to get everything organised in time - corrugated zincalume and all the flashings are arriving from Shepparton tomorrow morning, I've already got the Rockwool insulation and I'm picking up Anticon at sparrow's tomorrow morning.

I also have (nearly all of) my roofing screws - thanks Bunnings for your beat-any-advertised-price-by-10% policy :D  I simply printed a page from a website I found which advertises all sorts of fasteners at crazy cheap prices (they'll be China's Finest, I'm sure) and took it to the busiest register at Bunnings with boxes and boxes of screws and bingo, instant 50% discount.

Lowest prices are just the beginning.  Yeah, right!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A mad day of organising

If I stand any chance of installing roofing tin this week, I needed to get a whole bunch of supplies ordered today. Here's my list:

  • 0.47mm Zincalume corrugated:
    • 12 / 9.0m sheets
    • 60 / 5.0m sheets
  • 5 / 3500 x 0.47mm sheets zinc SpeedDeck
  • 16 / 6.0m 40x35x60mm right angle Z flashing
  • 4 / 6.0m 35x35mm 150º flashing
  • 4 / 6.0m 150x150mm roll-top ridge capping
  • 18 packs / Anticon 75 insulation blanket
  • 15 packs / Rockwool party-wall batts
  • 4 / 1000-pack roofing screws
I've had three separate suppliers on the go with quotes, but W.B. Hunter in Shepparton beat the rest hands down, by two thousand dollars.

If you're in Victoria and need building supplies, give these guys a call!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Last of the Moh-battens

OK, that was a stretch.. :)

I did finally manage to get the last of the battens installed today. I'm really struggling with battery power though - running the charger all day on the caravan battery (even with the 50W solar panel in full sun going full bore) really takes its toll, and this morning (after leaving a battery to charge overnight) it was showing a shade under 12V before the solar panel kicked in.

I'm not starting that b*stard generator, though!

I had the battens finished by about lunchtime, at which time I ran out of battery power myself and decided to call it a day. I didn't get chance to spend any time with the family last weekend with the fires, so that's what I did this afternoon.

They even remember who I am! :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Battens, battens everywhere

Today's job was to finish the battens on the dwelling roof, and install them all on the garage too so that on Sunday I can fiddle around with the little bits of Hebel I need to finish off.

I knocked the dwelling roof over pretty quickly, as I already had a third of the battens done to hold the plastic sheet down and so got stuck into the garage right around the time the sun showed itself above the trees, bathing me in its full glory.

It gets hot up here in full sun! :)

Progress on the garage roof however slowed considerably as I'm going through batteries for my saw and drill like there's no tomorrow. The OBHW battens are hard, and driving the batten screws through them is giving my cordless drill a really hard time. I've got three big batteries, and today I've had one on the charger at all times and that's still not keeping up with me. Making things worse is that I'm charging from the deep-cycle battery and solar panel in the caravan, and that is going flat too!

So rather than press on in the full sun I decided I should take a break for a while and visit my fire-affected neighbours to see how they fared after we left last week.

It's actually not terribly obvious in the photos that there was a big fire here. Most of the upper tree canopy is unaffected, although there are places where the leaves are changing colour indicating they got a bit of heat. Thankfully we had very little wind to contend with - had it picked up, the sight today would have been very different.

As it is, the containment line we put in along the creek held the fire back perfectly, and it never really looked like threatening the property.

So after several hours chatting I decided I really ought to get back to the building site and finish off my roof. It was 4pm before I got back...

With my batteries recharged (both figuratively and literally) I managed to finish off the large fall of the garage roof before the light failed me.

So tomorrow I really have to finish these battens if I stand any chance of getting the tin installed next week.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Finishing off the roof structure

It's been a long time coming but I've finally put the finishing touches to the roof structure in preparation for the tin installation next week.

I definitely learned my lesson with the wall truss structure at the other end of the vaulted roof last weekend. That took me the better part of three days to build and erect, and I'm stuffed if I'm going to spend that long on the other end - I just don't have that much time to spare. If I'm going to get the tin installed late next week, then this weekend I need to not only build the north-end truss wall but also finish installing the underpurlins / battens on both roofs, and ideally install the missing bits of Hebel too.

So, no messing around then.

What took me three days last weekend I've basically managed to knock over in one day today. Rather than cut and assemble the frame on the ground and (attempt to) lift it into place, I cut the timbers and assembled the frame in place using the roof as a working platform. Given that I've not yet installed the Hebel panels at this end of the dwelling this was a little easier, as I have clear access to fix the trussed wall frame off.

Thankfully this weekend I remembered to bring my laptop with me, so there was less time stuffing around with pencil and paper and calculator :)

So (allowing for a later-than-normal start due to arriving later-than-normal last night) by lunchtime I had the guts of the frame built and in place. Since this wall incorporates a window, and I'm framing with my 90x45 timbers sideways to match the thickness of the rafters I took the extra time to trench the rafters to positively locate my studs, instead of relying solely on the ply bracing to do the job. This took a little extra time, but I'm feeling much more secure about the wall structure as a result.

The afternoon was spent analysing my remaining plywood and making it go as far as I possibly could. Before starting this wall I have basically two full sheets of ply left, and a few offcuts. The south wall took four sheets...

Thankfully I had just enough offcuts the right shape and size, and used one of my last two full sheets to clad the frame completely. The window opening certainly helped here :)

So that's it for the roof structure - it's all finished, with one sheet of plywood left over. Nothing like paying for your own materials to keep waste to a minimum! :)

Tomorrow's job - finish installing the battens on the dwelling roof, and get them all on the garage roof too.