Temporary Porch/Greenhouse Deck

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

As previously mentioned, I ordered the first batch of 24 steel sheets for the roof on the 7th of April. They were delivered on the 18th of May (a few days short of 6 weeks, which seems to be par for the course for building materials these days).

They are, not much to my surprise, quite awkward to handle on your own. Here's moving the second to last sheet into the house …

To stack neatly near the door. I was using the sticks to slide them across into place and there didn't seem any point in removing them from under the last one.

Meanwhile, most of the tarps have survived the spring quite well, though getting a bit tatty, but the heap of wood holding up the original “proof-of-concept” tarp and the second sheet over it at the east end of the north roof gave way a day or two later. That's the first one to come off anyway.

It was sufficiently awkward getting the roof sheets in and out of the house that I decided it was finally time to get round to putting the first lot of joists in the porch/greenhouse and covering them with some expendable temporary decking.

Accordingly, on Sat and Sun May 22 and 23rd, I sanded 6 boards to be used as the joists and fitted three of them on Monday, realising that I would be two hangers short. I hadn't bothered to count as I was under the impression I had enough to do the loft over the main bedroom which would need a few more joists but apparently not.

On Tuesday the 25th I had my second Covid vaccination booked for mid afternoon so I set out to Thurso, just after midday, to get a few more joist hangers (Simpson Strong-tie JHA270/47) and some 18mm OSB3 boards to use as the decking. Just as I'd turned up the A9 towards Thurso my phone rang then rang off just as I pulled into a layby to answer. It was the medical centre. Rang back, engaged, drove up to Achavanich, turned off there, rang back, engaged. Hmm… Went to the medical centre in Lybster - we've had some cancellations this morning so need to use up a vial, could you have your vaccination now? yep, done. Good - now that doesn't break up the afternoon if the Thurso people didn't have hangers.

Indeed, they had bigger and smaller hangers but not the 47mm wide ones. More startlingly, they didn't have 18mm OSB3. Apparently their manufacturer isn't making it at the moment as it's not a “core product”, unlike 9 and 12mm OSB. I got some cheap ply sheets which I'm not too happy about as they don't tend to survive so well outside.

Back to site to drop off the ply sheets and consider if it was now too late to go to Inverness for hangers. It was, really, so I went to a chaotic building supplies place in Wick who did have a few JHA hangers but not the 47mm ones and also an agricultural and building supplies place who only had some fairly flimsy looking similar hangers from another manufacturer. I got two, just in case, but don't really want to use them for this application as they don't look quite so strong and they're not what the structural engineer specified.

The next day I was feeling a bit depressed (nothing to do with the vaccination, just a poor night's sleep) so I sat at home and read.

On Thursday I set off for Inverness to see about getting the hangers from one of three or four places there. On the way, it occurred to me that there was a new builder's merchants in Alness I hadn't tried and also a Travis Perkins in Invergordon I was aware of but not seen. Indeed, after a bit of wandering around dead ends in rather run down council estates I found a Jewsons in Invergordon and got four hangers for an exorbitant price (£14 for 4 when Screwfix sell boxes of 10, with the required nails, for £8.50 and just the hangers from other sources are usually about 70p each). If I'd realised the price as I picked them up I'd have only bought the two I thought I needed immediately, on principle, but luckily (see below) I got two spares.

On Friday the 28th I painted the edges of the ply in the hope that that'll help them fall to bits a bit less quickly and fitted the other three joists I had ready. I ran into a problem with the most northerly on (the leftmost one in this picture).

Most of these joists are on 600mm centres though there are two on each side of the house on 300mm centres to avoid having joists line up with the main posts. Here, though, the north-most joist (left one in the picture) lines up with the north-most stud in the gable wall. This has a steel tie-down strap on it, visible in the first picture in this blog post. I didn't realise this until the second nail I tried to bang in for the joist hanger bounced off. I therefore had to shift this joist south (rightwards) to avoid this, putting it 400mm on centres from its neighbour leaving a gap to its north which would need filling with another joist.

I missed going to site on Saturday due to a poor night's sleep. On Sunday I cut the ply sheets to length to fit the spacing of the edge beam relative to the joists, including painting the cut edges, and sanded and fitted the extra joist needed (using the two spare joist hangers I'd bought).

Here, by the way, is how I fit the joists. First I clamp a bit of batten to the top so that it can hang from the bearer then I fit the hanger round it. That way it's easy to ensure the top edge of the joist lines up with the top of the bearer.

When there isn't an edge like that to bear on a little more creativity is required.

On Monday I fitted the remaining dwangs (noggins) added on the north side…

…and on the south side.

Ply deck screwed down including a few offcuts and a bit of ply I kept when I dismantled my Solar Warm Air Panel to act as a door step.

On Tuesday I removed the tarps from the east end of the north side of the roof, where the first of the steel roof sheets are to go. This took a surprisingly long time as there were two sheets there which had been patched successively with extra bits of batten with a mixture of screw types and had then got a bit tangled up as they'd all collapsed a bit when the top batten came off.

Yesterday was pretty breezy so I just made up an extra step to allow boards to be laid flush against the decking so I can roll my sack cart on and off without too much injury to the edges.

The relative slopes are mostly from the ground, honest.

Today's also a bit too windy for handling sheet materials on my own but tomorrow and Saturday look more reasonable.