April and May

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

Since my previous house post at the end of March I've basically done another room's worth of roof sheeting on the south roof and put up most of the joists needed for the ceiling above the main bedroom at the east end of the house.

As always, the slow down has mostly been the wind. Since the middle of May, though, I've also been doing the main-bedroom ceiling joists which are, of course, a lot less weather dependent than the roof sheets although there have been a couple of days with either a lot of wind or some wind and enough rain that I didn't want to open the house or the container. Still, it's been refreshing to be able to get on with the job most days on my own schedule and not to be forced to use any little gaps in the weather.

At the end of March I'd basically done the roof sheets for the main bedroom and the study at the east end of the house, give or take the odd sheet needed to stagger them appropriately. Next is the living room. I'd already done the two sheets below that room's window so the next job was the flashing round it which took me all of April Fools' Day on account of a number of trivial mistakes in the process.

On the 2nd I put up the bottom row sheet next to the living room window overlapping with the sheet against the study window and the one above and to its right.

Wind (helped by rain and a little snow) then prevented play until the 14th when I put up the sheet above that and another on the top row. That day I put the next sheet up above and to the right (east) of the living room window and the top sheet above and to its right (where the upper little ramp is hanging in the picture above). The top sheet didn't fit very well and I didn't screw it down fully. As I left site my back was aching a bit and the next day, the 15th, having not slept well, it was quite painful so I missed that day despite it being pretty calm.

On the 16th I went up to have a better look and realised there were actually two separate problems. Firstly, the sheet was only overlapped with the one to its right by about 10 mm rather than the two ridges (6") I normally use. Secondly, though it's not too obvious in that picture, the two sheets below are angled progressively slightly further to the left at their tops so that by the time they reach the next sheet along they're about ¼ wavelength out of alignment. As I began screwing down this top sheet from its left edge it lines up reasonably on the left but is well out on the right.

This is one way in which working round the windows on the south roof is more complicated and time consuming than doing the plain north roof: the positions of the windows and the risks of trying to put the ladder across them sometimes force screwing sheets starting from the side away from the already fixed sheets making alignment more awkward.

I considered trying to unscrew, shift and re-screw this sheet but the difficulty of getting the lifting block back in underneath and the mess of the existing holes in the bottom made me give up on that idea. Instead I put the lifting block on the front and lowered it down.

Not ideal but the least sketchy scheme I could think of on the spot. Here's a clearer picture of the alignment problem.

The next day (17th) I put a replacement sheet up properly overlapped with the sheet to the right. Because of the alignment problem it's not pretty but it should keep the water out for now, particularly when I squirt some black silicone up the gap; I have other gaps each side of each of the windows to do similarly so I'll do the lot together. Maybe one day I'll redo this bit of roof. Yeah, right.

On the 19th and 20th I cut the bottom off the sheet I'd messed up above and used it as the rightmost of the two sheets above the living room window. The 20th was a bit breezy but I thought it was OK, still I almost lost control of the sheet as I was putting it against the roof ready to lift up. I then did the top row sheet above and to its right and the other short sheet above the living room window on the 27th and 28th respectively.

Meanwhile, on the 21st I had a day out to Screwfix in Elgin (yeah, exciting!) where I got, amongst other things, a fall arrest harness. I've been using an eBay climbing harness for protection on the roof (my personal rule is to use it if my feet go above the tops of the windows) which seems fine except that the buckles gradually work lose and it's irritating to have to keep pulling it back up and tighten them. I'd seen proper industrial fall arrest harnesses in one of the suppliers I use in Inverness but at £200+ they seem a bit of a rip off for what they are. The one from Screwfix was just under £40 and feels very comfortable and secure. Then I went for a walk round the harbour in Lossiemouth and drove round the airfield on the way home, which was maginally less tedious.

At the start of May I ordered the next batch of roof sheets. This will be the last lot till I get to do the north side of the porch/greenhouse. In the past it's just been a matter of going in and ordering them then getting the credit card out. This time they had to ring up for a price as, apparently, it varies so much.

On the 7th and 8th of May I put up the sheets to left of the living room window and the one above the window on the top row.

Given lack of wind I could put up the one above and to the left of the living room window but after that I'm stuck until the new batch comes in.

In the mean time, the east end of the house has dried out nicely so I've been putting up joists for the ceiling above the main bedroom. When I ordered the last batch of timber I beams for the roof, so many years ago, they didn't want to split a pack as the 235 mm depth ones I've been using are not commonly used and the distributor would be left with odd sizes hanging around. Instead they collected all the odd ones of various lengths and widths they already had hanging around in various branches across Scotland and offloaded the lot on me. This actually gave me all I needed and quite a bit of spare at the cost of having to pick and chose carefully where to use various beams to make best use of parts which hadn't been dented, exposed to the weather and so on.

I had quite a pile of narrow beams left over which were cluttering the place up a bit so I decided sequestering their carbon in the bedroom ceiling would be much better than burning them even though using them would be a bit more hassle than using the same 195x45 joists I used in the loft over the small bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

According to the James Jones span tables they could just about go on 600 mm centres but I had enough in hand to put them on 400 mm centres so why not? First one up:

The way I put these up was to clamp a batten about 50 mm longer at each end to the top of the beam and lift the beam into place from the middle from my scaffold tower, then move the scaffold tower to nail up the bracket. So long as the batten is stiff enough not to bend significantly this ensures that the top of the beam lines up nicely with the top of the purlin which should make laying the loft floor easy.

All but the last one are now up though I don't seem to have taken any more photos. I also have one left over beam which is slightly twisted which I think I'll cut up to use for dwangs (noggins) between these. Technically they're not necessary as long as the chipboard flooring above is properly glued and screwed but, again, why not? They'll probably make doing the ceiling easier, if nothing else.

Last Thursday my knee was aching a bit from scrambling on and off the scaffold tower so, though it would have been a good day to do the last beam I decided to pop over to Thurso to ask about the roof sheets and order the chipboard flooring to go above these beams. Indeed, as soon as I arrived: “your roof sheets are in, I've got them down to be delivered to you on Tuesday” (i.e., tomorrow). Perfect. Ordered the chipboard to be delivered at the same time.

This morning (Monday, May 24th), though, I got a call: apparently the “lads in the yard” had realised that the roof sheets delivered were trapezoidal, not the sinusoidal type I'd had before. Confirmed that I wanted sinusoidal and said the manager had said I'd get an order confirmation by email which I'd never had so hadn't picked up on the problem myself (I'd moaned about that when ordering the chipboard). So, I'm going over there again tomorrow once the chipboard's been delivered, to see about sorting it all out.

The pessimist in me (about 90% of me) thinks this will likely mean I can't put up more roof sheets through the calmest fortnight of the year. Not happy.