first row of joists ready to be dropped into place

25.10.15 | flooring

Last weekend we completed the last major job, laying the timber decking – so we now have a floor! The whole process took a little longer than anticipated, mainly because each joist hanger required 44 nails each… and given there were 110 in total, this was a lot of hammering. Luckily we had help from one of the fathers, Mikkel Togsverd, my WORKSHOP colleague Ivar and his girlfriend Heather (who kindly came up on their last weekend before moving to Norway!), and Yanchee  – an engineer who used to work with Ramboll and collaborated with us on Projects Chander Nagar and Hariharpur. It was really nice to catch up with them all between hammer swings, and in the pub at the end of the day!

The joists span between double trimmers, which are strong C24 grade timber members (kindly supplied at a reduced rate by Jewsons, and generously paid for by Toby Sherwood, the forester I met in Hooke Park back in February!). This C24 grade wood also runs around the edge of the building, acting as a frame for the floor structure, which as a whole rests on the concrete pad foundations below. To get the correct level, we had to prop the timber on bricks (with a layer of DPM in between to stop water soaking up through the timber) – and quickly realised it would have been useful to have levelled the concrete more carefully when it was initially poured! We also encountered a slight problem with the position of the pads: when we did the setting out, we adjusted the siting of the foundation holes slightly to allow for more tolerance when positioning the steel shoes – they were supposed to be bolted to the pads at the corner which didn’t leave much room for manoeuvre. However,  the reason the pads had been designed in this way (extending into the building as far as possible) was to reduce the span of the joists – something we remembered as soon as we started laying the joists and saw that the concrete pads weren’t exactly where they should be, below the the trimmers! After a few calls to the engineer Steve back in London, and a quick meeting at Duggan Morris (where he happens to be working on a couple of other projects) all was resolved and we just placed the bricks underneath the shorter joists connected to the trimmers.

When it came to laying the floorboards, we had an excellent team of helpers: the music teacher Fiona, her husband Matt, and their son! With their help, we managed to get the boards down and nailed in a few hours, which was really satisfying! The following day Keith and I finished some smaller jobs off, such as trimming the floor boards and the lapped siding at the rear of the building. Over the past few weeks we’ve also resolved a few other snags – such as adding a steel bracket to support the central beam where it meets the front column. This was very kindly fabricated and delivered to site by one of the fathers at the school, who I had met at the Harvest Festival feast one Sunday! We were also visited by the engineer and artist Anderson Inge (who taught me at Oxford, the Rural Studio and the AA!) and we had a helpful discussion about the back beam, which had started to bow a little. We have added an additional column for now, and will be building a box-bench (with storage underneath) in the next few weeks for additional support. Next weekend we’ll be sanding and oiling the structure, laying the pipes along the front trench so that it  an be filled with gravel, and finally completing the brick edging along the path…. before inviting Building Control to the site for a final inspection.

In other news, the project was selected to be exhibited at the Sustain RCA show, as part of the London Design Festival back in September… and ended up winning an award in the ‘Visionary Process’ category! We also recently received the great news that Phase Two of the project (it’s enclosure as an interior space) has won a RIBA McAslan bursary. Really looking forward to wrapping up Phase One on site, so that I can start thinking through the next phase of the design.