This is a record of a straight forward rectangular timber frame extension to an old worker’s cottage in Nedlands, in keeping with the old style.
I know this week will include site preparation, marking out levels, delivery of timbers, digging holes for soleplates and stumps, then building the floor frame with first joists then bearers.
We had hired a turf cutter two weekends previous. The turf cutting was interrupted two weekends in a row by the AFL grand final after the first game came out a draw. The lawn was lovely and we said goodbye. Gladly it was only a rectangle of lawn – a blank canvas, really.
Some timbers got delivered on Tuesday. A happy bloke (Sam) with a plumber’s van rocked up and stood smiling at me. He strolled around the rear of the block. I showed him the dunny in the outhouse.
Each time we talked he smiled and listened. He was pleasantly surprised by the fabulous rear gate access, the very mature trees on the eastern boundary making a lot of shade. The mulched set down area delineated from the grassed area.
Sam set to work stripping cleaning the old floorboards. What struck me was patience and tolerance for the old boards, respect and gentleness. The day was spent doing quiet work, cleaning them up and re-stacking into his order. The site looked so organised.
On the Wednesday Louis rocked up. I remember David and Moss telling me, independently, that Louis is really good at stumps joists and bearers. That he is finicky about levels and timber selection. Louis and Sam spent that day setting up the corners and marking out the levels with string lines. That evening Faron and I enjoyed seeing the delineation of the site.
On the Thursday they actually started digging holes. By the end of the day all the sole plates and stumps were in. A rectangle of finished work.
On the Friday all the joists and bearers were in. We all had a laugh that it was very good closure; I like closure. Another day, another rectangle of a finished set of work. What’s more, the next delivery of required timbers was only due for delivery on the Tuesday, so they gladly decided they could have the Monday off. This is what I love about Wandoo Design and Construction. They are real people.
All the floorboards went down in two days. This was a pleasure to watch. These guys don’t talk themselves up but I got them talking because the clamps looked so curious. It turns out that the clamps they use have been collected over time and found in antique shops. Honestly, to find people that can find, select, supply and install quality pieces of recycled original old jarrah in the exact same way they would have been laid more than a hundred years ago blows my mind and makes me very happy. The tiny marks made by the clamps are evident in the old part of the house now that I know what I am looking for. People don’t lay them like that these days. Our new floor is lovely. At this point it is patchy and looks a bit of a mess – because each piece has been laid in a different order to its original neighbour. So we can see carpet underlay, then varnish, then sump oiled finishes in a quirky pattern.
A large part of the wall framing got done. Louis got a nail through his thumb on the Thursday afternoon. He took Friday off.
Louis is back on Monday. Lots of jokes about the thumb. I reckon it is bad but he is pushing through. Plumbers dug trench under pavers to north for sewerage and put risers in for drains to wet areas. The boys finished wall framing and moved onto roof framing. Ridge beams and rafters went up. Strapping and noggings to the wall framing went on.
Week four was more bitsy. Carpentry for internal walls to bathroom in time for plumbers.
Plumbers in (hot and cold water and spuds for taps). Framing out the box gutter between the old verandah and the new gable roof happened. Recycled windows went in, as well as flashing. Now this is an exciting stage, seeing the windows in location. They took a lot of thought as they are recycled – I had to fit them to the rooms and it took a lot of salvage yard trawling and also a bit of risk but it is great to have Moss help me with checking them over. He is very generous with his time.
On Monday weatherboards went on to the East wall, flashing to south windows. Tuesday was Melbourne cup, no work. Wednesday weatherboards went on to North wall. Verbal conversation with Moss to make a variation. Louis, Sam and I all decided to take the weatherboards full height to the north wall rather than half height below fibre cement with battens as per drawings. I love seeing the weatherboards.
I am so impressed with the five weeks it takes to get the stumps, joists, bearers, floor, wall framing and roof framing up, weatherboards on and windows in. Gone is the patch of grass, we now have a built envelope. Next up will be insulation and electrical then wall and ceiling lining. It has been great to see the very efficient way this team works together to create a timber framed custom designed space, using only one trade – being carpentry. When there are fewer workers and fewer trades a project can move really very quickly, under the eye of an effective site supervisor.