Friday, 26 August 2011

One wall up, another wall down.

It's been a slow week. Without the hive of activity that was the roof over the previous two weeks, the bricklayers pale in comparison. Still, for the 1.5 days they were on the site, another item is off the long list, and we can now properly visualise what the pack of the house will look like.

On Wednesday, they started building the gable wall for the bathroom, complete with a poured reinforced lintel for a 1.5m wide window.

 On Thursday, it took half a day to put the pointy bit on.

Keeping the roof covered properly was a minor challenge (as it was before), but luckily I stopped by, got a loan of another sheet from the roofer/neighbour, Lutz, and shoved it out at the ridge to form a tent over the gable. As the gable is now free-standing, we didn't want to lash anything directly to it, as it's been a little stormy at night, and I don't want that falling into the house.

In other news, we found that one of the walls between the new bathroom and a bedroom was very wobbly indeed, so it had to come out before it fell on someone.

This was a later construction of brick, as there was a smoker here (note the sooty stains all over this area), and wood wasn't allowed to be too close. You can see they truncated a cross-beam, and to be honest, I'd like some further support in there. It's a bit scary with all these open walls and spaces.

Knocking it down was a pushover, literally, and the shaft left by the demolished chimney saved carrying a load of bricks and plaster downstairs:

Rubble down the easy way into the kitchen

Things I really want/need to do soon:
  • Take down all the false ceilings on the first floor
  • Get a damn container to get rid of all the plasterboard lying about
  • Ditto for all the old wood

Saturday, 20 August 2011

More open areas and a mummy

Friday was a quiet day on the site. The general builders turned up for half a day to clean up some stuff and put some supports in the living room for when the broken beam gets taken out.

We did a little work. Should have started earlier in the day, but there you go.

On the second floor (or the first attic level), at the top of the stairs, we plan op opening it up a little to form a landing where maybe we'd have some room for an armchair and some bookshelves, as well as getting some light to spread from front (from the dormer) and the back (with a roof window). First thing to go has to be the wall in between.


Looks a bit grim now, but with the timbers cleaned up and oiled, I'm hoping for a lovely warm glow. The uprights seen in the photo above are a little loose, so could probably go. We'll see. I'm considering removing the material in between the timber construction on the wall to the right, but that's for another day.
Other small jobs that are a pain in the ass are things like separating Styrofoam backing from some of the plasterboard we removed. For waste disposal reasons, they cannot be mixed.

Removing this stuff is not fun.
And finally, this creature was found on top of the scaffolding. At least Lutz found it there on Thursday. I reckon one of the scaffolding guys found it high up on the east gable, perhaps behind the cladding that previously covered the gable.It looks like a cat to me, but it could be a pine marten, as we have them around too. Definitely well mummified, whatever it is. Poor thing. I was wondering if it got trapped after climbing through a hole from inside to behind the cladding.

Mummy 1.

We found another mummy in the barn today too! Definitely a cat, up in a store room we hadn't been into yet. Bloody cats...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Building it up again

Once the wall came down, something had to put back. Although it'd be nice to have such a wide view out to the back, it'd present certain structural challenges, as a gable dormer has to be built over the gap.
The hole on Tuesday

The hole on Wednesday
On Wednesday, the guys built up a new wall, leaving a gap for a wide door frame. Above this is a reinforced concrete lintel which was poured on-site (you can see the boards holding it together above. They also enlarged the window which was above the sink, which was more or less like a letter box (a better view is below). Here's a quick before and after to see the full transformation:


I guess the lintel needs a little time to cure before they continue building the facade of the new gable dormer, as they didn't turn up today. Still, there's lots more to be done!

Meanwhile, Lutz the roofer and his crew added some finishing details to the dormers on the front of the house, prepped the back and sealed it all up, as we're expecting a lot of rain tomorrow. He's away to another job for a week, which is just as well, as there's a dependency on the brick-layers to complete the gable wall before the new roof surfaces can be built.
Nice finishing touches on the dormers.
Ready for the rain.
The plans for the back have changed slightly in terms of roof window positioning and numbers (well, one less), so this is what we have to look forward to.

We've also changed some ideas for how this new room (the bathroom) will look, having decided to have this open all the way to the apex instead of a slightly raised ceiling. This might save some cash, as we'd leave some supporting beams floating across the room instead of the major job of moving them, but that's another story, and a few weeks away.

I'm still having nightmares about the whole building collapsing in a heap. :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The day the (kitchen) wall came down

It really felt like a proper building site today. As well as the three guys continuing the roof, the general builders arrived to take down the back wall, lift the floor of the kitchen, knock down the wall between the rooms what will become the bigger kitchen and remove the rest of the chimney. All in a day's work!

Let's look back at the kitchen and former slaughter room/bake kitchen as they were when we first looked at the house in July 2010:

Former kitchen, July 2010.

Former... well, not a slaughter room any more, July 2010.
You can see how they then looked after a clear-out by January 2011 on a previous post, along with some of our ideas. Since then, we'd done some stripping down in these rooms, removing the dry walling. The wall between the two rooms was "modern", insofar as it was brick and not wattle and daub, timber construction like most of the internal walls.
The "slaughter room", April 2011, from almost the same angle
Floral pattern on plaster.
The oak beam spanning between the rooms was partially exposed by then, having previously been clad with wood panels. It is supported in the middle by a single post which we'll have to replace. Behind the back wall (at the left in the photo above) we exposed plasterwork painted with a floral pattern, probably applied with a roller or stencil. It still amazed me the amount of decoration and colours that were used before wallpaper became widespread. Or even after! This might not be that old.

The timbers and parts of the clay-based plaster on this wall are charred in places, perhaps attesting to the former bake kitchen role this room once had (as per plans from 1937, seen on an earlier post). Well, that and the chimney in the back-left corner, as seen in the photo below, with fire-powered pot still attached.

May 2011.
 The dark timber at the top-centre of the photo above is a former lintel, so it marks an original doorway into this room, which would have led from the small hall behind it in the days when the house was partitioned.

So how does it look now after one day of serious demolition?

August 16, 2011.

I can hardly believe it's the same room. The photo above was taken from outside, as the former bathroom wall was knocked down to make way for a new, thicker wall, suitable for an external wall. The chimney is gone, providing a view into the bedroom at the front of the house. Actually, I would have like to leave a bit of it in place to keep that corner closed, as I would have left the bricks exposed (but I was working, so couldn't poke my nose into their work).

The wall between the rooms came out pretty quick, really opening up the space. Till today, I couldn't visualise the size of our new kitchen, and I'm happy!

They also removed the tiled floor and the concrete layer underneath. The plan here was to lower the level a little, as it was 5cm higher than the floor of the former kitchen. Unfortunately, the top of the vaulted cellar (cellar 3) was higher than expected, so we'll have to figure out how to level things out without having a step up into the kitchen.

Top of the vaulted cellar.
The hole to the bottom-right was used for dropping spuds or the like down in the cellar after cleaning. I thought it might make a nice route for beer lines. The hole seen on the top left, beside he wheel barrow, was not planned, and is actually a breach over the vaulted entrance to the cellar. I doubt it's compromising the stability, but we'll have to patch it up.

So, a good day's work! Special thanks to Herr Keller, our architect, who popped in unexpectedly and set the course with a steady hand. The guys work really hard when they're here.

Oh, and the roof? Isn't that beautiful? The green counter battens look crooked as they follow the line of the original timbers underneath, which definitely are crooked (but I try not to let my imagination run too wild)
The roof with dormers, August 16, 2011.
I think work on the back roof surface starts tomorrow!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The opening frame

Over the past few months, while waiting on the big work to begin, we've been tinkering about what smaller projects. I'm waiting till we shovel up all the rubble before posting the rest, but this is a nice piece of work done by my wife.

Cast your mind back to an early post about the first attic level, and this room. Here's what it looked like before we bought the house (taken while standing in the door).

July 2010.
Then, in January 2011 it had been cleaned out and the lovely wall paper stripped off.

January 2011.
The wall to the left of the shot above (against which the bed rested in 2010) is a south-facing wall behind which is the roof. One of our four dormers goes there, so naturally, to use it as a window, something had to happen to the wall. As it happens, the wall is half-timbered and structural, so it's not a case of just ripping it down.

June 2011.
Pretty, isn't it? And still traces of old paint-jobs. So, a dormer is planned behind it, but we're not exactly sure will it line up with the middle section, where a door originally lead into a storage space in the eves. Plus, we want even more light! Solution, take out the wattle and daub and see. An incredible amount of clay and straw between those few beams, and quite a bit of weight.

July 2011.
But first the roof has to come off and the dormer framework has to be built.

Monday, August 8th 2011.
And how does the dormer line up? Surprisingly well! We thought we might need to shift the upright timbers a little, but it may be that we just take out the lintel between them, and hey, access to the front! The top of the dormer is higher than we expected, but the architect is OK with this and said it'll get more light in.

Today. A view through to the dormer.
Note the pile of clay and straw is gone. Most of it now coats the inside of our car...

Friday, 12 August 2011

The roof after one week

The roofer was stressed as he thinks things are going too slow, but to me, he and his colleagues worked their asses off, and quite a lot was done in one week. It can't be easy dealing with an old house like this, where nothing is straight!

The plan
Having said that, there is a dependancy on the bricklayers for some of the roof work on the back of the house, and they only return from holiday next week (assuming they turn up), so I can feel myself getting stressed soon enough if they don't rebuild that wall.

But back to the front of the roof: Monday, they removed all the tiles as previously posted. I was away for three days, so coming back there was a world of a difference. Timbers have been added to the sides of the roof beams to provide an even surface on both the inside and out. On top of these timbers, a 35mm thick layer insulation board was added (made of wood fibre), on top of which counter lathes and lathes are to be laid. They also had to cut through a few of the beams to make way for the shed dormers (Schleppgauben), and finished building the frames for these. What more can I say? Let the pictures tell the story.

  Being away mid-week, I missed a lot :)

And close of business, Friday
Under the covers
  I'm pretty happy so far, and great to see a part of the plan in physical form.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Roof work begins

Der Lutz (who also happens to be a neighbour) began working on the roof today. Miserable weather for it, but they got most of the front roof off today. It's slow, as we decided to keep as many of the old tiles as we can to use on the far side of the barn, which could do with some replacements. We have about 1,000 on pallets now, so we told them to just junk the rest of them, so tomorrow should go quicker.

It's strange looking at the roof structure from the outside, with the floors in the attic held up by a skeletal structure. Some substantial timbers involved, but it still looks a bit flimsy. No beam along the apex seems weird.
Tile rescue production line in action.

 It's even better from the inside. Compare to previous shots from the first and second attic levels.

The 2nd attic level, west, open to the elements
And closed again. Gives a nice view of the structural elements.
The Spitzboden on the west side. Lots to clean up.
I think I preferred it dark...
The guys also removed the cladding from the east gable, exposing the half-timbered construction we knew was hiding behind it. It's really hard to make out from this angle and all the scaffolding in the way, so I'll do some climbing at the weekend to try and get a better view.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Scaffolding up!

Next stage complete. Over Thursday and Friday last week, two guys erected the scaffolding. A fairly tricky job in places, particularly between the house and barn, as they had to poke through parts of the barn roof overhang. It means we now have broken gutters and water pouring all over the place when it rains, despite my patchwork after. I also had to take the corrugated iron roof off the old machine house between the two buildings which used to house a winch for the barn. Sadly, the guys had to take apart the gear wheels as they were in the way.

New look!
Tight squeeze between the house and barn.
The old machine room between house and barn.
West gable (just before the rains).
Tomorrow, work begins on the roof. The forecast is a bit grim, but fingers crossed.

Monday, 1 August 2011

No smoke without a... chimney.

Another day, another bit of destruction. The two builders, Werner and Wally (nickname, and not sure how you spell it here), arrived this afternoon, despite supposed to being on holiday, to take the top off one of our chimneys. Top blokes, and clearly make a great team (although perhaps a little like the Odd Couple). This chimney will be removed all the way down, but just the top needed to be taken off today in preparation for the roofing work which begins next Monday. They even re-tiled the hole where the chimney was, so you'd hardly know there was ever one there! They did warn us not to hang around the back of the house too much though, just in case.
Before (or rather during).
After (when the sun came out).

In the Dachspitze, right at the top, before.
In the Dachspitze, after.
Next level down, let's call it 3rd floor, before.
And after.
And still a long way down. Cleaner than expected!

In the meantime, after removing the ceiling plasterboards in the slaughter room (I really need to stop calling it that, as it was formerly a bakehouse) to be sure there wasn't any water damage after last Friday's torrent, I'm wondering what they'll do when rebuilding the back wall. This is the wall that was an internal wall till the bathroom was knocked down, and it really needs to be rebuilt as we'll have a new placement for a door and window in this wall. The beams from the floor above span between the wall and an original, large oak beam (must be 7 metres long, spanning two rooms). Either they prop the whole lot up while rebuilding the wall, or we have to take the floor above out and reinstate it later. I'd almost prefer this, as it might give more scope to use lighter, modern material, and tank it better as the bathroom will go above.
Relatively new beams and boards, above which is concrete.