Monday, 21 April 2014

Ups and downs

Been a rollercoaster of a week at the Bauernhaus. I'd been quietly working away upstairs to finish the basic body of the cabinets for the electrical switch box and a heating distribution manifold, as well as closing the hole in the wall between the landing and the east bedroom, all of which I completed.

I was delighted to get fasteners for the internal insulation/wall heating panels, to secure them to the wall before plastering can begin. I'd been looking forward to this, as once the plastering is done on these walls, it'll at least give the impression of a big jump forward. It's those little plastic discs in the photos below, which hide 20cm long screws going through the insulation to the masonry behind.

And my wife did a massive clean-out of the tobacco drying house, above the pigsty behind the house. Got some nice ideas for this place, but that's definitely on the long finger

And so, yesterday, I began the under-construction to straighten the gable wall of bedroom 3 (I'm numbering them now...)


Our friend Sace dropped by with more fasteners for the insulation, and we chatted about replacing the rotten beam in the living room some time. The one that gave me a heart attack on discovering it in January last year (see the bottom of this post).

We'd had somebody look and say we could chop out half of the free beam and replace it with a new one, and for the beam that lies under the wall, to chop out that part between the door posts, and replace that only. Sace had a poke with a crowbar, an it soon became pretty clear that the rot was more extensive, and basically, the entire beam under the wall had to go. It's a wonder the posts standing on it had not collapsed through, as it is also a load-bearing member. As you can imagine, there were several expletives uttered, as this was a worse case scenario to me, and something I'd been hoping to avoid.

Being a man of action (him, not me), the rest of the day was an impromptu plan to get the main load-bearing beam spanning the living room supported with steel struts, rip the wall out, rip the rotten beams out, and prepare for pouring concrete.

But first, this is what the wall looked like a month ago.


This is what it looks like now.

We got as far as getting shuttering in for pouring concrete with rebar. Unfortunately, being a Saturday in Germany, by this time there was nowhere open to get gravel, or steel, so work will continue on Tuesday, once the Easter break is done.

Here's what mighty oak gets reduced to when allowed to sit damp for a century or more. Basically, wood that normally bends nails when trying to hammer them in gets reduced to the consistency of Weetabix.

The view from the stairs.

Some of the other beams are showing old rot. We'll sister them to keep them stable.

So now we've more rubble to get rid of, nicely fallen through into the cellar.

Almost tempting to leave it open plan

One thing has to be said though. These old timber framed buildings are incredible. There is so much redundancy built into the structure, and it's so modular, you can do things like this, propping up bits to rip others out with apparent ease. Easier then with modern builds, I would say, but it does give me the shits looking at that massive beam floating like that. The sooner we've got a sturdy, permanent post under it the better!


  1. Hi! The "electrical walls" looks amazing. Something like in "Matrix" ;)
    Nice work!

  2. I was always thinking more like Tron :)

    Once the wall has been rebuilt, and we get the wall heating in the hall and bathroom done, it'll all get plastered over. I was going to do the base plaster myself, but think I'll get someone cheap with a spray machine to do it in one weekend... :|