We’re skipping a bit here, due to extreme excitement caused by the arrival of the timber frame panels; known as SIPS (structural insulated panels). The muddy, but essential process of installing the foul water drains is done, and will be the subject of another post. George Shaw has finished the brickwork plinth around the insulated ground floor slab and erected scaffolding all around it in preparation for the installation of the wall, roof and first floor structure.
The team from Eden Insulation and the panels they have been assembling in their Appleby factory for the past six weeks arrived on site bright and early on Monday 26th March, with frost on the ground and a distinctly chilly nip in the air. They were accompanied by an enormous crane hired from 3b Construction which together with the two articulated lorries blocked Memory Lane for a short time until everyone got into place and set up. What followed was an amazing two and a half day transformation at the end of which I have a house, albeit one which needs an inside and an outside skin, but a house with openings for doors and windows, a first floor and a roof.
Wall panels were craned off first, some laid out around the site on skids to keep them out of the mud, and some within the scaffolding on the concrete slab. They are 350mm thick, formed with timber ‘I’ beams held rigid by boards on either side; the void between them filled with recycled cellulose insulation; they are extremely heavy, but good at retaining heat. The insulation is installed in the factory, so that the panels are well filled with no gaps in the insulating material, and all openings for doors and windows are formed with boards with the joints securely taped up to ensure airtightness. An air and water tight membrane covers the outside of the panels. A full description, with all the technical details is available on Eden Insulation’s web site. They are completely different to the more common timber frames used in house construction which are much lighter, usually assembled on site and with the insulation and internal boarding installed after erection, often in wet and windy conditions.
This method of building provides a weather tight structure very quickly; in the case of Memory Lane this took one and a half days, with a further day taken to tape up all the previously bolted joints between panels. The panels slot together precisely, with much finer tolerances than would be the case with components built on site, and the completed structure will be extremely airtight and draught-free.
I won’t go on about it anymore, because the pictures tell the story better than I could. It’s enough to say that huge progress has been over just two and a half days; I have the shell of a house, I can see where the rooms will be and the views from the windows, and for now that feels brilliant.
Heavy overnight rain and no roof made for a very wet floor in the morning! But pools of water were swept out and the sun came out for a while.
3b’s crane left site soon after 11:00, an unexpected bonus for driver and banksman having been booked for two whole days. External panels completed, work resumed on the inside of the building; fixing internal stud walls and sealing the joints between panels with very strong and very sticky tape to make the building airtight.
At the end of Day 2 the outside shape of the building is clear and it’s presence on Memory Lane is established. Not a figment or a dream anymore!
Team Eden’s work on Day 3 comprised finishing off taping joints, fixing battens and tidying up, leaving the site at 13:00 to drive back to Appleby and their next project.