Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Outbuilding collapse

To cut a long story short, we're having to install a new oil tank. I'll come to why in a later post.
The tank needs to be sat on a solid, level base, so I decided to bed 4 very large concrete paving slabs on to some lime, and cover it all in concrete and self-levelling.

The four paving slabs have been propped up against our old outbuildings since we moved in to the house, and were VERY heavy.


I got them in to place for the tank with a bit of hefting, and all was well.
But, it transpires that those slabs were propped against an old brick wall of the outbuildings for a good reason. And the wall toppled over. 

In my efforts to remove any glass from the building - which looked like it was about to collapse - it transpired that it was mostly made of rot... and it collapsed.

See if you can spot our bicycles, still in the far building!

Replacing the staircase

Our staircase project finally saw fruition a couple of weeks ago.
We have a friend who is a joiner, who kindly agreed to make us a new staircase which would wind up from the hallway - rather than run along the back wall and bisect the Sitting Room.

The first job for me was to remove the old staircase, so I double-checked the new 6in Oak strut I'd installed a few months ago for steadiness, and began removing the old stairs, and their dubious supports that were holding up the landing above.

It took surprisingly little effort to remove the old stairs. They were fragile and built in sections, so they came apart with a light hammering and were easily carried out of the house.


The new 'space' revealed a much larger feeling hallway with more head height for the door to the new extension (previously the downstairs WC door) and less of a claustrophobic and ill-thought space.

The monolithic oak strut looked great, and held firm with not even a creak.


Second job for me was to build a landing at the top of the new staircase which would get rid of the 'stair of death', and comply with building regs for landing shape/size. I did this using 6x2 softwood (to match the dimensions of the existing landing beams). I bolted them in to the solid stone on the right of the picture below, and then to the existing cross-beam that sits on top of my new oak upright.

The new beams are spaced to align with the existing, so they follow a visual line and it looks as natural as possible.


Then the last job for me was to cut back the (bodged) head-height from the old staircase to meet with current regs, and to provide for a better shape to the landing above. You can see a small piece of blue tape on the beam below, and it was a "simple" matter of supporting, cutting and them replacing the cross-beam about 18-inches forward. I used new wood and tenoned it it to the existing beams.


The joiner arrived with the staircase already rough-cut, ready to do the final measurements and finesse it all in to place.


By the end of day 1 he'd got the stringers and all of the stairs in place, which was a phenomenal job considering he was having to cut in to my Oak upright and measure everything backwards.


The finished article comprises a nice safe landing area at the top of the new stairs.


A natural-feeling handrail that fits the shape of the upstairs landing and feels like it is the originally intended shape for the space.


And an absolutely glorious set of stairs, bespoked to the curves and quirks of the house, which look and feel like they belong there and that nothing else would have been quite as 'right' as they are in the space.