Saturday, June 23, 2012

And we're up!

For weeks now the kids have been asking us "when can we go up in the loft?". Our answer is usually something like "Ah.. you can go up there when there's a floor for you to stand on". 

Pearlie sussing out the trapdoor

Way back when our little strawbs was merely a concrete strip footing, the loft floor seemed such a long way from even being started, let alone being completed. I barely even thought about it, other than to think about how nice and cosy it would be to sleep up there in the roof of our imaginary, yet-to-be-built house. But now it's a real house, with a real loft, with real floorboards. It feels, and looks, goooooood....
Oski and Brett measuring up the hand rail

When we originally thought about our loft, we only vaguely thought about what we might use as flooring in that space. As anyone who's ever looked into it will know, second-hand flooring timber is extraordinarily expensive (around $120/square metre is kinda cheap). Hardwood pallet timber was a front-runner for a while, but then we realised that the lengths would be too short for our purposes. You see, because the joists for our floor are also the bottom chords of our roof trusses, they're spaced at roof truss spacing (600mm) rather than flooring joist spacing (400mm). What this means is that normal flooring timber isn't thick enough to span the distance between its supports. At the time we realised this we had other things on our plate (like making sure all our strawbales didn't get wet and rot) so not a huge amount of energy was expended stressing about this particular issue. Then one day I was talking to a dude who was picking up a window we'd given away on freecycle. He was headed off to meet a local builder who's got a little sideline business selling second-hand building material. I thought it was worth a peek, so I went along for the ride. Lo and behold, in the middle of all the timber, was a stack of old warehouse floorboards, about an inch thick and rough as guts. I bought the lot, and today, sitting in our little loft, I felt pretty bloody glad I did.
Boards sanded and laid out on the driveway to check out their sizes

After Pepe's awesome de-nailing job, all that was left was for Brett and I to sand them and fix them in place. We used electric belt sanders and were done in about half an hour. Because of the age, the thickness and the second-hand-hardwood-ness of the boards, we had to pre-drill all the nail holes, but this was really easy and made the nailing-in an absolute breeze! 
Brett laying out the first of the boards on our composite joists, which are sitting straight on top of the top-plate, which is tied into the bales through to the bottom plate, which is attached to our footing

I can definitely understand though, why many many builders flat out refuse to use second-hand hardwood. It's hard

The loft doesn't go all the way across the roof space (not enough timber available) so there's a railing at the end, made out of some old hardwood out of my stockpile and the decorative metal bit out of an old screen door I got off a council clean-up about 6 years ago. 
old screen door and really-hard-hardwood railing (the space to the right is for our "built in wardrobe", which will be a set of shelves). Destination of the remaining strawbales is as yet undecided. I'm inclined to keep them just for atmosphere.

I'm chuffed with it. And the kids are too! It's a super-cosy little space, perfect for reading and snuggling and sleeping, with a pretty special view of the eastern valley for sunrise-inspection.
valley views from our $50 ebay louvre at the pillow end of the loft

The boards are really beautiful. The time we spent sanding and nailing them meant that we got to have a really good look at all the cracks and knots and nail-holes and patterns in the timber. It's almost a shame they're going to be covered by our bed! They'll be finished with a timer oil called Bermagui Blend, which is a mix of linseed oil, citrus extract and beeswax, and is the same sealant we're using on our earth floor. It smells delicious and I can't wait to use it.

Ok so a crowbar for bulb-planting is perhaps a little too much but sometimes you just gotta use what's handy

Also on the agenda this weekend has been: bulb- and blueberry bush- planting on the dam wall with Nanny and Jaije; putting in the bucket drain and pipe, bedding it out with sand and filling in Pepe's immaculate trench; doing some more erosion control on the batter wall behind the house - thanks Jaije!; fixing up downpipes (again); climbing the wood-pile and hanging out with the cows and chooks at our current home.  and tomorrow, surprise surprise, we'll be doing some rendering.


  1. It looks so amazing. This little house is going to be beautiful. Can't wait to see it for real next week xxx

  2. Love those floorboards! What a wonderful find and perfect for the loft. And that gorgy eastern louvre window is going to be the prfect frame for thosee beautiful, beautiful sunrises. x

  3. Wow! That is all I can say! Oh and can we poke our heads in on Sunday?

  4. Impressed with the railing/screen door. All looks very professional! You're doing great. Vxx