Building in Winter was a real test of stamina and strength. Building in late Spring and early Summer has been, in contrast, joyful. The site has been transformed by the rush of new growth. Birds building nests or searching for food, the cows basking in the glorious May sunshine with bellies full of grass. New wildflowers appear on a weekly basis, adding additional colours to the landscape. The season has also seen a prolonged period of fine, sunny, warm weather, a welcome break from the epic Winter we’ve endured, and ideal weather for roofing.
Following on from our roof-raising, we have been working on completing the rest of the roof structure. It consists of several main layers: 1) principle and common rafters; 2) waney-edged cladding/sarking boards; 3) decking, made from 6″ x 2″s and OSB; 4) insulation; 5) waterproof layer; and, lastly; soil.
The first layer was completed towards the end of April. This involved ensuring that everything was fixed properly and soundly, as the roof structure needs to be able to support its load. It has to be fixed so that any shear forces are directed downwards, or contained. The majority of the fixings were M20 high-tensile threaded bar and M20/M15 galvanised coach screws (300mm).
When we completed this layer, we said goodbye to Osian, our carpenter and friend, who helped us to realise our dream.
He has been superb in the quality of his work and also in his dedication to completing the structure through one of the longest and coldest winters in recent memory.
We began our second layer, which was to cover the entire roof with waney-edged cladding/sarking boards, in late April. We started on the easier part – the lean-to – rather than the reciprocal parts. We purchased a cordless drill and a circular saw to speed up the process. Holes needed to be pre-bored for the nails, as the timber is quite green and is likely to shrink over time, possibly resulting in splitting. The circular saw was essential as there are several thousand cuts to be made during the construction of this layer!
Luckily, the weather has really picked up and we have rarely been interrupted by adverse conditions. Ideal conditions for roofing.
Cladding the reciprocal roofs was quite challenging, as all boards have to be placed in a certain way so that from the inside, it should be appealing to the eye. Each board has to be individually measured and cut, drilled and nailed. Each reciprocal roof needed about 700 boards. A further issue with cladding the reciprocal roofs is that, because we have round wood rafters, it is not always possible for each rafter to be on the same plane so that some corners of the boards will stick up. However, this may only be a problem on the top of the roof; from the inside it will look fine.
Our next phase will be to complete the additional layers of the roof and the circular openings. When this is completed, we will have a waterproof roof and we can begin building our straw-bale walls.
Our timeline to achieve all of this is quite challenging as, ideally, we would like to complete our walls by early to mid-September – they need to be plastered before the Autumnal frosts begin.