Monday, February 7, 2011

Block Rockin Beats ... and how I broke the brickie.

Steve finally made his way over the mountain and we started by running some lines and setting up profiles to lay 140mm concrete blocks for the core of the wall. As we ran these lines it became apparent that the concretors had done nothing less than a superb job. Measurements over 20m were only a mm or two out, if that. More kudos to Col for his fine work. I then moved every single one of the blocks (all 4-5 tonnes of them!) off the pallets and arranged in stacks on the slab ready for laying. Next day we got about 1/2 of them laid but spent a fair bit of time faffing around the temporary bracing. Our old friend hindsight would have got bracing set up higher so that work on the base walls could progress with better flow. However, we overcame the hassle and removed only the worst offenders (soon, I'll be temporary bracing inside to allow removal of head-bashing external bracing).


first course

second course
what's for dessert?

Second day saw all blockwork completed. 110 PVC pipe has been embedded at strategic locations for low vents on the south wall. With the roof curving towards the North, this should provide pretty good natural ventilation without added fans. We were definitely never going to have aircon (and both despise it) but feeling the way the air now flows on the site, we could not have made a better call.

looking good...

...verrry good

As previous posts showed, we've been collecting rocks for a while. Conversations with Steve over XMAS break suggested that whatever we rock have at hand, it's a sure bet that we'll need to double it. Quote: "those walls will EAT rocks!". He took a good look at what we had laid out for cleaning and said "not bad but you'll definitely need twice that". How prophetic...

We'd specified Granitegard treatment system for termite protection around the building envelope. I'd had a rough estimate to do this some time back but when I contacted the installer, they no longer used this product (and apparently never had...not what I first heard but arguing the point would solve nothing here!). So, we started by laying a rock skin around the external face of the slab. This was to allow later installation of granite particles. Further investigation the next day then also revealed that a membrane is required below external cladding (rocks) before installing granite particles...I don't recall ever seeing that detail...mmmmm, either my memory is shot (quite possible) or someone is less than truthful (equally possible!). Bugger, rocks already laid and cement gone very hard. Did I say bugger? Well, I meant BUGGERPOOBUMCRAPetc. So, we did what all builders need to do often - make a quick design decision / reschedule and get on with it.

our neat clean slab gets messy

rear doorway

first row

pre-pointing on East wall

We then moved on to internal rockwork while the designer / project manager / site manager / (mis)leading hand / labourer (me!!!) got a straight answer on what to do with termite treatment. Council building inspector is only part time (the original F/T inspector that I'd spent so much time 'tuning up' to our approach had recently left) but I got a prompt response that 75+mm of exposed slab edge is all that is required by regulation (AS2870 if you're interested). Pheww...that's easily achieved, heaps cheaper than membranes and totally non-toxic compared to some available treatments.

I'd mentioned to Steve that we had a couple of collections of nice big rocks that we a bit beyond my weight limit. On the way up to the shed for lunch, we stopped off at one and the response was "fark me, there's some huge great yonnies that would fit in just perfect and fill up massive spaces that would otherwise need 100s of little rocks." Quick revision to the day plan followed and we hitched up the trailer to go collecting the big fellas. We lifted a few in together but Steve is pretty heavily muscled and started picking up the bigguns on his own. Deep breath, loud grunt and 100-120kg yonnies were in the trailer. Pretty awesome to watch...

poor little trailer under enormous load

no way I could have lifted these!

Fortunately, we had only just started on internal walls, so I chose a couple of nice nuggets to go into Dana's study. Steve mudded these in as I pointed up the first section. Standing back to check on the new style big rocks I was more than impressed - this wall is gunna look fantastic.

corner of Dana's study

ditto...with vent

rocks yet to be eaten up by the wall
230mm thick rocks n mud n rubble

Several days of rocking out, mudding up and pointing off saw us up to the SW corner (my study). Dana was now up for the weekend and was suitably impressed.

study walls

SW corner (my sudy)
It was now getting pretty hot and, ironically after the previous 6 months, we now prayed for rain. How a few weeks can change your aspect, eh??? Nasty 30+ day meant time off from rockwork but we used a cool late afternoon to go hunting for the stash of pink quartz that Dana & I had seen deep in the bush on our block. Well, we've now found some gorgeous crystals that will be embedded for good.

Next day, Steve pulled up pretty sore and needed to head off for some deep tissue knot unlocking. To date, I'd been keeping up pretty well with the big guy and I think that I'd secretly impressed him with my stamina. If nothing else, the last 6 months has seen me get quite fit and strong (skinny though I still am!).

I'd broken the brickie... :)



  1. Your house totally rocks!!! Hee hee couldn't resist that. Looks like lots of hard work but it sure looks amazing!!

  2. Yeh Rachel, it is indeed hard work but it is looking great.