Thursday 29 March 2012

Engineers Reports and Sunny Breaks

Culburra Beach has had 569mm of rain since 1 January 2012, with 51 wet days and only 38 dry in that time. So it was with great pleasure that we finally got back down to our block of land and had two sunny days, albeit with rain overnight. We took advantage of the good weather to venture further afield, 20 mins down the road, to Honeymoon Bay. A little protected keyhole beach an short drive through the bombing range - obviously only accessible when the range is not in use. Outside peak holidays seasons Honeymoon Bay was a delightful child friendly beach, but given its small size it is  easy to see how it could get overcrowded.

Still no Council Approval, however the rain has provided some solace, as it would have been difficult to commence building in such poor weather. But we have moved closer to Approval, having this week submitted a further (and hopefully last) engineers report to Council on the hemp masonry walling. Some months ago Council estimated that approval would take about a week after we submitted this report, a neighbour estimated another four or five weeks - we shall see who is correct.

Meanwhile even more engineering work is being undertaken. In orders to obtain sufficient bracing in the timber frame, the standard tables would require the use of plywood sheet bracing. This would involve the attachment of a sheet of ply to one side of the frame, leaving a section of the wall the size of the ply only 45mm thick on the far side of the plywood. I was concerned that this would leave no means for the hemp masonry walling to key into itself on the other side of the frame and could create a weak spot. So I conservatively decided not to use sheet bracing. Due to the large windows on the north side this meant that there was insufficient space for a standard (non - plywood) bracing unit and therefore I am required to have an engineer design the bracing.

My other engineering need is for the additional awnings between the upper and lower windows on the north side and wrapping around the corners. I bear responsibility for this difficulty. I drew the plans and the awnings look great and are sized for solar passive design, excluding summer sun and allowing winter sun in, but when I sought quotes for the timber frame, the framing companies could not quote for the awnings as the rightly said there was no detail as to how it could be built. The use of steel for the support of the awning would be one option, but likely to be too expensive for my budget, steel also has much more embodied energy than timber and rust is a bigger problem closer to the ocean. So it looks like the answer may be some sort of a diagonal timber brace. I am awaiting the engineers solution.

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