Monday 28 January 2013

Thwarted by Rain

Our ambitious schedule to finish the main pavilion over the Australia Day long weekend was thwarted by the rains from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. A day of form work construction and work on finishing the hallway was followed by two very long days of hemping. The first saw us complete the long run between the sliding doors and the upper windows. It was only possible to get all this done because my sister, Ing, helped out, churning out mixes all day. The second day we completed the sloped walls up each side up to the roof level, surprisingly this took two more mixes than the previous day (16 as opposed to 14). Our work speed has certainly improved greatly since we first started, the work has go harder - working at height, and more difficult working up under the roof.

Back pavilion finished and hallway nearing completion
Eastern wall of main pavilion and hall formed up to roof height
 Working around the awning we used the same method we had with the back pavilion. Putting up a crenellated form work with cut outs to fit each of the awning rafters, on the outside and forming up the whole of the section between the doors and windows on the inside. We stood on scaffolding and reached through the window opening and placed the hemp in from the outside. When the wall was filled to the top of the awning rafters we placed an extra piece of form work on the outside to bring the wall height up to the bottom of the window, allowing us to finish the whole section in one go.

Overnight and early rain on Sunday threatened the days full schedule, but the rain cleared allowing me to climb on the entry roof and finish the form work for the parapet wall. Experience made this easier. On the outside I put form work up to the full height, then just raised the form work up inside. On the highest sloped sections I just added an extra piece of form work on top of the work that had just been done, so that the roof could be consistently reached up the slope. Outside I had two slopes to deal with, that of the roof of the main pavilion and that of the parapet wall where the roof of the bathroom and entry intersected. This was dealt with by using two pieces of form work to complete that section, one sloped to match the roof of the main pavilion and the other sloped to match the entry roof, the two joining together where they were level.
Pipes to be hemped around on inside of parapet wall
Ben working on the top sections of the sloped eastern wall
On Monday, with only the top hand depth to finish on each of the sloped sides and hemping around the lintel over the top windows left to complete the back pavilion, bad weather set in. Observations over the past two years have consistently shown that most rain comes from the south or south west. Despite high windows and large door openings to the north, when we put a tarp over the hemp stored in the main pavilion we made sure that we covered the top, south and west sides and never had problems with rain blowing in from the north or east. This holiday Monday the rain came from the north and blew in at such an angle that even inside the house high on scaffolding just under the large eaves on the north side, at times the rain blew in on us. So, with only the small section above the upper windows left to finish the main pavilion, we could not hemp this section. I managed to put form work up for the section on the inside but consistent rain prevented work outside, particularly as I would be working very high up, in fact at the highest point of the house.

As a consolation Ben was able to finish the sloped east and west walls of the main pavilion and also used our time to finish the hallway, it was protected from the driving rain by the main pavilion to the north. With so much rain I could not even take photos of the work we had done.

We got close, but could not achieve our goal of completing the main pavilion. We now have the next two weekends left to finish off the main pavilion and the front pavilion, which will complete all the hemping on the house.  Not sure if we can do it all in that time, but we will try. Also not sure we will have enough binder. On my calculations the volume of the walls is 32m3, this did not take into account eh volume taken up by the frame as that was an unknown quantity. I was initially going to order enough binder for 35m3 of wall, which was 520 bags, but increased this to 540 bags to allow a greater margin of error. If we had not lost 17 bags of binder to the walls that we made that were too dry and had to be knocked down we would definitely have enough binder. It is my estimate is that it will take us about 38 bags of binder to finish the house and we only have 38 bags of binder. This does not leave any margin for error. After next weekend we will have a better idea whether we will have enough binder and enough time.

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