Sunday, 16 October 2011

Background - Materials

I realised whilst writing the last post that we have omitted some of the basic background information in the blog- and as such I am endeavouring to do a few  posts outlining some of the history of the build.

Today's monologue - Materials

From the start of this journey we have looked hard at what we wanted the house to be and how it should embody our ethics. Our options and the carefully weighed decisions with regards the materials are therefore what defines this building. Hopefully making it a unique and gently beautiful building, in tune with the local landscape.


So, obviously we have wood! Lots of wood. Lots and lots and lots actually- three 16tonne lorry loads of logs, and another delivery for the frame poles. I had not really appreciated the enormity of the task of processing the logs and the sheer volumes of timber we were to use.

Not having appropriate timber growing on site, our main aim was to source the timber locally- to support the local economy and reduce transportation.
The frames themselves are Larch which Duncan and I cut last winter from Stara Community Woodland only 4 miles away. One thing I noticed as we were cutting is that they are all the same age as me- something very fitting about that!
Once the frame poles were transported back to site the task of stripping off the bark was undertaken. (A HUGE thanks to Oz and Beth, who spent an awful lot of time er... stripping!)

The timbers for milling were bought from the Glencross Estate near St Neot, about 7 miles away. These included Douglas Fir for floor joists, floor boards, rafters, window frames and studwork, and more Larch for cladding.
These timbers have all been milled on-site with a Lumbermate 2000 mobile bandsaw mill and stacked in our barn until needed. A special thanks to Duncan for all his help with that task!

The floorboards were sent to F D Hall in Upton Cross for planing and tongue and grooving. They look fabulous. F D Hall will also be making the window frames for us in due course.

I might just have to go and plant a tree or two now to make up for the amount we've cut down....!


Well, what should our nice 'green' house stand on then?!
Another tough choice- but we opted for slabs of Cornish granite from De Lank quarry on Bodmin moor. Obviously the quarrying process is energy intensive, but they are beautiful objects in their own right and ...well, pretty durable!
Other options were concrete slabs (well, it was never really going to be a contender), and yorkstone slabs (not from Cornwall though).
Granite it was!


See the last blog entry for more on these. We sourced these from Kenyon Canopy, Saltash. They specialize in roof materials and second-hand Delabole slates in particular.


Our straw has been delivered and now fills our barn to the roof! It is covered with a silage sheet to prevent the leaking roof getting the straw wet.
The bales are slightly larger than a standard small bale at 1m by 0.5m by 0.35m, and have been harvested specially and compacted as high as the machine would allow. We have a mix of barley straw and oat straw.
These have come from John and James Kendall at Tencreek Farm, Liskeard. Incidentally this is where Ele and I got married 13 years ago!

Lime render

We have decided to use lime as a breathable, durable sealing layer on the outside of the straw. Our local suppliers, The Cornish Lime Co. are very helpful and knowledgeable. The Exterior is then to be clad with wany edged larch boards to further protect the straw walls from the driving Cornish rain.

Other materials to be used include a breathable board called Panelvent and clay plaster on the straw and on lath for internal walls.

Hope this explains a little bit about the materials we have chosen and why.

Regards to you all,


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