Project builds #68: Sometimes I really should keep my mouth shut.

Good evening from a very wet but sunny Blighty.

As you know by now from previous blogs I’m very much into old school crafts, from hedgelaying to blacksmithing I have dabbled in them all with various levels of success. One of these crafts that I truly love is that of timber framing.

In November I was asked to go and look at a barn conversion that was underway local to me to price for making the windows and doors. I saw some things I didn’t like and didn’t sit well with me. At this point though I turned a blind eye at this point and was happy to just price the windows and walk away again. Well several conversations ana meetings with the client later i was awarded the window and door contract. Several times during these meetings the client asked what I thought of the work being done so far at this point I still said I’ve seen worse.

Anyhow time went on and on the 27th of December I got a call from the customer and she was in bits. The roof was not right and the contractor said he wanted an extra £60per day to come and finish the job.

This is where I was asked to go and look at the job and give my professional opinion it was at this stage I pulled the job to bits it was a mess, poor fitting framing joints, new timber cut in to the existing frame that was rotten plus numerous other catalouges of errors making the place a bit of a house of horrors.

Any how fast forwards several months me and my motley crew of 2 have been awarded the contract to sort this mess out. In the interests of safety we flattened all new works done by the previous contractor as it was very sub standard and frankly unsafe to remain. It was also interestingly leaning out by about 40mm in the length of a 1.8m level (that movement since I surveyed the windows in November time).

The demolition was last Monday and with all the timber salvaged and stacked we removed to allow a scaffold crash deck to be placed inside the building. With the deck now inside on Monday this week we got in and began to asses the condition of the old timber frame and ascertain what work is required to get this building back to a safe condition to allow the conversion to be undertaken.

Monday was a glorious day with warm sunshine all day and work began at pace marking all sections of bad decay on the frame ready for repair or replacement as deemed nessicary. For these repairs we have been requested to use what we can of the £2000 worth of now spoilt oak that was brought for the front frame that is now demolished. This we are doing but unfortunately this is not totally possible as the guy has spoilt the timber and a lot is now too short or too small a section to put back into the old building.

This building is quite interesting it would seem it’s history is one of boom or bust, it was built as a cattle byre and is believed to be the oldest building on the site being a similar age to the house of which parts date to the Elizibeathan period. I wish I could get into the Delorian and go and see it built and the original roof covering as I believe it may have been thatch.

In the hundreds of years this building has stood its been very abused, rebuilt, abused and rebuilt. There is 5 species of timber in it that we can see elm, sweet chestnut, oak, Douglas fir and some kind of white softwood be that Scott’s pine or spruce.

Most of the timber to the back of the building is sweet chestnut or elm (predominantly elm) is all hewn and very bendy. This is what I believe to be the original timber of the building. With later pieces of oak added to wall plate and a softwood purlin mid length.

The front has not fared so well originally it had a wall plate the same width as the back set on a line of posts. I didn’t get to see the posts that were there before work began but my understanding is these had been propped up with telegraph poles and all sorts. The wall plate that is there now is approximately 175mm square and is a sawn softwood timber several sections are badly compromised by worm and water damage. My guess is this soft wood plate is maybe an Edwardian or Victorian addition to the building and I think it was at this period the thatch was removed and replaced with a clay tile roof. Victorian fits better as it fits with the period of a brick farm building that was built next to the barn and replaced the original stone gable of the barn.

Our plan of attack is to bring the front wall plate back up from the sagging state it was in to a straight original line. Then remove the new poorly fitted oak posts that are now in the middle of the building. Replacing the badly damaged sections of this plate at the same time. We then are replacing the current poor footing with the original pad stones and planning the oak posts and resetting them with loose tenons so we have a good strong plate connection to post. All the compromised sections of the frame are also going to be replaced and the fabric of the building brought up to scratch.

I will add photos in other entries as this is a long post and I need to explain them some what.

Tags: timber frame professional woodworking

Dreaming of a sawmill, feels like a museum. Thanks for looking Adam.

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Bo Peep ...

Sounds like you’ve got you’re work cut out for you, here’s hoping the weather is on your side. Would you have been able to prevent some of the damage and save the client some money if you had opened your mouth sooner though?

lightweightladylefty ...

Wishing you success with this endeavor. Looking forward to following along with your progress.


Whitacrebespoke ...

It is a lot of work that’s for sure.