Once the first four courses of bricks were laid, we were all ready for the start of the green oak frame construction. There was a day of great joy on 12th June when the oak beams arrived, together with the high insulation infill panels which are pink in their raw state but are eventually plastered over inside and out. Work started on erecting the frame immediately, beginning with the sole plate which has a weatherproofing lead strip inserted and hammered in. Each piece of frame was labelled, both with traditional carpenter’s marks and with a more up to date magic marker. The labelling was essential with the number of stacks of wood around the site.
As the frame went up we could see the proportions of the rooms although as yet of course there were no walls. By the end of the second day the first part of the skeleton had been slotted in. They started with one corner, called the King post, and braced everything to that. Already the four corner posts for the front third of the sitting room structure were in plus most of the interlocking horizontals (waist rails and girding rails). The gunstock posts at the corners (which reach right up both floors) were shaped at the top, hence their name.
The sitting room was to be fully beamed, with exposed oak floor joists for the floor above giving the ceiling its character. The chamber joists were manoeuvred into position using a hook on the fork lift with a tie round the beam. It was like a very difficult three-dimensional jigsaw when they had to get one piece to intersect with about four others at the same time. The secondary joists (which would become the jetties to back and front) were then slotted into the chamber joists.
The gable ends were assembled on the ground and then lifted up into position using the fork lift and slotted in. This element was all complete by 21st June.
Once the frame was up the infill panels (which were started on 18th June) could go in to give the real feeling of a house. They then had a external weatherproof membrane applied, which would eventually be plastered. What looked like a plastic mesh was attached to give a key to the plaster.