A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell
Thursday 25th September 2014
(published/edited Saturday 1st November 2014)

All hands on deck to construct the steel frame

Today in the hot sunshine, most of the steels were lifted into place to form a significant part of the house structure.

On some episodes of Grand Designs, or other self-build documentary TV programmes, there is often a steel structure being built. This is usually a big event and forms a major part of the overall shape of the property. We had our own little Grand Designs day today (although Modest Designs would be a more suitable title for our show!).

Steels are most commonly used in the same way as concrete lintels - across the top of window openings, doorways or garage doors - to support the heavy loads exerted by building materials above. Sometimes, in more elaborate house designs (and certainly in the commercial world) a steel structure will be used to create non-standard shapes and rooms with large open spaces, which just wouldn't be possible with masonry construction.

For us, the steel framework performs a number of functions.

  1. Support the roof in the centre of the house as there is no load bearing wall in the middle of the living room.
  2. Support the blocks and roof above the french doors & windows at the front of house.
  3. Rigidify the overall structure against wind shear (where the wind could push against the walls and twist the shape of house).

Some of the vertical steels had already been installed but the rest (one vertical and four horizontal) were erected today. As they are so heavy, it was "all hands on deck" to help manhandle them into position and then bolt together. A few small adjustments had to be made for everything to fit together as intended but nothing that an angle grinder or welding torch couldn't cope with.

There is still another diagonal steel to be fitted, which will form the angle of the roof, from the lower point in the centre of house, up to the higher point at the front. Don't forget the roof is pitched in the opposite way to a normal roof.

It's great to see the major I-Beams in place now, as these outline the 'edges' of the boxes which will form the living & dining area of the house. It's not just bricks and blocks anymore.

Next entry: Constructing a soakaway (Friday 26th September 2014)

Previous entry: Lintels and padstones (Thursday 25th September 2014)

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