A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell
Thursday 4th December 2014
(published/edited Sunday 1st March 2015)

Fitting the windows and french doors

A big step forward in the last couple of days, towards getting watertight

We've had a nice run of weather in the last couple of days, which has been ideal for fitting the windows and french doors.

They've been leaning against a wall in the kitchen for a couple weeks, and I've been keeping a close eye on them, making sure the builders aren't damaging them by leaning stuff against them. Sometimes they (the builders) do just need to be a little more careful with these kind of items on-site. I've kept the smaller stuff indoors, with us, for safe keeping, just in case we have someone getting onto the site and making off with anything small and shiny.

Preparing the windows for fitting

The manufacturer has included all the brackets for fitting the windows into the openings. These are basically just pre-drilled flat strips of steel, which are screwed to the outside of the window frame, which then secure the frame into window openings of the house.

Before the windows are actually inserted into the holes, insulated cavity closers - foam and plastic components which close up the cavity to help keep the warmth inside the house - are cut to length and slotted into the two sides and the bottom of the window openings. Across the top of the window openings, is a galvanised steel lintel, which supports the block work above it. This has an infill of expanded polystyrene, which also helps insulate the windows. You can see what this looks like one of the previous blog entries.

When the windows are actually positioned in the holes, there are lots of cheese-wedge-shaped spacers inserted all around the window frames to make sure the window is level and true. After lots of checking with the spirit-level and a few tweaks here and there, they are finally fastened to the walls.

Fitting the main windows and french doors

When they were delivered, the main front windows along the house and the french doors, were packaged as separate units - although the french doors were still assembled as a pair, and were immensely heavy and difficult to unload from the lorry and get into position.

On-site, they were all fixed together to form two big asemblies which had to be lifted upright and shuffled into position. We reckoned the weight was well over 150kg - but between 4 of us we managed to get them into the openings under the steel beams and fix them into place.

From "the build" to "our house"

There has been immediate change in the feel of the build, now that the windows are in. Not only does it look more like an actual house now from the outside, but on the inside it feels more like a proper interior space. Not quite a home yet, but a great airy open space which will become our home in a few months.

Having agonised over the colour and style of the windows for a long time, it's a big thing to finally see them installed and be able to appreciate them as part of the whole house. Although they're not super-contemporary in style - we were constrained too much by budget to have anything slicker - the style almost fades into the background... while the frame colour is the feature which stands out the most. The colour fits in nicely with the blue engineering bricks we have used below the damp prood course and also in the garden boundary wall.

The front door and roof windows are yet to be sorted but it's great to have the main windows and doors in.

Next entry: Wall ties - going ‘eco’ starts small (Friday 5th December 2014)

Previous entry: Internal structural woodwork (Wednesday 3rd December 2014)

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