A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell
Thursday 25th September 2014
(published/edited Tuesday 28th October 2014)

Lintels and padstones

Not the most exciting elements to the build but critical items to make it all work.

To some, the structural design and integrity of a building are the most interesting sides of a project.

My dad for one, who was a structural engineer loved all things concrete and steel. He worked on many buildings over the years (from the Grafton Shopping Centre in Cambridge, to numerous Sainsbury's supermarkets, to living quarters for the MOD). If he was around today he no doubt would have visited this site many times to see the steel & concrete foundations, and now the structural elements above ground.


We have got to the stage of integrating the lintels above the windows and doors. The window lintels - as well as over front door - are made from galvanised steel and contain a polystyrene infill to aid the insulation. Also, they are are shaped to help direct any water in the cavity away to the outside blocks.

The internal door lintels meanwhile are made from a dense, and extremely heavy concrete. This is so they can support the weight of the bricks & blocks above and sometimes the roof loadings in certain places. Definitely a two-man job to lift them into place and position them accurately.


These are used where horizontal steels are sitting on top of a wall. They help spead the load and also prevent the steel (and the weight of everything it supports) from crushing the blocks below.

So, there will be some steels above the large windows & french doors at the front of the house. You can just about see the padstones (in the photo) on either side where the steel beams will rest.

There are also some padstones on the living room wall and the internal kitchen wall where the interior steels will sit.

Normally these padstones are pre-made to size from a very dense and heavy concrete. I think a couple of the padstones used on this project were handmade on-site, to save time. Obviously you have to get the mix of the concrete right, but these guys know what they're doing.

More steels

We had more of the steels arrive today, sporting their signature red paint job. Very exciting. It'll be great to see these lifted into place.

Next entry: All hands on deck to construct the steel frame (Thursday 25th September 2014)

Previous entry: Going window shopping (Monday 22nd September 2014)

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