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House renovationg 17



D.I.Y if you can
 House renovating

There is a lot of work if you want to do major work on an old house, but people like to choose the way they want to live.




The concrete has been laid and now a timber frame is being erected, finally the house is taking its final shape.












Under-neat the house before placing the steel beams and raising the house.





House renovating

Dear readers, in our last posts we have talked about stairs repairs or renovation and also fixing an old timber landing, of course there are lots of other things that need to be done on a timber building, so, in this post we would like to start talking about how to renovate a house.

There are lots of things that could be done to renovate a house, some of those things can easily be done from the owners themselves if they know how to use a paint brush, a hammer and a saw and a few other tools, they don’t need to be very expert at it ether, since they can take their time and learn as they go on doing the job, after all if they make a small mistake nobody will say anything, as there is nobody to answer to, so try to do some D.I.Y work sometimes, you will be proud you did, you see I did and every time I see what I have done, I am proud about it.

As we all know, the timber houses of Brisbane Australia and also in other parts of the world need more maintenance than other types of building, therefore most people when there is a lot of maintenance to do they try to renovate. There are times when altogether the owners decide that they are going to raise the house higher and build another room or two underneath, this might sound strange in some countries that have only masonry houses, but with timber houses it could be done easily and it is very common, in fact timber houses I would say that they are the most versatile houses of them all. You see you could even move the entire house from one place to another; of course this should be done from some experts that specialize in house renovations or removals, as this requires a lot of knowhow and a lot of very heavy equipment, but anyhow it could be done and the outcome of it is that it would be cheaper that building a new house from scratch.

Now that I have introduced the idea of what could be done with these timber houses, let us follow one of these houses that the owners have decided to raise it higher and build a few rooms underneath. You see the house needs restumping, as some of the original wooden stumps are rotting away, perhaps one or two have been eaten from the white ants, the house is too low to make decent rooms underneath, at the moment it is high enough to park a car and to store a few things, but all that covered space could be put to better use if the house is raised, So, we need to think how that could be done safely and according to the local building requirements, as they may vary in different country or states.

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The local building laws

The local building laws here in Brisbane Australia allows the owners to fix the houses, replace the stumps and other things without consulting them, as long as there are no changes to the structure of the building, so, one could change the stumps replace any timber that is rotting away outside as well as inside and even carry some minor alteration inside; for most people that is enough freedom to carry on the works themselves, or employ a tradesman to do the job, but in this case of wanting to raise the house and fully enclose underneath the local authorities require the owners to submit a plan of the works they want to carry out.

Once you start with plans and everything else you know that these sorts of works are going to cost a lot, so before you make you last decision make sure you have a fair idea what they could cost you; you could ring a few firms that specialize in these sorts of work and hope that they are willing enough to give you a very rough estimate. Another way is to stop by where they are doing some similar works and ask the contractor or the owner what is going to cost them. Anyhow you need to know what it could cost you, even if it is a very rough estimate.

You have worked out what it could cost you and have decided to go ahead and do the job, so look for a firm that makes these plans, unless you have a qualified person that you already know, after that just tell the person you have chosen to go ahead and make the plans for you, they should be able to tell you what the plans would cost, and also they could give you an idea of the cost and a few other things that you may have to do.

Once you draftsman or architect has made the plans and they have been approved from the local authorities, it is time to have a few quotes from some builders or contractors, some people suggest that you get at least three quotes, and I think that it is the right way to go. After that you can chose who is going to do the job for you. You could decide this easily if you know somebody in this sort of work, if not go for a firm that is really specialized in raising and restumping houses.

Now all the decisions have been done, you have this firm that is coming to do the work, in most cases you have to move out of the house for a few days for them to raise the house and restump it. Here we need to point out that you need to have chosen a firm that has good tradesman and enough of them to do the job quickly, most of these firms know that and they are ready to do your job as quickly as possible.

So you are ready to move out as soon as they need you to move, and now you are waiting for them to turn up, so let us see what happens when they are raising the house to restump.

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Raising the house

These firms that raise the houses and also move them have a lot of heavy equipment, in our case that we have only to raise the house and restump it, and later on enclose it to make a few more rooms, and also a second bathroom and laundry, they are not going to use the big lorries to take the house away, but still there is a lot of work to do. In this hub we are going to follow the works in progress the best way we could, just to show you how this could be done easily, as long as the right people with the knowhow and the right equipment are employed.

Anyhow the house remover team has come to do the work; they start by reinforcing the house with steel beams attached to the bears of the house. Then they make two rows of these piles made from squares block of timber as shown in the picture beside here, they place across these square timber piles or columns two long steel beams one on each side right through the house, they put these big jacks under this steel beams three or four of them on each side depending how long is the house is and they start working the jacks up. They work as a team and they all pump the Jacks up all at the same time, first on one side of the house and then on the other side of the house.

Once the house is raised to a certain level, they pack more timber on these square timber piles and work a way how to move the jacks to a higher level, once they have done that they start pumping the jacks up again, they will repeat this operation several times until the required eighth of the house is reached.

Now that I have told you all that, it does not sound that hard to do it, but in reality it is, because there is no room for mistakes, as a single mistake may put in endanger the workers that carry out this dangerous and hard job, because they are under the house while they are raising it. Also to do it, whoever does it needs a lot of material, see the large piles of timer columns made up from these large pieces of timber, they have to carry it around from job to job, not only that but also the large steel beams that they place under the house, so that they can use the jacks to lift the house, and all those jacks and other things. Anyhow the team that raises the house has successfully raised the house to the right level, and checked that the house is level, so now a different job needs to be done, to replace the stumps with steel columns, and then there are a lot of other things to do as well. 

Now that they have reached the stage to restump the house with steel columns, sometimes are the same people that continue to do this job and sometime another team might be required depending how this firm or builder works, and we will explain here under, what usually would happen.

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 Earth work and steel columns

In this case under this house all the timber stumps had to be removed, and also, there was an old concrete floor that had to be completely removed and taken away, then the foundations for the steel stumps were dug, after that the steel stumps were fixed to the timber bears and the concrete poured after making sure that the building was level and at the right level. While the concrete is setting and becoming stronger as the time goes by, a steel worker is making these steel braces in a few places, as it is shown on the plan, these braces attach two columns one to the other, one end of the brace is attached near the bottom of one column and the other end at the top of the other column, a second brace is placed in the opposite way, so that the braces form like an X, this bracing makes the two columns very strong, because it transfer the strength of the concrete foundation of this column to the top of next column, in a lineal way.

After a day or two when the concrete foundations become strong enough to take the weight of the house and also the stress of any movement of the house above; the house remover will come back to remove their jacks, their steel beams and their piles of timber, then the house will be fully on the new steel columns.

Once the house remover team has taken away all their heavy equipment, the builder will come in and start by digging the rest of the foundations and concreting them as required; and then they work out of to lay a concrete slab under the house, of course this is a very short description of all the works required.

Anyhow this post seems that is becoming too long, so see you in our next post, where we will try to describe what could happen next.

See you soon.    

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            Other repairs or renovations

For instance here in Queensland most houses have a roof over their patio (veranda) most houses have too much space for verandas, (these are spaces that have a roof on them but they are open and have a hand rail around for safety reasons if the building if off the ground) so if a owner feels like that he is short of space in the house and he needs a small room for the kids or a study, he could enclose some of the veranda space and have an additional room at this house, because there is no structural alterations and the roof is already there, this could be a D.I.Y. job, as long as you know enough how to do it. Anyhow this is just an example how easy it would be to do some repairs or small alterations to these timber houses.



 (To be continued)

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