Roderick James Architects wanted us to build with Clay Blocks. An environmentally friendly material (clay), cleverly engineered with natural insulation and thermal mass, but very expensive. Mike Hope said that we could afford this system because it is so simple that we could lay the blocks ourselves. I could imagine that indeed, we could lay the blocks, but knowing when and how to stop seemed to be an entirely different and much more difficult problem. How to know when you’ve reached a door or a window and what you do when you get there, REALLY worried me.
Porotherm had hired Steve Linzell to lay the first course for us. This is the most difficult bit and we actually chose Porotherm over the other clay block companies because the other companies had claimed it was alright to ‘teach’ us how to lay the first course. I didn’t think the first course was the best place for us to start our learning curve. Porotherm was the right decision and when we started on the second course I knew I was right. Steve made sure our project got the best start it could.
Mike Roberts was on hand to join the cabin to the main house (is this why they call it Joinery?) But also he was curious about how these blocks were going to work.
But the main reason Mike Roberts was here was to put up the first floor. When the wood arrived, we realised that we had one entire tree! Mike always gets us the best wood!
Log Store roof finished! Enough room to also store the wood for building the house.
Steve was very keen to start teaching us how this amazing system worked. I had made it clear that I was nervous about window and door locations so the first thing he did was set out the doors.
Part of the key to the doors (!!) is cutting the blocks. Steve worked out a great method for us. First he made a cutting platform out of insulation blocks. You cut into the gap between two of them, saving the saw blade.
Steve showed us how to mortar these cut bits in and create the bond pattern. This is the second day.
Because cutting is so important, he made sure Mike could do even the most fiddly little cuts. This one is very fine indeed!
Facing your fears – By this afternoon we are at cill height in the kitchen.
At the end of these two days we are up to cill height all the way around. We have all openings for windows and doors in the right places and can continue on our own up to lintel height. Thanks to Steve Linzell I have nothing to worry about, because he is guiding us through all of the block laying.