Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Portal frame arrives

Late afternoon yesterday saw the arrival of the prefabricated portal frames along with the brackets and bits to put them together. These are more than a week overdue and their late arrival has meant a temporary stop on site for a few days as nothing further could be done without them beyond the ground floor panels which are now in place .

However, things moved along again today as our main builder/project manager and two joiners started to the erect this steel framework into the gound floor panels. By the end of the day two of the three frames were in place and secured.

So why a portal frame? Well, this 1.5 storey house is very open plan internally with generous internal room heights (2.7m ground floor, 3.5m kitchen/diner, 2.9m first floor) such that the upper floor ceilings follow the roof line almost to the ridge, with a small loft space around 1.5m high. With this internal design it was tricky to use a (more conventional) truss system, so the portal frame is used to provide torsional stiffness to the building and carry a roof ridge beam, against which rafters will be supported for the roof. In effect, this is a contemporary take on a traditional method of roof construction.

In designing the roof we have also avoided the use of roof purlins (horizontal rafter supports) by using timber 'I-beams', each of which will span around 5m from eaves to ridge at a 45 deg. pitch and carry the weight of the slate roof supported only at either end. This not only keeps the internal structure clean and uncluttered, but their 352mm depth will be fully filled with insulation and their thin shear web minimises thermal bridging. The end result is a stiff, clean, super-insulated roof structure.

The down side to this constrcution has been additional labour/time and ultimately cost, but the end result should be worthwhile.

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