On Site in the Meon Valley - Fruits of Virtual Labour
It’s Sunday evening, bags are packed, adrenaline is up and I’m ready to go. Don’t want to have to worry about the things I might have forgotten to pack first thing tomorrow when I set off to meet Ross and his crew on site. I’m to spend the week on a site in the Meon Valley, near Fareham, Hampshire, helping to erect the heavy oak frame I designed for Mr and Mrs Head.
I was handed the project to design in early October. Initial details of the proposed building from Mr Head’s architect were minimal, but accurate and appropriate. This enabled me to fill in the gaps, with some negotiation with the client’s architect, by working out architectural details in a way that suited the oak frame. Because of this and finding the architect compliant and easy to work with, the frame design process was painless and a joy.
The general layout of the proposed building naturally lent itself to having an oak framed superstructure, so I could see at an early stage that fitting an oak frame was going to be less of a challenge than it often is. Armed with a confident strategy of how the frame was going to work, I could afford to focus more on the function and aesthetics. Apart from the costs, these two considerations are most important to the client, so work began to determine what the client really wanted. Mrs Head, Wendy, is a great horse enthusiast, so it was clear from the outset that good views of the paddock and her beloved horses was something that needed some thought. If I could tweak window sizes and positions in the design to enhance this criteria, I would.
To this end Sling trusses with collars placed as high as I dared without the need to have steel reinforcement were put in all bedrooms. In order that the feeling of space in the bedrooms was retained and perceived obstruction to view out minimized, effort was made to ensure that sections of timbers protruding into the room were kept to a minimum and positioned as unobtrusively as possible. With permission the study / living room windows facing the paddock were enlarged a little as were first floor windows with important views. When the clients, Wendy and Colin, visited us on site to view the mostly completed frame, they seemed particularly delighted with this aspect of the design.
The weather remained fabulous for the remainder of the week. Progress was good, probably largely as a result of the fine conditions and the vast majority of the frame had been erected by the end of Thursday.
My contribution to the build on site was understandably limited by my skills, or lack of them, but I helped out where I could with some peg bashing, airbag management and bit of supervision. From my point of view this was, on the whole, a good and welcomed experience, to be able to finally see the fruit of my weeks of virtual labour.