Box it Off

Before asking builders/contractors for a quote, you must have the structural engineering plans complete. The structural engineer has a critical role to play in the build as they will specify what’s needed to accomplish your proposed plans. That includes the beam structure, number of beams, size of beams, foundation depth, etc.

A contractor will be unable to provide an accurate quote without knowing what work the project actually entails.

At the start of the project, I didn’t think I’ll be contacting the engineer much. I was wrong. I’ve contacted the engineer several times to confirm specs of beams and for the bay window structure. I initiate the meeting leaving the builders and engineer to discuss the technical aspect.

Back to the box topic. Our rear extension needs a lot of structural support as were breaking two of the outside wall and one side of the house could collapse if not done properly. To accomplish this, the builders had made a box frame out of steel beams.

Check out the images. You can see what the steel has to support and understand why it’s needed.

Off Days

I don’t have a clue what the contractors were thinking on the day of laying bricks. I got a message asking “how high the window sills should be?”

I was baffled by the question and said I’ll get back to them. I then thought they were referring to the bay window and asked them to check the plans.

I was wrong. We get photo updates at the end of the day. They had laid too many bricks.

Below is a photo showing what they completed that day.


Notice something wrong? The below may give you a clue.


Why are there bricks where the floor to ceiling window is? The builders had bricked up to a height where a standard window will be installed. That day they also asked me how many bricks should be on either side of the bi-fold doors. They sent me a picture (below) and I wasn’t impressed with their suggestion. Two and a half bricks on either side to make it look symmetrical. I was at work and couldn’t check the plans at that point in time. I replied saying fewer bricks on the left leaving the bi-fold door and window around the corner closer, giving it a narrower frame. I still wasn’t happy about it. Something was playing in my mind but I couldn’t pin it down. It was only when my wife asked about the floor to ceiling windows and I checked the plan did it dawn on me that it’s not right.

The photo below was sent to me at the start of the day before they had laid the bricks.


When they undid their work it looked like the below on either side of the bay window.


Unfortunately, the drama didn’t end here. I looked at the architects and engineers plan to find there should be a steel post in the corner. I tried to study it and find the solution online.

The next day was a Saturday and we went straight to the house. Another mistake. They have wasted expensive bricks on sections that will have aluminum cladding. The builders say it will give us the option to take the cladding off in the future. Mmmmm, it’s a little more complex than that but I’ll explain in another blog post.

The list gets a bit longer. While we were there I measured the height of the bay window only to discover they had put one extra row of bricks. It was not to the specification of the drawing which states 500mm height from ground level. Looking at the photo below with the measuring tape, the ground level starts from the top of the engineering bricks (membrane layer).  They had to remove the layer.

Below is the final image of the day and the plans. The contractors decided to wait until they get all the posts and beams before continuing as it will help them understand it better.



Bay windows with one row of bricks removed. The bricks were up to the same level as the insulation before we arrived.

20170902_134933 Below are the architects and engineering plans.

Let’s re-evaluate and see what happens from here. That was one hell of an off day for the builders. Shit happens. It’s important we move on. The contractors are still very good and one of the best teams I’ve seen work together.