How Proclima, and Laros Fixed Our Slab/Frame Overhang

The Slab Overhang Issue

How did this happen? Is slab overhang a common happening? How do you avoid a mess like this? Well, the Surveyor, contracted out by the builders, came out twice (over a six month period) to measure up, placing painted sticks and ties about the property for both house designs. We can’t work out what happened exactly. Except maybe…

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Take your own measurements, folks

…the kangaroos jumped the fence and moved both sets of sticks about. Yep! The first lot were left in; and the new ones were added to mark out the slab boundary.

The other thing could be that we downsized the house therefore confused our measurements. We’ve still not gotten to the bottom of it all but it really doesn’t matter now. The way the situation was handled by our carpentry team who alerted us and by our concreting team, who found the right people for the job, it’s such a small issue in retrospect!

If you accidentally design a McMansion and decide to downsize, beware!

Oh the #kangaroos this morning made my #heart sing I know why I live where I do. #grateful #wildlife #vegan #loveanimals

A photo posted by Michellina (@michellinaoutofthelabyrinth) on

Because of this mishap, the slab (due to the pegs and measurements) was made to the incorrect dimensions—the frame on the south side, the cold side of the house, was too short by 40 ml, and another 40 ml in two other places on the northern side, leaving our custom-built, excellent Calco hardwood frame hanging over—not precariously so but, according to engineering good practice: It wasn’t safe to build a second story on.

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And to answer the question: How common is this? People in the industry told us this happens a lot. Many builders don’t go to the trouble that we all went to. Life has been very stressful for him lately. He has to do so much. I can’t get government help for Oxygen or CIRS medications (some of them, but most, no!), testing cost a bomb. I’ve got my uni and my plans for a career from home but I don’t feel the disabled are given a fair go. Unless a fair go is just laying in bed getting sicker by the year!

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This piece was expertly sliced off by a concrete cutter

Plus, another section on the north side (the sunny, warmer side, which is our passive heating side during Melbourne winters!) and the western side (the hot side where the sun sets) were too big by 40 ml, which meant the concrete had to be wet cut with an electric saw by a concrete cutter.

These are the drawings our engineer drew so that we could get a clear picture of the solution to the slab overhang:

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Basically, we had a steel beam bolted onto the 3 edges of the slab to support the frame. However, right away from a building biology standpoint, it bothered me to think that some builders and owner-builders would construct a building straight over this  because of the condensation issue that most likely would develop: basic building-biology science says that if you have metal that’s cold on the outside while warm on the inside (as most houses are in cooler weather) then condensation will occur… then mould! could follow.

Being concerned about the health of the building envelope, condensation for the above reasons and, for a mould sensitive person with CIRS, this is a nightmare of a mistake to make.

In my brain fog, attached to oxygen, I contacted Thomas at ProClima in New Zealand (whom I found out about from Building Biologist, Rapheal at EcoLibria at Torquay, who I found out about from Lucinda at Eco Health Solutions). Thomas then put me onto Andreas at Laros Technologies, here in Australia.

Thankfully, Andreas understood my concerns! I have CIRS

The irony of writing a book on how to Build and Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House that is mould free and having to deal with these issues aren’t lost on me. As far as my book and blog go, this is a fantastic event to document because, thanks to ProClima and Laros, we fixed the issue. (I have a whole chapter on mould and happenings that can and did! go wrong and how we overcame these issues.) Dan and I inserted this thermal break ourselves. Now, 12 months later, my thumb still hurts from holding the beam while Dan wedged that low voc, non-toxic ‘thermal break’, between the slab and the metal beam.

Other ProClima products we plan on using:

Intello Internal Airtight Wrap (post coming up on that)

And, hopefully having our house and cottage roof windows’ supplies (flashing and tapes) supplied by them. I’m trying to book Kale in from KLM plumbing to do the job. He’s the perfect plumber: on time; does what he says he will. We’ll be sure to get good instructions for our plumber from Andreas [check] at Laros!

An Energy Efficiency Weakspot

From an energy efficiency point of view: this would be a weak spot that would suck out heat from the building during winter. So although the solution from our engineer was a clever one that saved our house and budget, it didn’t take into account that, Melbourne, being a colder climate, that has such *lovely cold weather, which would keep the piece of steel cold on the outside and warm on the inside each time the house was heated: this would cause condensation given those conditions, which is a great way to end up with mould!

The solution was to create a thermal break along the piece of steal. This would be a guarantee against condensation because there wouldn’t have any heat conductivity of the steel leading to it in the first place!

The galvanised steal beam which is called a ‘RHS’ (Rectangular hollow section) bolted to the slab edge. The RHS had the dimensions of 150 X 50 mm; and was placed On the 3 sections under the overhang of the hardwood frame&msash;Southside and Northside.

Again, the slab was too big by 25 ml: the whole west side length of the house, jutting out with no purpose but to leach heat out of the house by poking out into the cold like that.

The slab jutting out by 25 ml along the length of the westside, a potential heat leak in a passively heated house.

The slab jutting out by 25 ml along the length of the westside, a potential heat leak in a passively heated house. We had this saw off by (update coming)

So then the builders and Dan found a concrete cutting mob to came out to the build. Whew! They bought with them a special saw and expertly cut the excess slab of by 25 ml, exactly!

Our frame was then nailed and glue together by Pristine Carpentry the ones who rang us alerting us to the fact that the house frame was too too big for the slab. When you take into consideration all the bricks, tin and metal that need to make up the house, that’s still only 40 ml hanging precariously over the edge of the slab. Earthquake anyone? Hyperbolic catastrophes aside:

The problem was: because of the steals temperature conductivity, it was a potential, most definite with time. Mould problem caused by condensation, which would have rose up the wall.

We could have used a hairdryer to meld the shape of the material to the beam but, we realised the pressure of the house would do this.

It was a hard lesson.

Note: It’s best to check yourself.

But it’s all taken care of one thanks to Laros and ProClima: sell truly environmentally-friendly and people-friendly products made for New Zealand weather.

Our solution to slab overhang came from Laros.

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People and Places where we Received Assistance in Relation to Building Biology for People with MCS and Mould Illness (CIRS)

 

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Building Products/Tradespeople Reviews

Hey there!

Just a short post to let you know that all the services and building products I use that work out for me and don’t impact on my health will be reviewed on this blog. So far, I’ve had some positive experiences with tradespeople and businesses that I’m so grateful for that I feel it’s only right to pass their names and details on. There’s my wonderful, thoughtful and patient draftsperson (aka Eco Designer), Quin Wyatt, whom you can read more about here. And many more positive experiences (and a few not so positive that I’m willing to share, too) that will feature here. When you come back in the future just click on the Freedom: an Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly House link right here under the Building tab! All my posts to do with housing will be organised there for you. (Some are organised under Renovating for People with Chemical Sensitivities for your convenience, also.)

:)

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Of course not every product that is fine for me to use will be okay for others too. Of course, this is due to the varying nature of our sensitivities. For instance, mould is a mahoosive issue for me. (It’s taken 10 years of toiling with chemical avoidance, under the weight of my illness to work this out, because small amounts can’t be detected, which makes them invisible unless spores are en masse; and, it was not until I lived in a house that was mouldy that I realised that it was such a problem (then came the medical testing as further confirmation). If you get sick when it rains, you may want to look into this also.)) So, even though I have solvents, petrochemicals and fragrances to avoid when choosing products for building a house, I now realise that if I don’t do my best to avoid mould exposure, all those other chemicals impact on my health far worse. But for someone else it may be plastics or even all chemical based products that must be avoided, yes? Please be mindful of that when researching and choosing your own products! Your health needs are precious and need to be taken seriously.

Our house is being created with moisture control, elimination and prevention of condensation in mind. And it’s airtight, with good control of cross ventilation so we can air it regularly.

There’s a saying in Eco House Creation: Wrap em’ tight; ventilate right!

Nowhere is this more important than with creating housing for chemically sensitive people. The reason Eco Houses are wrapped tight is for energy efficiency. But for people like us, especially parts of our community who live housebound, being able to ventilate properly can be a massive issue. But even more problematic is what happens when we don’t open our houses to air them on a regular basis: condensation and mould growth are evil and can sneak up on your health, taking it on a ride into hell. Also take into account the materials and chemicals used in building and renovations; and coupled with a tight building, what you have created is the perfect environment for Sick Building Syndrome. It’s a thing. And it’s real. And it can be a pain in the arse, sinus and brain!

(I know! It’s a conundrum because of outside air polluted by cars, trucks, woodsmoke (from chimneys), fragranced-based washing powders and fabric softeners.)

This is where the right tradespeople are key in making a home safe for people with asthma, chemical sensitivity, and/or immune disfunction. Greenwashed products are great if they are really green but it’s not just about saving our environment; it’s about the people and animals who live in the homes, too. (Amelia Hill has written extensibly on this issue here.) However, if you can find the right tradespeople who listen and take on board your needs, and most importantly, what you don’t need, then you are on your way to a low VOC, chemical-free, mould-free utopia!

There is also a book out by Christa Upton who has successfully built an MCS friendly house and has written a book about it.

Stay tuned for more…

PS: if you know of any suitable tradespeople, businesses or products, drop a comment down below. This blog is read all over the world, and people will find this page or any of the others tagged with Build an Allergy-free, Eco-friendly Home via internet search engines. (And you never know, next time I’m stuck in bed with no creative writing flow, I just may make another one of my Listly Lists including your valuable input!)

(And thanks for reading, I tried to keep this short.)

Sharing is Caring…

:) 

The Steps to Building an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free house

The Steps to Building an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free house and the tradespeople and companies we used (So far we have been really lucky with the team of people who we’ve found to help us build a low-toxic house.):

Design your house. We used Quin Wyatt, eco-Designer: 0418 589 461

Find your workers (yes I have a post: How to Find or Organise Fragrance Free Workers [post coming up])

Building Biologist: Raphael Siket at EcoLibria1300 326 542

Building Biologist: Lucinda Curran at Eco Health Solutions: 0488 377 466

How to Test Building Products and Products for you own or someone else’s Suitability [post coming up]

How to Sort out Protection Based on Duty of Care with your Local Council [post coming up]

A fully, well-cured Concrete Slab, solid as a Rock from D&C Fear Concreting: 04 0369 3794

Low-toxic Pluming installed by a fragrance-free plumbing team: KLM Plumbing

Choosing Fittings for the bathroom, kitchen and laundry: @Reece Plumbing: 03 5253 3000

Choose your internal Building structure: We went with Hardwood from Calco [Post coming up]

Build a frame: we went with Damien and his team from Pristine Carpentry [Post coming up]

Choose a roof style, find a roofer [post coming up] , which are often, but not always a plumbing and roofing job (because plumbers and roofers often do both); We have the maddest Japanese style roof, which we are over the moon about, installed by Blessed Roofing, designed by Quin Wyatt, eco-draftsperson.

Virtual House Tour: using Sun Study Designs made by Quin our eco-draftsperson

Hydronic Heating by Hydrotherm [post coming up]

Laros and Proclima (Post 2# coming up on Laros Technologies and their Intello wrap)

(We will be using internal air sealant wraps by Proclima from either Laros or Passive House here in Victoria, Australia)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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