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Where to start? Old wall frames...

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  1. #1
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    Default Where to start? Old wall frames...

    Hi, I am slowly working on renovating my 100 year old miners cottage in a remote outback town. It started as a four bedroom, double hipped roof with central well, and later a bullnose verandah was added. So far I have redone most of the roof, replaced the vinyl cladding with Colourbond, and redone all the fanciwork around the verandah. Not bad for a middle aged woman who taught myself carpentry as I went along!
    First thing I want to ask is whether anyone knows of an easy way to cover the large central well in the roof. When the drought broke this year the heavy rain overflowed the central gutter and I don't know of an easy way of rectifying this, unless I lift all the old corrugated iron in the well area and insert a new gutter with sides going up under the iron to stop overflow.
    The next problem is my starting on the internal walls. I have a large dining area. It is the flat roofed area on the left at the back of the house. It originally had built in cupboards around the end wall, and up the middle of the corner. One of the walls I've removed were just made of sheets of fake wall panelling glued onto the very crooked frames. The other had the panelling over Tilite? I think this used to be a wall for an old wet area, attached to the back of the house. The floor is tiles, over a concrete base.
    Knowing nothing about frames still has me think these are not very good. I haven't educated myself as to noggins and other terminology yet. But I am wondering if there is an easy way to straighten these wall frames so I can cover with plasterboard. My first thought (admitting to total ignorance) is whether there are some sort of metal framing that could be cut into the existing frames to strengthen them and provide a flat surface for the plasterboard? I now wish I hadn't done the outside first as I have screwed into the frame, but maybe that is what is holding it all together. It would have been easier I think if I could just replace parts of the frame, but I don't want to remove the outer wall now.
    I don't know what the vertical posts on the centre of each wall are supposed to be. I thought they were to support the horizontal beam across the centre of the ceiling, but the way it is done it doesn't look very strong at all. You'll notice the post is just a narrow section nailed up the outside of the gyprock. And the horizontal post doesn't even butt against the frame. It just sits there on top of the posts. I'm not sure that the post is even securely fastened through the gyprock to the wall frame as there appear to be many nails randomly driven through to nothing.
    I think the other wall I've shown is made of horsehair. It has become very soft in sections. I wondered if walls being replaced should all be done at the same time before being finished so the banging and possible movement doesn't cause cracks in the new walls.
    Another question is related to a chimney. I removed the old wood combustion heater as it wasn't very effective being right up the back of the house. I still have to remove the chimney and am thinking I'll have to replace the whole panel of iron it is cut through. Is it possible to replace it with a fibreglass panel and make your own panel in the ceiling to let more light through? I have some birds in cages in this area and more light would be great, as long as the room doesnt' become too hot.
    That's all for now. I've got a couple of books to read about renovating but love the practical advice given here. Thanks in advance. I am a nurse who works with patients at the end of their lives. Once I figure out what I am doing I find renovating is a great destressor.
    roof.jpgp1010007-1.jpgp1010012-1.jpgp1010002-1.jpgWall.pdf

  2. #2
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    Another question....The nearest place to get building items is the next town about 2 1/2 hours from here. Is it possible to carry sheets of plasterboard in an old trailer for that distance or will it break?

  3. #3
    Old Chippy 6K
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapienreno View Post
    Another question....The nearest place to get building items is the next town about 2 1/2 hours from here. Is it possible to carry sheets of plasterboard in an old trailer for that distance or will it break?
    lay a few pieces of timber (studs are fine0 down for the plaster to sit on and tie it down well. You'll need to protect edges to so you do not pull the rope through the soft material and remember to tie front and back so they do not slide off.
    Advice from me on this forum is general and for guidance based on information given by the member posing the question. Not to be used in place of professional advice from people appropriately qualified in the relevant field. All structural work must be approved and constructed to the BCA or other relevant standards by suitably licensed persons. The person doing the work and reading my advice accepts responsibility for ensuring the work done accords with the applicable law.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapienreno View Post
    Knowing nothing about frames still has me think these are not very good. I haven't educated myself as to noggins and other terminology yet. But I am wondering if there is an easy way to straighten these wall frames so I can cover with plasterboard.
    Hi Sapienreno. I'm no expert but have similarly renovated our miners cottage (also a woman). The frame wasn't built to take plaster so some extra studs were needed in the corners of the rooms and noggins across the middle of all the walls at the height where the plaster sheets join. The walls were not particularly straight but not so bad that I bothered doing anything about it. If you want, you can use a straight edge to work out if either packing some of the studs or planing some of the studs is going to give you a flatter wall. When planing an old wall, be aware of nails as this might make you decide to pack every stud and some more than others so no planing is necessary. It's impossible to plane in corners so consider this when working it all out and use straightest timber here. You can get strips of packing material at the hardware store or buy sheets and rip them yourself with a circular saw. If you want you can also alter the thickness of the packing materials by planing them to give a variety of thickness. It all really does depend how much effort you want to go to. In my case, little and you can't tell by looking at it. Flat wall paint and ultra flat ceiling paint go well.

    Also, consider alterations at this point, while the frame is exposed you can add noggins where you plan to hang overhead kitchen cupboards, move doorways/windows or enlarge doorways/windows. If studs are too far apart, add more in between, add cross bracing if it's not there.

  5. #5
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    tbh,

    You might just be better off paying a chippy for a day to come in and straighten all your walls, put new studs/noggings in etc. Thats if you can get one of course! At the end of the day, atleast youll know the walls are sound and ready for gyprock. As above, take advantage of the linings being off and add power points etc where you want them...

    Not really helping you, but unless you have a 2m straightedge, a planer and some know how it can be a pretty tricky job

  6. #6
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    Default Renovation continued

    Thanks so much for your advice. I think I mainly needed someone to say, this is what you should do, just to confirm it for me.
    I started this renovation with no woodworking skills at all. I still don't have a clue about all the technical terms, but have learnt how to use a bandsaw, electric plane, circular saw, chainsaw in the yard, router etc. I completely redid the front of the house as my first project. I had to rebuild the ends of the verandah, stripped the paint off the old pressed metal and got the curved beams redone, then installed them, reroofed it, built all that ladder work across the top totally myself, made all the corner decorations myself and routed them into the posts, designed and installed the handrails and cut all the palings. (I cheated with the leave designs by basing them on what was available to buy and doing them myself.)
    I am slow, but I find it really wonderful to be able to stand back and say 'I did that.'
    The only thing I am worried about with the first interior room is the two vertical posts. I'll have to get up in the ceiling and see whether there is something else above them that is taking some of the load.
    Thanks again.......veranda-001.jpg

  7. #7
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    There is a bit of a trick to it. You have to hold a long straight edge which must be straight obviously. Usually made of aluminium. They sell them in large hardware stores sometimes. You already have access to a planer. Other than that some packers. Check the studs both horizontally and vertically and diagonally along the wall until you have an idea of which studs are needing packing or planing. The straight edge will rock on studs that are sitting out too far and will show a gap where the studs are not out as far as the others. Get your eye looking for these. The aim is to work out how you can achieve a straight wall with the least amount of alteration. It can be confusing but just take your time working it out.

    The posts, I think need some investigation and getting someone to look at this would be a good idea. It's hard to tell from the picture but do they go down through the floor? Was this room an addition or alteration?

  8. #8
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    Renovating in far western NSW.....we know your pain - used to be in Bourke. I suspect however you are south of the highway.....

    With respect to your wall....just make sure it is reasonably secure and straight-ish. Consider using Rondo metal battens across the wall with packing behind them to get it really straight before covering with plasterboard. It'll make the wall a little thicker but it'll be far easier to install too.

    Travelling with plasterboard....support the sheets with a simple pine frame (take a saw, nails and hammer to town with you, buy some pine, make the frame in the carpark) about four lengths across the width of the sheet. Throw the frame over the trailer. If you can get carpet scraps to throw over the frame all the better. Then strap down for the trip home...

    Chimney? Replace with a skylight or solatube. That way you keep the existing sheet (although you might make the chimney hole larger!) and minimise the heat implications of polycarbonate sheeting.

    The rain event was a bit of a beauty (even our new roof struggled) but something of a rarity so the need for a fix is questionable (how often are we going to get hammered like that?) but if you want to then you'll need to get a new wider valley made up and then install it by pulling the sheets....
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  9. #9
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    You guys are amazing with your wonderful practical advice. I really appreciate it.
    Over the past two weeks while looking at starting the interior of the house and doing research for it I can say it has completely taken over my life. I feel guilty if I don't spend any spare minute reading posts to this forum, looking at reno magazines and researching building materials.
    The only respite I get is when I am at work, but then I get to talk to the old people who were born in these miners cottages, and I enjoy hearing their stories about renovation.
    It is amazing that these cottages have survived, considering they were originally built out of wood and iron as the limited life of mines meant they were constructed so they could easily be taken apart and moved by camel to the next mining area. They were built by the miners themselves and the wide range in quality of workmanship was obvious when I spent the first twelve months here looking for a place to buy. I ended up buying this home, the one I was renting.
    Some cottages I looked at were shockers. Nothing was straight, they often consisted of many rooms, each one obviously added on as the need arised, with different heights of ceilings and floors as you stepped into each one.
    I'm not sure what the original design of this house was. The miners cottages were usually four rooms, one living and three bedrooms, with kitchen and toilet out the back. I can see the four rooms here, but the front two and hallway have 13' ceilings and the next two are 12'. I'd have to go up in the ceiling again to check, but I am sure the roof frames are all of the same age and don't look like anything has been added on.
    (The last time I went up in the ceiling was when it bucketed down and I realised there was a dripping noise. Went up with a bucket and bare feet. Had a metal ladder that was wet from being out in the rain and when I went to stand on it to come back down it disappeared, leaving me hanging from the frames with 2/3 of my body dangling through the manhole. There aren't too many options when you are in such a situation and home alone. Letting go was the easiest and I still don't know how I didn't get hurt landing on top of the ladder. Had bruising the length of both arms though, from hitting the edge of the manhole on the way down. Great story to tell everyone at work.)
    I cared for dying patients in the community for a while. Going into their homes was a real experience. A couple of homes still had the original dirt floors, several had toilets still down the back of the yard. One house had no running water at all. One bloke was living in his bedroom and the rest of the house had collapsed around it. When he died the house was bulldozed. I was talking to a patient yesterday and she still has the original painted hessian walls. They all told how they had helped build the homes, or their parents had built them. There are homes with concrete block walls. The mines provided the moulds for the miners so they make their own blocks and build homes. I've noticed there are still roofs made of the sheet metal from kerosene tins. They made metal tiles out of them.
    After I first arrived here there was an article in the paper about the council deciding they were going to inspect homes and any that were substandard would have to be fixed up. It was pointed out to them that this would probably be almost all of the community and as many are now quite old and pensioners, how could they upgrade their homes. It was also suggested that many couldn't be upgraded so would have to be demolished. The council never mentioned it again.
    I remember when I first moved in here I looked through the little trapdoor in the floor and was shocked to see the stumps were rough bits of tree trunk about 12 inches high. I have to say the house hasn't moved, the floors are straight, and a builder told me the termites wouldn't eat them. I have no idea what they are made of. The only problem is one of the front rooms has no stumps in the middle of it so the floor is like a giant trampoline. It doesn't move, but the inspecting builder said I have to do something to support it eventually. For some reason the dirt under the front half of the room is about 4' deep, like someone got in and dug a hole for reasons unknown. At least that will give me room to get down there and do something about supporting the floor.
    The Dining room is across the back of the house and is 18' x 11 1/2'. The beam and worrisome posts are not quite in the middle of the 18' span. This part of the house was a later addition and used to be the bathroom - laundry area I'd say, because of the Tilite walls on one end. A slab was either poured when it was built, or later probably, because where I removed the cupboards the slab ends at the frame. I've just had a look at the frame and it appears to have been put straight on the ground. I guess they never considered damp courses etc necessary here in the desert. This small exterior wall was the only one that already had corrugated iron so I hadn't noticed how it had been built and now have identified a soft spot right in the centre of the bottom plate (is that what you call it?).
    The kitchen goes from the dining across the rest of the back of the house. It is at the same level, but the ceiling is lower. Behind it is the bathroom laundry so the additions all form a rectangle at the back with two different height flat roofs. The photo I posted of the back shows this.
    Thinking about the wall frame now has me thinking it would be easier to remove the bottom row of corrugated iron on the outside so I can replace the floor plate, or perhaps remove it all and replace the frame? I'll have to do some more reading.
    I still have part of the chimney in the ceiling in situ and might get up today and pull it out. When I removed the combustion heater and chimney from the room I didn't realise there was an extra smaller sleeve in the ceiling until it came down a day later. It punched a perfect ring into the ceramic floor tiles their entire depth. I'm glad I hadn't been under it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapienreno View Post
    Thanks so much for your advice. I think I mainly needed someone to say, this is what you should do, just to confirm it for me.
    I started this renovation with no woodworking skills at all. I still don't have a clue about all the technical terms, but have learnt how to use a bandsaw, electric plane, circular saw, chainsaw in the yard, router etc. I completely redid the front of the house as my first project. I had to rebuild the ends of the verandah, stripped the paint off the old pressed metal and got the curved beams redone, then installed them, reroofed it, built all that ladder work across the top totally myself, made all the corner decorations myself and routed them into the posts, designed and installed the handrails and cut all the palings. (I cheated with the leave designs by basing them on what was available to buy and doing them myself.)
    I am slow, but I find it really wonderful to be able to stand back and say 'I did that.'
    The only thing I am worried about with the first interior room is the two vertical posts. I'll have to get up in the ceiling and see whether there is something else above them that is taking some of the load.
    Thanks again.......Click image for larger version. 

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    No doubt you have done some really nice work there

    Im not at all saying you cant do it, but its just one of those jobs. At the end of the day you spend a heap of time getting something right, just to cover it up with plasterboard. Reason im saying to get someone in, is that they can probably straighten the whole cottage in a day if its ready and you could concentrate on other things that need tending

  11. #11
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    There's always the possibility of getting someone else to do work for you and I find that the more you do it yourself, your skills improve across the board. This means the next thing you tackle, you bring those skills to the task. It just gets better and better. You start to think through situations with a broader mind and eventually you get faster and more competent. Also, if your funds are limited, you can achieve twice/three times as much by doing it yourself. The money you spend getting someone else to do one stage can be spent on the next two stages. Or fantastic new tools, nail gun, drop saw, etc...

    We bought a miners cottage and it was the cheapest house in town, 175,000. Half acre with tiny house, no kitchen and a shed for a bathroom, no driveway on a sloping block. A mess really. Just over one year later and a lot of work (lot), completely gutted inside and rebuilt walls, moved doorways, added windows, plastered, built kitchen, built deck, excavated driveway and cut out in front of house, rewired almost completely, gas heater and cooking installed, high retaining walls, garden bed, pathway, clean up of block and constant picking up of rocks and mowing and burning off. We have spent around 30,000 dollars so far as I and my partner (both women) did everything except the excavation, plumbing and electrical. Although I just recently did all the storm water, 80 odd meters of ditch dug by hand. Why by hand? More time than money.

    The place is 100% better than when we bought it and I can't think what it would have cost to get it done by someone else. Haven't had it re-valued but would have to be over 300,000 by now. My skills are all from the past few years. Pre-app in carpentry and a bit of an apprenticeship. Bit of joinery work in a kitchen company. Constant searching through other resources, including here (fantastic place). Always asking questions about anything and everything.

    I say all this because you seem to be on a similar track and If I was you I wouldn't hand a task over to anyone else unless I truly couldn't do it, really didn't want to do it or wasn't legally allowed to do it. (except storm water).

    Just keep your safety in mind at all times. Don't do something until you know the outcome. Same goes for using your tools. Take every opportunity to learn more about everything. Oh, and start a thread in the Go To Whoa section so we can follow your progress.

    Keep posting.

  12. #12
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    It would be worthwhile considering (if you have not already done so) putting insulation in the external walls before you replaster, it makes a big difference to the overall comfort of the home and there is never a better time than when it is sans wall lining.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapienreno View Post
    I remember when I first moved in here I looked through the little trapdoor in the floor and was shocked to see the stumps were rough bits of tree trunk about 12 inches high. I have to say the house hasn't moved, the floors are straight, and a builder told me the termites wouldn't eat them. I have no idea what they are made of.
    Almost certainly they are quartered sections of Grevillia striata which is better known as Beefwood. Used to be used throughout the Western Division as fenceposts, pilings and stumps because they were plentiful, easy to split, almost impossible to burn (very gummy) and, most importantly, spectacularily durable in the ground. I've seen them on some properties where the fences are still standing after more than sixty years and the Beefwood posts are still amazingly solid despite considerable sand erosion.

    Not surprisingly.....beefwood (especially large ones) is rather uncommon these days.

    506px-grevillea_striata_tree.jpg
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