Framing of a Hobbit House – Posts, Beams and Knee Braces

 In Blog, Student Post

How to Balance Environmental Responsibility with Time and Money

The plan for this week was to finish the foundations and start working on the framing. Well, as said before, always expect the unexpected on a construction site. Last week we posted on our Facebook page that we found a pocket of water while digging the foundations. Since we’re an optimistic bunch, we thought: hey, it’s not a big deal and the water will evaporate soon.  However, we were taking no chances and have now dug further ditches to divert the water well away from our foundations.


Water in the trenches

During a self-build there is a continuous process of compromise between time, money and quality. In this instance we sacrificed time and money for quality, because there is no compromise when it comes to the foundations.


Framing – Ring Beam for a Reciprocal Roof – Hobbit House Build

While we resolve the problem with foundations, we are working hard on the next stage of the build – framing. Not going in according to the exact order of stages of the build fits well with this week’s thought: “The inconsistency principle.” In the overall scheme of things, you don’t have to be hard on yourself if you’re inconsistent with some parts of the process, as long as you’re always working hard towards not staying still.

Regarding the framing, this hobbit house definitely doesn’t have the regular rectangular footprints as most houses do. The roof framing is reciprocal, meaning that the structure is self-supporting and doesn’t require center support to hold the roof.


Figuring out the cuts for the framing

After we’ve debarked the timber (Douglas Fir, which we got locally) and cut it in the lengths we needed, we had to figure out how to cut out the joints so that the beams would make a circular frame. For making the cornered joints we used chisels, mallets and handsaws. That involved a lot of geometry and planning ahead. When we cut everything, we laid the beams on the ground to make sure that we cut the corner joints on the right angle and that everything fits perfectly. We also made 45◦ knee braces to stabilize the posts with those beams. Finally, we practiced a bit (on the ground) how we’re going to put the reciprocal roof together; but more on that in the weeks to come!

Students cutting the joints for the framing

Framing- ring beam structure

Dry-fitting the ring beam structure – success!

Interns’ Eureka Moments During Building

“When you take away the power tools, what’s left is love” said our intern Dewi in a eureka-like moment, while gazing wistfully into the nearby fields. I thought this really needed sharing with the world, so I’ll leave you with that.
See you next week, but in the meantime you can follow our day to day progress on our Instagram (click here) and Facebook (click here) pages. Also, share the links with your friends if natural building is something they consider doing!

The Hartwyn team

Hartwyn Natural Building Course

The 2019 build programme is now full, to sign up for updates on future courses, please sign up below.
Please don't email asking for details of our next course, as soon as we know we will email this list.
Many thanks, the Hartwyn team

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Hobbit House Foundation