Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

We can has roof

Big progress on a Big Thing (the roof) over the last couple of days.

The cleaned, preserved and oiled chestnut rafters, beams and wall plates are now all leveled and in place and work has begun on fixing the wooden planking to them. These photos are from this morning. By the end of the day, the planking had been completed up as far as the middle beam.

Roof progress

Michael, Wayne and Chris lay the first planks

Roof progress

Rafters in place, both full length and in halves

Roof progress

The challenges of working with round pole timber: creating a level surface for the planking

Roof progress

The other side of the building. Additional timbers on the cross beam required to level the rafters

Roof progress

Michael and Wayne fix the first planks in place

The planking we’re using is rough planking. Dry maritime pine, unplaned. About 22mm thick, compared to half of that for tongue-and-groove, so double the insulation for half the price, stronger, and easier to lay on a very asymmetrical building.

It’s been treated, as has the chestnut, with an ecological wood preservative (apparently – still haven’t had a response from the manufacturers to tell me what the ingredients are) followed by a boiled linseed oil and turpentine mixture (roughly 1 part turpentine to 7 parts linseed oil). Boiled rather than raw for its more rapid drying time, and the turpentine (genuine turpentine, not the mineral ‘white spirit’ turps substitute) performs a similar function as well as being slightly repellent to insects in its own right.

So exciting to see construction at last! Although we’ve been making good progress dismantling the old roof and cleaning and preserving the timbers, it’s been a process of deconstruction rather than construction and has made the building look less finished rather than more. Now the roof is finally going on, it’s much easier to visualise it in its finished state.

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