With ground floor brickwork completed and work continuing to buzz along at a rapid pace, the commencement of preparation for the top storey slab kicked off and once again, the house began to take another shape.
First up was the formwork – putting into place all the necessary supports to create the ceiling for the ground floor, and the slab for the top floor. The entire ground floor ceiling was covered and supported with a jungle of props, holding up heavy duty timbers and form ply sheeting. This whole process is about shaping the slab for the top floor, creating the floor plan as required and including things like penetrations (holes in the slab) for air-conditioning, electrics, plumbing and so on to service both upstairs and downstairs areas.
It took about a week to get the formwork fully completed and ready for the next run of activity. It’s here where your skills in project managing come to the fore. You need to know a few things about the kinds of trades you need to line up for this process to ensure that everything continues to run like clockwork.
For example, did you know you have to get the electrician, the plumber, the ducted vac and alarm company, the safety railing guys and the steel reinforcement in before you do anything else? Ahhhh… yes, well thankfully we have Dad on our side. And all such activities happened within just a few days of one another like a well-oiled machine.
The important task of ensuring you’re providing a safe working environment for all the trades that are about to undertake work on the top floor is paramount. We had to ensure that there was sufficient safety railing around the perimeter of the formwork as well as around the staircase and open void areas once the formwork had been complete. It’s a necessary task and cost and well worth with for peace of mind knowing you’re providing a safe workplace for everyone.
You can see from the images below that there’s a network of all sorts of conduits for electricals along with waste and water pipes, as well as a few odd looking boxes (penetrations for air-conditioning ducts and other services). That’s all intertwined with the tonnes of steel work that help support the slab and make it all legit – with the engineering tick of approval after a thorough inspection of course!
And of course, you mustn’t forget that if you’re building a two storey with a slab, you’ll need to make sure you make allowances for your downlights in the slab, especially if you’re not having any dropped ceilings in certain areas on the ground floor. These canisters need to be placed onto the formwork so that your ceiling lights for the downstairs areas can be installed, along with their transformers, later down the track.
Yep, so many small little details to keep in mind. All of which are super important when such a permanent structure of the house is about to get installed.
And as an owner-builder, there are a stack of little jobs that you just HAVE to do. Like picking up the squillions of bits of wire cuttings that are snipped away from the wire ties that connect each bar of steel work. You don’t want these little cuttings sitting on the formwork, otherwise when you pour the concrete, you’ll have a tonnes of rusted out bits of wire as a nice little feature downstairs once you finally remove all the props and formwork. If industrial chic is your thing though, it could work a treat!
Such a great experience to finally stand on the top of the formwork where the slab will soon sit and take in what our vista will be from the top floor. So nice to have so much greenery around with some great views to the west (front of the house) and lovely views over to the Lake Monger area on the east (back of the house). We even get the sneakiest of sneaky glimpses of the city skyline but they’re pretty much obstructed by some big old, and very beautiful, Jacaranda trees and the tops of a couple of roofs.
And what do you know… there’s a staircase too! Awesome.
Next up – we’re laying the top storey slab… *