Block & Beam Floor

Concrete Beams

We decided to build our house on a block and beam floor rather than a more conventional concrete slab for several reasons.

Firstly it was a greener option as our raised floor would have needed a very thick concrete block whereas our beams were suspended over an empty cavity.

Lifting a beam Secondly we had used this method of construction before (when building an extension to our old house which was also raised up due to being on a flood plain) so we knew what to do.

And thirdly we would be able to do all the work ourselves, a bit at a time, in between work with the pigs.

Unlike the last time we laid a block and beam floor we didn't have to strain our muscles lifting the beams into place as this time the JCB was earning its keep placing them on the perimeter walls for us to tweak into final position by hand.

Lots of beams

The placing of the beams was quite a quick operation; the floor was growing rapidly in front of us and we were imagining having it finished ahead of schedule.

Clearly we had tempted fate, as suddenly without warning there was a large bang and our digger fell heavily to one side. After initially imagining we had hit an unexploded World War II shell we realised that in fact one of the wheels had parted company with the JCB (it had completely rusted through where attached to the wheel hub).

broken wheelWe were very lucky that we had not been carrying a beam at the time as dropping it from a height might well have broken it, more importantly one of us could have been injured by the falling beam.

Whilst counting our blessings we also realised that this accident would adversely affect our schedule. The more calls we made the more difficult we realised it was going to be to get another wheel. An old JCB may be very good value for money but replacement parts and not easily available.

This was certainly something we had not foreseen!

Fortunately we had some beams in place so whilst we were waiting for a new wheel we were able to place a lot of breeze blocks in place. The blocks simply sit between the beams, held in place by a small ledge at the foot of each beam.

Blocks going on

One thing we are learning about building our own home is that there will always be things that happen completely outside our control and it is these things which have the potential to make the process stressful. If you are of an anxious disposition then this may not be a good option for you. We think we are reasonably laid back but time will tell whether we come out of this process as nervous wrecks or not!