The Making of Skyhouse (the building)
FrameThe frame of the building is post and beam, with 5 bents (a section of posts and beams assembled on the ground and then tilted into place) running east-west. Each bent has perimeter columns made up of 2 posts with wheat sheets (a particle board made from straw) joining them into an 18 inch wide column (to match the width of a bale). Double beams (4.5 x 12's) spanning the 29 foot building are bolted to each side of these posts as well as to the braces (shaped with a draw knife) and the center posts. The north and south bents have only a single beam since the will exist within a strawbale wall and this will allow for easier integration of straw and wood.
This system of bents allows for a mostly open area in the interior of the house, meaning a high degree of flexibility of redesign in our future. The wide posts will allow for easy tie-in to the bales, and the lack of braces within the walls will mean fewer custom bales, but means the bales will providing most of the shear strength bracing along the length of the building.
The first floor bents were assembled flat above the foundation and weigh up to 1500 lbs each (2nd floor bents will be assembled once we have the 2nd floor deck on).
When Jess's super human strength proved inadequate we moved on to another wonderful tool of mechanical advantage - the ratchet come-along.
Second Floor DeckingOnce the bents were up we installed 2.5 x 12 inch floor joists on forty inch centers and on top of that 2 x 6 tongue and groove decking. The decking came from a old factory in Mass. and was hundred year old spruce. I can't tell you what a nightmare it was to reinstall it! After weeks and weeks of struggling with the used tongue and groove decking I don't think I'll ever do it again. The second story bents went up much as the first, so quickly that no one took any pictures.