NBAU Blog Takeover – Week 7

Self Reflection


After spending eight weeks on site building Nest House and being surrounded by people who are equally immersed in the building as you are, it was a breath of fresh air to speak to external people who did not know much about the building and who were keen to speak to us about our experience. The fascination and interest that they showed towards the house and even our camping situation, was a reminder of what a unique and invaluable opportunity this is. I find myself getting more and more sentimental about the programme as every week passes. I cannot even begin to appreciate the amount of knowledge and experience I have attained from the time spent here. I look forward to what the remaining weeks have to offer and being able to apply these skills throughout my education and career.


Week 7 – Windows, Decking and Open House

02/08/2021 – 06/08/2021

Monday – 02/08/21

With a jam packed schedule ahead, we kicked off the week by progressing from where we left off on Friday. Similar to most days, we divided ourselves into groups to tackle different tasks of the day. Many of these activities took place outside to take advantage of the sun before the predicted rainfall later in the week, because some tasks are simply impossible to execute with even a few minutes of heavy rainfall. Taping the membrane being one of these activities, one group finished off the taping on the external façade. Another group proceeded to install more windows, which entailed cutting the membrane and taping it to the window reveals, followed by working together to fit a window. The final group working outside focused on screwing the battens through the membrane into the walls, mainly focusing on the top level of battens which would be flush with the parapet boxes.


On the other side of the walls, we had our final group preparing for Tim, the plumber, and Rolli, the electrician, to be on site the following day. For that, many internal walls around the bathroom and the bedrooms were installed, which also meant that more roof panels were also put into place.


We wrapped up the day with a brief visit from our clients Francine and Stephen who came to sample a few carpets for their future home.


Tuesday – 03/08/21

Tuesday was an eventful day consisting of many developments and visible changes. Some tasks were carried on from Monday, such as the taping and the battening of the façade, taping the membrane to the underside of the structure and then adding the battens on top.


With Roli back on site, fast progress was made on the wiring. The consumer units were installed in the plant room and all the wires were sorted into their designated spots in the units. The first few sockets even got fitted.


This was also the first day that the ducting began to be installed in the roof, guided by Tim, by drilling holes and pulling the ducts through a length of a wall.


Wednesday – 04/08/21

The sun was still beaming on Wednesday which allowed us to continue with many of the outdoor tasks and a lot of firsts. The first windows got foamed with expanding Polyurethane foam, which proved to be a tough and messy job. The aim of this is to fill the gaps around the window frame to improve the airtightness. Additionally, to install in the windows later, the first window reveals were being built with the guidance of Steph, who had been prototyping the reveal detail during the days before.


Next to the workshop, the cladding began to be sorted, which proved to be a good opportunity to apply the knowledge that we acquired from the workshop with Lewis from TRADA.


Today was also a monumental day, with most of the battening of the walls completed (everything except for around the windows, which would be done after the installation of the window reveals to fix them into place). Some progress was even made indoors with the internal walls.


Thursday – 05/08/21

With the expectations of some rainfall, the morning included a lot of intense work outside such as finishing off the foaming of thee windows and then beginning to tape over the foam with membrane tape, to ensure that no moisture would be through the aperture.


Inside the house, more internal walls were installed and the ceiling bolts began to get tightened, because they had only previously been hand-tightened. And down in the workshop more window reveals were getting built.


Outside, we also began the exciting task of setting out and beginning to lay the decking. The design of which had to be carefully considered to ensure not only longevity but also ease of construction. The timbers used were approximately 145x45mm: joists were cut to 1790 mm lengths, noggins into 554 mm lengths and finally timbers divided into two 70 mm width lengths. The following is a step by step description of how the base structure to the terrace was assembled:


  1. Wall plate

Screw wall plate to wall of house, so that the top of the wall plate is 170mm below floor level.
First, countersink two holes into the wall plate in front of battens.
Use 80mm screws to screw the wall plate to the battens.
*Ensure all battens are screwed tightly to wall


      1. Floor plate

Use 40x50mm timbers for the floor plate.

      • Place the floor plate on the sleeper, with the 50mm dimension vertically placed, at a distance of 1745mm from the battens on the wall.


      • Put the screws at 600mm centres – 25mm from the edge of the batten (where the centre of the joist will be). After initially countersinking, screw on the floor plate using 80mm stainless steel screws.


      1. DPM

Cut 400mm width pieces of DPM.

Staple to the sleeper with 45mm overlap over the edge of the external side of the sleeper.
Staple also to the inside of the sleeper, keeping the DPM at a sloped angle.


      1. Joists 

Mark the edge of joists onto DPM using chalk.

Place the joists on top of the floor plate and the wall plate, to the left of the battens fixed on the walls. This should be at 600mm centres.

Put three 3mm shims between the joist and wall.
Using 80mm screws, screw the joists into the wall plate by side spiking (screwing diagonally down into the side of the joist, through to the wall plate, about 50mm above the wall plate).


      1. Noggins


      • Place spacer blocks on to the sleeper wall so the noggin rests 25mm above DPM.

Place noggin on top of spacer blocks and in between joists, checking that the joists sit at 600mm centres and are square with the building.

Pre-drill through the joist towards the noggin to the one side, horizontally screw two 80mm screws through.

On the other side of the noggin side spike 80mm screws through the noggin into the previous joist, one high one low, being careful to avoid the previous horizontal screws into the last noggin.

Fix the newly attached joist to the floor plate by side spiking on the same side as the horizontal noggin screws, as the vertical of the pergola will be fixed on from the other side of the joist.



Friday – 06/08/21

Other than being the end of the week, spirits were high because this was the day of the Nest House Self Build Social, which gave Francine and Stephen’s future neighbours, friends, and family an opportunity to see the house and progress that we had made, as well as an occasion for us to discuss our experiences of living and working on Nest House, for the past two months.


Due to this event, the work day was shorter, to allow for time to prepare and tidy up the space before the arrival of our guests. Many tasks from the previous day were continued such as ceiling bolt tightening, the deck laying, internal hall installations and the building and sanding of the window reveals. We even had a busy day of mentoring sessions. Meanwhile, Steph and Wilf spent the day testing out the pergola design for the terrace.


After lunch when the guests arrived, we had brief introductions. We began by introducing  ourselves, followed by Francine and Wilf presenting and explaining the project. The event continued with Wilf doing two insightful presentations, aiming to give a brief explanation regarding the project and the programme: one on the ‘No Building As Usual’ programme and the ethos behind it and another regarding the carbon footprint of the house and the effects of all the material and design choices.


We wrapped up the week by giving our guests guided tours around the house and our camp site, allowing for a more informal conversation between everyone. We were even happy to see one of our mentors, Jamie Pearson from Grimshaw, come back to site to join the gathering. We were also treated to some snacks and drinks by Francine and Stephen, which was a perfect way to end our week.



A note from Studio Bark

No Building As Usual is an ambitious student build project running for 10 weeks over the summer of 2021. The programme addresses the climate emergency, diversity in the built environment professions, and the need for cross-industry collaboration.

Many thanks to blog and NBAU project collaborator NMITE

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