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Bullethead

OT - Burning Down the House

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This pic was taken by the 2nd guy to arrive on scene. It shows me, the 1st guy there, cursing the photographer for taking pictures instead of pulling hose :grin: .

 

This particular house was about 100 years old and built of heart pine, so it went up like napalm. This photo was taken about 10 minutes after the fire was reported and already there's not a board that isn't burning. Even the grass in the yard is on fire. I have another pic, taken by the resident just after he bailed, which has the rear end already engulfed and fire streaming out the front door. That tells you how fast a fire can spread.

 

Luckily, only the 1 guy was home and he got out OK, but lost everything except the clothes on this back. Obviously, there was nothing us firemen could do to affect the outcome, just limit the spread of the fire among the surroundings. What a way to start the 236th birthday of the Marine Corps, which was supposed to be a day off for me :blink: .

 

Anyway, consider this a reminder to be careful with space heaters. I know it's getting cold out there this time of year but you sure don't want to get too hot......

post-45917-0-90589500-1321023071.jpg

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Having been involved in a House fire myself...I can testify to how quickly it can spread....time to check the smoke alarms here methinks!

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Good to know nobody was physically harmed. I can only imagine how awful it would be to lose everything like that. I hope he had insured his stuff!

 

We have such a lousy climate here that it's necessary to heat our apartments for most of the year, but I guess that means we've becomed accustomed to using heating equipment rather safely. Of course fires still happen. A couple of years ago a house burned down in my neighbourhood. The couple who lived there got out safely, but it was 4 AM in one January morning, so there was plenty of snow and the temperature was about -30°C, so they had to get inside pretty quickly. Fortunately there are quite a few people here, so they got help quickly. It would have been worse if they were one those people who live alone in the wilderness, kilometres away from the nearest town.

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You know what scares me? In this country, people now build 5 storey flats out of timber frame.

 

If the moisture content of the timber anywhere in the building is 30% or over, (say like under the shower tray, or where condensation drips off the WC cistern, or even the bowl where people 'miss'), - that timber will be consumed by dry rot. If the moisture content is between 15% to 30 %, it won't be consumed by rot, but the rot fungus itself will survive and be sustained indefinitely while it seeks out more moisture. To avoid rot, a timber frame seeks to keep it's timber dry, with a moisture content below 15% and it does this by ventilating the cavity. That timber is going to be dry, with ventilation present to all recesses, a bit like a chimney, and if it ever does catch fire, it's going burn like a firework, and if you survive you still have your mortgage but you don't have a house.

 

With our stonework construction, we can get a U value better than the 0.24 we require, but nothing in our wall fabric will rot or burn. - Correction, our insulation would burn, but it has a minimum of 200mm non flammable masonry protecting it so flames can't reach it to set it alight. Even if it did burn somehow, nothing falls down and your home survives. We have no timber floors or lintels, but concrete. We have no timber dry linings internally, not even traditional lathe below the plaster, - we plaster on the hard. Our buildings are not going to rot, and they're not going to burn, and we hope they'll stand proud for 200 years plus. What people put in them is another story, but at least we're trying to do our bit as stonemasons. Timber frame dwellings? Maybe they are quick to erect, but I'm sorry, speaking as a stonemason, I'm just not interested in owning one, never mind building one.

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You know what scares me? In this country, people now build 5 storey flats out of timber frame.

 

If the moisture content of the timber anywhere in the building is 30% or over, (say like under the shower tray, or where condensation drips off the WC cistern, or even the bowl where people 'miss'), - that timber will be consumed by dry rot. If the moisture content is between 15% to 30 %, it won't be consumed by rot, but the rot fungus itself will survive and be sustained indefinitely while it seeks out more moisture. To avoid rot, a timber frame seeks to keep it's timber dry, with a moisture content below 15% and it does this by ventilating the cavity. That timber is going to be dry, with ventilation present to all recesses, a bit like a chimney, and if it ever does catch fire, it's going burn like a firework, and if you survive you still have your mortgage but you don't have a house.

 

With our stonework construction, we can get a U value better than the 0.24 we require, but nothing in our wall fabric will rot or burn. - Correction, our insulation would burn, but it has a minimum of 200mm non flammable masonry protecting it so flames can't reach it to set it alight. Even if it did burn somehow, nothing falls down and your home survives. We have no timber floors or lintels, but concrete. We have no timber dry linings internally, not even traditional lathe below the plaster, - we plaster on the hard. Our buildings are not going to rot, and they're not going to burn, and we hope they'll stand proud for 200 years plus. What people put in them is another story, but at least we're trying to do our bit as stonemasons. Timber frame dwellings? Maybe they are quick to erect, but I'm sorry, speaking as a stonemason, I'm just not interested in owning one, never mind building one.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong Flypc...but are stone build houses much more expensive?...the reason I ask, is that I am planning on living in a Timber chalet..would have it built onsite...possibly for five years (long story)

 

I would really be grateful of your input...and if I do have to go the Timber route...do you have any hints to make it as safe as possible?

 

thanks m8

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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You know what scares me? In this country, people now build 5 storey flats out of timber frame.

 

I think over here they can only be 4 stories and have to be sprinklered. Glad none are in my bailiwick, though :).

 

If the moisture content of the timber anywhere in the building is 30% or over, (say like under the shower tray, or where condensation drips off the WC cistern, or even the bowl where people 'miss'), - that timber will be consumed by dry rot. If the moisture content is between 15% to 30 %, it won't be consumed by rot, but the rot fungus itself will survive and be sustained indefinitely while it seeks out more moisture. To avoid rot, a timber frame seeks to keep it's timber dry, with a moisture content below 15% and it does this by ventilating the cavity. That timber is going to be dry, with ventilation present to all recesses, a bit like a chimney, and if it ever does catch fire, it's going burn like a firework, and if you survive you still have your mortgage but you don't have a house.

 

I understand you offer a competing product but seriously, where do you live? I live in a very swampy, humid place, without any stone bigger than creek pebbles. Hell, the Indians mostly used sharp sticks and garfish scales instead of proper flint arrowheads. We can make brick, mortar, and concrete from abundant local materials but don't use either very much for structures. Almost all buildings have been built of wood since Indian times. If it's made out of anything else, it's all-metal, but those are all commercial like barns, churches, warehouses, etc.

 

Anyway, despite all our moisture, wood buildings around here don't rot just from the damp atmosphere or fungal spores in it. They WILL rot in very localized spots around leaking pipes, but not otherwise. What eats up wood buildings here are termites, which thrive in several varieties. I spend about $1000/year keeping them out of my various buildings. But if you do that, then wood buildings last forever (unless they burn or a tree falls on them during a hurricane). We've got quite a few within 10 miles of me that are over 100 years old (like the one that burned here), and quite a few about 200 years old.

 

Also, in almost all wood buildings constructed since the early 1900s, there's no air circulation between the studs inside the walls. Fire codes saw to that. The space between the studs is filled with insulation of some sort (even newspaper in old buildings), blocked top and bottom by the sills of the floors, and covered by something both inside and out. Hell, there are even required to be horizontal boards between the studs, called "fire stops", every so often. Now, some of these have small holes in them for wiring and plumbing, but most of them don't.

 

It's only in wood buildings from the 1800s that we see "balloon framing", where there are voids in the walls running from the foundation to the attic past however many floors. These will indeed function as chimneys. However, that type of construction quit being used decades ago because 1) it requires longer boards, which aren't readily available these days, 2) it's a lot more labor-intensive than the modern "platform framing" method, and 3) it's illegal under all modern fire codes because of the chimney-like voids. There are still quite a few old buildings around with balloon framing, but most of them either burned down or fell down long ago and have been replaced with platform-framed structures, so it's nowhere near as common as it used to be.

 

All wood-framed buildings can burn down. However, you might be surprised as to how well they resist fire these days. Sheetrock does an excellent job of protecting the wall and ceiling structure from fire, so normally the paths of fire spread are limited to holes in it like for light fixtures and ducts. So in general, fires in wooden houses these days are much like in stone houses, mostly involving the room contents, not the structure, at least to start with. However, fires left undisturbed will eventually spread to other rooms. Thus, saving a wooden house is largely a function of response time. If we get there within the 1st 10 minutes, we can limit the major damage to 1 room. If we get there later and multiple rooms are involved, then it's probably a total loss--even if most of the structure is still standing, it's beyond economical repair. But we do save quite a few wooden houses.

 

The house in the pic above went up like napalm mostly because it was made out of very well-seasoned, highly flammable wood. That rosin in the heart pine and cypress boards is great for deterring termites but burns very, very well, especially when its been cut for a century. It's quite common on old buildings around here from before the days of Terminix and treated lumber. Plus, most old houses around here don't have sheetrock or even plaster, but usually more wood on the inside of the walls. Thus, fire gets into the structure immediately.

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Timber frame in this country is meant to be protected with firestops, every 6m in any one direction, around all openings and changes of direction, and at floor levels. But being there, and being functional are not the same thing. A firestop is typically a 50x50mm timber batten with some DPC (damp proof course) wrapped around it, and it's intended to prevent smoke and flame spreading out of control. But, it only works if the cavity is sealed, but it isn't sealed by design with slot vents in the cladding, and in specific regard to the firestops and the quality of air tight seal depends how close the cladding abutts the firestop. In my experience, the gap, particularly with stone which is open 'cupped' at the back, leaves such gaps that the firestop will be significantly compromised. If it isn't air tight, it isn't smoke tight, and if smoke gets past, so does heat. Bear in mind, any weakness, and in this locality this means undesired air flow, the air is going to rush through the bottleneck like a river pinched between rocks, and thus fan and oxygenate any flame which is there. Furthermore, the modern drive for thermal perfomance means often insulation is Polystyrene based rather than mineral wool, but increasingly sheep's wool is used. Now these often have flame retarders added so won't burn themselves, but they will still distort and shrink away from a flame leaving that part of a frame which is supposed to be filled as an open chimney like void.

 

The Building standards are designed to inhibit fire long enough to give you time to get out. They may or may not actually do this. But as a minimum requirement, I feal for the time and stability it will take to escape a five storey block of flats, and I also fear for the safety of any fire or rescue teams who may be required to enter the burning building to save people, and lastly, no part of these standards is dedicated towards actually saving your property. You're going to have a life long dependancy on property insurance.

 

If you have the choice to build something other than timber frame, I would recommend that you do it.

 

 

@ UKW - Depends what you mean by timber chalet. If you mean a log cabin, you'll be fine. The timber used for them is solid and won't burn as such, but will char at a rate of 1/2 inch per hour. Big heavy timbers are fine in a fire, and structurally often performing much, much better than steel. Timber frame however is not 'big timber' but typically pared right down to the minimum section which is structurally viable. This means its wood has a greater % surface area exposed, will burn quicker, and reach the point of failure that much faster. And certainlty in the UK, the timber used in structural frames is fast grown low density pine which is just not the stuff used in traditional joinery, and nothing like the slow grown timber dense pine grown in Scandinavia.

Don't be too dispondent about what I've said, because you're not going to get trapped in a chalet, and if you've a fire, you have a fighting chance to get out. What I object to is the modern practice of general house construction, where people think they're building an asset to hand down to their kids. These traditional types of property are not currently being built. Personally, I don't think people are getting value for money, but neither the market, property surveyors, nor the Building Standards Authorities are listening to the likes of me. We're a voice in the wilderness with nobody buying into our message. Architects don't like us because we can ask them awkward questions.

With regards cost, it depends. If you were building a timber frame property with stone cladding, stone quions, sills, lintels etc I could build you something much more durable for the same money. We use structural masonry to the fullest extent possible, with traditional heartening. We will use a highter tonnage of stone, but only that which you see is the more expensive finishing quality stone, the rest is rough rubble and offcuts at £14 a ton, it's not going to break the bank. For general purpose rubble, you'll likely pay more for the haulage than you will for the purchase. It might take me longer to build it, but nobody has ever given me a watertight reason why that should really matter in the long run. We like to think we have a contract with your grand kids.

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We are actually experimenting with our stonework, because the big black mark against traditional stonework is that it's hopeless at keeping the heat in.

 

However, by ditching traditional stonework, the building trade has thrown the baby out with the bath water.

 

 

We have gone back to basics and found a way to make stonework work in a thermal way, so we enjoy all it's other benefits too. Unfortunately, because this is an innovation and a departure from the norm, surveyors take the attitude it's 'non-standard' construction, and people won't get a mortage to build a house. To get this to take off, we need to finance independent research to confirm what we already know, and despite what you may read about grant assistance being available to grow your business through innovation and training, promoting traditional crafts, and developing sustainabilty in the modern low carbon building industry, -it's all government propaganda, complete horses**t. Nobody will give our ideas the time of day, never mind some help.

 

So be it. Fk 'em. We will do it ourselves, but that's when the credit crunch kicked our customers where it hurts, so with even less income available, the mountain we have to climb is bigger than ever. But I still think it's worth it. Just a pity we live in such a cheapskate country.

 

 

 

@BH - Local material helps a lot, but we can do anything nowadays.If you have swamp, you likely have clay, and if you have clay, you could have brick. But, with your big US wagons hauling what, 30 tons plus? For your stone component I reckon you'd only need 2 wagons brought from your nearest quarry, - wherever that might be. You could even use river boulders, but you'd need a good mason to be sure it was done right, and that would take you down to a single load of stone. The harder bit would be the slab for the dressed stone for quoins and sills etc, but 5 tones of the right slab will be enough if you can get it there, but 5 tons is only 2 trips with a trailer on the van.

Edited by Flyby PC

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:salute: Good thing you were in your OFF Flying uniform :grin:

:rofl:

 

Man, Bullethead, you have a life full of action it seems! :good:

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Thank you very much for your full, concise...and quite fascinating insight Flypc.

Yes, basically a Log Cabin...we are hoping to rent a Farm, but the one we want has only one farmhouse (which our friends/business partners would have, as they are a fair sized family)..so we are looking at construction of accomodation for ourselves onsite too...early plan days at the moment...so looking at all options :drinks:

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You should look into building one of these Widow. I seriously looked into this when my wife and I were considering buying some land and you won't find many cheaper options and you can build it yourself. I believe it was the English who perfected these structures and I understand there are some that are 400-500 years old and still standing. You can live in one of these while you're building it.

Edited by Shiloh

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Timber frame in this country is meant to be protected with firestops, every 6m in any one direction, around all openings and changes of direction, and at floor levels. But being there, and being functional are not the same thing. A firestop is typically a 50x50mm timber batten with some DPC (damp proof course) wrapped around it,

 

Geez, that really doesn't sount too effective. Over here, firestops are made of the same size boards as the studs and they're at rather closer spacing. However, you have to watch the carpenters to make sure they fit them in well without gaps at the ends, and the electricians and plumbers aren't supposed to run their systems in that stud gap but sometimes they do.

 

However, the true purpose of fire stops is to stop vertical fire spread from floor to floor. That was an issue back in the day with balloon framing but no longer with platform framing, because the floor sills cap all stud caps at the level of the ceiling. So if you have platform framing, fire stops don't really make a difference and mostly serve to brace the studs horizontally because sheetrock really isn't good for that.

 

So the way fires typically go in US wooden houses built in say the last 60 years is that the fire starts within the room and spreads to the flashover stage while involving only the contents. The sheetrock on walls and ceiling pretty much confine the fire to that room, especially if the door is closed. However, if there are light fixtures or HVAC vents in the ceiling, the heat can go up through them from the get-go and will soon start another fire at a higher level, either the attic (in a 1-story area) or the duct space between floors (in a 2-story area). These spaces are playgrounds for fire because they don't have sheetrock, just exposed wood everywhere you look, and attics at least are well-ventilated by a combination of soffet and gable and/or ridge vents. But these are big spaces so at first the heat spreads out and you don't get that much of a fire in there. But once the whole space heats up enough, it suddenly erupts. Thus, what appears from the outside to be just 1 room on fire can suddenly blossom into massive involvement. And once the attic is well alight, it's game over.

 

If we get there with several minutes to spare before the attic goes poof, we can probably save the house. Otherwise, there's not a lot we can do except protect neighboring buildings.

 

This is all greatly impacted by the modern prevalence of light-weight truss construction. What they do is, the may pre-fabricated trusses that aren't even nailed together. Instead, they lay the boards out on a jig and beat steel gusset places over all the joints. These gusset plates have hundreds of little teeth cut into them and bent over to face 1 side, which only go into the wood about 1/4". Besides that, they're triangular in shape. So what happens is, the gusset plates heat up and expand, and when they expand, the teeth squeeze themselves out of the wood and the plates fall off, leaving the boards completely unconnected. Thus, the whole truss collapses long before it burns away. We used to reckon on 20 minutes available for interior fire and rescue work. But with light trusses, it's 5-10 minutes tops, most of which is used up in the process of calling 911, 911 notifying us, and us driving there. The real problem is, you can't tell by looking at the house from the outside. Thus, the rapid collapse of light truss houses has killed a lot of firemen the last few years.

 

The Building standards are designed to inhibit fire long enough to give you time to get out.

 

Very, very true. In fact, the insurance companies don't even care about saving residential structures, just commercial structures.

 

If you have the choice to build something other than timber frame, I would recommend that you do it.

 

Absolutely. Besides fire, things other than wood also avoid termites and rot, and make it harder for mice, roaches, and such to live in there. But in the US, wood owns the housing industry because it's fast and cheap. Other types of construction required more skilled labor than the companies are willing to pay for, plus takes longer and time is money.

 

 

@ UKW - Depends what you mean by timber chalet. If you mean a log cabin, you'll be fine. The timber used for them is solid and won't burn as such, but will char at a rate of 1/2 inch per hour. Big heavy timbers are fine in a fire, and structurally often performing much, much better than steel

 

Actually, the big timbers do burn, and they burn with huge fires that throw off gobs of heat and require oceans of water to extinguish. The effect on the timber itself is slow as you say and they last a long time while burning, but if they get going, they'll obliterate everything else around them.

 

Also, you have to consider the type of construction. If you go for a log cabin, you want the logs touching each other with as little gap as possible. The best is squared logs or round logs with their lower surface scooped away to fit the contour of the log below. Then you lay some fire-reistant foam between them to seal the joint. By fire-resistant, I mean stuff that will burn if flame touches it but goes out once it's removed. This stuff doesn't contribute to the flammability of the wall as a whole.

 

What you do NOT want is large gaps between the logs that you fill up with polyurethane foam and cover with stucco to look like traditional clay/mud chinking. When that foam burns away, and it will almost instantly, what you've got is just like a celebratory bonfire: big logs with large gaps between them. One of the biggest fires I've seen recently was such a house. It was made out of heart cedar planks 4-6 inches thick, 2 feet wide more or less, and up to 60 feet long. These had double dovetail joints at the corners and the 2-4 inch gaps (caused by the top and bottom edges following the gnarly outline of the tree) had that foam in them. This was a huge house, about $1M, and we flowed water on it for 8 hours straight before we got the last of the big logs out. It looked great before the fire but damn, what a firebomb! On top of this, it had a light truss roof so that fell in as we arrived. Fortunately, the arsonist struck when nobody was home.

 

@ Flyby PC: Best of luck in your endeavors to get your product on the market in a big way. I'd really like to see that sort of house be universal. It wouldn't put me out of a job because there'll still be scads of people to cut out of wrecked cars, which I prefer to fighting fire anyway :good:

 

As to our local materials, no boulders of any kind. The biggest stones in the entire state of Lousy Anna, which weren't imported, are about 4 inches long, and these are only found in a few creeks--most pebbles are much smaller. Also, our local clay isn't that great for brick. Finished bricks are so soft that swallows dig holes in the sides of old chimneys to make their nests. Thus, brick was mostly used only for chimneys back in the day. These days, most brick is imported, too. We have a lot of brick veneer homes, but they're just wood with 1 layer of bricks on the outside (usually not all the way around, either) for show.

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The roof is where our theory breaks down a bit. Timber trusses are hard to beat, and there's nothing better we can contribute from the stone world. But, if we know we can confine the timber related problems to the roof, then at least we are still reducing dependancy on a perishable material. If you don't heat your roof space, you can ventilate the loft to your hearts content and control the rot that way. Many old churches which have lain derelict for decades with the rain poring in still have roof timbers sound as a bell because there is so much free air movement.

 

Fire remains a risk, but you're not losing your whole building, just the roof. With our system, the only fire which would reach the roof is one that started there, and that means people are still able to get out, and firemen have less fear of collapsing floors, and have a stable refuge from which to attack the fire.

 

 

 

I didn't know that about the truss plates in the roof trusses. They are common here too, but the press release always stresses that they make a stronger joint than the timber itself, - it's never mentions the performance in a fire. I'm not keen on pre-fab trusses anyway because the wood they are made from is so close to kindling.Perhaps they reckon by the time a fire get's to the roof it's already game over too. There is also an argument you could make that you do want your roof to burn quicky, so toxic fumes and heat are discharged outside where they are less harmful, and not allowed to build up momentum in a confined space.

 

 

I'm not anti-timber. I actually want timber doors and windows, with all the maintenance and problems that go with them. There's something souless and sterile about uPVC, but bespoke doors and windows made by proper craftsmen just can't be beaten.

 

 

I wish somebody would re-invent the concept of prestige when designing buildings. We wouldn't be moved to buy a car because it was cheap and easy to build. We'd all be driving Trabants which all looked the same, not so very unlike modern housing.

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Fire remains a risk, but you're not losing your whole building, just the roof. With our system, the only fire which would reach the roof is one that started there, and that means people are still able to get out, and firemen have less fear of collapsing floors, and have a stable refuge from which to attack the fire.

 

So, the floor of the attic / ceiling of the top floor is also concrete? Not pierced in any way for lights, pipes, or ducts? Speaking of which, how do you run pipes, wires, and ducts in a stone house?

 

I didn't know that about the truss plates in the roof trusses. They are common here too, but the press release always stresses that they make a stronger joint than the timber itself, - it's never mentions the performance in a fire. I'm not keen on pre-fab trusses anyway because the wood they are made from is so close to kindling.Perhaps they reckon by the time a fire get's to the roof it's already game over too. There is also an argument you could make that you do want your roof to burn quicky, so toxic fumes and heat are discharged outside where they are less harmful, and not allowed to build up momentum in a confined space.

 

Yeah, from the POV of construction, those pre-fab trusses are great. They're cheap and quite strong under normal loads. But they come down with deadly speed in fires. In buildings where they're known to exists, we do NOT go inside unless the fire is still tiny when we arrive. Usually, they fall down at or shortly after we get there if the fire has grown any.

 

These gusset plate things aren't confined to the roof trusses, either. A lot of multi-story wooden buildings are built with pre-fab zig-zag trusses under the upper floors. This is to create a big void about 2 feet high and horizontally the same area as the floor above, between the ceiling of the lower story and the floor of the story above, through which run ducts, wires, and pipes. This is most common in multiple occupancy buildings like apartments/flats, office buildings, etc., but also happens in some large mansion-type homes with huge living and/or dining rooms on the ground floor. Once fire gets in there, the upper floors themselves quickly collapse.

 

As to burning off the roof being a good thing, it's usually not. It's only good if the fire burns a hole straight up above the room of origin, which means it self-vents. This substantially limits horizontal fire spread. In fact, if the fire hasn't done so itself, we sometimes cut such a hole ourselves, although it's a risky move and NEVER attempted on light truss roofs. But what usually happens is, the fire goes out a gable end of the attic before making a hole in the roof, because the gable ends are usually easier to burn away. The problem is, if the fire starts at a place with no gable end above it, and there's a gable end on the other side of the house, then the fire will fill the attic.

 

Now, when the fire burns a hole above itself, that's OK because the falling debris lands in the fire, which is already untennable even to firemen. But when the whole attic's on fire, the whole roof comes down more or less at once, taking the attic floor with it into the occupied spaces below which probably aren't yet on fire so people might be in them. This is why firemen worry so much about attic fires and always pull down the ceiling to see what's going on up there before advancing down the hall towards the room on fire.

 

I wish somebody would re-invent the concept of prestige when designing buildings. We wouldn't be moved to buy a car because it was cheap and easy to build. We'd all be driving Trabants which all looked the same, not so very unlike modern housing.

 

Prestige in housing tends to be a combination of overall building size plus location and general decor. You can plaster over cheap structure just as long as the place looks impressive on the outside.

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Correct me if I'm wrong Flypc...but are stone build houses much more expensive?...the reason I ask, is that I am planning on living in a Timber chalet..would have it built onsite...possibly for five years (long story)

 

I would really be grateful of your input...and if I do have to go the Timber route...do you have any hints to make it as safe as possible?

 

thanks m8

 

Nothing wrong with timber.

 

My fathers house is a timber weather board and it survived the Sydney fires where nearly all the houses in his street burnt down. He had small windows compared with a lot of modern houses and a fibro roof. When the fire storm hit the files were all over his house but it survived, where all around him they burnt. The thing that saved his house was no big windows to crack with the heat and the wind fueled flames could not get into the roof as there were no gaps. All the brick houses around his burnt.

 

I arrived after the fire, just after the fire storm. (Very Scary) Other houses burnt after the fire due to them not going all the way to the ground. Having pillars letting spot fires start after the main fire had passed.

 

So the better designed your house is the better it will withstand external fires.

 

Now internal fires are another thing yet.

 

Just thought I would mention this as a lot of wooden houses have withstood bushfires in australia, just depends on their design.

 

Worst design features in fires were deemed to be;

 

Large glass windows,

Decks that let fires get underneith them

tiled roofs

foundations with only a small gap under the house, if the house did not have bricks from ground to house base.

 

Regards MarkL

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Nothing wrong with timber.

..... where nearly all the houses in his street burnt down.

 

QED.

 

 

I'm not defending brick, but I presume those brick houses would also be timber frame. Modern brickwork on a timber frame is just cladding. Think of it as external wallpaper. The structural component is the timber frame and it burns whether that's something you consider to be right or wrong. In my opinion, there are better options.

 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11354755

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This is what we we're trying to get into.

 

We can put up a preliminary structure of aerated cellular blocks which deliver part of our insulation, and being pre-keyed to accept plaster, we don't need any lathe or dry lining. For services, you simply cut a chase in the block and run your services in the void and plaster in the gap. The cable may burn, but it's contained in a non combustible void. The block is loadbearing, so can support the floors and roof and let internal trades get going. Next we have high performance insulation. 60mm is all we require for current standards but we could easily upgrade to 100mm. Outside of that we have 400mm traditional stonework as built for the last 1000 years.

 

The complication is the gap I've highlighted red. We want to ventilate this. We don't need to ventilate this, there is no need to, and condensation risk is minimal, and confined to extreme cold, and in materials which do not decay through dampness. We still want the ventilation because we can air out the fabric if the need ever arises either through extreme cold or perhaps the failure of a downpipe saturating the stonework.

 

This ventilation is our sticking point. It occurs internally on the warm side of our insulation, and thus renders void the contribution the insulation makes to the overall U-value. Our argument is that by using vents we can open or close, by opening or closing the vents we don't necessarily have a ventilated air space. Close the vents, and we have full on U-value performance, open them and we can cool the house or ventilate any residual dampness.

 

Our air space is contained inside a cellular non-combustible duct, which also allows us to recover the air circulating through it, and pumping it through a heat recover unit prior to discharge. This is currently a moot option. If we're ventilating the air space, it would only be periodically, and at times when we we're not looking to optimise thermal performance, so heat recovery would not be an on-going activity.

 

 

Our floors are simply the common precast beam with block infill. Everything is concrete. If ducts or services pass through it, where separation is required we would use intumescent collars.

 

 

The big motivation for us is to get 'proper' stonework back on the agenda. Modern stonework is typically cladding, and grossly inferior to traditional stonework. There is no demand or opportunity for a skilled tradesman to flourish, and the general standard of craftsman is now in freefall. Typically, when a new house gets built, IF it has stone cladding, we might see 3 or 4% of the contract total, but we'd have to compete with unskilled persons to build it. With our method, we might expect to see 60 to 70% of the contract total, and deliver a vastly superior and durable product for the customer while promoting the craftsmanship and demand for craftsmanship which proper stonework represents.

 

I'm sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch, but the point we're trying to make is much bigger than just one company. As rich and civilised societies, we could be building the best properties we have ever built, but instead we build complete rubbish and generation after generation we squander the skills of creative and talented people.

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I'm sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch, but the point we're trying to make is much bigger than just one company. As rich and civilised societies, we could be building the best properties we have ever built, but instead we build complete rubbish and generation after generation we squander the skills of creative and talented people.

 

When I build my next house, I'm definitely going to contact contat you or whoever you sold your inevitably successful business to. That wall looks like it would stop a Hellfire missile :good:. Now just combine that with a roof to keep out bunker-buster bombs and I won't be paying taxes ever again, and will defy the government to come collect them :cool: .

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When I build my next house, I'm definitely going to contact contat you or whoever you sold your inevitably successful business to. That wall looks like it would stop a Hellfire missile :good:. Now just combine that with a roof to keep out bunker-buster bombs and I won't be paying taxes ever again, and will defy the government to come collect them :cool: .

 

It's 600mm thick, but that's the same as traditional stonework. You're looking at roughly 1 ton of stone per metre.

 

We're currently making so little money developing this, (this is our own unit we're building as a prototype) I defy the Government to collect some tax of us too.

 

The hard work is mostly done. All we need is one believer with a house plot ... What impeccable timing to have such a severe property recession.

 

 

 

Nevermind, the day will come. Patience.... Patience...

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