GROUNDWORK: breeze blocks

    Blocks are rated for strength (newtons per square millimeter) so it is important to make sure that you use the correct rating for whatever you are building. The Celcon blocks I used for the inside skin above the damp course are 3.6N/mm2. The structural engineer had specified that we needed at least 3.5N/mm2 to support the padstones we were using at the front. A padstone is the concrete block that the steel beams would sit on... basically, you go to B&Q and get some breeze blocks!

    breeze blocks July 2008: The first course of breeze blocks. Both wall skins were built with dense concrete blocks below ground level.

    Bricks, concrete blocks and lightweight blocks are also very different to handle and lay. I actually quite liked the big concrete breeze blocks that we used for the substructure and the outside wall. They are heavy and awkward to handle but you could make good progress with them. The lightweight Celcon blocks were horrible. They are really absorbent and give you very little working time. I found it best to soak them as I went along and use slightly wetter mortar (they are much lighter so they tend not to sink).

    building site view July 2008: Space was always really tight on this project with materials to store and stuff building up until I had enough for the next skip.



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