The delivery of all the beams, blocks and steel for the upper floor support was unloaded into the courtyard in early 2008. In France, this type of floor — poured ready-mix concrete on top of a beam and block support with steel trellis reinforcement — is refereed to a an “hourdis” (pron. ‘oardee’ ). The RSJs are ordered to length such that they span the width of the floor area and penetrate about 20 cm into the wall at both ends. They are a sort of short, stumpy capital T shape in cross-section and are set in place “upside down” (inverted T shape ) such that the hollow concrete blocks when dropped in between each pair of beams, rest on the protruding inverted top of the T.
In the image above, you can see how we’ve used a block at the ends of each set of beams to act as spacers. As each beam is positioned, the next beam adjacent to it is then placed with a spacer block. This ensures that when all the remaining blocks are dropped in between the beams, they will all fit! Don’t need to measure anything and this method allows for any small irregularities in the sizes of the beams and blocks.
Those beams at the gîte end, that lay across the width of the building, had to be housed into the existing stonewall. If sufficient loose stone could not be safely removed, then we had to cut slots into the stone with an angle grinder, which created dust clouds worthy of a Saharan Sandstorm! Depending upon the future room layout and stairwells, etc, 2 and sometimes 3 beams were laid adjacent to one another, for greater load-bearing strength at that locality, and to facilitate adding shorter cross beams when creating open spaces for stairwells.
Read Stage 2