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isp_of_doom 09-13-2012 04:20 PM

Covering Conservatory Piles
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I have a slight dilemma that has arisen as part of a landscaping project I am currently undertaking. (I realise this is posted in 'Building & Construction', but bear with me).

In the picture attached you can see my current situation. The plan is to lay a patio on the area currently being levelled, though this would leave the underside of the conservatory looking as it is - bare piles and general junk. I would like to cover the underside of the conservatory with villaboard, as the rest of the house is done this way.

What is the best way to do this? I assume I would need to build a frame-work of studs and nogs to support the villaboard. My main concern is that any frame-work made will be resting on the bare soil - should this be concreted? Is there any issue with tiling and the base layer resting against villaboard?

GBrackins 09-13-2012 04:40 PM

attach a 4x4 pressure treat post horizontally between your "piles" above the ground (90 degrees to "piles") with metal connectors. infield with pressure treated 2x. not familiar with villaboard.

not knowing where you are, the room may get cold in the winter, should check to make sure it is properly insulated.

weekendwarrior9 09-13-2012 05:27 PM

The footings worry me a little, but then I'm from earthquake country and we couldn't get away with that out here. How are those supports anchored to their footings? Hard to tell from photo but I don't see a bracket, or a piling for that matter.

Make sure you get the footings above grade so the columns aren't below grade, that's just asking for rot and termite damage, which will be harder to repair after you box the whole thing in.

Then as GBrackins states, put in a horizontal pressure treated 4x just above ground and just build off of it. Not sure how high you have to be, that may be specified in code depending on where you live (ie. snow area), but there is no need for it to rest directly on the ground, if built right those posts will give all the support you need.

You'll probably want to make sure you build in an access point so you can get under there in the future, maybe from under the deck. And to keep the animals out you can staple screening mesh from the back side of the 4x4 s you are putting in and have them go underground - dig a 6-inch trench and have the screen go into it, then fill with dirt. Wire mesh will eventually rust, but something like galvanized wire/screen mesh will keep the rodents out for a long time.;6f02b85

Oh, and I don't know if you strictly need it or not, but if this was my project I would put in some venting up by the top of the wall you are building, again maybe under the deck area.

isp_of_doom 09-13-2012 06:28 PM

Thanks GBrackins and weekendwarrior9.

Interesting comment about the footings and being in an earthquake prone country. I'm in Auckland, NZ. So there is a chance of earthquakes. The piles/footings for the conservatory are 100x100mm iirc. The photo may seem slightly deceptive as the pile for the deck on the left is 125x125mm (the deck is a recent addition I made). I believe the conservatory was professionally done, regardless of this the building inspection we had done prior to purchase didn't identify any concerns to do with the conservatory construction.

weekendwarrior9 09-13-2012 07:38 PM

It's hard to tell from the photo, but out here a bump out like that would need to be counter-levered on joists that run back 2x the distance of the bumpout. If done correctly you wouldn't need to add additional supports underneath like you have there with those columns. The fact that there are columns suggests that there is no counter-levering, or that the counter-levering was insufficient and the columns are there to prevent sag. Not necessarily, just a suggestion of it.

The reason the columns worry me is that given the photo, they are probably sitting on tube footings (poured concrete cylinders, 3+ feet deep.), which are not connected in any way to your main foundation.

The danger of this in earthquake country is that the ground could shake in two different directions, your house foundation shaking in one direction, the tube footings shaking in another. This could rip the bumpout right off the wall. At least that's what an engineer told me when I suggested building a bumpout with footings like that.

It's a low-probability event to be sure, but it really sucks when it's your house that it happens to. IMO if the ground is shaking that hard in different directions right under your house, then you are probably going to have other worries to deal with =P

Honestly the bigger worry, and far more likely source of damage, is if you leave dirt piled up against the wooden columns and/or don't provide for adequate drainage should it get wet under there and the wood rots at ground level.

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