Part Twenty Four – Number One – The Larch

This twenty fourth entry was published originally by JSHarris on the 10th December 2013 and received 1,386 views on the closed forum

OK, unless you’re of a certain age and remember the “How to recognise different types of trees from quite a long way away” sketch from Monty Python, the title of this entry may have you just a little puzzled.
For those who sadly lacked a Pythonesque upbringing, see this clip and all will become clear (or perhaps not):

What, you may ask, has this to do with building our house? Well, today was one of those great days when something really nice arrives on site. Something so lovely that I couldn’t help but go and touch a bit every time I walked outside the house. This, dear reader, is the reason for my delight:

Not only have the roofers finally finished, but the local sawmill delivered three loads of freshly sawn larch. This larch was grown at Fonthill estate, about 3 miles from Ridley Sawmill in Ansty, where it was cut to size for us and then delivered another 3 miles to our house on a trailer on the back of a Landrover. This has to be about as eco as one can get for a building material, in total it’s travelled around 6 miles to get from where it was grown to where it will spend the next few tens of years keeping the weather off our new house.

Here’s another photo of some of the stacks of larch that now litter the site:

And another, purely gratuitous one, just because I really love the smell and feel of this wood:

Most of the battens are on and the larch corner posts and door/window reveals are going in. The garage will probably be pretty much clad with the larch by the end of tomorrow, which should give us a feel for how it’s going to look. Right now I’m just delighted with it, and it’s just sat in big stacks around the site; I can’t imagine how it’s going to look when it’s fitted.
First fix is pretty much complete now, with all the plumbing in and the majority of the wiring, plus all the ventilation ducts. I’m just faffing around doing some detail stuff, and a bit limited because of this:



joiner  11 Dec 2013 12:14 PM :

 Ha ha. That was gratuitous enough to border on the obscene.

 Control yourself man!


 jsharris 11 Dec 2013 07:28 PM :

 Oh, trust me there will be more photo’s of larch before long……………

 The garage is pretty much clad, now, and the stuff just looks wonderful, truly wonderful. The joiner and carpenter I have doing this work are doing a superb job, with hidden fixings for the 70mm x 70mm larch corner posts and lovely details around the door openings. They aren’t cheap (I’ve contracted them on a day rate, and they are (so far) the highest paid subbies I’ve had on site) but after three days I’m really impressed with their work and they are worth every penny, in my view.


 coopers 12 Dec 2013 11:28 AM :

 Great update, thanks Jeremy.

 Re my post here…1313#entry81313

 What is the first floor construction with MBC, and is it adequate?


  coopers 12 Dec 2013 01:43 PM :

 Sorry, I’ve now partly answered my own question about MBC flooring. What do you think about the floor, having been stomping about on it for a few weeks?


 jsharris 12 Dec 2013 01:57 PM :

 The floor’s pretty solid, 18mm T&G OSB on PS10 Posijoists at 400mm centres. The Posijoists help by being very rigid, plus they have really wide flanges so the unsupported span of the floor is only about 320mm between the joists. This seems to make for a very stiff floor, no sign of any movement at all and I’ve had hoards of people clattering over it over the past week or so.

 I’ve managed to damage a tendon in my wrist, so am working pretty much single-handedly at the moment (literally!)


 coopers  12 Dec 2013 02:21 PM :

 Oh dear, I hope that Mrs JSH has given you a good telling off.

 For what it’s worth (not a lot), if I were nearer I’d come and give you some help. Look after yourself.

 Thanks for the flooring info. Let us know if you get a hint of a squeak. What did they fix the flooring down with?


 jsharris 12 Dec 2013 02:59 PM :

 Just ring nails from a nail gun, but they did use them very liberally.

 We’re covering the floor with bamboo, plus travertine in the bathrooms, and I’m quite happy that it’s rigid enough to tile over without problems.

 PS: It was Mrs JSH (who’s a nurse) who insisted it got splinted and so brought one home for me yesterday! for the past few days I’ve just had it strapped up, but that’s not enough to keep the tendon that’s damaged from moving, apparently, hence the rigid splint (plus NSAIDs to reduce the inflammation).


 notnickclegg  12 Dec 2013 09:43 PM :

 Hot and cold is good.

 And don’t overdo the NSAIDs – inflammation is part of the healing process. From memory, this is especially important in tendon injuries (my wife’s a runner).


 ProDave  12 Dec 2013 09:59 PM :

 Im awaiting some pictures of the cladding on the building


 notnickclegg 12 Dec 2013 10:24 PM :

 I believe this thread is now about the cladding on his wrist!


 SteamyTea 13 Dec 2013 09:44 AM :

 Tendinitis is such fun, I get it in all sorts of places, last time was when I was kayaking, should have got a canoe, that would have solved the problem.

 So does Larch need any treatment?


 jsharris 13 Dec 2013 04:25 PM :

 Sorry for the lack of cladding photos, the weather has been pretty rubbish today so I’ve not been able to take any (plus I forgot to take my camera over to the site with me today). I did get Mike the Dragon up on to the ridge and securely held down with a whole tube of Sikaflex plus four big stainless steel screws this morning, though. I have to say he looks quite grand, and well up to the job of being our house guardian.

 Larch is pretty durable without any treatment, it’s officially classed as “moderately durable”, requiring no preservative treatment under BS EN 350. This stuff is slow grown, from the look of it, and so should be OK for 50 years or so, maybe longer as our location is fairly well sheltered. I was chatting to the chap that runs the sawmill (it’s a small family business, a couple of villages further up the valley, that’s still run the way sawmills were run when I was a boy) and he reckons larch is very under rated as a useful outdoor timber. He reckoned that larch was at least as good as some of the cedar he’s bought in and would probably outlast pressure treated softwood for exposed work, like fencing. It will go grey over time, but if anything that’ll make it look a bit better. Being freshly sawn from the log it’s still quite red in places. Smells nice though, and I’ve been assured that the offcuts make good kindling, because of the relatively high resin content.


 coopers 15 Dec 2013 08:14 AM :

 Hi JSH, Sorry if I’ve missed this elsewhere, but are your PV panels on yet? Would like to see how they look with the Ikoslate.


 jsharris 15 Dec 2013 09:00 AM :

 The PV chap’s going to come back and fit them some time this week. They didn’t want to risk having the panels up there whilst the roofers were still walking around on the roof, which I think was probably a wise decision!

 With luck we may have the scaffolding down before Christmas, when I’ll be able to take some decent photos of the house with the exterior virtually complete.


2 thoughts on “Part Twenty Four – Number One – The Larch”

  1. Hi Jeremy,
    I would be very interested in a follow-up to hear how you are getting on with that lovely larch cladding! Is it weathering in the ways that you expected or have you had any surprises?
    Was your larch all cut from heartwood or did you have any bits of sapwood included in the planks?
    Part of the reason that I’m interested is because I’m in the final stages of our own new build which has (UK) cedar cladding. Its been on the building for a couple of months now and although it’s lovely I’ve noticed that the small areas of sapwood inclusion are looking like they will not weather as well as the rest of the cladding
    All the best,

    1. Hi Ian,

      Our larch was just rough sawn waney edge boards, so some heartwood, some sapwood. There’s nothing to choose between sapwood and heartwood, I’ve been told, in terms of durability.

      It’s all going grey, but it’s very variable and seems almost entirely dependent on the degree of sunlight any part gets. Our East facing wall has faded to grey very quickly, whereas the South facing wall is a bit patchy, with large areas that are shaded (under the eaves and around some of the window reveals) that are still a reddish colour. The whole of the North wall is still quite red, as it never really gets any sunlight. The West wall is beginning to turn grey, but that tends to get a lot less UV exposure than the East wall, which catches the bright and clear early morning light.

      Part of the negotiations we had with the planners was on having cladding that would naturally weather to grey, and my guess is that it will all even itself out after a few more years!

      Best regards,


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