Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carport update

As soon as winter sets in here at Gamone, it becomes difficult to pursue any kind of outdoor work. Consequently, construction of my carport hasn't advanced a lot since the end-of-year progress report [display]. When I stopped working on the site in the middle of January, it looked like this:

As you can see, the tiled roof was finished, and I was starting to fill in the triangular zone above the roof with narrow reddish planks of tough larch (mélèze in French), which is highly water-resistant. And I had ordered all the necessary timber to board up the sides of the future carport (in ordinary pine), so that a vehicle left there overnight would not be covered in ice the following morning.

At that stage, however, my construction was marred by two almost invisible but annoying defects. On the one hand, I had failed to lop off the extremities of the four horizontal beams upon which the roof has been built. Professional observers warned me that, however esthetic they might look, these protruding ends would be an invitation for dampness and rot to invade the beams. The problem was complicated by the fact that these extremities concealed the ends of nails holding down the outside rafters. Besides, I had boarded up the sides of the tiling, which meant that it would be hard to find a good angle in the use of a saw to cut off the extremities of the beams. Despite these problems, my friend Serge Bellier (a former house carpenter) confirmed that these extremities would have to be removed.

The second defect was far more serious. I had inserted into my carport various pieces of used timber that I had recuperated from a demolished wood shed. Among these, the four horizontal beams gave the vague impression that they might be sagging—ever so little, and almost imperceptibly—under the weight of the tiles. Without hesitating, I decided that each of these old beams should be strengthened by means of an identical new beam, to be bolted onto the old one. But, when I took delivery of this new timber, I soon realized that it would not be a simple task to insert them into the existing structure.

Fortunately, Serge dropped around last Saturday afternoon, and he soon succeeded in solving all these problems. So, here's a closeup view (with snowdrops) that shows how he had used a chainsaw to lop off neatly the extremities of the old beams.

And here's an inside view (also with streaks of falling snow) that shows how we managed to wedge in four new beams, which I shall soon attach to the old ones by means of sturdy bolts.

There's still a lot of work to be done before I can call it a carport (even though I've already started to park my old Citroën underneath). But I'm now confident that the initial defects have been corrected. Serge told me that, if I had been his carpentry apprentice, he would have been pleased to see that I made an effort to correct my building blunders. For the moment, though, he wouldn't be prepared to look upon me as a competent carport builder, and award me an apprentice's diploma, until I had erected correctly, all on my own, another dozen or so similar structures. So, I'm not yet in a position to start looking around for jobs as an independent and experienced tradesman.


  1. Les fruits de vos expériences de charpentier, pour construire votre abris à voiture, me permettent de réfléchir autrement à la conception d'une charpente future.
    Merci de vos témoignages et de votre blog que j'ai investi comme support d'apprentissage à l'anglais, mais pas que!

  2. Je suis ravi d'apprendre que la présentation de la construction de mon abri à voiture s'avère utile sur un plan didactique. Dans le domaine des sous-vêtements pour hommes, les aficionados de caleçons s'opposent aux porteurs de slips. Dans la construction de petites charpentes en bois, les amateurs de tiges filetées se retrouvent face aux utilisateurs de clous. A l'occasion de cette expérience de réalisation d'un simple abri (pour éviter que ma voiture soit couverte de glace en hiver et d'huile de tilleul à d'autres moments de l'année), j'ai eu l'occasion d'apprécier les avantages respectifs des deux approches. Dans l'une de mes photos, on aperçoit même des têtes d'énormes pointes de 14 cm à côté d'écrous. Enfin, si vous souhaitez passer pour un expert en charpenterie auprès d'amis qui vous montrent avec fierté leurs constructions, je vous donne un tuyau qui marche sans faute. Il suffit de regarder d'un air troublé la construction et de remarquer nonchalamment : "Je ne sais pas s'il y a assez de pente." Ça évoque votre maîtrise de l'art occulte des charpentes, tandis que votre interlocuteur se rend compte immédiatement qu'il ne peut rien faire pour modifier la pente de sa construction.

  3. It is going to be nice for you to have a carport finally finished on the side of your home. This one looks really well made and you can even see all the time and effort that was put into it just by looking at it. Can't wait to see the final result when you finish building your carport. You are really going to like having it once you have fully finished it, but it does look like it is nearly complete too though.