Building a veneer house

Typical house timber frame

When building a brick veneer the timber frame of the house is the same as when a complete timber house is built, as the timber frame is supporting the roof and the bracing in the wall make it self sufficient.
When building a brick veneer the timber frame of the house is the same as when a complete timber house is built, as the timber frame is supporting the roof and the bracing in the wall make it self sufficient. | Source
The roof of the house is tied straight to the timber frame; this type of roof may also need some steel rods that start from the concrete floor to tie down the roof frame down, this depends on the construction and the by laws of the local government
The roof of the house is tied straight to the timber frame; this type of roof may also need some steel rods that start from the concrete floor to tie down the roof frame down, this depends on the construction and the by laws of the local government | Source

The brick veneer house

Dear readers, this article cannot be said that it is a DIY article for a beginner, because what we are going to discuss here is a lot more advanced than that, but at the same time it is how we have usually build some houses in the past, especially during the seventies here in Australia, we have to admit that most of them were just built using plain common sense, of course we are still building them today and they will be built for a long time in some part of the world, where blocks of land are subdivided just to build houses, but today even this way of building is becoming old fashion, especially if you are building in a city, where building anything is becoming very specialized, so, if you build anything that needs approval from the local authorities you need a builder an architect and an engineer, or at least you should be a good tradesman and know how to read their plans, than you might be able to build a small house.

Anyhow, this article is for those people that would like to know a bit more what sort of problems one may encounter, while building a brick-veneer house or even a solid cavity brick house, and how to avoid these building problems, in other words this article could be helpful for the owner builder that just would like to know a bit more to feel that security that he needs while building his own small house.

So, now that we have built this imaginary brick base in our the previous article, “house brick base continues”, we have the option of using this same style of brick base in a few ways, because this base could be used to build a timber house on the top of it, or it could be used to build a brick veneer house, what this means is that we can build brick around the timber frame of the house, so that the house looks like a brick house, but in reality it is both, so let us see what is the difference and if it affects anything.

Of course in reality one should start the house knowing what it is going to be from the start, and this is one reason why we need a plan, you see we need a plan because we need to know the measurement from the start, because anything we change is going to affect the measurement, but anyhow the ways of building is almost the same, accept that the bricks take more space than if the outside is finished with timber claddings, therefore this would affect the remaining floor space in the house, but apart from that there is no much difference in building the brick base.

Generally speaking there are at least three types of houses being built these days, the timber house, the brick veneer house and the solid brick house. These types of houses can vary as it is possible to mix all these materials together in various amounts. But in this article we would like to write first of all about a brick veneer house that could be built on a similar brick base that we have just completed in the hub House brick base continues use this link to check it out.

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Brick base and timber frame

On this low-set brick-veneer the bricklayers have started constructing the brick veneer outside. it is a good photo to show the construction here, but what seems to be missing is the insulating building paper that is nailed to the timber frame.
On this low-set brick-veneer the bricklayers have started constructing the brick veneer outside. it is a good photo to show the construction here, but what seems to be missing is the insulating building paper that is nailed to the timber frame. | Source
This is a low set brick base, before laying the concrete slab, in this case this low-set house could be a brick veneer, if the internal walls are made with timber, or it can be a cavity brick house if the interior is built with bricks.
This is a low set brick base, before laying the concrete slab, in this case this low-set house could be a brick veneer, if the internal walls are made with timber, or it can be a cavity brick house if the interior is built with bricks. | Source
These are the details about how the position of the brick-veneer outside in relation to the timber frame inside and other details.
These are the details about how the position of the brick-veneer outside in relation to the timber frame inside and other details. | Source

Building a brick veneer

As we have already mentioned that the difference in the construction of the base between a timber house and a brick veneer house is not that much, as it affects only the outside of the house and possibly the floor space of the house if the extra space needed for the bricks is not taken into account. But how we proceed to build these two types of building on a similar brick base is this: If the outside of the house is going to be timber, the outside of the timber bears and the entire timber frame is placed right at the outside edge of the brickwork, but before we do that on top of the brick walls a galvanized ants capping will be fixed, then the timber bears and the house frame; but if it is going to be brick veneer then the reverse happens and the timber bears and frame is set back about 6 inches (150mm) this is to give space for the bricks and leave a cavity between the timber frame and the bricks, the ants capping goes inside or at least under the timber bears.

Now just because we are going to build a brick veneer house, the carpenters have placed the house frame back to allow for the bricks to be laid outside, in the cases of brick veneer the carpenter’s foreman should have also instructed his carpenter team to try to work with the bricklayers and set the opening of doors and windows in such a way that would help the bricklayers; now, let me explain here what are the problems that the bricklayer could encounter if both teams don’t work together. For example, there is a short wall that has a door opening in the centre, if the door opening is placed exactly in the centre, then the bricklayers might have to cut the bricks on both sides of the door to make them fit the length of the remaining wall beside the door opening, this not only will add extra work for the bricklayer, but is also could be a bit of an eye sore and therefore these sort of things should be avoided, wherever one could avoid them.

So, what could be done one may ask? What could be done here it to move the door opening a bit to one side, so that at least one side works to the bricklayer advantage and if he is lucky both sides could work with a full brick, therefore no bricks need to be cut shorter to fit in the wall between the door and the corners? This same principle applies in other parts of the brick wall, when there are two openings, the carpenter wherever he can should move the openings of the windows and door to help the bricklayers. You see when the bricklayers work on these brick veneer, usually there is a lot of extra work that the bricklayer does instead of just laying bricks and this is no good for him, because these extra jobs don’t make any money for him.

Brick-veneer house and details

This is another typical low-set brick-veneer house, this house has been insulated with building paper, also see the details below.
This is another typical low-set brick-veneer house, this house has been insulated with building paper, also see the details below. | Source
Some details how the brick veneer should be constructed, the timber frame has been insulated with building paper and also note the ties on top of the brick wall, they are nailed to the timber frame and then built in th brick joint.
Some details how the brick veneer should be constructed, the timber frame has been insulated with building paper and also note the ties on top of the brick wall, they are nailed to the timber frame and then built in th brick joint. | Source

The bricklayer part

Now that we have explained what the variations for the carpenter are when he sets up the timber frame for the brick veneer, we come to the bricklayer part and what he usually does when he works on a brick veneer house, because there are many other demanding small things to do in between while he is laying bricks; these other things need to be done as well if the house is going to be well built, as we have already mentioned above.

Apart laying bricks as usual, the fist other job that the bricklayer may encounter is that he has to place lintels over the opening of doors and windows of the brick base, if they happen to be at that level and most time they are, these lintels for brickwork are an Angle made of steel that would span over the openings, they come in various size and they are used according to the span they have to bridge. So when there are openings in the base brickwork, the bricklayer places this steel angle over the openings and then lays the bricks over them making sure that everything looks and is okay, he has also to lay some brick reinforcement in next course of bricks above the openings, or even all around the brick base, this reinforcement is in the form of a light galvanized mesh as we have already explained in our previous articles.

But this is not all, because in some cases when it is specified he might have to nail the rat-proof wire (this is a wire mesh with holes too small for a rat to go through), so, the bricklayer first of all nails one side to the timber frame and the other side is laid in the joint of the bricks, thus a barrier is formed and no rat can enter into the cavity between the bricks and the timber frame. But that is not all, because there might also be the need to lay a damp-course, this again would be like the rat-proof wire, one end is nailed to the timber frame and the other end is laid in the brick joint.

At least this is how it was done when we were building brick veneer houses or apartments in the sixties and seventies; so we had this problem there to solve while we were laying bricks, I guess that at this point of time one might even ask, but if the bricklayer has to do all these extra small jobs, how and when he is going to lay bricks? These jobs should really be done from somebody else and let the bricklayer do his job and lay his bricks. Having said that we have to agree that those small jobs should be done from a different person, but there is a problem there also; those jobs need to be done when the wall reaches a certain height, so it is very hard to have somebody there that would do that job for us bricklayers. So we were forced to do it ourselves whether at the end we were compensated or not. You see, this is one of the main reasons why when we work on a brick veneer the bricklayer lays a lot less bricks per day than he usually does on a normal wall, but there are still more annoying things for the bricklayers to do as we will write here under.

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How to tie the veneer to the frame

The brick veneer needs to be tied to the timber walls with galvanized steel brackets, there are several types of brackets, one is sown here in this photo.
The brick veneer needs to be tied to the timber walls with galvanized steel brackets, there are several types of brackets, one is sown here in this photo. | Source
This photo is also showing how these veneer steel brackets are placed. they need to be nailed to the timber stud wall, and then build in the mortar joint as the bricklayer lays next course of bricks.
This photo is also showing how these veneer steel brackets are placed. they need to be nailed to the timber stud wall, and then build in the mortar joint as the bricklayer lays next course of bricks. | Source

Other things that the bricklayer does

We have already mentioned many things but there is more to say here, sometimes before we even start to lay bricks in the veneer part of the house, we bricklayers need to nail a sort of special building paper, this paper is just another layer of insulating material that is nailed on the outside of the timber studs that form the external timber frame; in reality it is the carpenters that should do this work, and if they are around once we have build the scaffolding in order to lay our bricks, the carpenters are very likely to jump in and nail this insulation paper for us, but it is very likely that we have to do it ourselves.

Other things that we need to do while laying bricks on the brick veneer, we need to nail to the timber studs brick veneer ties every three or four courses of bricks; These are L shaped brackets that attach the timber frame to the brick wall, we have to lay this wire reinforcement every so often, we have to nail the damp course under and above openings and other few things that need to be done before we lay bricks.

Once we finish building our veneer walls, most likely the last job is to lay these bricks for the windowsills. The windowsills take a lot of time and patience, usually we need to cut every brick in a special way and then lay them making sure that the joints are all even; in order to achieve that we use a gauge rod. Sometimes we are lucky and the same gauge rod that we have used to build the entire house works for some windowsills; if it does not then we have to work it out how to make this windowsill, we could make smaller joints or larger joints, as long as the outcome looks acceptable.

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Some types of cavity ties

These are some type of cavity brick ties that would tie the two walls and leave a cavity between them.
These are some type of cavity brick ties that would tie the two walls and leave a cavity between them. | Source
These traded steel rods can be used for many jobs that need to tie tight two points that have a space between them. In this case here we are going to use them to tie the roof to the concrete floor below.
These traded steel rods can be used for many jobs that need to tie tight two points that have a space between them. In this case here we are going to use them to tie the roof to the concrete floor below. | Source
This traded steel nut extension is used to extent the traded steel rods, it eliminate the need to weld the rods together and are very useful.
This traded steel nut extension is used to extent the traded steel rods, it eliminate the need to weld the rods together and are very useful.
The roof needs to be tied down to the concrete floor through these steel rods. steel rods can be incorporated in the timber wall, or in the cavity if it is a cavity brick building.
The roof needs to be tied down to the concrete floor through these steel rods. steel rods can be incorporated in the timber wall, or in the cavity if it is a cavity brick building. | Source

The cavity brick house

The difference between the brick veneer and the cavity brick house is this: in the brick veneer house all the walls are made of timber, and the timber frame is just like the complete timber house with the exception that the outside is veneered with bricks, so that the building looks is if it is made of bricks, but in reality the timber walls are the load bearing walls and they can stand on their own, if you cover them with something else other than bricks. But the cavity bricks is different, all the walls in the cavity bricks are made of bricks or blocks, or at least the external walls are made of two brick walls one beside the other with a cavity between them, these two external walls are tied together with cavity ties, in a way it is very much like the brick veneer where the timber external walls are tied together with ties to the veneer brick wall.

For the bricklayers the cavity brick house is easier to build, because he can set everything to suite his face brick walls, so this is an advantage for him. But in this case if there is no builder of foreman around the bricklayer needs to work out where the opening of doors and windows are and put them in place; this needs to be done because the door frames and the window frames need to be tied permanently to the brickwork while the work is in progress. So we should admit that this is not for the beginners, as it would take a good tradesman to do that.

There are a lot of other things that need to be done, some of them are just like what we have described for the brick veneer, but one thing in particular is different here; because the brick walls are load bearing walls and whatever goes above them need to be tied the wall properly, the bricklayers has to make sure that there are ties that are able to tie down the roof of the house permanently; this could be achieved by steel rods that start from the concrete floor or from the foundations. In some cases where there are not enough steel rods from the concrete below, the bricklayer can add some special made brackets several courses of bricks below the top, this is also good, but not as good as the steel rods that start from the foundations.

I believe that I have covered the most important things in building this imaginary house, so I hope that this article could help someone that is building his own house.

So see you all in another article about building soon.

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2 comments

Della 23 months ago

That's a knowing answer to a diilcfuft question


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F-Menchise 23 months ago from Brisbane Australia Author

Thanks for commenting, we can only say what we know or what we believe we know. It seems to me that what you were looking for is not written in my hub. If you have a question just ask about it; I might be able to answer it for you.

Anyhow; I wish you a happy new year!

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