Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Some lessons learn't

Principle 4: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

During an interview for Grass Roots magazine yesterday I was asked "What were some of the lessons learnt?" I didn't give a very comprehensive answer at the time, but was awake at night thinking about it. Here is some of the things that I learnt:
  • When Project Managing your own house build, make sure you do all of you research before you start the build - time is of the essence when the project is underway. This is particularly important with the sourcing / selection of materials.
  • If using second hand materials, make sure they are all on site, cleaned up, easy to find and ready to go before the framing starts. This is especially important for windows and doors - all of ours were second hand. Building a timber rack before you start is a really good idea.
  • If thinking about building a cellar / cool cupboard, do you research first, and perhaps you will avoid some of the issues that I faced - water can be a problem when you go underground.
  • Whenever you have paid workers on site, make sure you are there and ready to answer any questions, get whatever they need and direct them in what you want done. If you manage to get any physical work done yourself then that's a bonus.
  • Allow some time to clean up at the end of each day, pack away tools and give the place a sweep - so your ready for a fresh start the next day and can find what you are looking for. Spend the evening planning for the next day.
  • Don't underestimate how much work there is to do - it's full on for the length of the build, and even the months leading up to the build. Loosing sleep because you are thinking about the next step is not uncommon either.
  • Work with someone who knows what they are doing, I found it great to have a guide. I had next no experience when I started the project, other than helping out on a couple of building sites as a labourer - and being the maintenance co-ordinator at Commonground for five years, a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.
  • Think about how you can reuse your bathroom, laundry water for irrigation before you do the pluming rough in. Make sure you don't mix it with kitchen or black water before you pick it up.
  • Work out your wiring plan carefully before getting the electrician in. Think about every switch, power point, internet connections, light, fan, and possible solar PV install. Where is it all going to go. Buy all of your lights / fans / smoke alarms before hand and save money.
  • Spend money buying good tools early in the process. That way you can use them!

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