We've always wanted an undercover outdoor space so we can enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather. It's the sun more than the rain that prevents us from having meals outside, especially at this time of the year (mid-summer). The temptation to shade the north (sun) facing deck with sails has been there, but from what I've seen is that once they are set up they are rarely taken down when they should be; which defeats the purpose of passive solar design.
I've found that we use our north deck as a space to make the most of the sun, for drying clothes and for dehydrating food. I'm keen to make a solar cooker for use in this space too, as the deck has great access to the kitchen. In the longer term I think that a deciduous vine would be welcomed over most of the deck, leaving some space open to take advantage of the sun's free energy.
While thoughts of the best way to make use of our primary outdoor space (the deck) has been developing we have been making more and more use of our existing carport. It's east facing, so it's quite cool in the afternoons and is in close proximity to the cellar (where the homebrew is stored). I had a large number of salvaged bricks left over and have had these in mind for paving the carport. There wasn't enough of the same type to do the whole job so I played around with some concepts on the computer, with the idea of the bricks being pixels. While 'PacMan' and 'Space Invader' designs did progress, I decided on a chess board layout - with the idea that we could use the space to play.
|A computer layout for the paving concept using a chessboard theme|
Two cubic metres of local sand were used in construction, mainly in leveling the ground. A level wooden form was set up to guide the sand level with a long metal pipe used to screed and roll the sand flat. This was done one row at a time using water and an old door handle to compact the sand, with the pole and 10mm wooden spacers to align the bricks. Each brick was cleaned thoroughly with a wire brush and tapped down with a rubber mallet.
|Carport area debris cleaned up and a level form set up on either side, to hold sand in place|
|The sand was watered each row and leveled out with a long metal pole which was used as both a screed and rolling pin. The door handle shown was used to compress the sand before the laying of bricks.|
|One set of bricks was laid out at either end and the pole was used as a guide for laying the remaining bricks. Each brick had any mortar removed using a wire brush to ensure it laid flat.|
The only thing that I've purchased so far was two bags of cement and the packing sand (about A$90 all up) and about two weeks to complete (amongst other things).
I'm looking at getting some local river stone to level the ground between the paving and the cellar / house. I'm looking to oil some of the red bricks to highlight the 'chessboard', and use a large tray to cover the brick and prevent oil dripping from the old van and staining the bricks when (or if) I park it there.
|Sand was spread out over the finished brick paving to reduce movement before we walked over them.|
|Pipe set in sand at front of carport, with reinforcing steel set above in preparation for concrete pour.|
|The sand was moistened before removing the wooden form in preparation for a concrete border|
|A concrete border was added to prevent the sand from washing out and the bricks from moving|
|Completed paving area in the carport, which has now become our outdoor summer entertaining area, with the van relegated to the outdoors|