Showing posts from January, 2009

Making plans

Principle 7: Design from patterns to details You can see the evolution from Peter's original drawing (above) to the more detailed plan below. We have now included a bathroom in the house (rather than use the existing external building), a greenhouse to the north of the bathroom, a carport to the east and shifted the extension to the west. All of these changes will add to the final cost of the project. The water tank to the right of the plan will sit above a cellar, made from the bricks that I have collected. The tank will assist in the cooling of the cellar by providing cool thermal mass from above. The cellar will sit 1.5m into the ground and .5m above the ground, giving the tank a small head for gravity fed watering. Inside the cellar will be an inlet for the cool cupboard. An underground pipe will run from the cellar to a cupboard in the kitchen, drawing cool air from the cellar through the cupboard. This will reduce the need for a large fridge and cut down on energy bills. The

A chip off the old block

Principle 3: Obtain a yield I remember when my dad used to work on building sites with my uncle when I was very young, I remember walking around half finished buildings and thinking of how fun it was to walk through walls. An so it is, all these years later that it's me working up a sweat. I brought my 16 month old son over to help me sort bricks, but he didn't last long. This job is best done alone, like a meditiation. David Holmgren said of the principle 'obtain a yeild' that it's difficult to know if the reward from a job is worth the effort, sometimes you need to do the sums to find out . So I've been doing some sums. I'd usually only spend an hour and a half or so at a time working on the bricks. It's been very hot here recently, 30 - 40 degrees, so I've been working in the mornings or late afternoons. I got into the swing of things and worked out a bit of a system - pulling a stack of bricks out of the rubble, then chip the mortar away with th

Creating opportunities

Principle 3: Obtain a yield At an end of year catch-up with our surrounding neighbours I shared the story of my renovation project. I mentioned that I noticed that my neighbour had a large pile of second hand bricks, and asked what the story was with them. He told me that they came from the nearby Puckapunyal Army base, a demolition job. He had saved them from going to landfill and had used them for landscaping around his house. He asked me if I wanted any for my project - "Sure". He had offered bricks to another neighbour who was there and we chatted about how best to clean them up so that they can be re-used. One neighbour preferred using a hammer and old chisel, the other a hammer drill with a flat bit attached. Apparently, these bricks are pretty easy to clean because "it was a government job, they didn't used much cement in the mortar". This is important, because if there is a lot of cement in the mortar it sticks like glue and is very hard to get off, limi