Showing posts from June, 2009

The big deconstruction

Principle 12: Creatively use & respond to change

You may remember, from earlier posts, that I was looking at relocating the original building. After removing the lining from inside the building, we got a better idea of the condition of the structure. And it wasn't as good as I would have hoped.

While all of the framing timber is hardwood, which was good, there were signs of termite damage in parts of the frame. We could have still used it, replacing the damaged sections, but we decided that it would be easier to dismantle the building, and reuse the timber in other parts of the new structure. We will use termite-treated plantation pine for the framing instead.

Termite damage

The tools of deconstruction, and the results...


Battens and weatherboards.

Framing timber and tiles

An audit of the materials from the deconstruction (see more here) of both the house and the old carport deconstructed earlier:
200 metres of floorboards (150mm x 20mm) @ $7.00p/m = $1400
150 metres of …

Slab it up

Principle 6: Produce no waste

Ordering the correct quantities of materials on a building site is a real challenge. How much does a cubic metre of sand look like? Experience tells. At A$60 per cubic metre for sand and A$213 for concrete you want to make sure you get your numbers right - or at least close.

All up I used 14 cubic metres of packing sand during this stage and 6.6 cubic metres of concrete. Structural concrete requires a mix of approximately 3 parts stone, 2 parts sand and 1 part cement. Both the sand and river stone were sourced within a couple of kilometres of the house site, not sure about the cement yet, while the supply depot is only 500m away. So transportation costs were kept to a minimum. The reinforcing was sourced from Sheparton, about 75km north.

I've spent about A$10,000 on getting the slab up, including excavations, materials and labour.

Quentin spreads the first 200mm layer of packing sand. The 'Bobcat' was used to load the sand and is in the process cr…

Brick by Brick

Principle 7: Design from patterns to details

I managed to access my brick supply again with the new neighbours. The 'low hanging fruit' had already been picked, so the collection was much slower going than earlier on (took about twice as long). I moved a massive pile of bricks in order to find unbroken ones to clean. In a deal that I made with the neighbours I put aside the best bricks for them (the solids) collecting only the 'wire cuts' for myself. Wire cut bricks are more brittle than 'solids', but are fine for the job I have in mind. I've collected and cleaned about 2800 bricks, hopefully that should be enough.

The last load of brick delivered on site, thanks to the help of James and Liam.

Now that the footings and cellar floor are in place we can start laying bricks. Thankfully Peter knows what he is doing, even though he's never trained as a brick layer - just learnt from others. He's passing on his knowledge to Quentin and I so that we can do so…

Excavations Part Two: The cool duct & cellar

Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

In the low energy future that we face we will need to be able to store food in cool places without using the huge quantities of energy that freezers and fridges currently consume. I was inspired by the cool cupboard design that David Holmgren and Su Dennet used at 'Mellidora'. The idea is that cool air is drawn from a cool space (in their case, under the house), up through a cupboard and out a metal flue pipe in the ceiling. Fruit, most vegetables, cheese, butter and eggs can be stored in the cool cupboard for reasonable lengths of time at temperatures of around 10-15 degrees centigrade. While it does not replace the job of a fridge, it does reduce the need for a large fridge, reducing electricity consumption considerably.

The cellar will be used to store preserved and bulk foods, where more room is needed. The idea of integrating the cellar and cool cupboard makes sense to me, drawing cool air from a cool space - but comes at a pri…

Excavations Part One: Getting your footings right

Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

It's been a big week, with big machines, lots of people and heaps of money spent.

It's probably easier just running a bit of a photo essay here, with comments below each photo. I've divided this into two sections as there are really two projects going on at the same time. There's the raised slab footings and the cellar with cool cupboard duct. As both projects need the same machines I decided to do them in tandem. I also have had a lot of people working with me during the intensive phase to reduce the workload and potential problems.

Dave and his son return to dig the trenches for the footings, 300mm wide by a minimum 525mm deep. It's difficult for a big machine like this to work on such a small site; I think Dave did a pretty good job. You can see the telephone cable, and further up the water pipe broken through - I was expecting that.

The soil was very dry and crumbly, with many tree roots. So the trenches needed quite a…