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Showing posts from October, 2009

Getting floored

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Principle 2: Catch and store energy
Principle 3: Obtain a yeild

Baltic pine floorboards recovered from the original building were put aside for use in the two bedrooms. Baltic pine is quite soft, and damages easily, making it inappropriate for high traffic areas. I figured that I would have enough boards for both bedrooms as the boards covered two rooms about the same size and the original kitchen (now a study / 3rd bedroom). It turned out that it was a very close call with all useable boards used.

For the remainding rooms in the building we decided on recycled hardwood floorboards. The timber is a lot more durable, easier to work with and fairly cheap (at around $3.10 per lineal metre when bought in bulk). Being narrower though, 105mm instread of 150mm, they can take quite a while to install. Each room took about 16-20 hours to install (including insulation).

I planned to have insulation under the floor because of heat losses in winter of 10-20%, as well as heat gains in summer. The …

Sourcing energy

Principle 5: Use and value renewable resources and services

Now that I've got the frame up I can get electricity hooked up to the house, I opted for an underground connection. Once the physical connection has been made by the electrician I needed to choose which company I wanted as my energy provider. This gets really confusing as there are heaps of retailers with heaps of options. There are websites that can help you decide which retailers offer the best deals for your situation - just do a search for 'compare energy suppliers'. The energy retailer is not the energy supplier though, the retailer is the 'middle man'. The energy supplier is responsible for the 'on the ground' work.

Regardless of what company you choose you will need to decide whether you want a 'flat rate' or 'peak rates'. In my case a flat rate is $90 to connect, with a lower service charge of $196 p.a and a flat rate of 17.325 c/kWh. The peak rate is $290 to connect, with a…

Getting the run-off to run-in

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Principle 1: Observe and Interact
Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

I love watching water flow after big rains. Water flow indicates the topography of the landscape, showing high and low points of a site that may not be obvious during the dry.

The laneway to the east of the housesite collects a lot of water from backyard sheds and driveways which runs down wheel rutts into the stormwater drain. The water pools before it overflows into the drain, which has resulted in a muddy mess where cars can get stuck. I've been thinking about making use of the laneway entrance for the driveway to the carport, in which case I need to address the waterlogging issue.


Water run-off from laneway after heavy rain


I've also been thinking about how I can make use of water as a resource... when I stumbled across a book by Brad Lancaster called "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond" which inspired me to act. Below are a couple of illustrations with captions from his websi…

Termite resistant design

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Principle 6: Produce no waste

Termites cause more damage to Australian houses than fire, floods and storms combined - damage that is not covered by household insurance.



Termite nest found on house site in trunk of Red Gum after it was felled. Termites can travel 50 - 80m to feed from a nest.


How termites can move from a nest to a house



Termite attack in kitchen of original house. The original house had wooden stumps set into the ground with no ant caps and a low clearance where water pooled after heavy rain - a recipe for termite attack.




Generally speaking termites like dark, moist environments and love to eat wood. If you keep timber away from the ground around your house, ensure that water runs away from the house, and keep dark spaces well ventilated then you are off to a good start. It's very important to ensure that you have an inpection area that surrounds any item that is in contact with your home. Inspections should be made every 6-12 months in termite affected areas.

Here are …