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Showing posts from December, 2009

Northern light

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


When I went to check out the second-hand water tank that I was looking to buy I came across a large window on the site.  It was made from Western Red Cedar, a soft timber that is naturally resistant to decay. The panes and doors were in good condion, but the supporting frame was not, as it had been stacked straight on the ground and left out in the weather for years. The glass was single glazed (probably laminated) and it had a double sliding doors. I thought that it might be useful as the northern window and asked a friend what I should offer for it. I offered A$300 and paid A$400. I thought it was a good deal - and it came with two sliding fly screen doors (Principle 3). It would cost about A$5000 or more new.


 Second-hand windows I purchased for A$400

It took four guys to lift the thing and load it onto the tri-axle trailer. When we got it to the site we decided to separate the panels and make up a new frame. It was als…

Plumbed in

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Principle 5: Use and value renewable resources and services

The plumbing rough-in happens before the floor goes down (preferably), which is easier and cheaper to do. It starts with the 'waste water' pipes. During the process I got to thinking about how to make best reuse of water before it went down the sewer.

There are three types of reused water that I will have on site. Greywater (laundry and bathroom), dark greywater (kitchen) and blackwater (toilet).
Greywater is ideal to use in subsurface irrigation systems, but there is a lot to consider when designing these types of systems. By ensuring that we don't put any nasties into the water in the first place we know that anything that we reuse wont be damaging to the environment, or us. Kitchen water (dark greywater) is not ideal for sub-surface irrigation as it contains food particles, fats and soaps that can block pipes and clog the soil. This water can be filtered through a wormfarm to produce a rich liquid fertiliser.Bla…

Wetland works

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Principle 7: Design from patterns to details

The concept of catching and storing water in the front yard wetland worked well from the start, but it needed some fine tuning. When the rains came back to fill up the depression I could see where high and low points were, so I leveled them out. Having a level area gives the water a greater surface area to soak into the ground. Ideally the water would soak in within 12 hours.

 Wetland tinkering, leveling out and building up / defining edges
Wetland during downpour
Water run-off from laneway entering wetland and overflowing
The water took longer than anticipated to soak into the ground, about a week. I think that it was taking a long time because the soil was in poor condition and compacted. As the life comes back to the soil I would expect quicker water infiltration.
One of the problems when water takes so long to soak in is that mosquitos get a chance to breed. Adult mossies take 5-14 days to emerge (depending on the species & temperature)…

Vandalism

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Principle 4: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

I believe that I have had a pretty good run when it comes to vandalism. The house was empty for about six months before I really started working on the site. During that time the house was broken into once and the place was smashed up a bit. A glass pane broken, some walls and cupboards damaged, a door broken... I reported it to the police and spoke to my neighbours. I also left a note for any unwelcomed guests, suggesting that they find something else to do, and that the property was being watched.


Kitchen cupboard kicked in and wall damaged by vandals in November 2008

I have made an effort to greet people as they walk past, and speak to people who show an interest in what were are doing here. There has been some fantasitc feedback - 99% of it positive. Since I have been on site regularly, and engaging with the locals, nothing has been damaged and nothing stolen.
After the cladding went up I noticed a couple of plums thrown against…