Using permaculture ethics and design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance, creatively using and reusing materials... without spending heaps of money.
Video by Happen Films recorded in April 2018, 10 years after original purchase of the property.
The Abdallah House project began in May 2008 in suburban Seymour, Central Victoria, Australia with the purchase of this three roomed bungalow with bathroom / laundry tacked onto the side on a 584 sq metre (1/7 acre) block. The project is driven by permaculture practitioner Richard Telford with support from his partner and children Kunie, Kai and Sen.
BEFORE: The original energy hungry bungalow, with no insulation throughout
Richard, Kunie, Kai and Sen (2012)
The bungalow was carefully deconstructed and transformed to build a new home that showcases low energy and passive systems that each apply some, if not all of the permaculture design principles.
Regular blog posts were kept to highlight at least one of the 12 principles and keep readers up to date on what was happening on site. Some of the milestones of the project include:
Our 2013 mission was to record all produce harvested for the year. 509 eggs, 276kg of vegies, 90kg of fruit and about 4kg of herbs - which averages out at around 1.4 eggs and 1kg of produce per day.
Our 2019 food harvest produced over half a tonne of food, with a total yield of
498kg of fruit and vegetables along with 805 eggs collected. Results for 2016 (442kg/782 eggs) and 2017 (308kg/718 eggs) also detailed on spreadsheet.
Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal I collected a large pile of concrete which had been sitting out the front for a number of years. It had become habitat for snails mainly. Originally the concrete blocks were footpaths from around the original house, so they hadn't traveled far. This material is more commonly known as 'urbanite', and is used in some pretty creative ways . I've been thinking about creating a space for an outdoor kitchen for some time now, and figured that I really needed a paved area in between the shed and cellar to set it up. The urbanite seemed like the perfect answer, allowing me to clean up around the front and create a great space round the back. My mate Dylan suggested that I make up a form and mortar mix to set the concrete block pieces onto. Seemed like a good idea to me, so after thinking about it for a few months and with summer just about to start, I decided to get stuck into it. After clearing the space I set up a
Principle 12: Creatively use and respond to change I'm one for trying out different things, and I like to see what we can get away with before committing to something bigger and 'better'. Fridges and freezers are one of the biggest energy consumers in the household - usually behind heating / cooling and hot water systems. Our upright freezer to fridge conversion in action We've trialed a number of fridge systems here before settling on the upright freezer conversion. First we used an old 150lt bar fridge that used around 670Wh per day Then we bought a 150lt chest freezer (using around 466Wh per day) for preserving bulk food - with the idea of a possible conversion. Our bar fridge died two weeks later so we used ice from our freezer to create a 'ice box bar fridge' We then tried a smaller old Engel fridge (about 50lt) that I had in the Kombi that used about 420Wh per day. After not being entirely satisfied with any of the above I finally decided
Principle 7: Design from patterns to details The cool cupboard project has been a very long one. While it demonstrates most of the permaculture design principles I thought that I'd focus on 'Design from Patterns to Details' because it really was the way in which the project evolved and was finally completed. The design was inspired by the cool cupboard that I saw at Melliodora, the home of David Holmgren and Su Dennett. David includes a section about the design of his cupboard in his eBook about the property. Since then I've seen other designs that use the same principles including a pantry in an old house near Sheparton that had a mesh covered hole in the floor and one that was covered up in the ceiling and 'Adelaide House' in Alice Spings which I visited in 2004 and wrote this short report on for my Permaculture Diploma: My cupboard is based more on David Holmgren's design, with a few differences. It draws air through the cellar (with a water tan