Friday, March 18, 2011

At long last

Apologies to all, particularly my family for not writing anything for so long!, it has been an epic journey, think something all owner builders can relate to. The house is currently at lockup minus the front door!, currently trying to get this custom made to fit (don't do it) and then patch the last north section of wall where the wiring and switch board is to go.

I think that I will wait for the solar connection and then seal this once that has been installed.

So yeah we are well on the path to completion and think that we may be able to move in by the end of April (so close but yet so painfully far!.

The plasterer is coming on-site on the 21st of March, and then after this we will obtain and install all fittings.

Basically it will then mostly be up-to us to finish everything off to a certificate of occupancy standard.

I understand that their is a massive gap of about 4 months in the blog and will endeavor to work backwards as well as forwards to fill in the gaps!,

Their is currently a little glitch in our clay supply, the man who assisted us with this recently had a heart attack and is now in hospital!, so we are currently sourcing another local earth supplier, and we short of rushing against the weather as we want to complete all rendering before things cool down too much, because as soon as winter moves in the walls have the potential to stay wet for the whole duration!, not a pleasant thought,

Here are a couple of current photos of the house , the front section shows a little bit of the second coat of render and the rear of the house shows a more complete picture of what this render looks like.

We have also sourced a special 'radial' cut for the weather boards, the radial is a really nice way of milling so that the whole tree is utilized, as every piece in the trunk is utilized, the natural undulations also match the straw bale way really nicely, although an absolute night mare for our long suffering chippies!,

enjoy the pics and I promise to update more regularly!,

Their are also some shots of recent internal framing we had done including the pantry and kitchen framing to mount cabinets and run service wiring and plumbing.

Also note, first layer of internal rendering complete!, another big milestone in our journey.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


These photos show the framing and the recent plumbing work, one diamond saw and a jack hammer later, still more work to do on the plumbing, but for now the show must go on and so to must the roof!.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

some photos of our progress

Roof on before xmas (fingers cross)

Hi Folks,
It's been awhile since the last update and things have definitely been moving onsite since October!, we are making good progress with some dedicated carpenters working hard to keep things moving. unfortunately we had a not so dedicated plumber who put the under-slab plumbing in the wrong place - this was a most upsetting incident and something that we are dealing with, he will be back out onsite next Monday to cut the slab and shuffle the plumbing into the correct position!. with the incessant rain, the slab took 3 weeks longer than projected and cost a-bit more money than anticipated - all part of being in the building same!

Every day we get more rain, we have a lake in our backyard! not ideal baling or rendering conditions. Speaking of which I have been experimenting with different rendering mixes to determine the best combination for our wails, I have hit this jack pot with a local find of pure clay just down the road, so we plan on using this as the basis for our earthen (sand, clay, lime) render which we will slop down in three lavers inside and out!. Owner Building has proved challenging, particularly in relation to bridging the gap between traditional building practices and straw bale specific building. Because we are running with a post and beam infill though the design is pretty standard and hopefully we have done everything right!

We have submitted our Owner Builder Finance Book, which hopefully will now be processed, hopefully we should seeing some bank money soon, which we assist us to keep thin8s on track.
Overall things are moving along well and if all 8oes according to plan we should have a roof over our heads and be ready for straw baling just after XMAS.
Aj and Leesh might just have a house yet!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let's Build!

The construction swung into action two weeks ago, just as soon as we had our beutiful big post holes dug it started dumping rain!, and didn't stop for the duration of the week, so that was a washout.
Last week we were blessed with fine weather and the crane was called in on wednesday to postion the posts in place, Concreating happened on Thursday and hey presto, we now have all of our beutiful posts in place ready to go.

Beams in a Teusday and the Slab on Wednesday, so things are finally progressing on the block and looking good.
Only just recieved the HBS package, so the finance is alittle bit behind construction at the moment, but it is anticipated that this shouldn't slow the project.

Straw Baling Mid November, so we will start getting the word out and hopefully we will have a working party to assist us with this process

We are hoping to have the house to lockup standard before the XMAS shut down period but we'll have to see how we go.
the adventure continues!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


We have offically commenced the preparation of the building site.
So far this has involved hiring a local excavator (Rod Patton) to clear the top soil and to arrange to have this taken away (approx 60m2!) and Richard Playne our plumber who is a qualified green plumber and brother of Alycia's work colleague.

Richard installed a water meter and three taps onsite.

All of this has involved lot's of digging in wet clay soil and with this incessant rain it has all fairly quickly softened up, and our block is now a very muddy place to be!.

I have arranged for a fence and toilet to be delivered on Teusday, and at present the construction side of things is on hold untill we can source three 200x200 6 m posts.
These posts are massive and have to be sourced especially for the job which could take upto 1 month to arrange. These posts are a case of over engineering and will require a crane to install!.

The engineers seemed ultra paranoid about the straw bale thing and consequently have over engineered the house framming which means that we will have something that is pretty much cyclone proof!, but it also means that the build is more costly and time consuming.

If we were to do this again I would ensure that I arrange for engineers who have specically worked with straw bale houses to do the engineering as they would have a much more specific knowledge of the particular capacities and requirements of a straw bale house.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Hi Folks,

Things are slowly moving forwards, tank in, driveway installed and a practice straw bale wall which will eventually be a centre wall for a shed, cold storage, conservatory, workshop or whatever else we happen to think of at the time, but for now it is a wall.
This was constructed in the following stages:

(1) Construct bottom and top boxing, (protect bales and aid in compression later)
(2) Build up a footing for bottom boxing to sit on: (Gravel and sand) to stop wall from sinking into the soft ground
(3) Lay bottom boxing and fill with crushed rock (19mm screening)
(4) Insert compression strapping under boxing: must be twice length of wall + 1 m
(5) Stack bales
(6) Compress a little
(7) Bang wall into alignment with a wide / flat bale hammer
(8) Recompress and Viola!!, a straw bale wall.

We didn't get around to rendering the wall just yet, we will discuss this in more detail later.