Friday, 28 February 2014


If five gyprockers descend on your home – WATCH OUT!!!!
Because they will do this:
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

And this:
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This:  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And this:
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 And this:
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
And More! (Ooh, lookie at the pretty shadows J).  And they will work like mad men in a massive whirlwind of activity and only take 3 hours!! 
Our job was to keep out of their way!

And staple up the wool batt insulation that is in all our internal walls (for noise control and temperature stabilisation):
 



 
 
 
 
Phew, it really was tiring just watching them!  And boy, did they make some mess – but they got on the brooms at the end of the day and cleaned up too J - gotta love that!  (Though I can’t wait to give the house a good vacuum after they are finished).
And meanwhile, Ryan was loving putting the extra 4000+ screws in the roofing, Andy was up and down ladders helping him and us, and Michael was doing his final check of electrics before it was all walled in forever!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Last week, things happened and I even started getting some small glimmer of hope that I might be warm this winter!  But I didn’t get the happenings blogged – and they need to be so here goes!
Ryan and Andy got the verandah insulated and roofed – just the flashings to do:
 


 
 
 
 
You might remember we are using Albany Wool Batts for our non-strawbale insulation – the guys are saying it is good to work with – and it is ‘close to natural’ which is why we chose it.  I do like the decrease in modification in trying to choose environmentally friendly materials.  Wouldn’t it be good though if there was a full and open public disclosure on life-cycle analysis, to make choosing so much simpler.  Actually, wouldn’t it be good if there were life cycle analyses!   The quandary here is that I have heard that the wool might be sourced overseas.
Michael’s parents visited last week along with his aunty, so they were working hard too – painting that ply with the sealer and putting up the black dampcourse on the wood frame – that one’s a big job (all the verticals and horizontals, inside and out), so we shared the love around ;-)

 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They worked too quick for us though – we were out of paint on day 2!
Man, they did do a lot of work!!  We love them for it of course!!

Oh, and Michael and I were trying to do our share in amongst all this hard work – more electrics, more sanding, more pickups…and somewhere along the line, he managed to get that bit of tubing in the pantry ceiling – it is the ‘exhaust’ for our earth-tube cooling J.
 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

We are strawpenters!!

Bale raising has started – and the roof is all baled up – both sides! 

This was 6.42am yesterday:



 
 
 
 
 
 

Three hours later – now you see them in all their glory (that is our wonderful neighbour who volunteered to help out – Thank you Birgit!!):
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 …now you don’t (Andy doing the covering in Albany Wool Batts sarking and it is still only morning tea time!):
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Richard was here too – re-tying the loose bales so they fitted in some gaps – but somehow he escaped the camera.
The guys then spent time getting the roofing all on:
 


 
 
 
 
 
… so this morning we could do it all again! 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 All baled up!!! Yay!!! (By 9am – just amazing!)
One bale too many up there though - I bet it was satisfying throwing it down.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 Now here is a trick question for you – What is the longest distance in my world? 
That would be this 12 horizontal metres and 2.5 vertical metres to get strawbales onto our roof!
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My goodness it was a lot of hard work and in between me whinging about how heavy some bales were I did remember to say a prayer of thanks that we are healthy enough for this hard work and that we (will) have a wonderful home to live in.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 So that has been our Monday and Tuesday so far J.  It is good J.
PS.  And you might notice my joie de vivre has improved (thankfully!) – it is amazing what a little blood, sweat and tears can do for a girl J.  And if I ever thought I was pretty good as an amateur psychologist, I have nothing on Richard Rowell!  Rich reads this blog so he knew of my melancholy and as we chatted about the progress on the home he nailed my concern on the head (which I couldn’t do!) – I was worried about letting the guys down.  We are getting to the point where the bank account is dwindling rapidly and when we run out of money, if it happens when Ryan and Andy still have work to do, it will really feel like we have let them down – I know how much effort they have put into building our home and we appreciate it so, so much!!  (I know we will run out of money, we have to really, otherwise we will just spend forever.  I know that too will happen, but it will have to be after we can say – “This house is finished (for now)”.  So I am madly balancing our budget too – got to make sure we can pay for all the big things that are on the horizon.)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Last Friday I was taking an early morning walk around our estate and when I got to the lake, I literally stopped dead in my tracks – its tranquil beauty was breathtaking.
I so loved being there in that moment and appreciating that I had the presence of mind to stop and absorb its peace for some minutes.

I say presence of mind, because that is why I am taking some early morning walks lately – I am needing the mental break. 
Last week was emotionally challenging for our family – and that impacts on how I feel and react to building our home too.  Last week I felt a bit of a fraud because while I appreciated and wrote about the positives on this blog, my facebook page to my friends read a bit differently.  Last week I had to find ways to stop myself saying “I need this building to stop, everyone go home for a while”. 
Last week on facebook, my friend tagged me and I shared this quote, “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production. Pete Seeger”

I agree wholeheartedly.
But I am also feeling like I am finding it increasingly harder to maintain this ethos in building our home.  I fear I am losing the optimism to build ‘green’ and hence losing momentum and enthusiasm L.  It is not a nice feeling at all.

Friday, 14 February 2014


Another side of the verandah ceiling completed today – it’s a bit of a fiddly job slotting all the sheets together and there is plenty of cutting to do – plus today I got my gorgeous laundry ceiling.  Ryan knew I wanted the red colourbond up there so he carefully made this pretty pattern J:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Around helping the guys with the sheeting, Michael progressed the last of the electric cables – I think he will be glad to see the end of them!!
And I made a start at stapling black plastic on the wood frame – dampcourse stuff.  The wood absorbs water at a different rate to the strawbales and it will speed along any cracking in the render – so best to slow it down with this stuff.

And of course, today is St Valentine’s Day – so we celebrated with love hearts at morning tea – I made the Cherry Ripe cookies and first son made the shortbread at school yesterday. 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
They were both yum!!

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Oh so pretty – we have a patchwork verandah ceiling!! 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

See, I really did do it J - and it is oh so pretty, pretty, pretty.
Of course, will be even prettier when we clean it…


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The guys are always working hard and we have our pantry lined too:
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This 'dungeon' is looking great but boy do I need that VOC sealer – the chemical fumes from the Liquid Nails is Nasty!  Yuck, and I just looked on the tube – ‘vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness” – sounds dangerous L.  Another lesson learned – check your products before use!!  Research now tells me it may have been possible to use a low VOC liquid nails.
Other better news though – roof and guttering delivered J



 
 
 
 
 
 
There sure is lots of it and just a bit scary to think how it will look, it is the first real thing that we had to choose a colour that we can’t change if we don’t like it!

Monday, 10 February 2014


The boys are back on the job!  Yay!
Ryan and Andy were right back into it today – working more magic to produce a stunning jarrah box frame around our central beam – to hide it and the electrical conduit next to it. 
I am quite liking that our home will have character and show itself for what it really is – so it feels a bit strange to be boxing in a pine LVL and making it look like it is solid jarrah – but it is way too pretty not to really and I will let everyone know it is a fakery.
I got some recycled Jarrah floorboards for this job – lots of character according to Ryan (= not straight, a few holes and splits, some leftover nails  ;-) – oh but look at how pretty they sand up (that was my weekend job):
 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And this (the boards on the right) is just a light sand, imagine how gorgeous it will look with a nice coat of wood oil:
 


 
 
 
 
Oh, I do love it a lot!!
And bonus – the smell of freshly sawn recycled jarrah is scrumptious.

Sunday, 9 February 2014


I did a little bit of research on the ‘net about how to “trap” VOC’s in plywood – because we have not been able to find out the VOC level (volatile organic compounds = off-gassing nasties) of our plywood so we have to assume it is high L – and I am very much wanting to have good indoor air quality – it’s one of the reasons we went with strawbale after all… anyway this is a roundabout way of saying, I liked finding this information:  http://yagoi.org/features/ .  A list of 101 sustainability things to incorporate into homes – most plenty easy enough too!!  I am going to compare our home to this list – watch this space…

PS – low-VOC sealers for plywood will seal in VOC’s J.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


More Adventures in Philosophy - ;-)

You all know I am an amateur psychologist – I quite enjoy examining my feelings about things and trying to think about why they affect me the way they do.  And I want to include these thoughts on my blog – because they sure are part of the adventure of building our home.

Anyway, way back in December, Richard, our building supervisor wrote on our invoice that he welcomed any feedback – and I think it is important to let people who you are working closely with, know how you are feeling – it’s all part of the open and honest communication that makes the world go round.  I strongly believe in keeping it positive but keeping it real too.

So my feedback to Richard included the most sincere thanks for all his hard work – I wrote “We are loving building our home with you!  It has been, and is, so much easier and more fun than we ever dreamed – and we can’t thank you enough.”  It was and still is true – and I think I will forever be amazed about how much more fun this has been J.
My feedback also included high praise for Ryan and Andy – there really is nothing we can fault on their workmanship, professionalism and attitude – we truly feel we are blessed to have them building our home.

Then my feedback got a bit more philosophical – I noted how the feelings I got from not knowing the origin of materials was higher in my thoughts than I perhaps expected.  I also acknowledged that it was probably just because I didn’t have all the information before hand and so perhaps feel like I am not making informed decisions – and the ‘environmental score’ of all our building materials *is* important to me. 
To me, it is just interesting to ‘analyse’ and accept these feelings.

Then I got even a bit more philosophical and noted that perhaps the only area I feel “conflict” with our building adventure is when we (personally) source materials at a price that Richard’s suppliers cannot match – and therefore, when we supply them, Richard misses out on some of his income (builder’s margin – which he has always been 110% up front and transparent about).  I certainly didn’t expect to feel this conflict, after all it is in our best interests to save money, isn’t it?
Or is it?  To me it comes down to what many of already do consider, is it fair to buy goods or services at a price that you know doesn’t allow the workers producing it a fair income??

To me that is deep – real deep! 
Who would have thought building brings me to this?  LOL.

So, when Richard and I chatted about this part of my feedback in our first meeting this year, we both acknowledged that it will always be a factor in the way our business relationship is structured, and it does come down to understanding that fair payments work best for all people.  We both want to be at peace with our decisions and actions.  And we both want to provide for our families.  (Actually when you put the kids in the picture, it becomes a lot clearer I think as to the ‘correctness’ of fair play – it is all for them ultimately and how you want them to perceive the (working) world).
Ok, deep enough for one day!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!! J
(ETA – while I was typing this up, our shed was flooding, because I had forgotten to connect up our washing machine outlet hose L L.  I try to stay positive, I really do– sometimes, though, it feels like you have to grab that positive thought with both hands (around the neck!) and hold it down!!!)

(The positive, the shed has gotten an unscheduled clean up – and I was just thinking this morning that it needed it!  Careful what you wish for, eh?)