Saturday, February 7, 2015

The next big adventure

Almost 3 years ago, we broke ground to make way for the tiny handmade strawbale house we currently call home. It was a momentous occasion for us, full of mixed feelings, and it was the beginning of a journey that basically consumed us for the following couple of years.

Building the tiny house was always a bit of a 'suck it and see' kind of exercise - to find out if we could really build our own house. Turns out we could! It was really hard at times, but it was always rewarding. And we so thoroughly enjoyed the experience of building, and have so thoroughly enjoyed living on our land, in our little handmade home, we're doing it again.
4 year old barefooted pirates are invaluable on the building site
In the last few months we've begun to slowly make moves towards building a second, slightly less tiny, slightly more luxuriously appointed (internal plumbing!!) handmade strawbale house. We don't have heaps of money, and we certainly don't want to go into debt, so things will be slow-going, as we plan to save a bit, build a bit, over the next few years.
Shadow of a shovelling lady
Building the tiny house has given us an excellent perspective on what we really want and need from a home, and what we can and can't manage to build by ourselves. We've discovered a few things we're going to do differently second time around (45 degree pitch roof? No thank you!), and a few things we're definitely going to do the same (strawbale? Most certainly!). If you're thinking of building your own home, it's something to seriously consider: I believe that building this place was the single best thing we've done in the last 5 years. The knowledge, skills and perspective it's given us - not to mention the savings in rent and bills! - have been absolutely invaluable, and we're very grateful to have had the opportunity.

So what are we planning to build next?
It's pretty basic: a strawbale rectangle with a skillion roof, containing 3 very small bedrooms, a fully strawbale-enclosed cool pantry (bigger than the bedrooms - food storage takes priority over sleeping space in this family!), a nice, open, functional kitchen, a beautiful warm eating area, and a lounge space with a wood fire that doubles as an oven and stove. 
Oscar and my dad laying the pipe that will carry our greywater directly to an absorption trench in our zone 1 garden
External walls will be rendered strawbale, internal walls will be framed using recycled wood pallets, clad with reclaimed corrugated iron and fence palings. Our experiences over the last few years of bathing outside have prompted us to forego an internal bathroom in preference of more kitchen space, with a primitive, outside greenhouse/shower-room combo to complement our existing firebath, which we love so much! We're also going to have another outside, composting toilet.
Footings full of water, which our dogs think of as purpose-built doggy-lap-pools, much to the detriment of the footings themselves
But for now, all we have is a kind of muddy area with some footings full of water, and pier-holes full of frogs, and occasionally children. 
Oh and a 110 000L tank that is collecting water off its own roof until we get it hooked up to the house. Not terribly appealing or inspiring, but it's a start, and our minds and hearts are busy and full, as we dream of this next big building adventure.


  1. How exciting Annie.
    At least having your little cottage onsite you can live comfortably while you build your new house. I look forward to seeing the building progress. x

  2. How very wonderful, i would beg to differ though, it is all incredibly appealing and inspiring. I love the way you guys build, the bravery, the gusto, the patience and knowledge. The way you think is so absolutely outside the square it is liberating and challenging. You four are amazing. Big love from us four. xxx

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