Plans for 2013

Hello again! I do hope everyone is having a nice January.

I know its still falling in some places, but today was the first day where the snow showed visible signs of melting away, and myself and my parents jumped at the chance of getting stuck in to the first real work day of 2013!

I cleared a path up to the back on Friday, and so this morning we had a quick walk up to the top of the garden where we uncovered the tarpaulin to find nice dry ground, perfect for shovelling into tyres! We got four tyres rammed, and started working on the final trench that needs digging, at the far right of the garden. Despite the cold and lingering patches of snow, I’m impressed with the work we completed, and now I’m sitting inside my warm house, listening to the rain fall and wash away the rest of the snow. I’m using this time to turn my thoughts ahead to the next three months of work..

Easter (25th March to 7th April)
Its a mere 9 weeks until the Easter holidays, and this is when I intend to finish the straw building section of the shed, as well as get the roof up and waterproofed. In this time, I have the tyre foundations to finish, so I’m seizing days of good weather to get the ground dug up and the foundations placed. I will certainly be sending out volunteer requests for probably the full two weeks, so if you are not subscribed to my newsletter and you are interested, then you should get involved very soon!

Half-Term (11th to 17th February)
My half term in college is only two weeks away and I plan to be spending every hour out in the garden digging my way to the end of this project! If you are free and you want to come along and learn some stuff about tyre foundations, and hopefully preparing a stem wall for straw bale building, then give me an email, or sign up to my newsletter and you’ll get an email from me when I send one out.

I will update this post in the morning if the weather is favourable and get some photos of my progress on here!

Take Precious Time

One of the things that has been forced on me due to the onset of Winter is the fact I have to wait for the worst weather to pass before cracking on with building development. Being the type of person who acts now and thinks later on DIY projects, this has been frustrating, however, given the time I now have to reflect on what I am planning, I begrudgingly accept that it is of great benefit to me to go through this wait.

I have not been idle since returning from my hike. The last week has been taken up by learning 3D modelling software, and reading of many blogs detailing ecological developments in the UK (See the project for links). I now have a good idea of what the building will look like, and how it will fit into the landscape (see photos below)

I also found a very informative PDF today which does a reflective study (part of a dissertation) on the buildings built in some of the blogs I’m reading. Its great, because a lot of the websites seem unfinished, and I’m left thinking “but what are the buildings like now?” Which is answered by the document. One of the closing conclusions is this: plan. Most of the builders agreed they would like more time to plan their buildings should they tackle them again. So I must admit, the timing of Winter’s arrival is a blessing in disguise. I’ve been thinking ahead about foundations, walls, roof fittings and starting to add up the costs of materials alongside a ¬†checklist of items needed for the build. When things begin to kick off, I’ll share it on this blog.

On the subject of planning ahead, this weekend, I’m getting two quotes from builders for the roofing and framework of my building – should the price be too high, I’ll look at load bearing straw bale, and consider DIY methods. Otherwise, I’ll be able to think more about infill methods, and have the relief of knowing shelter during construction won’t be such an issue. Time will tell, and I’ll post up here with progress!

I also just got back from a visit to the planning office – planning permission isn’t needed for what I’m doing because of the size of my garden, but its always worth double checking, and the nice people at the office are even going to provide me with a letter saying I don’t need permission. Always good to have some paper backing up what you are doing if you can, just in case.

Other than that, its time to look at building retaining walls. The tiering of the garden is also on my mind, and I’ve recently been in touch with some people over making use of the sub soil which is being dug out to create a retaining wall using a super adobe method. Its a well known method which is used to create buildings well over 2m high, so creating a 1m retaining wall should be well within its limits. The cost of such a wall? About ¬£20 for 1m high and 10m long. Bliss. More on super adobe here.

Y’know what, the title and nature of this post also prompts me to post a song by the Maccabees. Lovely. (sorry about the adverts, but thats the link.)
Maccabees – Precious Time

Garden Development

Slowly, as the winter approaches, I am nearing the end of phase one of my garden plans. Currently, I am working on flattening and tiering the garden to ensure that I have a flatter area to start my foundations on. The work started early in the summer and has been going on in spare time, and on good days. As the winter approaches, I have been seizing the days to get the grass removed from the garden, and Am hoping to fill in the large dip in the middle of the ground. This will also mean I have to build in some ground drainage to account for all the water running off the mountain. I’ll document this if it happens.

The back part of the garden is going to have one more tier built into it, and the very back will be dug down a little from the border with a retaining wall built in, so that the back floor of the house will sit about 1m below the current level of the garden. Once the middle part of the garden is filled in, I will start to focus on the next retaining wall to give an outline of the building. In the coming weeks, I hope to start sourcing some tyres and speak to the planning office regarding (avoidance of) planning permission. I’ll no doubt update the blog with diagrams on how the building will look once I’ve created them.