Decking, decking, decking! Halfway there!

Decking. It seemed like such a simple idea and a weekend job when we started on it a couple of months ago. With new jobs and winter weather it’s taken longer but as off a couple of weeks ago we’ve completed the decking and are preparing to get on with the awning. This post is a breakdown of our decking construction.

Design

As mentioned in a previous post the design we set on for our decking was for a pallet deck. The deck was consisting of 4 pallets of 800 by 1200. The deck itself totalling 4.8 metres in length. After some rough sketches Deirdre sent our ideas through to her sister partner and he drew up the below diagram for us.

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Using this as a base for our design I had a go at drawing up the diagram in the computer program I am using for my landscape design course. We ended up going with 3 sets of posts set at 2400 intervals. Ontop of this would sit 4800mm bearers with the pallets resting on this.

Footings

We set out the footings by marking them out with string line. We then dug the holes with a shovel as a ground was quite compact. As the decking post were going to be resting on post stirrups we only dug the holes out to around 300 deep and then set these half concrete before putting the stirrups in.

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Setting out the string line and first footings.

As we came to quickly learn these approach was not necessarily the right one as the concrete didn’t really set and the post supports when we put them in weren’t as stable as they should have been. In the end besides the 2 tall post supports we ended up digging out the concrete and setting posts straight in the ground as you can see in the photo below.

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First attempts

With the posts and post stirrups in place we set about putting the two end posts in. To support these we ran a cross beam from the roof and also off the side of the bus. This one from the bus, as you can see in the picture below, is a temporary brace and will be taken down once we complete the awning.

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A trial run off the pallet 

Once the posts had been put up it was then time to have trial run of the deck. Putting the bearers in place I then went about adding the pallets to the deck. All seemed right but as soon found out there was a problem. The post at the rear off the bus was in the wrong spot. The pallets wouldn’t fit without some serious hacking away at the posts.

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Houston we have a problem! The pallets don’t sit properly on the bearers.

It seemed like we were going to be in possession of half a deck. Or up for a lot of chiselling and manipulating. Neither of which looked like a good prospect. After talking it over we realised that we had some old Jarrah decking we’d picked up from the tip. With that in mind we set about completing the deck.

Take 2

Using a thin piece of pine we slowly laid out the deck developing a system of clamp, drill, nail; clamp, drill, nail; clamp, drill… Over the course an afternoon we worked together on system completing the deck

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Resting after finishing the deck.

Steps

With the deck completed and at height of some 450 from the ground we realised we needed some steps. We had some extra Jarrah as well as some off cuts from the legs and so set about measuring and creating the steps. This was simply process then the deck. The steps we set at 200 high 1050 long and 450 wide. The posts this time weren’t buried but rather set onto of  the ground. This was chosen as we were attaching the beams for the steps directly to the deck.

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Measuring for levelness.

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Adding the jarrah to the steps.

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Yoda checking out the new steps!

With the steps completed the question then was what to do with the leftover pallets. After some thought came up with the idea of A PALLET ISLAND.  But more of that for next time.

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Appreciating winter: plans, schemes and realising dreams

AN APPRECIATION

This week feels like a bit of landmark. The extra daylight that’s been gradually building since the winter solstice has turned into early blooms and blossom. The silver wattles on our block are a sea of yellow, the ornamental cherries along the highway add a splash of pink on my drive to work, the silver birch and elm of the Huon Valley are budding and slowly becoming green again. The clover that stalled in growth in May has started to kick on again as the terraces and bus are bathed in sun for a couple of hours each day. And to top it off we even have daffodils popping up on the bank beside the driveway!

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Springs arrival

Having lived in the tropics for the best part of the last 10 years these subtle changes have given me new appreciation of winter. The slowing down, the dormancy, the resting and waiting until everything is just right to get going again. It’s something that I know I definitely need It’s something intuitive but worth noting again. Living in Mount Barnett if there was something done we would get out and do it then and there. Great for work ethic but not the best for efficiency.

Here we’ve learnt to sit back and watch. To see the sun trail across our land. Witness the shadows of summer, autumn and winter. The terraces and slopes going from full summer sun to winter shade. To hear the creeks flow for a week after a heavy deluge. To see the water create it’s own path down the driveway and the way in which a simple trench to the side has diverted most of this water.Even the constant struggle and frustration with mould and condensation has made us appreciate more the need- and value- for a well ventilated and insulated home.

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A view from the lower house pad looking across the terraces to the bus. The posts in the foreground is Oscar and Yoda’s soon to be new day run.

PLANS AND SCHEMES

Last year we shared a post on visioning our dream . In it we wrote of all our dreams for the site. We talked of animals, of multiple sitting areas, aquaponics, possible market gardens and sub-tropical and tropical greenhouses. With the lengthening days and the prospects of getting stuck into some of these things we sat down the other week and went through our plans. Reassessing to see what 6 months on the site had changed.

Out went somethings such as aquaponics (not enough water at the moment), tropical and subtropic greenhouse, a market garden and some of the animals. The rest though we agreed were still our priority and so using some of our plans we’d developed we sat down earlier this month to work out our new plan and projects for upcoming spring. The following images show some of our plans.

Water schematic/ property overview

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An april overview map depicting the water flow as it travels down the property.

This picture above is a birds eye overview of the property. It is not accurate or does not have measurements but it gives an idea of where things are in our property. The  arrows depict the way in which the water flows down of our property when it rains. The circles are trees and the long rectangle on the second terrace is the worm seat that we made in an earlier post. This overview then become our working template for the two designs below.

Plan 1: May

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An early iteration of our design. Notice the elongated deck and the changed positions of the outdoor kitchen and table.

This design was what we settled on before winter come. By this stage we had built the steps so that path become part of the design. Back in Mount Barnett we had success with some raised garden beds so had thought of using those for our kitchen garden. We had been also toying around with the idea of having a couple of fruit trees in the area behind the bus. The back sections of the terrace- behind the shed- we had earmarked us our kitchen and outdoor dining area.

At this stage we thinking of having a whole bus length decking and converting our carport into a shed/studio. An idea that we turned when we

August Plan: current working plan

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Our current working design. The outdoor kitchen and yoga studio have changed and the deck and front area of the bus is now more compact.

This plan is our current plan that we settled late last week when walking around the terrace. The deck has become smaller and we’ve utilised some jarrah decking rather than the pallets for this. The pallets are now outdoor island decking on which an outdoor table will sit. This front area will become a meadow of cottage flowers and grasses with a brick paver path through it to the shed.

The kitchen and table have changed as we have now set on building a yoga studio on one of the terraces. We are also looking at utilising the roof of the yoga studio to catch some water in order to have an outdoor bath. The design also has some deciduous vines growing up trellis as summer shade as with the sun now hitting the bus we beginning to remember the heat that of the bus in summer. The raised beds are now probably going to be hugel beds.

We’ve also moved our kitchen to closer to the bus. This space is further from the trees therefore probably better spot for a wood fire stove. The slope and the path stay the same. The design also includes a dog run that we have started construction on and a clothesline for summer. The fruit trees have now become a food forest which we will design further. At the moment we finishing off our pallet island and about to begin work on the size of our raised/hugelkultur beds.

DREAMS REALISED

One of the dreams of writing this blog was to hopefully one day get something published about our little adventure. It was a fanciful dream which to my amazement become a reality in May when I was approached by The Owner Builder magazine to write a piece for them. The piece follows the first 4 months of the build and is published in the current issue- issue 196- of The Owner Builder. The article is entitled From a bus to a home, click on the link and it should come up there. The rest of the magazine has articles on strawbales, tyre wall machinery shed and other renovation and building profiles.

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An excerpt of our article. Click on the link above and you should be able to download a copy.