Studio 5: the cladding

January was a busy month for us. Along with catching up with friends we also finished off the last major work on the studio (former yoga studio): the cladding. We choose wood on 3 sides and tin on one. The tin side had been already been put up in November when my sister and partner were down.Tin being selected on that side has it was taller and harder to work in with wood.The wood sides- the west, front and back- were clad in fencing palings from down the road. The process took a while to work out but once started flowed fairly easily. For anyone who has made a paled fence then you would know the process. One layer of wood with a gap and an overlay layer filling in the gap.

What follows is a photo essay demonstrating the cladding process.

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Deirdre working on the first layer of the west side. The hardest side to work on owing to the height issue. We worked top to bottom. I held the wood at the ground whilst Deirdre nailed the top in and then she held it in place whilst I nailed the bottom. We used 50mm galvanised flat headed nails for the bottom layer. With the wood being so hard we found that drilling these first helped greatly.

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The west wall almost complete just waiting for the cladding to be done under the window. The wood piled under would later go up and cover this area.

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Cladding the front. We learnt the lesson from the side and pre cut the front to the same height. This created a straight line from which we could work out the extra lengths needed for the triangle up the top. Inside Deirdre is busy sewing a dress.

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Measuring the levelness of the second layer at the back. The back was our ‘experimental side’ the area in which we worked out the correct process and could safely make mistakes as it wasn’t on prominent display. This second layer went up a lot quicker then the first.

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Whilst Deirdre was at work I set about creating some steps as an entrance to the studio. Here I have cut the left over fence posts to size and braced them straight ready to be cladded.

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The steps completed. I used the same cladding as for the studio to give continuity between the two designs. It took half a day to create but was satisfying work.

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Another angle of the studio and steps with the final cladding ready to be put up.

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Cladding completed and ready for use.

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The studio in context. If you look closely in the front you can see an outdoor kitchen set that we designed. Now for the wine barrel beds and some grass out the front of the studio.

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Toilet, grey water: updates and overhauls

It’s been a busy start to the year catching up with friends- old and new- and getting back into the swing of work. I’d originally planned a post on what we have learnt in the past year but with a month already gone since our first Tassie anniversary it seems to late for that. Instead I’ve chosen to write about some of the system alterations and improvements we have been busy with (aside from finishing off the studio.) So here goes; first

The toilet

Out of all the systems (and structures) on the block the one that has given us the most problem is the toilet. From the simple fact that we had to empty out the shit everything 3 weeks to the old tree solar system that we didn’t quite understand how it works there’s been constant problems with this system. In December when the toilet again overflowed spilling sludgy liquid on the floor- for the 3rd time in a week- we said enough was enough and set about redesigning this system.

The first point of call was to do some research. As followers of milkwoods blog we remembered their post on their composting toilet and used that as the basis for our new design. In essence this meant creating a wheelie bin toilet. To do this we needed to create two things: the bin and the toilet chamber.

  1. The bin

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We stuck pretty much to the composting toilet from Milkwood for this so i’ll be short on the detail as it’s been covered there and you should look at the link closely if you are going to do it yourself.

For our version of it we drilled a small hole in the bottom corner to put the overflow piece in. We then cut an old bread crate down to size which was placed on the bottom of the bin to allow the liquid to drain through. Added to this was a piece of ag pipe to help aerate the humanure as it’s sits in the bin. We then cut a hole in the lid upon which we attached a chimney flue to. The bin was then wheeled into place under the floor ready for the chamber to be connected to it.

2. The chamber

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Whilst Deirdre worked on the bin. I got to work on the seat. We were fortunate to have some old bits of wood left in the carport by the previous owners. Wanting to get them out of the way these were cut down to size. This panels were then cut down to 600mm lengths. These were bolted to four posts to create a box that was 600 by 600 at a height of 450. The box was then painted and moved into the spot.

After drilling from below to find the correct spot we drilled a hole in the floor and cut the circle out ready for the flue to be inserted into the bin. Once we had got the flue and bin in place we then boarded up the top of the chamber and then cut out a hole in that in order for the seat to be attached. We then tested the ability to pull out the flue and once happy with that we attached the toilet seat to the chamber and now had a new toilet. One which we no longer needed to empty every 2-3 weeks.

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Grey water take 2

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This has been a long time in the making. As a previous post set out we had a rudimentary grease trap that the water then run through a pipe into the ground. In October when Deirdre’s parents were here her and her Mum, Mary, set about improving this. Before Deirdre’s Mum had arrived she had done some research online and found this American video on a bathtub grey water system. This became the model for our addition to our grey water system.

  1. Baffles in the bath

The first point was to add some baffles to the grey water. This was made from pond liner attached to the bath tub by water proof tape. The purpose of these baffles is to allow the water to slow as it travels through (see photos below).

  2.  Scoria added

We added scoria as the growing medium as it would hold any excess grease from the grease trap and also provide a good medium for the plants to grow in as the rocks are bigger than the 7mm gravel we had on site.

3. In flow and Overflow pipe.

Before topping up the bathtubs an inlet and outlet (overflow) pipe were attached to the bath. These were tank outlet valves that had been drilled into the fibre glass tub with a hole saw and siliconed to stop the water flowing back out of them. The outlet pipe was cut at a higher height to the inlet pipe meaning that the water could pool a little before flowing out.

  4.  Planting out

Using a combination of bull rushes and sedges (some bought, others relocated from our place) we planted out the bed with around a dozen plants.

  5. Second bed 

Originally we had been catching the excess water in a watering can and using this on the grass seeds out the front. As the water pooled we noticed a smell and realised that the water was still quite grey so we decided to add a second bed. (Online research spoke of this but we had originally though better.) At first this was created as a pond and we purchased aerators and pond plants for it. This last less than a fortnight before we realised we had a blackwater pond and that we would be better off creating a second bed. So we did (minus the baffles) and we now have an operational two bed grey water system.

Next time: Studio 5: Cladding. (The Yoga has been dropped from the title.)