House Repair

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978.220px-maler_der_grabkammer_des_sennudem_001

Have been slow on renovations in the last 12 months, but alot is coming together. The bigger picture.
I am planning on having the back stoep, front of the house living room up and running by the beginning of Spring 2013. The cottage is also under repair and priority one for guests and wwoofers.

Been hard at work on very cold winter nights and weekends, doing what I can with what I have. Managed to install the front door with the
help of an old carpenter a few weekends ago. Putting doors in is not easy work and this is about a 120 year old door frame.
frontdoor1 frontdoor
I removed a huge amount of plaster and concrete to get the bricks to dry out, resealed the roof and just last weekend plastered the walls.
Hopefully a lick of paint in the next weekend or two and a new room at Ramblers Rest.

After a bit of research on refurbishing Oregon pine wood it, not knowing much about, i have come to another interesting story with possibly alot of truth. The Anglo-Boer war was manifested by the taxes of transport on Oregon pine being shipped from the United States to South Africa during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Flooring with one coat of varnish and sealer. 

Ramblers rest farmhouse has Oregon flooring, skirting, doors and kitchen counters. It took about 5 days to sand it all down to the raw pinewood. Alot of the original pine has been replaced due to wood borer and rotting due to neglect. The wood has been fumigated, washed, and dried many times. I have hand painted the first coat on the floors and kitchen counters. This is quite a time consuming process as it needs to be done a further 3 times, with light sanding inbetween to get the best sealed finish.

The Douglas-Fir tree is often referred to as Oregon Pine, and possibly gets its name Oregon from the slang name used by older shippies in Canada as Irish Pine :”O’Regan”. It was used quite extensively by the settlers and still used today to make furniture. This is possibly a reason for the name Oregon Pine instead of calling it Douglas Fir ( DF ) wood.

Oregon Pine comes from the floorboards and roofing trusses recovered from houses and buildings constructed in South Africa in the early 1900’s. Oregon imported from Canada and North America was used in this era because a suitable structural timber was required for floors and roofing, and there were insufficient South African indigenous hardwoods, like yellowwood, to meet the demand without destroying our natural forests. Recovered Oregon is hard, durable, seasoned for the decades it was in use and has a lustre and grain that suits the cottage style of furnishing – warm, homely, cozy and with a sense of timelessness.


Kitchen counters and doors

This is a water resivour that has been suggested to use as a storage area, braai area or as a water resiviour. Well being a South Africa, I rate a braai area bru. It’s an eye sore. Its right in the middle of the back garden. Its green with rotted tin, rotted beams and cracked walls. It’s also a quick way to test my building skills and get going with the rest of the jobs. I have slowly started breaking down the walls. It’s quite hard work as the wall is brick solid, 3 layers of concrete, 2 rows of bricks and steel mesh to get through. The braai area idea was spotted at a guesthouse next door, Kingston Farm, and it was the perfect renovation in the perfect spot. This is the before pictures.

I am basically opening it up with the views to the pond and wild fig tree to the east, and open up to the sunset in the west. I am leaving the walls quite high to cover the strong winds, but breaking them down to open up the views. Building a great braai area with bick and concrete. My concept is scribbled below and coloured with GIMP.  The plus side we have 3 x 3metre pine beams, and enough tin roof to finish the chicken coop.

Behind the new braai area, will be the water tank and filtration area for the house and guest house. I will cover up the tanks with a pine fence wall surrounding them. In time will also extend the garden around, also hiding the water tanks, and blocking sound. I think this is a great idea and will extend the garden, create a bigger herb garden for the kitchen and braai area, and block most of the wall from the new braai area when driving through the gate.

Lots more to work on, and many things to get going. But this structure should be up and running fairly soon.

We were supposed to opened our doors on the 1st of March 2012. That could be delayed by a few months, but we have already started working.

It’s a three bedroom with a single bathroom en-suite. Um that’s about it, I think it’s a converted garage, with lots of unused foundations outside.

Things that have been completed so far:

– Roofing has been re-enforced with hurricane screws, so now we have removed most of the bricks that were holding the roof down.
– Most of the broken windows have been replaced.
– Window sills have been cleaned and rust taken off.
– The stone stoep in the front has been broken down, and stones salvaged to rebuild a bigger stoep.
– We have also cleaned up the mess of rubbish, overgrown Lantana and cut down three trees on the paddock next to the cottage.
– We have managed to get water to the cottage from rain tanks from the main farm-house.
– The front door has been replaced with a decent door, and the frame reinforced with concrete.
– A fresh coat of paint has been applied to the bathroom, sitting room and main bedroom.

Much thought has gone into the design of this cottage. The main focus points are the view over the hills looking over other farms and the game park next door, and the spectacular afternoon sunsets. I also love the building as it has been built out of stone, and looks really old, even though it’s not. It has huge potential, but can also be financially draining and not cover its costs for decades. So I have taken my time, thought, rambled and after consulting a fiery designer over many cups of coffee, walks around. She put our vision into a design, with a colourful concept to exactly what the interior will look like, making it easier for me to focus on what is required with building it.
The design above uses the existing space as best as possible without building on, aswell as opens up the cottage for open plan living, and focuses on the amazing view north-westerly.

Further to the design above. I will be extending the concrete and stone stoep outside, extending around the north part of the cottage, with a hip level stone wall. A zinc and wooden roof will be built covering the stoep, adding to the charm and creating more surface area for rain water.

I would like the cottage to be 100% self-sustainable:
– Rain water for main supply
– bio-filter watering filter system
– solar power for most of the electrical consumption
– vegetable and herb garden outside with grey water from the cottage.

This is our first real building project, and may you send positive thoughts our way. Building and renovations have started, but its small steps first. This is one of the most important building excercises to start as it can help me gauge if its possible to do the rest of the work myself, or hire an expensive, slow builder that could give me more grey hairs and a faster receding hairline.

%d bloggers like this: