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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.


Been threatening to build a greenhouse for 4 weeks already. I have marked out the space, positioned it properly and given it a lot of thought. We have a full day of sun everyday unless there is rain, which is a blessing. Ok the title is a little incorrect, but both Xolane and myself are every happy with the work we put in, and the materials we used, cost us almost nothing, except for a few cable ties, and a split thumb.  

This is not the greenhouse I had in mind, and actually just next to the spot where it will be. It’s just been setup for seedlings and cuttings to have some shade, aswell as a spot in the vegetable for us to work. The materials we used were all found on the farm:

– Shade netting found lying around the farm.
– Black wattle tree stumps for the structure
– Salvaged wood for the support structures and working bench
– Salvaged nails from the wood we found
– PVC piping from old pipes found around the farm

We dug holes to put the main tree stumps in, and measure them to a nice height to work under. We reinforced the structure with other wood to make sure it was sturdy for the strong winds. And then  connected the shade netting with cable-ties. i found some lovely pine retted planks under a bush going to waste and salvaged in time to use for the bench. Other than that it took us two a few hours to put it all together and now we have some shade for good development of smaller plants.

One thing that I will remember in future, and a very good tip I learnt last night is to remove the bark of the black wattle and paint it with tar or diesal, it lasts longer and repels insects.

It does have a bit of an angle, and does not look sturdy, but it sure is, its reinforced from all angles, needs a little more work, and will serve us well for many years to come.

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