Some people dream of building a ‘Grand Design’ using ‘Leading Edge Eco materials’, but what they forget is that just beyond the leading edge lies a vast abyss of ignorance. The day you find yourself staring into it, you might just have to hope that an unexpected hero will suddenly emerge to save the day. Luckily for us, Chris Brookman and his products from Back to Earth appeared just in time. More
I’m going to have to stop apologising for not updating this blog. We’ve been doing lots of boring, unphotogenic, slog repetitive stuff. Filling holes, mostly. But this week, warmest this year, we’ve been doing some new style cooking – getting ready for our future! More
Even if it looks more like a break-in than a breakthrough… More
To try to do EVERYTHING at once. Shame there are only 24 hours in a day and we need to sleep sometimes.
When I got the idea to milk other people’s sheep, I created a lot or problems for myself. One is that sheep get ill and when they are taking certain veterinary drugs (antibiotics, wormers, etc) they cannot be milked for a given ‘withdrawal period’. How to easily tell which sheep must not be milked without bothering the farmer? More
Trying to get on with the cheesemaking – after all, that’s why we’re here.
You would think that building a house off-grid using solar panels to make our own electricity would be renewable and innovative enough, but our latest renewable is probably the most innovative and possibly the closest to the leading edge we’ve come, to date.
We’ve had a long, self-indulgent period where we were hardly ‘self’ building. The amazing Mike Roberts with his able Whiteway Carpenters has been the real project manager (not me!) – every so often saying – ‘Time to order your insulation’ or ‘Better get the plumber in now’. He will still be coming in to help us with the ‘design and build’ – where he teaches us how to build something, then leaves us to get on with it. But Monday marked the end of an era.
Not really something I was very keen to see, but nothing I can do to prevent it.
Our Solar PV is angled to optimise winter sun. It is fascinating to see how it performs, now that our daily cycle of sunlight is so short. Today was a great example. First day of sunlight, after 3 days of murky grey.
Confession: We haven’t finished the interior of the Cabin. The main problem has been how to create a sliding ‘barn’ type door for the bathroom. But the arrival of a special package is going to be a ‘curtain raiser’ for us!
Had intended to have a big party, but Steve, our roofer has finished two days early. More
Before… and during. Leftmost photo – the cabin before the house was started. Rightmost photo (and below), look closely, the single storey bit- away from the scaffolding to the left in the photo, that’s the Cabin that we are living in. I really want to share what an amazing experience it is to live in a micro version of the house you are building, while you are building it, but I’m struggling to explain.
While I was taking this picture, Mike Roberts said “This is called ‘Closing In'”. So the title of my last entry was a bit premature, Sorry!
First equinox at Easterdown and nights are closing in. This is the phase we are at with our house – Roof, Doors and Window installation means we are closing in: More
Very few blocks left to lay and you can really see that this is a house!
This week was always going to be tough because we are now on the first floor and need to move the blocks one by one onto the slab and then up onto the first floor. Yesterday we threw Manpower at it – Mike Roberts + 2 of his guys + me and it took us an hour and a half to get two pallets of blocks unloaded onto the first floor.
I had mentioned to the Wrights (who are helping me with the sheep and sheep milking), and this morning: More
My Nephew dropped in for a few days – first trip to the UK and what does this American Tourist get to see? Lots of clay blocks. More
So quick, we are now too high to reach! So Trestles and Boards arrived today
Beginning to work above head height, but no need for scaffolding –
We have had generator problems for the last few months. The Hyundai generator died and I lost faith in the brand. Not in the people – Genpower and Just Generators have acted honourably and fairly – but I suspect I will never buy anything with a Chinese motor ever again. So skip forward to the next generation, our new generator looks very promising. More
Roderick James Architects wanted us to build with Clay Blocks. An environmentally friendly material (clay), cleverly engineered with natural insulation and thermal mass, but very expensive. Mike Hope said that we could afford this system because it is so simple that we could lay the blocks ourselves. I could imagine that indeed, we could lay the blocks, but knowing when and how to stop seemed to be an entirely different and much more difficult problem. How to know when you’ve reached a door or a window and what you do when you get there, REALLY worried me. More
Unbelievably, we are pretty much on schedule! More
Now you might think that Carpenter Oak magic at Easterdown is something to do with magic’ing up this gorgeous timber frame. Yes that’s part of it. But it doesn’t stop there, I’ve always thought that the guys from Carpenter Oak are ‘super’ men, but read on – you’ll believe a Carpenter can fly! More
Carpenter Oak were supposed to take three days to erect this frame. I reckon they will be ready to leave here at 11am tomorrow morning. They don’t hang around! More
More progress this week – the rallying cry is “onward and upward!” More
Lots happening here – Foundations in. blocks started, more log store activity this week
Look closely, this is not a stick or a bit of branch
Ropes were the theme of yesterday. Started the day learning about rope halters for sheep milking and ended up rigging the bed platform!
Sunday was scheduled for platforms and winches but
Early morning inspection and this afternoon, concrete poured. More
Day 2 of Groundworks – WOW that was quick! More
Working on a Sunday! More
It’s not ALL work at Easterdown. Our first visitor! More
Still struggling to get more done. Brilliant photogenic weather last week doesn’t help (no excuse!)
So why is the dishwasher out of its built-in lair? You may be wondering if we’ve really had such a trouble-free, smooth time during this project, but things do go wrong and not to plan.
Opened my eyes this morning and what did I see?
Everything before Easter has been on a go slow, but there’s a very important light at the end of the tunnel
Our Solar System began with 2 tonnes of Batteries…
No days off for us, unlike our neighbours with the steam engine!
I keep asking myself the above question. Trying not to stumble under massive irony – We have phone and internet at Easterdown, but at the cottage where we are staying someone accidentally put a chainsaw through the telephone line, so no internet/email/voip in the evenings. Tough to arrange stuff, but we’re still progressing –
Telephone and Internet installed yesterday. Didn’t expect to feel quite so different, but now that the telephone is in and the place is warm and cosy, I want to start living there. RIGHT NOW!
We are now out of West Acres but not quite at Easterdown. Up on the Brendon Hills, half a mile away from Easterdown. More
So what have we been up to? 2 weeks ago, finally got onto the ceilings
Our first Zero Carbon system is in and IT WORKS!!!!
Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU Jamie Burnham for having the courage and the brains to design our brilliant wood range thermal store hot water system. It works perfectly and has already out-performed expectations. More
Just a cheapie – to see if my slightly mad idea about old typefaces is legible enough. Other than that just pushing on with the fit out.
Are we building a house, or is this really just an excuse for getting an education? Both of us are really enjoying learning carpentry skills from Mike Roberts.
Flue in, floor and bathroom underway, all we need is a plumber….
We HAVE to move in soon, this Cabin is so lovely in the sunlight: More
What a Stunner! So nice to see the Cabin with no scaffolding (angle of photo hides Mike Roberts small scaffolding to the east….) Started Floor today, took admiring photos of Esse and Frame
The ever resourceful Ben Bowman of Ben Bowman limited, himself arrived with colleague James to deliver the Esse Plus 1 which will provide heat, hot water and cooking. All in one very pretty package. Comments on the cabin from James “What an amazing place! Fantastic wood frame” (pointing to the Belfast Truss) to which Ben answered ” I only take you to the best places”. Everyone who sees the Cabin, loves it.
A few projects over the last few weeks. Cabin 99% water tight – trying to do inside work now. Held up by the non- appearance of our wood burning range. Building regulations require hearth 12.5mm above final floor level. I reckon we cracked it. Or damn close. More
Dropped in to Easterdown today and suddenly it no longer looks a construction, it looks like a home More
Technically speaking, there is now an opening to what will be the front door to the Cabin. Roof nearly done and 4 of the 6 roof lights in.
Dropped in to Easterdown yesterday. Roof well underway and one roof light already installed. Really starting to look like a home. More
Yes, it did. Well, two and a half, actually. This has to be the future. Self builders living in micro cabins, well insulated, beautiful, sustainable construction, and this becomes part of the final house. Plus we get to try out lighting, heating, electricity and cooking off grid and see what works and what doesn’t before we commit to the whole house. A microcosm of our future lifestyle. More
When I showed up this afternoon, Thursday, what did I see? More
3 weeks later and Carpenter Oak bring the cabin to Easterdown. This transformation in 3 days is astounding. More
Or I probably should say, 3 weeks. This has been an incredibly busy time. Click for photo diary of just how quick the house came down and the Cabin goes up. More
When we embarked on this project, to replace a house that is off grid and remain off grid, people close to us said, “Why would you want to do that?” They’ve been asking whether we will be living in a Victorian past. But we think that living “off grid”, or at least with some system of electricity generation and storage, is the future. More
We have dates for the cabin!
Start date is 28th October and week commencing 11th November it will arrive on site to be assembled.
Busy weekend ahead, we have some catching up to do. Now, where are those wrecking bars?
Last weekend we started recycling the house at Easterdown. I suspect we got the last nice day this year, but it was still an inspiring day. More
Someone asked to see a photo of Easterdown – This is 3/4 of a circular panorama we took last December (bit bleak and cold). Easterdown is a blank canvas, a flat field on top of a hill
After getting a few quotes to test the flow rate of our Well, the ‘mean gene’ kicked in and we did it ourselves. More
Little rethink about off-grid electricity consumption. Dare we assume we can always ‘be good’? More
I have been struggling to get quotes for our off-grid PV system