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December 2019

What a milestone. We actually started work on the main house! It is quite exciting. Above the garage is planned to be the master bedroom, office and ensuite. So it is almost like we might possibly have somewhere to live sometime in the future.  

We also managed to finish the bottle fence, although there has been an artistic difference of opinion about the final color. Joel believes that the pure white lime is perfect whereas Chelle finds it a little stark and believes that perhaps a softer cream/yellow would have been the way to go. The dog doesn’t care either way.

We also spent a lot of time installing services. We FINALLY got a hot water cylinder installed. Thanks to the magic team at Rinnai (who documented Red List compliance for us) we were finally able to get something on site that would generate hot water for us. We are actually installing a solar hot water system (from Apricus) but we have to wait for the roof to go on the main house before we can install the racking and solar panels for that system. But at least we have some hot water in the meantime, just in time for winter to finish! Yes that is correct we did the whole of winter without hot water.

Moving into next year our plan is to finish all the rammed earth walls and get the roof on. Anyone want to start a betting pool on how long that will take?

The other service that we spent a fair bit of time installing was the Zehnder mechanical heat recovery ventilation system. And it spaghetti system of ducting! The joy of the Zehnder is that on high allergen or super cold days we can close all the doors and windows and still have fresh air coming into the house. Why wouldn’t you put one into every single house!

Chelle realised the answer to this at the Earth Building Association conference in November where we were asked to give a presentation on the house. At the conference we found out that there are actually people who are quite passionately anti Passivhaus. So much so that Chelle completely rewrote her presentation to address this issue and explain what Passivhaus is actually about as there is so much misconception out there.

After the conference the editor of the Earth Building magazine wrote this about our talk:

I sat up straight at our conference when one speaker spoke about Passivhaus. I think I may have been assuming that Passivhaus required you to live in a hermetically sealed box, divorced from nature and the natural environment. Instead Passivhaus was explained as a design philosophy, one that asks designers and builders to carefully consider window size, dwelling orientation etc to optimise (not maximise) solar gain. The speaker advised that the purpose of the Passivhaus standard is to create a dwelling with a low heating demand in winter that won’t overheat in summer (not always the case in passive solar). Yes, Passivhaus uses very exacting science to design homes to the highest possible standard, but the reason for this is that Passivhaus wants is to provide you with a warm, dry and comfortable house. Using this science allows the avoidance of draughts or leaks - too common in many houses – and ensures that any ventilation - windows skylights etc, is by choice. Apparently, it is not the case that a passive house has to be a hermetically sealed bubble – it should just be airtight with no unintended draughts. What I didn’t realise is that Passivhaus is actually a simplification of design, where I originally thought it was all about complicated mechanical systems. This speaker made me realise that Passivhaus and earth building could be a match made in heaven.

We believe that everybody should have a Passivhaus!