Another busy month at the Living House. We are hoping to move into the first part of the Living House in January 2019 (yes that is right 2019, not 2020!) so we have been working super hard to try and get things ready.
This month some progress has been swift and we have also managed some firsts for the Living House. It was certainly the first time I have ever had beer frogs! That was not a pleasant surprise. I was reaching into the bucket to grab another beer bottle for the bottle wall when I realised that the bottom of the bucket was moving. Two little frogs were in the rainwater at the bottom of the bucket, trying their best to get out. It gave me the fright of my life!
We also had our first major success with the awesome Civil Share app. Blair was trying to get rid of 1500 old pavers from around his pool, and we wanted some pavers to go around the one bedroom apartment. Civil Share connected us and we both saved all of those pavers from landfill.
We also managed to put our first penetrations through the rammed earth walls. We have 4 ducts for our Zehnder system (supplied by the amazing Fantech) through the top of one rammed earth wall with the Marley dBlue (no PVC here thank you very much) through the bottom of the same piece of wall to allow our hot and cold Kembla copper pipes to come through from the garage.
Our new hot water heat exchanger, a spirex energy drain, also got delivered (thank you Vaportec – you can check them out here if you want one of your own - . We are super excited to have this on site and can’t wait to start capturing waste heat from our hot water and use it to pre-heat the incoming cold water to the hot water system. Reusing waste is what we are all about here at the Living House.
Then of course one big piece of excitement was the start of putting down the roof. Most of the Hyne Beams were already up, but we did have 4 missing that we needed to get up and in. Then it was time for the new Laminex Strandsarking. But of course this is the Living House so nothing is going to go smoothly. We had nominated the use of 19mm plywood on our consent drawings for our warm roof substrate. And we also originally had traditional eaves with an attached traditional gutter. However we decided that it would be a great idea to change that as well to become an eave/box gutter.
All of this would probably not have been a problem if I could have managed to get Auckland Council to talk to me. However despite MANY emails, text messages and phone calls I struggled to get anyone to get back to me to talk me through what site inspections our non-weight timber framed house would require and if the above changes could be treated as a minor variation (that can be dealt with on site) or if they needed to be an amendment. Finally I gave up and booked a site meeting to at least get somebody here so I could talk to them. We ended up with the amazing Steve from Carterton (who was helping Auckland Council out with workload, but also has experience in rammed earth houses!). Unfortunately Steve said that we needed an amendment for the above and that work on the roof would have to stop until that amendment came through. Of course I don’t really take no for an answer so I immediately lodged the amendment and then tried to find a way that we could proceed with getting the roof on. The good news is that Auckland Council agreed that whilst we still require an amendment we could proceed with the works on site at our own risk (ie if the amendment is denied then we’d have to rip everything off and start again!)
The good news is that Laminex Strandsarking is BRANZ appraised and has been accepted by local councils as a plywood substitute before so precedence has been established. The other small change that we had to make to the roof design was to (i) include a vapour barrier (it is a standard part of the Equus system, but we didn’t have it on our consent drawings as we weren’t working with Equus back then) as well as (ii) delete the EPS profiled foam that was going to create the roof slope (have you ever tried to find Red List compliant EPS foam) and to instead use FSC, Red List free timber to create the roof slope. Changes changes changes, all problems, problems, problems……
So I guess we will see how that all pans out. In the good news we got all the in ground plumbing in AND have managed to get the DPM and insulation down and taped for airtightness. Next step (next month) earth floor! Exciting!
And just today, our reused Rimu (salvaged from the skip bin of a house renovation of a friend down the road) interior walls are going up. We can then get the plumbers in for a second fix and the sparky and ventilation team in for a first fix and then get the walls of the bathroom tiled!