Odds, Ends, and Leftovers

Well there’s not much left for us to finish up with on the house- just a smattering of trim around a few doors and at the edges of the floor in the kitchen.  At the end of such a long project, it was a relief to be able to gather together the leftovers of our supplies and find as many uses as possible without spending any more money.  We got shelves in place, towel racks done, cupboard doors on, drawers inserted, light covers constructed, a built in closet installed, the table finished, and the shower up and running.  The materials that we had left over to use were mostly yellow cedar in various dimensions and red cedar 3inch tongue and groove boards.

yellow cedar plank to become a table

The yellow cedar came our way when we connected with someone on Salt Spring who reclaims high quality wood and sells it by dimension to window and door makers in the city.  He drove by our place one day and offered us a large amount of yellow cedar for a really great price if we bought his whole pile.  Colin estimated that what he had would do our own windows and doors and have a bit left over, but the pile lasted through all the trim work and the edging for the kitchen drawers and cupboards.

legs from left over timber frame fir

We also had 2×12 pieces that became the table, which had legs made from left over fir from the knee braces of the timber frame.  Yellow cedar cutoffs became the phone table.  We had a similar story with a whole lift of tongue and groove red cedar.  After the main use of covering the ceiling and the inside walls, we used it for the facings of the drawers and cupboards and for trim in some places.  Bulk buying can really provide a lot of benefits!  The house really took on a much more unified look than Colin and I originally anticipated.  Towel racks utilized yellow cedar cut offs and the leftover bamboo poles that we used to frame either side of the straw bale walls for extra support.  We tiled the kitchen counter with a combination of tiles that were from a huge donated pile.  We found three types of tiles that matched in colour and in size, and after laying them out to fit, we had not a single tile left of each kind- so careful cuts with the tile cutter were imperative.  We found a sink from the recycling depot here on the island.  The bathroom sink also came from a renovation, as well as the taps.

handmade light covers

My mom made light shades with a split cedar frame wrapped in handmade paper.  I wish I could say we made the paper, but we didn’t.  It was a very affordable purchase from an art store.  January was the cheapest month of building by far and we were just in time for my mom to move in and for Colin and I to head to California for a week.  Slowly the tools are being replaced by daily use things, like clothes and art supplies and books, and Colin is focusing back on his business.  I remember once when Taeven asked me what I would be doing if I wasn’t building a house.  At the time I was on the top of a ladder pushing insulation into the ceiling- a less than enjoyable job.  It took me awhile to answer- and I was amazed at what I had possibly forgotten about myself, or rather, that house building had become my primary interest- but then I remembered gardening, spinning, weaving, writing, felting, going hiking, trips to the beach, home school projects, friends over for dinner, music…

Plans are in the works however for the next half.

bench seat with drawers

the shower

Building with Pop Cans

One of our very first introductions into the world of sustainably built and functioning houses was in Colorado where we attended a presentation by Michael Reynolds, an experimental architect/builder from New Mexico.  Michael is well known for his Earthship buildings, which are built with recycled materials and designed with self- sufficient systems of water, heat, cooling, and light.  They are like permaculture houses, where each aspect of design is multi-functional and supportive to other systems.  These are not high-tech modern houses with computerized regulators though- they are designed with the observations and functions of nature, such as passive solar, complete water systems from rain to grey water recycling and irrigation within the house, sewage treatment, natural light, and air flow circulation that follows natural patterns.  Michael had also taken the important step of building these houses with materials that would otherwise become garbage, like car tires, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans, among other things.  He has taken these ideas and travelled to impoverished countries, demonstrating the possibilities of creating cool, water capturing, ventilated houses for those in hot countries with no electricity and clean water, built with free materials from overflowing garbage dumps.  Despite much conflict with the states’ building industry on the parliamentary level, Michael has continued to fight with a  passion to build healthy, non-dependent homes that span classes and climates.  An awesome documentary called Garbage Warrior follows Michael through his dreams and his journeys.  Check out amazingly beautiful houses and innovative design principles at this site, Earthship Biotecture Green Buildings, http://earthship.com/.

Colin’s design of the bathroom has a round shower space situated almost in the middle of the house, with a tight curve that would be difficult to frame out of wood.  So we used Michael Reynolds’ technique of creating an interior wall out of pop cans, mortared together like bricks in concrete, which made the curve easy to achieve.  Every once in awhile we placed two glass bottle ends taped together into the row to let extra light in, since there are no windows at all in the bathroom.  We had collected a bunch of square, blue gin bottles from the recycling depot here, and instead of trying to cut them we placed them upright around the top, which ended up giving our round wall a bit of a castle turret look.  We placed the height of the wall at just over 6 feet high, so more light can come in over the top.  Colin built a wood cap that sits an inch wider than the wall so we can put plants up there, and the  outside of the wall got a layer of clay plaster, and will be finished with the same earth plaster that the rest of the walls will have.  On the inside, Colin plans to build a small seat in the corner out of cans as well, and we will then coat the whole inside with red pigmented concrete, leaving the glass bottles exposed and glowing.

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