Strawbale House

This blog is intended to chart our progress through the self-build process, from half-hearted plot-hunting through to completion of the build. The twist is that we're building the house from timber and straw (hence the blog title).

Click on the image at the end of each post to see that day's photos.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

September 9th - Wall and face-stuffing

After yesterday's heroic effort, the team had a lot to live up to today. I woke before 7 with a rotten head. It may have been the two glasses of Emma's elderflower wine, but I'm happy to put it down to a poor night's sleep and the onset of my first cold of the year. The troops were slow to appear, with Jason taking the wooden spoon when he stumbled from his tent at 8:30.
Energy levels were low - at least mine were, and JD, who was working with me at the front of the house certainly hadn't quite got into his stride. A quick trip round the back of the house revealed that the Cumbrian trio were doing much better and yesterday's work-party atmosphere was once again in evidence. This seemed to do the trick and JD and I quickly upped our game.
I was keen to finish the walls I'd started last week so I could get them properly weather-tight with membrane. It was a full-team effort on the west-gable. A hell of a lot of straw went in, and at the apex we seemed an awfully long way from the ground. Nice secure feeling, though, working inside the wall with the OSB at one side and a good sturdy timber frame at the other.
JD, Jason and Emma got cracking on the east end while Mark and I tackled the tricky and slow end-game at the west. mark showed himself to have a superb head for heights and very robust stamina and good humour, shuttling bales of various sizes up the ladder at almost its full extent over and over again until I had the wall all-but finished. The last few holes we filled from the front, off the ladder when there was no longer any space for me in the wall.
Meanwhile Jason was directing operations at the other end with typical efficiency - possibly a legacy of his three years in the army.
Anne arrived with another feast. Enormous amounts of bread, hot chicken ham, cheese, sausage rolls and Lord knows what else. I thought there was many times too much for us to possibly eat, but it all went, even the two fruit pies that she sprung on us as an after-thought.
The volunteers all packed up and left around 4pm. What a great bunch! Two days of hard graft, just for the love of it. I'm not sure Mal or Anna get the whole volunteer thing, but I knew it would work, having dabbled in the permaculture scene many years ago.
Mal worked alone for the second day running, finishing the reveals and getting the flooring to within half a row of completion. A little bit of plumbing to tackle before he can close it all up. Anna's rearranged the bathroom, and we've (i.e. - she has) decided to have a central ventilation and heat-recovery system. This, I think, will be retro-fitted, as I can't see Mal being happy with the delay we'd encounter doing it now.
I started stapling membrane to all the walls, and once I'd run out, continued with polythene as a temporary protection against the weather, which was changing palpably as I worked. I was still going when the light failed completely at 8:30pm. The wind had picked up markedly, and working solo with the ladder fully extended to allow me access to the apex at 7.2m was no fun at all, especially as the sheeting I was attaching was acting like a spinnaker. I was very relieved to finish in one piece.
Nephew Ben is coming tomorrow to help out for a couple of days.

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