Tuesday, 29 July 2008

15 - The Other Progress

Over the last month or so we have been busy with house related things, well as busy as we can be while trying to entertain a 16 month old daughter.

Asbestosy Nail Removal
When the asbestos sheeting ceiling lining was removed by the slap dash asbestos removers they left behind most of the nails that held the stuff up many of which still sporting little chunks of asbestos. Nails were not included in the quote. We missed that upon perusal. So a few weeks ago we suited up in beanies, gloves, spray bottles and asbestos dust masks and removed every single nail. This was a somewhat satisfying 4 hour job, though regrettable considering its very existence was due to our oversight. Oh well. You learn from such things. The nails would have had to come out anyway for the new ceiling lining.

Composting Toilet
Finally after years and years of longing we bought a waterless composting toilet. We decided to go with Nature-Loo because I had heard good things about them. I loved the idea of not using valuable water to flush a toilet, especially when that water is from a tank or dam. I still love the water saving characteristic of composting toilets, however, with the flush toilet in the shed we use dam water from a permanently overflowing spring fed dam. This fact somewhat removed the potency from my toilet water saving needs. Though, of course, it still feels great saving water – no matter what that water’s perceived quality or quantity. In addition to this reasoning there has emerged another. Our current septic system attached to the shed is an older style tank and trench system. It has worked fine for the three years or so we have been here permanently. When discussing waste treatment systems with the relevant consultant designing our new system for the house, we decided to go with a similar system by the house to deal with grey water. Because we were including a composting toilet, we found out that we can minimise our trench space significantly by not using it for black (poo) water. This was good news, especially after discovering that the suggested trench site had a spring under it and would not have worked as a trench site for very long at all. The solution to this was to pump the grey water from tanks attached to the house over to the existing shed trench some 120 meters away. Considering the water is only grey, this existing trench would not even need to be extended. Less money all round. No need for more trenches just a tank or two, 120 metres worth of 1-2 inch polypipe and a sump pump. Oh and a composting toilet.

We were always going to incorporate a composting toilet into whatever waste treatment system we decided upon for the house. In many ways this early decision strongly dictated what we should do for the rest of the waste water system. Deciding to take responsibility for one’s own poo is very liberating. It means that you do not have to pay ongoing costs for some other process to do the job for you. It is crazy when you think about it. Those other processes are things like the Biolytix system which recycles waste water so it can be used again in certain household applications. Sounds like a great idea and of course it is in the dry times many people face now. The problem for me with these is the ongoing regular maintenance costs involved. I won’t wear this. And don’t have to because we will only have grey water to deal with.

For those without town sewage connection and a strong aversion to the idea of a waterless toilet, I guess you need to ask yourself how much this aversion is going to cost me. Maybe try and get over it. Your pocket would surely appreciate it.

Anyway, we bought the Nature Loo ‘Classic 1000’ with two chambers. I will probably install it myself in the coming weeks. Watch this blog for the fun and games that is bound to bring. I will also discuss the grey water system more when it arrives.

Water Tank
As you are well aware by now dear reader, we rely on tank and dam water here on the property. We currently have a 23700 Litre (5000Gal) tank at the moment attached to the shed. It has been great. We decided we would leave this attached and purchase another bigger tank for the house. This is what we did. It is a 34000 Litre (7500Gal) tank and after being delivered and resting on its side for a couple of weeks was moved into place by my neighbour with the diggers.

Tank, baby and I

We placed this monster of a tank on the south east of the house. It is only a metre away and dug into the slope enough so that its inlet is low enough to have down pipes from the gutters run down the house under the floor and across into the tank. Currently we have underground pipes going from the shed and back up into the tank some 15 metres away. I don’t really like this method as the water sits in the pipes underground in between rain and I can never be bothered ‘bleeding’ these pipes as often as I should.

Tank in final resting place

This was pretty straight forward and probably does not require a paragraph but seeing as I am in the business of providing paragraphs, here it is. We first thought we would have to run electrical wires overhead from the shed to the house as there is a wet gully between them. Before getting a quote for this, I talked to my neighbour who assured me that it was easier and cheaper to go under the gully. I didn’t think such a thing would be allowed. It is and so that is what we did. The metre box remained on the shed and 130 metres of conduit covered cable was dug some 60 cm underground. Where it crossed the gully floor we had a small spring fed pond dug and crossing made for a nice leisurely path from house to shed. So the electricity is now hooked up. We will wait until the ceiling is in to have lights. This means we can have a crack at putting the missing half of the front deck and its associated roof together.

Friday, 4 July 2008

14 - The Crookedness

Well it has now been a little over three months since the house arrival. The movers had officially finished with the house about four weeks ago. They managed to stretch 5-6 days worth of work over two months. This is not because they work incredibly slow but rather that they are very busy and got tied up with other jobs after the stumpers had finished off here. At the moment the house looks very worse for wear, no make that worse for move. It looked great for wear. Built in 1926 and still looking wonderful, then we came along and roughed it all up by moving it. Sigh. I do remember someone telling us early on that the appearance of a freshly moved house conjures a little nervous shock in the new owners. This has happened with us. The house looks like it was thrown by a tornado. I half expected to see striped stockinged witch legs sticking out from under it, only the whole thing is off the ground on stumps of varying heights and thus the witch would be safe, you get what I mean though.

After the official “we have finished” cry following the day’s work they returned for after the stumpers pulled stumps as it were, the movers left. We thought “great we can start fixing things up”. To our dismay we noticed that the front of the house looked a bit crooked. The two posts holding up the roof of the front verandah, seen under the title atop of this blog, both went left, rhombus style. Jan, my partner now has a name, took photos of the offending crookedness and sent them to the wife of, and admin arm for, the house mover. About a week and half later he came out to have a look. He wasn’t around when his workers ‘finished off’. To our relief he was agreed that it wasn’t acceptable. We were half expecting an answer similar to “Well these things happen when you move a house, luck of the draw really,… good luck with it and good day sir”.

The crooked front end and baby.

He returned the next day and had discovered that the front of the house was twisted slightly in the opposite direction to that of the back. This needed work. Also there were some significant support pieces missing from the roof trusses. He worked on things for a day and now the house looks finished, as far as our contract with him goes. We are happy with the result though a little peeved at the time it took to achieve it. So all up we have waited quite while for the house to be at the stage it is now, which is not as far as I had envisioned before the process started. Nevertheless we have made some progress in other areas which I shall outline very soon.