Strawbale House

Building Progress of Our Strawbale House

Archive for the ‘Products’


Published January 13th, 2010

Enviro friendly products

Cooee wood oil and cleaner

I found an Australian certified organic paint that doesn’t cost the earth. The straw bale walls will be rendered up to the pitching beams (far left). So Roger suggested I oil/paint them now as it would be easier than later. So at the Green Paint shop in West End, I found Cooee wood stains. Since the new window (couldn’t find a second hand one that size)  in the lounge is made of cedar, I decided to go cedar all the way. Really easy to apply with a sponge and all washes up in soapy water. I’ll need to re-apply it ever 1 -2 years depending on how much sun it gets, but no sanding involved. Just clean off the dust and reapply – easy.

Sustainable Cleaning Products

I just joined www.1millionwomen.com.au for action on climate change. In the “stories” section was a women promoting Enjo. I’ve seen this product (attended 2 parties) and I’m not saying they don’t work (large cleaning surface area is the principle), it’s just that they are made from petrochemicals, do not biodegrade, made in Austria (Europe) (think of the fuel miles, folks) and they cost a fortune! Last time I attended they wanted $40 AU for a washing mitt, $40 for a jar of chalk and $28.50 for a bottle of diluted citric acid. Hey, I understand people want to make a profit but wow talk about being taken to the cleaners! And of course they had a mitt for every room in the house. It’s sold by party plan so the pressure is on to buy something cause you friend who invited you wants the $150 mop! Fortunately I have resisted and have come up with my own solution that costs very little, works splendidly and you can do it yourself:

I recycle old towels for dish/cleaning cloths. I cut out double hand size squares/rectangles and sew up two sides and bingo a cleaning mitten!  I get around 10 out of a towel – you know around the edge where the towel gets worn the least. Also because of the pile they have a greater surface area and are better cleaners than cloths with no pile. You can throw them in the wash to clean them and when they end their productive life they’ll biodegrade in the worm farm or as a small weed matt around seedlings. Brown vinegar in the toilet cleans all stains and if left overnight even gets rid of the nastiest stains. Citric acid derived from citrus (around $1.50 at the supermarket) sprinkled lightly around taps gets rid of soap build up and makes them shiny. Also good on mould. I have found a tissue (sticks better than  a rag) soaked in lemon juice on those difficult corners in the shower, left overnight will lift mould and bleach the grout white again. Ground chalk (calcium carbonate) mixed with a bit of soap does as good a job as those creme cleaners and safe to use on stainless steel. I made a dusting mitten from leftover fake fur I had used to make toys when the kids were little – works a treat. Mirrors – squirt bottle with vinegar and water, wipe with a shamie followed by crumpled up newspaper or handtowel – shiny!

So you can see the cleaning aisle in the supermarket is somewhere I just don’t go.

Published November 5th, 2009

The only way is up!

guess where the bales goWe now have a slab with rods sticking our where the bales will go.  Next week (from 9/11/09) we are going to start putting the frame up with the assistance of a  local carpenter, Johan.

Timbercrete blocks (for wet areas and feature walls) have arrived and need a little longer to dry out before being laid. Timbercrete is waste timber shavings mixed with cement to create building blocks. You can saw them and you can nail into them! To get the full details of these amazing blocks check out www.timbercrete.com.au . Why didn’t we do the whole house with them?- price!From our bedroom

Timber should arrive this week from Cypress supplies in Caboolture. It seems we were lucky to get the cypress pine that we did get second hand – it is very rare and not that much cheaper than new. This cypress is farmed sustainably and grows in Queensland. Roofing iron arrived today from North Coast Demolitions. It is new roofing iron, just left overs and job lot returns. Mark and I spent last Saturday morning sorting out which bits we wanted. Local transport guy, Rick was able to deliver it all today.

Stay tuned, it’s only getting more exciting!

Published September 30th, 2009

More bits and pieces

We are trying to keep our impact on the environment as low as possible, so we are constantly on the lookout for second hand items. Ebay has been great for the doors, windows, pavers (heaps) and some timber.

Some items I thought we were stuck with buying new i.e. the spa. Fortunately for us, one of my acupuncture clients turned out to be the owner of the Reno Barn in Tarragindi. So Mark and I, plans in hand, investigated the place one Monday afternoon.

Wow, what a treasure house! Beautiful stained glass from old pubs and demolished government buildings, kitchens, lighting, fireplaces, furniture, windows and  doors (sizes on them), timber (already denailed) plus some really cute memorabilia is on display, all neatly stacked and catalogued. Nuccia was awesome in helping us find what we needed: recycled cypress pine (didn’t know you could get it), hardwood posts, spa with working motor, laundry tubs, toilet suites, and best of all windows with stained glass for the servery.

e’d been looking for months for the servery windows on Ebay and they were always the wrong size or they were sold before we could put a bid in. So we were delighted with the find. Plus they delivered – hooray! Nuccia is still keeping an eye out for any more recycled cypress for us.

So I can highly recommend the Reno Barn – www.therenobarn.com at 526 Tarragindi Road, Salisbury QLD 4107 (Evans Road End)
Phone Number: (07) 3274 5663 (Yep, shameless plug but they deserve it, just check out the pics)

Published December 3rd, 2008

Recycle Hardwood Floor Joists

Just a very quick update. I managed to get a lot of recycled hardwood floor joists and some recycled hardwood tongue and groove hardwood flooring.

We are currently planning to use the hardwood flooring in the master bedroom, Study, Sewing Room, and Media Room.

The hardwood floor joists will be used for the deck.

We’ve also had the first feedback from the engineer which has prompted us to make some further small changes to the position of some doors. I’ll show you all the new floor plan once it has been updated.

Published November 19th, 2008

Slate Tiles

Rosalba and I have been rather lucky as we have found about 87 m² of used slate tiles.

Last weekend I went to pick them up with our 1 tonne ute and a trailer.

I have to say that I seriously underestimated the weight of the slate tiles and I had to take it slowly up the Blackall range (at times I only managed second gear).

I even managed to ‘break’ the trailer just before unloading by driving over a sharp stone in the driveway and flattening one tyre.

The 87 m² of slate didn’t even all fit in the ute and trailer. I reckon I managed about 70-75% of the slate in the first trip. I’ll be picking up the rest of the slate tiles this Friday and luckily will be able to fit them in the ute only and won’t need the trailer.

We’ll use the slate tiles on the floor in the kitchen, dining, lounge, and the bathrooms.

Has anyone used slate tiles in the bathroom before and is there anything that you need to be mindful of?

Published November 5th, 2008

“Solar Success” by Collyn Rivers

Wanting to go fully solar not only for our hot water needs but also for our electricity needs we have purchased the book “Solar Success” by Collyn Rivers recently. The subtitle of the book “Getting It Right Every Time – The Complete Guide To Home & Property Systems” really got us interested.

Domestic solar power systemI have just recently finished reading this book and have to say that it was a quite easy to read considering the topic and the book covers many aspects.

I really like how the book looks at the whole solar power system from a more holistic point than just from a technical point of view.

In the first part of the book Collyn discusses all sorts of energy consuming appliances that we have in our households nowadays with a view of highlighting where it makes sense to improve the efficiency of the appliance before installing the solar power system.

The second part covers the basics of any solar power system while also listing other alternative power sources and their feasibility.

Part three covers the design and scaling of a power system, highlighting the need for an energy audit to be able to work out how big your system needs to be.

Part four covers the basics of installing a solar power system. Interesting in this part I found the section about what you are allowed to do yourself and what you need to get a licensed electrician to do.

Rolls Royce Batteries for Solar Power StoragePart five covers the actual installation of a power system with lots of tips on how to make your system more effective and secure.

Part six describes some typical examples based on actual installations. This part of the book gives you a rough feel of the likely costs to set-up a solar power system. As this book has only been released in June this year the pricing is still quite applicable.

Part seven in the book talks about financing a solar power system and the various rebate schemes available in Australia.

In the last part Collyn then describes the solar power system he has got on his property. Collyn also describes living with solar power and that the biggest challenge for Collyn is dealing with visitors that are not used to conserving energy and that one visitor can basically double their daily power consumption easily.

All in all I heartily recommend this book to anyone that is interested in getting their own solar power installation. The book is not just easy to read but I can see it also becoming a little bit of a reference book for myself. It contains some simple formulas to work out electrical properties of various parts of a solar power system.

Published October 20th, 2008

Door Handles

Door HandlesJohn,  one of our friends, has given us some free door handles for our new home.  John is a locksmith and has told us that these handles would have most likely been thrown out.

These handles have come of some doors where the builders installed the wrong type of handles on the internal doors on a large new building. The business where John works was employed to remove this handles from the doors and install the correct handles.

Believe it or not, as this handles already had been installed once, they couldn’t be sold as new and were just sitting in a corner in a box taking up space and were about to be thrown out, when John offered us these.

Of course we were only to happy to receive all the handles for our doors for free and we certainly don’t mind that they have been installed once before. In fact they do look brand new and have hardly been used ever.

Handle for entrance doorLater on we also found some handles for our front doors on eBay. They were very reasonably priced at $68 inclusive postage, so we are quite happy about those as well.

So now we already have all internal doors, the main entrance doors, all the door handles we need and some of the windows.

On the planning side of things we are now waiting on some engineers drawings before we can submit the plans to the local council for building approval. It’s quite exciting and Rosalba can’t wait to actually start doing stuff on building our new home.

Published September 24th, 2008

More Bits for Our New Home

Rosalba and I have started looking around for bits and pieces for our new home.  We have purchased the main entrance doors a while ago.

This week we were lucky enough to win an eBay auction for some nice french doors as shown below. We are planning to use these french doors as the doors to the little area outside our bedroom.

French Doors

A couple of weeks back we have also won an auction for 12 louvre doors which we’ll be using for all the inside doors.

Louvre Doors

The following picture is of a couple of wooden inlay panels that we have managed to get at a very good price. We are not yet sure where we will be using these but when we saw them, we just had to have them.

Wooden Inlay Panels

Published July 10th, 2008

“Built Like A Woman” by Sandra Broman

Cover of Built Like A Woman written by Sandra BromanRosalba picked the book titled “Built Like A Woman” by Sandra Broman when we were looking at books to get more information about building a house. I have to admit that at first I thought that this book would not be very interesting for me.

Having just finished reading it now I have to say though that I would highly recommend this book to anyone (man or woman) that is thinking of building at least parts of a house themselves and has never done so before.

Sandra Broman’s style of writing is very easy to read and feels very personal. Almost as if Sandra was just sitting with you and talking over a cup of tea.

In “Built Like A Woman” Sandra Broman tells you about her own experience of renovating and building houses. Sandra confesses that before she started doing all this type of work she would wait for her husband to come home from work to drill any holes necessary and that she has gone from SEDI (Someone Else Does It) to proper DIY.

The book gives you a positive feeling about building your own house, that it’s not actually that hard, and that most people can do a fair bit themselves. Sandra Broman also included a chapter where she rates most major tasks during the building of a house from “Easy” to “Don’t mess with it”. This chapter gives you a quick primer what you could attempt to do yourself and what you should definitely leave for a professional tradesman.

This book is by no means a reference book but it nevertheless gives you a rough idea what you are getting yourself into when building your own home and at an affordable price of around $30 it is a great book to have.

Published June 29th, 2008

Front Doors

Rosalba and I went to the Sunday market in Chandler today to get organic fruit and veg as we do most weeks.

Design of our Entrance DoorsWhile strolling around looking for some laundry baskets we walked past this stall with beautifully carved solid wooden doors. There were some stricking designs on display, many of them with some African animals carved into the middle panel.

Lucky for Rosalba and myself there where also some doors that did not have an African theme that were rather nice. Of these we ended up buying two (shown on the left) for the front entrance of the strawbale home we are going to build.

This is the first purchase specifically for our strawbale house and we think at less than $600 in total we have done rather well.