Strawbale House

Building Progress of Our Strawbale House

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5 March 2011

Do It Yourself Paint

We found an easy to follow recipe on the Internet on how to make your own paint. Rosalba tried it today with great success. The paint recipe is really easy to follow. Check it out yourself:

“Buy Hydrated Lime powder (I bought 1.5kg from Bunnings for about $5) and your choice of colour oxide (250 gms costs between about $7 to $16 depending on colour – will last for ages as you only use small amounts) from the SAME section of the store. DON’T go to the paint department, as they won’t be able to help you. Make sure the Lime powder you buy is HYDRATED and not the quick drying Lime. Also, the colour oxide needs to be Lime tolerant (so buy the product used to colour concrete, mortar, etc. to ensure you’ve got the right stuff).

1. CAREFULLY place Hydrated Lime powder into a plastic bucket/container – not metal (you’ll need to wear a face mask, avoid unnecessary risks) and CAREFULLY mix in enough water to make a cream-like consistency.

2. Then mix in a small measure of the colour oxide. I started with a 1/4 teaspoon at first and added more (a little at a time) until I got the colour I wanted. Make sure the oxide is properly mixed in; the best way is by using a paint mixing attachment on an electric drill.

3. Paint away! You’ll need to leave the first coat for 24 – 36 hours before applying the second coat. The first coat will be powdery when dry, but the second coat is fine. If you want to paint under the eaves or walls or fences, add to the Limewash paint ingredients 1% part Pale Boiled Linseed Oil to make it water resistant.

I have saved literally HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS by making my own paint and would recommend this to anyone! Also, the Limewash paint you make is so easy to clean up. If it gets on your clothes it just washes out with cold water. If it spills on carpet, let it dry and simply vacuum it up! Spills also wipe off really easily from any surface. After making my own paint, I’m no longer interested in using conventional paints as this is also a much healthier option – a lot less chemicals!”
(Credit to Lilian, Marmion)

In the pictures below you can see the paint Rosalba mixed up in the bucket and the second pictures is of the first coat being applied. The pale green is the paint colour.

5 March 2011

Window Frame

Rosalba and Mark are working on their house again this weekend.

Mark has been working on creating a window frame from scratch for the large louvre window in the walk in wardrobe. In the two pictures below you can see the opening before and after installatioin of the wooden frame. Mark made the frame out of Camphour and found that it smells very strongly when you cut it. Not bad but tickles the nose a bit 🙂

4 March 2011


It’s a rainy day here so not much us happening work wise. It is good though to relax a bit, enjoy nature and reflect on what to do next.


25 February 2011

Local wildlife checking out my work

Today I’ve been working on the deck again. This Kookaburra took an
interest in my work and didn’t feel intimidated by me at all when I got to
within arm’s length to take the picture.

I guess this is a youngster that is still quite curious… 🙂

19 February 2011

Cooking dinner together on our deck.

19 February 2011

Rendering Upside Down How To with Rosalba

We have had a question from Mitch if there is a particular trick to
rendering upside down, which is why Rosalba is showing us in this video
how to apply a clay render upside down.

19 February 2011

Started with the Balustrading

Today I started with the balustrade on the front of the deck. I am using recycled hardwood that we picked up yesterday from a demolition yard.

As you can see we are already using the deck as our “camping” kitchen.

16 February 2011

The deck is coming along nicely

Over the last few months I have been busily working on the deck.

We purchased recycled and new decking timber. The new decking we purchased mainly because we couldn’t get enough recycled decking at the time.

In my experience it is a lot nicer to work with recycled decking as there seems to be a lot less wasteage and the decking boards seem to be straighter as well. Added to that is that the recycled decking is also cheaper when you can get it.

Anyway, here’s a quick picture of the progress of the deck from quite a while ago.

16 February 2011

PV system is installed and we’ve got electricity.

In November 2010 we’ve got the our Solar electricity system installed and we’ve now got electricity throughout the house. It is just great to be able to use some tools now without having to run a noisy generator.

Here are some pictures from our PV system:

The first pictures shows the concrete pad we poured for the external battery enclosure.

In the second picture you can see how we used some of the waste abling twine, by adding it to the concrete mix to make the pad stronger.

As seen in the third picture, we’ve made the walls of the encloser out of Hebel (aereted concrete)
Working with Hebel was easy and fast. We used a plain saw to cut the hebel blocks to size when necessary.

Next couple of pictures show the batteries. Each one of these weights about 70kg.

The cable Rosalba is holding in picture 6 shows the size of the cable that connects the batteries to the rest of the system. It’s about as thick as a thumb.

And finally a view of the solar panels installed on the roof. As you can see we are very happy finally having our solar system.


16 October 2010

Render – the final coats

Since the workshop, Nick, Roger and Andrew (the brilliant roofer has joined the team) have been hard at work putting on the lime render on the outside. The first and second coats were pumped on using the long awaited render pump. Nick had ordered and paid for the pump back in February 2010. It arrived in June 2010. I did not envy their work with the caustic lime with all workers losing some layers of skin where the lime ate through their clothing. The final coat was done by hand. I chose an earthy soft yellow in the end after discovering the cost of shades of blue. You need to be patient and do a test patch as when it first went up it was “baby-poo” yellow but once dried, it is a golden wheat colour. Meanwhile on the inside I commenced the final coat. The wonderful people who had come to the render workshop had made excellent progress on the first two coats, slurry and “discovery” coat. The “boys” decided another coat of clay and straw would be needed before the final coat of  clay, sand and colour. This they completed before the render pump arrived.I played around with the mix for the final coat. I added very fine straw to one mix but was not happy with the look so I opted for fine saw dust that was lying around. Other things I added were borax and wheat flour paste. Andrew had finely ground up a pile of the clay but even with the addition of oxide I was having trouble lightening the heavy terracotta colour. A visit to “The Clay Shed” in Kunda Park resulted in me finding the right colour mix with the help of the very knowledgeable Cameron. By adding yellow oxide, as well as the beige oxide and diluting the terracotta clay with the white clay I have ended up with a very neutral beige. My Italian heritage had the last say and I added glitter to the render mix to make it interesting. The final coat mix is:

2 buckets of terracotta clay, 2 buckets of white kaolin clay, 10 buckets of brickies loam, 6 cups of  flour paste, 2 cups of borax, 1 cup of bicarbonate, 2 cups of beige oxide, 3/4 cup of yellow oxide, 1/2 bucket of fine sawdust, glitter and water.

The mix is easy to work and sticks well even upside down. At present have completed one bedroom, lounge and dining area, 1/2 Mark’s study and 3/4 of pantry. I enjoy it but it’s a killer on the arms especially my right arm. Fortunately I work with some talented acupuncturists at Alba Therapies who help keep my shoulders and arms from seizing up.

Sewig room render complete

Glitter in the render

Lime render complete with colour

Final coat lounge