Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Termites the original mud builders!!

Termites are amazing little creatures, when I first moved to Zimbabwe I was amazed to see these mounds that appeared all over the horizon, sculptural and intricate in their own right, these are the original mud builders!! In areas where no clay is found people building mud huts in zimbabwe will use the termite mounds by grinding it up and adding water, then making bricks from this, the result is very strong. I chose not to use this method as I would prefer not to destroy termites homes, after all of that hard work! Unfortunately when building your own home termites can become a huge problem, eating through structural wood. I really don't want to use any harmful chemicals for treating the wood, here the only options are pressure treated poles with Cresote or CCA. I would like to treat wood myself with something less harmful such as borax.

I have had some good suggestions, help and advice from joining a permaculture forum http://www.permies.com , which includes a natural building forum, there are lots of interesting ideas and topics raised. I posted a link to my blog to see if anyone could help and a discussion on termites and wood borers has started up, please have a look if you are interested or have any ideas http://www.permies.com/t/11974/green-building/cob-blog-please-have-look

Friday, 13 January 2012

Details, details...

I drew up the design for this door, which will be the front door. A local carpenter who uses wood from the forestry commission, which is the most sustainable source of wood here at the moment. The wood used is Mukwa. He did a great job, I'm really happy with this, a window pane will be fitted in the circular hole. I love arches and I am keen to have mainly arched doors and doorways in the house, this also reduces the need for lintels. The back door will be rectangular with a lintel as I have some old railway sleepers which look beautiful as lintels.

Any wood which is cut and used in the house, we are replacing by planting more trees which I have grown from seed on our land.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Laying the foundations.

For the foundations we have been using stones which were collected close to the land with a scotch cart. The stones vary in size and shape, larger heavier stones were used for the first layer. Over lapping is as important as in brick work, to ensure no continuous cracks form.
The mortar used between the rocks is the same as the cob mix, but with 15 percent lime added. So to mix this we needed to wear boots as lime is very corrosive. The lime hardens the mortar.
There is no bore hole on the land, so I delivered water each day emptying it into an old bath.