22 December 2013

Day 671: Kitchen counters

The kitchen counters are 60mm thick sand kiaat timber. I love them.

The most amazing thing about the counters is the story of where they came from. On a residential property close to Tzaneen a very old large tree fell down due to natural causes. The land owner requested and received a permit from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to remove the tree and to use the timber to make furniture.  Now it is in my kitchen. 

 The photo taken of the fallen tree

Sand kiaat kitchen counters 

18 December 2013

Day 667: Electrical plugs

I have been absent for a while. Moving turned out to be a much bigger job than simply moving boxes from our apartment to our house. We have to install shelving, make furniture, order curtains… and the list continues. Interior design is a whole new game and we have a few interesting stories about reclaimed timber tables and sustainable foresting. But for now, have a look at our electrical wall plugs. I am trying to use as much white as possible with the interior finishes to contrast with the textures and earthy tones of the architecture.

29 November 2013

Day 648: Certificate of occupancy

The building inspector has inspected and approved. Our house is safe to be inhabited. Tomorrow we are moving in.


20 November 2013

Day 639: Water leak

Last week when the hot water installation was completed, we discovered a water leak. The hot water pipes cast into the concrete roof were damaged during the casting and are now leaking. Unfortunately the only way to fix it is to break open the concrete, fix the pipe and repair the concrete. Not the end of the world.

On a brighter note, the building inspector came to site today to do the final occupation inspection. He was happy with everything! He only requested that we put up a garden fence to prevent someone from falling off the rock. Easy!

16 November 2013

Day 636: The garden

Since the initial concept of the house, we intended to preserve the natural vegetation. After construction, the rock plants and veld grasses growing naturally needs to be rehabilitated. The planted balcony on the northern side will also continue the concept and allow natural grasses to be integrated into the house façade.

We invited an ecologist to assist us in identifying the species of vegetation in our area and on our site. She is assisting us in developing this ecological garden. The nature reserve provides us with a rich seed bank and even during the harsh construction period some natural trees has established roots in our garden.

To give our garden a head start, we selected a few species to plant. Now we need to wait and see what nature allows.

                 Aristida junciformis – Bristel Grass                             Themeda triandra – Red Grass

                 Melinis nerviglumis – Bristle-Leaved red top            Ochna pulchra – Lekkerbreek

                 The gardeners

06 November 2013

Day 626: Handrail

Using an angle grinder we cut away some of the brickwork next to the concrete stair to insert a steel handrail. The recessed handrail allows the user to slide his hand up the wall as he moves up the stairs. At night a hidden LED strip light will illuminate the handrail.

05 November 2013

Day 625: Workers

These are all the workers who were on site today:

1. Plaster guys
2. Carpenter
3. Electrician
4. Plumbers
5. Table top installers
6. Steel subcontractors
7. Aluminium subcontractors

29 October 2013

Day 618: Electrical distribution board

Quiz: What do you get when you allow an electronic engineer to design a house’s electrical system?

Answer: A very interesting and complicated distribution board

24 October 2013

Day 614: Moving the geyser

Anyone who has ever lived in an estate knows that “estate people” can be difficult.  We received a complaint that the solar geyser should be hidden from view. Luckily we thought of a very clever solution to suspend a structure from the roof and locate the geyser inside the closet space. 

Day 613: Gutter

Rain water from the gutter is collected in a basement storage tank. This grey water is integrated into the house’s water supply where it is used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

17 October 2013

Day 606: Solar water heater

During the time that passed since we started planning this house, the solar water heating system we planned to use has been discontinued. We did another storm of research re-evaluating heat pumps and solar water heaters. An informed decision was made to install a 200l thermo siphon solar water heater with evacuated tube collectors. This system requires no maintenance and should minimise the amount of electricity used to heat water. Theoretically we should have solar heated water throughout the year and only use the backup electricity in the early morning hours. The first step in the installation has been completed and our solar water heater is on the roof. Early next week when the water connection is ready the evacuated tubes will be installed and the system will be connected.

10 October 2013

Day 595: Waterproofing the concrete roof

Even though we added a waterproofing admixture in the concrete mix, I decided to be conservative and treat the concrete roof surface with an additional waterproofing membrane. I will not have a leaking roof!

A bituminous primer is used prior to the application of the torchon waterproofing membrane. The tar like substance prevents moisture from penetrating into the porous concrete slab. After a few months the surface will be painted with a light grey top coat to protect the waterproofing from the sun’s UV rays.

08 October 2013

Day 593: Skylight

Translucent sheeting was integrated into the sheet metal roof to provide natural lighting in the walk in closet. A light shaft still needs to be constructed to bounce the light and allow soft indirect light to reach the interior space. This is an ideal solution for a closet because natural daylight is allowed while perfect privacy is insured.

07 October 2013

Day 592: Oops!

Day 592: Oeps!

The outside store room needed a 75mm Ø hole in the floor to allow for a grey water pipe between the basement storage tank and the ground floor garden tap. We rented a core drill to make a smooth hole through the concrete slab without damaging the polished concrete floors. The operator pumped water into the drill to increase the pressure while drilling. The core drill process takes about an hour. During this time someone calls me to tell me there is a water leak in the electrical duct. Upon inspection I realise that there is water spouting from a conduit cast into the ground floor slab. The only active water on site was used for the core drill. Slow realisation dawned that we must be drilling through one of the conduits which was cast into the slab. I patiently waited for the process to complete, leaving a nice round hole in the floor and a smooth cylinder concrete which reveals that we drilled through two conduits and not just one! My electrician is not going to be impressed…

06 October 2013

Day 591: We are almost there!

We are working in overdrive to get occupation by the end of October. Wish us luck!

04 October 2013

Day 590: Timber wall behind bed

More reused timber acts as a headboard in the main bedroom. Most if the first floor has been converted into a timber workshop.