Exciting things for Fangorn!

Good things are happening for us.

The best news is that we have straw! Well, it’s growing at present, but we will have it! This is a great thing for us. It means that our dreams/goals of having the house ready by next Christmas is more realistic/achievable. You might remember when I was writing about our goal to have the house at lock-up stage by winter next year. We doubt that will happen, but if we can have next Christmas in our house (albeit incomplete internally), we will be thrilled! We’re grateful for all the rain that has come recently!

Other ‘news’ is that we have built a fence around our cabin/caravan. This will keep the dogs in (or out) and keep the children in too! It also means that we can grow some herbs and veges nearer to the cabin, because the wallabies won’t be able to break into the yard. I have been collecting herbs and I hope to plant them out soon. Monte built a gate and he made the fence in two days. He can do everything!

Today I am a bit sore and tired from shovelling sand at the house site yesterday. After getting a hefty quote for our slab, we have decided to do most of the work ourselves, saving nearly $20,000 in the process. This means that we will set up for the concreters, who will come and pour the concrete and level the slab. It’s a bit of hard work for us: putting a layer of sand down, then the plastic, then the pods and reinforcing steel etc, but that’s all it is: hard work! The thing I find most daunting is making the box. We have to make sure that it is strong, and braced well enough to hold all the concrete.

Our slab will be a waffle-pod slab. Waffle pods were invented (in Adelaide?) as a system for reactive soils. Our soil is a class P, which means it is pretty much the worst type of soil for building on (incidentally, it is one of the best types of soils for growing things in!). The waffle pod incorporates polystyrene and is meant to counteract those reactive soils that are likely to move and crack. Monte is now wondering if it would’ve been better to build our house on piers. I disagree. Even if it would be a bit cheaper, piers would mean big chunks of wood and spaces under the ground for vermin and fire danger. The concrete floor will be a wonderful thermal mass for keeping the home warm. We could’ve had floorboards, had we gone with piers, but we have had floorboards before and I don’t think they are the best flooring. They tend to look mucky and are not particularly warm. In the olden days (in which Georgia insists I was a child) people had floorboards if they didn’t have the money for carpet. Carpet is nice, but difficult to keep clean. Tiles – when the right type and colour are chosen (we had white tiles once – bad choice!) – can look elegant. They also hold the heat in well. I think we will be having tiles or slate flooring. We might have carpet on the rooms on the south-side of the house. To be honest, I have not thought about it too much. It seems such a long time away from now!

Other things that we have been considering (indeed, things are getting more serious at the house site) is the roof. Our plan has a scissor trussed roof in the centre of the house – the living centre. The ceiling reaches to nearly 4 metres tall in that room. We are now thinking of having a flat ceiling. It would be easier and quicker and cheaper to build a normal flat ceiling. Lighting would be easier; painting would be easier. If we do that we might make our bedroom a bit bigger. Our ceilings would be high enough. We don’t want high ceilings because they will lose the heat.

You may think: “Gee, they seem a bit concerned about the temperature!” And you are right – we are. Indeed, it is now December. Yesterday was a balmy 14 degrees, and very very wet. It is not uncommon to have a fire burning on Christmas Day, according to my dear friend Tania! Eeek! How wonderful to have these cool and wet days. The heat and aridity of Adelaide certainly gets to me: the heat that rises from the roads, permeates your walls and never goes away; thunderstorms that bring the himidity but not the rain; that gorgeous hot, wet smell that steams from the roads… But alas, will summer ever come to Tasmania? When will I be able to don my shorts (what a sight).

Yes, things are looking good for us over here.