"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Lime render, 220 / 12volts and Double glazing

At the beginning of October 2009 RMan and I decided to try and get the plastering started, as we want to take our kids there for a few days before Christmas, and need the inside of the house to be available as living space. Having been given the name of a "reputable" plasterer, whom we had spoken to over the phone, we left Cape Town on Sunday 4th October. We organised to meet him at the local Coastal Equipment Hire branch in Swellendam at 8.45 Monday 5th October. Naturally the plasterer was late. But, as it turns out, that was a blessing in disguise. His tardiness gave us the time to chat to the owner of Coastal Hire, Jannie, who knows all the local builders very well. When he found out who we were waiting for, he warned us: "if it is the chap I think it is, don't use him. He's untrustworthy and he owes me money!" It was "that" person. It turns out he had also been in prision! Not quite the kind of person we wanted to work on our house, even if he had done his time and paid his bill to society, after all our little house is vulnerable when we're not there. So much for that "recommendation

We then asked Jannie if he knew of anyone who could plaster for us during the 4 days we planned on being there. After a couple of phone calls he gave us the name of a guy who could start straight away, so off we went to meet with him. His quote was acceptable and the plastering began.  Mother Nature tried to intervene by dropping 100mm of rain within 36 hours, but thankfully we had decided to begin by plastering the internal walls, so that was able to proceed. But, in place of the 4 days quoted for plastering, it took 6 - apparently the walls weren't straight, and thus, in some cases, needed three coats of plaster. And, in addition, the rain poured in through the brickwork on the one wall and flooded one end of the floor. Our brilliant builder again!

Our makeshift shower (including the sheep trough which we used as a shower pan) beats showering in the cold early morning

On the positive side, RMan completed the conduits which will run the 5mm heavy core cable for our 220 / 12 volt electrical requirements. And, as all the internal plastering is now complete, and as soon as we get our floor in, we can basically move out of the caravan into some "lebensraum" (living space). Ronnie is fighting me - he wants to lay clay terracotta tiles as opposed to the lime / oxide tinted screed that I am keen on. One of the positives for the clay tiles is that they are produced in Swellendam, so the transport footprint is dramatically reduced. The costs are exhorbitant, so we are going to check out their "seconds" next time we go up. We have also discovered that the double glazing is absolutely amazing and worth every cent - even with the damp plaster on the walls it was noticably warmer inside the house at night and very much cooler during the heat of the day. Wish it was possible to replace all the windows of our house in Cape Town! At night it is so warm in the house that Ronnie has scrapped his idea of using the Dover Stove to heat the water for underfloor heating - it just won't be necessary.

Also, we have now found a brilliant builder / plasterer and, all things being equal, it should be plain sailing from here on, not only for completion of phase 1, but for phase 2 hopefully sometime next year!

The 100mm of rain managed to fill half our dam - hopefully it doesn't seep away again - we have been told that it takes approximately 2 years for a dam to hold water - and we're heading for our 2nd year!

The rain, inconvenient as it was, was worth it, for we had the most incredible sunrise the morning after the rain - it was absolutely stunning!