Strawbale House

This blog is intended to chart our progress through the self-build process, from half-hearted plot-hunting through to completion of the build. The twist is that we're building the house from timber and straw (hence the blog title).

Click on the image at the end of each post to see that day's photos.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

June 14th & 15th - Blockwork

In the absence of any available brickies, I rounded up a motley selection of pals: Mal the Aussie builder / joiner / guru; Dave the artist, sculptor, landscape designer and retired civil servant and Melvin the, er... not quite sure what Melvin is. Don't think he's ever had a job as such, but tried a couple of uni degree courses for size and has nice hair (according to my beloved).
Arrived on site to find that the west end trench had collapsed still further, and spent the first half-hour shovelling the debris out and sweeping rain-water around trying to get it to drain away.
Dave's cement mixer wouldn't start for love nor money, and Melvin did the first mix by hand. Clearly this wasn't going to be sustainable, and after twiddling a hitherto unseen knob on the engine, the mixer spluttered into life, to enormous relief all round. The other three have all laid blocks before, so by default it fell to me to be their labourer. Steep learning curve, but by the end of the day I had the hang of juggling my tasks of fetching water from the stream in buckets, mixing and distributing batches of cement in a wheel-barrow with a pucture and piling blocks along the sides of the trenches - basically keeping the three lads supplied with all they needed to keep working uninterrupted. Hard work, especially for my weedy upper-body. Apparently the usual bricky:labourer ratio is 2:1, so I was having to work 50% harder than I should have!
Very happy with a first-day total of about 350 blocks laid, in pretty dismal weather.
Second day continued in a similar vein. Would have run out of sand before lunch were we not saved by a knight in shining digger, Neil Walker, who responded to my SOS with around a tonne taken from his own stock on the farm.
Weather cracked around 3pm, so we knocked off and headed for the pub, just like proper builders. Up to three courses on both skins all the way around, about 650 blocks in total, which I think is excellent considering the horrible weather, time lost at the start of the job and the fact that there wasn't a bona fide bricky to be seen.


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